"Perhaps twenty or thirty people in England may be expected to read this book."
G.H. Hardy's review of Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica
, published in the Times Literary Supplement 100 years ago last week. "The time has passed when a philosopher can afford to be ignorant of mathematics, and a little perseverance will be well rewarded. It will be something to learn how many of the spectres that have haunted philosophers modern mathematics has finally laid to rest."
modern and contemporary philosophical tradition, which has emphasized the specialness and security of self-knowledge, especially self-knowledge of the stream of conscious experience, and in comparison the relative insecurity or derivativeness of our knowledge of the physical world around us, has the epistemic situation upside-down
" - Eric Schwitzgebel (Previously)
Don't Be Evil
-- a somewhat philosophical review of two new books about Google.
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable.
The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study
. More on the Declaration: full transcript
and ultra-high-resolution scan
, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft
, the little-known royal rebuttal
, a thorough history of the parchment itself
, a peek at the archival process
, a reading of the document by the people of NPR
and by a group of prominent actors
, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation
, Slate's Twitter summaries
, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers
Stuck on a train for an hour every day and sick of sudoku? Hands love to knit but the brain gets bored? Riding out the recession as a streetcorner sign-twirler? Or maybe you've just got a burning desire for "cultural conversation of the depth you demand." If so, then Metafilter's own Colin Marshall
has got what you need at the Marketplace of Ideas
. [more inside]
92 years young, the delightful Raymond Smullyan
is a mathematician, logician, magician, concert pianist
, and Taoist philosopher
- who also pioneered retrograde chess problems
Philosophy fundraiser mountain walk-a-thon.
Prominent philosophy professor Crispin Wright will walk the length of the Pennine Way
, a 250+ mile mountaintop trail in the UK, to raise funds to support his philosophy students. (The link on the Pennine Way is worth reading.) Along the way he'll stop each day to answer a philosophical question voted on by the people who contribute to the fund.
is an annual festival of philosophy and music where "Leading thinkers in every field mix with cutting edge musicians to excite the imagination and renew the spirit." Talks from the 2011 event have recently been posted online
and are well worth a watch. Highlights include Gerald Moore, Lewis Wolpert & Mark Vernon discussing faith
, Richard Schoch on happiness
, Lauren Booth discussing her conversion from "hedonistic libertarian to islam"
Frank Furedi on the rules of the political elite
and the Funny Women Awards
which does what it says on the tin.
Philosophy Bro: Philosophy is hard - I read and summarize, so you don't have to, man. Nietzsche
"People have always had an ulterior or imaginative life
," opines writer Will Self
. "There's something about the act of will involved in believing in preposterous things that I believe is the very kind of muscle and key of having an imagination... here, you have an arena that is inherently psychotic.
" In a series of interviews about the nature of human imagination and violence as they are transformed by the Internet, Self muses on how primal human desires are being satisfied more efficiently and easily by the increasingly connected life, and wonders how this will change us as much as society.
"How is one to know which aspect
of a person counts as that person’s true self
?" Does it lie "precisely in our suppressed urges and unacknowledged emotions, while our ability to reflect is just a hindrance that gets in the way of this true self’s expression?" Or is "the most distinctive and essential to a human being is the capacity for rational reflection?" Or is the authentic self "the ideologically-validated
The Root of Knowledge
- "Wikipedia trivia
: if you take any article
, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at 'Philosophy
.' " (via
) [more inside]
On one level America reCycled
is simply the journal of two brothers riding recycled bicycles across the United States and meeting people. Lots of them. On another level it is a Homeric tale of an American adventure. It has been a long time since I have seen web content of this quality. The writing is superb, the videos so compelling you can't look away and the perspective gained is invaluable. I am positive this has been posted here before, but it certainly deserves a bump.
