Write for The Philosopher’s Eye!

Image: Gaetan Lee

Are you a philosophy graduate looking for a writing opportunity?

We want to hear from budding writers who are looking for a chance to write about philosophy for a popular blog, and who want to show how the ideas of philosophy can improve our understanding of current affairs.

Do you feel that philosophy has something important to say about the political beliefs of Sarah Palin? Or the slapstick of Charlie Chaplin? Do you think that new technology changes the limits of human potential? Do you want to show why aesthetics is relevant beyond the tedious ‘but-is-it-art‘ questions of the mainstream?

Sex! Drugs! Pop! Violence! Videogames! Hume! We want your take on it.

We can’t pay you per se; we’re looking for people who want to work for the sheer, electric joy of peeling back layers of ambiguity to expose the quivering, naked Truth of It All. As well as the opportunity to write for an international audience, we’ll also create a profile for you on our News Editors page.

Contact us at PHCOeditorial@wiley.com to tell us about your interests and background, and send a sample post of around 300 words. Nominations of others are welcome.

The Aesthetics of the Video Game

Space Invaders: the early origins of video games.

Tonight is the night of the 7th British Academy Video Games Awards, a ceremony which since 2003 has rewarded the creators of virtual environments that have had men, women and children alike frantically throwing their thumbs around all year. The host of the event, comedian Dara O’Briain, defended the right of the video game genre to be considered a form of art in an interview this morning for the BBC’s breakfast show, against the initial (and perhaps persisting) incredulity of his hosts.

The problem facing O’Briain is not one that has eluded treatment in the field of contemporary aesthetics and the philosophy of art. As surveyed by Grant Tavinor for Philosophy Compass, some interesting questions begin to emerge when the conceptual analyses of traditional philosophical aesthetics are applied to the increasingly sophisticated worlds of computer games. Continue reading “The Aesthetics of the Video Game”

Mirror Neurons Keep Us Smoking

One might expect that in order for oneself to enjoy the pleasure and reward of smoking, one must be the person in question that is smoking a cigarette. Merely watching another person smoke keeps us as far away from the felt experience of nicotine as the distance between self and other. Necessarily, I cannot experience your experience (even if I choose to join you in a smoke).

Or up to a point. As The Journal of Neuroscience reports, researchers have discovered that (right-handed) smokers, when watching a (right-handed) smoker puff away in a film or television, undergo excitement in areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, in addition to those motor Continue reading “Mirror Neurons Keep Us Smoking”

Is there such a thing as a philosophical novel?

The philosophical novel could, and probably does, constitute a genre in itself.  From Voltaire’s Candide to Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being or Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea, these are all writers who have used the novel as a vehicle to carry considerable philosophical themes.  The phrase ‘philosophical’ is, itself, often used as a (sometimes lazy) shorthand to describe a novel which is deeply contemplative, raises fundamental questions or themes, or even, on occasion, merely a work with a glacial pace. Yet, is this representative of what philosophy is, especially as an academic discipline?  For even if a novel does touch on profound philosophical Continue reading “Is there such a thing as a philosophical novel?”

It’s Me or the Dog!

JSeay: 2008

It’s a dog’s life, so the saying goes. Thanks to one dogged photographer we are finally privy to the reality of this proverbial canine existence. London-based Martin Usborne has drawn inspiration from the secret world of dogs for his latest project, entitled Mute: the silence of dogs in cars, a series of photographs of forlorn and forgotten four-legged friends. It comes as a darker follow-up to his more overtly amusing collection Life as a dog in the recession, and was yesterday described by the Independent as ‘capturing dejectedness, anger and sadness.’  Not quite as dark, though, as the controversial piece of dog related art executed by Costa Rican artist Guillermo Vargas, who, as part of an exhibition in 2007, tied an emaciated stray dog to the wall of the Códice Gallery, Nicaragua, and reportedly left it to starve. (Due to incandescent outrage within the blogging community, the truth was later revealed that the stray dog was both fed and spared death – Vargas, however, refused to officially comment on what exactly became of the hound). Vargas’s contribution provokes some obvious ethical questions (including, Vargas would argue, one aimed at the hypocrisy of viewers/bloggers, their dismay towards a single stray in a gallery not matching up to their attitude towards the countless strays that continue to starve outside it). Usborne’s work, on the other hand, may elicit some subtler philosophical questions, relating to such diverse philosophical areas as aesthetics, ethics, and the philosophy of mind.

Continue reading “It’s Me or the Dog!”

Dutton on Darwin: The Biology of Art

Image: The Yorck Project 2002

The world of digital media rested its scrutinising eye on philosophy late last year, as the late Denis Dutton, philosopher of art, delivered a talk to TED, the American-based conference organisation dedicated primarily to its eponymous fields of technology, entertainment and design, as well as more broadly business, global issues and science. Dutton, who held the position of professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand until his death last month after losing his fight with prostate cancer, gave a taster of the evolutionary theory of art appreciation developed in his 2009 book The Art Instinct. Since 1984 the TED audience have been addressed by speakers such as Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Al Gore and Michelle Obama, and even Jamie Oliver. In keeping with the theme of the aesthetically pleasing, the whole lecture has been stylishly illustrated by animator Andrew Park and released for all to admire on YouTube.

Continue reading “Dutton on Darwin: The Biology of Art”

New issue of Philosophy Compass out now! Vol. 5, Iss. 8

Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art

Videogames and Aesthetics (pages 624–634)
Grant Tavinor

Chinese Comparative Philosophy

Ideal Womanhood in Chinese Thought and Culture (pages 635–644)
Robin R. Wang

Continental

Hans-Georg Gadamer and the Philosophy of Religion (pages 645–655)
David Vessey

Ethics

Constitutive Arguments (pages 656–666)
Ariela Tubert

History of Philosophy

Recent Work on the Philosophy of Duns Scotus (pages 667–675)
Richard Cross

Legal & Political

Psychopathy and Responsibility Theory (pages 676–688)
Paul Litton

Logic & Language

Mathematical Structuralism Today (pages 689–699)
Julian C. Cole

Naturalistic Philosophy

Folk Psychology and Phenomenal Consciousness (pages 700–711)
Justin Sytsma

Philosophy of Religion

Religious Belief and the Epistemology of Disagreement (pages 712–724)
Michael Thune