philosophy

  We used to say "seeing is believing"; now googling is believing. With 24/7 access to nearly all of the world's information at our fingertips, we no longer trek to the library or the encyclopedia shelf in search of answers.

While a wealth of literature has been devoted to life with the Internet, The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data by Michael Patrick Lynch is the first book to take a look at the deep philosophicalimplications of this seismic shift have not been properly explored until now.

  In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today, we will learn about a website called “What’s the Big Idea?” which holds a curriculum for teaching middle-school students about philosophy—big ideas—through film. The curriculum, created in 2013 and funded in part by Mass Humanities, features film clips and introductory philosophy lessons, with a goal of helping students learn how to have in-depth, civil discussions about topics that are important to them and that are actually philosophical in nature. Issues covered are rooted in ethics and include: bullying, lying, friendship, peer pressure, and environmental ethics.

We are joined today by Tom Wartenberg, professor of philosophy at Mount Holyoke College, who co-created “What’s the Big Idea?” with filmmaker Julie Akeret. Tom joins us now to tell us about how and why he and Julie created the website, as well as how the curriculum is being used and CAN be used in classrooms.

  Daniel Klein is a great friend of ours. Here is a guy who has a warm, humorous, and thoughtful way to shows how philosophy resonates in everyday life. Readers of his popular books Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar... and Travels with Epicurus come for enlightenment and stay for the entertainment.

As a young college student studying philosophy, Klein filled a notebook with short quotes from the world’s greatest thinkers, hoping to find some guidance on how to live the best life he could. Now, from the vantage point of his eighth decade, Klein revisits the wisdom he relished in his youth with this collection of philosophical gems, adding new ones that strike a chord with him at the end of his life.

His new book is Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It: Wisdom of the Great Philosophers on How to Live.

The University of California Berkley Philosophy professor, Alva Noë, is one for the foremost philosophers on consciousness and perception. In his book, Out Of Our Heads, Noë challeges the paradigm that consciousness that solely occurs within the confines of our brains. Now in his new book, Strange Tools: Art And Human Nature, he turns his focus on essential questions about art. 

  Confucius is perhaps the most important philosopher in history. Today, his teachings shape the daily lives of more than 1.6 billion people.

Throughout East Asia, Confucius’s influence can be seen in everything from business practices and family relationships to educational standards and government policies. Even as western ideas from Christianity to Communism have bombarded the region, Confucius’s doctrine has endured as the foundation of East Asian culture.

Michael Schuman's new book is Confucius: And the World He Created.

Why We Dance

Aug 17, 2015

  Kimerer L. LaMothe is a dancer, philosopher, and scholar of religion.

She also loves to dance, every day, feeling it is vital for her wellbeing. And when she scans the landscape of human life, she sees dance everywhere—in the earliest human art, the oldest forms of culture, and in every culture around the world into the present.

But, she says, in the maps of and for human life that comprise the philosophy, theology, and religious studies of the modern west, dance occupies a surprisingly small space. So, she has explored that in her new book: Why We Dance.

  Do we have a duty to be happy? Is there a connection between individual and collective happiness? Is happiness contagious?

Frédéric Lenoir explores these questions and more in his book, Happiness: A Philosopher's Guide. In understanding how civilization’s best minds - from Aristotle, Plato, and Chuang Tzu to the Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad; from Voltaire, Spinoza, and Schopenhauer to Kant, Freud, and even modern neuroscientists - have answered those and other questions we are shown a way to happiness, that most elusive of feelings, and how it is attainable in our lives.

  In his book, Does Altruism Exist?: Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others, David Sloan Wilson, one of the world’s leading evolutionists, addresses a question that has puzzled philosophers, psychologists, and evolutionary biologists for centuries: Does altruism exist naturally among the Earth’s creatures?

Book Cover - Does Santa Exist?

    Metaphysics isn’t ordinarily much of a laughing matter. But in the hands of acclaimed comedy writer and scholar Eric Kaplan, a search for the truth about old St. Nick becomes a deeply insightful, laugh-out-loud discussion of the way some things exist but may not really be there. Just like Santa and his reindeer.

    

  Is philosophy obsolete? Are the ancient questions still relevant in the age of cosmology and neuroscience, not to mention crowd-sourcing and cable news?

In her new book, Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away, acclaimed philosopher and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein provides a dazzlingly original plunge into the drama of philosophy, revealing its hidden role in today’s debates on religion, morality, politics, and science.

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