The hardest route up Snowden/Yr Wyddfa, the highest mountain in England and Wales, is called Crib Goch. It’s a sharp ridge, uneven and rocky, with some vertical, sheer drops. A risk of ascending this vertiginous route is that some climbers become cragfast: so terrified that they can’t move in any direction. Like limpets, they stickContinue reading “Cragfast”
The old conventional wisdom is that you cannot infer an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. The latter is a factual matter while the former is normative. One tells us how things are while the other tells us how things should or shouldn’t, ought or oughtn’t, be and there is no path from one to the other.Continue reading “The fact-value dichotomy”
I don’t really feel qualified to talk about imposter syndrome since it now has its own philosophical literature (Katherine Hawley: here). I do, though, have experience of it with students and colleagues and try to counteract it. It helps to be able to understand the thinking behind it. Now that I have grey hair, IContinue reading “Taking oneself seriously”
One of the first things people often say when they visit my office is that I have a lot of books. True, there are bookcases on all the available wall space and they are pretty much full. My most precious and valuable books are at home where the shelves are full too. I soon willContinue reading “A personal library”
In my second undergraduate year, I got into badminton. I would go to the sports hall most afternoons and play against a few of my friends and course mates. Every single time I visited, there was a group of Indonesian chemical engineering students, who played constantly. They were obviously brilliant. One day, I plucked upContinue reading “Good discussions”
A little late to the party, I’ve been reading Peter Adamson’s A History of Philosophy Without any Gaps. It’s quite a promise to say there will be no gaps. There’s bound to be. All writers make decisions on what to include, which are also decisions on what to exclude (as Heraclitus said: the road upContinue reading “Ancient women philosophers”
Most of us who write non-fiction will at some point desire to persuade our readers of some thesis. I see this as a natural extension of the persuasive dialogue into which everyone enters during daily conversations, trying to convince another interlocutor of some view. Writers have an uninterrupted space to themselves in which to developContinue reading “The art of good argument”
In recent months, and for the first time, I’ve been embarrassed to be a philosopher. Consequently, I’ve been hanging out with academics in other disciplines and keeping my background quiet. I had always assumed that philosopher was a noble vocation and the peak of intellectual achievement. Enough has happened lately to make me doubt this.Continue reading “Whereof we know nothing, pass over in silence”
As the years roll by, I am becoming more and more of an ancient philosopher. When a colleague told me the Classics department were running a reading group on Plato’s Gorgias, I couldn’t resist. Last week we had our first meeting and I turned up not knowing what to expect. A few other philosophers wereContinue reading “Go slow”
Philosophy has a problem with gender balance. It has the longest history of any academic discipline but that is a history set within millennia of patriarchy. And it’s a discipline that engages seriously with its history. We still cite Plato and Aristotle from two and half thousand years ago. With social progress, gender balance inContinue reading “Citations, gender balance and disagreement”
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