Bernard Williams (1929–2003) was Deutsch Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. His books include Problems of the Self, Moral Luck, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, and Truth and Truthfulness.


Wagner & Politics

How should we think about Wagner? Those who are troubled by that question, as I am, presumably think that as an artist he is worth being troubled about: that his works, or some of them, are demanding, inviting, seductive, powerful. Not everyone who cares about music need share that opinion.

The End of Explanation?

The Last Word

by Thomas Nagel
This discussion will be concerned with an issue that runs through practically every area of inquiry and that has even invaded the general culture—the issue of where understanding and justification come to an end. Do they come to an end with objective principles whose validity is independent of our point …

The Riddle of Umberto Eco

The Limits of Interpretation

by Umberto Eco

Interpretation and Overinterpretation

by Umberto Eco and Richard Rorty and Jonathan Culler and Christine Brooke-Rose, edited by Stefan Collini
At the beginning of Umberto Eco’s novel Foucault’s Pendulum, there are two epigraphs. Every chapter of this book also has an epigraph, so these are particularly prominent—they come before everything else. One is a quotation from an occultist writer, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim. The other is from a contemporary …

Republican and Galilean

Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity

by Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor is concerned with the ways in which we can and should think of ourselves as people who have—or lack—a sense of what is important to us, of what we most care about, and of what is valuable. This sense of our moral identity, for most of us, is …

Bad Behavior


by Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson is a prolific British writer who has produced histories of the Jews, Christianity, the modern world, and the English people. He is, I believe, a Catholic (if so, it commendably did not discourage him, in his substantial and very readable history of Christianity, from admitting that the religion, …