The Case for More Science and Philosophy Books for Children

For this reason, I take it as obvious that we should write science and philosophy books for children and teenagers. The issue is not to turn every kid into a future scientist. Despite all the hype about getting into STEM fields in college, our society doesn’t need millions of new PhDs in physics and biology every generation. But it does need citizens who are scientifically literate. This doesn’t just mean knowing the second law of thermodynamics—an isolated system’s entropy will increase over time—among other basic facts (though they certainly don’t hurt)! It means, more importantly, that they have developed a healthy respect for the scientific enterprise and are able to be properly critical of it when necessary.


Posted in Children, Philosophy, science | Tagged , ,

Phenomenology and Intercultural Understanding

This book, the fruition of twenty years of research and writing about phenomenology, carefully and insightfully traces the complex historical relations between phenomenology and non-Western thought over the last century. It also offers a critical diagnosis of the contemporary impediments to, and possibilities for, intercultural philosophy.

One key element of Lau’s argumentation is his sustained confrontation of the paradoxical relationship between phenomenology and non-Western and Asian philosophies with an original and provocative approach that is attentive and responsive to our intercultural embodiment and flesh. In particular, Lau’s intercultural reinterpretation of the phenomenological notion of flesh resituates the discourse of intercultural philosophy that is dominated by the more typical discussion of intercultural communication and understanding that characteristically occurs without reference to their fleshy and worldly embodiment.


Posted in Philosophy | Tagged

La philosophie doit-elle nous rendre heureux ?

Deux essais qui lient philosophie et bonheur sont l’occasion de se poser à nouveau cette question.

Parlons aujourd’hui de l’utilité de la philosophie, rien que cela. Car à voir les nombreux articles, essais, ou encore, interventions qui relèvent de cette discipline : c’est bien cette question qui s’impose : à quoi sert-elle ? Pourquoi y faire appel ? De quel secours est-elle ?

Certains diront à débrouiller le réel en soulevant les bonnes questions, sans savoir pourtant ce qu’est le réel ou une bonne question, d’autres répondront à rien, et ils auront sûrement raison, enfin, d’autres diront, à mieux vivre. Et c’est cette dernière possibilité qui nous intéresse aujourd’hui !


Posted in Philosophy | Tagged

A Stoic’s Key to Peace of Mind: Seneca on the Antidote to Anxiety

“There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”

“The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is,” Kurt Vonnegut observed in discussing Hamlet during his influential lecture on the shapes of stories. “The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and it’s really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad,” Alan Watts wrote a generation earlier in his sobering case for learning not to think in terms of gain or loss. And yet most of us spend swaths of our days worrying about the prospect of events we judge to be negative, potential losses driven by what we perceive to be “bad news.” In the 1930s, one pastor itemized anxiety into five categories of worries, four of which imaginary and the fifth, “worries that have a real foundation,” occupying “possibly 8% of the total.”


Posted in Stoics | Tagged

Gramsci and Contemporary Politics: Beyond Pessimism of the Intellect

Can politics now be both radical and realistic? This book is a collection of Anne Showstack Sassoon’s writing which spans the major transitions from Thatcher and Reagan to Clinton and Blair; the collapse of communism to the regeneration of social democracy. Looking at the role of intellectuals in rethinking politics, she argues that drawing from the past, and broadening contemporary sources of political and academic knowledge can contribute to a grounded, radical hegemonic politics which can shape change. Applying original interpretations of Antonio Gramsci’s ideas on intellectuals, political language, civil society and political leadership, Anne Showstack Sassoon goes well beyond his framework to examine key contemporary political issues… Engaging with radical claims of centre-left politics, this book brings together theoretical discussion with empirical and personal examples to suggest how to negotiate difficult the line between wishful thinking and weary fatalism in order to create the basis for widespread consent for political and social reforms.


Posted in Gramsci | Tagged

Gramsci and Foucault: A Reassessment

Mapping the resonances, dissonances, and linkages between the thought of Gramsci and Foucault to uncover new tools for socio-political and critical analysis for the twenty-first century, this book reassesses the widely-held view that their work is incompatible. With discussions of Latin American revolutionary politics, indigenous knowledges, technologies of government and the teaching of paediatrics in post-invasion Iraq, complexity theory, medical anthropology and biomedicine, and the role of Islam in the transition to modern society in the Arab world, this interdisciplinary volume presents the latest theoretical research on different facets of these two thinkers’ work, as well as analyses of the specific linkages that exist between them in concrete settings. A rigorous, comparative exploration of the work of two towering figures of the twenty-first century, Gramsci and Foucault: A Reassessment will appeal to scholars and students of social and political theory, political sociology, communication and media studies, and contemporary philosophy.


