Festive wisdom


Thanks to all who came to my Philosophical Bibliotherapy at the Philosophy Now Festival on 8 September.

The discussion ranged widely, covering, among other topics, what makes a text a philosophical work? Why do we consider a novel,  such as Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea, philosophy, but not a non-fiction book such as The Secret by Rhonda Byrne? And what is the function of philosophy anyway – is it to console or to disturb us – shaking us from our “dogmatic slumbers” as Kant claimed he was by reading Hume?
Suggestions for books that have changed, if not lives, at least a few fundamental assumptions, included Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, the dialogues of Plato and, somewhat surprisingly Naming and Necessity by Saul Kripke. Kuhn’s book seemed remarkably apt, suggesting a radically different way of understanding how science proceeds by differing radically, so giving the world the concept of the “paradigm shift.”


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