Category: Philosophy

UTC Students Present Short Films at Philosophical Horror Film Fest – The University Echo

By Kaleigh Cortez, Staff Writer-

UTC students from the Department of Philosophy and Religion’s “Popular Culture, Religion, and Philosophy” course, showcased their horror-themed short films at the Third Annual Philosophical Horror Film Fest on Nov. 18.

The film fest allowed students from Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Dr. Ethan Mills’ popular-culture themed class, to present three-to five-minute short films that displayed their understanding of philosophical concepts such as absurdity, double consciousness, existentialism and denial of death. Mills assigns the short film project to his students to help them demonstrate how these philosophical ideas exist outside of a classroom context.

“You can find philosophy in everyday life and culture, even horror films.” Mills said. “The filmmaking project is a way to…encourage students to put those themes in their own creations.”

Sari Shuler, a senior from Franklin, Tennessee, was initially nervous about undertaking the film project, but she believes it ultimately helped her learn the material.

“Having to craft a new story with these concepts means we have to dig deeper and really understand these topics.” Shuler said.

A panel of five local judges assessed each film to determine the top three short films. The panel included two UTC faculty members, Angelique Gibson and Bo Baker, three members of the Chattanooga community, Director of the Chattanooga Film Festival, Chris Dortch, News Channel 9 Video Producer, Dustin Kramer and Deep Thought Track Organizer at Con-Nooga, Sophia Cowan.

The judges awarded first prize to “Wake Up,” a film that utilized Zoom to depict characters being compelled by an unknown force to commit suicide. The judges commended the team behind the film for their critique of modern interactions and Cowan specifically praised the film for its “insight into the poor, neurotic minds of current college students.”

Of the first prize-winning film, Gibson said, “When you lean into it as if it is just a Zoom recording, that’s actually making commentary about how we see the world and how we communicate through screens.”

The jury admitted they were in a “heated debate” between which films deserved first and second place. In the end, second place went to “Doll Head Trail” which Kramer described as “legit creepy,” and Baker applauded for its cinematography.

“One of the things I really liked was the general photography.” Baker said. “[The students] found a really nice light and a really good place to be.”

The film fest’s third place prize went to “COVID-19,” a film that portrayed a mutation of the virus that begins to deteriorate its victim’s face.

Kramer said of the film, “As if COVID-19 was not already horrifying enough, you added another layer to this horrible pandemic.”

Other submissions at the film fest featured stories based on cultural trends such as the popular video game “Among Us” and the “Hunger Games” series.

To watch the 2020 entries to the Philosophical Horror Film Fest, visit Ethan Mills’ YouTube page here.

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Philosophical perspectives explored as speakers engaged with students around world – Mirage News

World Philosophy Day in 2020 is, in more ways than one, exceptional. It is being celebrated in the midst of a health crisis, an economic crisis, a climate crisis and an existential crisis. The current pandemic is challenging many aspects of our societies, namely how we relate to our communities, to our condition as individuals and to our economic and political systems.

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of World Philosophy Day 2020

The pandemic and other crises have aggravated existential and systemic challenges for youth, particularly for young women & vulnerable groups. They may be victims, but they are also the crisis’ big hope to lead innovative and creative solutions to leave no one behind!

Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences

The Master Class welcomed more than 250 participants from across the world, including Argentina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain and the United States of America.

It also welcomed Prof. Rose Boswell (Executive Dean of Arts at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University), Mr Arnaud Demanche (Humorist and Author), Prof. Lazare Ki-Zerbo (Philosopher and Member of the Centre for African Development Studies) and Prof. Carole Reynaud-Paligot (Historian, Sociologist at the University of Pantheon-Sorbonne). Participants were treated to musical interludes by Ms Paloma Fayet, a young French pianist. The Master Class was moderated by Ms Arleen Pimentel from the Permanent Delegation of the Dominican Republic to UNESCO.

Carole Reynaud-Paligot emphasized the importance of combatting stereotypes through a process of deconstruction – in challenging a level that is not always easy to understand and tackle. She largely attributed negative stereotypes to the relationship of domination that still exists and highlighted that, although the current crisis would favour the resurgence of racist acts and statements, this phenomenon is not obvious and also depends on media and political treatment. The issue of social networks was addressed as a tool that can be used by and for young people to fight against all forms of online discrimination.

