This book is about education, learning, rational inquiry, philosophy, science studies, problem solving, academic inquiry, global problems, wisdom and, above all, the urgent need for an academic revolution. Despite this range and diversity of topics, there is a common underlying theme. Education ought to be devoted, much more than it is, to the exploration real-life, open problems; it ought not to be restricted to learning up solutions to already solved problems - especially if nothing is said about the problems that provoked the solutions in the first place. A central task of philosophy ought to be to keep alive awareness of our unsolved fundamental problems.
The essays in this volume seek to provoke a concerted effort to transform our institutions of learning so that they become rationally and effectively devoted to helping us learn how to create a wiser world.
Our most serious problems of living are so grim, so imbued with suffering, wasted lives and unnecessary death, that the idea of approaching them in a playful spirit seems sacrilegious. We need to keep alive tackling of intellectual problems so that playful capacities can be exercised - if for no other reason (and other reasons there are, of course, aplenty). There are two really worthy impulses behind all rational inquiry: delight and compassion.
About the Author
Nicholas Maxwell is Emeritus Reader in Philosophy of Science at University College London. Previously, he taught philosophy of science in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at UCL for nearly thirty years. Much of his teaching and research has been devoted to arguing that we need to bring about a revolution in academia so that it comes to seek and promote wisdom and does not just acquire knowledge. He has published six books on this theme.
Table of Contents
Preface: Learning, Global Problems, and Play vii
Chapter 1 Philosophy Seminars for Five-Year-Olds 1
Chapter 2 What Philosophy Ought to Be 11
Chapter 3 How Can Our Human World Exist and Best Flourish Embedded in the Physical Universe? A Letter to an Applicant to a New Liberal Studies Course 47
Chapter 4 What's Wrong with Science and Technology Studies? What Needs to Be Done to Put It Right? 65
Chapter 5 Arguing for Wisdom in the University: An Intellectual Autobiography 108