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New Philosopher Issue 33 - September/November 2021

New Philosopher is for curious people seeking solutions to the fundamental problems faced by humankind. New Philosopher is devoted to exploring philosophical ideas from past and present thinkers on ways to live a more fulfilling life, and to seek to find solutions to the most pressing problems faced by humans in contemporary society.

United States
The Bull Media Company
R 217,13
R 651,39
4 Issues

in this issue

1 min

“Can you believe what has become of me?”Romulus Gaita Two millennia ago, Greek philosopher and historian Plutarch wrote about a thought experiment on identity, The Ship of Theseus, in which every plank of wood on a ship is replaced over time. Philosophers were divided: some claimed that the ship “remained the same, others that it was not the same vessel”. Theseus’s ship resurfaced – along with the debate – when Thomas Hobbes discussed it from another angle: if we were to locate all the original planks of wood and reconstruct the ship, would that one be the ‘real’ ship? What, then, of the other ship? Western philosophers are hardly alone in contemplating the splendid mess of personal identity. In the Mahāprajñāpāramitopadésa, a 1,600-year-old Buddhist text, the mess is considered in the form…

1 min
online at

newphilosopher.com It began with fire Alone among species, we have learned to tap into sources of energy that vastly exceed our own bodies’ resources. https://newphilosopher.com/articles/it-began-with-fire/ An eternal delight I think many of us have, for some decades, been aware of the challenges that climate change presents to us, potentially as a civilisation. https://newphilosopher.com/articles/an-eternal-delight/ New Philosopher online store Visit the online store for previous issues of New Philosopher magazine, subscriptions as well as gift ideas. https://newphilosopher.com/shop/ Making the hamster love its wheel In one sense, “do what you love” takes the idea of vocation and maps it onto the idea of career. And that’s inherently risky. https://newphilosopher.com/articles/making-the-hamster-love-its-wheel/ New Philosopher Writers’ Award Entries are open for the New Philosopher Prize for Philosophical Writing. Enter now to win $1,000 and have your work featured in the magazine. Open to NP subscribers, award XXXIII entries close 20 December 2021 Up…

6 min

DBC Pierre DBC Pierre won the Booker Prize for his debut novel Vernon God Little, which was also awarded the Whitbread First Novel Award in 2003 – the first time the two awards had been granted to the same book. Pierre is also the author of Ludmilla’s Broken English, Lights out in Wonderland, a book of short stories, and a novella, Breakfast with the Borgias. He was awarded the James Joyce Award from the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin. Nigel Warburton Nigel Warburton is a freelance philosopher, podcaster, writer, and the Editor-at-large of New Philosopher. Described as “one of the most-read popular philosophers of our time”, his books include A Little History of Philosophy, Thinking from A to Z, and Philosophy: The Classics. The interviewer for the Philosophy Bites podcast,…

2 min

“Even if we did have reliable deepfake detection technology, past experience with fake news suggests that corrections rarely travel as far as initial fakes and are often not as readily believed.”— Regina Rini They say the camera doesn’t lie – but that is itself a lie. Cameras have been lying right from the start, from faked ‘spirit’ photographs in the mid-19th century to Hollywood special effects magic. Now we have ‘deepfakes’, a new technology that uses artificial intelligence to generate video of people doing and saying things they never actually did. The face of one person can be superimposed on another, or someone’s lips can be manipulated to make them appear to say things they never said. Even voices can now be synthesised. There are obvious moral worries about this technology, not…

2 min
there are no selves

In the first century Buddhist text the Milinda Pañha, the Indo-Greek king Menander I meets a Buddhist sage and asks his name. The monk replies that his name is Nāgasena, but quickly adds that this is just “a convenient designation, a mere name, this Nāgasena, for there is no self here to be found”. Menander is bewildered, yet this is in fact a core Buddhist teaching: the doctrine of anatta, ‘no-self ’. The idea here is that selves are, at best, a sort of mere convention. We call each other by the names we’ve been given or chosen, but these names don’t refer to anything substantial. Nāgasena gives the example of the chariot Menander has ridden to the meeting. You can certainly point to, name, and ride a chariot, yet strip…

2 min
protecting our identities

Everyone has the right to an identity, which means that every child has the right to have their birth recorded in a continuous, permanent, and universal register. Birth registration is simple but fundamental: it establishes the existence of a legal person under law. It is also closely linked to realising many other rights, especially the rights to health and education. Despite its simplicity and fundamental importance, birth registration is out of reach for many – in fact, at least 70,000 children are born stateless each year due to a lack of registration. But the right to an identity doesn’t end with a birth certificate. For one thing, there’s an array of other official documents that are required to enable full participation in social and civic life: citizenship documents, driver’s licences, passports,…