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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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The Enlightenment and visual impairment

Blindness is a recurrent image in Enlightenment rhetoric. It is used in a political context to indicate a lack of awareness, seen in a letter from Edmund Burke to the chevalier de La Bintinnaye, in poetic rhetoric, with the stories of the blind poets Milton, Homer, and Ossian circulating among the intelligentsia of the time, or simply as a physical irritation, when writers with long lives and extensive correspondences frequently complained of their eyesight deteriorating.

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9780191816802

The enduring evolution of logic

Logic is a deep subject, at the core of much work in philosophy, mathematics, and computer science. In very general terms, it is the study of what (conclusions) follows from what (premises)—logical consequence. The Early Modern philosopher, Immanuel Kant, held that Aristotle invented logic, and at his hands it was complete. There was nothing left to be done. He was notoriously wrong.

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9780198732716

Does death rob our lives of meaning?

I fear death, you might think, because the fact that I will die robs the things I do in my life of their meaning or their value or their worth. This, if it were true, would justify the feeling of vertigo and emptiness that comes when we reflect that we will die.

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OUP Philosophy Crest

Philosopher of the month: Hypatia

An astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, and active public figure, Hypatia played a leading role in Alexandrian civic affairs. Her public lectures were popular, and her technical contributions to geometry, astronomy, number theory, and philosophy made Hypatia a highly regarded teacher and scholar.

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9780198732716

Does my death harm me?

Some people fear flying; some fear buttons; and many, many people fear their own death. We might try to argue a friend out of their fear of flying or their fear of buttons by showing them that the fear is irrational.

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9780198732716

Making the big decisions

This post is about how we make major life decisions, such as whether or not to start a family, whether to leave your home country and start a life elsewhere, or whether to join a revolution and fight for a cause.

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OUP Philosophy Crest

How well do you know Bertrand Russell? [quiz]

This June, the OUP Philosophy team honors Bertrand Russell (May 18, 1872 – February 2, 1970) as their Philosopher of the Month. Considered among the most distinguished philosophers of the 20th century, Russell’s style, wit, and contributions to a wide range of philosophical fields made him an influential figure in both academic and popular philosophy.

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9780190605322

History, philosophy, and political hope

Politics in general is all about how to develop, sustain, and revise institutions, practices, and policies that bind individuals together productively and that point toward more fulfilling individual and joint futures for them. Debates about how best to do this are natural. Should the US become yet more aggressively libertarian-individualist, or should a substantial social compact that enforces terms of fair cooperation via significant redistributions be instituted?

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9780198776895

The value of humanism

World Humanist Day is celebrated on 21 June, providing an opportunity for humanists and humanist organizations to promote the positive principles of Humanism. Celebration of the day began in the 1980s and support for it has grown ever since. This post explores some of the values of Humanism, specifically truth and realism.

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9780198757764

What is college for?

1 May was National College Decision Day in the U.S. – the deposit deadline for admission into many U.S. colleges and universities. Early indications suggest that we’re poised for a fifth straight year of declining enrollments. In the Atlantic earlier this year, Alia Wong pointed out that this trend continues the widening gap between high school graduation and college enrollment in this country.

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Cook_Yablo Paradox

The television paradox

Imagine that we have a black and white monitor, a black and white camera, and a computer. We hook up the camera and monitor to the computer, and we write a program where, for some medium-ish shade of grey G.

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9780198732716

Prejudice you aren’t aware of (what to do about it)

Employment, education, healthcare, justice, housing. These are some of the central services in society because they help people live the best life they can. But it will come as no surprise to most people that access to these services and treatment at their hands differs greatly depending on whether you are a man or a woman, the way you are racialized, your sexuality, whether or not you have a disability, and so on.

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9780198777984 Boden - AI

On the Singularity, emotions, and computer consciousness

The term ‘artificial intelligence’ was coined as long ago as 1956 to describe ‘the science and engineering of making intelligent machines’. The work that has happened in the subject since then has had enormous impact. Margaret Boden is Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, and one of the best known figures in the field of Artificial Intelligence. We put four common questions to her about this exciting area of research.

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9780198767039

Ten under-appreciated ancient thinkers [timeline]

The influence and wisdom from ancient philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato is undeniable. But how well do you know the life and works of Macrina, Philo of Alexandria, or Gorgias? Although known for his work in botany, did you know Theophrastus was a pupil of Plato?

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OUP Philosophy Creast

Philosopher of the month: Bertrand Russell

Considered among the most distinguished philosophers of the 20th century, Russell’s style, wit, and contributions to a wide range of philosophical fields made him an influential figure in both academic and popular philosophy. Among his best known philosophical works, the History of Western Philosophy demonstrates the scope of Russell’s curiosity and understanding, and highlights the interrelation of seemingly disparate areas of philosophy.

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