I recently quit my full-time job and I'm figuring things out. I have some ideas on what to do next, and I'm looking for some feedback and, as always, additional ideas and perspective. [more inside]
Have you ever had a class (or similar structured educational experience) that actually taught you to be better at logic and critical thinking? If so, how'd it do that? [more inside]
I'm reaching for a phrase for a short science fiction piece I'm working on. I'd like to know what a Classical-Latin-speaking character would say if they wanted to articulate a particular concept analogous to "I think therefore I am", but expressing instead a monstrous moral conclusion they've reached along the lines of I think therefore none may be / shall be. [more inside]
Which of the dozens of English translations of M. Aurelius' "Meditations" is best for younger readers prioritizing beautiful, readable, lyrical and contemporary wording? Not looking for "... For Dummies"-level; just trying to avoid the KJB-style "thines" and "mayests" and so on. Willing to sacrifice textual fidelity for the most readable, accessible prose. [more inside]
It is my understanding that French high school students take a year-long philosophy course in the last year of the lycee. So what's it like in this course, anyway? [more inside]
I am writing a piece about the melding of form and content within a certain musician's body of work. (I'd rather not give this artist's name.) I am looking for texts which deal with concepts of form and content in any genre. Denise Levertov's "Some Notes on Organic Form" is likely going to be my main reference, but I haven't been able to think of many other resources despite attempting to search the library databases on this. Can anyone think of other texts to check out?
I was curious as to what others have done when they are not sure as to what they need to change to make their lives better? I am a big believer in therapy but it is also very problem oriented and can focus too much on deficits. I guess what I'm asking is how do you know what you need to change in your life? How do you know if you have fallen off the path of what you need to do in your life? [more inside]
At the age of 24, I just completed my first year of undergraduate studies at a good public university. I am a strong student with a 4.0 GPA, but I feel that my interests are so broad and varied that I don't know how to narrow down on a specific path of study. Compound these problems with the ubiquitous financial and career concerns of the modern college student, and you have one confused student. How can I resolve this inner turmoil and structure a long-term plan that will bring me (at least some) peace of mind? [more inside]
I'm beginning a project that looks partly at biological classification, primarily in western science. I have no background in this, and so I'm digging around. I'm interested to know more about the current rules for nomenclature, and also to know more about historical, philosophical, sociological, knowledge practice, ethnographic, anthropological, science technology and society (STS), sociotechnical, etc., approaches to the study of biological classification. I'll take monographs, articles, papers, web sites, etc. I have access to a university library. What are some good sources that can introduce me to this? Many thanks!
I'm going to spend the next year reading a diverse set of books to change how I see the world. What books have changed your world view? [more inside]
I'm looking for a good overview of Western philosophy for beginners. [more inside]
Suppose you had new philosophical and/or religious ideas meant to be taken seriously. Suppose they were relatively unaffiliated with any particular religious community or conventional academic conversation. Suppose you were not a celebrity. Where, particularly in New York City, would be places open to new speakers with these kinds of ideas? Where might sophisticated, sympathetic, open-minded audiences be found?
I'm looking for original source artists' writings. I'm talking diaries, manifestos, conversations about the creative process - Help me find books, magazines, websites or other good resources! [more inside]
Is a major in Spanish a good investment? If I buckle down and commit myself to daily study and practice (and spend one semester abroad), can I attain a decent fluency in the language? What kind of career paths could I expect? More details and questions follow. [more inside]
It's been a long time since my philosophy courses in college, and none of the ones I took had a focus on ethics. In the back of my mind I've been wondering if anyone has explored whether there is a disconnect between morality + ethics on the one hand and right action on the other. (Right action is meant in the plain language sense--I don't recall if it's a term of the art or not, but I suspect it is.) [more inside]
I'm looking for resources to help better understand the different types of activities that bring people joy and meaning. [more inside]
I enjoy the Rationally Speaking podcast. Are there any similar podcasts, not necessarily featuring "special guests," which feature discussions on philosophy, science, and ethics?
So, I've been trying to hash out my philosophic and intangible beliefs and I realized that the only thing I really, truly connect with in a belief sense is Nothing, the dark. To be clear, I don't mean this melodramatically, I simply mean this in the sense that I find the fact that when I close my eyes at night that the idea that, as Roger Ebert put it, "I was perfectly content before I was born" comes to mind. That there is more that does not exist in this world than does. From John Locke (blank slate ideas) to Nietzche and religion, can you good people point me very broadly in the direction of thoughts on the nothing that surrounds us? Thanks!
