Philosophy Now April - May 2021

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
6 Issues

in this issue

4 min
art & soul

“All art is quite useless.” Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Preface) “The metaphor is probably the most fertile power possessed by man.” José Ortega y Gasset, The Dehumanisation of Art Oscar Wilde’s remark about the uselessness of art is a typical Wilde thing – aphoristic, slightly paradoxical, and somehow expressing a weird kind of purity. It sounds as if he was trying to define art, and suggesting that anything useful is not art but a mere artifact. In this way he seems to be elevating art’s importance, placing it on a level above the merely utilitarian, turning it into a kind of goddess. Many of the greatest idea-wranglers from the pantheon of philosophy – Plato, Kant, Hegel – have theorised at length about aesthetics. Yet some mortals admit to a sneaking feeling…

1 min
some of our contributors

Marilyn Piety lives in Philadelphia where she is a Professor of Philosophy at Drexel University. She received her PhD in philosophy from McGill University in Montreal. Her books include a translation of Kierkegaard’s Repetition and Philosophical Crumbs (Oxford, 2009) Shai Tubali has published fourteen books, mostly on South Asian philosophy, and lives in Berlin. His MA dissertation, Cosmos and Camus: Science Fiction Film and the Absurd, was published by Peter Lang. He is doing PhD research at the University of Leeds on the ideas of Jiddu Krishnamurti in relation to the dialogue forms of ancient Greece and India. Atika Qasim is a Pakistani freelance writer, currently working as a contributor for MuslimGirl and Airschool. She graduated with a Bachelor in Science (Hons.) in Political Science from Forman Christian College University, Lahore. A…

5 min

• Milgram II: The Horror Returns • Laroui Only Lives Thrice • Do Martian Microbes Have Rights? Jan Sokol Dies Czech philosopher, former dissident and former minister of education Jan Sokol has died at the age of 84. He was one of the rare philosophers to also be an active politician. For political reasons, Sokol was barred from university studies after the 1948 Communist coup. Instead he trained as a goldsmith, then as a mechanic, and then eventually as a computer programmer. In his spare time, he studied botany, physics and mathematics. Most importantly, he participated in the house seminars organised by his father-in-law, the great Czech philosopher Jan Patočka. These inspired him with a love of philosophy. In the late 1970s he read the text of Charter 77 and found that Jan Patočka…

1 min
philosophy shorts

Pop songs are usually about variations on the theme of love. But there are exceptions to the rule. ‘More songs about Buildings and Food’ was the title of a 1978 album by the rock band Talking Heads. It was about all the things rock stars normally don’t sing about. Philosophers, likewise, tend to have a narrow focus on epistemology, metaphysics and trifles like the meaning of life. But occasionally great minds stray from their turf and write about other matters, for example buildings (Martin Heidegger), food (Hobbes), tomato juice (Robert Nozick), and the weather (Lucretius and Aristotle). This series of Shorts is about these unfamiliar themes; about the things philosophers also write about.…

2 min
philosophers on hope

Hope has always been there. The Ancient Greeks used the word elpis, which made its debut in the poetry of Hesiod. In Works and Days, from 700 BC, the Greek epic poet wrote about Pandora (her of the infamous box), that “Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house.” Aristotle, some four hundred years later, was rather more analytical. In the Nicomachean Ethics, the Macedonian genius wrote, “The coward…is a despairing sort of person; for he fears everything. The brave man, on the other hand…[is of] a hopeful disposition (Nicomachean Ethics, 1116a2). But mostly, the Greeks tended to be rather negative. Sometimes philosophers have been a miserable bunch. Plato certainly was one. He wrote dismissively about the gods as “mindless advisers”, who instil “fear” “and gullible hope” (Timaeus, 69b). Nietzsche, who was trained…

11 min
art & morality a bittersweet symphony

For a number of years I have been interested in the question, ‘Does a life’s work make up for a life?’ Initially, what I had in mind is the idea that there’s a line between one’s public and personal life, that those two lives can be separated, and that somehow you could weigh them against one another, as though professional success might make up for various personal, in particular, ethical, failures. So for instance, could the artistic achievements of a talented painter or writer make up for their being a terrible spouse? It has struck me as an important but difficult question to answer. Although it’s true that everyone makes poor choices, when those poor choices are made by public figures, gauging the appropriate response on the part of an admiring…