Henry David Thoreau: Founding Father of American Libertarian Thought

This  great writer, great naturalist, and great advocate of self-reliant individualism was also one of the founding fathers of American libertarian thought. By Jeff Riggenbach / 07.15.2010 Henry David Thoreau was born David Henry Thoreau on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts, a small country town about 20 miles northwest of Boston. Nancy Rosenblum of the[…]

Political Psychology in Plato’s ‘Alcibiades I’

Socrates teaching Alcibiades, by François-André Vincent, 1776 /  Musée Fabre, Wikimedia Commons Would a more powerful Socrates have been able to procure Alcibiades’ ultimate allegiance? By Dr. José Daniel Parra Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Humanities Instituto Universitario de Cultura Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona Abstract The following essay presents a close reading of the Platonic[…]

Immanuel Kant: The Duties of the Categorical Imperative

Kant accepted the basic proposition that a theory of duties—a set of rules telling us what we’re obligated to do in any particular situation—was the right approach to ethical problems. By Dr. James Brussea Professor of Philosophy Pace University Introduction German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) accepted the basic proposition that a theory of duties—a set[…]

The Age of Enlightenment: An Intellectual Movement of Reason

The Scholar with His Student, Anonymous Flemish painter (circle of Gerard Thomas and Balthasar van den Bossche) / Wikimedia Commons The Enlightenment advocated reason as a means to establishing an authoritative system of aesthetics, ethics, government, and even religion, which would allow human beings to obtain objective truth about the whole of reality. Edited by[…]

Objective Truth in Bernstein’s ‘Pragmatic Turn’

Page 789, Munsey’s Magazine, 1909: story “The higher pragmatism” Extract of illus from scan. Author O. Henry, illustrator Gordon Hope Grant / Wikimedia Commons Pragmatism originated as a method for clarifying the conceptual meaning or content of any term or idea. By Dr. James R. O’Shea / 12.29.2011 Professor of Philosophy University College Dublin In[…]

Religion is about Emotion Regulation, and It’s Very Good At It

Photo by Ted Spiegel/National Geographic/Getty Emotional therapy is the animating heart of religion combing social bonding surrounded by shared totems. By Dr. Stephen T. Asma / 09.25.2018 Professor of Philosophy Columbia College Chicago Religion does not help us to explain nature. It did what it could in pre-scientific times, but that job was properly unseated[…]

How a Huguenot Philosopher Realized that Atheists Could Be Virtuous

Comet critique; the case for moral atheists. The Great Comet of 1577 by Jiri Daschitzsky. / Wikimedia Commons For centuries in the West, the idea of a morally good atheist struck people as contradictory. By Dr. Michael W. Hickson / 09.18.2018 Assistant Professor of Philosophy Trent University For centuries in the West, the idea of[…]

Aristotle’s Theory of Aging

Drunken Old Woman. Late 3rd century BCE. Hellenistic Sculpture / Photo by Evergreen State College, Creative Commons Remarkably little attention has been paid to Aristotle’s theory of aging, or gerontology. By Adam Woodcox PhD Student in Philosophy Rotman Institute of Philosophy University of Western Ontario Introduction Aristotle was the originator of the scientific study of[…]

‘Know Thyself’ and 147 Other Apophthegmata from Ancient Delphi

The Temple of Apollo at Delphi / Photo by tamara semina, Wikimedia Commons The fact that the great majority of maxims on the list can still serve us today is itself worth further reflection. By Dr. Charlie Huenemann / 09.07.2018 Professor of Philosophy Utah State University We all know the most famous bit of ancient advice inscribed[…]

Knowledge, Art, and Education in Plato’s Republic

Plato surrounded by students in his Academy in Athens. Mosaic (detail) from the Villa of T. Siminius Stephanus, Pompeii, 1st century B.C. Roman National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. No. 124545. Source: Wikimedia Commons Investigating the relationship between art, education, and politics in Plato’s Republic and how gnoseological assumptions can clear tensions in this relationship   By[…]

Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau on Government

The Storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789, by Jean-Pierre Houël / Bibliothèque nationale de France, Wikimedia Commons Starting in the 1600s, European philosophers began debating the question of who should govern a nation. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 09.07.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Starting in the 1600s, European philosophers began debating the question of[…]

