Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Call for Writers

pn_logo_img_comPhilosophy News is looking for qualified writers to author single pieces and/or a regular column for the site. Each type of contribution is described below. This can be an opportunity to exercise your writing skills, get your name and ideas into the public square and contribute to a popular and growing news site. While we are not in a position to compensate writers for their submission at this time (that may change in the future), writing for Philosophy News gives you an opportunity to grow an audience and your personal brand, work out ideas with other philosophers, and participate in a growing community.

Here’s a little about

  • We’ve been in existence for 21 years
  • We have over 32,000 page views per month with over 20,000 users hitting the site from all over the world
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  • We publish news items daily on topics across philosophy and the humanities

By publishing with us, your articles will get read and you’ll have an opportunity to reach tens of thousands of readers each month.


Philosophy News focuses largely on Western analytic philosophy. While we’re open to other areas of philosophical contemplation, we’re primarily looking for writers who have been trained in this tradition. Specifically, you might be qualified if you:

  • Have formal training in analytic philosophy or equivalent experience writing or teaching in philosophy. You don’t necessarily have to have a degree in philosophy (though having a degree is preferred). However, we are looking for people that have taken more than a couple of philosophy classes in college.
  • Have a passion for philosophy and writing.
  • Have the time to devote to research and article construction.
  • Are able to consider a broad set of reasonable viewpoints that may differ from your own and give equal time to those viewpoints (we’re not looking for people that need a forum only to voice personal views or to grind a particular axe).
  • Have papers or articles you have written that are 1000 words or more and that you can use to demonstrate your writing skill. We need to see at least 3 samples. These can be college-level papers but they must have been written entirely by you—no group projects please. Your submissions do not need to be on philosophical topics only (though this is preferred) but they should demonstrate your ability to explain complex ideas in a simple, accessible way.
  • Your submissions entirely authored by you, show demonstrated ability to do research and adequately cite sources, must not be plagiarized, and must be well-written. At this time we’re creating articles in English only so while you don’t need to be a native English speaker, you should be able to write well in English.

Types of Articles

We’re looking for writers who are interested in contributing to either or both of the following two content areas of Philosophy News: 

“What is” Series

These are single articles on a variety of topics for our “What Is” series. You can see a sample of this type of article here. These articles will need to be 3000-4000 words in length and written so they are accessible to a broad audience. You will need to write for a target audience that may have little to no knowledge of philosophy.

Here are the “what is” topics for which we currently need authors:

  1. What is Metaphysics?
  2. What is Ethics?
  3. What is Political Philosophy?
  4. What is Philosophy of Religion?
  5. What is Theology?
  6. What is Time?
  7. What is the Mind-Body Problem?
  8. What is Free Will?
  9. What is Skepticism?
  10. What is Language [Linguistics]?
  11. What is Cognitive Science?
  12. What is Artificial Intelligence?
  13. Who is [Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Descartes, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Bentham . . . ]

What’s Happening in Philosophy (WHiP)

This series is published on a regular cadence (every 2 to 4 weeks depending on the topic area). As a writer for WHiP, you would be responsible for a feature area (see below) and will need to do research and write regular articles on that feature area. You will need to write articles on new books, conferences, professorships, open jobs, popular stores related to, movies containing material on the topic area, other popular media on the topic and anything else related to your topic area. The articles could be single-topic (like a movie review) or a roll up news items for your topic area during the time cadence of your publication. Example of this type of article are here and here. WHiP articles will need to be 1000-1500 word articles. Here are some topics areas (if you would like to suggest other topic areas, include them in your letter of interest):

  1. Philosophy of Science
  2. Metaphysics
  3. Ethics
  4. Continental Philosophy
  5. American Philosophy
  6. Cognitive Science and Psychology
  7. Sociology
  8. Philosophy of Religion
  9. Atheism

One-off articles

As a rule, we don’t solicit single articles outside of the above two topic areas for publication. However, if you’ve written a careful paper on philosophy that exhibits rigor, attempts to illuminate an accepted discipline in analytic philosophy, and your qualifications fit within the guidelines listed above under “Qualifications”, please send an abstract only of the paper along with your qualifications per the guidance below under “How to apply”. Any papers you submit will be peer-reviewed by trained philosophers so please consider the qualifications carefully before you submit work of this type.

