Φ Blog

27 posts

The blog section of the site features thinking about philosophy and education, academia, teaching, technology, culture – even spirit! But it’s not straight-up course content or academic research.

Brain Bath

Billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman says his masters in philosophy has helped him more than an MBA

by Richard Feloni | Business Insider Nov. 24, 2017 Reid Hoffman is the billionaire cofounder of LinkedIn and one of tech’s most influential investors. Instead of a business education, he pursued his master’s degree in philosophy. He told us that the analytical thinking skills he learned have made him a better investor and entrepreneur. When students begin graduate studies in philosophy, they’re typically looking to explore the essence of existence — and suffice it to say, most are not getting on a path to riches. But one of Silicon Valley’s most influential billionaires, LinkedIn founder and Greylock Partners investor Reid […]

Brain Bath

That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket

From George Anders 2015 column in Forbes magazine. Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s 42-year-old cofounder and CEO, whose estimated double-digit stake in the company could be worth $300 million or more. He’s the proud holder of an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Canada’s University of Victoria and a master’s degree from Cambridge in philosophy and the history of science. “Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says Butterfield, sitting in his office in San Francisco’s South of Market district, a neighborhood almost entirely dedicated to the cult of coding. “I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument […]

Brain Bath

Why study philosophy?: A statement by Jordan Kotick, Vice-President J.P. Morgan, Wall Street

While considering what to study in my first year as an Undergraduate, I decided to take a few Philosophy courses. When informed of my decision, those I knew murmured, “Philosophy…what are you going to do with that?” Soon after my first year was complete, realizing that I enjoyed these courses and my intellectual curiosity was peaked and challenged, I decided that one of my double majors as an undergraduate was going to be Philosophy. The echoes grew louder as those I knew grumbled “Philosophy? What are you going to do with that?” After four years and a Bachelor of Arts […]

Brain Bath

A Society with Poor Critical Thinking Skills: The Case for ‘Argument’ in Education

Huffington Post (08/15/13 | Updated 10/15/13) by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz Researchers have shown that most students today are weak in critical thinking skills. They do poorly on simple logical reasoning tests (Evans, 2002). Only a fraction of graduating high school seniors (6 percent of 12th graders) can make informed, critical judgments about written text (Perie, Grigg, and Donahue, 2005). This problem applies to both reading and writing. Only 15 percent of 12th graders demonstrate the proficiency to write well-organized essays that consisted of clear arguments (Perie et al., 2005). Critical thinking and argument skills — the abilities to both generate and critique arguments […]

The Perfect Moral Storm: Philosophers Respond to the Impending Anthropogenic Apocalypse

For at least the next 200 years, weather forecasts predict shitstorms, with global temperatures now set to remain elevated for hundreds of years to come. The latest IPCC report explains that our emissions are nearing the point of no return. Even if industrialized nations switched to solar power overnight, it is now too late to fully reverse the planet’s course. Geologists have officially termed this new epoch, where the human species has irreparably shaped earth’s geological history, the
Anthropocene. Policymakers no longer have the luxury to decide how we might “stop” global warming. Instead, we have to figure out how we’ll manage amidst climate instability.

Rebekah Frumkin

Socrates and Glaucon on the Home Shopping Network

by REBEKAH FRUMKIN, McSweeneys (19 May 2010) SOCRATES: Good evening, Glaucon. You look troubled. GLAUCON: I am, Socrates. SOCRATES: What worries you so? GLAUCON: Look at my kitchen floor. That brown scum is the stain of fowl livers. I spilled them earlier today and cleaned them up, but the stains remain. SOCRATES: I see. GLAUCON: The stains are attracting countless pests with their foul odor and bacteria. There is no way to clean them up. SOCRATES: Are you sure of that? GLAUCON: Yes. To do so, I would need some convenient means of cleaning and sterilization. SOCRATES: And you are […]

I'm Dangerous

“I think, therefore I earn”

[oohead]Philosophy graduates are suddenly all the rage with employers. What can they possibly have to offer?[/oohead]by Jessica Shepherd, The Guardian (19 November 2007) “A degree in philosophy? What are you going to do with that then?” Philosophy students will tell you they’ve been asked this question more times than they care to remember. “The response people seem to want is a cheery shrug and a jokey ‘don’t know’,” says Joe Cunningham, 20, a final-year philosophy undergraduate at Heythrop College, University of London. A more accurate comeback, according to the latest statistics, is “just about anything I want”. Figures from the […]

