The Crow and The Pitcher

The_Crow_and_the_Pitcher_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_19994 What is the relationship between narrative and philosophy? Can story-telling prompt us towards new ways of understanding? Or, do myths only serve to muddle an already difficult path?

French philosopher Paul Ricoeur offers one possible entryway into the above problem. The late phenomenologist suggested that separating ‘the story’ from the human experience is nearly impossible. The ideals of our myths inevitably seep into social mores and laws. Narratives help to mark the limits of human action, drawing the line between ‘heroes’ and ‘everymen.’ And, story-telling fundamentally shapes how one’s ‘history’ is remembered and re-told. In this way, Ricoeur presents the relationship between narrative and philosophy as the task of recognizing the impact of a phenomenon already-present.

Recent headlines reveal another candidate similarly influenced by the already-present role of story-telling: modern science. Inspired by one of Aesop’s fables (The Crow and the Pitcher), university scholars Christopher Bird and Nathan Emery experimented to see if the story might be empirically ‘true.’ Continue reading “The Crow and The Pitcher”

Getting Naked

Coppertone_sign_miami In ‘The Animal that Therefore I am,’ Jacques Derrida invites readers to reconsider the classical distinction between ‘animal’ and ‘human.’ His critique includes a playful account of nudity – a meditation on the experience of being naked in the presence of one’s pet. The investigation suggests that Mr. Fluffy’s ability to make me ‘feel naked’ (i.e., to ‘shame’ me) calls into question the ‘difference’ between us.

Recent headlines offer a unique twist to this dynamic. As the summer months warm, families across the States are struggling to decide how old is too old for their children to play in the nude. Justifications and concerns vary, but many mark the cut-off at the moment when childhood innocence dissolves into adult (or adult-like) awareness – when the child begins to ‘feel naked.’

And therein lies the difficulty. Some contend Continue reading “Getting Naked”