Philosophy

Benjamin Madden reviews 'Enlightenment Now: The case for reason, science, humanism and progress' by Steven Pinker

Benjamin Madden
25 May 2018

For a book announcing ‘the greatest story seldom told’ – that is, the triumph of the Enlightenment and its ‘stirring, inspiring, noble’ ideals – Steven Pinker’s ...< More

Janna Thompson reviews 'Does Anything Really Matter?: Essays on Parfit on objectivity' edited by Peter Singer

Janna Thompson
30 November 2017

Philosopher Derek Parfit claimed that nothing matters unless ethical and other normative beliefs are objectively true. Parfit, who died on 1 January 2017, wrote a three-volume work, On More

Tim Smartt reviews 'The Dream of Enlightenment: The rise of modern philosophy' by Anthony Gottlieb

Tim Smartt
30 April 2017

In 1784 Immanuel Kant wrote a remarkable essay entitled ‘An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?’ The essay, written for a magazine, provided an occasion for the great and difficult philosopher to present some of his ideas to a broader audience. The essay is short, accessible, and contains breezy descriptions of freedom, rationality, and human dignity. ... More

Tim Smartt reviews 'The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the new science of child development tells us about the relationship between parents and children' by Alison Gopnik

Tim Smartt
30 November 2016

Philosophers do not have the best track record as parents. Plato seemed to entertain the idea that children should be raised by the state. Rousseau abandoned all five of his children to an orphanage. There is a rumour that Descartes used to travel with a life-sized mechanical doll that he named after his daughter. Wittgenstein was encouraged to move on from his brie ... More

Ben Brooker reviews 'Ethics in the Real World: 86 brief essays on things that matter' by Peter Singer

Ben Brooker
28 October 2016

In its original meaning, the word ‘philosopher’ simply meant ‘lover of wisdom’. At a time when theories of knowledge were still in their infancy, it was applied to thinkers – oft More

Simon Coghlan reviews 'Run, Spot, Run: The ethics of keeping pets' by Jessica Pierce

Simon Coghlan
26 September 2016

A sea change has occurred in the way we regard pets. In recent decades the West has fervently embraced pet keeping. Australia has one of the world's highest levels of pet ownership ...

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Janna Thompson reviews 'Hume: An intellectual biography' by James A. Harris

Janna Thompson
26 September 2016

David Hume earned his place in the philosophical pantheon mostly because of the uncompromising empiricism of his early work A Treatise of Human Nature (1738). He looked ...

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Craig Taylor reviews 'Ultimate Questions' by Brian Magee

Craig Taylor
26 July 2016

This small book is the culmination of a lifetime's thought about some of the deepest and most unfathomable philosophical questions: the limits of our ...

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Simon Caterson reviews 'The Challenge of Things: Thinking Through Troubled Times' by A.C. Grayling

Simon Caterson
30 March 2016

As a liberal-minded, London-based philosopher prepared to engage in the mainstream press with major topics of the day, A.C. Grayling is always up for a challenge. Although much of Grayling's commentary conforms to the classical liberal view of things, now and then logic dictates that he takes a stance that may seem radical in those terms.

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J.M. Coetzee reviews 'The Modernist Papers' by Frederic Jameson

J.M. Coetzee
18 February 2016

Though by profession a scholar of literature with a specialism in French literature, Fredric Jameson (born 1934) has made his mark as a cultural historian and even as what used to be called an historian of ideas. His chef d'oeuvre, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991), provides one of the more persuasive cognitive maps we have of ... More

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