New Philosopher magazine launched

Over the weekend, New Philosopher magazine was launched here in Australia at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival. The magazine is edited by Zan Boag, who has ambitions for mass market penetration, with sales in shops and newsagencies. The first issue, devoted to the theme of freedom, includes an article by Peter Singer, an interview with Noam Chomsky, a (reprinted) story by Peter Carey, and much other content from people with pretty big names. The editor has aimed high, there seems to be a lot of good will toward the magazine, and I wish it every success. Printing a magazine of this kind with a run in the thousands, hoping to be picked up by a wide readership, is a risky move, so I hope it pays off.

Disclaimer-cum-announcement: this first issue also includes an article by me on the topic of propaganda (raising the vexed question of what can be done about it). My understanding of propaganda in the article is, “one-sided, emotionally manipulative, and (most especially) dishonest efforts to influence public opinion”. Current societies are awash with this sort of material, or so I argue, and we are exposed to it long before we have the intellectual tools to respond to it critically, meaning that our personalities and values are shaped by it to an extent.

I’m currently working on an article for the second issue – which is devoted to philosophy of mind, with contributions from Daniel Dennett and others. My topic is the return of panpsychism to academic interest and respectability. Panpsychism seems to be a desperate solution to the central problems in philosophy of mind, but highly esteemed philosophers such as Galen Strawson have brought it back to the table for debate. I’m still figuring out what I should say about this.

For those who might be interested, Australian and international subscriptions can be bought here.

  1. A publisher who “has ambitions for mass market penetration” but is not providing a digital version is a great way to shoot yourself in the foot at the start of the race. Lots of interesting sounding articles available only through an expensive subscription printed on dead trees is a curious strategy for 2013. Good luck with that!

  2. Rowan…
    Hmmm. I’m inclined to agree.
    This is Australia, after all.

  3. It is time for philosophy to return to big ideas; a philosophy journal’s focus should be on more than the issues of the day. Science in explaining parts of the puzzle has caused fragmentation.

    Religious dogmatists in their misinterpretation of religious metaphor have added to the fragmentation of Reality. We know that even though perception is reality,it is not Reality.

    Taking another look at panpsychism is timely. The next big breakthrough in physics, based on their research on black holes, is likely to be the projection of other-Dimensional information and qualities into this Dimension.

    In light of this, revisiting the views of Descartes and Spinoza on extension would be interesting, and timely.

    In any event it is becoming obvious that not seeing the wood for the trees is no longer an option. Focusing from the limited viewpoint of the microcosm rather than taking a holistic view of the macrocosm as a whole, is detrimental.

    Mistakes made now, that are made from a limited perspective, could have dire consequences in the future.

  4. I published an article recently and although I agree with the concept of panpsychism, I have come up with the notion that living cells are conscious and have been since life on this planet commenced, but when brains came into being then my conclusion is that brain neurons posses protoconsciousness, but all mental activity is secondary and mechanistic.

  5. Rowan, I am certain you are arguing for accesibility, and I agree with this but, the latter passing thought on dead trees, is this an ecological statement or aesthetic?

    If that little quirk is an ecological argument, I believe you’ve been caught with your pants down.

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