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PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS electronic journal

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P H I L O S O P H Y   P A T H W A Y S                   ISSN 2043-0728
http://www.philosophypathways.com/newsletter/

Issue number 132
28th December 2007

CONTENTS

I. 'Global Warming, Environmental Philosophy and Public Policy: John Dewey vs
Martin Heidegger' by Richard Grego

II. 'An Apology for Naive Philosophy' by D.R. Khashaba

III. 'Three New Pathways Online Conferences' by Geoffrey Klempner

-=-

EDITOR'S NOTE

Benazir Bhutto was elected President of the Oxford Union Society in 1976, the
year that I started my graduate studies at University College Oxford. Benazir
brought a glamour and campaigning zeal to the office which affected everyone
who was there at the time. We all knew she would go on to great things. I can't
imagine that anyone back then thought she would one day meet an assassin's
bullet.

This is a very sad day for me, personally. To those who feel that their hopes
for democratic change have been dashed, let the tragic event that occurred in
Rawalpindi yesterday be a spur to greater effort and sacrifice. Do not seek
revenge. Rather see your own life as expendable. We all die; let it not be the
case that Benazir Bhutto died in vain.

In this issue, we have an essay by Richard Grego, who contrasts approaches to
environmentalism and global warming based on the philosophies of the American
pragmatist John Dewey, and the phenomenologist/ existentialist Martin Heidegger.

Richard Grego's essay is complemented by a plea, from Daoud Khashaba, for a
return to an authentic philosophy based on the contrast drawn by Socrates in
Plato's dialogue Phaedo, between the scientific concern with Nature and the
properly philosophical concern with 'knowing thyself'.

The three Pathways online conferences, 'Theories of Existence', 'Philosophy the
learning curve' and 'Philosophy a way of life' have finally drawn to a close. I
shall be launching three new conferences hosted at http://www.nicenet.org
beginning on January 1 2008, which I hope will attract many new participants.
This time, we have gone back to basics in selecting our conference topics:
'Reading Philosophy', 'Writing Philosophy' and 'Living Philosophy'. For details
of how to join the Pathways conferences see below.

I wish you all a healthy, happy and fulfulling 2008!

Geoffrey Klempner

-=-

I. 'GLOBAL WARMING, ENVIRONMENTAL PHILOSOPHY AND PUBLIC POLICY: JOHN DEWEY VS
MARTIN HEIDEGGER' BY RICHARD GREGO

 ABSTRACT

This essay compares and contrasts the views of Martin Heidegger and John Dewey
with respect to environmental philosophy and the global warming issue. It
examines how their respective concepts of nature, human nature, and philosophy
of science, might apply to current environmental thought and policy. It argues
that Heidegger's latter thought (with its rejection of modern culture's
science, technology, and commercialism, as well as its quasi-mystical concepts
like 'Being' and 'freedom') is generally less-suited to constructive
application in environmental policy than Dewey's philosophy (which celebrates
these modern institutions as a triumph of both natural and human potentials).
However it is also argued in conclusion that, while the spirit of Dewey's
philosophy might be better-suited to policies which entail short-term
strategies regarding environmental regulations, laws, and improved
technologies, the essential message of Heidegger's philosophy may be needed for
ensuring a long-term commitment to sustainable environmental protection.

 Heidegger, Dewey, and Environmental Philosophy

Concern over global warming and other environmental problems has garnered a
great deal of public attention recently. The February 2007 report issued by the
United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is controversial (and
the technical scientific details of its various possible interpretations are
beyond the purview of this essay), but it appears to confirm what many
environmentalists have been asserting for some time now: The planet is heating
up, and this phenomenon is man-made. This heating process is part of a
century-long trend -- likely caused in large-part by greenhouse gas emissions
(CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, etc) -- that is already having adverse
environmental effects on many levels. Much of the scientific community agrees
that its long-term consequences (which, again, cannot be detailed here but
include such possibilities as heat waves, droughts, new wind patterns, melting
polar ice, and species extinction) could be catastrophic for both the natural
environment and human civilization.

At this time therefore, environmental policy makers are attempting to answer
two main questions:

     1) What is causing the problem? And
     2) What can/should we do about it?

Scientists have provided some obvious technical answers here. Global warming is
caused by greenhouse gas emissions and the solution to the problem of global
warming is to reduce emissions via improved technologies, policies, and
regulations where necessary (one of the most recent ideas in the U.S. along
these lines is a change in the federal tax code to encourage the use and
development of alternate energy sources by corporations).

Of course philosophers , as always, tend to view both the causes and possible
solutions to such problems in more complex and problematic ways than do
scientists. Environmental philosophy thus encompasses things like ethics,
metaphysics, and the philosophy of science, rather than just simple empirical
analysis, in seeking to address issues related to environmental protection.
These issues are currently being debated by any number of thinkers across
academic disciplines and professions.

