Christmas and Philosophy

Christmas - Philosophy for Everyone: Better Than a Lump of CoalWe recently caught up with Scott C. Lowe, professor and chair in the Philosophy Department at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, and editor of Christmas – Philosophy for Everyone: Better Than a Lump of Coal. He is also the author of “Ebenezer Scrooge – Man of Principle” which appeared in Think magazine in 2009. His philosophical interests are in political and legal philosophy. He hopes his students think of him as the reformed Scrooge at the end of the story, not the hard hearted Scrooge who meets the ghost of Jacob Marley.

PE: Why did you decide to edit a book on Christmas and philosophy?

SCL: It started with an article I published on Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s a great example of the role of character in morality which is a hot debate in ethics these days. From there it struck me that there are a lot of interesting questions about Christmas that philosophers might have something to say about. Continue reading “Christmas and Philosophy”

Interview: Climbing and Philosophy

Stephen E. Schmid is the author of Climbing – Philosophy for Everyone: Because It’s There. Stephen is also Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of Wisconsin–Rock County.  His current research focuses on motivation in sport and education.  In the philosophy of sport, he has published and presented on the role of motivation in the conception of play.  Stephen has been rock climbing and mountaineering for more than 20 years.

Why did you decide to edit a book on climbing and philosophy?
I had the idea to pursue the climbing and philosophy book for a year before I approached Wiley-Blackwell with the idea.  The book idea seemed like a great way to merge my two passions.  In addition, I had started to pursue some research in the Philosophy of Sport and examples from climbing proved relevant to the problem I was pursuing.  The merging of climbing and philosophy seemed like an obvious move. Continue reading “Interview: Climbing and Philosophy”

Interview: The Rorty Reader

Chris VoparilChristopher J. Voparil is on the Graduate Faculty of Union Institute & University, where he teaches philosophy and political theory.  He is the co-editor (with Richard J. Bernstein) of The Rorty Reader, and author of Richard Rorty:  Politics and Vision, and articles in Contemporary Pragmatism, Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Philosophy and Social Criticism, and Education and Culture. He is currently Secretary of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy.  In this interview, Chris talks about the philosophy and politics of Richard Rorty and why they are relevant today.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to edit The Rorty Reader?

Chris Voparil: The original idea was mostly about accessibility.  Most of Rorty’s work is widely available, but I would hear often from colleagues who wanted to teach Rorty about the challenges associated with his work being spread across so many volumes.  He wrote stand-alone books, like Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity and Achieving Our Country. But most of his collections of philosophical papers are grouped by time period Continue reading “Interview: The Rorty Reader”

Interview: Science Fiction and Philosophy – From Time Travel to Superintelligence

Susan Schneider is an assistant professor of philosophy (University of Pennsylvania), and the author of Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence. As well having an avid interest in science fiction since her college days, she is now a faculty member in UPenn’s Center for Neuroscience and Society, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) and the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science (IRCS). In this interview, Susan talks about why her students respond so well to the use of science fiction to illustrate philosophical ideas, and why she finds the crossover so fertile.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence?

Susan Schneider: I was teaching a class called “Science Fiction and Philosophy” that used science fiction films and writings as a route into philosophical puzzles involving the nature of the self and the nature of ultimate reality. For example, I assigned Isaac Asimov’s robots stories Continue reading “Interview: Science Fiction and Philosophy – From Time Travel to Superintelligence”

Interview: Is God a Delusion? A Reply to Religion’s Cultured Despisers

Eric Reitan’s latest book, Is God a Delusion? A Reply to Religion’s Cultured Despisers was named an Outstanding Academic Title of 2009. Here he tells us how he was motivated to write the book partly in response to the misrepresentations of religious thought he discovered in Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, but also by a very personal desire to reconcile his deep intuitions about ultimate reality with open intellectual inquiry.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write Is God a Delusion?

Eric Reitan: One day a few years ago, a colleague of mine handed me a photocopied page from a book, without any identifying information, and asked me to evaluate it as I would a student paper. On that page the unknown author attempted to summarize and then critique the first three of Aquinas’ “Five Ways” for proving God’s existence. I say “attempted” because the author got the arguments wrong Continue reading “Interview: Is God a Delusion? A Reply to Religion’s Cultured Despisers”

Interview: In the Name of God – The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence

John Teehan is the author of In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence, and has published and lectured widely on the impact of evolutionary theories on moral philosophy. In this comprehensive interview, John talks in depth about some of the themes in his book: how our moral minds may have been shaped by evolution, and how such a perspective can inform upon our understanding of religious violence.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write ‘In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence’?

John Teehan: I’ve always been deeply interested in the study of morality.  Not simply in terms of what we ought to do, how we ought  to live—although those are essential questions—but also in terms of why do  we have the values we have, how do moral traditions develop. This lead me into a study of moral psychology, and in particular evolutionary psychology. If we want to understand how we got where we are today in terms of morality, then trying to understand the origins of moral behaviour seemed to be Continue reading “Interview: In the Name of God – The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence”

Interview: The Art of Videogames

Grant Tavinor is a gamer and a lecturer in philosophy at Lincoln University. His recent book, The Art of Videogames is part of Wiley-Blackwell’s New Directions in Aesthetics Series. We caught up with Grant recently and he talked about one of the unique characteristics of videogames: that is, when you play one, you become a direct participant; an actor in the unfolding of an artwork.

The Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write The Art of Videogames?

Grant Tavinor: I wrote The Art of Videogames because I was convinced that this was a fascinating topic that it was worthwhile writing about! I’m a gamer as well as a philosopher and so was naturally enthusiastic about the topic. My interest in videogames and philosophy started when I was writing my doctoral thesis on fiction, where I briefly used videogames as an illustration of a point I was trying to make about fiction and action. Being a grad student, I had the time to play a lot of games Continue reading “Interview: The Art of Videogames”

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