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. “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.”
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.”
Big Think: ‘The Journal of Controversial Ideas’ will launch in 2019. Is it dangerous?. “Three very famous philosophers are teaming up to create an academic journal dedicated to ideas too controversial to put a name on. As you might expect, the concept itself has already gathered controversy.”
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?”
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.
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.”
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.”