Subscriber Newsletter #05

Will Buckingham
Will Buckingham
Subscriber Newsletter #05

February's newsletter for Looking for Wisdom Subscribers. Philosopher File interviews, jesters and sages, and philosophical desserts for the sweet-toothed.

What's New on Looking for Wisdom

It's been another busy month here at Looking for Wisdom, with the launch of the first ever Looking for Wisdom philosophy course (woohoo!) and the first Philosopher File Interview (hurrah!). So let's dive in...

Philosopher File Interviews

Image of Radha and Krishna in conversation.
Radha and Krishna in philosophical discussion. c. 1730, artist unknown. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes the popular image of a philosopher is that of somebody who sits alone in their room having Great Thoughts. The 20th century philosopher Edmund Husserl wrote in his book Cartesian Meditations that, "Philosophy — wisdom (sagesse) — is the philosophizer's quite personal affair." But for me, even if philosophy has involved periods of solitude, the best ideas always seem to arise in conversation with others.

This is why I have decided to launch a series of conversations with philosophers who are doing interesting things. My new series of Philosopher File Interviews aims to get a sense of what philosophers get up to, what makes them tick, and the philosophical obsessions and crushes they harbour. The first interview went out a couple of weeks ago, with the brilliant Dr. Anna Ezekiel talking about the overlooked German philosopher Karoline von Günderrode. You can read the interview here (and I can also thoroughly recommend Anna's meticulous and fascinating translation of Günderrode's Poetic Fragments, which you can get hold of here).

Over the coming months, I've scheduled a truly global line-up of philosophers. Their interests go everywhere from Plato, to Mesoamerican philosophy, to how to think better about what it means to be living through our current environmental crisis. If you know any philosophers who might be good to interview, give me a shout by dropping me a line (you can just reply to this email).

Wisdom course and the Agora study group now launched

Image of boat out at sea.
Image: Illustration by Ivan Bilibin From Russian Wonder Tales (1912). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The first Looking for Wisdom philosophy course has now launched, and we're busy talking about wisdom, what it is and why it matters. The lessons go out every Monday, and are more in-depth than the weekly Philosopher Files. There's also further reading you can follow up on, and the chance to join the Agora, Looking for Wisdom's online members-only community for easy-going philosophical discussion. You can get a flavour of the course by looking at lesson one, and lesson four of the first series. And if you want to sign up, head over to the membership page.

Each course runs for seven weeks, with a new course starting every two months. Coming up later this year, we've got courses on the philosophy of love, work, friendship, home and strangers. Come and join us!

Fun Things Online

Philosophical desserts

This is a terrific collection of essays about alternative ways of knowing, drawing on resources from the Baroque era. One of my favourite chapters is Annemarie Mol's philosophical essay about clafoutis, the French desert, and what it means for a thing to "hang together." It is strange and wonderful, and after reading it, I headed into the kitchen to make clafoutis myself, as a kind of practical philosophy. The book is free to download in either .epub or .pdf format.

Modes of Knowing: Resources from the Baroque

The Jester and the Sage

In our wisdom course, we've been exploring the ideas of the puzzling Daoist philosopher Zhuang Zhou, or Zhuangzi. There's a Philosopher File on Zhuangzi coming up over the next few weeks. But whilst you are waiting for this, have a read of this piece from Aeon Magazine.  

On the path to improvement, follow the jester, not the sage – Alan Jay Levinovitz | Aeon Classics
The philosophy that improves you by mocking your beliefs: Alan Jay Levinovitz introduces the Zhuang Zi

Rewilding our Ethical Lives

A few weeks ago, I published this piece over on the Socrates Café, about how to rewild our ethical lives. The piece draws on the Chinese philosopher Mencius (Mengzi) to think about how we can nourish the sprouts of our virtues.

Ethical Rewilding
A decade ago, I took a trip to the town of Zoucheng in China’s Shandong province, to visit the Chinese philosopher-sage Mencius, or Mengzi (372–289 BCE). I went there because I was fascinated by his…

Looking for Wisdom on Social Media

Finally, Looking for Wisdom is now on Twitter, Facebook and — most recently — Instagram. And of course, also on Medium. Follow me for updates, news and nuggets of philosophy.

That's all for this newsletter. Next week we will be in Ancient China, talking about a slippery philosopher who could argue one thing one day, and the opposite the next.

Keep philosophising, and if you're enjoying Looking for Wisdom, pass on this newsletter, encourage your friends to sign up, tweet about @wiselooking, and let's get the word out.

With all best wishes, Will

Dr Will Buckingham

Image: Woman Reading A Letter by Oil Lamp, Japanese 1790s, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public domain via Internet Archive.

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