654 posts tagged with Philosophy.
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Who do you mean by we?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - "The book delivers on its madly ambitious subtitle by in fact managing to cover key moments in the developmental history of humankind from the emergence of Homo Sapiens to today's developments in genetic engineering." Also btw, check out Harari on the myths we need to survive, re: fact/value distinctions and their interrelationships.
posted by kliuless on Nov 8, 2015 - 7 comments


A series of 55 animated vintage book graphics by Henning M. Lederer
posted by leibniz on Oct 30, 2015 - 4 comments

No matter where I am, the public libraries belong to me. I’m the public.

The role of the modern librarian, and other things. Interviewed by Erica Heilman, in which Jessamyn elaborates on librarians and libraries, the people they help, some of their needs, teaching tech and online skills in a rural community, and the balance of the online and the offline life. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Oct 18, 2015 - 24 comments

A ponderous, scholastic joke

On the Nature of Things Humanity Was Not Meant to Know: Cosma Shalizi considers Lucretius' De Rerum Natura ('On the Nature of Things') as a "real-life Necronomicon, a book full of things humanity was not meant to know."
posted by kliuless on Oct 4, 2015 - 9 comments

Muse Mull Ruminate Reflect

Pseudorandom ramblings from the Early Web, linked without the facility of Twine, and presented by some mysterious digital artist calling himself Martin Action. Later, about the time Geocities and First-generation sites were collapsing into bitrot oblivion, the Cauldron resurfaced on another domain, that of artist Paul Smedberg, with clues to the Cauldron's origins: "I made the first draft of this site before I had ever seen the internet, using a copy of Mosaic and a text editor on my home computer. What the site lacks in visual aesthetics, it makes up with sheer volume." Humble words from a clever Early Web denizen, but have you ever heard the Fanfare for the Uncommon Man? [more inside]
posted by colex on Sep 30, 2015 - 7 comments

The Darkness Before The Right

As the twenty-first century gets darker, politics are likely to follow suit, and for all it’s apparent weirdness, neoreaction may be an early warning system for what a future anti-democratic right looks like. (Previously.)
posted by StopMakingSense on Sep 29, 2015 - 106 comments

"the moé-points extracted from the database enable real emotions."

It is curious that while there are erotic works that appeal to otaku, in Azuma’s account the erotic is subordinated to the emotional. For example, “games produced by Key are designed not to give erotic satisfaction to consumers but to provide an ideal vehicle for otaku to efficiently cry and feel moé, by a thorough combination of the moé-elements popular among otaku.”
McKenzie Wark on the work of Hiroki Azuma: Otaku philosophy
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 25, 2015 - 8 comments

nobody likes to be reminded, even implicitly, of his own selfishness.

"Julia is a do-gooder – which is to say, a human character who arouses conflicting emotions. By 'do-gooder' here I do not mean a part-time, normal do-gooder – someone who has a worthy job, or volunteers at a charity, and returns to an ordinary family life in the evenings. I mean a person who sets out to live as ethical a life as possible. I mean a person who is drawn to moral goodness for its own sake. I mean someone who commits himself wholly, beyond what seems reasonable. I mean the kind of do-gooder who makes people uneasy."
posted by divined by radio on Sep 25, 2015 - 125 comments

Indian Philosophy Without Any Gaps

The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps is filling in gaps by starting a new podcast feed [iTunes link] dedicated to the history of philosophic traditions other than the one that started with the Ancient Greeks. The first tradition covered will be Indian philosophy, but the series will move on to Africa and China, and perhaps elsewhere as well. The primary author of the India episodes is Prof. Jonardon Ganeri but Prof. Peter Adamson will co-write, present each episode, and probably come up with illustrative examples involving giraffes, Buster Keaton, and his non-existent trapeze-artist sister. [Adamson's main History of Philosophy podcast previously and subsequently]
posted by Kattullus on Sep 20, 2015 - 15 comments

How an 18th-Century Philosopher Helped Solve My Midlife Crisis

Was David Hume inspired by Buddhist thinking in the 18th century? Alison Gopnik explores the idea in a touching article about her recovery from depression and divorce along with her discovery that Hume may have been influenced by more than just Descartes and Spinoza. [more inside]
posted by fremen on Sep 18, 2015 - 13 comments

