Africa has a history of rich and ancient philosophical traditions. Those traditions were rendered invisible by European colonisers, who sought to overlay Africa's past with the values of the Enlightenment. Today, African philosophy is being uncovered and introduced to the West - but is the West listening?
Feminist arguments in the West have been used to advance imperialist projects that inflict suffering on women in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the Western feminist focus on individual rights can be disastrous when played out in non-Western contexts. Is it time to rethink “missionary feminism”?
As refugees from the former colonies make their way to Europe, notions of “European life” and “European values” are facing unprecedented challenges. As postcolonial subjects, how should these migrants be received and understood?
The West has a history of colonisation and empire-building. How has this shaped the discipline of philosophy? This week – first in a five-part series – we look at racism and the unfortunate legacy of Immanuel Kant, who believed the non-white races were incapable of philosophical reflection.
For centuries, “the wild” has been thought of as the place where humans rarely or never go. Our cities are meant to be refuges from the wild, and the policies that govern our lives are intended to impose order on chaos. But climate change is showing us that the wild and the urban environments are closely intertwined – and as Indigenous communities know well, policy is beset with incoherences and cruelties that make it anything but rational. Is it time to rethink “the wild” for the 21st century?
Anger is a normal human emotion, we seem to be hard wired for it. And there's a body of ethical opinion that says anger can be useful - as a means of communication, as a means of appreciating injustice rather than just recognising it, as as a spur to restorative action. But could we get along without it?
What if even the most ordinary experience could reward close and detailed analysis, revealing fascinating insights into the structures of consciousness and the world? This is the question asked by phenomenology, which investigates the experience of experience, and this week’s guest has written a new book exploring phenomenology from the ground up.
What can social media platforms deliver in the way of genuine personal connection and moral truth? And how good - or bad - are Facebook and Twitter for the philosophy community?
Science welcomes dissent. Scientific progress depends on challenging and dismantling theories as well as verifying them. But how should we deal with misinformation about science, and the ways it can erode such liberal democratic values as personal autonomy?
Refugees have been with us for millennia, but the modern refugee exists under a distinctively modern set of circumstances. Moral philosophers addressing the refugee issue often fail to take these circumstances into account, and to acknowledge the ways in which the West can be responsible for refugee crises.
Simone de Beauvoir wrote that “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”. It’s a much-quoted phrase that appears to speak presciently to modern concerns around sex and gender. But how well is Beauvoir understood by contemporary feminists?
Ubuntu is an African tradition of thought whose ethical orientation is captured in the well-known aphorism “I am, because we are”. But what gets lost when Ubuntu is framed as a philosophical discourse in the Western intellectual tradition? And where do we see its successes and failures in the reconstruction of post-colonial Africa?
"God is dead, and we have killed him" — a statement that's fuelled the popular misapprehension of Nietzsche as a crusading atheist, or militant nihilist. In fact, he was neither of those things, and "God is dead" is a much more interesting proposition than is often thought.
In 1967, French philosopher Jacques Derrida wrote "There is nothing outside the text". Or did he? It's a bad translation that's launched a thousand bad interpretations - but it's gone on to become a key element of Derrida's work.
In the Analects, Confucius is recorded as saying "When a country is well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. When a country is badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of". It's an interesting aphorism to consider in the light of China today, as the government seeks to promote Confucian ethics, while at the same time running an economy that's delivered vast wealth to a small political elite.
First program in a series exploring famous philosophical fragments. Philosophy is often thought of as proceeding via elaborate conceptual systems. But sometimes, a choice phrase is all you need to get you thinking.
Politics has never been a gentle pursuit, but these days the gloves are well and truly off. How did we get here? What are the implications for political philosophy, and for politics in general? As for where we might be headed, there are fascinating – if rather terrifying – clues in the work of French thinker René Girard.
Ideas is a program from CBC Canada and it's about... well, ideas. Each episode takes a concept and dives deep into its past, present and possible future. Whether you're interested in the meaning of community, the history of the saxophone, the environmental downside to jean manufacturing, the lure of political authoritarianism or our cultural obsession with serial killers, Ideas has an idea that's going to keep you listening. Pulling apart concepts, seeing how they work, and discovering why th...more
Progressive Muslim thought seeks to establish an Islam that's equipped for the modern world - and still embedded within the Islamic intellectual tradition.
In July 1656, the young philosopher Baruch Spinoza was cast out of his Jewish community for "abominable heresies". We don't know what those crimes were, but we do know that Spinoza has remained a polarising figure within Judaism ever since.
When we think about COVID-19 as a medical issue first and foremost, what are we missing? This week we explore the ways in which legal, economic, cultural and ethical perspectives on COVID-19 could be just as important as the medical.
Lev Shestov is one of the great forgotten modern philosophers, and now could be the time to rediscover him. His was a philosophy of hope in the face of hopelessness, and the parallels between his time and our own are compelling.
Moral grandstanding is not a harmless pastime. It’s insidious and corrosive, eating away at the foundations of public discourse and deepening the divisions between us. But how to stop it?
