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”
Today I am taking my eldest to university for the start of the new academic year. It’s led me to recall my own start at Huddersfield Polytechnic, nervously walking through the campus entrance on the first day, back in 1986. Opting to take a degree was a gamble. After school, I worked as a civilContinue reading “New beginnings”
Received wisdom on the use of footnotes in academic writing has shifted decisively during the course of my career. As a budding scholar, it was expected of me that I would use them. This was one of the markers of proper academic writing, I was told. Footnotes made it look scholarly such that an academicContinue reading “Writing without footnotes”
Regular readers of this learned and erudite blog would be forgiven for thinking that I am perpetually preoccupied with the most abstruse matters of metaphysics and constantly immersed in a philosophical trance from which few worldly concerns could distract me. Fortunately, that is not the case at all. To survive in academia, you have alsoContinue reading “A window on another world”
All stages of writing a book excite me, even reading the proofs. But the other end of the process is particularly thrilling and fun. The original conception, the first idea, the basic premise is a stage at which infinite possibilities remain open, which over time will become narrowed down. Initially vague and abstract ideas crystalliseContinue reading “The proposal”
During lockdown, I took up walking. County Durham is blessed with beautiful countryside. Finding it such a tranquil diversion, I started to look for greater challenges and spectacle further afield and have since taken on a few summits. The longest walk I did was 25 miles, including three peaks. The last of the day wasContinue reading “One step at a time”
What is your most important job as an academic researcher in the arts? Is it reading? Or is it writing? And really that means publishing, right? It must mean the latter since when you give a report at the end of a study leave, it usually just has to detail what you have produced andContinue reading “Talking the talk”
Compiling a book’s index is regarded as a chore. Some authors are willing to pay to have it done for them. Others trust it to an automated program. I always prefer to compile my own indexes and this week I completed the index for my Absence and Nothing: the Philosophy of What There is Not.Continue reading “The index”
Philosophy produces a level of intensity and dedication like no other academic pursuit. To do it right, the discipline is supposed to be all consuming. Socrates drank hemlock rather than give it up. The young Wittgenstein told Russell that if he could not be a philosopher, he would shoot himself. Maybe it’s just because IContinue reading “To live (and die) for philosophy”
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