Prof. Rose Boswell asked participants to imagine two possible futures, and then highlighted a need to face the realities and “co-create a world where these systemic inequalities are slowly but surely and definitely eradicated and changed.” She illustrated how a dystopic future is unsustainable, by explaining that: “the more inequality, the more violent and difficult it will become to live in this world.”

Prof. Lazare Ki-Zerbo highlighted how culture was about building a shared position or lens to look at the world, citing the keyword “intentionality” in relation to expressing a certain perspective on life. In fighting against hate and racism, he emphasized the importance of understanding that representations still exist and that there is work to be done on the theoretical side to illustrate how today’s representations are going can disappear in the future.

Mr Arnaud Demanche shared an experience that made him become an antiracism advocate in his early years and acknowledged that combatting racism in a practical manner is very complicated. He also reinforced the idea that it is through a culture that we can develop the movement against racism and discussed how his work as a humorist and author can help in addressing experiences of discrimination to convey ideas and concepts of inclusion and diversity to the “hardest to reach” who live in parallel worlds where racism has become a leitmotiv.

Students gained a lot of insightful perspectives on how racism and discriminations is understood and challenged, and how they could take action in their own way. Several students expressed their commitment to fighting against racism and discriminations by developing advocacy and awareness-raising activities in school, observing International Days and promoting anti-racism and antidiscrimination at the individual level when working in groups and by standing up for others. Others referred to existing large scale initiatives, such as the commemoration of Emancipation Day to mark the end of slavery in Canada.

The UNESCO Master Class Series aims to sensitize young people to the phenomena of racism and discriminations in society, understand its origins and discuss concepts. It is a means of conveying fundamental knowledge on the construction of prejudice and sharing experiences through testimonies so that everyone can, at his or her own level, fight against racism and discrimination in various forms. Beyond raising awareness, the Master Class is designed to collectively reflect on a list of commitments to be made by the schools so that they can apply them in their curricula. The Series is part of the anti-racism roadmap that UNESCO is currently developing, which includes a scanning project to strengthen institutional and legal frameworks against racism and discriminations, affirmative actions in public and private sectors and anti-biases training.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.

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A Big List of Philosophy Podcasts – Daily Nous

How many philosophy podcasts are there?

At least 60, and they take a variety of forms.

Andrew Lavin (CSU Chico, Butte College, Feather River College), himself the host of the podcast Reductio, has compiled a list of them, below:

Dr. Lavin knows that he may have missed some, so podcasters are encouraged to  e-mail him at [email protected] to join the list, and we’ll update it. Feel free, as well, to mention any additions to the list in the comments, including hosts’ names and the kind of podcast it is. (Revisions will be made to the list on an ongoing basis, typically without a major announcement of an update.)

See also Kelly Truelove’s list of philosophy and ideas podcasts, philosophy podcasters on Twitter and his TrueSciPhi radio (an internet radio station streaming participating philosophy & ideas podcasts).

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The art and philosophy of insult – TheArticle

“The louder he spoke of his honour, the faster we counted the spoons” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

He’s like a man with a fork, in a world of soup” – Noel Gallagher on his brother Liam.

Recently, the Labour frontbencher Angela Rayner was rebuked by the Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, for referring to a backbench Tory MP in sub-optimally flattering terms. “Scum” has now joined a long and evolving list of expressions deemed unparliamentary, along with “liar”, “pipsqueak”, “rat”, “git”, “tart” and, oddly, “squirt” (if anyone can explain that last one to me I’d be grateful).

The rebuke was justified, but on aesthetic rather than merely procedural grounds. To put it another way: it was a rubbish insult, lacking in finesse. Ms Rayner was doing a disservice to the traditions of the House of Commons, for sure, but those traditions include the delivery of the well-constructed insult. The linguistic constraints imposed by parliamentary convention allow the cleverest parliamentarians to be creative in their put-downs. To be fair, it might be controversial to place the Labour Deputy Leader in that category. And if the originator of an insult is absent any sense of humour whatsoever– and the evidence in this case is strong – then it’s unreasonable to expect that the end product will be of Churchillian (or even Skinnerian) magnificence. 

