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C. W. Robbins (Spain)
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La Cafetiere Replacement Beaker 3 Cup,Suitable for La Cafetiere Cafetieres
La Cafetiere Replacement Beaker 3 Cup,Suitable for La Cafetiere Cafetieres
Offered by kleinemaeuse Preise inkl.MwSt
Price: £10.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a design fault?, 10 Feb 2010
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The glasses are too fragile. They break easily when pressure is applied to lower the filter. We can't use this product - the replacement glasses ARE TOO EXPENSIVE!


The Story of Art Pocket Edition
The Story of Art Pocket Edition
by EH Gombrich
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.56

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the pocket edition, 10 Feb 2010
I read this book in its first edition many years ago but have recently bought the pocket edition to see how the text and illustrations have evolved since 1950.

It would be impertinent to comment on Gombrich's magisterial understanding of art and of painting in particular. This - and his many other works, written for different audiences and with different aims - attest to his world class expertise. Nonetheless, there will be criticisms. Other reviewers note the absence of women artists: Gombrich was of course [made] aware of this, but he refused to introduce new material in his text unless it said something new about artists in general (he however refers to books on women artists in his Note on Art Books, p. 964). Some reviewers comment on the absence (wrongly) or relative absence of analysis of non-European art; but Gombrich points out that, since his book tells a story and does not merely list artists down the ages, the almost complete absence of development in Egyptian and other oriental art (until the incursion of European influences on the latter) might justify his relatively cursory treatment of them. In contrast, Western European art underwent almost continuous development from the Middle Ages onwards (while, incidentally, developments in the arts of the Byzantine Empire and its successor were relatively infrequent).

There are a few philosophical points which could be made:
(a) one of Gombrich's recurring themes is the distinction between what the artist (or the spectator) sees and what he (or the spectator) knows. Since artists have often used faulty information about their subject-matter (Gombrich himself instances the depiction of horse races, pp.25-26, and the colour of shadows in the open, p.393), the distinction should be between believing and seeing or between presupposition and fresh perception;
(b) Gombrich speaks of art as if it invariably emerges from the artist's discovering a problem and finding an [original] solution to it; yes, surely there are artists who approach their work with this almost intellectual enquiry but - when one talks to artists - one quickly finds thet they are often less analytical than spectators like Gombrich seem to assume them to be;
(c) in general there is more to be said about the factors influencing artists, of which they are unaware; these factors would include psychological ones (e.g. unconscious ideas) but also physiological ones.

The pocket edition puts the illustrations into a separate section, for technical reasons. They are largely successful. But some of the double-page spreads don't work (e.g. in fig. 156 in my copy, God has vanished into the centre fold) and some of the illustrations are just too small (e.g. fig. 217) or curiously muddy (e.g. fig. 236). There is one curious lapse by the Master: fig.7 does not represent Christ on the Cross, as he says, but an earlier moment in the Passion; this muddle seems to have arisen because Christ's pose is based on an earlier crucifixion by Reni from which a detail could easily have been taken for the purposes of the comparison Gombrich wishes to make.


Descartes's Theory of Mind
Descartes's Theory of Mind
by Desmond Clarke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding analysis of a complex thinker, 9 Jan 2010
Clarke's book richly deserves serious attention from all Cartesians - and could shed some light on John Locke`s views as well. His argument amounts to the claim that Descartes may have been a property dualist rather than a substance dualist - and only insisted on describing the soul as a substance for theological reasons, not meta-scientific ones.
I'd add two points to the publisher's summary: (a) Clarke demonstrates that Descartes believed that brain research would show the dependence of many types of mental event and act on specific brain states; he did not believe that the soul always acted wholly independently of the body and he recognised - in the words of the standard metaphor - that the soul is not lodged in the body like a pilot in a ship, but seems coterminous with it. (b) Conversely, as Clarke admits, Descartes also believed that one kind of mental act - "pure intellection" - was independent of any brain state.

I confess I could not wholly follow Clarke' account of Descartes's theory of the will.


