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Denis Dutton RIP
December 28, 2010 7:46 PM   Subscribe

Denis Dutton (Wiki) has died. Denis founded and edited the website "Arts & Letters Daily", gained notoriety, admiration and respect for his strongly held views on Art, Philosophy and Science. He taught at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand from 1984 until his death. He was a founding member of New Zealand Sceptics, a former voice over artist (a skill he would often use to great effect lampooning hollywood) often a provocateur, and was named by Time Magazine in 2004 as "one of the worlds most influential media personalities." 9 February 1944 – 28 December 2010 RIP.

A man larger than life who was able to engage with cynical students from all walks of life with charisma, wit and mischievous antagonism. As a former student, my condolences to friends and family. RIP.
posted by Dillonlikescookies (56 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by eeeeeez at 7:56 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by clavdivs at 7:57 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:00 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by honest knave at 8:02 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by oneswellfoop at 8:03 PM on December 28, 2010


Denis founded and edited Philosophy and Literature over 30 years ago, and it remains a very significant journal with influence well beyond academic audiences.
posted by honest knave at 8:05 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by painquale at 8:06 PM on December 28, 2010


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Arts & Letters Daily is one of my daily reads for its great selection of articles on wide-ranging topics and big ideas.
posted by wenat at 8:11 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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Denis once taught philosophy at my place of current academic employ but long before my time. He will be missed.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:13 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by John Cohen at 8:14 PM on December 28, 2010


Arts & Letters Daily was and is a wonderful contribution to the vast ol' internet. I salute you, Mr. Dutton.

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posted by Neilopolis at 8:15 PM on December 28, 2010


Bloggingheads video of Dutton talking about his book The Art Instinct.
posted by John Cohen at 8:17 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by Soliloquy at 8:18 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by readery at 8:20 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by seawallrunner at 8:25 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:32 PM on December 28, 2010


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Arts & Letters Daily is not for me (there was something about the slant of the article choices that set me off sometimes) but the internet would be poorer without it.
posted by immlass at 8:34 PM on December 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


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posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:43 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by -harlequin- at 9:01 PM on December 28, 2010


Used to read A&LD religiously, though I abandoned it when the blood fever swept everything up after 9-11 and A&LD, as often as not, seemed to end up serving as just another vector for the spread of infectiously bad ideas and malignant cultural DNA. That may have been partly due to Mr. Dutton's legacy of playing provocateur. But despite my misgivings about A&LD's frequent role in propagating the academic equivalent of John Stossel's smarmy "Give me a break!" shtick, it would be unfair to ignore A&LD's many positives. It was my MeFi before I discovered MeFi, and no doubt, it's served a lot of others over the years as a valuable resource for keeping up with interesting new ideas and the latest salvos in unsettled academic debates. So...

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posted by saulgoodman at 9:04 PM on December 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


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posted by defenestration at 9:06 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by wuwei at 9:08 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by killdevil at 9:24 PM on December 28, 2010


I was/am kinda pissed at ClimateDebateDaily.com which falsely presents two sides in a "debate".
posted by stbalbach at 9:29 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was ClimateDebateDaily part of Dutton's deal? In any case, both the sites were educational. Arts and Letters, because it showed a spectrum of intelligent people from an eclectic variety of sites all of whom I valued for their insight. No one side has The Truth, and this site proved it. If ClimateDebateDaily has anything to do with Dutton, it had this value: if you followed it for a couple of years, you realized there were indeed two sides: the scientists, and the blinkered dogmatists.

Among my top five sites I visit almost every day are Metafilter and A&D Daily. Hope they both live forever. (Hope. Forever. There are some other non-logical words I live by...)
posted by kozad at 9:44 PM on December 28, 2010


It was my MeFi before I discovered MeFi

Mine, too. I would always find at least a couple of good things to read there.

