THE BLOG@PHILOSOPHERS' CORNER

Can Words Kill?

Can mere words be used to kill? Words can hurt and offend, but can they be lethal weapons? I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense. We all can admit that words can hurt or offend. But I’m asking if they can literally kill?

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Buddhism, Science, and the West

Why do many of us assume that Buddhism and science are polar opposites—that Buddhist teachings are so paradoxical and mysterious they are not even meant to be understood? Is it possible instead that the teachings of Buddhism actually predate certain scientific conclusions the West is just now discovering?

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Of Philosophy and Basketball

I’m reaching the end of a semester-long sabbatical, and will soon have to start thinking about preparing for the courses that I will be teaching in the spring semester. I love teaching. However, this time I’m rather less enthusiastic about climbing back in the academic saddle.

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The Midlife Crisis

What exactly is a midlife crisis? One way to think about it is that it’s the creeping feeling that what we’re doing with our lives isn’t worthwhile. Or worse: the midlife crisis can be the feeling that no choice of life could ever have been worthwhile.

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The Odyssey in Plain English

The first woman to translate The Odyssey, Emily Wilson, tells the famous story of Odysseus, Homer's cunning Trojan war hero, in a radically different way. She tells it in plain English. Wilson's translation is direct, and her effort raises important questions around the translation of classical works.

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Scrap Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving can be a joyous celebration of family and community. But its festivities can serve to cover up, and encourage, ongoing injustice. So how should we understand Thanksgiving? Is it a wholesome celebration of family and connectedness, or a cover-up for continued injustice?

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Do Scientists Need Philosophers?

What is the value of philosophy of science? What do philosophers even know about science? Shouldn't we just trust scientists when it comes to questions of science? Philosopher Subrena Smith says there are presuppositions in science worth analyzing from a philosophical perspective.

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#FrancisOnFilm: Thor Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok is funny, exciting, and visually nifty. The third in a series, it's a great two-plus hours of entertainment. But it's not just entertainment; there's more in Thor philosophically than you might think of when you are caught up in the action.

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Feminism and Philosophy's Future

Male philosophers may think feminist philosophy has nothing to offer them. Yet feminist philosophy has already enriched analytic philosophy and promises to deepen philosophers' "serious engagement" with continental thinkers, argues Gary Gutting.

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Two Models of Hypocrisy

What’s goes on in the mind of a hypocrite, like "pro-life" congressman Tim Murphy, who had to resign when it was discovered he encouraged his mistress to have an abortion? Is he a craven liar? Or is there another psychological model that explains his hypocrisy?

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Favorites in Continental Philosophy

Philosopher Simon Critchley offers his take on continental philosophy and some of its biggest hits. He discusses how the continental approach to philosophy is more practically relevant to lived experience and, interestingly, more aware of its history.

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The World’s Greatest Country?

Suppose we were to ask for each country on Earth how many people would willingly choose to live in it, given complete freedom of choice, but under a modified version of the veil of ignorance. Which country would you choose?

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The Curious Lives of Octopuses

Octopuses live in a world of paradox. Though colorblind, they change their pigment to match their surrounding area. Though brilliant, they average a lifespan of only 2 to 4 years. Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and The Deep Origins of Consciousness, by Peter Godfrey-Smith, attempts to resolve these paradoxes.

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When Democracy Runs Wild

Do we have too much democratic politics in this country? What are the consequences of living in a society in which your every action has a political connotation? Philosopher Robert Talisse argues that there is such a thing as too much democracy.

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Basketball: Myths and Puzzles

Basketball fans have long held that players experience runs of success or failure. If a player succeeds at sinking a free throw, the theory goes, they’re having a successful streak, which makes them more likely to sink the next free throw. Simpson’s Paradox might explain why the “hot hand” phenomenon looks real, even if it’s not.

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Achieving a Measure of Insanity

British psychoanalyst Donald Woods Winnicott wrote in a review of Carl Jung's memoir Memories, Dreams, and Reflections: “I was sane, and…through analysis and self-analysis I achieved some measure of insanity.” How do we make sense of this strange claim?

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Philosophy of Trash

How much of today’s treasure is destined to be tomorrow’s trash? Are growing piles of trash the price we pay for progress? Or do our trashy habits amount to ecological terrorism? These are the questions we're thinking about in this week's show.

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Compromise and Slavery

John Kelly, President Trump’s Chief of Staff, recently made some comments about the supposed unwillingness of the North and South to compromise over slavery as a leading cause of the Civil War. But Kelly actually has it completely backwards.

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Philosophy and Shelley's Frankenstein

With its 200th anniversary fast approaching, it might be time to revisit Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Check out this audio clip from the Philosopher's Zone, in which the hosts discuss major themes and the predominant philosophies of the novel's day.

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Race Matters

Do black lives really matter in America? Indeed, have they ever mattered, in our sordid racial history? And what, if anything, can we do to make sure that black lives matter today? These are just some of the questions we address on this week’s episode that we are calling “Race Matters.”

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To Retract or Not to Retract

Third World Quarterly, a journal that boasts Noam Chomsky on its editorial board, recently published, then withdrew, “The Case for Colonialism,” by Bruce Gilley when death threats were made against the journal's editors. But was the journal right to retract the piece?

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Chomsky vs Foucault [VIDEO]

Watch this classic, must-see debate between two of the most prominent intellectuals of the 20th century: Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault. The hour-long debate traverses a broad intellectual course—from human nature and objective truth to Marxism and the value of justice.

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A Moral Case for Meat

From Peter Singer's Animal Liberation to arguments offered by the ancient Greeks and Hindus, many philosophers and environmentalists have made convincing cases against the practice of eating meat. But could there be a moral case in favor of it?

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#FrancisOnFilm: Battle of the Sexes

From the ancient Greeks, philosophical writing about sport has been rooted in theories of virtue and the good. Discussions in this genre regard sport as a form of human excellence. On versions of this view, excluding or marginalizing women in sports is shutting them out from opportunities for excellence.

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Decolonizing Philosophy

It's clear that many of the prevailing intellectual traditions throughout the world are disproportionately influenced by Western (European, Christian, white) ideas. So how can we take up the project of decolonizing philosophy?

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