Philosophy Now February - March 2020

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

2 min
greeks bearing gifts

In this issue we’ll be looking at ancient Greek philosophy as a guide to modern life. The philosophical tradition of Ancient Greece lasted many hundreds of years and went through various phases. The first Greek philosophers – the ones we now call the pre-Socratics – thought mainly about metaphysics. They wanted to understand the nature of change, to know how the universe worked, and to find out whether there was a single substance underlying everything. In this way their ideas were the distant ancestors of modern science. It’s all made of water, said Thales. Nonsense, it’s all made of fire, said Heraclitus. No actually, said Democritus, it’s all made of little particles which are indivisible (a-toms). And so on. Socrates broke with this tradition in being much more interested in questions about…

4 min

• Charred scrolls yield Philodemus’ notes• French philosophers debate their future• A ‘philosophical belief’ wins legal protection Down Girl wins APA Book Prize The American Philosophical Association awards a biannual book prize to the best published book written by a younger philosopher. It has just been announced that the 2019 prize goes to Kate Manne, associate professor of philosophy in Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences, for her book Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (see review in Issue 133). The book is a study of why even supposedly ‘postpatriarchial’ cultures, such as the US, struggle to truly leave misogyny behind. Manne, referred to by the Chronicle of Higher Education as the “Philosopher of #MeToo”, explained: “My dearest hope is that, whether or not readers agree with it, my book will help…

14 min
fellowship for aristotle & tolkien

“Without friends no one would want to live, even if they had all other worldly things.”Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book VII In my early twenties a close friend committed suicide. He was a beautiful soul and I will always question myself as to what, as his friend, I should have done to help him. As Henry James advised; “Never say you know the last word about any human heart.” Maybe there was nothing, maybe there was something. At the time I had never really thought too much about what being a friend meant. I don’t think we reflect about the idea of friendship too much today. When we are young, we take the fact we have friends for granted without thinking too much about what type of friends they are. When we…

8 min
the wisdom of ignorance

Ignorance may be bliss, but that doesn’t mean we should celebrate stupidity. Ignorance has never been a good excuse, but it is even less so today, when anyone with a question can simply google an answer. How much more do we expect of our experts when even a schoolchild has access to the vast storehouse of human knowledge? Even in this age of participation trophies, we would be shocked if the Nobel committee decided to award a prize to a team of scientists whose research was a complete failure, regardless of how many years they’d worked on it. The case is, however, quite different in philosophy, where Socrates (470-399 BC) is celebrated for an odd claim to fame: “The one thing I know is that I know nothing.” Why in…

4 min
what philosophy does to philosophers

A philosopher is someone who sees deep questions where others find things straightforward. This I call ‘problematising’, or, as Plato called it, ‘the search for essence’. In any case, it instills a sense of mystery, awe and wonder. Now, there are numerous ways of problematising and dealing with it; but rest assured, the consequences it has on the problematiser are definite and enduring. Where better to look for examples of the impact of philosophy on life than three fathers of Greek thought: Socrates, Diogenes, and Pyrrho? They had widely different, highly eccentric personalities (the price of authenticity, perhaps?). Although they differed in their philosophical approaches, they are all excellent examples of the impact philosophy has, for better or worse. The last words of Socrates (470-399 BC) were “Crito, we owe a rooster…

10 min
a stoic response to the climate crisis

The Stoic philosophers, who flourished in the Graeco-Roman world between the third century BCE and the fourth century CE, were profoundly interested in the natural world, and considered science essential knowledge for a philosopher. It’s likely that a Stoic time traveller, transported into the early 21st century, would initially hesitate to believe that humans could remake the climate of the Earth and in doing so threaten the future of the entire biosphere. I think we can be confident, however, that once presented with the scientific evidence our devotee of Hellenic reason would embrace the consensus and agree we are facing an incomprehensibly dangerous emergency. It is now widely agreed in the scientific community that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history – and that…