Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Our exhausted (first) world: a plea for 21st-century existential philosophy

Consider: a lecture hall of undergraduates, bored and fidgety (and techne-deprived, since I’ve banned computers and devices in class) in distinctive too-cool-for-school Philosophy 101 style.—Ah, but today will be different: the current offering is not Aristotle on causation, or Cartesian dualism, or Kant’s transcendental unity of apperception—no.

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OUP Philosophy

How much do you know about Hannah Arendt? [quiz]

This September, the OUP Philosophy team have chosen Hannah Arendt as their Philosopher of the Month. Hannah Arendt was a German political theorist and philosopher best known for coining the term “the banality of evil.” She was also the author of various influential political philosophy books.

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A crisis of commitment

A reasonable line of thought can give rise to a crisis of commitment: Many a commitment requires persistence or willpower, especially in the face of temptation. A straightforward example is the decision to quit smoking; another is the promise to be faithful to someone for the rest of one’s life.

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The philosophical computer store

Once again, searching for unconventional computing methods as well as for a neurocomputational theory of cognition requires knowing what does and does not count as computing. A question that may appear of purely philosophical interest — which physical systems perform which computations — shows up at the cutting edge of computer technology as well as neuroscience.

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Paradoxes and promises

Imagine that, on a Tuesday night, shortly before going to bed one night, your roommate says “I promise to only utter truths tomorrow.” The next day, your roommate spends the entire day uttering unproblematic truths like: 1 + 1 = 2.

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Our diet and the environment [infographic]

Our diets are a moral choice. We can decide what we want to eat, though more often than not we give little thought to our diet and instead rather habitually and instinctively eat foods that have been served to us since a young age.

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Can you match the quote to the philosopher? Part two [quiz]

In April this year, we questioned whether or not you could match the quote to the philosopher who said it. After demonstrating your impressive knowledge of philosophical quotations, we’ve come back to test your philosophy knowledge again. In this second installment of the quiz, we ask you if you can make the distinction between Aquinas, Hume, Sophocles, and Descartes?

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OUP Philosophy

Philosopher of the month: Hannah Arendt

The OUP Philosophy team have selected Hannah Arendt (4 October 1906- 4 December 1975) as their September Philosopher of the Month. Born into a Jewish German family, Arendt was widely known for her contributions to the field of political theory, writing on the nature of totalitarian states, as well as the resulting byproducts of violence and revolution.

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OUP Philosophy

How well do you know Lao Tzu? [quiz]

This August we are featuring Lao Tzu, the legendary Chinese thinker and founder of Taoism, as Philosopher of the Month. He is best known as the author of the classic ‘Tao Te Ching’ (‘The Book of the Way and its Power’). Take our quiz to see how much you know about the life and studies of Lao Tzu!

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The value of knowledge

Traditionally, the story that opens chapter three of Genesis is called The Fall. In the Christian tradition, both the name and the interpretation of the story associated with it were made canonical by Saint Augustine in the first decades of the fifth century AD, about fourteen hundred years after Genesis was written down.

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Moral responsibility and the ‘honor box’ system

If you’ve worked in an office, you’re probably familiar with “honor box” coffee service. Everyone helps themselves to stewed coffee, adds to the lounge’s growing filth, and deposits a nominal sum in the honor box, with the accumulated proceeds being used to replenish supplies. Notoriously, this system often devolves into a tragedy of the commons, where too many people drink without paying.

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Individuals as groups, groups as individuals

People exist at different times. My life, for instance, consists of me-at-age-five, me-as-a-teenager, me-as-a-university-student, and of course many other temporal stages (or time-slices) as well. In a sense, then, we can see a single person, whose life extends over time, as akin to a group of people, each of whom exists for just a short stretch of time.

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Does ‘divine hiddenness’ belong to theists or to atheists?

Theistic literature is full of references and allusions to a self-concealing deity. The psalm writer whose poems are included in the Hebrew Bible regularly calls out, in alternating notes of perplexity, impatience and despair, to a God whose felt presence apparently seemed frustratingly inconstant. But he or she still assumes that God is there.

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Faith and conflict in the 21st century

As another summer is overcast by reports of religious conflicts and atrocities around the world, I have been thinking about faith, and how the way we understand it affects our response to some of the global challenges we face.

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Curry paradox cycles

A ‘Liar cycle’ is a finite sequence of sentences where each sentence in the sequence except the last says that the next sentence is false, and where the final sentence in the sequence says that the first sentence is false.

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