If you haven’t already, I urge you to get hold of Matthew Parris’ Scorn, a wonderful compendium of insults down the ages, and an antidote to the dreary mudslinging offered up as competent vituperation by our current elected representatives. Parris has assembled some superb examples of the art of the insult. But what of the philosophy of offence? Could there even be such a thing? Absolutely.

It is not true that “words can never hurt me”, and to think otherwise is to ignore the fact that speech has a powerfully performative as well as a descriptive function. This distinction is set out in technical terms by the Oxford philosopher JL Austin in his How to Do Things with Words (1962), and the themes of that book are developed and refined by his pupil John Searle in his Speech Acts: an Essay in the Philosophy of Language (1969). These works are rich ratifications of a common intuition: that sometimes speech doesn’t just describe the world but changes it. When a police officer places you under arrest the act of you being arrested just is the act of him telling you that you are under arrest; when a person, in a specific context, says the words “I do” then ipso facto, they enter into a marriage; and in the Catholic tradition the bread and wine do literally become the body and blood of Our Lord by a divine speech act.

And similarly, in certain conditions the words I use can have the effect of changing something in you. That words can hurt should not be up for debate; the real issue is whether they should.

Insults are relational, requiring at the very minimum, two people: the person dishing it and the unfortunate recipient of it (I might be able to harm myself; it doesn’t seem plausible that I can insult myself). And we have obligations of feeling as much as we do of action. When we take offence at something, we are in some ways making a choice (Aristotle was sound on this). There is a saying you often hear as a member of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous: that your opinion of me is not really any of my business. And while this might seem a demanding version of Stoicism, it offers a more uplifting vision of the human soul than an alternative conception which assumes we are merely passive recipients of what is said to us, however hurtful the intention of the person saying it.

We might even go further and suggest that an insult, meticulously crafted, can disclose a sort of acknowledgement of the autonomy and dignity of the person insulted.

So yes, there can be a philosophy of the insult, as when we launch one there are considerations of aesthetics, metaphysics, and ethics. The fact that it is “under described” in the literature is not surprising given that while philosophers are quite polished in the courteous demolition of colleagues at conferences, they are almost Rayneresque in their ability to come up with a decent put-down. I’ve been doing some research, and these are the best I can find:

“His books should be bound in two colours: those dealing with mathematical logic in red, and all students of philosophy should read them; those dealing with ethics and politics in blue, and no one should be allowed to read them” – Wittgenstein on Bertrand Russell.

I include this one partly because despite once claiming that it would be possible to write a philosophy book consisting entirely of jokes, it was not always clear that humour was Wittgenstein’s thing. Oh, and also: it’s true.

“It’s formidably difficult, unless of course it’s utter nonsense, in which case it’s laughably easy” – Roger Scruton on the work of Martin Heidegger.

This might be a contentious inclusion in that Heidegger was in fact dead when Sir Roger wrote that, so my proposed condition of “relationality” might not be taken to apply. But it thereby raises an interesting philosophical question: is “insult” like “libel” in that you cannot do it to the dead?

Anyway, I think I prefer the Noel Gallagher quote at the top of the piece. Pure genius.

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Young philosophers discuss ways of finding inspiration through philosophy in today’s times – The Indian Express

Written by Adrija Roychowdhury | New Delhi | Updated: November 23, 2020 10:31:13 am

pandemic, loneliness in pandemic, indianexpress.com, indianexpress, philosophy, life positive, what philosophers have to say on pandemic induced loneliness,Know why there is a need to stop searching for inspiration outside and instead shift our gaze inwards. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

“One should not be so scared of one’s own company.” Shraddha Shetty’s statement has the potential to change perceptions around the pandemic-induced loneliness many of us experienced. Her proposed antidote: “It is wonderful to look outside at nature and reflect on it. Even though nature is outside, we human beings are part of it too. So when we look outside, we are reminded of who we are inside.”