Other Information

Any article you write for should be authored as a new article (that is, not published anywhere else), be a product of your own research and creativity, and will be edited for quality and checked for accuracy. Final approval for articles will be made solely on the discretion of Philosophy News and all published submissions become the property of Articles will be published under your name and, if appropriate, we will provide links to your own blog or website. (Links of this type will need to provide value to readers of Philosophy News. We will not link to general blogs that have no philosophical interest.) You also will get an author page that has a list of all the articles you’ve published (example here). You will need to be able to submit articles in DOCX format (Microsoft Word or Google Docs).

How to apply

If you’re interested and think you may be qualified, please send a letter of interest and a single example of your writing in PDF or DOCX format to Please include “Call for writers” in the subject line. In addition to your writing sample, please include your credentials, which content type you’re interested in (“What Is” series or “WHiP” or both), and, if you know, which topic area on which you’re interested in writing. Serious inquiries only please.

Thank you for your consideration!

Movie Notes: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Directed by Martin McDonagh. With Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell

Humans are creatures that create value. One person may find throwing trash on the ground in a public place intolerable but have little problem treating an employee or co-worker as a means to their own advancement. Another may find fatherhood or motherhood their highest calling investing most of their life energy to the task but give little thought to being cruel to a server at a restaurant or a pet dog. Sometimes our values in one area of our lives seem entirely incongruous with the values we hold in another area and the incongruity can strike others as downright bizarre. This value incongruity is a theme in other writer/director Martin McDonagh’s films but is a central focus in Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The movie is about a distraught mother who works to “focus the mind” of what to her is a complacent police chief (played with vigor by Woody Harrelson) who has failed her. Mildred Hayes’s (Frances McDormand) daughter has been raped and killed and after a year, no suspects have been arrested. In an act of desperation and anger, she pays to have two questions and a statement posted to three billboards near her home each implicating the Ebbing police department and it’s chief of police in particular for inaction and perhaps incompetence. The billboards polarize the town and turn over rocks, as it were, causing all sorts of nefarious and violent things to crawl to the surface. McDonagh deals with themes of abuse, intolerance, bias, authority, revenge, and despair and while these certainly are present throughout the film, I never felt the film was really about these themes. Rather, these form the backdrop for a more dominant theme: the cognitive biases and dissonance we exhibit as humans that give our lives an incongruity about what we value and how we express those values.

Mildred clearly is a mother experiencing despair and tremendous anger about her loss. And rightly so. A victim of an abusive husband who she divorced, Mildred works as a clerk in a trinket store trying to raise two kids on a meager wage. These circumstances certainly would be grounds for bitterness and anger though don’t really explain the degree to which Mildred seems to possess them. Then in a single flashback we see Mildred’s harshness and anger present in a conversation she has with her son and daughter ostensibly on the day her daughter is killed. “I hope I get raped on the way!” her daughter Angela (Kathryn Newton) screams after Mildred refuses to let her take the only family vehicle forcing her to walk to an undisclosed location. “I hope you get raped on the way too!” Mildred screams back as Angela walks out the door. This is not something we imagine even an angry mother would say on her worst day. She’s vindictive, angry, and immature and yet at the same time, tough, determined and passionate. This is a woman we both deeply admire and pity. We want her to win yet we agonize over her loneliness and rage.

(Incidentally, I asked an Irish friend of mine to give me feedback on this review before it went to press. His comment after on the above paragraph is insightful. He said, “Ireland is full of hard/harsh loving mothers. The mother is also the center of Irish society and we would all believe in the unlimited tenacity of these crazy, ragged characters.” This illustrated to me a deeper dichotomy in a character like Mildred than a simple caricature can and should portray and it’s a helpful call out. The line between hard and tough or between obsessive and passionate can truly be thin and partly in the eye of the beholder.)

