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Philosophy: Not Just for Adults Anymore

French children appear to be abandoning video games and party favors for tea and Rene Descartes. According to Adam Sage of the Time Online UK, les goûters philos or philosophical teas are more than a flash in the pan for French children. These parties are sweeping the nation as an alternative for children seeking a good time with friends and family. The parties are held in cafés, public libraries and at home and involve food, drink ... and debate. Some are led by intellectuals who are steeped in the study of philosophy and others by parents who are struggling to tell Nietzsche and Sartre apart. Many are organised by the children themselves. See the full article here.

Antanas Mockus: Philosopher King (maybe)

Philosophy and mathematics professor is gaining significant steam in his bid for president of Colombia. The Green Party candidate is known for his antics once dressed up in tights and a cape and coming on stage as ‘Super Citizen.’ He is a serious candidate however and his strong message is resonating with voters. According to news reports, he is uncompromising in his refusal to play party politics and is bullish in his fight against corruption. His campaign symbol is a pencil representing his strong belief in education reform. Rising from a distant 3 percent in opinion polls in March, Mockus has surged over 30 percent, placing him in a dead heat with former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, considered the heir to the legacy of the famously popular president, Álvaro Uribe. "Philosopher Antanas Mockus rattles Colombia election” in the Christian Science Monitor. Article in Americas magazine.

Series on Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

One of the more substantial challenges facing natural selection as a comprehensive explanatory model in biology is in understanding the mechanism behind the model. Daniel Dennett attempts to do just that in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. Providing a comprehensive philosophical foundation for the mechanics of natural selection, Dennett’s book is both an apologetic and a polemic against competing alternatives. This series will consist of a set of précis of each chapter of the book. I will not critically analyze each chapter but provide a thorough summary with the goal of helping the reader better understand Dennett’s core arguments. See the title page here which lists all the individual posts.

Bad Literature is the New Philosophy

This delightful New York Times piece by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of the book, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction portrays the dismantling of philosophy by postmodernist literature departments. Modern literature has abandoned its true calling of unwrapping the life’s intricacies through well-written narrative and replacing it with a pseudo-philosophy of cultural analysis and construction. It makes universal pronouncements of the death of universality and lofty arguments which conclude that logic is irrelevant.

Descartes Scholar Paul Hoffman Dies

The UCR Highlander reports that Paul Hoffman passed away on Thursday, May 13th suddenly. Eric Schwitzgebel of UCR who writes the Splintered Mind blog reports that Hoffman died of a heart attack. Hoffman is best known for his work on Descartes but he also wrote in other areas notably metaphysics and epistemology. A student blog has a statement from UCR Chancellor Timothy White here on Professor Hoffman.

What Do American Funk, Cornel West, and the Environment Have in Common?

Socrates apparently. Oh and George Clinton. Well George Clinton has a “connection” to Socrates and Cornel West studies Socrates and both are environmental activists. Something like that. But no matter. West and Clinton honored a new New Jersey charter school called the “Barack Obama Green Charter School” whose stated mission is to “create independent critical thinkers capable of applying the principles of sustainability for the development of themselves, the community and the environment.” (school’s web page). The wording of the schools mission statement and the fact that its oriented around a specific ideology reminds me of the many religious private schools I’ve encountered over the years. (I’ve long held that environmentalism is a surrogate religious ideology for the theologically disenfranchised and this is another small bit of evidence. See my post here for another example.). I attended Saint Mary of Mount Caramel Catholic School for example. The charter school West and Clinton honored has a familiar ring. That aside, it appears that Cornel West cannot only philosophize but jam: Clinton, absent his famous dreads, even let West have the microphone during a typically stretched-out performance of the Funkadelic classic “I Got a Thing, You Got a Thing, Everybody’s Got a Thing.” (Considering his lyrical speaking style, the professor’s funk vocals were unsurprisingly right on the money.) The musician and the scholar traded lines like they’d been singing together for years. I wonder what Socrates would have done. See full article here.

New Review on Recent Book on Searle’s Philosophy

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews has posted a review of Joshua Rust’s biography of John Searle. The book is published as a part of Continuum’s Contemporary American Thinkers series. “Rust gives his readers a grand overview of Searle's many philosophic activities. In doing so¸ he protects those who might have read one or two of Searle's books and articles from being misled as to what Searle is up to. Rust's overview is systematic.” See the review here.

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