She was part of a panel discussion hosted by New Acropolis India, which on the occasion of World Philosophy Day, sought to highlight the need and value of philosophy in our times and explored ways to bring beauty and inspiration in our daily lives.

Attended by a varied group of 140 philosophy enthusiasts, the digital event titled ‘Awakening your inner muse’ hosted aspiring philosophers and members of New Acropolis India, Anand Baskaran, Shraddha Shetty, and Surekha Deepak as panelists. The discussion was moderated by Trishya Screwvala.

The session began with a simple, but poignant, question: ‘What is an inner muse?’

“We think of a muse as an environment or an object or a person’s presence, which somehow ignites some inspiration within us that elevates us. So generally we look for this inspiration, outside of us. How then can we understand this concept of an inner muse?” Screwvala asked the panelists.

ALSO READ | Imagination is the limit; go out there and create some magic: Elon Musk

The panelists spoke about the need to stop searching for inspiration outside and instead shift our gaze inwards. “When we look outside to find inspiration, whether it is a beautiful poem or a human being who touches our heart, we need to remember that it only touches something that is inside of us,” explained Shetty.

“This inner spark exists inside everyone. It is not something that anyone from outside can give us,” she added.

“This force within is liberating. It empowers us to innovate and removes the dependency on circumstances,” said Baskaran.

The three young philosophers shared some practical tips like the need to create more time and space for oneself, instead of always wanting to fill up time by being busy. “There is a strong tendency to be constantly productive and engaged. A big part of our reality is chasing deadlines, planning for the future or worrying about the future,” said Baskaran. Consequently, he said, that the tendency is to look out for distractions amidst all of this.

pandemic, loneliness in pandemic, indianexpress.com, indianexpress, philosophy, life positive, what philosophers have to say on pandemic induced loneliness, Make use of excess free time too. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

“The plethora of mobile applications we have these days to ensure we have some quiet time, or time to meditate etc., is testament to how we are constantly seeking out distractions,” he said. “But the essential point is to be available to the inner world.”

Shetty and Deepak echoed Baskaran’s thoughts as they pointed out to how most of us went through this phase during the lockdown when the excess of free time in hand made most people anxious.

The session ended with the panelists speaking about the power of philosophy in transforming ourselves in order to contribute to a better future.

“Philosophy for me helps me be a better person,” said Deepak. “It is a way of life. It provides us with inspiration and gives us answers to all questions with regard to our external environment.”

ALSO READ | Septuagenarians may experience more loneliness in pandemic: Study

Shetty agreed: “One does not become a philosopher simply by reading a book by Plato or the Bhagavad Gita… To be a philosopher one needs to be in love with wisdom and truth.”

For more lifestyle news, follow us: Twitter: lifestyle_ie | FacebookIE Lifestyle | Instagram: ie_lifestyle

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Young philosophers debate ways to tackle pandemic, loneliness and an excess of free time – The Indian Express

Written by Adrija Roychowdhury | New Delhi | November 23, 2020 9:10:33 am

pandemic, loneliness in pandemic, indianexpress.com, indianexpress, philosophy, life positive, what philosophers have to say on pandemic induced loneliness,Know why there is a need to stop searching for inspiration outside and instead shift our gaze inwards. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

“One should not be so scared of one’s own company.” Shraddha Shetty’s statement has the potential to change perceptions around the pandemic-induced loneliness many of us experienced. Her proposed antidote: “It is wonderful to look outside at nature and reflect on it. Even though nature is outside, we human beings are part of it too. So when we look outside, we are reminded of who we are inside.”

She was part of a panel discussion, which on the occasion of World Philosophy Day, sought to highlight the need and value of philosophy in our times and explored ways to bring beauty and inspiration in our daily lives.

Attended by a varied group of 140 philosophy enthusiasts, the digital event titled ‘Awakening your inner muse’ hosted aspiring philosophers and members of New Acropolis India, Anand Baskaran, Shraddha Shetty, and Surekha Deepak as panelists. The discussion was moderated by Trishya Screwvala.

The session began with a simple, but poignant, question: ‘What is an inner muse?’