Well, Socrates, I am happy to tell you what a sandwich is

Is this a sandwich? Teaching the Platonic Dialogues through sandwiches. A philosophy professor thinks of a new way to get her students to think about the Socratic method. [more inside]
posted by colfax on Sep 10, 2015 - 139 comments

your enthusiasm is great

TECHGNOSIS, Technology and The Human Imagination [msn] | Jason Silva and Erik Davis
posted by kliuless on Sep 7, 2015 - 1 comment

Basic Income: How to Fix a Broken Monetary Transmission Mechanism

FINLAND: New Government Commits to a Basic Income Experiment - "The Finnish government of Juha Sipilä is considering a pilot project that would give everyone of working age a basic income."[1,2,3] (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 4, 2015 - 24 comments

'Self' is a perpetually rewritten story

The dangerous idea that life is a story.
posted by BuddhaInABucket on Sep 3, 2015 - 91 comments

Life – simple life – is always right.

"Life does not have a narrative arc. The world does not have a narrative arc. Or if it does, it’s bigger than anything we could ever fucking write about." An unusually great, philosophical interview with punk/DIY legend Ian MacKaye on self-preservation, digital obsession and finding your life tree trunk.
posted by naju on Aug 24, 2015 - 13 comments

Anti-GMO thinking

'Why People Oppose GMOs Even Though Science Says They Are Safe - Intuition can encourage opinions that are contrary to the facts' (SciAm)
posted by peacay on Aug 22, 2015 - 176 comments

Wine, Conversation, & a Hike With The Scariest Guy in Black Metal

Gaahl is the former vocalist for Gorgoroth, Norwegin black metal powerhouse and satanic ideologues. In 2005 he was sentenced to 14 months in prison for beating and torturing an intruder in his home. In 2007 Vice went to the remote Norwegian hamlet of Espedal (named for/owned by Gaahl's family for generations) to talk music, philosophy, painting, and get some insights into True Norwegian Black Metal. [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Aug 18, 2015 - 34 comments

That's intelligent design, not Intelligent Design.

Daniel Dennett, known for having previously explained thinking, religion, and consciousness, recently spoke at the Royal Institution where he did a most excellent job of explaining memes [1-hour video].
posted by sfenders on Aug 17, 2015 - 22 comments

Like many things, this will require some patience to get through.

Why Time Flies: A visualization by Maximilian Kiener of philosopher Paul Janet's theory of why time seems to pass more quickly as one gets older. As Wonkblog explains it, The apparent length of a period of time is proportional to our life span itself.
posted by Cash4Lead on Aug 3, 2015 - 26 comments

Charny's Questions

Geoffroi de Charny (c. 1300 – 19 September 1356) was a French knight and author of at least three works on chivalry. One of his works, Questions for the Joust, Tournaments and War consists of a series of open-ended questions regarding the law of tournaments and the proper conduct of war. The complete set of questions has been translated into English and made available online. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Aug 1, 2015 - 13 comments

Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

Desire. Metaphor. The problem of many (“As anyone who has flown out of a cloud knows, the boundaries of a cloud are a lot less sharp up close than they can appear on the ground”). Implicature ("the act of meaning or implying one thing by saying something else"). Implicit bias. Feminism and globalization. Justice and bad luck. The Human Genome Project. The pineal gland (“a tiny organ in the center of the brain that played an important role in Descartes' philosophy”). Humor (“As he approached the gallows, Thomas More asked the executioner, ‘Could you help me up? I'll be able to get down by myself’”). The “Great Cosmological Debate” of the 1930s and 40s. Voting methods. Zombies.

…Read about all this and more in the remarkable Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which has just celebrated its 20th birthday. [more inside]
posted by nebulawindphone on Jul 31, 2015 - 15 comments

Why You Should Never Say: ‘Beauty Lies in the Eye of the Beholder’

