Parallelism and truth

“Whoever has anything to say, let that person say it once, or carry the discourse regularly forward, but not repeat forever. Whoever is under the necessity of saying everything twice shows that one has but half or imperfectly expressed it the first time.” So Alciphron objects to Hebrew . . . . Continue Reading »

Masculine feminists

Feminists view modern anthropology as hypermasculine. Joan Tronto has said that “The conception of rational, autonomous man has been a fiction constructed to fit with liberal theories” (quoted in Mumford, Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A phenomenological critique , 116). Seyla . . . . Continue Reading »

The offense of infancy

Pliny the Elder is, James Mumford says, indignant and offended at babies, perhaps especially at the thought that he once was one ( Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A phenomenological critique , 111). In Natural History , he writes, “man alone on the day of his birth Nature casts away naked on . . . . Continue Reading »

Ethics at the Beginning of Life

James Mumford’s Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A phenomenological critique (Oxford, 2013) is a remarkable piece of work. It is a phenomenological study of the ethical import of how we come into the world. It is phenomenological because it attends “fixedly” to the phenomena. By . . . . Continue Reading »

Prophetic theory

Polanyi points out ( Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy , 5) that the Copernican system had implications that Copernicus himself never knew, but adds that Copernicus and everyone who committed himself to Copernican theory expected “an indefinite range of possible future . . . . Continue Reading »

Varieties of Objectivity

Copernicus is said to have taught human beings to see how little they are in the great heliocentric universe. He woke us from our anthropocentric Ptolemaic dreams. He taught us to look at the world objectively. Not so, writes Michael Polanyi in the opening pages of his classic Personal Knowledge: . . . . Continue Reading »


Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) is considered Italy’s greatest modern poet, and one of its greatest philosophers. The latter reputation is built mainly on the thousands of pages of his notebooks, the Zibaldone or “hodgepodge,” which he began writing when he was a teenager and which . . . . Continue Reading »

Neoplatonism fulfilled

The essays reprinted in Keith Corrigan’s collection, Reason, Faith and Otherness in Neoplatonic and Early Christian Thought , are dense and learned explorations of, among other things, the Christian uses of varieties of Greek philosophy. In several essays Corrigan returns to the body-soul . . . . Continue Reading »

Quotable Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard regularly “moans about his fellow human beings being in a rush, as thought life were a matter of getting through a calculus course or something,” writes Gordon Marino in the introduction to his The Quotable Kierkegaard (xix). As Kierkegaard himself puts it, “Most . . . . Continue Reading »

Double real

At the beginning of her new Repetition and Identity: The Literary Agenda , Catherine Pickstock lays out her Kierkegaardian agenda: “To say that every thing, every res, only exists when it has already been (nonidentically) repeated is to say that all beings flow unpredictably forwards in . . . . Continue Reading »