Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The Deed is Everything: Nietzsche on Will and Action

2019.06.13 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Aaron Ridley, The Deed is Everything: Nietzsche on Will and Action, Oxford University Press, 2018, 207pp., $60.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198825449. Reviewed by Peter Kail, Oxford University Aaron Ridley's book, modest in its aspirations, is both interesting and frustrating. It is modest in that it argues that Nietzsche's philosophy can be read in an illuminating fashion through the lens of an 'expressivist' theory, 'without attributing to him any sort of unwavering investment in [that theory]' (p.192). The frustration lies in the central idea, namely 'expressivism', the content of which, and its application, is difficult to pin down. In outline, the book comprises the following. After an introduction, Chapter One discusses expressivism, contrasting it with an alternative 'empiricist' picture. Chapter Two, simply entitled 'Nietzsche', tries to remove obstacles to very possibility of reading Nietzsche as an expressivist, before offering some general considerations in... Read [More]

The Philosophy of Charles Travis: Language, Thought, and Perception

2019.06.12 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews John Collins and Tamara Dobler (eds.), The Philosophy of Charles Travis: Language, Thought, and Perception, Oxford University Press, 2018, 373pp., $70.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198783916. Reviewed by Reshef Agam-Segal, Virginia Military Institute A famous philosopher once visited my school when I was studying for my MA. We hoped to get clarifications from him about his views. More realistic, our professor, Gilead Bar-Eli, told us: “You think you’ll get answers; you’re only going to get more philosophy.” Apart from its other virtues, this excellent collection manages to get ‘more philosophy’ out of Charles Travis — often illuminating, often thought-provoking. This is not an introductory volume. It requires some familiarity with the issues and with Travis’s positions. It is a good collection primarily because of the quality and variety of the twelve contributions and Travis’s replies. The volume has four parts: “Thought”, “Language”, “Perception”, and Travis’s replies. (It would... Read [More]

Is It Irrational To Be Rational?

Among other things, rationality is the ability to make distinctions, to tell one thing from another, to know that x is not y. But, if rationality is categorical, sometimes it feels as though categories may be a category error. Faced by the perfectly rational idea that one knows the difference between “successful” and “unsuccessful” enterprises, Anton Chekhov once wrote to a friend: “Are you successful or aren’t you? What about me? What about Napoleon? One would need to be a god to distinguish successful from unsuccessful people without making mistakes. I’m going to a dance.” One feels that it wasn’t a mistake to go to that dance—not least because dancing isn’t entirely rational. On Sign o’ the Times, Prince ends that ridiculously danceable track, “It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night”, with the words “Everybody, groove,” pauses a second, and then closes by elongating one word more: “Confuuuuuuuuuusion.” To groove is to get confused, to know that knowledge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, [More]

Knowing by Perceiving

2019.06.11 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Alan Millar, Knowing by Perceiving, Oxford University Press, 2019, 222pp., $70.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198755692. Reviewed by Ian Phillips, University of Birmingham, Princeton University Alan Millar's elegant new monograph offers an original approach to perception and perceptual knowledge from a veteran of the field. In crudest outline, Millar defends a common-factor view of perceptual experience combined with a distinctive epistemological disjunctivism on which perceptual knowledge acquisition consists in the exercise of recognitional capacities. Millar develops these core views in chapters three to five and I consider them in detail below. His book, however, contains much else besides. Chapters six and seven are devoted to abilities in general, as well as to a comparison of Millar's approach with that of virtue epistemologists such as Sosa (2007). These standalone discussions will be invaluable to anyone interested in abilities in epistemology or... Read [More]