UC Irvine: UCI scholar launches database dedicated to German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

UC Irvine: UCI scholar launches database dedicated to German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. “An expert on the German philosophical tradition from the Enlightenment to the present, [Professor John H.] Smith has written previously on Goethe. As the co-editor-in-chief of the project, Smith is leading a transnational team of 22 scholars representing 17 universities. Their goal is to make Goethe’s thought available to scholars outside of the German-speaking world and to help scholars connect with Goethe’s work. Each year, they plan to add 10-15 entries on Goethe’s work for a total of 200-300 entries. This project’s ultimate aim though is to turn accepted ideas of how philosophy can influence art on their head by instead showing how a creative writer had input on philosophical thought.”

The Conversation: Is mathematics real? A viral TikTok video raises a legitimate question with exciting answers

The Conversation: Is mathematics real? A viral TikTok video raises a legitimate question with exciting answers. “While filming herself getting ready for work recently, TikTok user @gracie.ham reached deep into the ancient foundations of mathematics and found an absolute gem of a question: How could someone come up with a concept like algebra? She also asked what the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras might have used mathematics for, and other questions that revolve around the age-old conundrum of whether mathematics is ‘real’ or something humans just made up. Many responded negatively to the post, but others — including mathematicians like me — found the questions quite insightful.”

The Next Web: This Philosopher AI has its own existential questions to answer

The Next Web: This Philosopher AI has its own existential questions to answer. “A new Philosopher AI could help you find meaning in a meaningless world — as long as you don’t ask it any controversial questions. The system provides musings on subjects that have plagued humanity since its inception. You can ask it about a topic that’s filling you with existential angst. It then uses OpenAI‘s GPT-3 text generator to analyze your text and spit back a life-affirming/soul-destroying response.” I do not recommend trying this if you have a heavy burden of despair right now.

Blog of the APA: Academic journal The Philosopher joins with Exact Editions to put their archive online

Blog of the APA: Academic journal The Philosopher joins with Exact Editions to put their archive online. “Recently, the academic journal The Philosopher decided to partner with the company Exact Editions to put their archive online in digital format. Many articles from past decades will be more easily available to researchers because of this move. In order to understand its significance, I talked with Exact Editions co-founder Adam Hodgkin and The Philosopher editor Anthony Morgan.”

MIT Press Reader: Why Facebook is Rescuing Us

The MIT Press Reader: Why Facebook is Rescuing Us. “Against all the talk about the capitalization of private data and the evil of Facebook, one needs to see the bigger picture. It is time to understand the enormous opportunity Facebook is giving humankind. It is time to acknowledge that Zuckerberg’s invention has made the social not only measurable but also sustainable. It is taking care of the problem of meaning in life by getting rid of any time to wonder.” It’s rare that I read something that’s so intellectually stimulating and at the same time such a hard punch to the face.

Quartz: Google Translate is a manifestation of Wittgenstein’s theory of language

Quartz: Google Translate is a manifestation of Wittgenstein’s theory of language. “More than 60 years after philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theories on language were published, the artificial intelligence behind Google Translate has provided a practical example of his hypotheses. Patrick Hebron, who works on machine learning in design at Adobe and studied philosophy with Wittgenstein expert Garry Hagberg for his bachelor’s degree at Bard College, notes that the networks behind Google Translate are a very literal representation of Wittgenstein’s work.”

Quartz: 150 years ago, a philosopher showed why it’s pointless to start arguments on the internet

Quartz: 150 years ago, a philosopher showed why it’s pointless to start arguments on the internet. “Wildly inaccurate facts and spurious arguments are unavoidable features of social media. Yet no matter how infuriatingly wrong someone is, or just how much counter-evidence you have at your disposal, starting arguments on the internet rarely gets anyone to change their mind. Nearly a century-and-a-half ago, British philosopher John Stuart Mill explained, in a few clear sentences, why certain arguments simply won’t go anywhere. As historian Robert Saunders notes, Mill’s analysis neatly applies to heated and futile internet debates.”

New York Times: Do You Have a Moral Duty to Leave Facebook?

New York Times: Do You Have a Moral Duty to Leave Facebook?. “I joined Facebook in 2008, and for the most part, I have benefited from being on it. Lately, however, I have wondered whether I should delete my Facebook account. As a philosopher with a special interest in ethics, I am using ‘should’ in the moral sense. That is, in light of recent events implicating Facebook in objectionable behavior, is there a duty to leave it?”

PhilPapers: Moving toward PhilPeople

PhilPapers: Moving toward PhilPeople. “In the coming months, we will launch PhilPeople, a new service from the PhilPapers Foundation developed with the support of the APA. PhilPeople will be a searchable database of philosophers. It will have an associated search engine that enables searches on a number of dimensions (e.g. by areas of specialization, location, and demographic features). PhilPeople will also provide a profile page to any philosopher who wants one, with links to their publications on PhilPapers. It will include social networking features. It will also include an associated database of academic departments of philosophy, with searchable information about each of these departments.”

The Socratic Method in a Google Custom Search Engine

A gentleman named Ted Hunt has developed Socrates, a wrapper for Google search. “Hunt’s project combines his principles with Google Custom Search technology to provide the answers to five search buttons – Seek Clarity, Challenge Assumptions, View Evidence, Explore Alternatives or Consider Implications.” The article doesn’t make it too clear, but the engine’s at http://www.this-is-helpful.com/Socrates/ . It didn’t work that well when I tried it, but the implications for using a CSE for weighing and slanting search results with words are interesting.

New Project Attempts to Extend Description of Medieval Christian Images

A new project will attempt to provide an extended structure for describing medieval Christian images. “The French Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA) is launching an ambitious project for scholars and the broader public that proposes an innovative way of accessing medieval Christian images. By building complex and nuanced vocabularies of keywords and terms, the ‘Ontology of Medieval Christianity in Images’ (OMCI) will allow databases to better represent how such images depict philosophical and spiritual themes that have been diminished or even ignored in current approaches.”

QZ On the SEP

QZ has a nice writeup on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “The internet is an information landfill. Somewhere in it—buried under piles of opinion, speculation, and misinformation—is virtually all of human knowledge. But sorting through the trash is difficult work. Even when you have something you think is valuable, it often turns out to be a cheap knock-off. The story of how the SEP is run, and how it came to be, shows that it is possible to create a less trashy internet—or at least a less trashy corner of it.”

New Digital Archive About Suicide and Its Ethics

There is now a digital archive to accompany a book about the ethics of suicide. “Margaret Pabst Battin, distinguished professor of philosophy and medical ethics at the University of Utah has spent almost 40 years researching, collecting and organizing historical sources on suicide, examining every side of these issues. Her new book, ‘The Ethics of Suicide: Historical Sources,’ published by the Oxford University Press with an accompanying digital archive hosted by the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library, provides a diverse range of thinking about suicide throughout history, representing a full range of cultures and traditions.”