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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

A surprisingly religious John Stuart Mill

Your most recent book, John Stuart Mill: A Secular Life, is in OUP’s ‘Spiritual Lives’ series and is essentially a religious biography of Mill. Mill decided that strictly in terms of proof the right answer to that question of God’s existence is that it is ‘a very probable hypothesis’.

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Plato’s mistake

It started innocently enough at a lunch-time event with some friends at the Randolph Hotel in the centre of Oxford. ‘The trouble with Islam …’ began some self-opinioned pundit, and I knew where he was going. Simple. Islam lends itself to fanaticism, and that is why Muslims perpetrate so much violence in the name of religion. The pundit saw himself as Christian, and therefore a man of peace, so I had my cue. ‘Look out of the window. Over there in the fork of the road you see the Martyr’s Memorial. In 1555 the Wars of Religion were in full spate, Catholics were burning Protestants at the stake, Protestants were no less fanatical when their turn came, and things got even worse with the Civil War. So why are Muslims any worse?’

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How well do you know William Godwin? [quiz]

In October, William Godwin (1756–1836) was featured as our Philosopher of the Month. He was a leading political philosopher and public intellectual during the crisis in British politics in the 1790s and achieved fame with the publication of his treatise ‘An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice’.

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Graffiti artists are gaining recognition—and rights

Graffiti used to be thought of primarily as vandalism—as a furtive, illegal activity that defaced public property. It was seen as both a reflection of and contributor to urban decay. However, several recent high-profile lawsuits involving what is now called “exterior aerosol art” reveal just how far graffiti has advanced in cultural esteem and recognition as a legitimate art form.

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The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Existentialist

At the end of the second world war, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre launched the “existentialist offensive,” an ambitious campaign to shape a new cultural and political landscape. The word ‘existentialism’ was a popular neologism with no clear meaning. They wanted to profit from its media currency by making their philosophy its definition. Sartre’s talk “Existentialism is a Humanism” was an instant legend.

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Philosopher of The Month: William Godwin [timeline]

This October, the OUP Philosophy team honours William Godwin (1756–1836) as their Philosopher of the Month. Godwin was a moral and political philosopher and a prolific writer, best-known for his political treatise ‘An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice’ and ‘Things as they were or Caleb Williams’, a political allegorical novel.

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It Keeps Me Seeking

Sometimes spouses will look back on the time of their getting to know one another and say, half-jokingly, that on a given occasion one was putting the other to the test.

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Oxford Think Festival: 10th – 18th November 2018

Oxford University Press is delighted to once again partner with Blackwell’s Oxford to host a weekend of talks and discussions. After three successful years as the Oxford Philosophy Festival, the event returns this year as the Oxford Think Festival.

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How well do you know Arthur Schopenhauer? [quiz]

This September, OUP Philosophy honors Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) as the Philosopher of the Month. Schopenhauer was largely ignored by the academic philosophical community during his lifetime, but gained recognition and fame posthumously.

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Dignified debates: a better way to argue about politics

Rebecca Roache expressed a common feeling when in 2015 she blogged, “I am tired of reasoned debate about politics.” Many people today find arguments unpleasant and useless. That attitude is both sad and dangerous because we cannot solve our social problems together if we know that we disagree but do not understand why. Luckily, arguments can help us accomplish a lot even in extreme cases.

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Consent on campus [podcast]

As students head back to university to start their fall semester, the conversation of consent will no doubt surround them on campus. But what can actually be defined as consent? Where do students learn what consent actually means? From the time of adolescence, students are taught the notion of consent, which impacts how they view the term in their later life.

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Not your grandmother’s women’s lib movement: Femen’s uncivil disobedience

Oksana Shachko died on 23 July 2018. She co-founded the feminist socialist collective Femen in her native Ukraine ten years ago, to fight against patriarchy’s three central forms—dictatorship, the sexual exploitation of women, and established religion. One of Femen’s first protests was a guerrilla theater performance protesting sexual harassment at the university.

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What would Margaret Cavendish say?

Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) was a philosopher, poet, essayist, and fiction writer, and she had opinions. Lots of them, on topics from the cause of thunder, to the qualities of a good book translator, to the value of diverse opinions themselves (her assessment on this last point: “Several Opinions, except it be in Religion, do no harm.”).

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