What inspires you philosophically?




In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, a grad student asks:

I’d be interested in hearing what people read to get inspired, both in the sense of finding ideas to write about, and in the sense of just generally feeling excited about doing philosophy (ideally, these would be things that inspire you in both senses). There’ve been some nice posts here and elsewhere stressing the value of working on things that truly capture your imagination, not worrying too much about chasing hot topics etc. But when those debates are much of what’s in the journals, where do you go to find inspiration instead?

This is a wonderful question, and I’m very curious to hear from readers!

I find my inspiration to philosophy in many places, and get most of my ideas not from reading but rather from simply living and exploring things about the world that interest me. As an ethicist, my work is mostly inspired by everyday life experience–concerning the questions that I find myself confronted with as a human being, such as (to take just one example) why people should behave ethically when it looks like they might benefit from doing wrong. But also, insofar as my work in ethics intersects with my work in political philosophy, I’m often inspired by current events and world history. One of the things that is inspiring my work the most at the moment is the Revolutions podcast, which is a wonderful (and incredibly entertaining) podcast of the history of political revolutions. The podcast is actually just wrapping up now with its 103rd episode on the Russian Revolution (and that’s just the episodes on Russia!), and it has inspired me in countless ways that I plan to explore in upcoming work. I also listen to a bunch of podcasts relating to current events that I also find inspiring, and I love to read biographies of philosophers and scientists, which I also find inspiring and which help provide insight as to how other thinkers saw the world and solved problems (some good recent books I’ve read include this and this). Finally, when it comes to my work in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of physics, I’ve been inspired by simply playing videogames and recording and listening to music! 

What about you all? Where do you get your philosophical inspiration and ideas from?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More