What is the greatest work of philosophy?


Our East Midlands Salon at 7 PM on Wednesday 6 December in the Brunswick Inn, Derby, will be a festive BALLOON DEBATE at which eight Salon members will defend what they each think is the greatest work of philosophy. They will have just an initial three minutes to make their case before answering questions from the audience in defence of their choice. There will then be a vote and four of the balloonists will be thrown off the metaphorical balloon. The remaining balloonists will then have just one minute to argue for their chosen work. There will then be a vote and three of the balloonists will be thrown overboard. The victor will then be allowed to sail away into the metaphorical sky with a suitable prize! Continue reading

Should we study dead white philosophers?

Students at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) are campaigning to ‘decolonise the curriculum’ by including more thinkers of Asian and African origin in place of the current dominance of the ‘dead white males’ of Western philosophy. They complain that the university is a ‘white’ institution promoting the mythical universalism of the European Enlightenment to legitimise continuing racial domination and colonial oppression. Continue reading

Are we living in the ‘Age of Emotion’?

During the 1950s and 1960s, the New American Library published an aspirational series of books, edited by leading philosophers of the day, that divided the history of philosophy into six distinctive periods or ages: the Age of Belief of the medievals, the Age of Adventure during the Renaissance, the seventeenth century Age of Reason, the Age of Enlightenment, the Age of Ideology in the nineteenth century and finally the Age of Analysis with figures such as Wittgenstein and Sartre. Is it now time to declare a new philosophical age for the twenty-first century: the Age of Emotion? Continue reading

What’s the use of philosophy?

David SocratesAs well as attending discussion circles, salons, debating clubs, literary-philosophical societies and events from the likes of TED, 5×15, the School of Life and Intelligence Squared, people are gathering in philosophy clubs, Socrates cafés, Enlightenment cafés, even ‘death cafés’ – yes, philosophy is one of the new rock ’n’ rolls… The big question facing philosophy clubs is what kind of impact they can hope to have on our society. (Financial Times, 29/6/2012)

Informal philosophy is on the rise. So is the teaching of philosophy in schools. But what is the use of all this philosophising? Is the idea that doing philosophy improves your quality of life, or enhances your decision-making, or makes you a better citizen? Is it hoped that philosophy can deliver answers to real-world questions of policy and practice? Or is philosophy strictly useless, in the sense of serving no purpose beyond itself?

Speakers: Michael Hand and Dennis Hayes. Chair: Ruth Mieschbuehler. Continue reading