What is philosophy? What does a philosopher really do? Questions like these can be answered in a review of Philosophy Now. What can possibly be answered…..questions which have them. And what is it  that philosophers study? Generally, most philosophers study questions in which there is no rational or justifiable answer.  And the type of articles in the magazine are very interesting because they enlighten the reader to question the answers. Some of the articles in this issue are “Bakunin: Anarchist or Antichrist?”, “Practical Solipsism”, “Introduction to Ontology”, “Orwell and Philosophy”, some other brief articles, an Internet page, and even some classifieds.

The overall view of this magazine was very intellectual and professional because it did not contain any advertising throughout the magazine.  The articles are more in the manner meant for either philosophers or someone in school studying Philosophy, or even anyone interested in a very different approach to society.  An idea in the article “Practical Solipsism” reads:  “Solipsism – the idea that only I exist and that you, and all other material things in the world are mere figments of my imagination – is one of those peculiar notions that make everybody realize just how barmy philosophers truly are.” Philosophy is often translated as the love of wisdom or the love of truth.  One way to get a vague idea as to what philosophy is about is to dissect the subject and investigate its skeleton. there are many branches in philosophy.  Metaphysics is”(after-physics, after Aristotle’s book of physics.)”, and has questions about the nature of time, categories of existence, including god.  Epistemology asks what is knowledge? what is the difference between knowledge, belief and opinion? Can we really know anything?  How could we know that we did?  Logic questions the truth and even now employs a sort of algebra which is used to crunch logical problems.  There is Philosophy of mind, which asks questions about the human mind, how it thinks, and how is it related to the body.  Ethics is like how are we living, what is good and bad, what is unethical, and what is happiness.  Aesthetics asks mostly about beauty and how to define it.  In particular though, there is political philosophy, and it asks questions like What would Utopia be like? Is Utopia possible? How should social life be organized?

In my opinion this philosophy is not one related to our government but is very interesting to me. As I was reading, many questions arose about our society and what I thought should be changed.  Another Article that I went over was called “Ontology for Beginners” and it was discussing the branch of metaphysics which examines the nature and categories of existence.  What is the difference really existing and only appearing to exist?  Does the external world really exist?  Do other people really exist?  In what sense do numbers exist?  To an inexperienced child these questions may never arise, but as one grows older questions similar to these arise.  Some of the categories of existence are listed also.  Realism is basically the theory that the other world exists independently of us.  Idealism is the belief that the world and all it contains is all some sort of strange exotic dream. There is another very popular part of Idealism known as “Brain in a Vat”.  “you think you are wandering around the world, seeing, feeling, talking to people. But suppose that, following a horrific accident, the doctors removed your brain, put it in a vat of nutrient fluids and kept it alive.  Suppose that to keep you sane they hooked up the severed nerve endings of your brain to some very expensive medical equipment and then fed you with signals that your brain interpreted as sights, sounds, smells and so on.

The question is, would you were just a brain in a vat at all, if the illusion was perfect, and they didn’t tell you?  How would you know?  How do you know that the world out there really exists?  The category of Relativism deals with the idea that there are many ways in which to see the world. It all depends on your point of view.  There are so many more and even everyday a new category could be added.  The articles contained in this issue of Philosophy Now contains a very descriptive overview of philosophy.  This makes it even easier for any person to commit him or herself to reading, because it goes over the fundamental principles and categories of philosophy. Basically, any person from sixth grade on could read this journal.


Philosophy Now  Issue 16 Autumn 1996  There is also an Email address at r.lewis@kcl.ac.uk

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