Socrates is the favorite ancient philosopher of Stephanie Nordby, a recent philosophy PhD from the University of Oklahoma, because in his role as “gadfly” he represents two virtues of philosophy done well: “intellectual humility and profound intellectual courage.”
I’m asked from time to time which undergraduate courses best prepared me for working at Goldman Sachs and in the government. People assume I’ll list courses in economics or finance, but I always answer that the key was Professor Demos’s philosophy course and the conversations about existentialism in coffee shops around campus.
By exerting their imaginations and their talent for coming up with pesky counterexamples, probe away at the conceptual boundaries of God, free will, morality, etc, and try to determine, by the power of thought experiments alone, just what is and isn’t possible, and what conclusions are the most reasonable. (more…)
“Phenomenology is one of the major strands of post Kantian philosophy. But it isn’t easy to pin down exactly what the name captures. Can you first sketch for us what you think is its core and whether there actually is a core—something some philosophers have disputed haven’t they?” (more…)
What can we learn from constructing semantic networks of familiar works in the history of philosophy? A fair amount, according to Mark Alfano, a philosopher at Delft University of Technology and Australian Catholic University, as he explains in the following guest post*—such as which concepts tend to get more attention from readers than might seem appropriate give..
A recent study looks at whether perceptions about how “masculine” philosophy is can help explain the gender disparities in the field. (more…)
Q: How do you feel about Trump’s performance thus far? Is this what you expected?
A: I’m very pleased with his performance. (more…)
“How do you respond to those who wonder whether philosophy questions can ever be really answered once and for all and who therefore conclude it’s a waste of time?” (more…)
“One need no longer have recourse to magical means in order to master or implore the spirits, as did the savage, for whom such mysterious powers existed. Technical means and calculations perform the service. This above all is what intellectualization means.” (more…)
Our histories of philosophy are astonishingly parochial. Across two and half millennia and a whole planet, there are basically only 9 historical figures you can write about without running the risk of marginalizing yourself as a young philosopher. (more…)
“But what I loved about philosophy, and what got me hooked in that intro course to begin with, was the sense that you could fail well. That you could think and think and think and never be assured of being right: that you could be good at philosophy and careful, indeed obsessive, and still end up being wrong.” (more…)
Mainstream philosophy in the so-called West is narrow-minded, unimaginative, and even xenophobic. I know I am leveling a serious charge. But how else can we explain the fact that the rich philosophical traditions of China, India, Africa, and the Indigenous peoples of the Americas are completely ignored by almost all philosophy departments in both Europe and the Engl..
In the new Oxford Review of Books, Daniel Kodsi, an apparently remarkably well-read Oxford undergraduate, conducts a wide-ranging three-part interview (I, II, III) with Kwame Anthony Appiah (NYU). Here’s an excerpt from Part II:
In a recent interview, Shalom Chalson, an undergraduate studying philosophy at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) asks Frank Jackson (ANU; currently visiting at NUS) about the prospects for change in philosophy: (more…)
Christia Mercer (Columbia), writing in “The Stone” at The New York Times:
René Descartes has long been credited with the near-single-handed creation of modern philosophy. Generations of students have read, and continue to read, his famous “Meditations” as the rejection of medieval ways of thinking and the invention of the modern self. They learned that he doubted..
I used to teach a course in critical thinking at Ghent University. As behooves a good skeptic, I first presented my students with the usual laundry list of fallacies, after which I invited them to put the theory into practice. Take a popular piece from the newspaper or watch a political debate, and try to spot the fallacies.
I no longer give that assignment. (m..
How do we decide whether a metaphysical system is the right one or not? Empirical evidence doesn’t seem to be decisive, and given that some metaphysicians have impossible worlds and Meinongian objects it seems anything might happen in such a system. Are all metaphysical issues undecidable—and extending this thought to philosophy generally do you agree with the tho..
Philosophy, of all disciplines, should never embrace dogmas—it is supposed to be the quintessentially critical subject—and yet now we’re full to the brim with them. You cannot criticize or even question the current orthodoxies regarding race, gender, or sexual orientation within the institutional framework of academic philosophy.
“My aim has been to remind philosophers that their subject, whether or not ‘handmaiden to the sciences’, ought to be handmaiden also to the humanities”
We ought hold ourselves to stricter argumentative standards than we often do, in our philosophical research manuscripts or public-forum presentations. (more…)
“The main thing is to be aware of how many of the students have only a very narrow background, and the pre-talk is a good opportunity for you to bring them up to speed on the existing literature,” .
“I don’t know any of the existing literature for this talk,” said the visitor, without a hint of embarrassment. (more…)
Occasionally philosophers make claims about the benefits of teaching elementary and high school students philosophy. (more…)
“I think of philosophy as partly a creative process and discipline, and I think it would be a tremendous shame if we lost sight of that part of things.” (more…)
“I worry that when most of the authors we read are white and male, some aspects of the subject matter get distorted, and it’s hard to tell where the essential stuff ends and the accidental stuff begins.” (more…)