Culture & Literature
Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now February / March 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.
you and your mind

One cloudy morning Sheila walked to the café and dropped her rucksack rather roughly on the floor next to her habitual chair. Immediately a voice said “Ouch! Careful!” She span around but there was nobody there. “No no, in here”, said her rucksack. “The laptop.” She fished out her computer, which looked unharmed by her cavalier treatment of it, and opened it warily. Had she left a video running? “That’s better,” said its built-in speaker. “Put it on the table carefully.” “Excuse me?” “Oh dear, surely you can’t have forgotten? I’m you. Only in here.” Sheila called out urgently to the barista: “Hey, cancel that treble shot latte! Decaf for me.” “No, you really are in here.” said the laptop. “We were thinking yesterday about the centre of consciousness and where it was located.…

3 min.

• Brain to Brain networking demonstrated • Saudi Arabia to lift philosophy teaching ban • Philosophy Now Against Stupidity Award Brain to Brain Are you thinking what I’m thinking? What if we could know the answer directly without uttering a word? Over recent decades physics and neuroscience have developed tools such electroencephalograms (EEGs) that record electrical activity in different areas of the brain and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which can transmit information into the brain. These technologies together are now enabling revolutionary developments in brain-to-brain communication. After succeeding three years ago in connecting two people via a non-invasive brain-to-brain interface, Dr Andrea Stocco and his colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle have now created the first multiperson brain-tobrain network, allowing three individuals to send and receive information directly to their brains. Their paper on…

1 min.
philosophy now award for contributions in the fight against stupidity

We are delighted to announce that the winner of Philosophy Now’s 2019 Award for Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity is journalist, academic and author Angela Phillips. Professor Phillips has been a practising journalist for over 40 years and has taught journalism at Goldsmith’s, University of London, for two decades. She has carried out extensive research into the ethics and practice of journalism in the social media age. This is reflected in her book Journalism in Context, which starts by asking “What is news?” and provides a clear, philosophically-informed guide to many questions concerning modern journalism, including sources, media ownership, audiences and the social contexts within which journalists train and work. The particular challenges of digital journalism and news on social media led her to coauthor, with Eiri Elvestad, Misunderstanding News…

17 min.
defending free will & the self

In 2012, Sam Harris, one of the famed ‘four horsemen’ of New Atheism, published a book called Free Will, arguing that it doesn’t exist. He’s a neuroscientist, and he contends that the more science learns how our brains work, the less plausible is a self with free will. He calls them ‘illusions’. By contrast, in his 2003 book Freedom Evolves, Daniel Dennett, another of the horsemen, argued for a concept of free will that is “an evolved creation of human activity and beliefs” and is compatible with causal determinism. Who is right, if either of them? Determinism is the nub of the matter. Dennett defines it by reference to ‘Laplace’s demon’. Two centuries ago the French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace said that if an all-knowing demon could know perfectly the state of…

8 min.
the sum of my parts

Imagine that in the distant future, while working on a recalcitrant 3D printer, you accidentally cut off your hand. For a moment you consider printing a mechanical replacement, but you are nostalgic about biology, so you rush with your severed limb to the hospital, where you hope a talented surgeon can sew it back on. Alas, the damage is too great. But the good news is that they can keep it alive, suspended in a nutrient-filled medium, until technology can be developed which can return the hand to its rightful place. You take it home as a handsome exhibit for your friends, next to your half a Damien Hirst sheep. Just keep it healthy by popping in a few nutrient pellets every day. You may believe the hand is part of the…

7 min.
francis crick’s deliberately provocative reductionism

In Francis Crick’s 1994 book, The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul, he wrote the following oftquoted passage: “‘You’, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” It’s easy to believe that here Crick was being willfully provocative and rhetorical. I want to consider to what degree he may also have been telling the truth, if at all. In terms of the rhetoric and provocation, it’s true that Crick’s critical attitude towards religion was one motivation for his writing this. Crick certainly believed that religions are often wrong about scientific issues (as do many religious people). He also claimed that it is…