Saturday, 31 December 2016

Spiked, December 16, 2016


From Sweden to Cuba: stop looking for utopias
Fantasising about perfect foreign countries is a way of dodging real debate.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Spiked, December 9, 2016


Veganism: a cult of purity
This obsession with clean living is a denial of human nature.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Spectator Blogs, December 8, 2016

The mystery of Kent's disappearing Polish shops
Patrick West

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Spiked, December 6, 2016


Are cries of sexism holding back science?
Humans are not ruled by biology – that doesn't mean it's not important.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Spiked, November 25, 2016


The wrath of the Do-Gooders
Are bien pensant observers the most hateful people in politics?

Friday, 18 November 2016

TLS, November 18, 2016


Gary Hayden 
WALKING WITH PLATO 
A philosophical hike through the British Isles 
224pp. Oneworld. £12.99. 978 1 78074 656 2 

Friedrich Nietzsche used to walk for up to eight hours a day, often rising well before dawn. “I am always on the road two hours before the sun comes over the mountains,” he wrote from Switzerland in 1877, “and especially in the long shadows of afternoon and evening.” His fellow philosopher Søren Kierkegaard was of a similar disposition, writing to his niece thirty years before: “every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it”. It is no coincidence that these two men, each physically and mentally tormented, were both keen walkers. 

As Gary Hayden, the author, previously, of You Kant Make It Up!: Strange ideas from history’s great philosophers (2011) observes in his latest book Walking with Plato: A philosophical hike through the British Isles, there is something about walking that soothes the spirit and frees the mind, especially for those with a less than cheery temperament. Walking with Plato has the appearance of a semi-serious travelogue, in which the author and his wife make the sometimes arduous and often dreary hike from John O’Groats to Land’s End. One might expect Bill Bryson with a dash of Alain de Botton. But Hayden, by his own admission, isn’t very interested in the landscape. He hasn’t even taken a notebook with him. It’s mostly an inventory of damp campsites and nondescript hotels, where “we lounged on the bed, ate crisps and chocolate and watched Strictly Come Dancing. But, apart from that, it’s all a blank”. 

Candid throughout about his own sombre constitution, Hayden is here, rather, on an inward journey. The physical act of trekking becomes a challenge in itself, the landscape a sideshow. He introduces us to other characters for whom the simple act of perambulation was an end in itself. The cast includes Bertrand Russell (“The secret of happiness is to understand that the world is horrible, horrible, horrible”), Charles Dickens, who composed A Christmas Carol in his head in a series of nocturnal ramblings in the winter of 1843, and Plato, who came to learn that physical vigour promotes intellectual vigour, and that the two promote psychological vigour. 

The author emerges at the end a happier man in this affable affair. “I did take pleasure in pitting myself against these obstacles, day after day, and overcoming them.” At Land’s End he surfaces as a naive, everyday Nietzsche – the philosopher who proposed that life was about accepting strife in order to overcome it. 

PATRICK WEST

Spiked, November 18, 2016


The rise of the Capitalist Left
Today's self-styled radicals care more about GDP figures than people.