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Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now Oct/Nov 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.
envisioning society

Disasters and threats of disasters of all kinds, global and local, raise their snarling heads over our societies, casting shadows on the news bulletins and front pages. There’s nothing particularily new about this. But it does demonstrate that society is still liable to change, if only because it must adapt to the world that societies themselves change. This awareness of the inevitability of change, and the nagging awareness of imperfections in the current processes of politics and economics, lead to the questions, “What can we make our world into?” and “What will society become?” Those questions are surely rattling around somewhere inside every curious and intelligent mind. But to discover good answers, we first have to understand what society is, how it works and the possibilities of change it presents…

3 min.
russell revels rock rochester

Why do so many academics travel hundreds or thousands of miles to conferences instead of spending their summers fishing or playing Pokémon Go? Let’s find out! Among the many academic philosophy organisations to hold an annual conference one of the best is the Bertrand Russell Society (BRS). Born in 1872, the grandson of a British prime minister, Bertrand Russell became one of the twentieth century’s leading logicians. He tried to discover a firm foundation for mathematics in set theory. After his friend G.E. Moore convinced him of the shortcomings of Hegelian idealism, he co-invented analytic philosophy and so led a revolution in philosophy in the English-speaking world. He was the friend and teacher of Ludwig Wittgenstein. And for the second half of his long life he was a social philosopher, social…

13 min.
aristotle’s philosophy of equality, peace, & democracy

The son of a doctor, Aristotle was born in the city of Stagira in Macedonia in the year 384 BC, and was educated at Plato’s Academy. When his mentor Plato died in 347 BC, the Macedonian went home and became the tutor of Alexander, the son of King Philip of Macedon. His pupil, who later gained the suffix ‘the Great’, was rather fond of his teacher, and is supposed to have said, “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.” Aristotle stayed at the court of Alexander until 335 BC, when he founded his own academy, the Lyceum, in Athens. He remained in Athens until 323 BC, when anti-Macedonian sentiments forced him to leave. “I will not allow the Athenians to sin twice against…

7 min.
aesthetic democracy

The work of Frank Ankersmit on representation and democracy is surprisingly little known even among academics working in political theory. At the end of the 1990s, already one of the most eminent figures globally in the philosophy of history, this professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands turned his attention from the problems of historical representation to the related one of political representation. He argues that many of the big problems faced by contemporary society can be best addressed if we look again at what happens in the process of representation and understand our societies as examples of what I call ‘aesthetic democracy’, and he prefers to name 'aesthetic politics'. Ankersmit published two important books on contemporary democracy: Aesthetic Politics: Political Philosophy Beyond Fact and Value (1997), and Political…

15 min.
the social contract: a license to steal

According to classic social contract theory, originally elaborated by Thomas Hobbes in the Seventeenth Century, human beings begin politically unorganised, in what is called a state of nature, and society is created by people either explicitly or tacitly establishing a contract whereby they agree to live together in harmony for their mutual benefit. Social contract theorists seek to demonstrate why a rational individual would voluntarily consent to give up unlimited freedom in the state of nature and accept the limits to liberty required for civil society. These theorists agree that individuals make this exchange in order to ensure, or at least greatly enhance, their ability to survive. But these theorists define survival too narrowly, as ‘defense of life and property’. I want to argue here that the terms of any…

8 min.
martin buber & leo tolstoy two examples of spiritual anarchism

I would like to present for your consideration two interesting and peculiar versions of anarchism, as articulated by the German-Israeli existentialist and social thinker Martin Buber (1878-1965) and the reclusive Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910). Buber is a fascinating representative of Jewish left-wing thought, while Tolstoy a famous Christian anti-authoritarian. Although the two thinkers came from different religious backgrounds and geographic circumstances, Buber and Tolstoy’s political philosophies converge on a position I will be calling ‘spiritual anarchism’. Both thinkers stand sharply divided from the dominant, secular anarchist orthodoxy (if there were ever aproximately such a thing). Martin Buber Martin Buber is best remembered for his magnum opus I and Thou (1923), in which he sought to give an account of our relationship to other people and to God – the ‘Eternal Thou’.…