Author Archives: David Pierce

Mathematician & logician; amateur of philosophy; having journalists in family; alumnus of St John’s College (USA); living in Ankara & Istanbul since 2000

Feyhaman Duran

Born on the Asian side of Istanbul in Kadıköy in 1886, İbrahim Feyhaman was orphaned nine years later. His father had been a poet and calligrapher. His mother’s dying wish was that Feyhaman attend the Lycée Impérial Ottoman de Galata-Sérai; his maternal grandfather, Duran Çavuş, saw that this happened. Some time after graduation, headmaster Tevfik Fikret had Feyhaman come back to Galatasaray to teach calligraphy.

Garden of Aşiyan, September 10, 2015

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Nature and Death

Thoughts on mortality and the evolution of the universe, occasioned by a funeral and by Collingwood’s Idea of Nature and Plato’s Phaedo

Cebeci, Ankara, 2016.05.17

When the husband of my second-grade teacher died, I wanted to pay my respects. My father took me to the funeral home, where I hid behind him as he greeted the family of the deceased. My teacher was not among them. When invited to view the body, I looked over and saw it, lying off to the side in an open casket. I had never seen the man when he was alive. I declined the opportunity to gaze at his lifeless form. Until I came to Turkey, this was my closest approach to the materiality of death—except for a visit to the medical school of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. There, as part of the laboratory program at St John’s College in Santa Fe, students viewed dissected human cadavers.

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Community

Concerning a proposal (not by me) to make a “strategic withdrawal” from public life

What in the 1960s was called a commune is now an intentional community. I lived in one of these in the mid-1990s, when I was in graduate school.

We were six persons, and when one of us needed to be replaced, we advertised ourselves as a cooperative vegetarian group-house. Continue reading

Duty to Nature

Index to this series

This is a synthesis of some ideas from a recent spate of posts in this blog. A theme is the question of why we do what we do, and whether what we do to Nature in particular—how we think of Nature—can change.

Farhang Mehr, The Zoroastrian Tradition, cover with image of Zarathustra Continue reading

Freedom to Listen

“It’s a free country, so shut up!”

On Thursday, February 16, at Bosphorus University, a talk on the subject of freedom of speech was given by a Guardian columnist who was a history professor at Oxford. This was Timothy Garton Ash, who observed that freedom of speech and of the press had been severely curtailed in Turkey. For a defender of the regime, the accusation might be belied by the speaker’s freedom to make it. Academics can still come from abroad and give their critical talks. However, as Professor Garton Ash detailed, many Turkish academics have been fired from their positions; many journalists have been imprisoned; other journalists cannot get their articles published. Continue reading

NL XVIII: “Theoretical Reason”

Index to this series

Reason is primarily practical: it explains why we do what we do. Secondarily, reason explains why others do what they do (18. 1): this makes reason theoretical, though not entirely so, since questions about others arise from, and are answered by, our relations with those others (18. 11). The experimental method involves such relations: we do something to the world, to see how it will respond (18. 12). Continue reading

NL XVII: “Duty”

Index to this series

New England Primer

“In Adam’s Fall,
We sinned all”
(New England Primer)

We are trying to understand reason in its original form, practical reason. Why do we do what we do? It may be useful for something else, or right according to some law or rule. A third possibility is that what we do may be our duty: the fulfilment of an obligation. Continue reading

NL XVI: “Right”

Index to this series

Follower of Pietro Perugino, Saint Jerome in the Wilderness, c. 1490/1500, tempera on panel (National Gallery of Art, Washington; Samuel H. Kress Collection)

Follower of Pietro Perugino, Saint Jerome in the Wilderness, c. 1490/1500, tempera on panel (National Gallery of Art, Washington; Samuel H. Kress Collection)

We continue to investigate how two purposes x and y can have a relation symbolized by yx. In the previous chapter, the relation was that x was useful for y; now the relation will be that x is right for y, meaning x “conforms with the rule y” (16. 3). Continue reading

NL XV: “Utility”

Index to this series

George Inness (American, 1825–1894), The Lackawanna Valley, c. 1856, oil on canvas (National Gallery of Art, Washington; gift of Mrs. Huttleston Rogers)

George Inness (American, 1825–1894), The Lackawanna Valley, c. 1856, oil on canvas (National Gallery of Art, Washington; gift of Mrs. Huttleston Rogers). See footnote

In the previous chapter, “Reason,” we have seen that an intention x may have another intention y as a ground or reason; and we may symbolize this relation by yx. In Collingwood’s example now, x is giving a sum of money to a tobacconist, and y is receiving a pound of tobacco (15. 17). Continue reading

NL XIV: “Reason”

Index to this series

Rogier van der Weyden (Netherlandish, 1399/1400-1464), Portrait of a Lady, c. 1460, oil on panel, Andrew W. Mellon Collection

Rogier van der Weyden (Netherlandish, 1399/1400–1464), Portrait of a Lady, c. 1460, oil on panel (National Gallery of Art, Washington; Andrew W. Mellon Collection)

There was a rumor that Collingwood had become a communist. According to David Boucher, editor of the revised (1992) edition, the rumor was one of the “many reasons why The New Leviathan failed to attract the acclaim which had been afforded Collingwood’s other major works.” Continue reading