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After Flaubert

Galen Strawson, 8 March 2018

... à mon pote Jules merde en croûte, merde en daube, merde du pays, merde d’antan. merde de province, pâté de merde, folie de merde (merde boulangère). merde Chantilly, merde de Paris, merde anglaise, putain de merde. merde longue durée, merde d’occasion, merde maison, merdorama! merde d’Auvergne, merde de Brest, merde de souche, merde magnanime ...

Syzygy

Galen Strawson: Brain Chic, 25 March 2010

36 Arguments for the Existence of God 
by Rebecca Goldstein.
Atlantic, 402 pp., £12.99, March 2010, 978 1 84887 153 3
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... Six is a ‘perfect number’ – it’s the sum of its divisors, 3, 2 and 1 – and it’s favoured for that reason by Azarya Sheiner, a six-year-old mathematical genius who is the central attractor, but not the protagonist, of Rebecca Goldstein’s new novel, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God. Twenty-eight is the next perfect number (divisors 14, 7, 4, 2, 1), and 28 arguments for the existence of God might have been more than enough ...

Idris the Ingénu

Galen Strawson, 21 January 1988

The Golden Droplet 
by Michel Tournier, translated by Barbara Wright.
Collins, 198 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 0 00 223139 5
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... According to the traditions of the Prophet reported by Al Bukhari, Muhammad once declared that those who would be most severely punished on the Day of Judgment were the ‘portrayers’ (al musawwirun), the painters or sculptors. No doubt he was principally concerned to condemn the evil of idolatry, like Moses before him and many after him. But Islamic religious art has ever since avoided all representation of living creatures, and above all of people ...

Don’t tread on me

Galen Strawson, 6 October 1994

Humiliation and Other Essays on Honour, Social Discomfort and Violence 
by William Ian Miller.
Cornell, 270 pp., £20.95, December 1993, 0 8014 2881 5
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... Is it true that humiliation, shame and embarrassment are ‘the central emotions of everyday social existence’? It is not obviously false. To say that these emotions are central is not to say that they are the most often felt; their centrality may lie in the strength of our desire to avoid them. William Miller’s suggestion has a creeping plausibility – in the playground, among teenagers, among mid-life colleagues, in the retirement home ...

What’s so good about Reid?

Galen Strawson, 22 February 1990

Thomas Reid’s ‘Inquiry’: The Geometry of Visibles and the Case for Realism 
by Norman Daniels.
Stanford, 160 pp., £25, May 1989, 0 8047 1504 1
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Common Sense 
by Lynd Forguson.
Routledge, 193 pp., £30, November 1989, 0 415 02302 5
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Thomas Reid and the ‘Way of Ideas’ 
by Roger Gallie.
Reidel, 287 pp., £42, July 1989, 0 7923 0390 3
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Philosophy and Science in the Scottish Enlightenment 
edited by Peter Jones.
John Donald, 230 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 85976 225 4
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Studies in the Philosophy of the Scottish Enlightenment 
edited by M.A. Stewart.
Oxford, 328 pp., £37.50, January 1990, 0 19 824967 5
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Thomas Reid 
by Keith Lehrer.
Routledge, 311 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 415 03886 3
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... According to the ‘analytic’ tradition, modern philosophy begins with Descartes (b. 1596), Spinoza (b. 1632), Locke (b. 1632), Leibniz (b. 1646), Berkeley (b. 1685), Hume (b. 1711) and Kant (b. 1724). This is the canonical list of great philosophers, and it is not very likely to change. But there are two others whose claims for inclusion are regularly pressed: Nicholas Malebranche (b ...

Is R2-D2 a person?

Galen Strawson, 18 June 2015

Staying Alive: Personal Identity, Practical Concerns and the Unity of a Life 
by Marya Schechtman.
Oxford, 214 pp., £35, March 2014, 978 0 19 968487 8
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... What does it take​ for a person in 2015 to be the same person as she was in 1995 and will be in 2035? This is the question of personal identity, a question about persistence through time, or ‘diachronic’ identity. It seems enough at first to say that the person is the same in 2015 as in 1995 and in 2035 just so long as she is the same living human animal, the same biological organism (same passport, same national insurance number, same DNA ...

The Sense of the Self

Galen Strawson, 18 April 1996

... Human beings in different cultures are much more alike, psychologically speaking, than most anthropologists and sociologists suppose. There’s a great deal of substance to the idea of a common humanity – of profound emotional and cognitive similarities that transcend differences in cultural experience. It’s also true that human beings are very varied, psychologically, but the deepest psychological differences are those that can be found within a given culture ...