“We think of a muse as an environment or an object or a person’s presence, which somehow ignites some inspiration within us that elevates us. So generally we look for this inspiration, outside of us. How then can we understand this concept of an inner muse?” Screwvala asked the panelists.

ALSO READ | Imagination is the limit; go out there and create some magic: Elon Musk

The panelists spoke about the need to stop searching for inspiration outside and instead shift our gaze inwards. “When we look outside to find inspiration, whether it is a beautiful poem or a human being who touches our heart, we need to remember that it only touches something that is inside of us,” explained Shetty.

“This inner spark exists inside everyone. It is not something that anyone from outside can give us,” she added.

“This force within is liberating. It empowers us to innovate and removes the dependency on circumstances,” said Baskaran.

The three young philosophers shared some practical tips like the need to create more time and space for oneself, instead of always wanting to fill up time by being busy. “There is a strong tendency to be constantly productive and engaged. A big part of our reality is chasing deadlines, planning for the future or worrying about the future,” said Baskaran. Consequently, he said, that the tendency is to look out for distractions amidst all of this.

pandemic, loneliness in pandemic, indianexpress.com, indianexpress, philosophy, life positive, what philosophers have to say on pandemic induced loneliness, Make use of excess free time too. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

“The plethora of mobile applications we have these days to ensure we have some quiet time, or time to meditate etc., is testament to how we are constantly seeking out distractions,” he said. “But the essential point is to be available to the inner world.”

Shetty and Deepak echoed Baskaran’s thoughts as they pointed out to how most of us went through this phase during the lockdown when the excess of free time in hand made most people anxious.

The session ended with the panelists speaking about the power of philosophy in transforming ourselves in order to contribute to a better future.

“Philosophy for me helps me be a better person,” said Deepak. “It is a way of life. It provides us with inspiration and gives us answers to all questions with regard to our external environment.”

ALSO READ | Septuagenarians may experience more loneliness in pandemic: Study

Shetty agreed: “One does not become a philosopher simply by reading a book by Plato or the Bhagavad Gita… To be a philosopher one needs to be in love with wisdom and truth.”

For more lifestyle news, follow us: Twitter: lifestyle_ie | FacebookIE Lifestyle | Instagram: ie_lifestyle

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Lifestyle News, download Indian Express App.

© IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd

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Let’s talk about sex – and philosophy – The Australian Financial Review

In The Second Sex, Beauvoir talks about screwing with frankness, curiosity, and a keen awareness of gender and power in the bedroom (though she wasn’t always ethical in her own private life). For more modern philosophies of sex, Irving Singer and Alan Soble are excellent.

Contemporary western society has pretty much decoupled sex from sin. Are we, though, missing a broadly consensual moral framework?

Often, yes. One of the hottest things in the universe is consent. Someone knowingly and freely and enthusiastically expressing “yes” to you – and you doing the same for them. This should be the ideal, towards which all our sexual education and mores move.

Instead, sex often becomes about winning, coercing or exploiting, even between lovers who care about one another. One helpful philosopher is Immanuel Kant. With his emphasis on autonomy and respect, Kant provides a handy starting point for sexual equality.

What’s the funniest sexy book in the language – or simply the best?

Jordy Rosenberg’s Confessions of the Fox is an intelligent and often moving story of an 18th-century thief, Jack Sheppard (written as a transgender man).

On Getting Off: Sex and Philosophy (Scribe) by Damon Young is out in November.

The December issue of AFR Magazine, including the Young Rich List, is out on Friday, November 27 inside The Australian Financial Review. Follow AFR Mag on Twitter and Instagram.

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Capturing your “rude” conqueror | OUPblog – OUPblog

Roman civilization is one of the foundation stones of our own western culture, and we are often exposed in newspaper and magazine articles, books, and even TV documentaries to the glories of Roman art, architecture, literature (the chances are you’ve read Virgil’s Aeneid), rhetoric (we’ve all heard of Cicero), even philosophy. Yet in the late first century BC the Roman poet Horace wrote: “Captive Greece captured her rude conqueror and introduced her arts to the crude Latin lands” (Epistle 2.1.156). Did he really mean that Rome owed its cultural and intellectual heritage to the Greeks?