McDonagh then presents a woman who values finding her daughter’s killer at any cost. There is a shadow cast over her determination and mental and physical toughness: she thinks very little of being cruel to almost everyone, causing emotional and psychological harm to her son, endangering lives, damaging property, and becoming truly isolated even from those who wish to help and love her all for this single goal. Few have experienced loss of the type Mildred has experienced and while we might imagine the rage we would feel, it’s not possible to know it truly. Mildred’s dissonance is extreme and perhaps for good reason. But we all possess this type of incongruity. The result is the good that may come from upholding the single value becomes offset by the abuse of all other values.

This is illustrated through the lives of principle characters in the film. Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell) gives very little thought to physically assaulting a citizen or verbally assaulting people of a different color (or size) in his duty to protect and serve the population of Ebbing. In a state of despair over the loss of a somewhat noble colleague, he says to himself “I know that the best thing, the only thing, to honor that man’s memory right now, is to go to work; is to be a good cop. To walk in his shoes and do what he did every day of his life. Help people.” He says this just before he walks out of the police department, proceeds across the street to beat up a completely innocent citizen and throw him out of a two-story window in a rage. In the scene that follows, he is shown bragging to other officers of his act as if he believes the act itself was an example of “being a good cop;” of “helping people.” He has an extreme form of cognitive dissonance where the singular value of destroying those who he deems unworthy of his colleague’s memory comes at the cost of actually protecting and serving those he vowed to protect and serve. The incongruity is at the same time humorous, shocking, and bizarre and we’re made to feel it.

McDonagh, though born in England, is a child of blue-collar, Irish parents who left Ireland to look for work and gave birth to Martin shortly after the start of the recent 30-year clash that pitted the Nationalists against the Unionists. While McDonagh himself most likely would not have experienced the conflict in Ireland directly, he no doubt would have felt the effects of The Troubles through his parents and frequent visits to his home country. A dual citizen of Ireland and England, it seems his heart belongs to Ireland. Many of his plays are set in Ireland and it appears he even took an artistic stand related to the effects of the conflict (read more about this in his biography here). I raise this only because I suspect that McDonagh’s focus in this movie may partially be influenced (consciously or unconsciously) by hostilities that occurred in his home country during his formative years. The ideas that fuel conflicts like these are supposedly focused on making life better for the people involved but, in the process, tear those same lives apart. The focus on achieving an end regardless of the cost runs the risk of destroying the people who would benefit from the outcome. This is incongruous—as incongruous as the behavior of the principle characters in Three Billboards. (Of course, McDonagh wouldn’t have to return to his Irish roots to easily find such incongruity. The countries in which he now lives and works exhibit similar pathologies.)

A scene in the movie might lend credence to my suspicions. Mildred returns home one day to find a Catholic priest sitting at her kitchen table talking to her son. The priest tries to tell Mildred that while the town is with her in her desire to find her daughter’s killer, they are against her posting the billboards. Mildred’s response is indicative of this meta-narrative I’m claiming exists in the movie and I post her response to the priest at length here to illustrate the point:

You know what I was thinking about today? I was thinking about those street gangs they had down in Los Angeles, those Crips and those Bloods. And I was thinking about that bunch of new laws they came up with in the 1980's, I think it was, to combat those street gangs, those Crips and those Bloods. And, if I remember rightly, the gist of what those new laws were saying was, if you join one of these gangs, and you're running with them, and down the block one night, unbeknownst to you, one of your fellow Crips, or your fellow Bloods, shoot up a place, or stab a guy, well then, even though you didn't know nothing about it, and even though you may've just been standing on a street corner minding your own business, what these new laws said was you're still culpable. You're still culpable, by the very act of having joined those Crips or those Bloods in the first place. Which got me thinking, Father, that whole type of situation is kind of like you church boys, ain't it? You got your colors, you got your clubhouse. You're, for want of a better word, a gang. And if you're upstairs smoking a pipe and reading a bible while one of your fellow gang members is downstairs fucking an altar boy, well, Father, just like those Crips and just like those Bloods, you're culpable. Because you joined the gang, man. I don't care if you never did shit, you never saw shit, you never heard shit, you joined the gang, you're culpable. And when a person is culpable to altar-boy-fucking, or any kinda boy-fucking, because I know you guys didn't really narrow that down, then they kinda forfeit the right to come into my house and say anything about me, or my life, or my daughter, or my billboards. So, why don't you just finish your tea there, Father, and get the fuck outta my kitchen.

