Culture & Literature
Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now June/July 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.

United Kingdom
Anja Publications Ltd
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$9.20(Incl. tax)
$33.75(Incl. tax)
6 Issues

in this issue

4 min.
philosophy & sciencea

Welcome to the ever-evolving Philosophy Now! This issue we gain two new columns, ‘Philosophical Haiku’ by Terence Green and ‘The Street Philosopher’ by Seán Moran, as well as some extra pages and luxurious colour throughout the magazine. Enjoy responsibly! This issue’s theme is partly a response to a minor assault on philosophy by some scientists recently. It’s true that there are some structural weaknesses in academic philosophy: endless nit-picking at obscure details when the basics haven’t been established; its seeming lack of interest in applying its conclusions to the outside world; and the old problem that ‘nothing ever gets solved’. However, it’s one thing to say that a job’s not being done as well as it could be, and another to say it isn’t worth doing, and much of the recent…

4 min.
news in brief

Philosophy Now Wins Bertrand Russell Society Award The Bertrand Russell Society has announced that this year it will give its annual Award to Philosophy Now magazine “which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2016 and which has ably followed in the Russellian tradition of encouraging philosophical inquiry in a popular manner.” Philosophy Now Editor Rick Lewis will accept the award on behalf of the magazine at the society’s 2016 Conference, which will be held at St John Fisher College in Rochester, New York on 24-26 June. The Bertrand Russell Society (visit bertrandrussell.org) is an international society dedicated to the memory of the philosopher and logician. Its annual Award, established in 1980, has previously been given to such colossi of cogitation as Popper, Quine, Dennett and Dawkins. Last year in Dublin it was presented…

16 min.
chaos & an unpredictable tomorrow

The future is not what it used to be. I mean, an intriguing implication of the branch of mathematics called chaos theory is that the future states of complex dynamical systems such as the weather, the human brain, the stock market, evolution, and history itself, are not what we once thought them to be. Specifically, chaos theory suggests that the behavior of complex systems can follow laws and yet their future states remain in principle unpredictable. The behavior of complex systems is exquisitely sensitive to conditions, so that small changes at the start can result in ever larger changes over time. Hence, chaos theory implies that the future is not predictable based on past events, as it used to be thought to be. Or in words that have been attributed…

9 min.
richard feynman’s philosophy of science

Richard Feynman (1918-88) was one of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century, contributing, among other things, to Quantum Electro Dynamics (QED), for which he won a Nobel Prize. His popular portrayal is of a buffooning genius with a preference for no-nonsense thinking – the sort that by his reckoning seemed in short supply within philosophy. He is noted, and quoted, for his dislike of philosophy, and in particular of the philosophy of science. Any quick trawl of the Internet will bring up quotes attributed to him on the absurdities of philosophy, no doubt informed by his brief flirtation with it at Princeton. Feynman would parody what he saw as ‘dopey’ exercises in linguistic sophistry. As he remarks in a famous lecture series, “We can’t define anything precisely. If we…

13 min.
mirror mirror

Why do mirrors reverse left with right but not up with down? It’s a problem with a long history. Plato addressed it in his dialogue Timaeus in the Fourth Century BCE, but was somewhat hampered by the prevailing theory of vision. Following Empedocles, Plato thought sight is explained by rays emitted from fire in the eyes. To account for the fact that we can’t see at night, Empedocles suggested that there must be some interaction between the rays emanating from the eyes and those emitted by other fires, such as the sun. The theory that sight is the result of an external influence entering the eyes was proposed by Aristotle somewhat later. Even making allowances for his defective theory of vision, Plato’s explanation of left-right inversion in a mirror is not…

11 min.
catherine malabou & the continental philosophy of brains

Continental philosophy has a reputation amongst analytic philosophers as the flighty sibling of Western thought. In the Twentieth Century, whilst the British and Americans slowly and methodically went about the task of Getting Things in Order, the Germans and French had a tendency to leap steps ahead, generating vast new speculative systems with gleeful abandon, grounded in little more than their inexhaustible personal fancy built upon the collective fancy of those who went before. The more Icarian of Continental thinkers have also been reluctant to chain themselves to the sober discoveries of modern science. Whether out of some genuine allegiance to Adorno and Heidegger, or out of fear that, once let in the door, science will take over the whole of philosophy, Continental philosophy has long had an instinctive revulsion…