Malcolm Bull

Malcolm Bull’s On Mercy came out from Princeton in May.

Thanks to the work of behavioural economists there is a lot of experimental evidence to show what many of us would have suspected anyway: that people are not the rational, utility-maximisers of neoclassical economics, but loss-averse sentimentalists who, faced with even the simplest cognitive problem, prefer dodgy short cuts to careful analysis. Behavioural economists generously...

InThe Passions and the Interests, published in 1977, Albert Hirschman revisited the 18th-century argument that the pursuit of worldly self-interest might be the most effective way of controlling destructive emotions like anger. The pursuit of interests that are constant and predictable potentially offers an escape from the see-saw effect of trying to curb one passion with another. And...

Great Again: America’s Heidegger

Malcolm Bull, 20 October 2016

From 1930​ until the end of his life, Heidegger kept a private philosophical journal in a series of black notebooks. He intended it to be published as the very last of his collected works, but his executors, recognising its importance, have allowed it to appear ahead of schedule. When the first three volumes were published in Germany in 2014, they caused the expected controversy, and...

Pure Mediterranean: Picasso and Nietzsche

Malcolm Bull, 20 February 2014

‘There are the Alps,’ Basil Bunting wrote on the flyleaf of Ezra Pound’s Cantos, ‘you will have to go a long way round/if you want to avoid them.’ T.J. Clark is an Alpinist of distinction: Courbet, Manet, Pollock, Poussin, no foothills, no detours (apart from Lowry). And now Picasso. There are the Alps.

‘They don’t make sense,’ Bunting claimed....

Help yourself: Global Justice

Malcolm Bull, 21 February 2013

Global inequality has become one of the forms of the statistical sublime. There is a strange pleasure to be had from discovering that the top 0.5 per cent of the world population owns 35.6 per cent of global wealth, while the bottom 68.4 per cent controls a mere 4.2 per cent; or that the richest thousand or so billionaires are worth more than one and a half billion of the world’s...

Despite their diversity, it is possible to discern a figure in the carpet of Malcolm Bull’s books. They are all about what one might call lessness: the emancipatory power of weakness, failure, diminishment,...

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Malcolm Bull has written a formidable handbook, for which, I predict, many scholars and lovers of Renaissance art will never forgive him. What he has to say in the end about the revival of the...

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