The Craftsman
The Craftsman
by Richard Sennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.49

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars stimulating but ultimately disappointing, 28 Jun 2009
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This review is from: The Craftsman (Paperback)
This book could have met a clear need: a work explaining clearly what craftsmen have to offer in a post-industrial age would have been welcome. Also,we could use a book explaining why so many of us rush to buy objects at "craft fairs" etc. even when they may be of lower quality than their industrial equivalents.
Sennett rightly stresses the (good) craftsman's commitment to quality and the involvement in craftsmanship of implicit knowledge (in industry, there can also be a commitment to quality, but only on the basis of explicit knowledge). But he says little about the expression of personality, flair or even a certain Weltanschauung through craftwork. (Sennett seems to assume that artists are not craftsmen but surely the two categories overlap considerably.) He includes an essay on the hand but is less clear on whether craftworks are necessarily handmade. (I believe not necessarily: poets and composers are craftsmen without needing to exercise any special manual dexterity.)
I agree with the other reviewers that (i)Sennett does not lay down a clear line of argument and gets bogged down in examples and byways, not all of which are strictly relevant; (ii) the book is shoddy: Penguin should be particularly ashamed of the paperback edition which contains all the typos of the hardback edition uncorrected and is produced meanly with tiny margins; so much for craftsmanship!
Again, like other reviewers I have reservations about Sennett's use of his sources. I'll give one example: his references to Adam Smith. He says (a) that the "Wealth of Nations" (1776) was published a generation after the "Encyclopédie"(1751-1772) [!] and that Smith asserted that "machines would end the project of enlightenment"; but Smith says no such thing: he recognises that the repetitive work entailed by the division of labour (not necessarily involving machines) may dull people's minds but proposes a remedy for this (adult education). Smith argued - surely plausibly - that mechanisation increased productivity to society's general benefit, making inter alia education available to a wider range of people.
Moreover (b) Sennett ignores Smith's admiration for the intelligence of agricultural craftsmen: in agriculture division of labour may be compatible with the preservation of some crafts, e.g. animal husbandry. Then (c) Sennett says that in "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" Smith "asked his readers to enter into the misfortunes and limits of other human beings" but he did no such thing: he clearly asserts that "sympathy" is a part of human nature; it does not "instruct ethically" as Sennett says but is the meaning of ethics.
These examples raise doubts in my mind about Sennett's use of e.g. Plato or Kant and his references to the scientific revolution (which all seem to be based on secondary sources).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2013 8:07 PM BST


A House For Mr Biswas
A House For Mr Biswas
by V. S. Naipaul
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the greatest books of the 20th century, 26 Jun 2009
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This review is from: A House For Mr Biswas (Paperback)
In its density and temporal reach "Biswas" is a Dickensian delight. But Naipaul is, amazingly, a better stylist than Dickens ever was. A wonderful book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 9, 2013 12:27 PM BST


Double Vision: Moral Philosophy and Shakespearean Drama
Double Vision: Moral Philosophy and Shakespearean Drama
by Tzachi Zamir
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars an interesting failure, 13 Feb 2009
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I bought this book because Martha Nussbaum had praised it in print, comparing it favourably to Antony Nuttall's "Shakespeare the Thinker". Despite Nuttall's sometimes naive approach to philosophical issues, I am afraid I regard his as the better book, mainly because he takes more trouble to expound the main and subsidiary themes in the plays without obtrusive anachronism. (No doubt Nuttall, if he had lived, would have changed some technical details - see the harsh TLS review for some indication of possible areas for improvement - but overall his book successfully meets its objectives.)
Zamir's book contains very useful pointers to the philosophical appreciation of literature. As many philosophers before him have observed (notably Plato, Pascal and Nietzsche) not all our beliefs rest on deductive argument or inductive proof. We believe many general propositions as a result of our personal experience of a few cases and literature can deepen or reinforce those beliefs. This must indeed be one of the key features of Shakespeare's plays' unequalled power over a wide range of spectators and readers for several centuries.
Zamir's book starts poorly with a rushed and incoherent account of a passage from Marlowe. But this is only introductory. The arguments (taking up about one third of the book) for using literature to philosophical effect are cogent.
Zamir then outlines seven case studies: his accounts of "Richard III" and "Romeo and Juliet" are illuminating but some of the others less so. His treatment of "Othello" is especially hard to understand.
I imagine English is not Zamir's usual working language. The book isd marred by semantic and syntactical oddities and by lapses into fashionable terminology which explains little. The most salient example of this is his persistent reference to "parenting" in the chapter on "King Lear", an absurdity both in terms of the play and given the cueesnt use of this term by social workers et al.


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