Can you imagine a concert hall full of chimpanzees sitting, concentrated, and feeling ‘transported’ by the beauty of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony? Even harder would be to imagine a chimpanzee feeling a certain pleasure when standing in front of a beautiful sculpture. The appreciation of beauty and its qualities, according to Aristotle’s definition, from his Poetics (order, symmetry, and clear delineation and definiteness), is uniquely human.
Today there are high hopes for technological progress. Techno-optimists expect massive benefits for humankind from the invention of new technologies. Peter Diamandis is the founder of the X-prize foundation whose purpose is to arrange competitions for breakthrough inventions.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82), a quintessentially American writer and thinker, is also one of the most international. Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian, Persian, French, British, and German philosophers and literary figures pervade his work. As we think about “Western values” and “the clash of civilizations” today, it may be useful to consider the significant role that Islam plays in Emerson’s thought.
Here I want to present a novel version of a paradox first formulated by José Bernardete in the 1960s – one that makes its connections to the Yablo paradox explicit by building in the latter puzzle as a ‘part’. This is not the first time connections between Yablo’s and Bernardete’s puzzles have been noted (in fact, Yablo himself has discussed such links). But the version given here makes these connections particularly explicit.
How The Light Gets In (named, aptly, in honour of a Leonard Cohen song) has taken the festival world by storm with its yearly celebration of philosophy and music. We spoke to founder and festival organiser Hilary Lawson, who is a full-time philosopher, Director of the Institute of Art and Ideas, and someone with lots to say about keepings things equal and organising a great party.
Words have meaning. We use them to communicate to one another, and what we communicate depends, in part, on which words we use. What words mean varies from language to language. In many cases, we can communicate the same thing in different languages, but require different words to do so. And conversely, sometimes the very same words communicate different things in different languages.
This July, the OUP Philosophy team will be honoring Jacques Derrida as their Philosopher of the Month. Jackie (Jacques) Élie Derrida (15 July 1930 – 9 October 2004) was a French philosopher born to an Algerian Jewish family in El-Biar, Algeria. Derrida is widely known as the founder of the Deconstructionist movement. At the age of 22, Derrida began studying philosophy in Paris at the École Normale Supérieure where phenomenology and Edmund Husserl were influential elements in his training.
This June, we’re featuring Ludwig Wittgenstein as our philosopher of the month. Born into a wealthy industrial family in Austria, Wittgenstein is regarded by many as the greatest philosopher of the 20th century for his work around the philosophy of language and logic. Take our quiz to see how well you know the life and studies of Wittgenstein.
In May, we celebrated the third annual workshop on food justice at Michigan State University. Few of the people who come to these student-organized events doubt that they are part of a social movement. And yet it is not clear to me that the “social movement” framing is the best way to understand food justice, or indeed many of the issues in the food system that have been raised by Mark Bittman or journalists such as Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan or Barry Estabrook.
At one point in the recent film The Imitation Game the detective assigned to his case asks Alan Turing whether machines could think. The dialogue that follows is perhaps not very illuminating philosophically, but it does remind us of an important point: the computer revolution that Turing helped to pioneer gave a huge impetus to interest in what we now call the mind-body problem. In other words, how is the mind related to the body? How could a soggy grey mass such as the brain give rise to the extraordinary phenomenon of consciousness?
Elijah Millgram, author of The Great Endarkenment, Svantje Guinebert, of the University of Bremen, to answer his questions and discuss the role of logic in philosophy. On other occasions, you’ve said that logic, at least the logic that most philosophers are taught, is stale science, and that it’s getting in the way of philosophers learning about newer developments. But surely logic is important for philosophers. Would you like to speak to the role of logic in philosophy?
The Liar paradox arises when we consider the following declarative sentence: This sentence is false. Given some initially intuitive platitudes about truth, the Liar sentence is true if and only if it is false. Thus, the Liar sentence can’t be true, and can’t be false, violating out intuition that all declarative sentences are either true or false (and not both). There are many variants of the Liar paradox. For example, we can formulate relatively straightforward examples of interrogative Liar paradoxes, such as the following Liar question: Is the answer to this question “no”?
This June, the OUP Philosophy team are proud to announce that Ludwig Wittgenstein is their Philosopher of the Month. Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian-born philosopher and logician, regarded by many as the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. Wittgenstein was born the youngest of eight children into a wealthy industrial family in Vienna, Austria. He intended on studying aeronautical engineering, but his interest in the philosophy of mathematics led him to Cambridge where he studied under Bertrand Russell.
In early May 1913 Bertrand Russell sat down to write a book on the theory of knowledge, his first major philosophical work after Principia Mathematica. He set a brisk pace for himself – ten pages a day at first, up to twelve by mid-May. He was “bursting with work” and “felt happy as king”. By early June he had 350 pages. 350 pages in one month!He never finished the manuscript. Some parts of it were published as journal articles, but the book itself was never completed. (It was later published posthumously under the title Theory of Knowledge.) What went wrong?
This week I convened a philosophy seminar in Oxford with Kasia de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer. Singer is probably the world’s most famous living philosopher, well known for his pioneering work on the ethics of our treatment of non-human animals, on global poverty, and on many other issues. Less well known, perhaps, is the fact that Singer has recently changed his mind on the question of what really matters. I’m talking here about what matters for individual beings – what makes their lives good or bad for them.
There are various more or less familiar acts by which to communicate something with the reasonable expectation of being believed. We can do so by stating, reporting, contending, or claiming that such-and-such is the case; by telling others things, informing an audience of this-or-that, or vouching for something; by affirming or attesting to something’s being the case, or avowing that this-or-that is true.
What do these acts have in common? Each is an instance of the kind of speech act known as an assertion.