Opinion / Writing and Language

Wittgenstein and Chess

Ludwig Wittgenstein! There’s a name for us newbie philosophy fans. Wittgenstein burst into the tranquil Cambridge life of the then mighty philosopher Bertrand Russell and was soon arguing with him intensely about the presence or absence of a rhinoceros in the room. Or was it a hippopotamus? Wittgenstein often used […]

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SCOTUS: Who Decides Who Decides?

The furious noise over a new nomination by President Trump to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is all about a subject familiar to readers here. Namely the two basic issues in politics or indeed wider life: Who decides? Who decides who decides? If X is tasked to Decide, the person […]

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Philosophical Problems

A loyal reader posts a comment on my piece about my new philosophical obsessions: I expect Charles will have a fun time on his one-year MA. We here might also have fun from his pithy views on what he is taught. How about some non-philosophical problems. Issue 1. Philosophers have, […]

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Philosophy: Trolley Problem Torture

Anyway, I have signed up for a one-year MA in Philosophy by Research at the University of Buckingham, a programme led by Professor Sir Roger Scruton. This seems like a good way (if not the only way) these days to learn something intelligent in a top-end academic environment while avoiding […]

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Giving a Speech: Speaking Notes

I’ve been basking in my latest speechwriting glory that left the speaker mobbed on the evening and over breakfast the following morning: people pressing grateful congratulations, including people who praised her for ‘helping us think in a different way’. We talked yesterday – some of her points: I used to […]

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Faux Authenticity

Over on LinkedIn I stumble over Ten Unmistakable Habits of Utterly (sic) Authentic People. Complete with a picture of a toothsome massively haired young female for added clicks. Thus: To live authentically, you must own your actions and ensure that they align with your beliefs and needs. This can be a […]

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Amazing Public Speaking! Or Not

Say you’re Mary, a woman executive. Clever. Doing well. Rising fast. Ambitious. Self-confident. I can do this! You give a TEDx talk. Fame! It turns out to be like many (most?) TEDx talks. The faux-jokey ‘strong start’. The almost desperate attempt to be NEW and INTERESTING. Over-rehearsed. Contrived. Formulaic. Not-so-subliminally […]

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Starting a Speech by Being Funny

This is my most popular answer on Quora with over 20,000 views, replying to an interesting question: What is the funniest opening line that you have heard (or said) in a public speech? Hmm. Right Ho, Jeeves “Boys,” said Gussie, “I mean ladies and gentlemen and boys, I do not […]

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Back to Toastmasters

You recall my exciting controversial Toastmasters adventures earlier this year? Here and then here. A member of a Vienna Toastmasters club who joined one of my ‘live’ masterclasses on Public Speaking kindly invited me to address her club when I was next in town. I warned her that I had […]

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Writing a Record of Conversation

One of the darker diplomatic and wider professional arts is writing a record of a conversation. There’s a lot going on here: what to summarise – the words, the context, the ‘tone’, the silences? how in principle to summarise it – should the material be presented in the order it was spoken, […]

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