Thoreau and Thoreauvian Thought in ‘The Simpsons’

His radical non-conformist and individualistic life-style and his writings were considered eccentric, unrealistic and unproductive in a society that valued success, materialism, and expansion. By Dr. Günter Beck Historian, American Studies University of Augsberg Introduction Henry David Thoreau did for a long time not rank among the important figures in American intellectual life – neither[…]

Change the World, Not Yourself, or How Arendt Called Out Thoreau

Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr Ralph David Abernathy, their families, and others leading the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. It is not often that a neighborhood squabble is remembered as a world-historical event. By Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick / 08.22.2018 Humanities Editor Los Angeles Review of Books It is not often that a neighbourhood squabble[…]

Theory of Mind

Relativity by M.C. Escher, 1953 / Wikimedia Commons One of the most remarkable human capacities is to perceive and understand mental states. This capacity, often labeled “theory of mind,” consists of an array of psychological processes that play essential roles in human social life. We review some of these roles, examine what happens when the[…]

Corrupting the Youth: Xenophon and Plato on Socrates and Alcibiades

Alcibades being taught by Socrates, by François-André Vincent, 1776 / Musée Fabre, Wikimedia Commons Socrates’ most famous students before Plato – or rather his most infamous students – were likely those with unpopular, even criminal, political careers, namely, Critias and Alcibiades. By Dr. Gregory A. McBrayer / 12.31.2017 Assistant Professor of Political Science Ashland University Introduction Socrates’ most famous[…]

The Hamlet Effect

Image by Michelle Gia, Flickr, Creative Commons The active properties of sharing – what it means to be bound to others through the common experience of a textual/dramatic artifact. By Dr. Holly Crocker Professor of English University of South Carolina Until very recently, I have avoided writing about Hamlet. With the occasional exception, I have also avoided[…]

Things—In Theory

Don DeLillo, New York City, 1990s How do the literary, visual, and plastic arts fashion questions about the object world and our relation to it? By Dr. Bill Brown / 01.01.2016 Karla Scherer Distinguished Service Professor in American Culture University of Chicago n the opening pages of Falling Man, an unidentified consciousness struggles to apprehend the[…]

War and Peace in Plato’s Political Thought

In Ancient Greece, was considered as a normal state and peace was seen only as an exception or a temporary truce during a long lasting conflict. By Joan-Antoine Mallet / 01.2017 Philosophy Pre-Doctoral Associate L’université Paul-Valéry-Montpellier Abstract In Ancient Greece, the relation between war and peace used to have an ambiguous meaning. War was considered as[…]

Ignosticism and Referential Justification

By Tristan D. Vick / 10.11.2017 A Short Recap of the Ignostic Position Ignosticism is the philosophical position that most descriptions and definitions of God are incoherent, incomplete, discrepant, or contradictory (if not all of the above) and so cannot be discussed meaningfully. What this means is that asking questions about God, or ruminating on[…]

Evolution of Moral Outrage: I’ll Punish Your Bad Behavior to Make Me Look Good

Standing up for what’s right can come with a cost to the individual – but also a benefit. Michael Fleshman, CC BY-NC It helps society function when people punish selfish acts, even at a personal cost. A new theory suggests third-party punishment also confers some benefits on the punisher. By Jillian Jordan / 02.24.2016 PhD Candidate in Psychology Yale University What makes[…]

Say Goodbye to the Information Age: It’s All about Reputation Now

Not faking it. From the Apollo 15 mission. / NASA By Dr. Gloria Origgi / 03.14.2018 Philosopher, Tenured Senior Researcher CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) There is an underappreciated paradox of knowledge that plays a pivotal role in our advanced hyper-connected liberal democracies: the greater the amount of information that circulates, the more we[…]

A Non-Philosopher’s Guide to Plato

Plato surrounded by students in his Academy in Athens. Mosaic (detail) from the Villa of T. Siminius Stephanus, Pompeii, 1st century B.C. Roman National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. No. 124545. Source: Wikimedia Commons An archaeologist-classicist introduces Plato’s ideas and shows how contemporary artists are exploring them today. By Shelby Brown / 07.02.2018 Classical archaeologist and classicist Education Specialist[…]