While McDonagh, whose parents sent his him and his brother to Roman Catholic schools as children, is attempting to level an obvious polemic against abuses in the Catholic church, there is a clear subtext here, one having to do with gangs and sides, and the inconsistency and bizarre ethics of claiming to care about “the depth of people’s feelings” while at the same time failing to deal with atrocities happening under the noses of the church leadership (and it shouldn’t be lost on the viewer that the setting in which this dialogue takes place is a dark room where the priest is sitting alone with her teenage son). In this film, no one escapes the dichotomy. This film is about all of us in one way or another and how ideology can blind us to the inconsistencies and sometimes abuses we engage in to support those ideologies.

Because the film attempts to plumb the depths of this dysfunction, it’s dark. Still, it never feels gloomy. The main action happens in the bright, mid-west [California] sunlight and McDonagh keeps the energy of the actors high and engaged so the film doesn’t feel depressing despite the intense and disturbing subject matter. The film is well made and worth watching for the quality of the acting alone. It’s violent (thankfully McDonagh spares us from having to watch the rape) but there are some genuinely funny moments such as the description of two people who supposedly complained about the billboards. Delivered perfectly by Sam Rockwell, officer Dixon describes them as: “a lady with a funny eye” and “a fat dentist.” And the conversation between a random (imaginary?) deer who grazes under the billboards and Mildred brought a smile to my face. Mildred tells the deer that the only food she has for it is “some Doritos” but it might kill the deer because the Doritos are “kinda pointy.” It’s oddball humor to be sure but what we should expect from the writer of Seven Psychopaths.

The movie isn’t perfect. Some things happen too quickly. Dixon is beyond doubt a cruel and bigoted man. These are not surface qualities but deep-seated, ingrained character flaws. Towards the end of the film he appears to become virtuous in an instant based on a single word from the chief. Granted, Dixon is portrayed as simple but even (especially?) in the simple, character flaws take time to undo and Dixon’s transformation doesn’t fit the general narrative the film is trying to get us to believe. Typical of modern films, there are no true heroes. But Three Billboards goes further. Ebbing Missouri is depicted as a town full of complacency and inaction. Severe violence happens in the open street at mid-day and no one steps in to help or even seems to care. This is a bit much even for those steeped in cynicism about red states.

Despite these minor flaws, the film is well made. It grinds some axes but not to the point of excess. This is a film that takes no sides and so ends up being a mirror into which we all can look and find ourselves even among the excess (I’m reminded here of Flannery O’Connor’s phrase, “To the deaf you shout, and to the almost blind you draw large, startling figures.”). It has the texture of Cohen brother’s film--particularly No Country for Old Men and while it may not have quite the technical excellence in terms of pacing and direction, it’s close enough to warrant the accolades its received.

A couple of people have asked me about the ending. I’m not quite sure what to say. It seems to run tangential to the rest of the film. We seem to be looking at a “Bonnie and Clyde” moment but then Mildred raises an ethical question that casts doubt that this is what we’re actually witnessing. Perhaps this is McDonagh’s final play at incongruity. Or maybe it’s a lot simpler than that. Maybe it’s just a sign of hope that things can be better if we just stop, think, and talk. Yes, let’s go with that. 

Read more reviews.

Announcement: A New Podcast You’ll Want to Check Out

AheadofOurTime_Logo-IUBen Olsen (@bendotolsen), educator and expert in data science and its relation to philosophy (Ben has an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Seattle Pacific University, and works for the Microsoft Corporation in 21st Century Jobs, Skills, and Employability) has just launched a podcast called Ahead of Our Time, where he interviews the leaders and rebels of today who are mastering the skills of tomorrow.

