Choose the Axiom III

by Carl Pierer In the first part of this essay, the axiom of choice was introduced and a rather counterintuitive consequence was shown: the Banach-Tarski Paradox. To recapitulate: the axiom of choice states that, given any collection of non-empty sets, it is possible to choose exactly one element from each of them. This is uncontroversial…

Qanat (Part II)

by Carl Pierer Starting from the formidable climatic challenges faced by cities on the Iranian plateau, Part I of this essay presented the ingenious Iranian invention of Qanats. Those underground aqueducts, which exploit gravitation to redirect an aquifer under a mountain to the surface, are remarkable feats of engineering. Covering distances of several kilometres, they…

Qanat (Part I)

by Carl Pierer Yazd, one of the big three Tourist destinations in central Iran, has a rather challenging climate. With summer temperatures often exceeding 40C and hardly any precipitation at all (49 mm per year), water is a major concern. The city is rightfully famous for its wind towers (بادگیر) and qanats (قنات). While the…

Innocent Remembrance

by Carl Pierer Since 2014, various student societies at the University of Edinburgh have but on musical performances commemorating the first world war. This article takes a look at one performance in particular. The content is neither highly original nor particularly radical; others have written more insightful and more sophisticated pieces. It constitutes merely an…

Dialethic Dialectic

by Carl Pierer Historically, formal logic and Hegel's philosophy's relation has been dominated by antipathy. Classical logic, developing from Aristotelian logic to the Frege/Russell logic of the 20th century, has largely rejected Hegel because of his overt embrace of contradictions. Hegel, vice-versa, has not been too charitable to the formal logic of his day. In…

Public Transport & Urban Form

by Carl Pierer In a time of rapid urbanisation, cities distil contemporary issues. By 2050, more than two thirds of the world's population will live in an urban environment (DESA, 2012). Social questions, political problems, and environmental concerns are increasingly raised in an urban context. In particular, due to the concentration of people and consequently…

Pornography’s Silencing

by Carl Pierer A few months ago, this column discussed Rae Langton's argument that pornography subordinates women. This argument forms the first part of a longer paper re-published in her book Sexual Solipsism. The second part of this paper argues that pornography silences women. In light of recent events and discussions, this idea seems to…

Pornography’s Subordination

by Carl Pierer Sometimes, speech achieves something. Sometimes even, speech is necessary to do something. For instance, in the now famous example, somebody is getting married by uttering "I do." Austin's theory distinguishes three aspects to such utterances. First, what is being said: the locution. Secondly, what effect it has (on, for example, the hearer):…

Two Portraits Of Masculinity?

by Carl Pierer At this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival, Donmar Warehouse presented a filmed version of their Julius Caesar. The all-female adaption of Shakespeare's play is set in a prison with the cast including both professional actors and (former) inmates. It has received much critical acclaim, travelling internationally. Now it has been made available…

The Salesman

by Carl Pierer Arthur Miller's famous dissection of the American Dream in his Death of a Salesman still stands as a hallmark of American literature that has not lost any of its appeal. Its striking and damning socio-politico commentary continues to be of relevance. There is, however, a second, more intimate and personal drama that…

“Art thou a man?”

by Carl Pierer Much has been written about Zeffirelli's adaption of Romeo & Juliet, in particular its focus on the themes of youth and beauty. A neat narrative lends itself to explain the films popularity and immense success: Zeffirelli catered for a teen audience (choosing unknown, very young lead actors, exploring themes of sexuality) in…

Merleau-Ponty & Wittgenstein

by Carl Pierer Perception lies at the heart of our everyday life. Both Merleau-Ponty and Wittgenstein have derived radical philosophical results from paying close attention to the structures of our perception. This essay attempts to illustrate a deep affinity between the two thinkers: not only do both discover a common dualistic ontology underlying their opponents'…

Choose the Axiom II

by Carl Pierer M.C. Escher: Reptiles. In the first part of this essay, the axiom of choice was introduced and a rather counterintuitive consequence was shown: the Banach-Tarski Paradox. To recapitulate: the axiom of choice states that, given any collection of non-empty sets, it is possible to choose exactly one element from each of them.…

Some polemical thoughts on ‘national’ historical responsibility

by Carl Pierer German foreign policy often talks about a particular historical German responsibility, some special status that Germans have inherited after World War II[i]. Even left commentators, usually internationalist in outlook, seem to accept such a notion uncritically[ii]. But what role does the concept of ‘nation' play in this context? Ernest Renan writes in…