“Mistakes Were Made . . .”

Mistakes were made (but not by me)
Mistakes were made (but not by me) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


There is a vast body of literature on how to do well, how to be happy, what to do and choose for one’s own benefit and that of others. This body covers a range from the vulgar to the great moral philosophers. We are not short of such analyses or guidance.

In contrast, the body of work which considers our failure to do well and be good is decidedly smaller, and also, it must be said, rather lamer, particularly in its power to explain why we fall into foolish beliefs, make bad decisions and commit hurtful acts. We remain opaque to others and to ourselves, thinking, acting and responding in ways which are harmful, counter-productive and baffling. Most baffling of all is our propensity to continue in these patterns, to compound error with error and throw good vigorously after bad. [Source]





Ergo is an open access philosophy journal accepting submissions on all philosophical topics and from all philosophical traditions. This includes, among other things: history of philosophy, work in both the analytic and continental traditions, as well as formal and empirically informed philosophy. Ergo is strongly committed to diversity and especially welcomes submissions from members of groups currently underrepresented in philosophy.

Submission and publication are free, and authors retain copyright under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 license. Generous support from the undergraduate departments of philosophy at the University of Toronto’s St. George and Mississauga campuses and the University of Toronto’s graduate department of philosophy make this arrangement possible.

Papers are published as they are accepted; there is no regular publication schedule.

  1. Epistemic Exploitation

    Nora Berenstain

  2. Cabbage à la Descartes

    Devin Sanchez Curry


Sunday’s Sermon

One of our regular authors presents: “Comedy in the Age of the Absurd: Helping or Harming?”


It’s an absurd new[s] era, and when faced with the question of “should we laugh or should we cry?” the choice is being made for us. Comedy news outlets (our ever-increasing primary news source) are having a heyday; observing and reporting with an almost glee. They couldn’t make this shit up.

And us? We’re devouring it.

The one to rule them all.

It feels good to laugh. That’s probably why humour is the preferred coping mechanism for dealing with the reality that is Trump. But might getting our news in this way have its downside? If comedy is our news and their business, who’s gonna tell us it’s no laughing matter?

There is certainly an argument for humour as being an effective weapon here,  as it’s clear that Trump can’t tolerate any form of criticism – and what’s more harmful to a man like this than the public buying the notion that he is a Joke on the world stage. He spends an inordinate amount of time reacting to haters with childlike petulance that he fails to see just adds to the comedy.  Perhaps shows like SNL, John Oliver, Stephen  Colbert and the like aren’t just capitalizing on the circumstance, but are here at exactly the right time and doing their duty as commanders of the Army of Comedy that will ultimate cause him to implode. It could. Or it could do the exact opposite.

Because here’s what needs to be taken seriously:

That Donald Trump, Actual President of the United States, is mentally ill. Saying so is not meant to be insulting or inflammatory. It’s to state what is plainly obvious but is being obscured by the sweet panacea of comedy. He displays all the criteria of someone with a serious psychological and/or medical condition that makes him – unfortunately, comically – unfit to be any kind of leader.  A pathological liar; and not on disputable matters, but on facts of which there are images and recordings (of himself too).  And not just occasionally, but constantly. And not after some thought, but reflexively. And not over insignificant things, but facts that matter. A level of emotional control and articulacy that is rarely observed in any mature, stable person, let alone . . .  you get the picture. This is only what shows. Can you imagine?

(And then there’s this, which I consider to be the crown jewel on top of the trash pile of evidence for incompetency which at the same time is a mint example of this laugh/cry coin. For this to even BE, let alone get a pass as the very first broadcast of the official news outlet of the Trump Administration, boggles my mind and reduces me to tears of laughter despite myself. Just watch.)

We can certainly count his overall anti-environment, anti-education, anti-social security (anti-humanity, really) attitude as evidence that he is incapable of considering the welfare anyone outside of him and his. But I’m not so sure if that’s mental illness so much as the natural result of being born and raised in a bubble of extreme self-indulgence that this late in the game is psychologically incapable of being popped. Or is that mental illness too? Is greed evil or illness? And does mental illness imply that his behaviours are more excusable than, say, evil?

Now I’ve realized I’ve gone off track and opened up a can of worms about what mental illness is, and how or if it’s distinct from evil. You all better join in on discussion now.

Personally, I think there are not evil people so much as those with a lack of knowledge of good; and this moral confusion + power + fear of being irrelevant = the path of least resistance, which to a weak mind with strong negative influences can certainly cause evil, easily justified as something other than.

Anyways, my point is that if Trump’s behaviour can be explained by at least Narcissistic Personality Disorder (and possibly untreated syphilis, possible dementia), then he either needs treatment or to be treated like a person with special needs who doesn’t know his own strength.

And we need to stop laughing.

…or do we?

Philosophy, Religion, and the Meaning of Nationhood in the 21st century

English: Devonian Pond,Ryerson University, Tor...
English: Devonian Pond,Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The CJMA welcomes proposals from individuals who are interested in presenting a paper at its 2017 spring conference.

Saturday, May 27 to Sunday May 28, 2017
Ryerson University,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

In the 21st century, diverse tendencies appear to be altering or even undermining nationhood, understood as belonging to a sovereign people with a shared heritage. Philosophers have discussed individualism, multiculturalism, and globalization – in Canada we have the recent contribution of substantial thinkers like Charles Taylor, John Ralston Saul, George Grant, and Leslie Armour. In addition, the role of religion is emerging as a prominent factor determining nationhood: from political and patriotic Christian Evangelism in the United States, Canada, and Latin America to the traditional theocratic tendencies in the Middle East, and the role of Hinduism and Confucianism in promoting national identities is significant. Furthermore, any discussion of nationhood in the 21st century must take into account concerns associated with the role of Islam in European and American societies, and the contribution of Native American religion to our appreciation of the natural environment and cohesive community.

All papers addressing the role of philosophy and/or religion in determining the meaning of nationhood in the 21st century are welcome.

Those who wish to present a paper should send a one-page abstract or proposal to:

Dr. Elizabeth Trott
Email: etrott@ryerson.ca

Deadline for submission of proposals: February 15, 2017