If you ask a person on the street what philosophy is about, that person may respond with…
- “No thanks.”
- “Do I know you?”
- a faster gait
- pepper spray
or perhaps some examples of big philosophical questions about the meaning of life, right and wrong, knowledge, freedom, minds, rationality, and crystals. Apart from the crystals, that’s not too bad a characterization, even if it leaves out a lot.
Among what it leaves out are topics that (a) are of interest to plenty of people who aren’t philosophers, (b) are not the kind of thing the average person expects there to be philosophy about, yet (c) are indeed the focus of work by philosophers.
I’m thinking of topics about which a non-philosopher might reply, “I didn’t know there was philosophy about that.”
So I thought it might be useful to compile some examples of philosophical work on “surprising” topics. In the comments, please offer up your suggestions. Your comments should include not just the topic, but an example of a philosophical work on it (include the title and author at least, and a link if you care to). Who knows—maybe we’ll be surprised ourselves at what turns up.