I have recently published a list of my contributions to the Ask-a-Philosopher site, so I figured we could continue with this informal series with what I wrote so far for the excellent Philosophy Now magazine. Here it is (please note that many of these articles are behind paywall; you can either subscribe to the magazine or download them from my DropBox folder.):
I thought it may be good to collect all my answers for the very useful “Ask a Philosopher” web site, coordinated by Geoffrey Klempner (if you are a professional philosopher and wish to lend a bit of your time to the initiative, contact Geoffrey directly). Here they are, in reverse chronological order (more recent first):
I’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.)
I have maintained a small YouTube channel for a while now, where I collect a number of — mostly, but not exclusively, self generated — resources to further public understanding of philosophy. These include a collection of video lectures or discussions featuring yours truly (one of my favorite is this conversation with Dan Dennett and Lawrence Krauss), and even a bit of philosophical comic relief (like this mock Hitler rant against philosophers).
As I announced recently, The Philosophers’ Magazine Online has just launched a new column, authored by yours truly, called “Footnotes to Plato” (yes, an obvious echo of this blog…). As I admit in the opening essay, the title is a bit ambitious, but the editors liked it, so who am I to disagree.
As I further explain: “This new column, which the Editors at TPM have kindly agreed to begin publishing, isn’t going to be about Plato, or ancient philosophy (well, occasionally, maybe). But it is intended in the same spirit of philosophical inquiry that Whitehead tried to capture with his famous quip” (the one about Western philosophy being a series of footnotes to Plato).
According to Alfred North Whitehead, “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato” (Process and Reality, p. 39, Free Press, 1979).
That may have been an exaggeration, but it is true that Plato (together with his mentor, Socrates, and his pupil, Aristotle) introduced the world to the way of thinking we call philosophy (which comes from a Greek root meaning “love of wisdom”). Philosophy is difficult to define precisely, but — as American Justice Potter Stewart once famously said of pornography — one recognizes it when one sees it.