Up@dawn 2.0

Saturday, June 29, 2013

9 out of 10 philosophers surveyed recommend...

"Two contemporary philosophers, David Chalmers and David Bourget, decided to find out where their colleagues stood on 30 different philosophical issues by constructing a rigorous survey that ended up accounting for the views of over 3,000 professors, graduate students, and independent thinkers. Most of the respondents were affiliated with prestigious philosophy departments in the English-speaking world, though several continental European departments are also represented.

Some semi-famous names come up in a perusal of the list of public respondents, like A.C. Grayling and Massimo Pigliucci. For the most part, however, the survey group represents the rank-and-file, toiling away as teachers, thinkers, writers, and researchers at colleges across the Western world. You survey geeks out there can dig deeply into Chalmers and Bourget’s detailed accounting of their methodology here. But for a quick and dirty summary, let’s take a couple of general categories and look at the results..."

What Do Most Philosophers Believe? A Wide-Ranging Survey Project Gives Us Some Idea | Open Culture

From Philosophy Bites, the book based on the wonderful podcast of the same name, comes an omnibus of definitions, bound by a most fascinating disclaimer — for, as Nigel Warburtonkeenly observes in the book’s introduction, “philosophy is an unusual subject in that its practitioners don’t agree what it’s about...”

What is Philosophy? An Omnibus of Definitions from Prominent Philosophers

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The lasting value of humanities education

"...What many undergraduates do not know — and what so many of their professors have been unable to tell them — is how valuable the most fundamental gift of the humanities will turn out to be. That gift is clear thinking, clear writing and a lifelong engagement with literature.

Maybe it takes some living to find out this truth. Whenever I teach older students, whether they’re undergraduates, graduate students or junior faculty, I find a vivid, pressing sense of how much they need the skill they didn’t acquire earlier in life. They don’t call that skill the humanities. They don’t call it literature. They call it writing — the ability to distribute their thinking in the kinds of sentences that have a merit, even a literary merit, of their own..."

Verlyn Klinkenborg, The Decline and Fall of the English Major - NYTimes.com

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why philosophy?

High School students in France are required to study philosophy.
And among the writers you need to refer to are Plato, William of Ockham, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Heidegger, Sartre. 
Why this emphasis on philosophy in France? 
Other countries have school-leaving exams which cover the history of ideas and religion and so on. But the French are very clear that that is not what theirs is. 
The purpose of the philosophy Bac is not to understand the history of human thought but to leap into the stream that is the actuality of human thought. 
If you learn about what Kant or Spinoza once said, it is not so much to understand their argument as to use their argument.. 
So the purpose of teaching philosophy was - and remains, in theory - to complete the education of young men and women and permit them to think...
BBC News - Why does France insist school pupils master philosophy?