Pavlov and His Dogs: How Associative Learning Really Works in Human Psychology

When the ringing of a bell comes to mean something more. Maisei Raman/Shutterstock.com By Dr. Edward Wasserman / 11.16.2017 Professor of Experimental Psychology University of Iowa My ears perked up when, in recent weeks, I heard Donald Trump and Ivan Pavlov mentioned twice in connection with each other. After all, I’m an experimental psychologist who journeyed[…]

A Friendly Salvo against Modern Epicureans

Zeno vs. Epicurus By Dr. Massimo Pigliucci / 11.03.2017 Professor of Philosophy City University of New York “The thought for today is one which I discovered in Epicurus; for I am wont to cross over even into the enemy’s camp — not as a deserter, but as a scout,” says Seneca to Lucilius in Letter II, On[…]

Why Panpsychism Fails to Solve the Mystery of Consciousness

Consciousness is indeed a hard nut to crack Photo by PIVISO/Flickr By Dr. Keith Frankish / 09.20.2016 Visiting Research Fellow, Open University Adjunct Professor, Brain and Mind Programme, University of Crete Is consciousness everywhere? Is it a basic feature of the Universe, at the very heart of the tiniest subatomic particles? Such an idea – panpsychismas it[…]

The French Revolution: Lightning and the People’s Will

Detail from La Liberté Triomphante (1792), showing Liberty brandishing a thunderbolt in one hand and a Phrygian cap on a stick in the other / National Library of France Kevin Duong explores how leading French revolutionaries, in need of an image to represent the all important “will of the people”, turned to the thunderbolt — a natural[…]

Herodotean Democracies

By Dr. Joel Alden Schlosser / 04.17.2017 Assistant Professor of Political Science Bryn Mawr College Schlosser, Joel Alden. “Herodotean Democracies.” CHS Research Bulletin 5, no. 1 (2016). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:SchlosserJ.Herodotean_Democracies.2016 I. Fragment from Herodotus’ Histories, Book VIII on Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2099, dated to early 2nd century CE / Papyrology Rooms, Sackler Library, Oxford University To study the past, let alone antiquity, at a[…]

Life-and-Death Thought Experiments are Correctly Unsolvable

Photo by Bettmann, Getty By Dr. Julian Baggini / 01.17.2017 Philosopher, Writer, Founding Editor The Philosophers’ Magazine People have concerns about the psychological effects of endlessly playing shoot-em-up video games but I sometimes wonder whether doing moral philosophy is just as corrosive. A worryingly large proportion of ethical thought experiments involve fantasies of homicide, requiring[…]

What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us about Dealing with Our Own Grief

Confucius sculpture, Nanjing, China. Kevinsmithnyc, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA By Dr. Alexus McLeod / 10.30.2017 Associate Professor of Philosophy and Asian/Asian-American Studies University of Connecticut November 2 is All Souls’ Day, when many Christians honor the dead. As much as we all know about the inevitability of death, we are often unable to deal with the[…]

Is Philanthropy Driven by the Human Desire to Cheat Death?

Postcard of the Carnegie Library in Vancouver BC, c1905, funded by a bequest from the American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Courtesy Rob/Flickr By Jacob Burak / 10.25.2017 In Socialism for Millionaires (1896), the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw quipped that a rich man ‘does not really care whether his money does good or not, provided he finds his conscience eased[…]

Contemporary Philosophy: Heidegger and Sartre

By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Heidegger: Being-There (or Nothing) Life and Works After studying with Husserl, Martin Heidegger undertook an academic career in Germany, lecturing with great success both in Marburg and at the University of Freiburg, where he served as Rector in 1933-34. During this period, Heidegger not only[…]

Contemporary Philosophy: Linguistic Analysis

By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Ludwig Wittgenstein: Analysis of Language Life and Works Raised in a prominent Viennese family, Ludwig Wittgenstein studied engineering in Germany and England, but became interested in the foundations of mathematics and pursued philosophical studies with Moore at Cambridge before entering the Austrian army during World War[…]

‘Ketman’ and Doublethink: What It Costs to Comply with Tyranny

Poet and Nobel Prize winner Czesław Miłosz speaking onstage to a crowd of students at Warsaw University, Poland, 1981. Photo by Keystone/Getty By Jacob Mikanowski / 10.09.2017 In the spring of 1949, poet Czesław Miłosz was working as a cultural attaché in the Polish embassy in Washington, DC. Just four years earlier, he had been on[…]

Contemporary Philosophy: Realism and Logical Positivism

George Santayana By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages   Critical Realism Although most Anglo-American philosophers of the turn of the century were trained in absolute idealism, many of them rebelled against it. One important way of doing so was to insist that material objects do exist independently of our perception of them. Thus, many English-speaking[…]

Contemporary Philosophy: Philosophical Analysis

By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages G.E. Moore: Analysis of Common Sense Life and Works During his long career at Cambridge University and as Editor of the premier British philosophical journal, Mind, G. E. Moore made an enormous contribution to the development of twentieth-century Anglo-American thought. Although he had studied with[…]

Contemporary Philosophy: Logic, Mathematics, and Phenomenology

Franz Brentano By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Logic and Mathematics By the turn of the twentieth century, philosophers had begun to devote careful attention to the foundations of logical and mathematical systems. For two millenia Aristotelian logic—with only minor scholastic modifications—had seemed a complete and final explanation of human reasoning. But the[…]

How the Stoicism of Roman Philosophers Can Help Us Deal with Depression

Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. Detail. Bronze. 160-170s. Rome, Capitoline Museums, Palazzo dei Conservatori. By Dr. Robert S. Colter / 10.09.2017 Associate Lecturer of Philosophy University of Wyoming Depression is on the rise. A study conducted by the World Health Organization found an increase of 20 percent in depression cases within just a decade. I work on[…]

Recent Modern Philosophy: Pragmatism

John Dewey By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Charles Sanders Peirce: The Pragmatist Principle The most significant indigenous philosophical movement of the United States is pragmatism. Pursuant to discussions of the “Metaphysical Club” at Harvard (which also included William James and Oliver Wendell Holmes as members), Charles Sanders Peirce proposed an important set of methodological[…]

Recent Modern Philosophy: Kierkegaard and Nietzsche

Søren Kierkegaard By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Kierkegaard: The Passionate Individual Life and Works Born to a prosperous Danish family and educated at Copenhagen, Søren Kierkegaard deliberately fostered his public reputation as a frivolous, witty conversationalist while suffering privately from severe melancholy and depression. In a series of (mostly pseudonymous) books,[…]

Recent Modern Philosophy: Social Concerns with Bentham, Mill, Marx, and Engels

Jeremy Bentham By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Utilitarianism At the outset of the nineteenth century, an influential group of British thinkers developed a set of basic principles for addressing social problems.Extrapolating from Hume’s emphasis on the natural human interest in utility, reformer Jeremy Bentham proposed a straightforward quantification of morality by reference to utilitarian outcomes.[…]

Recent Modern Philosophy: Absolute Idealism

By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages The Development of Absolute Idealism Fichte and the Transcendental Ego The initial step in this transformation was taken by Johann Gottlieb Fichte, author of the Wissenschaftslehre (Science of Knowledge) (1797). Noticing that the Kantian account of experience creates a vital tension between the roles of pure intelligence[…]