I've lately been thinking a lot about the notion that "dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return," in that nothing we humans do in our relatively short lifespans makes a "dent" in the universe. Or why it would even matter if it did make said dent -- after all, why not just live in the now? Why do we continue as a people? I quite enjoy life. But as a young person, when I look at the years in front of me, I often wonder why it is that I am not a hedonist, or why as a society we do not crumble to hedonism when the cosmos will be practically indifferent to our toil on this planet. It's hard for me to even articulate, but I feel a weight upon my shoulders that comes from unanswered questions of our existence. Can anyone clarify for me what I am wondering about, and then further recommend some reading on the subject? Surely the philosophers must have analyzed these gnawing feelings for hundreds of year, but I don't know what to look for. Thank you.
What blogs are well written and worth following to broaden my mind? [more inside]
I am struggling to remember or find a line from what I think was a work of philosophy, something like:"at the heart [center] of every system [of belief | of thought | world-construct] is a secret [hidden] trangression [contradiction | inversion | denial]" [more inside]
Within the past year or two (approx.), there was a book published that laid out (in a somewhat light-hearted, abbreviated manner, for mass market) many various imaginings from religion, folklore, etc., of what life after death may be like. Can anyone recall it for me?
I'm trying to identify some current thinkers on the concepts of space and place, specifically in regards to the rise of social media, the internet, etc. I'm looking for writings from the last 5 years. Which authors (or works) should I be looking at?
I have read some of Marshall McLuhan's books and would like to continue to read more in the same vein. I don't have a background in Media Studies or Philosophy, but I want to learn more about what contemporary thinkers have written about media and culture touching on some of the same subjects as McLuhan. I'm interested in philosophy of media studies (and futurism/technology/etc.). I'm also interested in artists that have reflected some of these ideas in their work. Suggestions?
I'm a grad student in conservation biology who has always had a strong interest in conservation issues. However, I feel like the technical side of my education is much stronger than the philosophical side, and I want to restore that balance. Who should I read, what resources should I look into, what organizations or publications are out there that will help me gain a deeper understanding of the philosophical, historical, and cultural components of environmentalism? [more inside]
When I was studying history of philosophy I remember encountering a term which I recall as being either 'historical monism' or 'psychological monism', which referred to the (posited) error of assuming, I think looking historically, that the psychology of other peoples was like your own. I.e. of assuming that you could reasonably attempt to understand their motivations &c. It might have had something to do with heiddegger? It seems unlikely that this would've involved the term 'monism', though, looking back, and I'm not having tons of luck with google. Any clues?
After a lifetime of messing around on the Web, I'm trying to approach it in a meaningful way. Stoic philosophy has made a difference in my life, and I was wondering if someone could point me out to thinkers or philosophers of that particular school who have spent time with Twitter, Facebook, etc..
I'm looking for any pointers to articles, books, or information about the history of pre-modern, non-Western thought about the possibility of extraterrestrial life. (To be clear, I'm not looking for anything about "ancient astronauts" or whether the ancient Egyptians were guided by aliens or anything like that.) [more inside]
I am interested in articles that try to analyze and explain the conflict between the hard and soft sciences. In my casual web surfing I have come across e.g. highly-trained scientists who yet express a deep disdain for fields as open-ended and far-ranging as sociology, feminism, queer theory, postmodernism, and so on, sometimes even economics, psychology. I find such attitudes hard to comprehend, and even disturbing since my educational background is in the applied sciences. Which are the important works that have been done to better understand this ongoing social/intellectual gap, and that are presented in a readable manner for a non-expert?
I've recently become unemployed and am taking this opportunity to rethink my lifestyle. Help me figure out how to build an idle life. [more inside]
I'm looking for recommendations for literary crime novels. (Examples within.) [more inside]
Charles Babbage was a prominent member of the Analytical Society, and was at the very least intimately familiar with Leibniz's formulation of calculus. But did he ever read Leibniz's writings on logic? Did the Ars Combinatoria, or any of his writings on the "universal characteristic" or "calculus ratiocinator" influence Babbage's thinking about computation?
I am looking for an introductory text (preferably available online) that will outline these concepts for me. Thanks.
I'm looking for book recommendations for thorough, engaging, and rigorous histories of Savile Row tailoring and/or books that talk about the history and philosophy of fine men's tailoring and dress. I'm not averse to books with technical information, as well as historical and cultural information. Thank you!
