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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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... and will not be resurrected for some time to come. Coincident with the end of socialism in any meaningful sense, John Gray tells us that ‘a liberal political philosophy is an impossibility,’ and TedHonderich announces that Conservatism is a nullity. If both of them are right and can be taken at face value, there does not seem to be much left. Dr Gray’s original intention was to define ...
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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... with their being free is one to which many different approaches have been made throughout the history 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 ...

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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... are.’ ‘Other philosophers’ did indeed point the finger at ‘The Man who Hated Wisdom’ (the headline of Roger Scruton’s obituary in the Sunday Telegraph). But Ayer’s friend and pupil TedHonderich, now himself the professor at University College, was more charitable and also nearer the mark when he spoke of Ayer as a philosopher ‘whose audacity was being true to truth ...
5 June 1980
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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... The concerns of academic philosophy are to some degree the concerns of everybody. At the same time, they often appear to plain pre-philosophical men and women – including those perhaps not so plain persons who are professors of English or History or Physics – as vaguely ludicrous. On the one hand, academic philosophy is centrally concerned with such all-pervasive concepts as those of truth, rationality ...

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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... Freddie Ayer tended to do philosophy as if it were a sport, as his fondness for the metaphor of playing a game indicates. The trouble is: it is not a sport. The Meaning of Life has an introduction by TedHonderich that is ill-written, plodding, and faintly nauseating in places. It adds nothing to the essays that follow; and the book itself is poorly edited ...

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