Religion is a sin

Galen Strawson: Immortality!, 2 June 2011

Saving God: Religion after Idolatry 
by Mark Johnston.
Princeton, 198 pp., £16.95, August 2009, 978 0 691 14394 1
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Surviving Death 
by Mark Johnston.
Princeton, 393 pp., £24.95, February 2010, 978 0 691 13012 5
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... Saving God and Surviving Death: Mark Johnston has gone for the double, and I’m tempted to think he has succeeded, on his own terms, many of which seem about as good as terms get in this strange part of the park. I don’t, however, agree with his reasons or share his motive for attempting to explain how we can survive death, and I doubt the necessity of some of the matériel in his admittedly fabulous argumentative armamentarium ...

Real Naturalism

Galen Strawson, 26 September 2013

... I’m a naturalist, an out-and-out naturalist, a philosophical or metaphysical naturalist, a naturalist about concrete reality. I don’t think anything supernatural or otherwise non-natural exists. You can’t classify anything as supernatural or non-natural until you have a substantive conception of the natural in relation to which something can be classified as non-natural ...

What-it’s-like-ness

Hilary Putnam, 8 February 1996

Mental Reality 
by Galen Strawson.
MIT, 337 pp., £24.95, January 1995, 0 262 19352 3
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... out views with which one disagrees, and does so with exemplary clarity and sophistication. For me, Galen Strawson’s Mental Reality is such a book, and any contemporary course of lectures on the philosophy of mind would be well advised to discuss it: the issues it deals with are important ones, and what ...

Reputation

Colin McGinn, 23 November 1989

The Secret Connection: Causation, Realism and David Hume 
by Galen Strawson.
Oxford, 291 pp., £32.50, August 1989, 0 19 824853 9
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J.L. Austin 
by G.J. Warnock.
Routledge, 165 pp., £30, August 1989, 0 415 02962 7
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... conclusions from epistemological premises: ‘if no ideas then no reality’. Now here comes Galen Strawson to argue that Hume has been grievously misrepresented all along: for the real David Hume never denied the objective reality of causal necessity. He firmly believed in it. And so Hume’s reputation is set to rise high again. He did not, after ...

The I in Me

Thomas Nagel: I and Me, 5 November 2009

Selves: An Essay in Revisionary Metaphysics 
by Galen Strawson.
Oxford, 448 pp., £32.50, 0 19 825006 1
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... being, and not anything else, that is the subject of all your experiences, thoughts and feelings. Galen Strawson’s book Selves, a work of shameless metaphysics, argues that selves exist and that they are not human beings. However, Strawson is a materialist and does not think that your self could exist apart ...

Headaches have themselves

Jerry Fodor, 24 May 2007

Consciousness and Its Place in Nature: Does Physicalism Entail Panpsychism? 
by Galen Strawson et al.
Imprint Academic, 285 pp., £17.95, October 2006, 1 84540 059 3
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... has mostly fallen out of fashion. I won’t dwell on it here. That, then, sets the stage for Galen Strawson’s Consciousness and Its Place in Nature, which consists of a lead essay by Strawson, commentaries by 18 other philosophers, and Strawson’s extensive comments on ...

Is that you, James?

Thomas Nagel, 1 October 1987

Philosophy and the Brain 
by J.Z. Young.
Oxford, 241 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 19 219215 9
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Freedom and Belief 
by Galen Strawson.
Oxford, 353 pp., £27.50, January 1987, 0 19 824938 1
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The Oxford Companion to the Mind 
edited by Richard Gregory.
Oxford, 874 pp., £25, September 1987, 9780198661245
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... This is another of those mind-bendingly basic philosophical questions, and it is the subject of Galen Strawson’s Freedom and Belief, an often interesting and very involved exploration of the positive content and internal incoherence of our natural sense of ourselves (from the inside) as free and responsible agents. No one could accuse ...

Oh, the Irony

Thomas Jones: Ian McEwan, 25 March 2010

Solar 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 285 pp., £18.99, 0 224 09049 6
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... Not entirely. Daily life would not permit it.’ In a New Yorker profile of McEwan last year, Galen Strawson is quoted as saying that ‘Ian is essentially a short-story writer,’ that none of his longer books ‘has the unity of drive that the best novels have’. It’s hard to disagree with this assessment. The disappearance of the daughter in ...

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