Culture & Literature
Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now Aug/Sep 2016

Philosophy Now is a magazine for everyone interested in ideas. It isn't afraid to tackle all the major questions of life, the universe and everything. It tries to corrupt innocent citizens by convincing them that philosophy can be exciting, worthwhile and comprehensible, and also to provide some light and enjoyable reading matter for those already ensnared by the muse, such as philosophy students and academics. It contains articles on all aspects of philosophy, plus book reviews, film reviews, news, cartoons, and the occasional short story.

United Kingdom
Anja Publications Ltd
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$9.20(Incl. tax)
$33.75(Incl. tax)
6 Issues

in this issue

4 min.
you always have a choice!

Despairing Editorial Welcome to Philosophy Now’s new issue on Existentialism. We have to do an Existentialism-themed issue every couple of years because you people apparently never get tired of those gloomy, angst-ridden, black-polo-necked, coffeeswilling Parisian poseurs. I hope you realise how tough it is for us, having to produce features on Sisyphus and the meaninglessness of life over and over again. It seems like we are trapped in an Eternal Return of the same, and yet at the same time we are reproached and taunted at every moment by the knowledge that we are actually completely and inescapably free – free to turn Philosophy Now into a golfing magazine, free to paint the editorial office bright purple, free even to end it all (for example by selling the magazine to the…

4 min.

The Rise of Chinese Philosophy Chinese philosophy has now become the third most popular undergraduate course at Harvard University, eclipsed only by Computer Sciences and Economics. Michael Puett, Professor of Chinese History at Harvard, says that works of classical Chinese philosophy are thought of as fulfilling the function of a ‘philosophy of life’, giving guidance and providing principles to good living. As well as Chinese philosophy, great works of Chinese poetry are also enjoying popularity, especially those of Du Fu (712-770), who is now hailed as the ‘Chinese Shakespeare’ Ethics and Self-Driving Cars A recent academic study of the processing of moral dilemmas by selfdriving cars may throw some light on a more general ethical problem. Enthusiasts for self-driving cars have argued that they will drastically reduce the number of traffic accidents. However,…

12 min.
on being an existentialist

It took almost a century of thought before existentialism came to fruition as a popular movement – almost a craze – in post-war France in the nineteen-forties and fifties. This was the time of its greatest influence, not only on philosophy but also on literature, drama and film-making, extending far beyond France. But here I am dealing with existentialism solely as a school of philosophy – one which arose mainly from the work of five men and one woman: Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir. (Although Albert Camus is often called an existentialist, he himself denied he was one [see later, ed].) Of these, Sartre was the only one to accept the name ‘existentialist’ and employ all of its key concepts: ‘anguish’,…

4 min.
authenticity & treatment for depression

Colloquially, the word ‘depression’ is often used for listlessness, extreme sadness, or a profound sense of loss. It’s no wonder that so many people with a diagnosis of depression struggle to be taken seriously: to the unaffected, the problem sounds akin to a diagnosis of ‘sadness’. But sadness, in fact, is not the only or even the main complaint: a clinical diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder requires at least five symptoms, and only one of those refers to a ‘depressed mood’. Depression is exhausting. Feelings of listlessness and fatigue saturate life, and everyday tasks become laborious, as though wading through tar. Things which previously gave joy or rest become encumbering; socializing is a chore. Shadows creep across the walls of the mind. Depression is not the same as sadness. Sadness…

5 min.
is kierkegaard still relevant today?

There is a general tendency in the non-philosophical world to dismiss philosophy as being purely theoretical, with no connection to the types of problems that people are confronted within their everyday lives. But this is not necessarily true. Many philosophers struggled to find ways to improve people’s lives, by drawing attention to, and making people think about, fundamental aspects of life. A good example would be Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Feeling discontent with Hegel’s thendominant philosophical system (and with every other philosophy popular in his time), Kierkegaard sought to answer life’s questions by turning back to ancient times, and a thinker to whom he felt closer in mind and spirit. Socrates, ‘the gadfly of Athens’, became the role-model for the young Kierkegaard, who wanted to continue his spiritual mentor’s art of ‘philosophical…

4 min.
simone’s existentialist ethics

“My life is my work,” Simone de Beauvoir once said. Spoken like a true Existentialist: to her, life and thought were inextricably linked; we are what we do. Existentialism is a philosophy that outlines the conditions of human existence but rejects any conception of human nature; a philosophy that affirms human freedom but emphasises that it brings with it not happy empowerment but anguish and despair, a philosophy that stresses that humans have choices but expresses little optimism that we will make good use of them or even understand what it would mean to make the right choice. It is on this last point that Simone de Beauvoir most markedly departs from her lifelong partner Jean-Paul Sartre. Beauvoir’s Existentialism is scattered through her many works, both literary and theoretical, including her classic…