New episode of Aggie Agora

Hosted by philosopher Michael Otteson. He talks with water scientist (and political candidate) Patrick Belmont about the deeply worrying consequences of the shrinking Great Salt Lake.


Philosophy club!

(from Preston) We’re getting started for the fall with our first meeting on Tuesday, September 6th, in Old Main room 115 at 4:30! We’ll be able to get to know each other, talk about what sorts of events we want to hold this year, go over club leadership positions, and have a philosophical discussion (we’ll determine the topic there) with whatever time we have left. We’ll plan on meeting every other Tuesday at the same time and place for the duration of the semester, but I’ll send out an email confirming the time and place a few days before each meeting.

How to Read Philosophy

(from the department of shameless self promotion)

It might seem daunting to read philosophy. Giants of thinking with names like Hegel, Plato, Marx, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard loom over us with imperious glares, asking if we are sure we are worthy. We might worry that we won’t understand anything they are telling us; even if we do think we understand, we still might worry that we’ll get it wrong somehow.

So, if we’re going to read philosophy, we need to begin by knocking those giants down to size. Every one of them tripped and burped and doodled. Some of them were real jerks. Here’s Arthur Schopenhauer on his fellow German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, for instance: ‘a flat-headed, insipid, nauseating, illiterate charlatan, who reached the pinnacle of audacity in scribbling together and dishing up the craziest mystifying nonsense.’ I’m not sure whether this paints Schopenhauer or Hegel as the bigger jerk.

The point is that each giant of philosophy was a human being trying to figure out life by doing just what you do: reading, thinking, observing, writing. Don’t let their big words intimidate you; we can insist that they make sense to us – or, at least, intrigue us – or are left behind in the discount book bin. They must prove their worth to us.

Read more here

Philosophy student studies time

“Utah State University undergraduate researcher Zachary Zito spent much of his summer in lively discussion with two faculty mentors, as each of the trio scribbled, erased and revised lengthy mathematical equations on a large whiteboard. What were they searching for? A hint: The incessant ticking of the clock on the conference room wall was no help.

Zito, selected as one of USU’s 10 participants in the 2022 Peak Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, is striving to describe time. With guidance from mentors Charlie Torre, professor in USU’s Department of Physics, and philosophy postdoctoral fellow Brittany Gentry of USU’s Department of Communication Studies and Philosophy, the Honors student slogged through reams of academic literature, gleaned relevant insights, pondered heady questions and met regularly with his mentors to parse out some kind of meaning from his formidable pursuit.”

Read more here