5 September 2013

Thomas Hobbes

Human beings open their eyes in a world that is full of rules, regulations and most of the time without having the chance to refuse or change them. The majority of the world population lives in territories where there are official, organized institutions called “states” which regulate and organize social life. The existence of the state has become an absolute condition for the well being of society starting from a long time ago. However, the state did not appear immediately with the beginning of human life. There was a long period of time in history during which…Read

Distributive Justice

This article first appeared in issue 92 of Philosophy Now

Justice, John Rawls claimed, is the first virtue of institutions. Certainly it seems to be the first concern of contemporary political theorists, and has been since A Theory of Justice was published in 1971. A great deal has been written about it and, given the on-going nature of the investigation, it is difficult to see the wood for the trees, in particular because justice is, to borrow Michael

Freeden’s phrase, an essentially contested concept: Philosophers disagree about what ‘goes into’ justice, what weighting…Read

Hobbes, Stirner & Authority

More than three centuries after the death of Thomas Hobbes, the issue of state power versus individual rights remains as contentious as ever. Paul Rowlandson on the case for strong government .

In 1967 Commander George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, launched his campaign for the Presidency. (He was assassinated later the same year by one of his own lieutenants). At one of his televised press conferences he was asked about his policy towards Red China, then undergoing the Cultural Revolution. “Fifteen minutes after I’m President” he replied, “there won&rsquo…Read

Politics – it’s a dirty job

According to opinion polls, politicians are one of the least trusted professions. However, this does not stop New Zealand Members of Parliament from being paid around $140,000 per annum (which is three and a half times the average income) plus a salubrious package of perks. The most alluring perk of all is power. Although many enter the field believing that they can make the world a better place, power has always been the predominant raison d’etre of politicians throughout the ages.

However disliked they may be, though, no one is in a hurry to get rid…Read

18 June 2013

The Final Irony

'Isn't it ironic?'

You hear it all the time - and, most of the time, actually no, it isn't. It's more likely to be: hypocritical, cynical, lazy or coincidental. But what is irony and why did pundits think it would die two years ago, after September 11? Zoe Williams meticulously, sincerely, un-ironically, hunts it down

Taking its name from the Greek: eironeia (dissimulation), irony consists of purporting a meaning of an utterance or a situation that is different, often opposite, to the literal one.

Maike Oergel,…Read

short story

I can't really explain it myself, why I find myself sitting more and more often in the most un-alluring café in Brussels, in the "Berlaymont" building, on the ground floor of the headquarters of the European

Commission. Not that there aren't any other eateries in the city. There are even very good ones. Brussels' gastronomy can't be praised highly enough.

But I sit more and more often in this cafeteria, from which it's not possible to carve out a coffee house essay to save one's life. No table service;…Read

The Pop Culture Manifesto

William Irwin on philosophy as/and/ of popular culture .

We can loosely define popular culture as artifacts and subjects of mass interest and appreciation. Popular culture does not exclude people from appreciating it on the basis of class or formal education. This is perhaps a necessary, though not a sufficient condition for popular culture. ‘Mass interest and appreciation' is admittedly indeterminate, though hopefully not troublesome. How popular does popular have to be? No fixed answer can be given. One size does not fit all. The British sense of ‘pop' sheds light on the issue. In…Read

Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute Interesting

Most of us read or look at art in order to feel something—to experience sensations perhaps unavailable to us in everyday waking life. But it's not just our feelings. Encountering the visions of the past, we also begin to acquire a sense of how people used to feel as well. Perhaps they lived in more interesting times, where every plot moved deathward or toward maudlin ends. Or maybe their works deadpan an aloof, utterly demystified view of the world, where the only way one feels anything at all is in short, intense bursts of euphoria. Nothing…Read

Shall We Dance —Japanese Style

Masayuki Subo: the director of the popular movie, “Shall We Dance?” explains about the difficulties of bringing his Japanese movie to American audiences, in spite of the communication differences between the two cultures. Subo says that, when he had finished making the movie, he had no idea how popular it would become world-wide.

A married man (Koji Yakusho) is attracted to a woman (Tamiyo Kusakari) and is drawn towards her through their mutual interest in ballroom dancing. The movie displays a balanced combination of Japanese culture with a universal theme of middle age…Read

Small Talk

I recently found myself sitting across a table from a stranger, chewing awkwardly in silence. It was a familiar scenario: a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop with not enough tables and me sitting alone, assenting readily when an older woman asked if she could share my premium slice of real estate. She sat down and we both began to eat, eyes studiously averted— quickly, the silence became unbearable. Lovely day out, isn't it, she ventured. Oh yes, I agreed enthusiastically. Perfect temperature, and sunny too. Just beautiful. This was talk, yes, a verbal exchange between two interlocutors—but…Read

Teaching Philosophy vs Teaching To Philosophise

Pablo Cevallos Estarellas reviews the  developments that caused professional to triumph over amateur philosophy in education, and proposes a way forward.

