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In Praise of Middle Government

Ian Gilmour, 12 July 1990

Liberalisms. Essays in Political Philosophy 
by John Gray.
Routledge, 273 pp., £35, August 1989, 0 415 00744 5
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The Voice of Liberal Learning: Michael Oakeshott on Education 
edited by Timothy Fuller.
Yale, 169 pp., £20, April 1990, 0 300 04344 9
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The Political Philosophy of Michael Oakeshott 
by Paul Franco.
Yale, 277 pp., £20, April 1990, 0 300 04686 3
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Conservatism 
by Ted Honderich.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £16.99, June 1990, 0 241 12999 0
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... Europe and the dire condition of the Soviet Union have left Socialism almost irredeemably discredited. Understandably, the recent Labour policy document tactfully avoided the subject. Such reticence is of course nothing new. Unlike Continental parties, even the old ILP kept ‘Socialist’ out of its title to avoid offending the workers; and the Labour ...

Psychoneural Pairs

A.J. Ayer, 19 May 1988

A Theory of Determinism: The Mind, Neuroscience and Life-Hopes 
by Ted Honderich.
Oxford, 656 pp., £55, May 1988, 9780198244691
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... of philosophy. I doubt if any of them has been the product of such intense research as Professor Honderich has devoted to the construction, the defence and the evaluation of his theory of determinism. Agreement among philosophers, especially on fundamental questions, is difficult to reach, and I shall be arguing against ...

Out of Sight, out of Mind

Frank Kermode: A.J. Ayer’s Winning Ways, 15 July 1999

A.J. Ayer: A Life 
by Ben Rogers.
Chatto, 402 pp., £20, June 1999, 9780701163167
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... The next move, to Christ Church, was painless. Oxford gave him Gilbert Ryle as his tutor and appointed him to a lectureship before he graduated. Having volunteered for war service he was drawn, by the irresistible voice of privilege, into a Guards regiment. Thereafter his military career passed through several glamorous and ...
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature 
by Richard Rorty.
Blackwell, 401 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 631 12961 8
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The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality and Tragedy 
by Stanley Cavell.
Oxford, 511 pp., £12.50, February 1980, 0 19 502571 7
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Philosophy As It Is 
edited by Ted Honderich and Myles Burnyeat.
Pelican, 540 pp., £2.95, November 1979, 0 14 022136 0
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... between a reluctant admission of the philospher’s status as universal legislator and an irritated dismissal of philosophy as unworldly and irrelevant. Philosophers themselves all too often respond by alternating between an ingrown professionalism in which they conceal themselves behind thickets of technicality and an equally self-indulgent form of ...

Old Scores

Colin McGinn, 30 August 1990

The Meaning of Life, and Other Essays 
by A.J. Ayer.
Weidenfeld, 212 pp., £17, June 1990, 0 297 82041 9
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... I therefore did as I was told, spending a couple of wincing days reading out my script to be converted into cold type. I really must improve my handwriting, I thought. Two or three weeks later Professor Ayer told me that I had been awarded the prize. He seemed almost as pleased as I was, clapping me warmly on the back and congratulating himself on his former ...

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