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The Philosophy of Charles Travis: Language, Thought, and Perception

2019.06.12 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews John Collins and Tamara Dobler (eds.), The Philosophy of Charles Travis: Language, Thought, and Perception, Oxford University Press, 2018, 373pp., $70.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198783916. Reviewed by Reshef Agam-Segal, Virginia Military Institute A famous philosopher once visited my school when I was studying for my MA. We hoped to get clarifications from him about his views. More realistic, our professor, Gilead Bar-Eli, told us: “You think you’ll get answers; you’re only going to get more philosophy.” Apart from its other virtues, this excellent collection manages to get ‘more philosophy’ out of Charles Travis — often illuminating, often thought-provoking. This is not an introductory volume. It requires some familiarity with the issues and with Travis’s positions. It is a good collection primarily because of the quality and variety of the twelve contributions and Travis’s replies. The volume has four parts: “Thought”, “Language”, “Perception”, and Travis’s replies. (It would... Read [More]

Is It Irrational To Be Rational?

Among other things, rationality is the ability to make distinctions, to tell one thing from another, to know that x is not y. But, if rationality is categorical, sometimes it feels as though categories may be a category error. Faced by the perfectly rational idea that one knows the difference between “successful” and “unsuccessful” enterprises, Anton Chekhov once wrote to a friend: “Are you successful or aren’t you? What about me? What about Napoleon? One would need to be a god to distinguish successful from unsuccessful people without making mistakes. I’m going to a dance.” One feels that it wasn’t a mistake to go to that dance—not least because dancing isn’t entirely rational. On Sign o’ the Times, Prince ends that ridiculously danceable track, “It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night”, with the words “Everybody, groove,” pauses a second, and then closes by elongating one word more: “Confuuuuuuuuuusion.” To groove is to get confused, to know that knowledge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, [More]