On the surface, the worlds of data crunching and creating algorithms that run the largest companies and services couldn’t seem any more disconnected from pure philosophical contemplation. But dig deeper and many, including CEOs and hiring managers, are finding important links between philosophy data science (one of the hottest jobs of the 21st century). In his new podcast, Ben is interested in highlighting those links. 

For example, he recently interviewed Kristen DiCerbo, one of the world’s leading experts on the future of games in the classroom, as well as a contributor to the largest education company in the world’s study that predicts what skills people will need in 2030 and beyond. Their talk focuses on a future skill of finding the “essence of things out of the big picture” which Ben calls out as a very “philosophical” exercise. “[Philosophy does] the same thing: taking the ‘data points’ of “justice”—anecdotally, intuitionally, and politically, scientifically, and making inferences about that—is the same skill for me as it is to crunch data and make inferences from it.” he notes in the interview.

CEOs in industry back this up: "You take a look at the vast variety of people that move into the profession of being a data scientist — they do come from traditional computer science. There's a big population that's coming out of math, especially statistical analysis, and there's also a big group coming from philosophy," Mike Gregoire, CEO of CA Technologies said on CNBC. "Philosophers understand how to think very logically." Philosophy News’s Paul Pardi agrees, having created a free online course with Microsoft in Logic and Computational Thinking, making the link between technology work and philosophical tools and techniques explicit.

Topics covered in Ahead of Our Time are broader than data and education and Ben seeks to show how philosophy education can help one move into many different fields and contribute. Guests include game-changers in social transformation, conflict resolution, artificial intelligence, comedy, and more. Ben tries to get to the heart of meaning and purpose, common philosophical themes that students and professors care about. His guests are answering critical questions about our future: what skills do we need to survive and thrive in the coming decades? How do some people rise above the rest to achieve great things? And, most importantly, how can we live meaningful lives in a rapidly changing world?

Listen and subscribe on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Free Online Course: Logic and Computational Thinking

dev262x-378225I just released the third installment of my free course “Logic and Computational Thinking” on published by Microsoft (outline below). This is a fundamentals course focusing on the basics of formal logic and associating that learning with computer science. I focused this course on helping the student develop basic skills in formal logic with the goal of helping him or her become stronger in thinking about how to apply logic to programming and other technical development tasks (such as testing and even circuit board design). The course includes case studies, plenty of assessment questions, and a large body of fellow students to bounce ideas off of.

As a part of the course curriculum, I was able to license content from a recent book by Dr. Paul Herrick called Think with Socrates: An Introduction to Critical Thinking published by Oxford University Press—probably the most preeminent publisher of philosophy right now. The value of using Dr. Herrick’s book is that it provides a practical perspective on using logic in real-world scenarios and with Dr. Herrick’s more than 30 years of teaching logic, the book provides a solid foundation to the rest of the material I developed for the course. Dr. Herrick was kind enough to record a few videos with me so you can learn from the author of that text directly.

In the two quarters that I’ve taught the course, it is has been well received by the almost 12000 students that have enrolled and I’ve had enormous joy putting the material together. If you’ve never had a formal course in logic, this free offering is a great opportunity to learn about this very important topic so check it out!

You can learn more about the course and enroll here:


Here’s the outline:

1)      Module 0: Introduction to the course

a)       What this course is about

i)        Analytic logic and its relation to computer science

ii)       ii. Critical thinking as both a lifestyle and aide to better programming and testing

iii)    iii. Note: This is not a programming course

b)      Let's get started: critical thinking and logical reasoning

i)        What does it mean to think critically?

ii)       An overview of definition, induction, and deduction

iii)     Computer programming and logical thinking

2)      Module 1: Logic and Computer Science

a)       Formal Logic and Computer Science

i)        Introduction and prolegomena

ii)       What is a Turing Machine?

