The latest from the Heap of Links…

  1. A strange 1756 opera that satirized David Hume — “The Philosopher’s Opera” by John McLaurin
  2. “People tried to reject Aristotle on the same grounds that they now try to reject Confucius or the Bhagavad Gita” — on the racism that helped build the philosophy canon
  3. “How come nobody played cards with the pirate? Because he was standing on the deck! The other pirates had no universal moral perspective from which to criticize him” — postmodern pirate jokes, from Alex Baia
  4. “Why the university and the Chinese government invests so much in the growth of philosophy (and internationalization more broadly) is, of course, a complicated sociological question” — Peter Finocchiaro (Wuhan) on being a foreign philosopher in China
  5. If someone imprisoned for life comes to meet the legal definition of death, but is then revived, have they completed their sentence? — the court says: the prisoner “is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot”
  6. A video of Barry Stroud’s memorial, with remarks from several philosophers — including Niko Kolodny, Sam Scheffler, Antonia Peacocke, Jason Bridges, Janet Broughton, Tom Nagel, and Sarah Stroud (via Julie Stroud)
  7. Assorted 1-page infographics about various aspects of the humanities — from Humanities Indicators

Mini-Heap posts appear when 7 or so new items accumulate in the Heap of Links, the ever-growing collection of items from around the web that may be of interest to philosophers.

The Heap of Links consists partly of suggestions from readers; if you find something online that you think would be of interest to the philosophical community, please send it in for consideration for the Heap. Thanks!


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4 years ago

I thought the “Aristotle/Bhagavad Gita” piece was pretty weak, especially Van Norden’s bit. His causal claims about Kant seem over-put. (Why not Hume as fulfilling that role? He was at least as racist as Kant was early on, and never seemed to change his views. Kant didn’t really have may “students” who could control the canon – Herder is the only student of his who was an important philosopher, and he didn’t seem to have this problem. Others heavily influenced by Kant (like Schopenhauer) were very interested in and influenced by eastern philosophy, and others not much inspired by Kant (like Sidgwick) were huge racists, too, so it seems that Kant was neither necessary nor sufficient for things to develop as they did. And, I find the claims that the reasons people were skeptical of Aristotle in the Paris of Aquinas’s time to be the same as the reason people are skeptical of the Bhagavad Gita as philosophy today to be pretty dubious. (Van Norden doesn’t bother to tell us what the reasons were, probably for good reason!) Having read both a lot of Aristotle and the Bhagavad Gita a few times (including in a philosophy class the first time), it’s clear that they are just really, really, different sorts of works. While you can clearly get philosophical ideas out of the Bhagavad Gita, it’s a lot more like, say, the Gospels, or mystic works like St. John of the Cross, than what has been accepted as philosophy for a long time. Most people don’t teach those works in philosophy classes, either, and usually for perfectly good reasons. The argument is stronger in relation to Confucius, but still not actually made out, I think. This is a line that Van Norden has been peddling a fair amount lately, but it’s not clear that it’s that great of an argument.