“Your father was a computer engineer; your mother was a concert pianist, and when the spaceship lands, they make music together on the computer.”
“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” –Richard Dawkins
King Laius died at the Cleft Way, where he got in the way of an emigrant to Thebes who happened also to be his son. The prophecy was that Oedipus would be the death of Laius, and it was in the name of avoiding this fate that father and son worked together to seal it. Yet what truly made Oedipus Continue Reading …
In the second installment of a two-part series, Nicholas Joll examines a view that morality is impossible and explores the opportunities offered by possible worlds.
What are science, religion, and secularism? How have they interacted, historically, and what are the major issues in contemporary reflection on them? A new series explores these questions through the works of the scientists, theologians, and philosophers who have shaped the dialogue over the last century and a half.
In the first installment of a two-part series, Nicholas Joll tries to convince us that, for one thing, fire is not hot and, for another, that sincerity is impossible.
Consider his claims: 1) We do not know what’s best for other people and 2) Since governance is ultimately founded on the threat of violence, the government should only exert its power regarding those things that we would ourselves defend with a gun. They sound reasonable, but are interestingly wrong.
Scalar consequentialism is an ethical theory that has us always choose the better option. That’s very much the way that today’s computer chess programs play. There’s a lot to learn from the study of their games against human chess players who use a different approach.
“Tradition must be defended,” says the political conservative, “it is the source of our highest and truest values.” Many traditional beliefs and practices may indeed have much to recommend them, but they also have a dark side.
What would it be like to live forever? The question has been addressed in dramatic form both in Karel Capek’s play The Makropulos Affair and in the movie Logan. The eminent philosopher Bernard Williams wrote an article about Elina Makropulos, who’s become bored with it all. How is Logan different?
Heidegger’s conception of authenticity, is both appealing (in that it accords due significance to mortality) and troubling (in completely prioritising the self over others). The core concept can be retained while introducing an other-regarding elementcourtesy of Simone de Beauvoir’s early work on ethics. Fanon’s commentary on authenticity from Black Skin, White Masks develops the links between Heidegger and Beauvoir.
A philosophical dialogue on the nature of art.
The coming-of-age story at the heart of the award-winning film Moonlight gets a lot of its power from the way it upends the prevailing inner-city narrative. This rejection of expectation helps illustrate the relationship between storytelling and identity formation described by Kwame Anthony Appiah.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Speak what you think now in hard words and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.” Does that mean the current POTUS is an Emersonian? Not quite!
In The Birth of Tragedy, Friedrich Nietzsche argues that, through his protégé Euripides, Socrates had injected into Greek tragedy the seed of questioning doubt that brought an end to the religious animus of drama, the fire that fueled its creation and sustained it. Thus, cold reason killed tragedy. Although he would later modify this view, it remains a powerful and influential polemic in the history of aesthetics.
Stating that the Presidential election and the person now occupying the office are illegitimate is a serious charge, but how accurate is it? The most prominent social theorist to articulate the concept of legitimacy is Max Weber, who outlined three ideal types of legitimate authority that comprise rightful rule. On any reading, Donald Trump comes into office with a severe legitimacy deficit.
Friend of PEL Doug Lain has been trying to score an interview with Slavoj Žižek on his Zero Squared podcast for years. Now, some think that Žižek’s stock is in decline, among other reasons because he said he’d vote for Trump if he could. Could he really have been only pretending to be some sort of radical leftist all along? Doug’s got the full story; find out how it all went down here.
In 1996, Samuel Huntington presented a theory of “clashes” occurring between different civilizational blocks. Huntington traced the mindsets of different people to solid religious sources. However, what if the difference between civilizational blocks is that some have read Nietzsche and others haven’t?
Some straightforward steps to take to not just help you grasp a fact or issue, but also arm you to survive—even thrive—in an era of limitless data, and limitless people who want to tell you how to interpret it.
It’s often been claimed that no dream should ever be a crucial feature of a narrative. Henry James famously advised, ”Tell a dream, lose a reader.” But why not? Perhaps the brain is not active in the same way when encountering someone else’s dream. Perhaps we are all too aware that it lacks the dramatic or instructive intention of a fully realized story.