Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What can you do with philosophy?

On Philosophy Bites Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds spoke with writer John Armstrong about the question 'What can you do with philosophy?'. For a philosophy podcast that reaches a wide public this is almost an obligatory question. One would almost expect the defining podcast for Philosophy Bites.

As the dialog set out, I was reminded of a radio program I heard many years ago with a mathematician who was addressing the similar question, what practical use does mathematics have. And surely this mathematician set out to tackle the problem of choosing the right partner in life with chance theory, stochastics and deliver the exact answer. Fine, but yet I feel that somehow the mathematician, or the philosopher for that matter, is in a way degrading himself by forcefully applying to the profane and should have some arrogance in not wishing to be practical.

Yet, in the end, John Armstrong seemed to have established more than the reported mathematician as I found myself discussing this episode with others who had heard it and noticed we all began applying the trains of thought and refining questions Armstrong had suggested. And so, especially in hindsight, this was indeed a very good issue of the podcast.

More Philosophy Bites:
Morality without God,
Pascal's Pensées,
Fourth Revolution,
Michael Sandel on what cannot be sold,
Aristotle's Ethics.
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