Peter Lamarque

Peter Lamarque is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Stirling.



25 July 1991

Christopher Hitchens in a sour, mean-spirited review (LRB, 25 July) rails against Janet Morgan’s biography of Edwina Mountbatten for being cliché-ridden from start to finish. It turns out his gripe, though, is more against the book’s subject-matter than its style. What he can’t stand are all those ‘powerful’ well-connected types, with ‘wealthy debs’ in tow, frolicking from party to party,...

Literary Theory

17 October 1985

SIR: Geoffrey Strickland (Letters, 20 February) asserts that ‘there are no philosophical problems peculiar to what we call literature as distinct from other forms of written and spoken communication. Philosophically speaking, literature doesn’t exist.’ These, I take it, are philosophical theses – and about literature. The two claims are certainly not plain facts; they belong at the end, not...


Peter Lamarque, 15 September 1983

The idea of development, either in the work of individual artists or in terms of ‘schools’, ‘movements’ or styles, is a dominant feature of our conception of European art. There is no theoretical problem more pressing in art history than that of explaining such development. How do we get from Cimabue’s Madonna Enthroned to Raphael’s Alba Madonna, or even from Brunelleschi to Bramante? And why do such changes occur?


In theory

16 April 1981

SIR: In a fine piece of cut-and-thrust polemic, Professor Ricks has deftly exposed some of the humbug and extravagance of certain recent literary theorising (LRB, 16 April). It is unfortunate, though, that in the process he is led to disparage all theory about literature, and philosophy to boot.Of course ‘theory’ is a bogy word and an easy target, particularly when contrasted with ‘practice’;...

Works of Art

Peter Lamarque, 2 April 1981

Generalising across the arts is a tricky business. Can we really expect to find anything in common between, say, Ulysses, Der Rosenkavalier, the ‘Donna Velata’ and Donatello’s St George in virtue of which they are all works of art? As if that were not hard enough, try adding prints, films, dances and buildings and the problem becomes intractable. Yet traditionally the aim of aesthetics has been to undertake an abstraction from the properties of particular works of art, and of different forms of art, with precisely the hope of isolating just those general features which are supposed to characterise or define the nature of art itself. To discover defining, or even characteristic, properties of art, if such there be, presupposes an answer to even more basic, ontological, questions concerning what sorts of things or entities works of art are. Are they physical objects, ideas, universals, classes, or what?

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