Iain Cameron's Diary
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2010-04-05 - 11:37 a.m.

I have put several CDs by Winnebago Deal into my Last FM library and the algorithm has been quick to start selecting tracks. LFM has tagged WD as ‘stoner rock’ and its no surprise that they are the only representative of this genre in the library. The father of the guitar/vocalist in WD is someone I have known for nearly 20 years – Laurence. I have renewed contact with him in the last week or so. He studied philosophy and still reads a lot more of the subject than ever I do although as luck would have it he has been reading recently one of the three books piled besides my bed. They are a guide to the recordings of the Smiths, the complete remnants of Sappho and After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre – no prizes for guessing which it is. Wikipedia summarises the book as follows:

One of MacIntyre's major points in his most famous work, After Virtue, is that the failed attempt by various Enlightenment thinkers to furnish a final universal account of moral rationality led to the rejection of moral rationality altogether by subsequent thinkers such as Charles Stevenson, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Friedrich Nietzsche. On MacIntyre's account, it is especially Nietzsche's utter repudiation of the possibility of moral rationality that is the outcome of the Enlightenment's mistaken quest for a final and definitive argument that will settle moral disputes into perpetuity by power of a calculative reason alone and without use of teleology. MacIntyre is concerned with reclaiming various forms of moral rationality and argumentation that neither claim to utter finality and certainty (the mistaken project of the Enlightenment), but nevertheless do not simply bottom out into relativistic or emotivist denials of any moral rationality whatsoever (the mistaken conclusion of Nietzsche, Sartre and Stevenson). He does this by returning to the tradition of Aristotelian ethics with its teleological account of the good and moral persons which was originally rejected by the Enlightenment and which reached a fuller articulation in medieval writings of Thomas Aquinas. This Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition, he proposes, presents 'the best theory so far', both of how things are and how we ought to act.

Laurence is much more up-to-date than me on how this line of thinking has developed over the years. He is reading Sabina Lovibond – someone that its very hard to find much about on the net without stumping up – she only appears in a couple of footnotes in Wikipedia, for example. One of her recent books is Ethical Formation and the publisher summarizes it as follows: Lovibond elaborates and defends a modern practical-reason view of ethics by focusing on virtue or ideal states of character that involve sensitivity to the objective reasons circumstances bring into play. At the heart of her argument is the Aristotelian idea of the formation of character through upbringing; these ancient ideas can be made contemporary if one understands them in a naturalized way. .

I am not sure I have ever been particularly good at this arena of life. Laurence’s capabilities are described here:.

http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/research/people/Pages/LaurenceCranmer.aspx

LFM has just picked Robin’s Been Smoking Too Long to play for me – it’s the first time I have heard the guitar and organ fills. I wonder who the guitarist is – he’s pretty straight ahead. A long time ago Andrew K and I used an earlier mix of this tune’s basic loop as the accompaniment for a two flute improvisation. Laurence turned up at this event later on. It was a memorable evening.

I spent some time yesterday ferreting about on practical reason, particularly with GEM Anscombe and someone who was new to me but seems to be an intellectual successor – John Haldane – who has a background in both the visual arts and philosophy. I was tempted to buy his book, Seeking Meaning and Making Sense. Maybe later – I have two books on order as it is – Whitesell’s book about Miss M and Holzman’s book about Elektra.

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