A stint at the University of Arizona
Adrian Blau-Blog
by Adrian Blau
1M ago
I’m spending a few weeks at the University of Arizona, courtesy of the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom. I’m working on my thought experiments project, before presenting a paper on caricatures of science, at a conference in Tucson in early December. I’m loving it here. The sky is blue; the weather is gorgeous; the air is clean. And there are fascinating people around. I’ve had great conversations with philosophers, experimental economists, and others ..read more
Visit website
Quentin Skinner conference at the British Academy
Adrian Blau-Blog
by Adrian Blau
1y ago
Today is the first day of a two-day conference which Joanne Paul and I are running ‘at’ the British Academy (i.e. online), on Quentin Skinner’s ‘Meaning and Understanding’ After 50 years: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Skinner is one of the world’s leading historians of political thought, and someone who has influenced me throughout my career – starting with his brilliant undergraduate lectures, which I described here. His essay on ‘Meaning and Understanding’ was a seminal essay that still bears close scrutiny today. Its key argument is that to understand historical texts, you need to read th ..read more
Visit website
Race and racism in political theory
Adrian Blau-Blog
by Adrian Blau
3y ago
I’ve just finished my half of a new undergraduate course on Race and Racism in Political Theory. I’ve covered ‘Western’ thinkers; in the second half of the course, my colleague Humeira Iqtidar will be covering ‘non-Western’ thinkers. I’ve found the material tremendously stimulating, and I learned a great deal, both from the literature and from my students. To my shame, I haven’t addressed these issues until a couple of years ago: I have definitely been guilty of what Robert Bernasconi calls the “sanitising” of Western philosophy, by sidestepping racism or by treating it as not central to (som ..read more
Visit website
Extended meaning and understanding in the history of ideas
Adrian Blau-Blog
by Adrian Blau
3y ago
In 1969, Quentin Skinner wrote a seminal essay on ‘Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas’. Fifty years later, in the same journal (History and Theory), I have published an article expanding his account. Skinner, writing as a historian, focused on ‘intended meaning’ – what authors meant by what they wrote. I focus on ‘extended meaning’ – the implications of what authors wrote, whether intended or not. Intended meaning has dominated our methodological literature, and philosophy of language more generally; many historians of political thought seem to see it as the only kind of meaning ..read more
Visit website
Corruption of and by democracy
Adrian Blau-Blog
by Adrian Blau
3y ago
My article “Cognitive Corruption and Deliberative Democracy” has now been published in the journal Social Philosophy and Policy, in an issue dedicated to corruption. I may be wrong, but I believe it’s the first thing to defend deliberative democracy with the argument that citizens “take off their party hats”. In other words, if we have a random cross-section of (say) 200 or so citizens, debating the pros and cons of a policy, they are more likely to try to argue the merits of the case, rather than being driven by what their party would like, what would put opposing parties in a difficult posit ..read more
Visit website
Combining history and philosophy
Adrian Blau-Blog
by Adrian Blau
3y ago
Cambridge University Press has just published my chapter on the need to interpret Thomas Hobbes historically and philosophically, in an important new book edited by Sharon Lloyd. I contrast two prominent interpreters of Hobbes: Jean Hampton, a philosopher, and Quentin Skinner, a historian. I show, surprisingly, that Skinner actually uses philosophical analysis better than Hampton to recover what Hobbes thought. In short, both historical and philosophical analysis are needed. Yet the methodological literature in history of political thought (and history of philosophy) typically sees history and ..read more
Visit website
A surprisingly positive review of a Straussian book on Hobbes
Adrian Blau-Blog
by Adrian Blau
4y ago
Readers who know my aversion to Leo Strauss (see here) may be surprised by my surprisingly positive review of Devin Stauffer’s new book on Hobbes, on Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (link). Stauffer, an Associate Professor at UT Austin, argues that Hobbes was trying to subvert his readers’ religious attachments – but not by saying so directly. Rather, the argument is esoteric: Hobbes’s real views can only be grasped if we read between the lines. For example, some of Hobbes’s ‘defences’ of religious views were so bad that they would subtly draw attention to the opposite view. I’m not convince ..read more
Visit website

Follow Adrian Blau-Blog on Feedspot

Continue with Google
OR