The answer is yes, as I discuss in my Athens after Empire. The Romans did have their own culture, but largely derived from the peoples they defeated (such as the Etruscans) as they expanded in Italy and the contacts they had with the Greek cities of southern Italy (so many that the area was nicknamed Magna Graceia) and Sicily. Once they became involved in mainland Greece in the second century BC their eyes were really opened to Greek, especially Athenian, civilization.

A turning point came in 155 when the Athenians sent a delegation to Rome to protest a fine. Instead of diplomats the people sent the heads of the three main philosophical schools. Although it had limited success, the philosophers all gave talks about their different philosophical systems; from then on the Romans were bewitched by the “allure” of Hellenism, and the Athenians cannily began to promote their culture and learning, especially in two areas that most captivated the Romans: philosophy and rhetoric.

In the first century prominent Romans and their sons went to visit and study in Athens, with the city being seen as a finishing school of sorts. Cicero visited the city twice; Titus Pomponius, better known as Cicero’s famous friend and correspondent Atticus, moved there and joined the Epicurean school; the poets Horace and Ovid praised their time in Athens; also attending philosophers’ classes and staying in the city were Brutus (after Caesar’s assassination) and Mark Antony; and the emperor Augustus and his successors went even further by consciously appropriating aspects of Hellenism that appealed to them (such as architecture or oratory) for Roman cultural and political ends.

When we turn to works of Roman literature their Greek predecessors, so to speak, burst forth all the more. Take Virgil’s Aeneid (recounting Aeneas’ wanderings after the fall of Troy to Italy and the eventual foundation of Rome). Virgil was so influenced by the Homeric poems that his is a hybrid of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Of the Aeneid’s twelve books, the first six (Aeneas’ travels to Italy) mirror the Odyssey (Odysseus’ wanderings) and the second six (the struggles of the Trojans) mirror the Iliad (the last year of the Trojan War).

The Romans’ expansion in the eastern Mediterranean tends to focus on how they did it—the campaigns, the battles, the treaties, the diplomacy, the looting, the impact on the vanquished. Yet often overlooked is the impact of the conquered, in this case the Greeks, on the conquerors. I address this aspect in my book, introducing a new dynamic between Rome and Greece, especially Athens, in Rome’s climb to dominance in the east. Athens in the Hellenistic and Roman periods is often seen as a shadow of its Classical predecessor, politically, militarily, socially, and culturally. It lived under Macedonian hegemony thanks to Philip II and his son Alexander the Great until Rome imposed its mastery over Greece.

I show in my book that nothing could be further from the truth: the city in this later period is still a vibrant one, the people always ready to resist foreign domination when they could, no matter the odds, and with a lively cultural, religious, and intellectual life. It was that culture and history that seduced the Romans in a way they could never have imagined until confronted by three philosophers in their city one day.

Rome may have conquered the lands and imposed its rule, but as Horace knowingly points out, it was the Greeks who ended up capturing and imposing their culture on Rome. That Rome acknowledged this may be seen in AD 132, when the emperor Hadrian founded a new league of cities in the east and he needed at its center a city that was steeped in history, tradition, and culture. For him, there was only one: Athens.

And so the city enjoyed a renaissance and a new life in the Greek world, a fitting end to its fall centuries earlier to Macedonia and then to Rome, and a tribute to its status as a cultural and intellectual juggernaut through the ages.

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Why is Philosophy of Education Important? By Dr Saima Rana – Business Leader

Dr Saima Rana

This article is by Dr Saima Rana – CEO and Principal of Gems World Academy and Chief Education Ambassador at Varkey Foundation.

Philosophy is an odd subject and philosophy of education is an odd sort of philosophy, so that makes it double-down on its oddness.

Philosophy of education has evolved largely at the edges of mainstream philosophy departments in the academy, and has a distinct history that often means they are invisible to that mainstream. Nevertheless, I think it’s important and valuable.

Why worry about philosophy?

For many people, philosophy of any kind isn’t something that they spend much time worrying about. Even so, we all engage with philosophical ideas all the time, but without noticing. Take, for example, the simple claim that education is a good thing.

