The Polar North: Ways of Speaking, Ways of Belonging. Francis Boutle, London. 2014
Stephen Pax Leonard is an Oxford educated linguist, author and former research fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, who has travelled widely in the Scandinavian Polar region. His latest book gives an extensive account of a year spent living in Qaanaaq, a small settlement in the remote northwest of Greenland.
The author’s longstanding interest in the linguistic cultures of the polar region draws him to Qaanaaq because it is home to the Inugguit, a community of around 700 Polar Eskimos who speak a dialect not readily understood
Alexandre Leupin, Édouard Glissant, Philosopher: Heraclitus and Hegel in the Whole-World Translated by Andrew Brown. (New York: Central University of New York Press, 2021), pp. 309.
Alexandre Leupin has written a marvellous book. His formidable study of the philosophy of Édouard Glissant is so profuse with ideas that it is difficult to know how to frame a review, where to enter, or what to omit. One reads and rereads passages – both his own and Glissant’s – absorbed by the richness of the material and the quality of the writing. Of the latter, credit is due to Andrew
Walks with Robert Walser (trans. Anne Posten). New Directions, New York. 2017
The Swiss writer Robert Walser (1878-1956) has been an overlooked figure among the original voices that mark European literature of the last century. Yet his work was admired by his contemporaries, Kafka and Walter Benjamin, Robert Musil and Herman Hesse. More recently, with the appearance of English translations of the novels and short stories, Walser has acquired a posthumous reputation within the modern tradition of German prose. And although Susan Sontag and J.M. Coetzee, among others, have drawn Walser to the attention of the English-speaking world, it
Lin Ma and Jaap van Brakel, Fundamentals of Comparative and Intercultural Philosophy. State University of New York Press, Albany, NY. 2016.
Comparative resemblances – necessary differences
This is a rich and stimulating book.
It explores the basis for a complex set of preconditions that make possible communicative interactions between languages and traditions, and challenges notions that take for granted an “ideal language” that assumes there to be universal (and relativist) conceptual schemes for understanding intercultural differences. Ma and van Brakel deal with the problematic implications this assumption has for intercultural interpretation, and do so by drawing on case
Lau, Kwok-Ying, Phenomenology and Intercultural Understanding: Toward a New Cultural Flesh. Springer International, 2016.
There is today unparalleled curiosity and interaction between China and the Western world. Ever more, this has brought opportunities for both “sides” to explore and learn from each other’s intellectual traditions in order to forge positive relations for a shared future. Lau’s ambitious book is a useful contribution to the East/West dialogue encouraging mutuality and reciprocity.
His comparative study offers a scholarly perspective on the philosophy of intercultural understanding, refracted chiefly through the lenses of Chinese thought and Western phenomenology, in order to bring
Silvia Jonas, Ineffability and its Metaphysics: The Unspeakable in Art, Religion, and Philosophy. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. 2016.
Silvia Jonas’ Ineffability and its Metaphysics: The Unspeakable in Art, Religion, and Philosophy is a marvellous book. It is precise, concise, rigorous, and eloquent. In short, it is a beautifully written treatise on a complex and elusive subject. Throughout, her prose is meticulous and stringent, and ideas retain a lucid coherence across the whole text, assisted by an apt and elegant structure. It is the fine product of disciplined scholarship and an exemplar of how to write accurately.
Dylan Craig, Sovereignty, War and the Global State. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. 2019.
The use of irregular forces of the state to wage war has a long history. However, the advent and then the use of atomic bombs in the Second World War brought about necessary constraints on all-out warfare, after 1945. Thus, increasingly, so-called “irregular forces” have become the weapon of choice in the conduct of contemporary conflicts. And although the fundamental causes of war are much the same today as they ever were, the means of state violence have shifted dramatically. The euphemism of the “surgical strike”
Sarah Hickmott, Music, Philosophy and Gender in Nancy, Lacoue-Labarthe, Badiou (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020), pp. 256.
Sarah Hickmott’s excellent book challenges essentialist notions of the autonomy of music, through a rigorous and insightful study of the musical philosophies of Jean-Luc Nancy, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Alain Badiou.
A problematic legacy of Romanticism has been its elevated notion of purity – “pure” in so far as a musical work is detached from a world of socio-economic, political and cultural influences, as well as from ontological or ethical concerns. In a nutshell, according to this essentialist perspective, music stands beyond
Gary Peters, Improvising Improvisation: From Out of Philosophy, Music, Dance and Literature (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2017), pp. 288.
It’s a curious experience to find, on the second page of an introduction, an author describe the book they’ve written and which you’ve looked forward to reading as, “this loathsome book.”1 If indeed their estimation is correct, why continue reading it? On the other hand, if it’s incorrect, what is the author doing telling us that? Does Gary Peters really believe his book to be loathsome? Whatever is the case, his conspicuous remark affects