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Showing posts from April 13, 2014

the paradox of the stone and meg wolitzer

When Flaubert compared the artist to God, it naturally followed – as all who knew what Flaubert was up to understood – that theological ideas and paradoxes would be absorbed and re-oriented in the world of art. I’ve been reading Meg Wolitzer’s novel, The Wife, which is a funny and depressing novel, and thinking of a paradox attirbuted to Aquinas entitled “the paradox of the stone”, or “the paradox of omnipotence.” The popular version goes like this: can God make a stone he can’t lift? Aquinas spoke of whether God could square the circle, and shows that this supposed limit on him omnipotence is no such thing. Others have tried to show the logical emptiness of the stone paradox. Still, for non-logicians, it is a rather compelling idea. Either God can’t make a stone he can’t life, in which case he is not omnipotent, or he can, in which case he is also not omnipotent. Some paradoxes lead to logically useful devices in the world of logical theory, but I don’t think this one has. Howe

doctor pangloss writes for the london review of books

It must have seemed natural to the editors of the London Review to ask Thomas Nagel, the author of The View from Nowhere, to review R. Jay Wallace’s The View from Here. The subtitle of Wallace’s book is On affirmation, attachment and the limits of regret, and from the account that Nagel gives of the book, it seems to be a book that does justice to its themes, which are at the intersection of philosophy and literature. It is a meaty subject, this of taking up the moral peculiarity of the line of fate of individuals and nations, and the way these lines are a mixture of the good and the atrocious. Wallace seems to think that it isn’t as though the atrocity could be subtracted from the good, but that they are dialectically interlocked. I happen to share that view. I was raised by white parents in the suburbs in the South in the 60s, when apartheid was beginning to crack, and I have long  realized that these facts in the background – both the apartheid that made enormous room for white peo