Culture & Literature
Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now August - September 2019

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
Read More
6 Issues

in this issue

4 min.
scientific knowledge

The scientific method is the path to knowledge in the secular age, many would say (especially secularists). But which science? Physics, biology, anthropology, sociology? And which method? Experiments, field observations, mathematical modelling, or some combination of these? And which knowledge? Current scientific knowledge, or some future ideal scientific knowledge? Welcome to our issue on science and philosophy. Two of the articles reflect on what biology can tell us about personal identity, a key question in philosophy. But the first three pieces look at the nature of the scientific method itself. And one thing they collectively demonstrate is that there is no single ‘scientific method’. There are actually several different methods, and which is used depends on what is being investigated. For instance, as far as I know, no experiment has ever…

3 min.

Brainy Monkeys In an attempt to better understand human intelligence, Chinese scientists have implanted human genes in monkey brains. The gene microcephalin (MCPH1), thought to play a crucial role in human fetal brain development, was implanted in the brains of eleven rhesus monkey embryos by means of an engineered virus. Their brain development took longer than normal but the six who survived to adulthood performed much better than their peers in a control group when tested for short term memory and reaction times. The study by Lei Shi and others, published in the Beijing journal National Science Review, was a collaboration between Kunming Institute of Zoology in Yunan, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of North Carolina. The Poison, the Fish & the Solution In order to demonstrate that a chemical substance…

1 min.
ai exhibition review

Ever wanted to smell the flowers of a tree that humans cut to extinction in 1912? Or to give your therapist a Turing Test? Then the Barbican, London, is where you need to be right now. Co-curated by philosopher Dr Suzanne Livingston and running until 26 August, AI: More Than Human is a thought provoking, thoroughly interactive exhibition. It opens by placing the pursuit of Artificial Intelligence within the context of the perennial human desire to awake the inanimate. Traditional Shinto beliefs, the Jewish Golem, alchemy, and Frankenstein are all explored as expressions of this desire. Visitors are then treated to a thorough history of AI as we know it today, from Ada Lovelace to AlphaGo. The timelines and reading materials are plentiful here, but neatly presented on interactive screens. Those…

18 min.
philosophy of science the first 2½ millennia

With which of these three propositions do you most agree? A scientific theory must be: 1) A logically coherent explanation.2) Supported by evidence.3) Useful. If you are firmly of the opinion that one of these is the defining feature of science, then in philosophical terms you are either (1) a rationalist, (2) an empiricist, or (3) a pragmatist. Moreover, if you happen to be a scientist, then it is likely that your main interest is (1) Theoretical, (2) Experimental, or (3) Instrumental. More generally, you might just like to (1) Have an idea about how something works, (2) Find out how it works, or (3) Just make it work. When philosophers of science are doing what they are paid for, one of the key things they consider is what blend of the above…

11 min.
einstein vs logical positivism

Logical positivism was a philosophical movement of the 1920s and 30s which wanted to introduce the methodology of science and mathematics to philosophy. As part of this ambition, the Vienna Circle (Wiener Kreis in German) of logical positivists tried to purge philosophy of metaphysics – by which they meant any speculation that could not be tested using the methods of modern empirical science. The members of the Vienna Circle, including its nominal leader Moritz Schlick, found the speculative claims of traditional metaphysics, especially those based on religion, to be false, uncertain, or sterile. For Rudolph Carnap, another influential member of the Circle, “the (pseudo)statements of metaphysics do not serve for the description of states of affairs.” They are, like poetry and music, “in the domain of art and not in the…

8 min.
science & phenomenology

What would come to mind if I asked you about phenomenology, the systematic study of human experience? If you know something about it, you might imagine its founding father, Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) meditating on his warm cup of fragrant black coffee. If you’re interested in psychology, maybe you’d think about ‘introspection’. For an uninvolved observer, phenomenological investigation may look just like introspection, which it is often mistaken for. There are some similarities – the examiner and the person being examined are the same individual, and the experiment takes place inside the person’s mind. However, unlike introspection, phenomenology does not simply consist of an unbound stream of consciousness. It does not deal with what we think or feel about both our experiences or the objects that the experiences are about (we’re supposed…