Lucretius and the papal secretary

Poggio (also known as Poggio Bracciolini) [Wikipedia] In 1417, during the Council of Constance that reunited the Catholic Church in the west, a papal secretary took advantage of the location in Germany to visit some libraries, while the papacy was vacant. He was hunting manuscripts, but not the newly written ones. Instead Gian Francesco Poggio […]

Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

The title page of the 1779 second edition. Readers may recall that I once posted a PDF of Hume’s Dialogues with the dialogues coloured by speaker. Recently I was asked by Alexander Afriat, of the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, for the same in EPub format. So I have converted it (without too many errors, I […]

What is special about humans?

As soon as somebody asks the question “what is a ____?” we get into trouble. Not because we do not know about the thing in the blank, but because we tend to have the wrong idea about how to answer that question. Since the Greeks, the general feeling is that to answer a question about […]

Good faith, bad faith and no faith in reasoning

We are hearing a lot of calls for there to be public debates with climate deniers, the alt-right (that is, modern fascists), creationists and antivaxxers, and this has led to people marking the so-called “paradox of tolerance” named by Karl Popper in his epochal 1945 Open Society and its Enemies: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the […]

The wealthy are often sociopathic. Why?

I have been encountering, in these days of political “incorrectness” (i.e., bastardry), more and more well-to-do folk who treat other folk as if they were lesser beings. Ranging from stepping over homeless people (literally) to failing to give way when you drive a Korean car and they a European one (or some varieties of Japanese). […]

What was Darwin’s Origin actually called

So, I got caught parroting half-remembered factoids, to Down House no less, that the Origin dropped the “On” from the start of the title with the fourth edition. In my defence, I was making use of Darwin Online, the Cambridge University site that collates all of Darwin’s publications and a whole lot more, in their list […]

Superstition and the fossil record

Superstition is not without value. Generally held beliefs give apparent order and coherence to human communities, qualities that are valued by some persons, especially those with a vested interest in the order and coherence that might prevail during a certain era of human history. Without apparent order and coherence, there would be no conventional wisdom, […]

In defence of taxonomists [plus ça change]

I sympathize with the physiologist or ecologist, who after he has written a luminous paper on a Cratoegus or Viola, or Rosa, or Opuntia, endeavors to ascertain the proper name for his plant; but I do not sympathize with his objurgations against the whole tribe of species makers. There is a deal of pseudo science, […]

Launching Species

WorldCat•LibraryThing•Google Books•BookFinder  It’s out! Get it here. Hardback and Ebook.

12 Days to Species publication

Due 15 February! Details here