Has philosophy lost its way?

philosophyOne of the characteristics of philosophy as a field of inquiry is that — unique among human endeavors — it also inquiries upon itself. This was true since the times of Socrates and Epictetus, of course. Here is how the latter puts it in his Discourses:

“Now if you are writing to a friend, grammar will tell you that you need particular letters; but it will not tell you whether or not you should write to your friend. The same holds in the case of music’s relation to song. It will not say whether at this moment you should sing or play the lyre, or whether you should not do so. Which faculty, then, will do so? The one that studies both itself and everything else. And what is that? The faculty of reason. Yes; for this is the only faculty we have inherited that can perceive itself — what it is, what it is capable of, and how valuable it is — and also perceive all the rest.” (1.1.1-4)

Continue reading

The value (or lack thereof) of a liberal arts education

liberal artsDan Kaufman (see his webzine, the Electric Agora) and I had another of our conversations over at MeaningofLife.tv, this time centering on Dan’s recently articulated skepticism about ongoing defenses of the concept of a liberal arts education in college. Here is his original article, provocatively entitled “On Some Common Rationales for Liberal Education (and why they aren’t very good).”

Continue reading

My Skeptical Inquirer essays

Skeptical InquirerAs you might have noticed, I have recently published a list of my contributions to other sites, beginning with Ask-a-Philosopher, and continuing with Philosophy Now magazine. Here is the third installment of this informal series, regarding my contributions to Skeptical Inquirer magazine (please note that many of these articles are behind paywall; you can either subscribe to the magazine or download them from my DropBox folder.):

Continue reading

Conversations with Dan Kaufman

Dan KaufmanI’d like to bring to readers’ attention a series of video conversations that I have been taping for a  while now, on an occasional basis, with philosopher Dan Kaufman, of Missouri State University. (If you are interested, check his new enterprise, The Electric Agora.)

The videos are produced on behalf of MeaningofLife.tv, and they are now part of a regular series that Dan puts out, called Sophia. You can find the full collection (thus far) at my YouTube channel.

Continue reading