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Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now October - November 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.

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Country:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Publisher:
Anja Publications Ltd
Frequency:
Bimonthly
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6 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
brilliance and gloom

In this issue we shall be celebrating the 200th birthday of a book. The book is The World as Will and Representation (1819) by the great and gloomy German thinker Arthur Schopenhauer. Happy birthday, book! Arthur’s big book of everything is neatly structured into four parts, dealing respectively with epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics and ethics. Our special section is similarly structured. The first article introduces his epistemology and metaphysics (which are kind of interwoven), the second deals with his aesthetics, the third with his ethics. Our fourth article doesn’t relate so directly to a specific chapter of the book but deals with something else for which Arthur was famed, namely the overwhelming bleakness of his outlook. For Schopenhauer was a grumpy old sod. He was (as our front cover by Steve Lillie suggests)…

4 min.
news

• Locke doc shock in Maryland • Žižek says something controversial again • French MPs debate sex and bioethics John Locke Manuscript Found It is rare to have breaking philosophy news from the 17th century, yet this is exactly what has happened. Independent scholar J.C. Walmsley has discovered a hitherto unknown manuscript by British philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) in an archive at St John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. The document, written in Locke’s own distinctive hand, is believed to date from 1667-8. Locke is widely revered as one of the intellectual ancestors of liberal democracy, particularly thanks to his book Two Treatises on Government. In addition, his powerful arguments for freedom of religion in A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) later helped convince Thomas Jefferson to build the separation of church and state into the…

14 min.
poodle as representation rottweiler as will

It is two hundred years since the publication of Schopenhauer’s chief work, The World as Will and Representation. It contains four main books – the first a Kantian-inspired account of the subject of knowledge, or epistemology; the second an anti-Kantian account of the subject of willing, or metaphysics; the third a Platonic-inspired account of the subject of contemplation, or aesthetics; and the fourth an Eastern religion-inspired account of the ascetic subject, or ethics in its broadest sense. These four books Schopenhauer regarded as different aspects of a unified single thought, examined from different perspectives. The World as Will and Representation had zero immediate impact on contemporary philosophical debates, probably because of the uniquely devastating account that Schopenhauer’s single thought conveyed concerning the nature and value of human life. After a brief…

10 min.
schopenhauer the optimist

Schopenhauer the pessimist is famous. He thinks of life as a pendulum swinging between pain (when we want something but don’t have it) and boredom (when we have something and no longer care much about it). He also thinks that a key to understanding life is to think about the struggle for survival, especially in terms of getting food. Consider a pepperoni pizza. For the pigs and cows from which the pepperoni is made, it’s an unthinkable nightmare: to be raised a prisoner, then slaughtered, butchered, and eaten. (Life in the wild isn’t much better, replacing imprisonment in a confined space with a life of fear and a constant struggle to survive likely to end in being eaten alive by a pack of ravenous animals.) On the upside, someone gets…

14 min.
the ethics of a pessimist

“I was born a few months before my due date,” he said in a tone of solemn proclamation. “I was quite fragile, very thin, and on top of everything, I came down with a bad case of pneumonia. Our family’s physician, a stern elderly man, took my mother’s hand, looked her in the eye, and advised her not to get overly attached to me.” He paused for a moment, then added: “And I must say, my mother has followed the doctor’s orders to this day!” I laughed out loud when I heard this joke, only just restraining myself from rolling on the floor. Later the same day, in a moment of quiet solitude, I started pondering what the great pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer once wrote about jokes. He said that laughter originates…

10 min.
philosophical outlook & mental well-being

If you have a pessimistic philosophical outlook on the world then it makes sense that you would also feel miserable. However, there is more to the notion that your philosophy is tied to your mental well-being than just the idea that pessimism is worse for your mental health than optimism. For instance, which philosophical outlook is more grounded in reality, pessimism or optimism? And which way does the causality lie? Does depression result in pessimism, or do pessimistic tendencies result in depression? Is the causality even one way? Could not pessimism and mental health issues such as depression interact in a cycle, with vicious downward spiralling effects? I want to examine these questions in turn, drawing on examples of philosophers who fit the bill as either pessimistic (like Arthur Schopenhauer)…