I'm looking for a way of diagramming the component parts of ideas and arguments, and their relationships to each other, formally and visually. Does such a thing exist? [more inside]
I just finished reading Jeremy Adelman's biography of Albert O. Hirschman. I loved the book because it vividly explained Hirschman's ideas (he was an economist and scholar of political thought) and because Hirschman had a fascinating and compelling life story. Can you recommend biographies of major thinkers in the social sciences and philosophy?
I am teaching Plato's allegory next week, and I would like to use some relatable examples of his ideas represented in recent popular culture. The Matrix is fine but getting well-worn. I am looking for something "newer" to illustrate the restraints of the cave, enlightenment, etc. Most of my students are 19-25 years old. Not owning a TV myself, I am out of touch with what the kids are into these days. Can anyone suggest some other, more contemporary examples -- clips from film or TV that I can show in class?
In the event that I have any control over it whatsoever, I want to die well. Recent family events and yesterday's NPR segments (1, 2) on end-of-life issues raise a fresh wave of questions about how to plan now for the best possible end later on. Is there anything in the works that looks like a living will but allows us in our younger healthier years to document the preference "if a, b or c happen, just guide me to the light with morphine"? I want to be able to die as peacefully and (perhaps almost as) easily as my pets can. And perhaps I should reserve this additional loaded question for a separate post, but what the hell: why do people care so much? [more inside]
After years of depression and self-medication I'm trying to live a better life. What should I be doing? [more inside]
Most machines are very predictable when in motion- their movement can be graphed in terms of speed, acceleration and jerk quite easily. Generally, the graph flattens out when you get to jerk. Can the same be done with humans? Or are our movements chaotic at a fundamental level? I know that ultimately we exert motion through force (=ma) but is it possible for us to increase the rate at which we increase the rate of force, and even increase the rate of that? Would we be able to register anything on the graph of m/s5? [more inside]
Somewhere in the back of my brain there's a memory of a quote I once read, possibly by a Greek philosopher but just as possibly not. The quote was something about sleep (and maybe dreams?) being the greatest reward in life - that the only reason we toil through the day is to "earn" our sleep at night. [more inside]
I'm well-read but pretty uneducated when it comes to philosophy, aside from having a working knowledge of the Post-Structuralists. I'm looking for philosophical books (it doesn't matter it they're canonical or not--I have not read most of the canon, but I also haven't read a lot of related books) that explore one or more of these areas: beauty, art, or narratives. (I just started Lyotard tonight, so no need to suggest him.) [more inside]
Are there any horror works which do not derive increased horror from increased knowledge? [more inside]
Recently I've been listening to some very interesting podcasts on the mind-body problem and I've been caught up in the various different approaches that one can take to the problem. I was really excited until, upon further reflection, it seemed to me that most of what we use to attack this problem in America (analytic philosophy) is basically just word games, logic puzzles and thought experiments, with no real basis in reality. Help? [more inside]
How did classical philosophers or ethicists handle the fact that attachment to oaths, creeds, promises, allegiances, etc, can (and often must) evolve and change over time? You swear an oath and uphold it until such time as you discard it for something better or more useful. Did any famous philosopher ever outline how that process should work when it's appropriate?
I'm looking for an in-text reference for a concept apparently put forward by Immanuel Kant. I would like to know where in his own writings this concept was actually addressed. [more inside]
Hi Metafilter. Recommendations, please? Recently I had ended a cycle of medication that was likely to affect my memory. It has. I feel as though I've gone from a quick, engaged conversationalist, to a bit of an observant, less inclined platform of speaking. Mostly, it's because I can't seem to recall things as quickly as before. It's so, so uncomfortable. I've been told my memory will return over time, but in the meantime, I can read and participate in exercises in an attempt to jar it. Can anyone offer some comprehensive overviews of religion, history, philosophy, or politics? Really basic stuff would be just find - Any texts going over the religions of the world, introductions to politic, lists of notable philosophers or historic figures.. Thank you!
I am interested in trying to understand how our ability and inability to understand symbols in relation to their meanings binds people together as well as forming in- and out-groups. I have had a difficult time in finding works that go along with this premise and would be interested if anyone would know of good sources. What follows is a short explanation of what I think currently. Comments and criticisms are highly appreciated. [more inside]
I created an online, open source academic journal website several years ago and it may be near the end of its first life. I'd love to get feedback on what folks here think might work best. I want to reinvent it and breathe new life into old content. Help me, MetaFilter, rebuild something that doesn't have to die into something new and beautiful! [more inside]