In his Cave Allegory (Republic, c.360 BCE), Plato presents a strikingly visual account of the distinction between knowledge and belief and, in doing so, provides us with what may be considered the earliest picture-house.Read more "Plato’s Cave and the Cinema"
What can we know? Does God exist? Do I have free will? How should I act? Does life have meaning? This course offers an introduction to the main areas of philosophy through discussion of some of the most interesting questions in each field. Click here for more information or to book online.Read more "An Introduction to Philosophy – starts Thursday 1 October @UoEShortCourses"
Filmosophy is where film meets philosophy. Some films, like philosophy itself, can challenge our preconceived views of ourselves and the world around us. They may provide more questions than answers; yet, in doing so, they will expand our ideas and allow us to view familiar things in an unfamiliar way. They are films that demand […]Read more "Filmosophy season at Filmhouse Edinburgh"
One of the major sub-fields of philosophy is Metaphysics. It is difficult to define exactly what metaphysics is; it began as the search for first causes or the study of ‘being as such’ (unchanging reality). However, metaphysics has evolved from its ancient roots to encompass a great deal of distinct, yet related, areas of philosophical […]Read more "Metaphysics – the problem of Free Will"
The boys from Monty Python do it again. In philosophy, an argument isn’t just contradiction, it’s “a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition”. The series of statements are called premises and the proposition they aim to support is the conclusion. If an argument is valid (a good argument), then the truth of […]Read more "Monty Python’s Argument clinic"
Mill’s aim The subject of this essay is . . . the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual . . . (John Stuart Mill, On liberty , 1859) An increase in authority (legitimate use of power) necessarily entails a decrease in individuals’ liberty within a […]Read more "John Stuart Mill: the Harm Principle"
Karl Marx stated, ‘the philosophers have merely interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it’. Marx’s sentiment is, I think, shared by many; philosophy can be seen to be an abstract pursuit, and philosophers far-removed from everyday concerns. One philosopher who cannot, however, be accused of such abstraction is Peter Singer. Singer is rightly heralded as […]Read more "Peter Singer on our obligation to alleviate suffering"
In 399 BC, when he was over seventy, Socrates was accused before the Athenian assembly of impiety and corrupting the young, and was sentenced to death. Plato, in his Crito dialogue, presents a dramatic scene from the condemned cell; Socrates’ friends urge him to escape from prison, and avoid the unjust and vindictive sentence of the court. […]Read more "Political Philosophy"
Why should we act morally? Why should we ‘do the right thing’ if we could do the wrong thing and get away with it? Imagine a situation where you find yourself able to get something that you desperately desire, provided you lie, steal, or perhaps even murder. Would you do it? Why? Why not? Is […]Read more "Morality and Blindness in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors"
Astra Taylor’s Examined Life may just appear to be just another philosophy documentary (not that there are nearly enough of them). What I mean by this is that we may be tempted to consider it as merely a vehicle for philosophers to convey their ideas; ideas that could be just as well conveyed through print (or […]Read more "Examined Life: philosophy in the streets"
Aesthetics is an area of philosophy sometimes taken to be synonymous with the philosophy of art. This, however, is a mistake. Although aesthetics is for the most part concerned with questions concerning the nature of art, it also addresses more general questions of beauty. In this session we will look firstly at beauty before going […]Read more "Aesthetics"
Philosophy begins with questions and, as such, a good place to start is with this often overlooked question concerning the nature of philosophy itself. Strangely, for a discipline that places such great emphasis on defining and clarifying concepts, there is no unanimously agreed definition of what exactly philosophy is. The term ‘philosophy’ in its literal […]Read more "What is Philosophy?"