Philosophy Now

December 2021 - January 2022

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

5 min
happiness & meaning

According to his wife, the poet T.S. Eliot was once getting into a London taxi when the driver said “You’re T.S. Eliot.” Eliot asked how he knew. “Ah, I’ve got an eye for celebrity. Only the other evening I picked up Bertrand Russell, and I said to him, ‘Well Lord Russell, what’s it all about?’ And do you know, he couldn’t tell me.” The story reflects how much of the world, and not just taxi drivers, see philosophy. It’s job is to discover what it is all about: the Universe, God, death, the meaning of life. Professional philosophers tend to find the story amusing; the demand that Russell should distil his lifetime of teaching, his hard-won wisdom, his dozens of books, into a single short cab ride. I think they are…

1 min
some of our contributors

Farah Abdessamad Farah Abdessamad is an essayist and critic based in New York City. A native of Paris, her readings of Heraclitus, Polybius, Nietzsche and Heidegger have shaped her interest in political philosophy and ontology, and inspired her to carry philosophical questions to fields such as literature, art, mythology and history. She is at work on a collection of essays. Daniel C. Dennett Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He taught at U.C. Irvine from 1965 to 1971, when he moved to Tufts, where he has taught ever since. His most recent book, Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, was published in 2017. Sara Bizarro Sara Bizarro was born in East Timor and moved…

5 min

• The fault is not in our stars but in our genes• Trans rights and academic freedom• Moral dilemma? Ask a chatbot. Is Morality Genetic? Why do many people have similar moral values to their parents? Is this just a matter of environment and upbringing or is there some biological basis for this phenomenon too? Past studies have suggested that moral judgements are strongly based on self-interest informed by the particular condition of individuals. For example, someone who is hungry is more likely to be in favour of social welfare, whereas someone who is in top physical shape is more likely to advocate a moral system that rewards strength and self reliance. A new study demonstrates that there may be a genetic basis for certain moral decisions. Annika Karinen and some colleagues…

3 min
philosophy shorts

‘More songs about Buildings and Food’ was the title of a 1978 album by the rock band Talking Heads; about all the things rock stars normally don’t sing about. Pop songs are usually about variations on the theme of love. Tracks like George Harrison’s Taxman, written in response a marginal tax-rate of 96 percent introduced by Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the Sixties, are the exception. 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. Philosophers on…

14 min
looking for the purpose of life

In the expression ‘the meaning of life’, people more often than not mean ‘purpose’ when they refer to ‘meaning’. The real question such people are asking is actually ‘What is the purpose of life?’. Things which have a purpose are often created for that purpose, such as man-made artefacts. One could establish an analogy or comparison between life and tools. The purpose of a tool is present at or before it is manufactured. A garden fork has been made to help gardeners dig, a tap is made to control the flow of water, and so on. The maker of the object and the person who uses the object both know this purpose, and the correct use of the object is seen as being use in line with the maker’s design. However…

9 min
why you’re (probably) wrong about the meaning of life

After tragedy and heartbreak – after the war is lost, after the pandemic takes someone you love, after climate change destroys your home, after your life seems to be rendered nonsensical by illness, personal failure, or injustice – deep questions may linger like a bruise: What is the meaning of all this? Does life have any meaning or purpose at all? What is the meaning of my life? Easy answers to such questions drop casually from the internet, books, and media. The meaning of life, we’re told, is pursuing pleasure or happiness, or giving and receiving love, or finding your passion, or doing something great, or living out your purpose, or being involved with something greater than yourself. But these commonplace answers are only partly right, and the questions are mostly…