"When we use the phrase, what we seem to be trying to say is that there should be a lot of room for intelligent disagreement around aesthetics – and that we don’t feel comfortable about asserting the superiority of any one style or approach over any other. It implies an acute sensitivity to conflict and a fear of being rude or mean to others. However, by resorting to the phrase, what we actually do is unleash a stranger and more reckless situation: what we’re in effect stating is that nothing is ever really more beautiful – or uglier – than anything else. This suggestion then has a way of implying that the whole subject is essentially trivial. After all, we’d never say that truths about the economy or justice were in the eyes of beholders only. We know that big things are at stake here – and over time, we’ve come to positions about the right and wrong way of approaching these topics, and are ready to discuss and defend our ideas. We wouldn’t ever say that ‘the treatment of the poor is just a subject best left entirely to the eyes of beholders’ or ‘the best way to raise children is in the eyes of beholders,’ or ‘the future of the environment is in the eyes of beholders.’ We accept that there are dangers to arguing in aggressive and unfruitful ways; but we are confident that there are sensible and polite ways to advance through these tricky yet vital debates. The same should feel true around beauty."
posted by beisny on Jul 30, 2015 - 96 comments

Cheeseburger ethics

How often do ethics professors call their mothers? My son Davy, then seven years old, was in his booster seat in the back of my car. ‘What do you think, Davy?’ I asked. ‘People who think a lot about what’s fair and about being nice – do they behave any better than other people? Are they more likely to be fair? Are they more likely to be nice?’ Davy didn’t respond right away. I caught his eye in the rearview mirror. ‘The kids who always talk about being fair and sharing,’ I recall him saying, ‘mostly just want you to be fair to them and share with them.
posted by elgilito on Jul 15, 2015 - 76 comments

Proposing certain things in terms of dystopia that are not untrue

"Science, Chance, and Emotion with Real Cosima": A Longreads profile of Cosima Herter, the show's science consultant and the inspiration for Orphan Black's character Cosima. Mostly not directly about the show, but probably contains some spoilers if you're not fully caught up through season three.
posted by Stacey on Jul 2, 2015 - 9 comments

Aarne–Thompson 410

What do Mark A. Bedau's Weak Emergence[PDF], Stewart Cohen's Contextualism, Skepticism, and the Structure of Reasons, Paul Benson's Free agency and self-worth, and Michael G.F. Martin's Perception, Concepts, and Memory have in common? They're all Sleeping Beauties. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 30, 2015 - 3 comments

Methinks I see my father. -Where, my lord?

Neurologists have coined the word "aphantasia" to describe the condition of being unable to form visual mental images, publishing a study (nonpaywalled draft) of individuals with congenital aphantasia after first encountering a subject who described a sudden onset of the condition after an unrelated medical procedure. But how reliable is self-reported introspective data anyway?
posted by yarrow on Jun 25, 2015 - 67 comments

the age of foolishness, the epoch of incredulity

Lee McIntyre writes The Attack on Truth for The Chonicle of Higher Education
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 19, 2015 - 47 comments

Miles Kimball: Secular Humanism and Universalist Unitarianism

Teleotheism and the Purpose of Life - "Please give this sermon a try. I think it has much in it that will be of interest to a wide range of readers: philosophy, cosmology, evolutionary theory, and science fiction, as well as theology. And nothing in it depends on believing in God at all." Abstract: As an enlightened form of atheism, I turn to teleotheism. Teleotheism is the view that God comes at the end, not at the beginning, where I am defining “God” as “the greatest of all things that can come true.” In this view, the quest to discover what are the greatest things that are possible is of the utmost importance. The best of our religious heritage is just such an effort to discover the greatest things that are possible. (via; previously)
posted by kliuless on Jun 7, 2015 - 33 comments

There's no such thing as AN octopus

The intelligence of octopuses is increasingly recognized, but nature is more creative than us glorified chimps ever realize on first blush. You see, octopuses are just full of neurons, but their nervous structure raises all kinds of uncanny questions--What is "intelligence" for an octopus? What is it like to be an octopus?--because most of them are in its arms. [more inside]
posted by byanyothername on Jun 4, 2015 - 26 comments

The free development of each is the condition of the war against all

Some Paths to the True Knowledge[*] - "Attention conservation notice: A 5000+ word attempt to provide real ancestors and support for an imaginary ideology I don't actually accept, drawing on fields in which I am in no way an expert. Contains long quotations from even-longer-dead writers, reckless extrapolation from arcane scientific theories, and an unwarranted tone of patiently explaining harsh, basic truths. Altogether, academic in one of the worst senses. Also, spoilers for several of MacLeod's novels, notably but not just The Cassini Division. Written for, and cross-posted to, Crooked Timber's seminar on MacLeod, where I will not be reading the comments."
posted by kliuless on May 19, 2015 - 12 comments

