"At a time when people were generally decrying the Japanese bombardment of Shanghai, I met Karl Kraus struggling over one of his famous comma problems. He said something like: 'I know that everything is futile when the house is burning. But I have to do this, as long as it is at all possible; for… Continue reading Geo-politics & the placement of commas: Karl Kraus
"By the time we are old we have undergone a great many murderous fashions, all those murderous fashions in art and in philosophy and in consumer goods." In a passage on Martin Heidegger - Thomas Bernhard, Old Masters: A Comedy, 1985
"Clement of Alexandria was but one major Christian author who showed a strong interest in Indian and Egyptian wisdom traditions. Clement is the first Greek author to mention the Buddha and Buddhism." - G. G. Stroumsa, The Scriptural Universe of Ancient Christianity (Cambridge, Mass., 2016), 104 Reijer Stolk, 1943 (Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)
He may have been human, after all: "We are reliably informed ... that Descartes owned a little dog - Monsieur Grat - upon whom he lavished much affection, and who used to accompany him on his walks." - P. Harrison, "Descartes on Animals", The Philosophical Quarterly 42 (1992), 219-27, here 220
Petrarch has a title I envy: "On His Own Ignorance and That of Many Others" (De sui ipsius et multorum ignorantia).
The first known occurrence of the lexeme "postmodern" is in a fifth-century letter by an African pope, Gelasius I: "... post modernum, quod tantorum pontificum collectione ..." - J. Moorhead, “The Word modernus”, Latomus 65, 2 (2006), 425–33, here 426
A book I wish I had on hand during lock-down is Leibniz and China, A Commerce of Light (Cambridge, 2004).
Three indescribable things - black-green pine, foam-white cloud, cobalt sky - have never been more beautiful..... The sky over French Hill, Jerusalem, 19 April 2020
"The philosophers differ about the soul ... At one time I am immortal and rejoice; at another time again I become mortal and weep. Now I am dissolved into atoms: I become water, and I become air: I become fire, and then after a little, neither air, nor fire: the philosopher makes me a beast,… Continue reading “I am changed by philosophers into all the beasts …”
My new essay on Nietzsche, Socrates and Jesus - with a glance at Dostoevsky - is up at the TLS.