Peter Adamson's Blog

Childrens' book philosophy 16: Winnie the Pooh and Aristotle on Nature

"I'm planting a haycorn, Pooh, so that it can grow up into an oak-tree, and have lots of haycorns just outside the front door instead of having to walk miles and miles, do you see, Pooh?"
      "Supposing it doesn't?" said Pooh.
      "It will, because Christopher Robin says it will, so that's why I'm planting it."
      "Well," said Pooh, "if I plant a honeycomb outside my house, then it will grow up into a beehive."
      Piglet wasn't quite sure about this.

History Podcasters Collage: Terrible Leaders, part 1

The next installment of the History Podcasters Collage is now up. The theme this time is "Terrible Leaders," and apparently there have been a lot of those in history since the topic is being covered in three podcasts.

Childrens' book philosophy 15: Radical Skepticism in "The Martian Chronicles"

How? he wondered. How was all this made? And why? For what purpose? Out of the goodness of some divine intervention? Was God, then, really that thoughtful of his children? How and why and what for?

He considered the various theories advanced in the first heat of the afternoon by Hinkston and Lustig. He let all kinds of new theories drop in lazy pebbles down through his mind, turning, throwing out dull flashes of light. Mom. Dad. Edward. Mars. Earth. Mars. Martians.

Who had lived here a thousand years ago on Mars? Martians? Or had this always been the way it was today?

See anyone you recognize?

A passage from Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales":

Childrens' Book Philosophy 14: Semiotics, observer bias and teleology in Winnie the Pooh

Winnie-the-Pooh sat down at the foot of the tree, put his head between his paws and began to think. First of all he said to himself, "that buzzing-noise means something. You don't get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something. If there's a buzzing-noise, somebody's making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee."

Then he thought for another long time, and said: "And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey."

Talks by me coming up in the USA

If anyone is in NYC this Friday (March 14) come on down to a seminar I'm giving on the theory of pleasure put forth by the Muslim Platonist Miskawayh. All the details right here.

And then next Tuesday (March 18) I will be speaking at Boston College at 4:30 in the Philosophy Department, about al-Razi.

If you can't make it then the next best thing is to listen to the podcasts where I discuss them, which are episodes 126 and 135.

Preview: the Eastern Traditions

Starting with episode 171 I will be reaching the third big mini-series on philosophy in the Islamic world: the Eastern Traditions. This wil take the story all the way up to the 20th c., after which I'll circle back to the start of Latin medieval thought in the Carolingian period. Below you can see my current plan for episode topics, which is subject to revision but it should be more or less right (a number of them are already written).

Childrens' book philosophy 13: Oscar Wilde on Sufism

"Be happy," cried the Nightengale, "be happy; you shall have your red rose. I will build it out of music by moonlight, and stain it with my own heart's blood. All that I ask of you in return is that you will be a true lover, for Love is wiser than Philosophy, though she is wise, and mightier than Power, though he is mighty." [...] The Student looked up from the grass, and listened, but he could not understand what the Nightengale was saying to him, for he only knew the things that are written down in books.

From Oscar Wilde, "The Selfish Giant"

Seemed like a good idea at the time... part 2!

The History Podcasters Collage project brings you "Seemed like a Good Idea at the Time" part 2. I'm in this one.

Childrens' book philosophy 12: Dr Seuss on the nature of tyranny

On the far-away island of Sala-ma-Sond,

Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond.

A nice little pond.  It was clean.  It was neat.