Wall Street

The US is not a democracy but an oligarchy, study concludes

by JC Sevcik, UPI, April 16, 2014 WASHINGTON, April 16 (UPI) — Oligarchy is a form of government in which power is vested in a dominant class and a small group exercises control over the general population. A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities concluded that the U.S. government represents not the interests of the majority of citizens but those of the rich and powerful. “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” analyzed extensive data, comparing nearly 1,800 U.S. policies enacted between 1981 and 2002 with the expressed preferences of average and affluent Americans as […]

Out of Body Experience

How to Have an Out-of-Body Experience

Greg Stevens, Science Correspondent, The Kernel, Thursday, 10 April 2014 You can have an out of body experience right now, and it isn’t even that hard. Some people can do it more easily than others, and it may take a little practice. But it is something that anybody can do, and it can be done scientifically. Senses and the self Let’s start with a question: Where do you feel like the center of your “self” is right now? Most people feel like the center of their consciousness—the vantage from which they are experiencing the world—is somewhere behind their eyes. This […]

Aldo Leopold on Rimrock above the Rio Gavilan in northern Mexico

Leopold’s Land Ethic

This piece comes from A Sand County Almanac (Oxford University Press, 1948).[oohcol][commentary][oohead] About Leopold*[/oohead][shadowbox]* – This is the blurb from pp. 227-228 of the 1987 printing of the book.[/shadowbox] Aldo Leopold was born in Burlington, Iowa, on January 11 1887. As a boy he developed a lively interest in field ornithology and natural history and after schooling in Burlington, at Lawrenceville Prep in New Jersey, and the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, he enrolled in the Yale forestry school, the first graduate school of forestry in the United States. Graduating with a masters in 1909, he joined the U.S. Forest […]

NYU sociologist Andrew Ross

Are Student Loans Immoral?

by Andrew Ross, The Daily Beast (09.27.12). Millions of grads are saddled with unpayable student loans, yet colleges still say they’re a sound investment. NYU professor Andrew Ross asks if it’s time to stop repaying the loans. [commentary styl=”width: 60%; float: right; margin-left: 20px;”][phil writer=”Lalor”]Andrew Ross is an NYU sociologist who argues that the state of student loans – which students pay back at a rate higher than what the government itself borrows for – is unethical. Unwieldy loans have become “normalized,” their significance hardly noticed – until we step back from anecdotes to take in the data:[quote]41 percent of […]

NYU Professor of Philosophy, Samuel Scheffler

What Matters to the Dead?

[commentary][phil writer=”Lalor”]Samuel Scheffler’s piece in The New York Times toward the end of September hit a couple nails on the head for us: He considered, philosophically, the significance that knowledge of planetary doom would have — which is precisely the issue Ron Curie tackles “fictionally” in Everything Matters. Scheffler: [quote]Suppose you knew that although you yourself would live a long life and die peacefully in your sleep, the earth and all its inhabitants would be destroyed 30 days after your death in a collision with a giant asteroid. How would this knowledge affect you?[/quote] In the work below, he infers […]

Business Needs Philosophy

Why Future Business Leaders Need Philosophy

BigThink – August 3, 2013 by Anders Poulsen In the wake of the financial crisis, an era of severe turbulence, rapid changes and increasing complexity has emerged. A black cloud hangs over the past decade’s economic prosperity and global consumption habits, which fundamentally challenges the purpose of business. All too often the approach to business practices has been one-dimensional, lacking in richness and depth. This goes for both the cheerleaders and the critics of the current business practices. In these times, it is important to be able to view the world in different shades – one of possibilities, rather than […]

Timothy Leary (Los Angeles, 1989)

How to Operate Your Brain: An Owner’s Manual

I just saw Limitless (which was ponderously provocative), and recalled this Leary piece. by Timothy Leary You might catch yourself sliding in and out … relax and enjoy it. This is an experiment in mind formation, in-formation, forming, controlling, operating your mind and your brain, using digital techniques to overload, scramble, confuse, unfocus your mind. The natural state of the brain is chaos. We’re dealing with a complexity of in-formation. The first thing to do is to overwhelm your focused mind, your linear mind, by overloading signals, digital patterns, clusters of photons and electrons which produce a pleasant state of […]

