Scientific Theories aren’t Mere Conjecture – To Survive, they Must Work

There wouldn’t be statues acclaiming Darwin and his theory if it couldn’t stand up to decades of testing. CGP Grey By Dr. Tom Solomon / 03.07.2017 Professor of Physics and Astronomy Bucknell University “The evidence is incontrovertible. Global warming is occurring.” “Climate change is real, is serious and has been influenced by anthropogenic activity.” “The[…]

Voltaire and the One-Liner

Voltaire.. After a painting, by Bouchot No. 539 / Louvre Museum, Paris By Dr. Nicholas Cronk / 03.10.2017 Professor of French Literature Director, Voltaire Foundation Oxford University As we mark Voltaire’s 323rd birthday – though the date of 20 February is problematic, – what significance does the great Enlightenment writer have for us now? If I[…]

Eugenics in the Ancient World

As patients came for treatment at the Asclepieion at Epidaurus, they took their offerings to the temple of Asclepius. / British Museum, London By Mary Harrsch / 02.17.2017 Historian Ancient Times Recently, I received a review copy of a new release from Oxford University Press entitled “A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities: Strange Tales and[…]

Voltaire and the Buddha

Bronze statue depicting the “Ayuthia Crowned Buddha”, ca. 16th century, featured in The Antiques of Siam (1909) by J. W. Margrett / archive.org Voltaire’s early reflections on Buddhism and how, in his desire to separate the Buddha’s teachings from the trappings of religion, the French Enlightenment thinker prefigured an approach now familiar in the West.[…]

Stoic Advice on Happiness

Marble bust of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, a Stoic philosopher / Louvre Museum, Paris By Jennifer Delgado Suárez / 02.24.2017 Psychologist Imagine for a moment of losing your job. If it’s a job poorly paid where you don’t feel at ease and trust that you will find a better employment, it is likely that this[…]

The Curious Case of the Decapitated Frog

Frog skeleton sketch by Pflüger Lecture by Dr. Alexander Klein / 12.01.2016 Associate Professor of Philosophy California State University, Long Beach Lecture at Barnard’s Inn Hall, Gresham College Introduction “Ever heard of a pithed frog? … It’s a thing these here vivisectionists do. They takes a frog and they cuts out his brains and they[…]

Sociological Theories of Karl Marx

Photograph of Karl Marx, by John Jabez Edwin Mayall, 1875 / International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, Netherlands Lecture by Dr. Iván Szelényi / 10.01.2009 Professor Emeritus of Sociology Yale University Theory of Alienation Marx’s Early Life Karl Marx’s house in Trier, Germany / Atlas Obscura So now we move into the nineteenth century. It’s[…]

Adam Smith: The Invisible Hand

Portrait of Adam Smith (the Muir Portrait, after the family who once owned it, probably painted posthumously, based on a medallion by James Tassie), c.1800 / Scottish National Gallery, The Mount, Edinburgh Lecture by Dr. Iván Szelényi / 09.24.2008 Professor Emeritus of Sociology Yale University Smith in a Historical Context Balliol College, Oxford University We[…]

Origins of Classical Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham

Portrait of Jeremy Bentham, by Henry William Pickersgill / National Portrait Gallery, London Lecture by Dr. Ian Shapiro / 01.20.2000 Sterling Professor of Political Science Adjunct Law School Professor Director, MacMillan Center Yale University Enlightenment Tradition I: Classical Utilitarianism We’re going to start talking about classical utilitarianism, and we’re going to use as our point[…]

The Ring of Gyges: Morality and Hypocrisy

J.R.R. Tolkien, professor of Anglo-Saxon studies at Oxford University, was asked to do etymology research on an ancient Roman ring found in English the countryside—where the Roman Empire once extended—which was found in the 16th century. Lecture by Dr. Tamar Szabó Gendler / 01.14.2011 Vincent J. Scully Professor of Philosophy; Professor of Psychology and Cognitive[…]

Jean Jacques Rousseau: Popular Sovereignty, General Will, State of Nature, and Education

Portrait of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, by Maurice Quentin de La Tour, late-18th century, pastel on paper / Musée Antoine-Lécuyer By Dr. Iván Szelényi / 09.17.2008 Professor Emeritus of Sociology Yale University Popular Sovereignty and the General Will Rousseau in a Historical Context 1714 View of Basel, Bale, Geneva / Village Antiques, Creative Commons Jean Jacques Rousseau[…]

Confucianism: The Way of the Gentleman

Statue of Confucius at Wen Miao the Confucian temple in Shanghai / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Michel Clasquin-Johnson / 01.19.2017 Professor of Religious Studies University of South Africa INTRODUCTION Confucius / Wikimedia Commons This great ethical and philosophical system is named after its founder, K’ung Fu‑tzu (or Master K’ung), an ethical philosopher of the late[…]

Taoism: The Way

A stone sculpture of Laozi, located north of Quanzhou at the foot of Mount Qingyuan / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Michel Clasquin-Johnson / 01.19.2017 Professor of Religious Studies University of South Africa INTRODUCING TAOISM A Western Han (202 BCE – 9 CE) fresco depicting Confucius and Laozi, from a tomb of Dongping County, Shandong province,[…]

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu: The Division of Powers

Portrait of Montesquieu, 1728, oil on canvas / Palace of Versailles, Wikimedia Commons Lecture by Dr. Iván Szelényi / 0915.2008 Professor Emeritus of Sociology Yale University Montesquieu in a Historical Context Emblem from the Palace of Versailles of Louis XIV as the “Sun King” / Wikimedia Commons We move to eighteenth century France. We move[…]

John Locke: Equality, Freedom, Property, and the Right to Dissent

Oil painting portrait of John Locke / Wikimedia Commons Lecture by Dr. Iván Szelényi / 09.10.2008 Professor Emeritus of Sociology Yale University Locke in a Historical Context   Left: Charles II, by John Michael Wright  c.1660–1665 / National Portrait Gallery, London Right: A 1656 Samuel Cooper portrait of Oliver Cromwell / National Portrait Gallery, London[…]

The History of Life: The Views of Aristotle and His Predecessors

By Dr. John S. Wilkins / 08.05.2016 Honorary Research Fellow University of Melbourne Nature versus Humanity Before there was a literate, and philosophical, historical record, humans existed at least some 80,000 years. Around 12,500 years ago in the region surrounding Anatolia in modern Turkey, agriculture slowly began (the Neolithic Revolution, which spread across Eurasia over[…]

Socratic Citizenship: Plato’s ‘Apology’ and ‘Crito’

Marble statue of Socrates, Athens / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Steven B. Smith / 09.15.2006 Alfred Cowles Professor of Government and Philosophy Yale University Important Links: The Apology Crito The Apology Introduction We start with Plato’s Apology of Socrates. This is the best introductory text to the study of Political Philosophy. Why? Let me give you two[…]

The Origins of Philosophy – Wonder

Busts of Sokrates, Antisthenes, Chrysippos, and Epikouros / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Philip A. Pecorino / 08.22.2015 Professor Philosophy Queensborough Community College, City College of New York Wonder Aristotle thought that Philosophy begins in wonder.  Wonder is some thing children do quite well. It comes natural to them. Unfortunately as a lot of us grow[…]