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How to Catch a Tortoise

A.W. Moore: Infinity

18 December 2003
Everything and More: A Compact History of ∞ 
by David Foster Wallace.
Weidenfeld, 319 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 297 64567 6
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A Brief History of Infinity: The Quest to Think the Unthinkable 
by Brian Clegg.
Constable, 255 pp., £8.99, September 2003, 1 84119 650 9
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The Art of the Infinite: Our Lost Language of Numbers 
by Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan.
Allen Lane, 324 pp., £20, August 2003, 0 7139 9629 3
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... As you’ve probably begun to see,’ David Foster Wallace writes in Everything and More, ‘Aristotle manages to be sort of grandly and breathtakingly wrong, always and everywhere, when it comes to infinity.’ A much milder version of this antagonism towards Aristotle appears in both Brian Clegg’s Brief History of Infinity and Robert and Ellen Kaplan’s The Art of the Infinite. Clegg writes ...

The Seven Million Dollar Question

A.W. Moore: The quest to solve the Millenium Problems

22 July 2004
The Millennium Problems: The Seven Greatest Unsolved Mathematical Puzzles of Our Time 
by Keith Devlin.
Granta, 237 pp., £20, January 2004, 1 86207 686 3
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... In May 2000 the Clay Mathematics Institute announced that it was offering seven prizes, worth $1 million each, for the solutions to seven mathematical problems, which had been identified by a group of internationally acclaimed mathematicians as the seven most difficult and most important unsolved mathematical problems of the day. They became known as the Millennium Problems. The announcement had a ...

Carving at the Joints

A.W. Moore: The Book of the World

30 August 2012
Writing the Book of the World 
by Theodore Sider.
Oxford, 318 pp., £30, November 2011, 978 0 19 969790 8
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... The world, according to Ted Sider, has a basic structure. An optimal description of the world must capture this structure. It must also consist of truths. But these are two distinct requirements. We can produce more and more truths about the world and still not come any closer to capturing its structure. To do the latter we need to produce not just truths, but truths of the right sort. Now it has long ...
30 October 1997
Points of View 
by A.W. Moore.
Oxford, 313 pp., £35, June 1997, 0 19 823692 1
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... Or they think that maybe that’s what science aims to know, and wonder whether it’s a project that makes any sense. They are thus worried about ‘the possibility of objectivity’. A.W.Moore’s book is a sort of defence of the possibility of objectivity (what he often calls the possibility of ‘absolute representations’). He doesn’t argue that objectivity is ever attained or ever ...

The View from Here and Now

Thomas Nagel: A Tribute to Bernard Williams

11 May 2006
The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy 
by Bernard Williams, edited by Myles Burnyeat.
Princeton, 393 pp., £26.95, March 2006, 0 691 12477 9
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In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument 
by Bernard Williams, edited by Geoffrey Hawthorn.
Princeton, 174 pp., £18.95, October 2005, 0 691 12430 2
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Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline 
edited by Bernard Williams and A.W. Moore.
Princeton, 227 pp., £22.95, January 2006, 0 691 12426 4
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... Bernard Williams had a very large mind. To read these three posthumously published collections of essays (there will be a fourth, on opera) is an overwhelming reminder of his incandescent and all-consuming intelligence. He brought philosophical reflection to an opulent array of subjects, with more imagination and with greater cultural and historical understanding than anyone else of his time. The collections ...

Glaucus and Ione

Hugh Lloyd-Jones

17 April 1980
The Last Days of Pompeii 
by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.
Sidgwick, 522 pp., £6.95, December 1979, 0 283 98587 9
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... thou Arbaces will brook such a rival as this puny Greek?’ Even worse than Bulwer’s prose are the many poems inserted in the text; the verse is sub-Shelleyan, with some influence from Thomas Moore. When the element which Bulwer has in common with Becker is abstracted, we are left with a romantic novelette of melodramatic character, spiced with a particularly mawkish kind of Evangelical ...

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