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philosophy Plato political theory teaching

Misremembering Plato’s Noble Lie

Back when I taught at Yale, I used to give a quiz about Plato’s Republic in the first class meeting for one of my upper-level seminars. The students were all supposed to have taken at least one prior course in which the Republic was read, and I wanted to see how well they remembered it.  (I also […]

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film philosophy robotics technology Wittgenstein

“Ex Machina” and Philosophy: Some Notes after Wittgenstein

1. In Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, the reclusive computer genius Nathan (Oscar Isaac) has called his next-generation internet search-engine Blue Book, after Wittgenstein’s notebook of that name.  Hanging on a wall in Nathan’s secluded mountainside retreat is Gustave Klimt’s portrait of Wittgenstein’s sister, Margarethe.  And that retreat is in Norway, where Wittgenstein had himself sought refuge […]

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Hegel philosophy quotations Wittgenstein

“I’ll Show You Differences”: Wittgenstein contra Hegel

“Hegel seems to me to be always wanting to say that things that look different are really the same. Whereas my interest is in showing that things which look the same are really different. I was thinking of using as a motto for my book a quotation from King Lear: ‘I’ll show you differences.’ [laughing:] […]