The Mind-Body Problem, Part 1: Substance Dualism

Mar 7, 2017

You have a mind and you have a body.  What’s the connection between the two? All of us are aware of our physical being—our bodies—and we also have an immediate experience of our mental states—our thoughts, emotions, and sensations—but figuring out the relation between these has not been easy.  

A Country is a Country

Mar 6, 2017

A bizarre, somewhat tongue-in-cheek meditation by Point Maganize's Michael Kochin on the concept of a country. Part-historical, part-philospohical, the piece walks us through how America came about and what it meant that it did. The article struggles with the project of figuring out who should get to count as American, and thus touches on the immigration debate raging in American politics today. At its heart, the core question seems to be: what is America for?

Here's the full link:

We Don't Decide Who We Love

Mar 2, 2017

We often think of a love as something natural and powerful—a mysterious feeling we experience spontaneously, deep in the recesses of our essential selves. But our love, and our capacity to love, may have a lot more to do with our society than we acknowledge.

#FrancisOnFilm: I Am Not Your Negro

Feb 28, 2017

I Am Not Your Negro, an extraordinary documentary by Raoul Peck, presents the critical relevance of James Baldwin to the violence that engulfs many African Americans today. But is it a movie made more for white liberals than for African-Americans?

Is Milo Really a Conservative?

Feb 27, 2017

Although the National Review's Jonah Goldberg doesn't frame the aricle this way, I took his recent reflection on Milo Yiannapoulos to be primarily a matter of political courage. The transgressive former-Breitbart editor was, to some extent, embraced by the right. While he did get people's attention, he did so in problematic ways.

At what point must we compromise political expediency for the sake of doing the right thing? How can we resist our inclination to always help our party win (for the sake of the common good, of course), even when the cost may be real human suffering?

Here's the link:

Are Self-Help Books Useless?

Feb 24, 2017

Do self-help books rely on a sort of magical thinking about the control we have over our lives? Do they feed into an idiosyncratic, American narcissism that prioritizes furthering our pursuits over helping others? Are they even worth reading in the first place?

The Responsibility of Intellectuals

Feb 23, 2017

In these times, in which truth and lies are nearly indistinguishable, do all intellectuals have a responsibility to devote their efforts toward directly speaking truth to power and mobilizing for social justice? Or are some exempt from this responsibility to pursue their interests wholeheartedly, regardless of whether it directly helps the people or not?

The Philosophical Dimensions of Reparations

Feb 22, 2017

The historical injustices perpetrated against blacks on American soil span four centuries and would be impossible to quantify. Even if we think reparations are owed, it seems impossible to settle who should pay, and who should receive them. But before we give in to the impulse to throw up our hands, let’s see if we can alleviate our sense of hopelessness by distinguishing components of the challenge injustices pose—the metaphysical, epistemic, and pragmatic dimensions to the question of how to address them.

[AUDIO] Why is Free Speech Important? (Ask a Comedian)

Feb 21, 2017

In this podcast of Free Speech Bites, Burmese comedian and filmmaker Zarganar shares his experiences of being silenced for controversial speech and explains why he sees freedom of expression as a significant issue to this day.

Arendt on Totalitarianism

Feb 20, 2017

Despite being over forty years old, Roger Errera's interview of philosopher Hannah Arendt in the New York Review of Books may be as timely as ever. Could something approaching totalitarianism be unfolding before us today—either in America or abroad? We hear echoes throughout the interview that may remind you of our current political situation.

Regardless of your political stance, there's something foreboding about the statment, "Totalitarianism begins in contempt for what you have." Her discussion of facts and lies draws parallels to fake news and declining trust in experts.

She also chimes in about history, evil, and progress: Is there any way to remove all contingency from history? Does the arc of history really bend tend towards progress?

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