Tag Archives: books

Early Tulips

Emirgan Korusu, 2016.03.12

Ayşe was still in Ankara, but I had seen rumors on Twitter that tulips were already blooming in Emirgan Korusu. The bulbs were being dowsed with ice water, lest the flowers be overblown for the Tulip Festival in April. Anyway, I wanted to get away from the crowds of Şişli and Beyoğlu. The morning was mostly sunny. Thus on Saturday, March 12, 2016, I headed out to Emirgan, repeating the trip that we had made the previous April. Continue reading

Turks of 1071 and Today



Skip to Michael Attaleiates on Alparslan after the Battle of Manzikert

Published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788, Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire tells the story of a thousand years and more, from before the founding of Constantinople in 330 till after its loss in 1453. Gibbon can be ridiculed for his title: a millenium is a long time to be in decline. The three thick volumes of the Penguin edition took me a long time to read, if not quite as long as Gibbon took to write. I was living in Ankara at the time, but I enjoyed being able to read Gibbon’s work also while visiting the three old imperial capitals: Istanbul, Rome, and Milan. Continue reading

Thoreau by the Aegean

In a session of the 1986–7 senior laboratory at St John’s College in Santa Fe, for reasons that I do not recall, our tutor asked us students whether we had any heroes: for it was said that young people of the day no longer had heroes. None of the students at the table named a hero. I myself refrained from telling how I had once named a hero, when asked to do so in a high-school French class. This hero was the Buddha.

In recent times, I have listed my favorite writers as Somerset Maugham, Robert Pirsig, and R.G. Collingwood. I might add Charlotte Bronte and Mary Midgley to the list. I cannot add the Buddha, because he is not a writer. If my list were of writers and thinkers, I still could not add the Buddha: I cannot know him or any other thinker well enough, except through his own writing. But now I would add Henry David Thoreau. Continue reading

Liberation

This article is based on quotations from three writers, of three different nationalities, who share a spirit with which I am in sympathy:

  1. “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
  2. ”The real cycle you’re working on is the cycle called ‘yourself.’”
  3. ‘I thought that the democratic system was not only a form of government but a school of political experience coextensive with the nation.’

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The Peace of Liberal Education

The wall of Dolmabahçe Sarayı, January 11, 2015

The wall of Dolmabahçe Sarayı, January 11, 2015

The occasion of this article is my discovery of a published Turkish translation of Collingwood’s Speculum Mentis or The Map of Knowledge (Oxford, 1924). Published as Speculum Mentis ya da Bilginin Haritası (Ankara: Doğu Batı, 2014), the translation is by Kubilay Aysevenler and Zerrin Eren. Near the end of the book, Collingwood writes the following paragraph about education, or what I would call more precisely liberal education. The main purpose of this article then is to offer the paragraph to any reader who happens to stop by.

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Bosphorus Sky

This is about the morning of Thursday, December 18, 2014, a morning I spent by the Bosphorus, thinking mostly about poetry, and photographing the sky.

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Cosmopolitanism

A discussion elsewhere, provoked by the Israel–Gaza conflict, has moved me to recall one and then another article in Katrina vanden Heuvel, ed., The Nation, 1865-1990: Selections from the Independent Magazine of Politics and Culture (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1990). As I recall, I ordered this anthology, having recently started subscribing to The Nation. I found the best way to read the anthology was backwards, thus starting with what I knew best.

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Having now transcribed passages from the anthology, I record them here also.

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Freedom

How do our thoughts age?

Having written recently that natural science was not history of nature, I looked back at Collingwood’s posthumous Principles of History for his arguments about this. I read his discussion of freedom as what distinguishes history from natural science. I recalled that his earlier writing was more concerned with removing distinctions than drawing them.

This is something that I investigate here. I occasionally encounter denials that we have free will. I find such denials bizarre; but evidently some people believe them, or at least believe they are worthy of consideration. I find Collingwood’s own account of freedom to be worthy of consideration. But then, considering this along with the rest of his œuvre, I have to conclude that everything is free. This conclusion is not really new to me; I drew such a conclusion as an adolescent. It may be a common thought. Wordsworth seems to have had such a thought, according to his Ode:

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Facts (NL IX, Retrospect, first 6 paragraphs)

Index to this series

A certain person says,

I am not better than you or more virtuous than you. If you see me on the right path, help me. If you see me on the wrong path, advise me and halt me. And obey me as far as I obey God.

How should one hear these words: as an eminently reasonable expression of benevolent humility such as any of us might honorably make? Well, no matter how qualified, the command obey me might be a warning sign. The words are in fact from a recently published video, as quoted in the Guardian Weekly (Vol 190 No 5, 11–17 July 2014, p. 4). The speaker is the man whose nom de guerre is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, on whose head the Department of State of the United States of America placed a ten-million-dollar bounty in 2011. He now styles himself Ibrahim, Caliph of the Islamic State, a new entity that is supposed to restore the lost Muslim glory of past centuries. This restoration is to be achieved through war. War requires military discipline, with punishments meted out for infractions like insubordination, not to mention the slaughter of those perceived as enemies. So al-Baghdadi’s request to be advised and halted if seen to be in the wrong must be interpreted rather carefully.

It is difficult to know how to interpret somebody’s words. With that I pass to the transitional chapter in the first part, “Man,” of Collingwood’s The New Leviathan.

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NL VII: “Appetite”

Index to this series

How can we compare two states of mind? This is the question of Chapter VII of The New Leviathan. The answer is contained in the chapter’s title. “Appetite” is a name, both for the chapter and for the fundamental instance of comparing a here-and-now feeling with a “there-and-then” feeling. We compare these two feelings because we are unsatisfied with the former, but prefer the latter.

It would seem then that appetite is at the root of memory. Thus we are among the ideas of the opening verses of The Waste Land of T. S. Eliot, who attended Collingwood’s lectures on Aristotle’s De Anima at Oxford (and was just a year older):

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