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Tamas Pataki

Tamas Pataki

Tamas Pataki is honorary senior fellow at the University of Melbourne (School of Historical and Philosophical Studies) and honorary fellow of Deakin University. He studied philosophy at the University of Melbourne and psychoanalysis at University College, London University. He has been a lecturer in philosophy at RMIT, the University of Tasmania, and the University of Melbourne. He co-edited, with Michael Levine, Racism in Mind (2004) and is the author of Against Religion (2007), numerous journal articles and book chapters on the philosophy of mind, and many popular pieces and reviews.

Tamas Pataki reviews ‘Superstition: Belief in The Age of Science’ by Robert L. Park

March 2009, no. 309 01 March 2009
Robert L. Park is an American professor of physics who has taken up the sword against superstition and wobbly science. In an earlier book, Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud (2000), he assailed pseudoscientific delinquents and pretenders, and some of its themes reappear in Superstition. But the majority of the new book’s bogeys are generally acknowledged to be remote from science ... (read more)

Tamas Pataki reviews ‘New Under the Sun: Jewish Australians on religion, politics and culture’ edited by Michael Fagenblat, Melanie Landau and Nathan Wolski

August 2006, no. 283 01 August 2006
This significant anthology consists of thirty-three articles by Jewish Australian scholars, lawyers, writers, educators, rabbis, journalists and other high achievers, prefaced by a thoughtful and wide-ranging introduction by the editors. Many of the contributors are distinguished in their fields and prominent in public life. The editors have cast the volume from a ‘perspective of commitment and ... (read more)

Tamas Pataki reviews 'The Philosophy Of Sir William Mitchell (1861–1962): A mind’s own place' by W. Martin Davies and 'Corrupting The Youth: A history of philosophy in Australia' by James Franklin

April 2004, no. 260 01 April 2004
Socrates was executed in 399 BC, charged with refusing to recognise the state gods, introducing new divinities and corrupting the youth. The indictment was probably politically motivated. The philosopher was closely associated with the recently deposed oligarchy led by the murderous Critias, and he had taught Alcibiades, who betrayed the state. Later, Aeschines rebuked the Athenians: ‘You put So ... (read more)

Tamas Pataki reviews 'A Secular Age' by Charles Taylor

April 2008, no. 300 01 April 2008
That scourge of religion, Richard Dawkins, declared recently that the past year had been a bad one for God. He was probably referring to the success of his polemics against religion and to the tidal wave of kindred writings by other public intellectuals, such as Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. We do not know whether God would agree; and whether we should agree depends partly on how we read ... (read more)

Tamas Pataki reviews ‘In Search of Civilization: Remaking a tarnished idea’ by John Armstrong

October 2009, no. 315 01 October 2009
John Armstrong hails from Scotland and is currently philosopher in residence at the Melbourne Business School. He is well known for several popular but elegant works on, broadly speaking, aesthetic matters: among them, Conditions of Love (2002), The Secret Power of Beauty (2004) and Love, Life, Goethe (2006). His recent book is more ambitious than its predecessors, but remains essentially in their ... (read more)

Tamas Pataki reviews 'Two Prayers to One God: A Journey towards Identity and Belonging' by George Szego

October 2001, no. 235 01 October 2001
In March 1944, George Szego, a sixteen-year-old student in a provincial town, watched apprehensively as German troops replaced its Hungarian army posts. The massive deportations that ended in the near annihilation of Hungarian Jewry in the extermination camps and slave gangs of Eastern Europe were not long in coming. Szego had been christened a Roman Catholic. His Jewish parents converted in the 1 ... (read more)

Tamas Pataki reviews 'Frontiers of Justice: Disability, nationality, species membership' by Martha C. Nussbaum

May 2007, no. 291 01 May 2007
The concept of justice, like all the fundamental philosophical concepts – meaning, truth and so on – is perplexing. Justice has something to do with the distribution of ‘goods’ or benefits and ‘bads’ or burdens. Retributive justice aims to inflict a just burden – punishment – on the delinquent, or to take something away (‘make the offender pay’). Corrective justice, in the form ... (read more)

Tamas Pataki reviews 'Beyond Belief: Skepticism, science and the paranormal' by Martin Bridgstock

April 2010, no. 320 01 April 2010
Scepticism in the ordinary understanding is a doubting disposition, a healthy questioning mistrustfulness of extravagant or suspect claims to knowledge. Philosophical scepticism incorporates the attitude, but is more comprehensive in its objects. A philosophical sceptic may doubt the possibility of all knowledge, as the ancient Pyrrhonists did, or question our ability to obtain specific but fundam ... (read more)

Tamas Pataki reviews 'Writings on an Ethical Life' by Peter Singer

May 2001, no. 230 01 May 2001
Peter Singer occupies a distinguished position at the Centre for Human Values at Princeton University and is frequently described as the most influential of living philosophers. The front cover of this new selection of his writings couples him with Bertrand Russell and, in some respects, the comparison is sensible. Both philosophers have written clearly and simply on issues that are of interest no ... (read more)

Tamas Pataki reviews 'Messy Morality: The Challenge of Politics' by C.A.J. Coady

June 2009, no. 312 01 June 2009
Apologists for torture often defend their walk on the dark side by invoking putative imperatives, such as protecting their communities from great evils. The paradigm is the ‘ticking bomb’ situation, where pre-empting catastrophe hangs on extracting information from uncooperative terrorists. The merging of combatants and innocents in modern warfare has highlighted the terrible dilemmas of ‘co ... (read more)
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