Culture & Literature
Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now December 2018 / January 2019

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

in this issue

4 min.
the functions of art

What is art for? The question of art’s function is prominent in this issue. Can it be used to challenge tyranny, or to make us better citizens? Plato certainly thought that contemplation of beauty could lead you closer to seeing ultimate truth. Could art similarily lead you to see moral truth, between individuals or for society? Schiller thought so, as Francis Akpata explains. And Justin Kaushall tells us how Adorno thought radical art could seismically shift awareness, and so fight fascism (and, for Adorno, capitalism too). Among other things, Immanuel Kant’s 1790 book the Critique of Judgement is concerned with beauty in art. Kant is considering how we make judgements, and one of the big questions in art used to be why and how we judge a work of art to…

3 min.

• Berggruen Prize given to Martha Nussbaum • Confusion over approval of dog experiments • Roger Scruton to chair housing design body Nussbaum Wins Berggruen Prize The 2018 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture has been awarded to philosopher Martha Nussbaum. Nussbaum, whose approach is inspired by her background in classical Greek philosophy, is widely known for her work on the emotions, on ethics and aspects of political philosophy. Her development of the ‘capabilities approach’ as a conceptual alternative to other models of human well-being in economics has been influential and much debated. She is a prolific writer, author of 25 books and over 500 articles. The 2018 Berggruen Prize decision marks the second year in a row that the prize, which has only existed for three years, has been awarded to a woman.…

16 min.
a forgiving reason the secret of sherlock holmes’ success

How did the most famous fictional detective in history triumph over evil in over fifty celebrated cases? To what – or to whom – might we attribute his success? Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle self-admittedly modelled Holmes’ manner and methods on the man for whom he was once a clerk, the eminent Scottish surgeon Joseph Bell (1837-1911). Of course we should give full credit to Bell’s extraordinary powers of observation and deduction. However, a careful reading of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures reveals that there is more to his case-solving than can be explained by Bell’s inspiration alone. Holmes’ Schooling Rightfully, much has been made of the cognitive prowess of Sherlock Holmes: his command of common sense, minutiae-driven observation, dogged focus, summary appraisals, and power to synthesize. From what philosophical school (if any), to…

12 min.
ockham’s rose

Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose (1980) was an international bestseller that sold fifty million copies “which puts it in the league of Harry Potter, and ahead of Gone with the Wind, Roget’s Thesaurus, and To Kill a Mockingbird” (Ted Gioia, postmodernmystery.com). Combining elements of detective fiction, the historical novel, the philosophical quest and the father-son initiation tale, the novel has appeal for many different kinds of readers. In the blurb on the first Italian edition, Eco wrote that he wanted to reach three different audiences – “the largest market, the mass of relatively unsophisticated readers who concentrated on plot; a second public, readers who examined historical novels to find connections or analogies between the present and the past; and a third and even smaller elite audience, postmodern…

13 min.
can art fight fascism?

At a time when populist movements are on the march throughout the world, why should we pay attention to art? Isn’t it self-indulgent to concern oneself with art, music, or literature when the foundations of society and of the international order are being shaken? Or can art itself really change the world? Art Protests Let’s look at what art can and can’t do in terms of politics. An example: in 2016, the artists Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Louise Lawler, Joan Jonas, and Julie Mehretu argued that it was appropriate to protest President Trump’s inauguration by symbolically closing art museums and galleries across the United States. The artists stated that the protest would not be “a strike against art, theater or any other cultural form. It is an invitation to motivate these activities…

5 min.
the case against conceptual art

Sara Baume’s A Line Made By Walking (2017) is an impressive piece of recent autobiographical fiction. In it, the narrator repeatedly sets herself the task of identifying a work of art – usually a work of conceptual art – which relates to whatever topic she’s currently thinking about. Some of the works are well-known, such as Tracey Emin’s My Bed (1998) and Richard Long’s A Line Made By Walking (1967), but most are more obscure. Though at the end of her book Baume urges us to go to the works ourselves, she has accidentally illustrated the main weakness of conceptual art: you don’t have to see it (or otherwise experience it) in order to respond to it. You just need a description spelling out the idea – the thought – that…