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Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now December 2015 - January 2016

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.

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

in this issue

4 min.
the philosophy of humor

If a philosopher alone in the forest tells a joke and nobody laughs, is it funny? (Well, if it’s Schopenhauer, sure it would be; but let’s not go there right now.) Despite our differences and peculiarities, there are some human universals. Some of them are biological: we all need to eat and drink, and we all need to sleep. But there are also cultural and social universals: all cultures identify food taboos, kinship relationship rules, residence rules, and others. Even if different cultures use different criteria for who is part of one’s family and who isn’t, they still all draw some distinction between who is part of one’s family and who isn’t: ‘family’ matters across cultures. One of those human universals is humor. It’s everywhere! Across cultures, across our life times, across…

7 min.
book: classical philosophy by peter adamson

PETER ADAMSON’S Classical Philosophy: A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps (2014) is nothing if not comprehensive. He uses forty-one chapters to tell the story of some three hundred years of philosophy from the pre-Socratics to heirs of Plato and Aristotle, such as Theophrastus and Speusippus. It is virtually inconceivable that one would desire a more thorough work. Adamson, the Professor of Late Ancient and Arabic Philosophy at the Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität, Munchen [and new Philosophy Now columnist] serves up a smorgasbord: from the pre-Socratic Thales and Xenophanes, to Plato’s Gorgias and Republic; from Empedocles and the Sophists, to Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Politics. In each instance, he employs a fresh, idiosyncratic approach to the subject matter. For instance, in talking of Aristotle’s notion in his Ethics of the megalopsychos or ‘great-souled man’, he…

8 min.
tallis in wonderland reality & stability: from parmenides to einstein

What is really real? In addressing this time-honoured (or, pessimists fear, eternity-honoured) question, philosophers have looked increasingly to science for answers. The result has not always been very satisfactory, as I have often complained in this column. We are invited, cajoled, or bullied into believing that fundamental reality is remote from anything we can experience, intuit, or even imagine. Philosophers of course are not entirely innocent in this regard: they have often proposed unimaginable ways of conceiving the world; and, unlike physicists, they have not rewarded us with technologies that have transformed our lives. The greatest of the Pre-Socratic philosophers, Parmenides, denied the reality of change. His universe was an immobile, unitary, timeless, sphere. Heraclitus adopted the entirely opposite view: everything was change. Thanks to his lucky posthumous break of having Plato…

4 min.
time: the big squeeze

Can anything exist in time? “A philosophers’ typical worry!” laugh those sceptical of enterprises philosophique: “Musing upon such matters, no doubt, passes the time, but” – and here comes Samuel Beckett – “time would have passed anyway.” Time passing, though, involves future events becoming present and then past. That makes trouble, at least when philosophising. Squeezed Into Nothing We rely on both past and future. We plan for the wedding, perhaps the divorce later on – or simply look forward to the champagne. We glow when recalling a past success, and suffer remorse over our many faux pas. Events that we remember, and events that we look forward to, or dread, do not exist now, though. Neither the past nor the future exists now.What exists now – in the present – are…

11 min.
al qaeda and isis: from revolution to apocalypse

The past fifteen years have witnessed the spectacular resurgence of global terrorism, notably under the shape of Al Qaeda, and more recently, the Islamic State. While superficially similar, these two movements diverge radically in their aims and outlooks. The Redemption Ideology of Al Qaeda Al Qaeda draws the legitimacy for its attacks from the oppression and humiliation it claims the Ummah (the global Islamic community) is subjected to. It conceives its use of violence primarily as reactive and retributive; as a bid to reclaim humanity for the downtrodden and refound civilisation through sacrificial acts. Its thinking is firmly entrenched in the here and now, operating within globalized modernity, whose codes and concepts it has re-appropriated. The Islamist utopia promoted by established Islamic states has been sidelined in favour of a humanitarian narrative…

17 min.
when apes have their day in court

Don’t worry. It may not be the beginning of the end. Chimpanzees won’t be voting in elections or applying for drivers’ licences any time soon. But it is possible that the rights of chimpanzees and other apes could change radically in the West through a legal strategy being tried in the U.S. court system, which, if successful, could transform the nature of ethics itself. The legal strategy is intriguing. It involves leveraging underlying principles of the justice system that are consistent with the thinking of the philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), particularly the principle of autonomy. Kant is relevant in the debate on the rights of apes in several ways, beginning with the basic choice of whether to explain morality through empirical findings, or rather, like Kant, to rely on the detached use…