No Life Is Good
, by David Benatar. From The Philosophers' Magazine
, via New Shelton
What would have happened if a science fiction classic had been written by the father of French philosophy? Existential Star Wars
. Extra special bonus: a little girl feels the power of the dark side
Zhuangzi as Philosopher
Essay by Brook Ziporyn
made available (there's also some other prefatory matter there) at the website of the publishers
of his translation
of the Zhuangzi
, one of the seminal texts of Daoism, putatively authored by Zhuang Zhou in the fourth century BCE. Via, where there's plenty of other informed discussion on Zhuangzi, Daoism and other ancient Chinese thought.
The Ashtray: The Ultimatum.
Part one of a series by Errol Morris on meaning, truth, intolerance and flying ashtrays. [more inside]
Exactly 94 years ago today the American philosopher Donald Davidson (1917-2003)
was born. [more inside]
An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science
8 videos in which SisyphusRedeemed
, academic philosopher, attempts to explain what science is, how it got to be that way, and why it works. [more inside]
Homelessness: Cutting out the middle men (Economist)
"The most efficient way to spend money on the homeless might be to give it to them". [more inside]
Mathematical logician Asaaf Peretz discusses
his new "Social Thinking" site THINQon
. [more inside]
designs beautiful residential spaces
, like this fantastic 10,000 square foot home
, and chic commercial projects
. He design aesthetics are sensitive to the relation between art and architecture, and he has worked on some wonderful galleries
and exhibition spaces
. His practice is informed by a thorough knowledge of philosophy, and his site includes a comprehensive and accessibly written encyclopedia
on important concepts in art, aesthetics, and critical theory.
Swimming around in a mixture of language and matter, humans occupy a particular evolutionary niche mediated by something we call 'consciousness'. To Professor Nicholas Humphrey we're made up of "soul dust
": "a kind of theatre... an entertainment which we put on for ourselves inside our own heads." But just as that theatre is directed by the relationship between language and matter, it is also undermined by it
. It all depends how you think it.
Ivan Illich was an Austrian philosopher, Roman Catholic priest and critic of the institutions of contemporary western culture and their effects on the provenance and practice of education, medicine, work, energy use, and economic development.
“Nature doesn't remind us that we are small, but rather provides chilling, awesome evidence of our size and strength. We glance up to the snows of Mount Kilimanjaro and think of how quickly our coal generators have heated the earth. We fly over the denuded stretches of the Amazon and see how easily we have gashed the planet.” Alain de Botton considers how climate change is reshaping our relationship with the environment.
Basically, Kant was right
by Carrie Jenkins, aka Conceptual Truth
. Philosophy should always be this much fun! Also check out her philosophy band, The 21st Century Monads.
Philosopher Alvin Plantinga discusses the evolutionary argument against naturalism with philosopher Stephen Law.
Plantinga, now retired from his position at Notre Dame, is one of the most well known analytic philosophers
of recent times. The podcast
is targeted at a non academic audience and keeps things on a fairly basic level in non-technical language. Plantinga and Law conduct a congenial, mutually respectful discussion of the issue. Previously
. [more inside]
History of Western Philosophy, illustrated in huge scroll-down timelines.
Kevin Scharp at OSU made these, based on work by Randall Collins, and they are great. Includes the influence of the Muslim world. He also has separate diagrams on a few specific issues, eg paradoxes, theories of truth, etc. This link goes to his fast-loading index page, where you can click to load the (big) charts. [more inside]
William B. Irvine has written a three-part essay (1
) for BoingBoing summarizing his book A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
. The Philosophers' Magazine
has also commented on the revival of Stoicism. [more inside]
The Dalai Lama on changing minds only through compassion and respect
. He spent several days at Stanford recently, and this session focuses on the neuroscience of compassion. Watch it in full here
Professional philosophers have long known that there are far fewer women in philosophy than there are men. (Some quick info.
) Recently, this issue has taken center-stage in the philosophy blogosphere. First, a new study
suggests that gender plays a role in what intuitions one has to philosophical thought experiments, such as the Gettier cases
about knowledge, and The Trolley Problem
related to ethics (via
). Second, a new blog, What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?
, has exploded
as it shows the good
, the bad
, and the downright ugly
involved in being a woman in the profession. [more inside]