What We Are Reading Today: The World Philosophy Made by Scott Soames

What We Are Reading Today: The World Philosophy Made by Scott Soames
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Updated 20 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The World Philosophy Made by Scott Soames

What We Are Reading Today: The World Philosophy Made by Scott Soames

Philosophical investigation is the root of all human knowledge. Developing new concepts, reinterpreting old truths, and reconceptualizing fundamental questions, philosophy has progressed — and driven human progress — for more than two millennia. 

In short, we live in a world philosophy made. In this concise history of philosophy’s world-shaping impact, Scott Soames demonstrates that the modern world— including its science, technology, and politics— simply would not be possible without the accomplishments of philosophy.

Firmly rebutting the misconception of philosophy as ivory-tower thinking, Soames traces its essential contributions to fields as diverse as law and logic, psychology and economics, relativity and rational decision theory. Beginning with the giants of ancient Greek philosophy, The World Philosophy Made chronicles the achievements of the great thinkers, from the medieval and early modern eras to the present. 

It explores how philosophy has shaped our language, science, mathematics, religion, culture, morality, education, and politics, as well as our understanding of ourselves.

Philosophy’s idea of rational inquiry as the key to theoretical knowledge and practical wisdom has transformed the world in which we live. From the laws that govern society to the digital technology that permeates modern life, philosophy has opened up new possibilities and set us on more productive paths. The World Philosophy Made explains and illuminates as never before the inexhaustible richness of philosophy and its influence on our individual and collective lives.


What We Are Reading Today: Emotion and Virtue by Gopal Sreenivasan

Updated 01 December 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Emotion and Virtue by Gopal Sreenivasan

What We Are Reading Today: Emotion and Virtue by Gopal Sreenivasan

What must a person be like to possess a virtue in full measure? What sort of psychological constitution does one need to be an exemplar of compassion, say, or of courage? Focusing on these two examples, Emotion and Virtue ingeniously argues that certain emotion traits play an indispensable role in virtue. With exemplars of compassion, for instance, this role is played by a modified sympathy trait, which is central to enabling these exemplars to be reliably correct judges of the compassionate thing to do in various practical situations. Indeed, according to Gopal Sreenivasan, the virtue of compassion is, in a sense, a modified sympathy trait, just as courage is a modified fear trait.

While he upholds the traditional definition of virtue as a species of character trait, Sreenivasan discards other traditional precepts. For example, he rejects the unity of the virtues and raises new questions about when virtue should be taught. Unlike orthodox virtue ethics, moreover, his account does not aspire to rival consequentialism and deontology. Instead Sreenivasan repudiates the ambitions of virtue imperialism.

Emotion and Virtue makes significant contributions to moral psychology and the theory of virtue alike.