Immediately a host of issues are raised by this judgment, and certain philosophical positions put to the sword. You’re in the grip of a philosophical issue that has a history and a dialectic whether you are aware of it or not, and thus philosophy, unbeknown to you, is informing your judgment. As the great philosopher Bertrand Russell pointed out long ago, most of our opinions are the fossil remains of forgotten philosophical disputes.

So when we endorse education we’re taking up a position that philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Kant, JS Mill, Mary Wollstonecraft, John Dewey, Russell and others have argued for. We may not have read any of them, or be conscious of their arguments, but nevertheless the fact that the value of education has been subjected to philosophical argument shows that philosophy, and philosophy of education, has weight and importance. And the reasons you have for valuing education as you do will very likely be something that some philosopher somewhere has argued in the past.

So philosophy is hard-baked into many of our ideas; nevertheless, it is hardly a conscious mainstream concern. In Universities and schools, it is a rather boutique subject, sitting within the humanities but with domains straddling the sciences and the arts too, a fact that reflects philosophy’s relevance across all curriculum domains. It isn’t something that attracts everyone, and to people concerned with their business, their jobs, their day-to-day survival, it can seem esoteric and largely irrelevant. But then, books, TV, films, dance, art, restaurants, pleasant conversation, sunbathing can also look irrelevant to such concerns.

I think that we must resist the bad idea that only concern for bare necessities should regiment our thinking about what is ‘really’ important. A good life is important, and philosophy can contribute to that, and can give us the tools for reflecting on what a good life actually is, could be or even should be. There’s nothing esoteric about that issue.

Is education good for everyone?

Philosophers of education raise questions such as: is education good for everyone? what’s education for? is education a human right? are some ways of teaching better than others? what’s the difference between learning and acquiring? what should we teach? what’s the relationship between education and the state? are schools the best way of educating children? what’s the role of a university? should curriculum be taught in schools? Is education about getting a job?

These are just a sample of the questions philosophers of education ask, and each of them raises further philosophical questions. So if we ask whether education is a human right we need to understand what we mean by ‘human right’, and that in turn will raise questions as to whether rights exist or not, and so on.

These are issues that impinge on areas beyond education (because education impinges on areas beyond education) such as law, politics, policy, epistemology, ethics, cognitive science, psychology, sociology, feminism, race theory, technology, employment and history. And the important thing to note is that these are questions that occur to anyone working in education or thinking about what’s best for their child at some point.

They’re genuinely puzzling questions, and require anyone trying to answer them to grapple with philosophical issues as well as they can. In this sense then, philosophy of education is not only important but inevitable so long as education is something we’re concerned about. And it strikes me that it’s better if we are good at thinking through these questions than if we’re not. From that I take it that it’s a good thing to have as many good philosophers of education in the world as we can. And I suppose that many people would agree with that.

However, as any philosopher will tell you, things are rarely straightforward. Hidden within what seems like an obvious assumption can be hidden variables that bring about unintended effects. Technology is full of this sort of thing. We can think of many good ideas that turn out to have consequences we didn’t intend. These ‘Frankenstein’ effects point us to the realization that it is rare that we can master and understand the full import of a decision. And when we consider philosophy of education, and indeed philosophy in general, the looming threat of such Frankenstein Ian unintended consequences is equally real.

Here’s why I think philosophy, and philosophy of education, needs to be handled with care. Remember, I think that philosophy’s an unequivocally good thing. I believe philosophy of education is hugely important for framing arguments and solving puzzles in education. It constructs a vast toolbox for critical thinking which, were it not to exist, would be to impoverish our understanding of this vital area. So, I am no skeptic about the value of philosophy.

But I want to say that even though philosophy and philosophers are a good thing I am wary of seeking to push them too far into the policy arena. Instrumentalising philosophical ideas – irrespective of whether they are good or bad philosophy – brings with it dangers that can backfire in ways that may well bring about more harm than good.

Philosophical ideas that are used by policy makers and instrumentalised tend to be activated by intermediaries who are not engaged in the philosophical discussion first hand. They tend to want a vehicle to push through their own agendas. In this way philosophical theories can become abused and subjected to distortions. In education, as in law, ethics and politics, philosophy is ripe for abuse. Philosophical enquiry is fluid, a dialectic whereby each stage of the argument is met with a counter argument or a new issue requiring consideration.

