Philosophers are famous for disagreeing on the issues that interest them. Is morality objective? Is the mind identical to the body? Are our actions free or determined? Some professional philosophers will say no to these questions—but an almost equal number will say yes. Moreover, empirical data bears this out.
In the 19th century, biologists came to appreciate for the first time the fundamentality of the cell to all life. One of the early pioneers of cell biology, Rudolf Virchow, realized that the discovery of the cell brought with it a new way of seeing the organism and described it as a ‘cell state’. In the 20th century, this metaphor fell out of favour, but recent trends in biology suggest a revival.
Few philosophical theories are so hard to believe that no philosopher has ever defended them. But at least one theory is. Suppose that you think lying is wrong. According to a view that is known as the error theory, you then take lying to have a certain feature: you ascribe the property of being wrong to lying. But the error theory also says that this property does not exist.
This year a lot happened in the field of philosophy. As we come to the end of 2017, the OUP Philosophy team have had a look back at the past year and its highs and lows. We’ve compiled a selection of the key events, awards, anniversaries, and passings which went on to shape philosophy in 2017, from Alvin Plantinga receiving the Templeton Prize to the death of Derek Parfit.
Last year, twitter highlighted the most popular New Year’s resolutions for 2017—which included losing weight, reading more, and learning something new among the most common goals. With 2018 quickly approaching, people all over the world are taking the time to reflect on themselves and determine possible resolutions for the coming year. We’ve put together a reading list of self-improvement books to help our readers reflect and stick to their goals in the New Year.
Consider this little story. On a planet somewhere far away there’s a community, the Tragic. The Tragic are deeply moral, in the sense of caring deeply about doing the right thing, even when that isn’t in their self-interest. They are also very successful in figuring out what’s the “right” thing, in their sense of right. So they very often do what’s “right” in their sense.
he topic of character is one of the oldest in both Western and Eastern thought, and has enjoyed a renaissance in philosophy since at least the 1970s with the revival of virtue ethics. Yet, even today, character remains largely a mystery. We know very little about what most peoples’ character looks like. Important virtues are surprisingly neglected. There are almost no strategies advanced by philosophers today for improving character.
Franz Brentano died on the 17 of March 1917. His main work Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (1874) combines an Aristotelian view of the mind with empiricist methodology inspired by the likes of William Hamilton and John Stuart Mill. Brentano’s philosophical program was to show that every concept can ultimately be derived from perceptions: he was a concept empiricist.
In the past, most philosophers assumed that the central notion of rationality is a normative or evaluative concept: to think rationally is to think properly or well—in other words, to think as one should think. Rational thinking is in a sense good thinking, while irrational thinking is bad. Recently, however, philosophers have raised several objections to that assumption.
Colours are a familiar and important feature of our experience of the world. Colours help us to distinguish and identify things in our environment: for instance, the red of a berry not only helps us to see the berry against the green foliage, but it also allows us to identify it as a berry. Colours perform a wide variety of symbolic functions: red means stop, green means go, white means surrender.
At a party, on a plane, in the locker-room, I’m often asked what I do. Though tempted by one colleague’s adoption of the identity of a steam-pipe fitter, I admit I am a professor of philosophy. If that doesn’t end or redirect the conversation, my questioner may continue by raising some current moral or political issue, or asking for my favorite philosopher.
This December, the OUP Philosophy team is celebrating three of 2017’s most popular philosophers of the month: Simone de Beauvoir, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Socrates. Test your knowledge with our quiz.
Today is World Philosophy Day! Introduced by UNESCO in 2002, World Philosophy Day aims to promote the global importance of philosophical thought. To celebrate, we’ve created a slideshow of philosophical puzzles from A Cabinet of Philosophical Curiosities: A Collection of Puzzles, Oddities, Riddles, and Dilemmas to test your thinking. Take a look at the slideshow below to see if you can answer these riddles from around the world.
The third Thursday in November marks World Philosophy Day, an event founded by UNESCO to emphasise the importance of philosophy in the development of human thought, for each culture and for each individual. This year, the OUP Philosophy team have decided to incorporate the Oxford Philosophy Festival theme of applying philosophy in politics to our World Philosophy Day content.
In The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, the heroine teaches in Edinburgh in the 1930s. She has a special set of favourites amongst her pupils, loves one-armed Roman Catholic art teacher and WW1 veteran Teddy Lloyd, and sympathises with Mussolini. A member of her set, Sandy, eventually sleeps with Lloyd and then becomes a nun, writing a book called The Transfiguration of the Commonplace.
In honor of Veterans Day, we would like to focus on the men and women around the world who have been committed to the defense of their countries and their fellow citizens. Replacing Armistice Day in 1954, this holiday serves to recognize victims of all wars and the US veterans who have served honorably in the military. However, in times of war, the distinction between moral and immoral are unclear