Earlier this month, Mr Justice Michael Burton ruled that employees holding philosophical views based on science and reason should be afforded the same legal protection from discrimination as those with religious beliefs. The case concerned Tim Nicholson, the former head of sustainability for Grainger, the UK’s largest listed residential property company. Nicholson claimed that he had been sacked due to his environmental beliefs. But Grainger’s lawyers contended that environmental views are political and a “lifestyle choice” which cannot be compared to religion or philosophy.
Mr Burton ruled that Nicholson’s views were entitled to the same protection as religious views and that the case should go before an employment tribunal. The written ruling, which looked at whether philosophy could be underpinned by a scientific belief, quoted from Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy and ultimately concluded that a belief in climate change, while a political view about science, can also be a philosophical one. Interestingly, Mr Burton ruled last year that Al Gore’s environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth was political and partisan as he assessed whether it should be shown to schools. (You can read about the case here and here.)
A new graphic novel is making waves in the publishing world. However, far from being the latest adventures of one of the myriad superheroes whose exploits dominate the medium, this one introduces a new breed of hero on the “epic search for truth”: Bertrand Russell. Logicomix was created by Apostolos Doxiadis (author of the best-selling Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture) and Christos Papadimitriou (Professor in theoretical computer science at the University of California, Berkeley), and has already been a best-seller in its native Greece – where it was originally published last November – and in Holland. If recent reviews in the British Press, primarily FT and Independent are anything to go by, it looks set to repeat that success following its English language release.
Bertrand Russell once suggested that Western philosophy began with Thales. His insight gains a humorous edge when juxtaposed with a popular biographical tidbit about the ancient Greek. For one day, as the story goes, Thales was so entirely absorbed with contemplating the heavens above that he fell head-long into a well directly in front of him. Continue reading “All’s Well That Ends Well”