The Politics of the Apolitical

There is a certain kind of commentator that calls themselves “apolitical” while engaged in explicitly political projects. More often than not, the apolitical person will claim that they do not like politics, that they would prefer not to engage politically, but that circumstances have forced their hand and, because of a situation that is beyond […]

Existentialism for Our Times

What is Existentialism? Existentialism is a system of philosophy developed in France during the Second World War and its immediate aftermath. It has roots in the 19th century, particularly in works of German philosophers who wrote after Kant, like Hegel and Nietzsche, and also in the writings of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. Existentialism proper, as a systematic view of human beings and the world they inhabit, is expressed in many books and articles written by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Why talk about existentialism today? Continue reading “Existentialism for Our Times”

Transphobe and Trans

TW: Transphobic language

If a person is inclined to count people who are transgender among the most significant threats to the rights of women or children generally, and if they are proposing to eliminate this threat by depriving trans people of their rights, by excluding them from participation in spaces reserved for the gender with which they are identified, by preventing them from participating in certain socio-economic activities, and by denying them the validity of their gender identity through the refusal to recognize their testaments to their own experiences, then we claim that they have transphobic views.1 Continue reading “Transphobe and Trans”

Giving the Lie to Truth: The Rupture of Totalities in Political Life

The idiom “to give the lie” means simply to prove something false. Thus, to “give the lie to truth” could mean, simply, to prove something that is perceived or taken to be true is, in fact, false. However, the phrase is sufficiently ambiguous that it could convey the alternative meaning that truth itself, the very notion of truth, could be proven false – and this again carries a double meaning in that there may be no “truth” to speak of or, conversely, that the way in which we have heretofore conceptualized truth is faulty, and that a new concept of truth is being called for that – forgive me – would be closer to “the truth.” The phrase then, so simple and elegant at first glance, has led us into the most basic and primordial questions of philosophy and communication: what is truth, and how can I communicate whatever truth there may be? Continue reading “Giving the Lie to Truth: The Rupture of Totalities in Political Life”

The Fanciful Theories of Helen Pluckrose

I had an interesting exchange with Helen Pluckrose and several acolytes of the Sokal Squared Trinity on Twitter the other day. Pluckrose herself was largely agreeable, even given my own dismissive attitude toward her cohort’s understanding of “postmodernism” after Peter Boghossian tweeted out an endorsement of Stephen Hicks’ Postmodernism Explained. Hicks’ book is notoriously bad […]