In this way we can account for the peculiar nature of philosophical progress: the questions may seem the same as when asked by the Ancients, but we’ve learned more, and this process suffers when brought to an abrupt halt by a policy fixing it as a crude, final statement.

We need to be wary

So here’s my philosophical answer to the question as to whether we need philosophy of education: philosophy of education is important and indeed inevitable for anyone considering educational issues. At its best it generates great ideas and debunks bad ones. So we should want it and strive to ensure it thrives. But I am wary of attempts to instrumentalise it because I am wary of unwanted consequences. Educationalists and anyone interested in education need to heed the philosophers of education. (We should heed philosophers generally in fact.)

But we need to be wary of thinking that any philosophical idea can be just taken from the philosophical shelf and inserted into any educational setting, whatever and wherever that is. It takes more than great philosophy of education to make great education. That’s why we shouldn’t disseminate philosophy as policy, but why we should value it nevertheless.

And if that sounds a little counter-intuitive, that’s philosophy for you. Go figure.

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This Elegant and Philosophical Work is Expressed in Subtle Poetry – WebWire

Emily Grosholz’s “The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems” combines accounts of compassionate awareness in her far-reaching travels and the importance of love and friendship, with sometimes esoteric thoughts from her study of philosophy. She also captures the brief, beautiful moments of family life. Her four children made a significant impact on her lifetime journey, recorded, for example, in one son’s pleasure in puddle-splashing, and another’s in learning a new language, and her daughter’s effortless ability to sing. Her husband’s peaceful snoring brings back one glimpse of Mount Fuji and her memories of their first year together bring back the Amalfi Coast. And her study of philosophy, mathematics, and the sciences show up here and there as metaphors and ideas. Her masterwork is both heart-warming and encouraging.

Given the author’s decades of work in philosophy of mathematics and science, which culminated in winning the Fernando Gil International Prize in Philosophy of Science, this book of poems challenger many boundaries. Working with the Bridges: Mathematics and the Arts community over many years, she makes math and science accessible (and sometimes funny) in her poems and brings their insights into stars and chemicals and living things both in the wild or on the fields into relation with us, our past and our future. Emily Grosholz tries in her poems to bring daily emotions and a deeper longing for wisdom together, looking for what a well-lived life might be and the purpose of life.

“The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems” also includes meditations on friendship as well as solitary moments in the lovely marketplaces of Paris and Rome, in the majestic woodlands of Greece and Pennsylvania, and by the rivers of Argentina and California. It includes a wonderful drawing by Farhad Ostovani, whom she met through Yves Bonnefoy. Her poems about motherhood and childhood have been translated into five languages and music and songs. The reader will be enlightened and encouraged by this journey that was sometimes favorable and sometimes challenging: life is to be treasured, whether one is dealing with the good of evils, as the work of Wangari Maathai, one of the poet’s most admired people, show us. She would like her book “The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems” to help reflect life and love.

Book Details
Publisher: Able Muse Press / Word Galaxy
Publication Date: October 16, 2017
Pages: 320

Click the link to buy the book at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Stars-Earth-New-Selected-Poems/dp/177349001X/
 

About the Author

Emily Grosholz was born in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended the University of Chicago and Yale University. Since 1979 she has taught at the Pennsylvania State University, where she is now Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy, African American Studies, and English. Her first book of poetry, The River Painter, appeared in 1984; her most recent book, Childhood, has been translated into Japanese, Italian and French, and has raised $2500 for UNICEF. She has lived in France, Germany, and the UK and traveled to Japan, Russia, Costa Rica, and the Mediterranean, and the Baltic. She and her husband, Robert Edwards, raised four children in State College, Pennsylvania, on the flanks of the Tussey Ridge, countryside that they and their neighbors, with the ClearWater Conservancy, are working to protect and preserve. Her book, Great Circles: The Transits of Mathematics and Poetry, will be published in 2018 by Springer. “The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems” (Word Galaxy Press, 2017) is her eighth book of poetry.

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