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Callicles’ challenge to philosophy

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PHILOSOPHY BOWLING RESULTS

• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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In early November, Birkbeck College of the University of London hosted a conference called “Why Humanities?”, in response to the government’s onslaught against higher education taking place in the UK (and taking place here, with slightly less severity). One of the speakers was philosopher Raimond Gaita, in a short address entitled “Callicles’ Challenge.” At the heart of his talk is whether Philosophy should try to promote its worth by listing the extrinsic benefits of studying and teaching it. It’s an interesting and intelligent talk; here’s the link.

ADDENDUM: Towards the end, Gaita offers this quote from Hannah Arendt:

“Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from that ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable.

“And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world.”

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