Articles from 07/2012

10 July 2012

What is this thing called Philosophy?

BOB FITTER ASKS WHAT ARE WE ARE ALL DOING, EXACTLY?

Students of philosophy tend not to be as compliant as those unfortunate citizens of Athens who happened upon Socrates in one of his troublesome moods. (Yes Socrates, No Socrates, You’re right there Socrates). They not only ask questions like “What is philosophy?”, they expect an answer. Philosophers are expected to tackle a simple question from simple folk and provide a simple answer. Admittedly the question, the folk and the answer turn out to be not that simple, but philosophers will go to almost…Read

Is Beauty Subjective?

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the saying goes. We are now living in a world where we can no longer assess whose taste is better or worse, for the subject of beauty lies in the realm of pure subjectivity, which one can proudly proclaim he is the greatest living aesthetes, or perhaps even artist, of his own time. A subject which once belonged to a professional minority is now only considered a confused private imperative.

But it wasn’t always like this. In what sense is something beautiful? How can one…Read

Part 2 Catherine Cunningham - Song Writer / Singer

“Socrates” “Aristotle”, “Pythagoras”, “Philosophers” - words I remember jotting into my history notebook in secondary school. Somehow, without having ever really thought about it, I had assumed they had all died uneventfully in Ancient Greece. So two days into college, I was delighted to discover that they were alive and well - sort of. I was particularly delighted because I was simultaneously discovering that I had no interest whatsoever in the “Business Studies” course on which I was enrolled.

One easy downgrade later (yes, that was how…Read

Meditations and Discourse on the Pursuit of Philosophical Studies - Part 1

As a learned student of Philosophy, I have struggled with and explored many of the most perplexing questions of this era. Questions such as “Is there a God” “Is one’s mind synonymous with one’s body”, “Are we determined beings” etc.

At the risk of sounding immodest, I think I have managed to grasp and pontificate admirably on these problems and perhaps have even helped future generations in their quest for truth.

I am forced to admit though, that Philosophy still poses one problem which I…Read

Morality is a Culturally Conditioned Response

Jesse Prinz argues that the source of our moral inclinations is merely cultural

Suppose you have a moral disagreement with someone, for example, a disagreement about whether it is okay to live in a society where the amount of money you are born with is the primary determinant of how wealthy you will end up. In pursuing this debate, you assume that you are correct about the issue and that your conversation partner is mistaken. You conversation partner assumes that you are making the blunder. In other words, you both assume that only one of…Read

Don’t blame the postmodernists

Religion and Politics

Multiculturalism has its drawbacks and paradoxes, but it is still worth defending if the alternative is enforced cultural homogeneity. It depends how the concept is interpreted. At the moment it is increasingly an argument for cultural separatism, whereas it ought to mean peaceful coexistence and the mutually-beneficial sharing and disseminating of ideas. Perhaps that would be better termed polyculturalism? Crucially, however, I do not see how such a system can work without a context of secularism. Personally, I'd like to see religion wither away as a force in human affairs, but…Read

Moral Relativism & Cultural Chauvinism

MEMBERS OF DIFFERENT CULTURES WITH DIFFERENT VALUES AND BELIEFS COME INTO FREQUENT CONFLICT, SOMETIMES VIOLENT. GERALD LANG ASKS IF WE CAN STILL PASS JUDGMENT.

“When in Rome do as the Romans do” - Cultural Relativists Agree

Depending on whom you ask, moral relativism is either an overdue and salutary antidote to imperialism and cultural arrogance, or else it represents a self-defeating, wishywashy gesture in the direction of cultural even handedness. The often excitable and high-voltage nature of popular debates about these issues suggests that many of us feel unsettled about them.…Read

The Pope Launched a Renewed Attack on the “Moral Relativism” that he has blamed for Britain’s Riots

In a message for the 2012 World Peace Day of January 1, Pope Benedict said that neither peace nor justice was obtainable if the objective norms of morality expressed in the Ten Commandments continue to be rejected.

His words represent another severe criticism of moral relativism, the humanistic creed that holds there can be no objective standard on which to base morality.

They come just months after the Pope told Nigel Baker, Britain's Ambassador to the Holy See, that the spread of the ideology was to blame for the riots that convulsed British cities over four…Read

It’s All Relative, Dude

Many philosophical problems are destined to remain the province of unread journals, dusty manuscripts and specialist-level seminars. Their debates are conducted in, what to most people is, a foreign language, saddled with complex and obtuse points that could only occur to those who ponder the topic at every waking hour.

Not so with the question of morality. Everybody who can think has a view on it. This is because we are forced to make moral decisions every day. Whether to help a blind man cross the street, or to steal that cupcake you are sure nobody will…Read