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Showing posts from June 12, 2016

Neglected books Injury time

“I was reminded of the time a close friend visited my house ten minutes before the arrival of a gentleman caller.  I hinted it would be better if she left, but she said he wouldn’t notice she was there. To prove her point she plonked lumps of the children’s Plasticine in the middle of her forehead and chest, stuck darts in them, poured liberal quantities of tomato sauce down her person and lay flat on the sofa, groaning. He won’t take it in, she said. Just wait and see. Sure enough – he came in, glanced at her, sat down and complained that he’d had a devil of a day.” – Beryl Bainbridge, Diary There’s a rather strange, hard to interpret story told in the Homeric hymn to Demeter. When Hades kidnapped the daughter of Demeter, Persephone, the goddess of harvests, wandered about the earth looking for her and refusing to do her job re the harvests. She came, starving and thirsty, to a hut in which an old woman named Baubo sat. Baubo tried to cheer the goddess up, but she remained wr

neglected books: skepticism and animal faith

George Santayana has always been the odd man out among the great American philosophers. The native genius of American philosophy sprang from a pragmatism shot through with Emerson’s transcendental occasions;  and Santayana, if we scan the  CV only, seems to have duly drank at this spring. He was the student of William James, after all, and during his heyday in the twenties and thirties, he played Atreus to Dewey’s Thyestes, or, more exactly, Dupin to Dewey’s Minister D… Dewey, in Santayana’s opinion, was too heady, too fumbling, and above all too liberal. Santayana, in Dewey’s opinion,  was too clever by half and too inclined to worship an order that gave him every privilege – a rentier philosopher. The too clever reputation has stuck. Open Santayana and it is easy to see why. When we read Skepticism and Animal Faith, the first thing we are struck by is that, if he absorbed James’s pragmatism, he imbibed it with a writing style much more like James’s brother’s, Henry. And this sty