20 Essays in Practical Philosophy: Because Philosophy Actually Matters - Massimo Pigliucci

20 Essays in Practical Philosophy: Because Philosophy Actually Matters

By Massimo Pigliucci

  • Release Date: 2021-03-27
  • Genre: Philosophy


For many people “practical philosophy” is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. Surely, they say, philosophy is the least practical discipline you can think of! Go tell it to Socrates, the author answers. Indeed, the Socratic turn in the history of philosophy has been so momentous that we refer to those thinkers who preceded him as “Pre-Socratic.” What is the difference? Most Pre-Socratic philosophers — from Thales to Anaximenes, from Heraclitus to Empedocles — were interested in what we would today call metaphysics and natural science. They wanted to know how the world works, and their explanations, as simplistic as they appear by contemporary standards, were based on the rejection of mythology and the supernatural. It was a giant leap forward in humanity’s quest to understand its place in the cosmos. Socrates, however, turned his gaze toward the human dimension, and particularly ethics, broadly construed as the study of how to live a good life. Nothing, he correctly reckoned, could be more important for a human being. The unexamined life is not worth living. In these twenty essays, the author explores a number of issues that fall under the wide umbrella of practical philosophy, i.e., the kind of philosophy that pertains to real life situations and problems faced by actual human beings. Why does life matter? Are ethical judgments objective? What gives meaning to our lives? What sort of ethical framework should we adopt to navigate our existence? What do you do if some of your loves ones turn out to be sexist or racist? And are you ready for the ultimate test of your character, death?