Issue 139: August/September 2020


The Shock of Things to Come

by Rick Lewis


News: August/September 2020

Woman Philosopher of Year is Ann Garry • UNESCO invites public to comment on AI ethics rules • Steiner and Kohák dead — News reports by Anja Steinbauer


Pascal’s Artificial Intelligence Wager

Derek Leben computes the risks of general AI.

Robot Rules!

Brett Wilson judges the case for laws for robots.

Virtual Reality as a Catalyst for Thought

Joakim Vindenes says VR could be a useful addition to the philosopher’s toolkit.

The Singularity of the Human Hive Mind

James Sirois gives us a strong warning about overusing the net.

The Battle for the Robot Soul

James K. Wight looks at how cultures define our views of machines.

A Survival Guide for Living in the Simulation

Harry Whitnall considers how best to react if you find out that the world isn’t real.


Leo Tolstoy and The Silent Universe

Frank Martela relates how science destroyed the meaning of life, but helps us find meaning in life.

The Meaning of Death

Laszlo Makay, George Marosan Jr. and David Vatai consider whether death destroys meaning or creates it.

Philosophical Misanthropy

Ian James Kidd takes a look at humanity through dark glasses.

Neoliberalism & Social Control

Arianna Marchetti looks at how the Continental philosophers Michel Foucault and Byung-Chul Han view free-market politics.

Iris Murdoch (1919-1999)

Gary Browning tells us why Iris Murdoch stands out as a twentieth century thinker.

How Do We Understand Each Other?

Each answer below receives a book. Apologies to the entrants not included.


Graham Harman

Graham Harman is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. Here he chats with Thiago Pinho about his work on the metaphysics of objects, which led to the development of Object Oriented Ontology.



Beyond Belief • Genocide in Poland • Our Nietzschean Selves • Beyond Mathematics • The New Minimalism • Mind: The Gap • Imagine There’s a God • Your Secret is the Truth


Plotinus (204/5-270 CE)

by Terence Green

Back to the Future

Peter Adamson looks back at ideas of eternal repetition.

Philosophy in the Time of Plague, Part 2

Raymond Tallis ruminates on the reckoning and the reconstruction required.


The Existentialist’s Survival Guide by Gordon Marino

We get existential as Doug Phillips says you have to keep punching until the final bell.

Philosopher of the Heart: The Restless Life of Søren Kierkegaard by Clare Carlisle

Roger Caldwell judges the soul-bruised life of Søren Kierkegaard.

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen [CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS!].


Phil Witte’s Cartoon

by Phil Witte

Paul Wood’s Cartoon

by Paul Wood

Simon & Finn

by Melissa Felder



by Mary Scheurer

What Colour Are Numbers?

Keith McVeigh contacts an advanced alien with a strange (non-)question.

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