If you think of philosophy as a way to escape from the calamities and irritants of 2021, you will find much that is pleasing in this section. Steven Nadler’s discussion of Spinoza and Stoicism starts with the charming fact that an inventory of the philosopher’s possessions, upon his death, revealed that he owned two pairs of shoes and two sets of underwear. More philosophically significant, he had several books by Stoics, and some by Plato, but none by Aristotle.
Christopher Moore takes us back to the ancients to investigate the familiar idea that philosophy is, etymologically speaking, the love of wisdom. Not so fast, he says, and offers an alternative etymology, drawing surprising conclusions about what philosophers really do. Whatever they do, Sharon Kaye explains how to get people doing it from an early age. The Philosophy for Kids program at John Carroll University, where she teaches, trains college students to teach philosophy to middle-schoolers.
If you think of philosophy as helping us grapple with what’s going in the world today, then you will also find plenty to read. John Martin Fischer discusses two phrases we often hear in contemporary political discourse. Oliver Traldi discusses the odd “parasocial relationships” that arise when people interact online.
Margaret Betz writes about her involvement with an effort to prevent environmental racism by serving on an advisory board dealing with a waste incinerator in Chester Pennsylvania. She shows that philosophers can make a difference, in the most tangible sense there is. And Alan Haworth celebrates the 50th anniversary of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice by discussing whether this is one of the great, enduring works of political philosophy. One of the questions he puts front and center is whether Rawls’s book has had the sort of impact on society that other classic works of political philosophy had in the past. “Who reads Rawls?” he asks. It’s a great question.