An Interview with T. M. Scanlon

Yascha Mounk at the utopian conducts An Interview with T.M. Scanlon: I: Free Will, Punishment and The Significance of Choice
The Utopian: One of philosophy’s oldest worries is causal determinism: the fear that, if what we do and think is determined by physical processes beyond our control, then we should abandon moral categories like praise and blame and choice. But I take it that you’re less worried about that than many of your colleagues? Tim Scanlon: I think there are three ways in which this problem arises – the problem being the possibility that a causal explanation of a reaction we give would undermine its significance in one way or another.
T.M. (Tim) Scanlon is Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity at Harvard, a moral philosopher, expert in contractualism, and the author of What We Owe To Each Other [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 22, 2015 - 6 comments

Revisiting the Spandrels of San Marco: an interview

The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme” was written by Harvard biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard C. Lewontin and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London in 1979. Their critique of their own field of evolutionary biology spilled out of the Ivory Tower onto the pages of general intellectual forums such as the New York Review of Books. I talked by phone with Lewontin on March 2 2015. In his mid-eighties, he is still scientifically active and could recall his collaboration with Gould in detail. Our conversation is highly relevant to the “Just so story” critique that is frequently leveled against Evolutionary Psychology.
posted by sciatrix on Apr 20, 2015 - 15 comments

The golden ratio has spawned a beautiful new curve: the Harriss spiral

is a new fractal discovered by mathematician Edmund Harriss.
posted by boo_radley on Apr 18, 2015 - 29 comments

One man's "cogito" is another's "white mask"

"In short, it seems that when a white male thinks about the meaning of things, any things, it is philosophy..." (SLTheGuardian)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Mar 26, 2015 - 96 comments

People Who Live Forever: Indiana Jones’ Father, The Narrator in Borges’

“In the seminar on death that I taught, there were moments where we were talking about death, and the class would just go quiet, because it was clear it was there in front of us… there wasn't really anything to say at that moment, because each of us just has to look." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 13, 2015 - 34 comments

My Father, the Philosopher

Emily Adler remembers her father:
If your father is a philosopher, then you should expect to lose many arguments. You will never lose “because life isn’t fair,” or because your dad “says so.” You will always lose on strict logical grounds… If your father is a philosopher, your premises must support your conclusion. Then, maybe once or twice in a childhood filled with lost arguments, you will win. When you win, you win big.
posted by anotherpanacea on Mar 5, 2015 - 24 comments

The Book of Life

After a year, The Philosophers' Mail (previously) has concluded its project. But fret not: it has been succeeded by The Book of Life, a continuously updated online book that "aims to be the curation of the best and most helpful ideas in the area of emotional life."
posted by jedicus on Mar 1, 2015 - 4 comments

Open Mind - a philosophy and cognitive science resource

Open Mind - "This is a website with numerous peer-reviewed philosophical texts covering a wide range of topics and disciplines that are available for free. This means that the texts are not restricted to the use of academics and students in the developed world who can afford to download them, but are available to anyone, anywhere." [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Feb 15, 2015 - 9 comments

The Man Who Tried to Redeem the World with Logic

Walter Pitts rose from the streets to MIT, but couldn’t escape himself. Pitts was used to being bullied. He’d been born into a tough family in Prohibition-era Detroit, where his father, a boiler-maker, had no trouble raising his fists to get his way. The neighborhood boys weren’t much better. One afternoon in 1935, they chased him through the streets until he ducked into the local library to hide. The library was familiar ground, where he had taught himself Greek, Latin, logic, and mathematics—better than home, where his father insisted he drop out of school and go to work. Outside, the world was messy. Inside, it all made sense. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 10, 2015 - 24 comments

The Gym Teachers Of Academia

"Philosophy of science is about as useful to science as ornithology is to birds." This is the reported judgment, by the Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman, on my lifelong profession.
Michael Ruse, noted atheist and philosopher, 'stands up for the philosophy of science.'
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 5, 2015 - 75 comments

A History of Ideas

A History of Ideas, animated, on YouTube. Philosophical concepts in under 2 minutes from the BBC Radio 4 programme | A History of Ideas, animated, on BBC Radio | All episodes, both animated and podcasts on BBC, downloadable. Narrated by Gillian Anderson and others. A fresh take on the History of Ideas as big subjects like beauty, freedom, technology and morality get dissected by a team of thinkers.
posted by nickyskye on Feb 2, 2015 - 5 comments

What's Wrong With 'All Lives Matter'?

