Philosophy?? What for?

What Philosophy Is For
Michael Hampe, What Philosophy Is For, Michael Winkler (tr.), University of Chicago Press, 2018, 332pp., $45.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780226365282.

Reviewed by Richard Eldridge, Swarthmore College
Michael Hampe has had a significant career as Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Humanities and Social and Political Sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich). As befits this institutional setting, he has worked primarily in the philosophy of biology and the theory of laws of nature while also maintaining interests in science and society, critical theory, and literature, as well as in a number of thinkers who have joined these topics together, such as Whitehead, Dewey, and Deleuze. This volume is the English translation of Hampe’s 2014 Die Lehren der Philosophie: Eine Kritik — the doctrines or teachings of philosophy: a criticism. Under these titles, Hampe offers “above all a metaphilosophical text” that is “a critique of the current academic condition of philosophy” (xii). Philosophy as a body of putative doctrines is both empty — real doctrines and explanations are the province exclusively of the sciences — and a prop to unjust social authority. What is left is nondoctrinal philosophy as the activity of criticizing “circumstances that exist in the world” (xi) or as “a poetic critique of factually existing circumstances” from within them (257). Hampe’s enemies are those whom he takes to be systematizers and theorizers, including Plato (or at least Platonism), Kant, Hegel, Habermas, Brandom, and analytic philosophy in general. His heroes are Socrates, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, Adorno, Whitehead, Dewey, Rorty, Cavell, and Geuss (to whom the book is dedicated).

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Philosophy map

Title page

Title page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Bertrand Russell and Conway Hall Behi...

English: Bertrand Russell and Conway Hall Behind bust of Bertrand Russell (by Marcelle Quinton 1980) in Red Lion Square the entrance to Conway Hall can be seen with Royal Mail van parked outside. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the introduction to his sweeping History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell wastes no time getting to a definition of his subject. “The conceptions of life and the world which we call ‘philosophical,’” he writes in the first sentence, “are a product of two factors: one, inherited religious and ethical conceptions; the other, the sort of investigation which may be called ‘scientific,’ using the word in its broadest sense. … Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science.” (Russell makes a similar argument, in slightly different terms, in the essay “Mysticism and Logic.”)

Bertrand Russell 1907

Bertrand Russell 1907 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Miss Shakespeare

Shakespeare's second daughter unwisely allows ...

Shakespeare’s second daughter unwisely allows a young man to have a preliminary look at her father’s manuscript of The Tempest, a scene from William Black’s Judith Shakespeare, illustrated by Edwin Austin Abbey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


What if Shakespeare’s daughter wrote a musical? That’s the premise for Miss Shakespeare, which finds the Bard’s youngest daughter rounding up her friends and putting on a show.

There’s not much known about the personal life of William Shakespeare, but we do know he had two daughters (his only son died as child). When he died in 1616, the playwright left the bulk of his estate to his elder daughter Susanna, who had married well, and a small sum to his younger daughter Judith, who wed under scandalous circumstances.

Miss Shakespeare imagines Judith as a feisty woman who has inherited her father’s creativity. In an age where women were forbidden from appearing on the stage, she gathers six friends in a tavern cellar to swap stories and saucy songs.

“It being a time when women’s stories aren’t being represented on stage, they don’t have a chance to connect and share their experience in the way we do today,” said director Bronwyn Steinberg.

Presented by Three Sisters Theatre Company, with book and lyrics by Tracey Power.

Where: Gladstone Theatre, 910 Gladstone Ave.

When: Runs until Saturday, June 2.

Cost: $20 for students, $32 for seniors $36 for adults. Tickets can be purchased here.

Source: CBC

Sunday’s sermon: book review

Parents often worry about raising kids in a tech-saturated world – the threats of cyberbullying, video game violence, pornography, and sexting may seem inescapable. And while these dangers exist, there is a much more common and subtle way that technology can cause harm: by eroding our attention spans. Focused attention is fundamental to maintaining quality relationships, but our constant interaction with screens and social media is shortening our attention spans – which takes a toll on our personal connections with friends and family and our ability to form real relationships.

Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World guides parents in teaching their children how to reap the benefits of living in a digital world while also preventing its negative effects. Mike Brooks and Jon Lasser, psychologists with extensive experience working with kids, parents, and teachers, combine cutting-edge research and expertise to create an engaging and helpful guide that emphasizes the importance of the parent-child relationship. They reject an “all or nothing” attitude towards technology, in favor of a balanced approach that neither idealizes nor demonizes the digital. Brooks and Lasser provide strategies for preventing technology from becoming problematic in the first place; steps for addressing problems when they arise; and ways of intervening when problems are out of control. They also discuss the increasingly challenging issue of technology use in schools, and how parents can collaborate with educators when concerns arise over kids’ use of technology.

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