magazine issue 31 • 3rd quarter 2005
reporter 4news hound news, plus straw poll and mediawatch
12word of mouse beware the wrath of the nerds
1330 days can you be a philosopher in a month?
15Søren story a row erupts over Kierkegaard’s life story
18people? pah! making friends with anthropologists thoughts 22whale rights Paola Cavalieri makes their case
29sci-phiDoesmaths + words = language?
32press power what are newspapers for?
37science wars Nicholas Maxwell wants a new battle
42woman’s work a raw deal for female philosophers?
forum 45seven pillars introducing our forum’s theme
46your true voice Jonathan Rée urges you to find it
51good writing Al Martinich on why the pen is mighty
57please explain Ted Schick on the centrality of explanation
60no sacred cows John Kekes fights shibboleths
64get engaged Michael Ruse says: do something else
68off limits Julian Baggini confesses ignorance discussion 71my philosophy Steve Pyke
74one thing... what scientists would teach us the lowdown 79the directory listings for UK and North America
80snapshotthelowdown on Arthur Schopenhauer
82theory of knowledge the sixth in the introductory series
85conceptualcarverysemanticsandsyntax review 86new books neurosis, bullshit and other good stuff last words 92Bertrand’sbreakfunandgames
96the skeptic singing songs is no monkey business subscriptions & TPM shop page 78
The Philosophers' Magazine/3rd quarter 2005 Every so often, tantalising evidence emerges that philosophy is set to become the Next Big Thing. Twenty-odd years ago, Brian Magee made a well-received television series interviewing some of the leading philosophers of the day about the greatest philosophers of the past. But that opened no floodgates. Then we had Sophie’s World, a children’s book read by million of adults, only a small minority of whom, it seems, went on to read more philosophy.
Now television producers around the United Kingdom seem to be contacting anyone vaguely resembling a philosopher with anything vaguely resembling a public profile to talk about ideas for philosophy programmes, because, apparently, the commissioners are Very Keen Indeed. Is this the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for? I very much doubt it, and here’s why.
The mass media’s vision for philosophy programmes is dominated by the self-improvement genre. Kitchens, clothes, gardens and relationships have all been given the TV make the philosophers’
98 Mulgrave Road, Sutton, Surrey SM2 6LZ, UK Tel: 020 8643 1504 Fax: 0709 237 6412 email@example.com www.philosophers.co.uk Editors Julian Baggini (print edition)
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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 Alison Ainley, Paola Cavalieri, Joseph Chandler, David Cooper, Peter S Fosl, Wendy Grossman, Alan Haworth, Gillian Howie, Mathew Iredale, Sue Johnson, John Kekes, Michael LaBossiere, Ellie Levenson, Al Martin-
over treatment. Now it’s time to spruce up your “philosophy of life”. Forget the pursuit of truth or Brian Magee and his guest chatting about big ideas: they’re looking to take lifestyle entertainment TV to another level.
There’s no reason to be snooty about this. Alain de Botton, for example, does a very nice line in finding the crossover between philosophy and self-help, and he has by no means exhausted the potential for similar endeavours. But there’s a limit to how much philosophy can fit in that niche.
I still think the audience for serious philosophy is larger than many in the media think. For example, the BBC Radio series In Our Time has proved that serious philosophy can be dealt with by a mass medium and be popular. But Radio Four is not prime time TV.
I for one am sanguine about this. After all, aren’t you glad Plato and Hume are no Will and Grace?
ich, Nicholas Maxwell, Beth Pearson, Michel Petherham, M G Piety, Duncan Pritchard, Matthew Ray, Jonathan Rée, Michael Ruse, Theodore Schick, Craig Walmsley 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 78 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/3rd quarter 2005