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Abstract

Austin is not much in fashion these days. In Austin’s Way with Skepticism, Mark Kaplan swims against the current, arguing that Austin still has much to teach us about how to do epistemology. Methodologically, Austin’s insistence on fidelity to ordinary ways of talking about knowledge is a non-negotiable constraint on epistemological theorizing. Substantively, Austin has important things to say about knowledge. But while I am fully in accord with the spirit of Kaplan’s enterprise, I take Austin to occupy a more radical position: that getting the linguistic facts straight should lead us to call into question the very idea of a theory of knowledge, at least as ‘theory of knowledge’ has traditionally been understood.

In: International Journal for the Study of Skepticism

Abstract

In his Reflective Knowledge, Ernest Sosa offers a theory of knowledge, broadly virtue-theoretic in character, that is meant to transcend simple ways of contrasting "internalist" with "externalist" or "foundationalist" with "coherentist" approaches to knowledge and justification. Getting beyond such simplifications, Sosa thinks, is the key to finding an exit from "the Pyrrhonian Problematic": the ancient and profound skeptical problem concerning the apparent impossibility of validating the reliability of our basic epistemic faculties and procedures in a way that escapes vicious circularity. Central to Sosa's anti-skeptical strategy is the claim that there are two kinds of knowledge. His thought is that animal knowledge, which can be understood in purely reliabilist terms, can ground justified trust in the reliability of our basic cognitive faculties, thus elevating us (without vicious circularity) to the level of reflective knowledge. I offer a sketch of an alternative approach, linking knowledge and justification with epistemic accountability and responsible belief-management, which casts doubt on the idea that "animal" knowledge is knowledge properly so-called. However, it turns out that this approach is (perhaps surprisingly) close in spirit to Sosa's. I suggest that the differences between us may rest on a disagreement over the possibility of providing a direct answer to the Pyrrhonian challenge.

In: International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
In: Grazer Philosophische Studien

Abstract

Genia Schönbaumsfeld argues that Cartesian skepticism is an illusion induced by the “Cartesian Picture” of perceptual knowledge, in which knowledge of the “external world” depends on an inference from how things subjectively seem to one to how they actually are. To show its incoherence, she draws on the work of John McDowell, which she sees as elaborating a central theme from Wittgenstein’s On Certainty. I argue that Cartesian skepticism is not an illusion, as Schönbaumsfeld understands ‘illusion’, and that McDowell’s account of perceptual knowledge is both untenable and incompatible with Wittgenstein’s ideas about knowledge. Schönbaumsfeld thinks that, to understand how perception can engender knowledge of the world, we need a non-Cartesian account of perceptual reasons. Wittgenstein offers a much more radical break with the Cartesian Picture: an account of knowledge without ‘experience’.

In: International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
The Test It Was a Crime to Fail
The last person to ‘pass’ White Australia’s Dictation Test did so in 1907 by submitting a watercolour entitled ‘Advance Australia Fair. For the next 50 years of its existence the thereafter more carefully trained officials ensured no one ever passed again. Here is detailed how the White Australia Policy came to have a fake test of dictation at the heart of its administration. Beginning as an inspired piece of hypocrisy designed to preserve the semblance of imperial equality, in the hands of the early Commonwealth of Australia this ‘education test’ quickly evolved into a test it was impossible to pass.

Abstract

During the silent era, the myth and iconography of antiquity provided a ready-made vocabulary for Hollywood to fashion its new idols for the modern world. While explicit and implicit references to Apollo and Venus were readily appropriated in studio portraits and fan-magazine features for the streamlined age of Art Deco, the figure of Hercules stirred uneasily in what Photoplay magazine termed in 1928 ‘the world’s new Olympus’. While Hercules’ large build was a gift for publicising stars associated with strength (‘Hercules reincarnated’ or the ‘Hercules of the Pictures’, a trope going back to the early 1910s), his sometimes weary demeanour (the Farnese sculpture being most often cited in fan-magazines) also carried negative connotations. As one British fan wrote in 1924, Hercules was ‘too large’, and there ‘…are plenty of living models to-day who “out-model” any of the old masters of statuary’.

This chapter moves beyond on-screen portrayals of Hercules to more oblique uses of his myth and image. I focus on the ways film fan-magazines and the trade press marshalled the discourse of Hercules into their construction of stardom, examining how the demigod was ‘reincarnated’ into modern form through a series of mythic hybrids which produced a new mythical genealogy of stars, tempering the image of Hercules to the tastes and needs of the contemporary audience. We thus encounter intriguing mythical combinations, with Hercules merged with Apollo, Adonis, Mercury, and even Antinous. I argue that these formulations were part of an industrial strategy aimed at raising the cultural prestige and authority of cinema itself in the silent era. While I focus on stardom’s formative decades, I also signpost Hercules’ continuing influence on stardom today.

In: The Modern Hercules
In: Australia's Dictation Test
In: Australia's Dictation Test
In: Australia's Dictation Test
In: Australia's Dictation Test