As is my nature, I always emailed him to let him know about typos and weird edits, and in the little messages we exchanged over that trivia he somehow managed never to tell me to go fuck myself. I don't what he was like in the flesh, but in the mailbox he seemed a mensch.
posted by pracowity at 9:53 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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One of the three sites that keeps me going through the day. Here's hoping the new editors do a wonderful job.
posted by Picklegnome at 9:55 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by user92371 at 10:02 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by fizzzzzzzzzzzy at 10:15 PM on December 28, 2010


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Have gone to A&LD, on-and-off, for years. Denis Dutton touched and influenced a lot of people - in that, he lived well, and used himself well. R.I.P., Sir.
posted by Vibrissae at 10:17 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by R343L at 10:45 PM on December 28, 2010


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Whenever I need my worldview shaken, I go over to AL Daily.
RIP and best wishes to those carrying on the site.
posted by telstar at 11:00 PM on December 28, 2010


I have mixed feelings about Dutton; he often gave the impression of being the class of immigrant that liked his new country fine, but wished the people living here would fuck off, but there's no denying that A&LD has been a great resource, and that he did a lot of well thought of work at Canterbury Uni.
posted by rodgerd at 11:00 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by StrikeTheViol at 11:01 PM on December 28, 2010


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I remember 'back in the day' when going online meant checking aldaily, memepool, boingboing, slashdot and robotwisdom. Not sure why or when Arts & Letters Daily fell off my daily view list (maybe 9/11 like saulgoodman said) but it is sad that Dutton has passed.
posted by bobo123 at 11:13 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had the great priviledge of hearing him talk at a Webstock mini in September. He previewed the amazing animated version of his TED talk, which has to be seen to be believed. A fascinating man, who will be missed greatly.
posted by szechuan at 11:32 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by benzenedream at 11:38 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by brundlefly at 11:38 PM on December 28, 2010


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posted by ZeusHumms at 11:54 PM on December 28, 2010


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He was the brother of Dave and Doug, who ran the eponymous bookstores in LA.
posted by brujita at 12:06 AM on December 29, 2010


I was one of his students too. I didn't always appreciate his (somewhat confrontational) teaching style back then, but now that I teach at universities myself, I see what an impressive feat it was to engage students the way he did.

(He did make me insanely jealous on the first day of class, though, when he mentioned that he had recently sold Arts and Letters Daily for a million bucks. I stomped around that evening muttering something uncomplimentary about philosophy profs, while eating the tuna fish sandwich that was all I could afford for dinner back then.)
posted by lollusc at 12:31 AM on December 29, 2010


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posted by Dumsnill at 1:59 AM on December 29, 2010


To quote Art&Letters Daily:

Denis Dutton, philosopher, man of ideas, founding editor of Arts & Letters Daily, is dead at the age of 66...The New Yorker... LA Times... Reason... Edge... 3 Quarks Daily... D.G. Myers... National Review... TED Talk
posted by James Scott-Brown at 3:00 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by Smart Dalek at 3:45 AM on December 29, 2010


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posted by genehack at 3:54 AM on December 29, 2010


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posted by jim in austin at 5:23 AM on December 29, 2010


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posted by crunchland at 5:23 AM on December 29, 2010


Like many here, Arts & Letters Daily was part of an online reading routine for me that provided me hours of world-view expanding material. Denis Dutton will be greatly missed.
posted by kmartino at 6:59 AM on December 29, 2010


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posted by jquinby at 7:42 AM on December 29, 2010


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posted by antonymous at 8:17 AM on December 29, 2010


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posted by elmono at 9:07 AM on December 29, 2010


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posted by yesno at 9:31 AM on December 29, 2010


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posted by jwells at 9:52 AM on December 29, 2010


As annoying as were some of the more stridently (neo)conservative excerpts, and the rather masochistic academy-bashing, I got the impression that Dutton really wanted there to be a conservative intellectual milieu worth taking seriously (or that at least took itself seriously). There was a puckish, liberal-baiting quality to the headline summaries of articles (some of them taken from source that admittedly don't usually feature on my reading list) whereas the articles themselves were often less pointed. But the kind of partisanship that he seemed to favour was one of ideas rather than interests - which also clarified how ideas can serve particular interests, and are up for grabs.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 11:05 AM on December 29, 2010


My Intro to Philosophy class was taught by him - in a sense. It was recorded on video and audiotape, with very seventies students offering commentary despite me taking the class in 2002. I thought it was a great class. He will be missed.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 9:18 PM on December 29, 2010


Oh, shitbugger. I had a very pleasant email fight with him on the topic of Ayaan Hirsi Ali Sucks a few years ago, when he had linked the same article by her on the front page of aldaily twice!

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posted by By The Grace of God at 2:11 PM on January 6, 2011


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