Category Archives: history

Paper on “Open Data and the Politics of Transparency” at European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference 2014, University of Glasgow

Last week I gave a paper on “Open Data and the Politics of Transparency” at the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference 2014 at the University of Glasgow. The original abstract for the talk was as follows: In just a few years, open data has been established as a fundamental cornerstone of official […]

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Mapping the Cultural Commons

Following is the text of a keynote talk I gave at an event organised by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication in Paris last week, also cross-posted on the Ministry’s Culture Blog. After the event, Aurélie Filippetti, the French Minister for Culture and Communication, announced a new partnership to begin to map the public […]

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Goethe and Hegel discuss Hamann at a tea party

On October 18, 1827, Goethe gave a tea party in honor of the philosopher Hegel, who had come to Weimar to visit him. Although each of the men genuinely respected the achievements of the other, we know from a first-hand report of the discussion that the radical difference in their basic philosophical positions emerged in […]

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The Genius and the Soil: Open Access and the Politics of Information

The following article was originally published in the April-May 2013 edition of Red Pepper (Issue 189). Who can share what on the internet? There is an increasing awareness of debates around illegal sharing through high profile court cases and controversies in the news – through things like the Pirate Bay, Wikileaks, or the recent tragic […]

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The Hegemony of the Eye

Insofar as the most innovative instruments of the era – the telescope and the microscope – extended the range and acuity of one sense in particular, scientific experience tended to privilege the visual, with its capacity to produce knowledge at a distance, over the other senses. Even when Bacon castigated normal vision for staying on […]

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Zeno of Citium on Flute-Playing Olives and Harp-Bearing Trees

In his On the Nature of the Gods Cicero alludes to Zeno of Citium‘s discussion of flute-playing olives and harp-bearing trees: “If melodiously piping flutes sprang from the olive, would you doubt that a knowledge of flute-playing resided in the olive? And what if plane trees bore harps which gave forth rhythmical sounds? Clearly you […]

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The Sleepless City

From Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi’s The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (New York: Macmillan, 1980): SLEEPLESS CITY, in northern Nigeria. The inhabitants have the singular habit of never sleeping, and have therefore no idea of what sleep is. The city is a particularly dangerous place for strangers. If a traveller should happen to overlook the […]

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Hamann and Benjamin on the Concept of Experience

Next month I’ll be giving a paper at the upcoming The Philosophy of Walter Benjamin conference at Goldsmiths, University of London. Here’s the abstract: In his 1917 essay “On the Program of the Coming Philosophy”, Benjamin wrote: “The great transformation and correction which must be performed upon the concept of experience, oriented so one-sidedly along […]

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When Leibniz met Spinoza

In 1676 Leibniz found a pretext to visit Spinoza in The Hague, having learned that Spinoza was at work on a philosophical treatise of great importance. Spinoza showed Leibniz the manuscript of the Ethics, and the two men discussed philosophy together over several days. Although there is no written record of their conversation, it seems […]

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Hamann, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein on the Language of Philosophers

I’ve got a chapter on “Hamann, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein on the Language of Philosophers” in Hamann and the Tradition, which has just been published by Northwestern University Press. The book is based on a series of papers given at an international conference on Hamann in New York in March 2009. It is edited by Lisa […]

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