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Still shot from the film version of ‘The Spy Who Came In from the Cold’ (1965) starring Richard Burton.

John le Carré has died. His career as part of the literary heritage of Britain seemed to have the endless capacity to evolve and progress while still telling the same story: the tragedy and inevitability of how our desires get intertwined with the systems we create. With his last two novels taking clear positions on Brexit, there is something eerie and poignant about his passing for relations between the UK and the continent. Particularly as the Brexit trade talks attempt to find closure before the end of the year.

The last novel he published, Agent Running in the Field, is…


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An image of a woman concentrating on a touch screen display. The point of view is from behind the screen as she manipulates the windows of information in front of her.

There is a section in American philosopher Daniel C. Dennett’s book From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (2017) where he takes a swipe at the German noun Verstehen (understanding) and how philosophers such as Immanuel Kant or Wilhelm Dilthey employ it. His problem with it? Understanding or comprehension is not a ‘separate, stand-alone, mental marvel’. For Dennett, this is an ‘ancient but obsolete’ idea (94). We will return to whether Verstehen is a ‘separate, stand-alone, mental marvel’ in a moment, but first some context.

In, From Bacteria to Bach and Back, Dennett creates a fascinating account…


In many ways, almost overnight, we are suddenly in a period in the UK of looking ahead. Coronavirus restrictions were further eased on 1 June and the government has entered its final round of Brexit trade talks this month before a stock take about whether to extend the process. And while things are by no means normal, one familiar motif in international relations has quickly reared its head again: voices of concern about Britain’s relations with the EU. From the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier telling the Sunday Times last week that if the UK wanted a deal it needed…

Halbzeug (semi-finished product)

I’m the Thyssen Research Fellow at QMUL’s Centre for Anglo-German Cultural Relations. This blog is my space for work in progress or ‘Halbzeug’.

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