Posted in Foucault, Gramsci | Tagged ,

Bergson, Complexity and Creative Emergence

This book yields mixed results. It is admirably bold and ambitious, but two omissions detract from its accomplishments: it omits many conceptual distinctions expected by philosophers and it omits areas of ongoing philosophical and scientific research pertinent to its claims. While perhaps part of those omissions can be chalked up to the goals of the author (“both to inform those aware of philosophy concerning the developments in environmental biology; and, perhaps more importantly, vice versa,” p. 1)[1], their cumulative impact nonetheless limits the benefits for philosophers.


Read also: Bergson, Complexity and Creative Emergence

Posted in Bergson, Complexity | Tagged , ,

Race and Justice

Recent years have seen the growth of major new grassroots movements for racial justice. These protests against violence and police brutality have taken place against a backdrop of severe poverty and disadvantage in black communities. What is the historical background of these contemporary movements for racial justice? How did racial injustice develop in the past, and what are its ongoing legacies today? In this unit, we explore the themes of ‘race and justice’ in both historical and contemporary perspectives. We examine legacies of racism and colonialism, and the impact of these. We will also explore philosophical questions such as why slavery is wrong; whether we should think of race as real or as socially constructed, or even whether we should do away with the concept altogether; what racism is, and what makes it morally objectionable; and what responsibilities we might have today as a result of historical legacies of racial injustice. Along the way we will discover how major black intellectuals, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin and Martin Luther King, Jr., have used a combination of public philosophy and the arts as vehicles for challenging racial injustice. Given current events unfolding in the US, we give some particular attention to understanding the African American context. The history of racial injustice in America is unique, but has many lessons of wider relevance that we will draw on in order to examine issues of race and justice in the UK and the global arena; including topics such as colonialism and its legacies, multiculturalism, and immigration.


Posted in Justice, Race | Tagged ,

The Deviant Philosopher

We have no precise definition of what constitutes “deviant philosophy” and indeed the site is premised on the idea of openness to discovering new philosophical territories and domains. Our governing conviction is that philosophy itself profits from curiosity about materials and approaches outside what is called the “mainstream.” Just as “mainstream philosophy” is invoked loosely to denote that which is most familiar, most often taught, and most well-represented in the formal institutional structures of the discipline, we use “deviant philosophy” loosely to capture what this leaves out. This includes philosophies developed outside the intellectual lineage of the western canon, philosophies from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and indigenous populations. It includes philosophical perspectives occluded by this canon and its contemporary inheritors, such as those found in feminist philosophy, philosophies of disability, or African American philosophy. And it includes approaches to this canon that fall outside the ordinary, approaches that take a “non-mainstream” approach to the familiar stuff of the mainstream. Put most plainly, we use “deviant philosophy” to capture philosophies and philosophical approaches that many philosophers may have missed out on in their early training, don’t find regularly available in the usual discussions and professional outlets, or simply find difficult to begin investigating on their own given limited time and exposure.


Read also: Resources 

Posted in Deviant philosophy, Philosophy | Tagged ,

When philosophy needed Muslims, Jews and Christians alike

If you were asked to name the most important philosopher of 10th-century Baghdad, you would presumably not hesitate to say ‘al-Farabi’. He’s one of the few thinkers of the Islamic world known to non-specialists, deservedly so given his ambitious reworking of Platonic and Aristotelian metaphysics and political philosophy. But if you were yourself a resident of 10th-century Baghdad, you might more likely think of Yahya ibn ‘Adi. He is hardly a household name now but was mentioned by the historian al-Mas‘udi as the only significant teacher of Aristotelian philosophy in his day. But ibn ‘Adi is not just a good example of how fame wanes across the centuries. He is also a fine illustration of the interreligious nature of philosophy in the Islamic world.

Ibn ‘Adi was a Christian, as were most of the members of the group of philosophers who wrote commentaries on Aristotle at this time in Baghdad. The Muslim al-Farabi, who was apparently ibn ‘Adi’s teacher, was an exception to the rule. Completing the ecumenical picture, ibn ‘Adi was involved in an exchange of letters with a Jewish scholar named Ibn Abi Sa‘id al-Mawsili, who wrote to him with questions about Aristotle’s philosophy that he was hoping to have cleared up.


Posted in Philosophy | Tagged