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[…]

Contentious Politics: Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Corporate Power

Did the Roman arenas of political conflict support the common good? Trey Ratcliff/flickr, Creative Commons History offers countless examples of social change that is now consolidated and popularly supported, but which was only achieved through protests that were judged at the time to be extreme. By Dr. Sandra Leonie Field / 11.19.2015 Assistant Professor of Humanities (Philosophy) Yale-NUS College[…]

A Defense of Ethical Pluralism

Creative Commons Between monism, pluralism and particularism – then pluralism is much the most plausible of the three. By Dr. P.J. McGrath Professor of Philosophy, Deceased University College, Cork, Ireland I must first explain what precisely I mean by ‘ethical pluralism’ . Moral theories may be divided into three categories in accordance with the different accounts[…]

How Schopenhauer’s Thought Can Illuminate a Midlife Crisis

Don’t aim for completion / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Kieran Setiya / 01.26.2018 Professor of Philosophy Massachusetts Institute of Technology Despite reflecting on the good life for more than 2,500 years, philosophers have not had much to say about middle age. For me, approaching 40 was a time of stereotypical crisis. Having jumped the hurdles[…]

The Erotic Dreams of Emanuel Swedenborg

Portrait of Swedenborg painted in 1817, after Swedenborg’s death, by Carl Frederik von Breda – Wikimedia Commons During the time of his ‘spiritual awakening’ in 1744 the scientist and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg kept a dream diary. Richard Lines looks at how, among the heavenly visions, there were also erotic dreams, the significance of which has been[…]

‘What Ish My Nation?’: Towards a Negative Definition of Identity

A timeline of Shakespeare’s plays / Creative Commons Defining national culture and identity. By Dr. Eugene O’Brien Senior Lecturer in English Mary Immaculate College There is hardly a more quoted line from Shakespeare in the overall context of Irish Studies than the above question from Henry V. Given the agonies of identity that have plagued Irish[…]

Rhetoric: What Was All the Talk About?

Aristotle s definition of rhetoric in one founding text in the rhetorical tradition. The role of rhetoric was pedagogical, or rather persuasive: to teach, but also always to move—and if need be, to please or delight. By Dr. Matthew Sharpe / 03.05.2016 Associate Professor of Philosophy Deakin University A little case of 1616 repeatin’ Shakespeare’s gravestone and[…]

Stoicism 5.0: The Unlikely 21st Century Reboot of an Ancient Philosophy

Keep calm and get your stoic on: more people today are heeding the advice than perhaps ever before. Stoicism has recently been described as one of the best “mind hacks” ever invented. Amazingly, it is back, more popular today than ever, in a series of fast-growing internet communities. By Dr. Matthew Sharpe / 07.12.2017 Associate Professor of Philosophy Deakin University From Cynicism[…]

Living Life as an Artist: Nietzsche on Creativity

The tragedies of ancient Greece underpin Nietzsche’s understanding of what it means to be an artist. Hans Runge/Flickr Love or loathe him, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) offered a unique way of considering creativity. By Dr. Laura D’Olimpio / 02.04.2015 Senior Lecturer in Philosophy University of Notre Dame Australia Love or loathe him, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) offered a unique way of[…]

Is Nature Continuous or Discrete? How the Atomist Error was Born.

Opening from Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura at the Cambridge University Library, manuscript dated to 1563. / Wikimedia Commons The modern idea that nature is discrete originated in Ancient Greek atomism. By Dr. Thomas Nail / 05.18.2018 Associate Professor of Philosophy University of Denver The modern idea that nature is discrete originated in Ancient Greek atomism.[…]

George Berkeley and Liber Mundi

Hartmann Schedel (German, Nuremberg 1440–1514 Nuremberg) Registrum huius Operis libri cronicarum cum figuris et ymagibus ab inicio mundi, July 12, 1493 German / Metropolitan Museum of Art By Dr. Costica Bradatan Professor of Humanities Texas Tech University Introduction The paradoxical (and also ambitious) aim of this paper consists in attempting to point out the vigorous presence[…]

What is Philosophy?

Busts of Sokrates, Antisthenes, Chrysippos, Epikouros / Photo by Matt Neale, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Peter O’Hara / 05.29.1997 Psychiatrist Introduction Philosophy has two main meanings, of an attitude to life, and of a type of knowledge. This lecture is concerned largely with the second meaning, that is, a type of knowledge. However the attitude or[…]

Science with Aristotle

By Dr. Michael Fowler / 07.23.2015 Maxine S. and Jesse W. Beams Professor of Physics , Physics Education,Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics University of Virginia Beginnings of Science and Philosophy in Athens Let us first recap briefly the emergence of philosophy and science in Athens after around 450 B.C. It all began with Socrates, who was born in 470[…]

Conversational Implicature: What We Say vs. What We Mean

Tricky. South Vietnam’s President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu meeting President Richard Nixon on 2 April 1973. Flickr/AP By Dr. Maria Kasmirli / 04.20.2018 Philosopher and Teacher Imagine you have been asked to review the reference letters provided by the candidates for a lectureship in philosophy. One reads: ‘My former student, Dr Jack Smith, is polite, punctual and[…]

What Did Hannah Arendt Really Mean by the ‘Banality of Evil’?

Adolf Eichmann at his 1961 trial. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Thomas White / 04.23.2018 Visiting Professor in Philosophy and Economics Mount Holyoke College Can one do evil without being evil? This was the puzzling question that the philosopher Hannah Arendt grappled with when she reported for The New Yorker in 1961 on the war crimes trial of Adolph Eichmann, the[…]

Lady Philosophy: Boethius and Loving Wisdom in Early Medieval Rome

Lady Philosophy offers Boethius wings so his mind can fly aloft. The French School (15th Century). A favourite text during the Middle Ages was The Consolation of Philosophy, written by the medieval philosopher, Boethius. By Dr. Laura D’Olimpio Senior Lecturer in Philosophy University of Notre Dame Australia A favourite text during the Middle Ages was The Consolation of Philosophy,[…]

Understanding Scientific Theories

By Dr. Bryan W. Roberts Associate Professor of Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific Method London School of Economics & Political Science The Most Exclusive Club Getting to be called a “scientific theory” is like joining a very exclusive club. Not just anything can get in. Some claims that deserve to be called science have been called non-science. And[…]