iii)    Bits and Bytes

iv)     Algorithms

v)       Logic and Computer Science

b)      Introduction to Formal Logic

i)        Introduction to Logic

ii)       Arguments

iii)     Statements

iv)     Propositions

v)       Truth Value

vi)     Review Questions

c)       Symbolizing and Logical Operators

i)        Symbolization

ii)       Introduction to Operators

iii)     Negation Operator

iv)     Conjunction Operator

v)       Disjunction Operator

vi)     Conditional Operator

vii)  Sidebar: Operator of the largest scope

viii)  Truth Tables

ix)     Review Questions

3)      Module 2: Deductive and Inductive Arguments

a)       Types of arguments

i)        Arguments again

ii)       Review Questions

b)      Deductive Arguments

i)        Valid and invalid arguments

ii)       Soundness

iii)     Sound deductive arguments

iv)     First two deductive syllogisms

v)       Sidebar: formal fallacies

vi)    Two more deductive argument forms

vii)  Deductive arguments and computer programs

viii)  Review questions

c)       Inductive Arguments

i)        Introduction to inductive arguments

ii)       Strong and weak arguments

iii)     Cogency

iv)     Determining strength

v)       Review questions

4)      Module 3: Categorical Logic

a)       Introduction to Categorical Logic

i)        What is categorical logic?

ii)       Aristotle's theory of forms

iii)     Some, all, and none

iv)     Quantity and quality

v)       Review questions

b)      Categorical form and syllogisms

i)        Standard categorical form

ii)       The categorical syllogism

iii)     Forms of categorical syllogisms

iv)     Review questions

c)       Venn Diagrams

i)        Categorical statements and validity

ii)       Venn diagrams: I and O statements

iii)    Venn diagrams: A and E statements

iv)     Using Venn diagrams with categorical syllogisms

v)       Venn diagrams: testing categorical syllogism for validity

vi)     Review questions

5)      Module 4: Introduction to Critical Thinking

a)       What is Critical Thinking?

i)        Introduction to critical thinking

ii)       Socrates and critical thinking

iii)     Socrates's definition of truth

iv)    The Socratic Method

v)       Two Socratic questions

vi)     Applying the Socratic Method to computer science

b)      Inductive Reasoning Applied

i)        Forms of inductive reasoning

ii)       The logic of science

iii)     Confirmation and disconfirmation

iv)     Mill's Method

v)       Mill's method: agreement

vi)     Mill's method: difference

vii)  Mill's method: variation

c)       A Case Study

6)      Module 5: The Final Exam

IAI Discussion the Nature of the Self

LOGO_iai-black_40x373222 Our friends at the Institute of Art and Ideas have posted another essential discussion on philosophy of mind. In this conversation, top philosophers talk about age-old, but still very poignant topics relating to the self and personal identity. This topic is especially relevant given modern advances in neuroscience and reductionist models in psychology and philosophy. Is the self merely a construct produced by the brain that helps humans survive or is the self a substance that is different from, and independent of the body?  From their website: There is no self, no 'I', only a flickering illusion. So claim many neuroscientists and philosophers. Yet for the rest of us, the denial of the self feels like a bitter pill to swallow. Is the self a fantasy? Or is it essential to our being and consciousness?

The Panel: Cambridge and NCH philosopher Simon Blackburn, neuroscientist Colin Blakemore, philosopher and author of Are You an Illusion? Mary Midgley seek out the all seeing I. In association with New College Humanities.

Check out the video below and visit their website to join the conversation!

The Graduates and the Pizza

The graduate with a science degree asks, “Why does it work?”

The graduate with an engineering degree asks, “How does it work?”

The graduate with an accounting degree asks, “How much will it cost?”

The graduate with a philosophy degree asks, “Do you want fries with that?”

Q: What’s the difference between a philosopher and a pizza?

A: A pizza can feed a family of four!

When a Fundamentalist Finds Philosophy

I was rummaging through some stacks of stuff in the garage today sorting through items that needed to be recycled, discarded, and saved. I found an old, dust-covered briefcase that I used as a student, locked tight with long-forgotten combinations on the clasps. After trying various three-digit combinations that might have meant something to me back then, I gave up and grabbed the biggest screwdriver I could find and pried the locks loose. Among some dried up pens, an old notebook, and some tissues, I found a purple Pee-Chee with two dozen or so papers—obviously important since they were set aside from the reams of notes I have in an old metal filing cabinet at the rear of the garage. In back of the handwritten notes on epistemology and the dot matrix printout of reference materials I grabbed from the library, I found a single page on which I had written some lines in red ink. It’s dated June 1995 which makes it just a touch over 20 years old almost to the day.