When we are taking about racism, and anti-black racism in the United States, we have to remember that under slavery black lives were considered only a fraction of a human life, so the prevailing way of valuing lives assumed that some lives mattered more, were more human, more worthy, more deserving of life and freedom, where freedom meant minimally the freedom to move and thrive without being subjected to coercive force. But when and where did black lives ever really get free of coercive force? One reason the chant "Black Lives Matter" is so important is that it states the obvious but the obvious has not yet been historically realized. So it is a statement of outrage and a demand for equality, for the right to live free of constraint, but also a chant that links the history of slavery, of debt peonage, segregation, and a prison system geared toward the containment, neutralization and degradation of black lives, but also a police system that more and more easily and often can take away a black life in a flash all because some officer perceives a threat.
George Yancy interviews Judith Butler for NYT: What's Wrong With 'All Lives Matter'? [more inside]
posted by divined by radio on Jan 13, 2015 - 24 comments

Indifference is a power

Why Stoicism is one of the best mind-hacks ever. "As legions of warriors and prisoners can attest, Stoicism is not grim resolve but a way to wrest happiness from adversity." [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Jan 2, 2015 - 70 comments

3 Quarks Daily Philosophy Prize Finalists 2014

3QD's 2014 finalists for best blog posts on philosophical topics: Should animal products have ethical warning labels? Why is scientific uncertainty a moral responsibility [see last 4 mins.]? Should people choose probabilistically among competing moral theories? What are some bad ways of arguing about free will? Are most of us just not good enough to be utilitarians? Are volunteer soldiers morally responsible for unjust wars? Do P2P networks provide a model for something to do with consciousness, reality, and, yep, quantum mechanics? When are delusions good for us (see also)? What's up with philosophical systems that knock themselves down, e.g. Nāgārjuna's, Nietzsche's, and Rorty's? There's also an archive page for older prizes and other categories (previously).
posted by Monsieur Caution on Dec 1, 2014 - 35 comments

Truth is harder to tell than a lie

The habitual liar may be a very honest fellow, and live truly with his wife and friends; while another man who never told a formal falsehood in his life may yet be himself one lie-heart and face, from top to bottom. This is the kind of lie which poisons intimacy. And, vice versa, veracity to sentiment, truth in a relation, truth to your own heart and your friends, never to feign or falsify emotion—that is the truth which makes love possible and mankind happy. Robert Louis Stevenson on truth and writing.
posted by shivohum on Nov 30, 2014 - 5 comments

One of the oldest questions we have about ourselves.

Personhood Week: Why We’re So Obsessed with Persons, by Virginia Hughes (@virginiahughes), National Geographic:
"People have been trying to define personhood for a long time, maybe since the beginning of people. The first recorded attempt came from Boethius, a philosopher from 6th-Century Rome, who said a person was 'an individual substance of rational nature.' Fast-forward a thousand years and Locke says it's about rationality, self-awareness, and memory. Kant adds that humans have 'dignity,' an intrinsic ability to freely choose. In 1978, Daniel Dennett says it's intelligence, self-awareness, language, and being 'conscious in some special way' that other animals aren't. The next year Joseph Fletcher lays out 15 criteria (!), including a sense of futurity, concern for others, curiosity, and even IQ."
[more inside] posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Nov 21, 2014 - 10 comments

Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?

In a wide-ranging discussion about democracy, capitalism, and the American body politic; Chris Hedges interviews political theorist Sheldon Wolin in eight parts. (via) (previously) [more inside]
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Nov 11, 2014 - 38 comments

The observer at the end of time: Of immortal watchers and imaginary data

In a Multiverse, What Are the Odds? "Testing the multiverse hypothesis requires measuring whether our universe is statistically typical among the infinite variety of universes. But infinity does a number on statistics." (previously) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 9, 2014 - 47 comments

Everything not saved will be lost

Here are some recent thoughts of mine: I am playing too much Destiny. Also, games might be an expression of the futility of the human condition. [more inside]
posted by Sebmojo on Nov 8, 2014 - 11 comments

The fault is not in our stars, but in our bladders

The Philosophical Implications of the Urge to Urinate: Our Sense Of Free Will Diminishes When We Need To Pee Or Desire Sex.
posted by homunculus on Nov 5, 2014 - 33 comments

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