Disciplines, Fields, and Virtues: The Full Stoic System in One Neat Package

The statue of Marcus Aurelius Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome / Photo by Jeff, CC BY-NC-ND By Dr. Massimo Pigliucci / 12.11.2017 Professor of Philosophy City University of New York I’ve been studying Stoicism as a practical philosophy fairly intensely for several years now, and up until recently I accepted what has become received wisdom in the modern Stoicism[…]

Let’s Talk Ethics

By Dr. James Fieser / 04.01.2011 Professor of Philosophy University of Tennessee at Martin Introduction Larry Phillips Jr.& Emil Mătăsăreanu (the High Incident Bandits), 1997 Robbery / Creative Commons One February morning two armed gunmen wearing black ski masks entered a Los Angeles bank, fired their machine guns and ordered everyone to the ground. Bank personnel gave[…]

An Introduction to Information Philosophy

By Dr. Bob Doyle Associate, Astronomy Department Harvard University What is Information Philosophy? The Information Philosopher has established that quantum mechanics and thermodynamics play a central role in the creation of all things. This finding has enormous implications for philosophy and metaphysics. Instead of a closed universe that is winding down deterministically from an initial state[…]

Mind-Body Dualism: What is Consciousness?

Photo by Saad Faruque, Creative Commons By Dr. James Fieser / 05.01.2016 Professor of Philosophy University of Tennessee at Martin Introduction A 47 year old man named Carl Miller died of cancer, and at the moment he was pronounced dead, a series of carefully-orchestrated procedures was performed on his body. A team standing by began cardiopulmonary support to[…]

Will Artificial Intelligence Become Conscious? What is Consciousness?

What’s the link between technology and consciousness? AlexLMX/Shutterstock.com By Dr. Subhash Kak / 12.07.2017 Regents Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Oklahoma State University Forget about today’s modest incremental advances in artificial intelligence, such as the increasing abilities of cars to drive themselves. Waiting in the wings might be a groundbreaking development: a machine that is aware of itself and[…]

An Introduction to Basic Logic

Image by Thebiologyprimer, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. James Fieser / 04.01.2016 Professor of Philosophy University of Tennessee at Martin Introduction In ancient Greece, a group of traveling teachers called Sophists had the reputation of being able to argue for any point, no matter how absurd. One Sophist offered this argument: (1) Fido is Joe’s dog. (2) Fido[…]

Death and Dying 101

Students from the author’s class on death and dying explore Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. / Photo by Anita Hannig A study of cross-cultural attitudes toward mortality can help young people accept death as a part of life. By Dr. Anita Hannig / 10.03.2017 Assistant Professor of Anthropology Brandeis University Back in February, on[…]

The Pedagogy of Feeling Bad: A Desire for Catharsis in Cinema

Nikolaj Lübecker argues for the ethic of “feel-bad” films, movies in which desire for catharsis is built up but ultimately denied in a variety of ways. He draws on directors such as Lars Von Trier, Gus Van Sant, Michael Haneke, and many others. By Roman Friedman PhD Student in Educational Policy, Organization and Leadership (EPOL)[…]

Porridge is Funnier than Oatmeal, and Booty is Funnier Still

Ha! Photo by Getty Images    By Dr. Thomas Hills (left) and Tomas Engelthaler (right) / 11.20.2017 Hills:  Professor of Psychology Engelthaler:  PhD Candidate in Psychology University of Warwick ‘Which word is funnier: porridge or oatmeal?’ This is the question one of us recently posed to the other. Clearly, the notion was insane. Surely finding something funny requires context[…]

On the Nature of the Stoic Sage

The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates By Dr. Massimo Pigliucci / 08.23.2017 Professor of Philosophy City University of New York Two Definitions of Wisdom The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates Let’s start a series of commentaries on a book by René Brouwer, an assistant professor at the School[…]

Degrees of Assimilation

Image courtesy of Light show via Wikimedia Commons, and edited by Shannon Sands By Dr. Mark English / 11.11.2017 Philosopher In a recent essay, Daniel Kaufman recalled the days when he and a couple of friends used to climb through a hole in the perimeter fence of their junior high school on Long Island and have lunch at Andel’s Kosher Delicatessen[…]

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[…]