Culture & Literature
Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now October/November 2018

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
Read More
$8.91(Incl. tax)
$32.71(Incl. tax)
6 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
editorial creature discomforts

Two hundred years ago this very year, I was born from the imaginings of a teenage girl called Mary. Suggestive, no? My genesis was strange indeed. My mother, if I may call her that, and her married lover (a smalltime composer of doggerel called Percy Bysshe Shelley) had a baby daughter who, tragically, died after just a few days. One stormy evening not long thereafter, my mother took part in a storytelling contest with her friends. During the course of it, she conceived me. In the story she told, an ambitious, driven student of the life sciences called Victor Frankenstein created life from non-living matter - created a creature who, not to be immodest, would go on to bestride culture and imagination and even become a star of stage and…

3 min.
a synopsis of mary shelley’s celebrated novel: ‘frankenstein; or, the modern prometheus’ (1818)

Everyone has heard of Frankenstein, but not everyone has read the original novel by Mary Shelley. It’s a rattling good read! Here is a brief plot summary. The book is narrated in the form of letters from explorer Robert Walton to his sister, as he pursues his life’s dream of reaching the North Pole. While his ship is trapped by pack ice, his crew see a dogsled being driven across the ice by a figure of gigantic stature. A little later they rescue another man; it transpires that he was chasing the first. He is close to death. They take him aboard and nurse him back to health. His name is Victor Frankenstein. He tells Walton his life story starting with his happy childhood near Geneva. At university, fascinated by the…

4 min.

Largest Ever Philosophy Event? In August, Beijing hosted one of the biggest gatherings of philosophers in living memory, the 24th World Congress of Philosophy. “Over 8,000 people registered, making it by far the largest philosophy event I’ve ever heard of,” said George Leaman of the Philosophy Documentation Center in Virginia. “The number of registrations surprised the organizers and forced them to relocate the event from the Peking University campus to the China National Convention Center, about five miles away. I’m not sure how many registered participants actually made it but the numbers were large. The organizers arranged for hotels around Beijing with buses to and from the convention center. Beijing has an excellent subway system and we used it many times to get to and from the congress.” It’s usual for the…

11 min.
frankenstein lives!

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has remained in print ever since it was published two hundred years ago this year, and has been the basis for innumerable adaptations. While most novels from so long ago have been forgotten, Shelley’s lives on. Why has it remained so popular? Perhaps, at least in part, it’s due to the philosophical themes it addresses: tampering with nature, the dereliction of duties, and the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions. The tale of a being born without a mother, written by a young woman whose own mother died a few days after giving birth to her, it is perhaps most of all an examination of the need for love in order to survive in a harsh and unforgiving world. It is also a cautionary tale of…

12 min.
mary shelley, frankenstein & moral philosophy

Sir Walter Scott wrote one of the few favorable reviews of Frankenstein. He described the story as “philosophical and refined.” Following Scott, we can examine Mary Shelley’s novel for the ways it intersects with philosophical and refined positions dealing with good and evil. These fall into three categories: (1) Positions that are alluring and pervasive, but misguided.(2) Those that, although criticized, deserve rehabilitation.(3) Doctrines rooted in ancient thought, which, when properly understood, have contemporary relevance. Elaboration is possible by associating each with a major character in the novel: (1) The creature, created and brought to life by Frankenstein. He is made central in film adaptations.(2) Victor Frankenstein, brilliant scientist. He is the true central character, the ‘modern Prometheus’ after whom the book is named.(3) Captain Robert Walton, arctic explorer who rescues Frankenstein. He…

17 min.
moral blind spots

We do not know how the future will judge us – but judge us it will. Just as we look back at the past and find it wanting, so our descendants will find us wanting. There are flaws in our social and moral practices that we can’t quite see; but knowing this, we can seek out these moral blind spots and throw light on them. Yet something is vitally different in our own case. In Frankenstein, a human created a version of itself, but in so doing fashioned a monster that could not be controlled and which wrought terrible judgement upon its creator. For the first time in our history we possess the technology, and the will, to do what Victor Frankenstein did. We are close to being able to both…