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.
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.
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.
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.
The popular Netflix show is rife with philosophical questions. “Can Aristotle teach Bojack a thing or two about self-love?” is one of them.
Almost fifty years ago there was an influential woman who called pregnancy “barbaric,” described childhood as “hell,” and said giving birth was “like shitting a pumpkin.” Shulamith Firestone was a radical activist and remarkably prescient thinker who helped define feminism as we know it. Yet today she remains largely—and unfairly—unknown.
The abundance of moral concepts at play in the parable of the Vineyard Workers makes it a favorite among moral philosophers.
What good are philosophy books? Can they make us any the wiser? A look at a humorous essay by Robert Wilson Lynd that demonstrates the difficulty of acquiring wisdom from books alone.
The physicist Paul Dirac believed that “it seems to be one of the fundamental features of nature that fundamental physical laws are described in terms of a mathematical theory of great beauty.” Not only that, he even believed that beauty was more reliable a measure than experimental evidence. He claimed “it is more important to have beauty in one’s equations than to have them fit experiment.”
Not only do Jesus’s moral values make sense when applied to socioeconomic issues, but there is reason to believe they were intended to do so as part of a political call to solidarity with the poor.
Nationalism has a bad reputation. Varieties of nationalist thought have been responsible for many of the horrors of the last century. Nonetheless, important philosophers and political theorists have made the cases that more reasoned forms of nationalism can provide credible theoretical justification for determining the boundaries between those within a political community and those outside of it.
People from opposing ends of the political spectrum claim Jesus as their own. But is Jesus’s moral philosophy broad in scope, such that it includes a political morality, or narrower, consisting only of private virtues?
A look at how poverty was valued, in connection to virtue and to justice, within Jesus’s philosophy.