Institute of Practical Philosophy@VIU – approaching 40!

Several years ago now I wrote, in the local press,  of the need for a local Institute to study and discuss contemporary social issues. Engage the community, was the idea that sparked this birth. And VIU (then Malaspina College) enthusiastically agreed. Over the years the IPP has hosted several community events, including, health care, pornography, euthanasia; and it has published several chapbooks. You can review its past, present and future here.

At first we funded it by selling memberships in the local Society for Practical Philosophy and securing grant money from several BC charitable organizations.


And I am pleased to say that the IPP is still functioning under the directorship of Dr. Robert Pepper-Smith with the help of the philosophy Chair, Dr. Carolyn Swanson!

Mission Statement

The Institute’s mandate is to:

  • examine central problems of contemporary society through a careful unification of theory and fact;

  • engage community members in thoughtful, philosophical debate; and

  • explore topical issues through workshops, lectures, newsletters, symposiums and publications.

Study in Austria

The grants listed below can be held in any Austrian university.

Speaking only for myself, I would be happy to support suitable
applications in general philosophy of science, philosophy of the social
sciences, social epistemology, or epistemic relativism.

Lise Meitner Grant

Anniversary Fund of the National Bank of Austria

Mach Grant

Start Grant

Schrödinger Grant

Firnberg or Richter grants (for women only)

Marie-Curie Action

Martin Kusch
University of Vienna

Sunday’s Sermon: Review

Certainty is demonic. Hypocrisy is omni-present. Politics is religion. Religion is politics.

“Even the well informed tend to have very short attention spans when it comes to evangelicals. Many equate evangelicals with fundamentalists or the Christian right when only a minority belong to either group. Others dismiss them as a marginal group doomed to extinction with the process of modernization. In fact evangelicals compose nearly a quarter of the (US) population.” (p.2)

Those founding Puritans continue to have an influence on the culture and particularly the politics in the USA. The clash between fundamentalism and modernism erupted after World War I and affected all Protestant denominations. The core beliefs of the fundamentalists seem to be: what the Bible says is true and inerrant (particularly, of course, the New Testament); abortion is categorically evil; homosexuality is also evil and same sex marriage an abomination. As Fitzgerald points out “For them the first chapter of Genesis is to be interpreted literally. Even today two thirds of evangelicals say they believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” (p. 625) These beliefs are manifest in the opposition to the SCOTUS decision banning prayer and Bible readings in public schools, almost all of the civil rights movement, the 1960s protests against the war in Vietnam, and the Roe v. Wade decision.

Read the review.

“The Post”

Saw “The Post” recently. Highly recommend it! It speaks not only to the past (the Nixon years) but resonates with today as well. Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper — The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee, Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers — and very freedom — to help bring long-buried truths to light.

Many liberties were taken in “The Post,” the Steven Spielberg movie on the publishing of the Pentagon Papers. But the movie stuck to reality when it described how the Supreme Court sided with the press and not the Nixon administration in what was a cliffhanger of a legal battle. It’s worth reading Justice Hugo Black’s triumphant words at the CORNELL LAW SCHOOL »

Review here.

Hemingway and Disney

Ernest Hemingway in Italian Disney Comics

Italy loves Hemingway. And in particular, Disney’s Italian comic book creators love Hemingway.

Since 1987, the comic digest Topolino (Mickey Mouse’s name in Italy) has published more than ten stories featuring Hemingway as a character or based on one of the author’s stories.

Go here.

Opportunity knocks

Ernest Hemingway Lewis-Reynolds-Smith Founders Fellowship
Dear Hemingway friends,
Each year the Hemingway Society awards two grants of $1,000 each to support the development of a Hemingway-related scholarly project (thesis, dissertation, journal article, book, or other significant scholarly product). The award honors the contributions of Robert W. Lewis, Michael Reynolds, and Paul Smith, whose work greatly influenced Hemingway studies. Recipients may use the fellowship to fund many project-related expenses including but not limited to research-related travel, photocopying and photo duplication, or the purchase of project-related software, materials, or equipment.
The criteria for judging proposals will be the clarity, originality, and feasibility of the project; its value in furthering Hemingway scholarship, criticism, or instruction; and, where appropriate, the likelihood of its publication. The fellowship is open to all scholars and graduate students, with preference given to enrolled graduate students and recent recipients of doctorate degrees.
For application requirements and to submit your application, please visit the Hemingway Society website:

Sunday’s Sermon: Suzuki

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My parents were born in Vancouver — Dad in 1909, Mom in 1911 — and married during the Great Depression. It was a difficult time that shaped their values and outlook, which they drummed into my sisters and me.

“Save some for tomorrow,” they often scolded. “Share; don’t be greedy.” “Help others when they need it because one day you might need to ask for their help.” “Live within your means.” Their most important was, “You must work hard for the necessities in life, but don’t run after money as if having fancy clothes or big cars make you a better or more important person.” I think of my parents often during the frenzy of pre- and post-Christmas shopping.

Read the “sermon” here.