Smart home devices make life easier, and they're increasingly popular. But are they gender-neutral entities, or "smart wives"?
Our capacity to do terrible things to each other seems boundless. But we'd find it a lot more difficult without recourse to a neat conceptual trick: dehumanisation.
Argument and debate don’t need to be blood sports. Done properly, argument can be about beneficial mutual exchange and trust.
COVID-19 has exposed a streak of nihilism in 21st century capitalist societies. How do we move forward without succumbing to despair on one hand, or utopian thinking on the other?
When Nicola Redhouse had each of her two children, she experienced shattering post-natal anxiety that sent her deep into the mystery of the self, and the relationship between mind and body. A long standing participant in psychoanalysis, she found herself up against the practical limits of Freudian theory - but would science provide more useful insight?
Montesquieu was the 18th century French philosopher who introduced the term "despotism" into our political vocabulary. Today, his analysis is as relevant as ever.
When we die, our digital selves sometimes live on. The line between death and life — already blurred by medical technology — is even blurrier in the digital domain. How should we prepare for our electronic afterlives?
A fascinating public philosophy project, celebrating a major figure whose work deserves greater recognition — not just as a philosopher, but as a pioneering woman in a very male world.
If a woman wants to experience pregnancy but can't, the answer could be a uterus transplant. The technology is promising, if still very new — but how ethically sound is it?
Any conversation about racial justice has to go back to basics: questions about the nature of humanity and the meaning of freedom. Philosopher Lewis Gordon explores these questions in the light of COVID-19 and America's current upheavals.
Speaking out against racism by insisting on the collusion of white people — even well-meaning ones — in a system that's racist to the core can bring serious consequences. George Yancy knows this well.
Tired of having a casual, abstract flirtation with philosophy? It might be time to commit. A personal philosophy of life can be hugely helpful — but which one to choose?
The road has always been a great social leveller — we all get stuck in the same traffic jams. But with the advent of driverless cars, that could all be about to change, with troubling ethical consequences.
Consensus among citizens in the development of cities is always the goal — but it's rarely achieved. This week we explore the philosophical foundations of a more realistic model for citizen participation in urban planning.
Boredom hasn't received a lot of philosophical attention — which isn't surprising, given that it suggests a radical absence of anything to talk about. But even the most tedious things can prove on inspection to be complex, multi-layered and... well, interesting.
Can our genes tell us if we're gay? Or intelligent? Science says the answer is complex, and that genetic determinism — the idea that we're genetically hardwired for certain outcomes — shouldn't be taken seriously. But genetic determinism has taken hold of the public imagination.
Refugees are often spoken and written about as victims: people on the far side of a border that separates them from all the things we citizens know and love about our homeland. But what if the refugee actually knows things about Australia that we don't?
We're told that COVID-19 is an unprecedented event, one that's upended all our old certainties — so it's perhaps strange that we're thinking about it in very familiar ways. Considering the history, the politics and the ethics of COVID-19 can reveal fascinating and uncomfortable insights about ourselves and our society.
Many of us have extra time on our hands at the moment, and for many of us that time can feel like a burden. But what is this mysterious relationship between what time feels like and what it really is?
Institutions shape every aspect of our lives, yet they can be strangely amorphous things, operating according to norms and conventions that often undermine each other. For women, this can result in institutional discrimination – in workplaces and public organisations, but also in less tangible institutions like the family and the law. This week we’re talking feminist institutionalism, and the need for a women’s honour code.
Artificial intelligence is helping us to make all sorts of decisions these days, and this can be hugely useful. But if we outsource our moral intuition to AI, do we risk becoming morally de-skilled?
As LGBT people grow old, they can become particularly vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness. Simone de Beauvoir had a keen appreciation of the challenges of ageing – “old age exposes the failure of our entire civilisation” – so can we find resources in her brand of existentialism that address some of the issues raised by LGBT elders?
Heidegger was an unrepentant Nazi. Nietzsche's later work contains passages that openly advocate slavery and genocide. Today, with far-right extremism on the rise around the world, how concerned should we be when reading – and teaching – the work of these canonical figures?
We casually talk about "Australia" as though it were a single entity. But what exactly is such a collective? And how can it be held responsible for its deeds - or misdeeds? This week we're talking group duties - and for International Women's Day, a conversation about gender and progress in philosophy.
Is philosophy experiencing an unprecedented crisis? And are universities becoming a hostile environment for philosophers?
These days it seems that critical thinking could be failing us – and we’re not sure why. Have too many people strayed from the path of reason? Or is reason insufficient – ever overrated – as an ingredient in the formation of good citizens?
In The Republic, Plato outlines a role for women in his ideal society that seems revolutionary, i.e. that they should occupy the highest position in public life. In Athenian society at the time, women were completely excluded from politics, so this is a radical proposal. But elsewhere, Plato expresses doubt about women’s natural abilities. What did he really think? And how does this tension persist today for women in philosophy?