If to do philosophy is to ask questions of a special kind about central human problems and then to grapple with them in a rigorous way, most people can in principle learn how to philosophise. This means that unlike most academic disciplines, philosophy has two legitimate manifestations: the professional practice of philosophical inquiry, with reference to the canon of historical philosophical works, and the amateur practice of philosophical inquiry, without reference to previous  philosophy.…Read


The modern world is awash with words. Through our mastery of natural forces, human beings can send their thoughts in written form instantly across the planet. Words have great power and through them we conjure up realities, more or less imaginary, to believe in. We can often get so lost in these edifices created by language that they become seen as living, breathing things.

'Legal fictions' provide examples of this such as the corporation, which in many systems of law is considered to be a person. A strange kind of person indeed,…Read

29 April 2013

On the Four Fold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason—Originally Published in 1813

The purpose of this short essay is to explain some of the points contained in Schopenhauer's book; The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. One of the book's assumptions is that the universe is an understandable place, conforming to deterministic laws and exhibiting predictable patterns and regularities. A more recent proposition of this theory is referred to as;

The Fine-Tuned Universe

which explains that Fine-tuning refers to the surprising precision of nature's physical constants. To explain the present state of the universe, even the best scientific…Read

Psychoanalysis and Philosophy (I)


"What are you reading that for?" he asked in an indignant tone.

I put the book down slowly and tried not to look too flustered. I had been caught red-handed. The best line of approach was to tackle the issue head on and not to act embarrassed. I mean, it was nothing to be ashamed of, was it?

I had better explain that the embarrassing material I had been caught with was not pornography although the shocked tone of my…Read


A twenty-something navigates heartbreak by Schopenhauer.

"Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people," wrote Schopenhauer in an essay called 'Lebensweisheit' – 'Worldly Wisdoms' – in 1851.

If I didn't know better, I'd say it sounds like Schopenhauer liked someone who didn't like him back.

There are few feelings worse than unrequited love. I should know: my own experience was as drawn-out and painful as they come, and threw me for the best part of two years. I cared for…Read

The Schopenhauer Cure

Andrew Barley enters group therapy with Irvin Yalom.

Irvin Yalom is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford and is the author of one of his profession's standard texts, The Theory and Practice of Group Therapy. But nestled beneath the title of Yalom's new book The Schopenhauer Cure are the words, 'A Novel'. The words seem miserly for a book filled with so much. For beside the novel's story there's an interlaced psychological biography of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, Yalom's hallmark therapeutic tips woven in and twelve pages of…Read

Is Leon a good guy?

Mike Parker analyses the character of the eponymous anti-hero through the moral philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer.

LEON: The professional starring gary oldman, jean reno & Natalie Portman

First released in 1994, Léon: The Professional a French thriller starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and the young Natalie Portman was a cult hit in Europe. Léon is now being re-marketed for the video rental market. There is also an extended version of the film, referred to as "international version" or "version intégrale" containing 25 minutes of additional footage, it is sometimes called the "Director's…Read

The Denial of the Will-To-Live

In Literature and Music

Eva Cybulska considers Schopenhauer's influence on writers and composers.

"To those in whom the will has turned and denied itself, this very real world ours, with its suns galaxies, is – nothing." Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, I: p.412 (from the 1969 edition, E.F.J. Payne trans., Dover Publications Inc.)

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was, and continues to be, a philosopher in a class of his own. He is mostly admired for the richness, depth and brilliance of his insights rather than for his consistency of vision. His writing style, clear…Read

On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason

The 200th anniversary of Arthur Schopenhauer’s first work, ‘On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason’ gives an opportunity to look back at this intriguing philosopher and see just why he has been so influential. This issue looks at his ideas from a variety of perspectives, and asks how relevant he is today. Schopenhauer is much more accessible than many of the classic German philosophers like Kant and Hegel, whose highly technical prose is impenetrable for many readers. Agree with him or not ( and I myself am in the ‘not’ camp,…Read

29 January 2013

How to Live - A Life of Montaigne

How to Live - A Life of Montaigne In One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer-by Sarah Bakewell


In this new book, Sarah Bakewell takes the already-readable Montaigne and makes him that much easier to read. The main themes of his writing are distilled and presented within the historical and biographical context that makes it all come alive.

How to get along with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you…Read

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