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Five philosophers on the joys of walking

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René Descartes argued that each of us is, fundamentally, a thinking thing. Thought is our defining activity, setting us aside from animals, trees, rocks. I suspect this has helped market philosophy as the life of the mind, conjuring up philosophers lost in reverie, snuggled in armchairs. But human beings do not, in fact, live purely in the mind. Other philosophers have recognised this, and connected our inner lives with an everyday, bodily process: walking. The act of putting one foot in front of another creates rhythm, movement, and can elevate the spirit. From teaching to reflecting, here are some suggestions for your next stroll.1. Aristotle: Walk and talk.Aristotle was named a peripatetic, one who paces, for his habit of strolling up and down whilst teaching. For Aristotle, walking facilitates talking – and, presumably, thinking. Although Aristotle’s walking was famous, he was not the first philosopher to have the habit. Socrates was delighted at how students trailed after their teacher, as reported in Plato’s Protagoras: “I saw how beautifully they took care never to get in Protagoras’ way. When he turned around with his flanking groups, the audience to the rear would split into two in a very orderly way and then circle around to either side and form up again behind him. It was quite lovely.” Comedy writers of the time also made fun of Plato for tiring out his legs whilst working out “wise plans.”2. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Examine everything in your own time.For Rousseau, the great benefit of walking is that you can move at your own time, doing as much or as little as you choose. You can see the country you’re travelling through, turn off to the right or left if you fancy, examine anything which interests you. In Emile, he writes: “To travel on foot is to travel in the fashion of Thales, Plato, and Pythagoras. I find it hard to understand how a philosopher can bring himself to travel in any other way; how he can tear himself from the study of the wealth. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

Descartes’ Ontological Argument

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[Revised entry by Lawrence Nolan on February 14, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Descartes' ontological (or a priori) argument is both one of the most fascinating and poorly understood aspects of his philosophy. Fascination with the argument stems from the effort to prove God's existence from simple but powerful premises. Existence is derived immediately from the clear and distinct idea of a supremely perfect being. Ironically, the simplicity of the argument has also produced several misreadings, exacerbated in part by Descartes'...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Search Committee Members: You Could Update The Jobs Wiki

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A philosopher currently on the market writes in with a request to search committee members: update the jobs wiki. They write: Every year, many jobseekers spend weeks or months waiting to hear back about jobs. At every stage of the search process—after the initial application, after the videoconference interview, and after the on-campus interview—they desperately want to know whether they have been eliminated. A lucky few soon hear good news. Most of the others have to wait. Days, weeks, months go by. Their hope painfully dwindles. Eventually, they accept their now-obvious fate. And then the PFO* arrives from an HR department, far too late to do any good. It would be a great benefit to these people if they could find out that they have been eliminated as soon as they are eliminated. This would turn a prolonged and extremely painful process into a much shorter and much less painful process. Applicants would be able to emotionally move on much more quickly and turn their full attention to other possibilities. Well, as it happens, it is very easy for these people to be informed as soon as they are eliminated from your search. All that is necessary is for members of search committees to update the jobs wiki whenever their search progresses to a new stage (i.e., when invitations for first-round interviews are sent out, and when invitations for second-round/on-campus interviews are sent out, and when offers are made). This year, the wiki is here. Updating the wiki is anonymous, so members of search committees do not have to worry about being penalized for conveying information without HR permission. There is no downside to updating the wiki and there is a big upside. You can be a big help to jobseekers—many of whom are your friends, and all of whom are your professional colleagues—by just doing this one simple thing. All search committee members should see this as a responsibility of being on a committee. In many universities, search committee. . .

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News source: Daily Nous

The Hypocrisy of Sexual Outrage

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When it comes to sexual conduct, we pride ourselves that we have become more tolerant and less censorious that our forefathers. We are far more open or frank about sexual matters than they were. Children, so it seems to me, are force-fed sexual knowledge from an earlier and earlier age. We don’t believe any more in an age of innocence, as existing neither in fact nor as something desirable. A school teacher once told me that one of her young pupils, aged seven had come crying to her because one of his classmates had called him a virgin.Asked whether he knew what a virgin was, he replied, ‘I don’t know, but I know it’s something horrible.’Despite the fact that we pride ourselves on our enlightened, relaxed and liberal attitude to sexuality, one cannot help but descry the working of a kind of Second Law of Thermodynamics in regard to outrage over what we deem to be sexual misconduct. What we find outrageous might have changed, but the quantity of outrage is a constant.A school teacher on...

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News source: iai News RSS feed

Dispelling the dangerous myths of love

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True love. Everybody wants it and nobody really knows what it is. Ask around, and you will get a lot of different answers. However, put those answers together, mix in selected literary classics, add a dash of pop culture and a sprinkle of internet memes, and you get roughly the following ideal: true love is loving and being loved forever by someone who cherishes you more than anything else.We can break down this ideal to a few central tenets.First, there is the surprisingly ancient idea that true love is about ‘finding the One’, the person we are destined to be with, our other half. We wander on the earth looking for the one person who can complete us. In this fatalistic way of approaching true love, true love is rare, insofar as it is bound with luck and uniqueness. This conception is usually appealing to younger idealistic people, although we might wonder if it’s going extinct in the era of polyamory.True love, in this framework, is about loving a person notwithstanding their changes...

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News source: iai News RSS feed

The Wrong of Rudeness: Learning Modern Civility from Ancient Chinese Philosophy

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2020.02.11 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Amy Olberding, The Wrong of Rudeness: Learning Modern Civility from Ancient Chinese Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2019, 183pp., $29.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780190880965. Reviewed by Andrew Lambert, City University of New York, College of Staten Island Amy Olberding notes that this book is a response to increased polarization and conflict in civil life in the United States (ix). Besides political discourse, the problem of incivility or rudeness is found also in everyday social life -- such as what to do when "Uncle Frank" makes offensive remarks about race, sexuality and immigration at the family Thanksgiving dinner (144). Olberding's response is to turn to the Confucian tradition. The early Confucians' commitment to civility can help us to re-think social relations, and arrive at an outlook that recognizes the difficulty of bridging gaps between us but also sustains a sense of solidarity. Olberding starts from a disconcerting premise, the sheer pleasure of being rude: "I am often rude. I... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

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