Well-Known Philosophy Majors

by Brendan Lalor I believe it was the good philosophers at Belmont University, who started the list of well-known people who were philosophy majors. The folks at at Eastern Kentucky University added significantly to the list. The list is reprinted below. And Catherine Nolan has created a “Philosophy Majors” poster. [gview file=”https://thereitis.org/tii-content/uploads/2009/12/philosophy-majors_c-nolan.pdf” save=”0″] I’ll take any additions you may want to submit, along with the documentation. What Can I Do With a Philosophy Degree? The truth is; you can do ANYTHING with your degree. But don’t take our word for it – the following is a list of people, all […]

Republicans Outnumbered in Academia, Studies Find

[ It could be that more academics are liberal because that’s what (generally) happens to people who devote their lives to the expansion of the mind. Thanks to Michael Roselius for passing this article along. –BL ] November 18, 2004 | New York Times by JOHN TIERNEY BERKELEY, Calif. – At the birthplace of the free speech movement, campus radicals have a new target: the faculty that came of age in the 60’s. They say their professors have been preaching multiculturalism and diversity while creating a political monoculture on campus. Conservatism is becoming more visible at the University of California here, […]

New Tack Wins Prisoner’s Dilemma

[ For more on the Prisoner’s Dilemma, visit Serge Helfrich’s page. Thanks to Jared Childers for forwarding the article. –BL ] Oct. 13, 2004 | Wired by Wendy M. Grossman Proving that a new approach can secure victory in a classic strategy game, a team from England’s Southampton University has won the 20th-anniversary Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma competition, toppling the long-term winner from its throne. The Southampton group, whose primary research area is software agents, said its strategy involved a series of moves allowing players to recognize each other and act cooperatively.

Can I Get a Job With a Philosophy Degree?

by Brendan Lalor If you want to “be all you can be” as a human being, it’s hard to imagine a more practical course of training than the study of philosophy. As Aristotle argued, philosophical activity — reflective, appreciative understanding of and speculation about the world — is conducive to the most fulfilling life. Hence, philosophy is a perfectly practical area of study for people who care to live good lives. But even we philosophers have to consider the other sort of “practical” use of philosophy more closely tied to employment and economic considerations. Not an MBA, a Philosophy degree […]

THE USES OF PHILOSOPHY

excerpted from the American Philosophical Association’s Philosophy: A Brief Guide for Undergraduates General Uses of Philosophy Much of what is learned in philosophy can be applied in virtually any endeavor. This is both because philosophy touches on so many subjects and, especially, because many of its methods are usable in any field. General Problem Solving. The study of philosophy enhances, in a way no other activity does, one’s problem-solving capacities. It helps one to analyze concepts, definitions, arguments and problems. It contributes to one’s capacity to organize ideas and issues, to deal with questions of value, and to extract what […]

How to Get to the Top — Study Philosophy

Questions of Principle 2 January 1990 | Globe and Mail [Toronto] by Thomas Hurka CALGARY – How should Canada educate students to compete successfully in the business world? Some provincial governments think it is by teaching them business. The Alberta government has announced plans for an “unprecedented” expansion of business education at its three universities. Already, 120 extra students are studying management at the University of Calgary. Recent evidence suggests this approach is mistaken. We will produce better managers if we educate them first in traditional subjects in the arts and sciences. We may do best of all of we […]

Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life And in Work

26 December 1997 | New York Times by CAROL MARIE CROPPER CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – What can you do with a philosophy degree? In an age of M.B.A.’s and computer scientists, more than 4,000 American college students graduate each year with a bachelor’s degree in the ancient discipline. Sometimes their parents and friends wonder what will happen to them. One thing is certain: Not many of them will go on to make a living as philosophers. Even those who persevere through a doctorate may wind up doing something else. More than 1,000 people with Ph.D’s in philosophy applied for the 448 […]

Role of Letter Order in Parsing Language

by Brendan Lalor This is posted various places around the net. I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty esdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer inwaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig […]

To Beat the Market: Hire a Philosopher

10 January 1999 | The New York Times by EDWARD WYATT BALTIMORE, Md. — Perhaps it is the references to the fiction of Jorge Luis Borges, the late Argentine author whose metaphysical imagery he uses to illustrate a point about price-to-earnings ratios. Or maybe it is the nods to the philosophy of William James, whose theories are called upon to justify why America Online is a value stock. Certainly some hint is in the “thought experiments” that he calls upon his staff to perform. Spend even a few minutes talking with William H. Miller III and it becomes clear that […]