magazine issue 30 • 2nd quarter 2005
reporter 6news hound news, plus straw poll and mediawatch
10word of mouse fuel your fears the web way
11going Dutch why we envy the Netherlands
13festive fun people paying to hear philosophers!
15out & about Tim LeBon says hasta la vista thoughts 17homelandAlastairHannaypenstheTPMEssay
22sci-phiEinstein a go-go
26Hobbes’ USA America’s debt to Hobbes and Locke
29moral malaise? Paul Davis casts doubt on decline
35fly the flag do liberalism and nationalism go together?
41saving morality we send in five leading thinkers
50mind and will two more intractables explained
52Daniel Dennett an interview with a man offering answers
57solve these five personal choices of mind-benders
62eastern eye Ray Billington shifts our perspective
66a tv tutorial Mark Rowlands’s films to make you think discussion 70my philosophy Jenny Colgan
73in our time Sartrian radio the lowdown 79the directory listings for UK and North America
80snapshotthelowdown on A J Ayer
82theory of knowledge the fifth in the introductory series
85conceptualcarverydescribingaquaintanceanddescription review 86new books Stanley Cavell, Michael Lynch and others
91Derrida DVD deconstructed last words 92Bertrand’sbreakfunandgames
96the skeptic giving succour to snake oil merchants?
subscriptions & TPM shop page 34
The Philosophers' Magazine/2nd quarter 2005 I have very ambiguous feelings about the term “popular philosophy”. At one disagreeable end of the spectrum, it can refer to a diluted down form of the subject, which offers simple answers and instant solutions to people who are after selfhelp dressed in the garb of deep metaphysics. At the other, it can mean the kind of gruesome attempt by well-meaning academics to explain themselves to the unwashed masses, so as to give them a glimpse of the Platonic realm of ideas that only real philosophers occupy.
I am of course all for popular philosophy, if that simply means increasing the subject’s popularity. But how do you do that without falling into one or other of the traps I’ve mentioned? We hope that TPM provides one answer. However, in crude numerical terms, our success in making philosophy more popular has been quite modest. But in tiny Holland, an ostensibly similar magazine is bought every month by 18,000 people. You can read all about it on page 11.
98 Mulgrave Road, Sutton, Surrey SM2 6LZ, UK Tel: 020 8643 1504 Fax: 0709 237 6412 firstname.lastname@example.org www.philosophers.co.uk Editors Julian Baggini (print edition)
Jeremy Stangroom (new media)
Editorial advisor Ophelia Benson Reviews Editor Jonathan Derbyshire email@example.com
Contributing Editors Susan Dwyer, Simon Eassom, Peter Fosl, Michael LaBossiere, Jeff Mason, Christopher Norris, Christian Perring Illustrations/Graphics Felix Bennett (cover), Jerry Bird, Jen Caban, Pipo di Bressana, Michael LaBossiere, Gareth Southwell. Contributors’ Notes Contact the editor to submit proposals. Please do not send unsolicited manuscripts. Contributors Richard Ashcroft, Ophelia Benson, Joseph Bertolini, Ray Billington, Stephen Burwood, Joseph Chandler, David Conway, Andrew Crumey, Chris Darke, Paul Davis, Katerina Deligiorgi, Jonathan Derbyshire, Peter S Fosl, Jason Gaiger, Wendy Grossman, Alastair Hannay,
I think that anyone interested in increasing philosophy’s popular appeal can learn from the Dutch experience. One thing in particular which struck me when reading the report was their lack of interest in what counts as “real philosophy”. Francis Fukuyama, for example, has featured in their magazine. Is he a philosopher? It doesn’t matter, for a good part of what he does is clearly philosophical.
Of course the danger in this approach is that you end up with an “anything goes” attitude. But it’s a danger that can be avoided. At minimum, to be philosophical is to apply rational, critical analysis ruthlessly to questions which are not purely empirical. That criterion alone should rule out both new age mumbo-jumbo and any flaky thinking which calls itself “philosophy”. After all, it’s not what’s on the label that counts, it’s what’s in the tin.
Mathew Iredale, Sue Johnson, J B Kennedy, Michael LaBossiere, Tim LeBon, David Papineau, Jon Phelan, Duncan Pritchard, Mark Rowlands, Bart Schultz. Distribution by (UK) Central Books, 99 Wallis Road, London E9 5LN Tel: 020 8986 4854 (North America) Ingram Periodicals Inc., 1240 Heil Quaker Blvd., La Vergne, TN 37086-7000; Tel: (615) 793 5522; Ubiquity Distributors Inc., 607 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 Tel: (718) 875 5491 Printed by Warwick Printing, Caswell Road, Leamington Spa CV31 1QD With thanks to Denis Collins, Alison Irvine, George Leaman, The Rainnies, Pam Swope. Subscriptions UK: 01442 879097 North America: 1 800 444 2419 See page 36 for full details
© 2005, The Philosophers’ Magazine and contributors
All views expressed in The Philosophers’ Magazine represent those of the authors of each article and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or publishers.
The Philosophers' Magazine/2nd quarter 2005