Ted Cruz’s push for belief over fact means Biden didn’t win, there was no moon landing, Elvis lives

by Rashmee

Posted on January 5, 2021


This week, Texas Senator Ted Cruz will lead nearly a dozen Republican colleagues in a move to reject electors from certain states won by President-elect Joe Biden. The grounds for these are vague but fevered: Mr Cruz and the others cite unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud and want an emergency 10-day audit of the election … Continue reading “Ted Cruz’s push for belief over fact means Biden didn’t win, there was no moon landing, Elvis lives”

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Philosophically speaking, John Gray is doing to cats what Thomas Nagel did to bats

by Rashmee

Posted on October 28, 2020


The other day I heard a philosopher do to cats what Thomas Nagel famously did to bats. In 1974, Professor Nagel published a paper that continues to be taught to undergraduates studying philosophy. ‘What Is It Like to Be a Bat?’ posed key questions about consciousness and facts that are “beyond the reach of human … Continue reading “Philosophically speaking, John Gray is doing to cats what Thomas Nagel did to bats”

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Like Trump, the 7th century Byzantine Empire invoked God

by Rashmee

Posted on October 9, 2020


Somewhat like Donald Trump, who was recently moved to discern the hand of God in Covid-19 therapeutic treatments, the seventh century Byzantine Empire constantly invoked God. Harried by the Arabs from across their shared border, the Byzantines were intensely conscious of the force of divine intercession. This started before the Arab invasions. In the first … Continue reading “Like Trump, the 7th century Byzantine Empire invoked God”

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Everyone’s writing about philosophy. Especially the pundits

by Rashmee

Posted on September 23, 2020


On September 8, Washington Post columnist David Von Drehle wrote a piece on the lessons offered by two ancient philosophers during the pandemic. That was the Stoics – Lucius Annaeus Seneca Epictetus. The article reprised an August 27 offering in the Wall Street Journal headlined “Philosophy for a time of crisis”. That was, as the … Continue reading “Everyone’s writing about philosophy. Especially the pundits”

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Robinson Crusoe’s Arab Andalusian forbears?

by Rashmee

Posted on September 16, 2020


The story goes as follows. Ibn Tufail, a 12th century Arab Andalusian thinker, wrote a philosophical novel titled ‘The Epistle of Hayy Ibn Yaqzan on the Secrets of Eastern Philosophy’. (When I bought a Kindle version, incidentally, it bore the following name: ‘The Improvement of Human Reason: Exhibited in the Life of Hai Ebn Yokdhan’). … Continue reading “Robinson Crusoe’s Arab Andalusian forbears?”

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Back to the culture wars then

by Rashmee

Posted on September 14, 2020


The gains from the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement were many. It proved to be a great investment for the Arabs. Not only did they create a vibrant environment of intellectual enquiry, they were able to use their very appetite for Hellenic knowledge as a cultural cudgel against their rivals next door, the Christian Byzantines. Interestingly, Muslim … Continue reading “Back to the culture wars then”

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What was the logic of the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement?

by Rashmee

Posted on September 13, 2020


Why did the second Abbasid Caliph Al Mansur (r.754-775) initiate the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement? He was no scholar but there was a very particular reason to lay claim to the fruits of Hellenic thinking. Al Mansur had an interest in astrology and may have been keen to form a dynastic ideology. This was to be … Continue reading “What was the logic of the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement?”

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The Greek-to-Arabic translation movement: no expense spared

by Rashmee

Posted on September 12, 2020


The 200-year-old Greek-to-Arabic translation movement begun by the Abbasid Caliph Al Mansur (r.754-775) has no equivalent in world history. Never before and never since has one culture tried to import the knowledge of another in so sustained a manner as the Arabs did with Hellenic thought. It was an expensive business too, creating its own … Continue reading “The Greek-to-Arabic translation movement: no expense spared”

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Culture wars and cultural gaps: the Hellenic equation

by Rashmee

Posted on September 11, 2020


The culture wars between the Muslims and the Byzantines had decided effects. Often, they left the Byzantines feeling small and with the sense that they were late-starters. Consider this interesting story recounted by British archaeologist and academic of Late Antiquity Judith Herrin. The Byzantines were trying to brush up on their knowledge of math and … Continue reading “Culture wars and cultural gaps: the Hellenic equation”

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Don’t despair over the culture wars. They’re benign compared to 8th and 9th centuries

by Rashmee

Posted on September 10, 2020


Not too long ago, British sociologist Frank Furedi wrote a piece on the culture wars in the US and UK. He asserted that the culture war was historically “set in motion in Western societies by a powerful impulse to detach the present from the past, which emerged at the turn of the 20th century”. He … Continue reading “Don’t despair over the culture wars. They’re benign compared to 8th and 9th centuries”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK