Can the political philosopher help?

London in the moment resembles a zone of civil war. The pictures in the news highlight how much the city has changed in the last 48 hours. Riots are happening in the streets, and rioters are breaking into stores, carrying as much out as they can. Restaurant owners have to defend their guests and everyone has to start to worry about break-ins in private homes. However, the weirdest fact is, is that there is no rhyme or reason for all this. Yes, there was a deadly shooting when the police attempted to arrest a man in London. But that does not explain why protest against the police shooting spiralled out of control and is now spread over the whole country. David Cameron now tries, together with the Ministry of Defence, to find solutions to the problem. But when the reasons for the riots are not clear, how do you fight it? Continue reading “Can the political philosopher help?”

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Philosophy and LOST

Now that LOST has officially ended after six seasons, the question being asked is “was this a ‘long con?'”  Those of us who have been there since the beginning and stayed until the end are likely to have mixed feelings following this week’s finale, though the fact that there remain unanswered questions cannot be too much of a surprise.  Lost is well known for its elaborate and suggestive use of Eastern and Western mythologies, and for characters named after philosophers from the obvious (Bentham, Hume Locke, Rousseau) to the cleverly concealed (Bakunin, Burke, Godwin, C. S. Lewis) and the downright obscure (De Groot, Baba Ram Dass).  In addition, many scientific theories – including quantum mechanics, time travel, atomic energy and electromagnetism – all play an central part in the plot of the show alongside more fundamental philosophical questions about truth, identity, memory and morality.

Given the range and complexity of the ideas that make an appearance, and compounded by the temporal dislocation which serves as the show’s leitmotif, it’s no wonder that casual viewers started to feel increasingly ‘lost’ with a show  which finally ran to more than 90 hours. But it is undoubtedly the complexity and openness to interpretation which is woven into the narrative structure of the show that makes it such a flexible forum for exploring philosophical themes in a pop culture context. Continue reading “Philosophy and LOST”

Neglecting the philosophical baby

Have philosophers neglected the mind of the child? Yes they have, if we are to believe psychologist, Alison Gopnik. In her latest book The Philosophical Baby, she presents a raft of examples aimed to show that babies’ minds are more sophisticated than has (she says) been supposed.

One contemporary philosopher who has been attacked on just this basis is John McDowell. He has put forward the thesis that animals and young infants do not perceive or indeed think…. Continue reading “Neglecting the philosophical baby”