Culture & Literature
Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now Dec 2016/Jan 2017

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.
beyond physics no more?

Let’s get meta-physical! Metaphysics is philosophy’s oldest and most central strand. When Greek philosophy first kicked off in the port of Miletus on the coast of Anatolia 2,500 years ago, the biggest question pondered by the likes of Thales and Anaximander was this: what is the underlying reality of the universe, beneath the surface appearances of our everyday world? Thales thought that everything was, deep down, made of water. Squeeze something hard enough and juice runs out – see? Anaximander disagreed; the underlying reality, he said, was an unobservable element called apeiron. And so Western philosophy began, with speculations that could not be directly checked but which might with greater or lesser success explain those phenomena that we can directly observe. Democritus (460-370BC) hypothesised that simplicity of explanation could be…

4 min.

• Peter Singer wins Philosophy Now Award •Philosophers and the US Election •Animal Welfare: Good News & Bad News? Animal Welfare Ups and Downs I This first of two reports on morally ambiguous animal welfare developments concerns male chicks, who owe their short existences to the breeding industry for egglaying hens. Since they don’t have sufficient body mass to justify raising them commercially for meat, millions of male chicks are killed every year. This is done by gassing, suffocation in plastic bags, or maceration, i.e. being mechanically ground up, none of which are likely to be painless. TeraEgg is a new technology which can examine eggs and sex the foetus through a non-invasive process known as terahertz spectroscopy. This will mean that the eggs containing male fetuses can be destroyed weeks before hatching occurs.…

16 min.
berkeley’s suitcase

You will be familiar, in these days of inelegant travel, with the exercise of trying to fit everything you might plausibly need into a very small suitcase. It sometimes happens that there is one thing which frustrates the process, an object with awkward contours that ensure it cannot be packed along with the other necessities. It is of some value to identify the troublesome object. Would it not be a small triumph if you not only identified it, but realized that you didn’t need it after all? It was a similar realization in the realm of metaphysics that led the young unpublished George Berkeley (1685-1753) to breathlessly write in his private philosophical journal, “I wonder not at my sagacity in discovering the obvious tho’ amazing truth, I rather wonder at my…

15 min.
nowhere men

Are you ready for the ultimate trick question? Here it is: Am I me, and are you? That is: do I and you exist? Only a yes/no answer is allowed. It wouldn’t be good philosophy to say that you ‘sort of’ exist, nor that you are a working assumption pending further investigation. It is also essential that we don’t just wriggle out of this question by playing with words and definitions. The easiest way forward would be to defer to the great minds that have been wrestling with this problem over the last few decades. Consensus among them, reached by reasoning based on the evidence of brain science, is steadily hardening. I’m going to attempt to show why this consensus is not only wrong – because it is based on a…

2 min.
philosophical haiku

Unfolding Reason As Mind seeks to know itself Freedom is Rational. Hegel’s philosophical influence is out of all proportion to the actual value of his work, which just goes to show that writing a great deal of impenetrable prose can get you a long way. As a young man, Hegel was initially an enthusiastic supporter of the French Revolution. Disillusioned by the failure of the revolution, Hegel determined to signal his profound sadness by never again writing in a way anyone could understand (okay, I’m speculating here, but there has to be some reason for his incomprehensible style). History, Hegel taught, is the unfolding of the ‘Absolute Idea’ or ‘World Spirit/Mind’. Through a series of contradictions in social structures, Reason gradually but inevitably works itself out as human history, so that “the history…

8 min.
the private lives of rocks

Do rocks have minds? A minority of modern philosophers are prepared (but only, perhaps, after some prodding) to admit they believe the answer is ‘yes’ – or at least, ‘sort of’. In the past decade, a number of bona fide academics, such as Australia’s Freya Mathews, the USA’s David Skrbina, and the UK’s Galen Strawson, have emerged as champions of panpsychism: the view that not only rocks, but everything in the universe is – in some sense, and to some extent – conscious. The Roots of Universal Consciousness The idea that inanimate objects have some kind of consciousness isn’t entirely new. Alfred North Whitehead promoted it early in the Twentieth Century. Going even further back, early societies apparently believed that the natural world is populated by intelligent spirits who could control the…