In June 1995 I was scouting graduate schools with the goal of studying philosophy. I had grown up a Christian fundamentalist who generally had the world figured out by the time I was a teen and had my eyes firmly set on full time ministry. I took a required intro to philosophy class during my senior year at an ultra-conservative Baptist college by a professor who was not so conservative (and not so Baptist it turns out). I would never be the same. For the first time in my college experience, I had found myself with questions. Real questions, not the kind you’re taught to ask knowing you already have the answer. And there was something else. For the first time in my life, a small seed of doubt had been planted. I found myself with the terrifying consideration that some items in my worldview may not have been as iron-clad and irresistibly true as I had been led to believe they were. That seed flowered and by the end of the summer I had, for the first time, started reading to try to discover the truth rather than to reaffirm it.

Three years later, my worldview was in shambles and I knew I needed more training. Graduate school seemed like the best option and I headed to southern California to check out the program at Biola University. I stayed at a friends house not knowing who I was or where I was headed. I was alone and contemplative, one foot in the warm, comfortable old world and one out in the frigid unknown. Thoughts flooded into my head in that quiet room on that hot summer June evening and I jotted down these words.

At the top of the page, I simply wrote,


Look inside, outside, through pages of endless thought
endless mind in weary, dreary droll.

A slight glimpse a shadow vague—a stick, a nail
a jury-rigged edifice growing on the knoll.

Take, steal, beg, borrow desperately humbled
to light (or dark) not quite my own.

But shoulders are strong and tall enough
to bring heaven closer, nearer (not alone).

Secluded so it seems. A bubble impenetrable or only slightly visible.
A flame to few.

Half moon—silly half as many see it. Intelligence and genius reign
for those outside the pew.

Taste it. Good? You know it now. Ghosts haunt my mansion.
You live in an exorcised house.

Empty though it is, free, loose, explode! What’s beyond? Look!
The heres and nows.

Hand in hand we stand? Confusion with glasses on. Look closer.
More, heavier pages.

It squiggles and squirms. Can you catch it?
Not for all the stacks filled with sages.

Heidegger on Why Our Presence Matters

In this piece (also for the New York Times) author Lawrence Berger talks about the conversation between the sciences and existentialists over what it truly means to be human. Many in the hard sciences believe we should seek to analyze the human person solely in terms of their physical selves and reduce the focus on human experience as a key to what it means to be a person. Berger argues otherwise. 

"The thought is that our worldly presence matters for how things actually unfold, well beyond any physical or physiological processes that would purport to be the ultimate basis for human activity. So, for example, when we feel that someone is really listening to us, we feel more alive, we feel our true selves coming to the surface — this is the sense in which worldly presence matters."

Why God is a Moral Issue

In the "Contemporary Issues" department, atheist Michael Ruse writes on religious faith and atheism for the New York Times. This is a good example of the current dialogue taking place over religious belief.

"What is truly striking is that atheists of Dawkins’s stripe don’t just say that believing in God is an intellectual mistake. They also claim that it’s morally wrong to believe in the existence of God or gods."

Philosopher Spotlight

Conversations with philosophers, professional and non-professional alike.
Visit our podcast section for more interviews and conversations.

Interview with

Dr. Robert McKim
  • on Religious Diversity
  • Professor of Religion and Professor of Philosophy
  • Focuses on Philosophy of Religion
  • Ph.D. Yale

Interview with

Dr. Alvin Plantinga
  • on Where the Conflict Really Lies
  • Emeritus Professor of Philosophy (UND)
  • Focuses on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion
  • Ph.D. Yale

Interview with

Dr. Peter Boghossian
  • on faith as a cognitive sickness
  • Teaches Philosophy at Portland State University (Oregon)
  • Focuses on atheism and critical thinking
  • Has a passion for teaching in prisons
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