While contemporary environmental philosophy is a rich and prolific field of
scholarship, it is still sometimes instructive to take a glance at some of its
intellectual origins. Though John Dewey and Martin Heidegger (as philosophers
at the beginning of the 20th century) lived and thought prior to the most
recent environmental concerns of our time, they nonetheless had much to say
about science, nature, and humanity's relationship with the natural world.
Their respective ideas on these themes have provided a firm foundation upon
which much contemporary environmental thought is based. Current philosophers
like Michael Zimmerman and Bruce Foltz have synthesized Heidegger's thought
with environmental philosophy, while philosophers such as Andrew Light, Larry
Hickman, and Anthony Weston have applied Dewey's pragmatism to
environmentalism. Thus, examining some of Dewey's and Heidegger's basic
concepts in comparative perspective can highlight and clarify assumptions and
themes discussed/ debated by contemporary scholars -- and can provide critical
insight into some of the philosophical issues at stake in current environmental
policy debates.

In fact, although Heidegger and Dewey share certain environmentally relevant
ideas, their differences are more pronounced and exemplify two distinctly
different attitudes toward issues like global warming. Martin Heidegger
(1889-1976) has been associated with the 20th century philosophical movements
known as phenomenology and (though he disowned the label) existentialism. A
student of phenomenologist Edmund Husserl, Heidegger was one of this century's
most influential thinkers. His thought, as we shall discuss further, tended to
assume a decidedly anti-modernist bias -- leading him, especially in latter
writings, to critique unfavorably such cultural institutions as technology,
commercialism, and instrumental science. Since these institutions are so
integral to the modern world, there is a quasi-reactionary sensibility about
Heidegger's latter thought (Although in all fairness to him, he considered his
critique of western civilization to be forward-looking and visionary.)

American philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952) in contrast, was an unequivocally
forward-looking thinker who embraced the spirit of modernism enthusiastically.
Closely identified with 'pragmatism', his philosophy has also been referred to
as 'instrumentalism' and 'experimentalism'. Unlike Heidegger, he saw science,
technology, and commerce as creative expressions of human potentiality. He
therefore tended to be more supportive of these institutions and their cultural
influence than Heidegger was.

 The Nature of Science and the Science of Nature

Were they actually here to comment themselves, both thinkers would undoubtedly
see deep connections between concrete problems like global warming and more
abstract issues like the philosophy of science, the metaphysics of nature, and
human nature. However they would also surely disagree on the character of these
connections. Their philosophies agree that science and technology have shaped
humankind's relationship with the natural world, but they disagree about what
this relationship is, how it has come about, and what it means.

Heidegger's vision of science and technology is, for all practical purposes, a
negative one. In his latter work especially, he portrayed the scientific legacy
in western history as a manifestation of humanity's disregard for, and
estrangement from, the natural world and from the very ground of existence.
This legacy, beginning with the philosophy and culture of ancient Greece and
culminating in the science and philosophy of modernity, is a tragic story of
cultural and spiritual decline. Pre-Socratic Greeks first apprehended the
awesome wonder and mystery of existence (or 'Being', as Heidegger calls it) and
began to develop philosophy and science to describe this experience. However,
the ultimate meaning of this experience was simply too sublime and profound for
any descriptions to do justice to, so subsequent thinkers like Plato and
Aristotle began to articulate philosophy and science simply as logical
explanations for the natural world, rather than as poetic exclamations about
the mysterious experience of Being. Such explanations made the natural world
rationally intelligible but did so by neglecting a deeper appreciation for
Being's original revelation. This made any deep appreciation for the Being of
nature impossible and led to the progressive alienation of humanity from nature
in western thought and culture.

Thus, the development of science and technology in the modern
(post-enlightenment-era) world are cultural expressions of this alienation.
Science and technology have now 'enframed' (in Heidegger's terms) the natural
world by turning it into a mere object of empirical study for the purpose of
commercial exploitation. The natural world has become a resource 'standing
reserve' for technical manipulation. Science:

     ...Sets upon Nature... Agriculture is now the mechanized
     food industry. Air is now set upon to yield oxygen, the
     earth to yield uranium... Even the Rhine [River] itself
     appears to be something at our command... the revealing that
     rules throughout modern technology has the character of
     setting upon. (QT, 320-321)

Hence, enlightenment philosopher Rene Descartes' belief that the scientific
revolution's purpose is to accomplish '..the mastery and possession of nature'
has come to full fruition in modern life. Science has transformed nature from a
living revelation of Being into an intellectual/ commercial resource.

Dewey agrees with Heidegger that modern science has its origins in the
intellectual life of ancient Greece and has since changed humanity's
relationship with the natural world. However unlike Heidegger, Dewey views the
legacy of science as one of liberation and enlightenment, rather than one of
domination and estrangement. Though the classical founders of western
philosophy and science were engaged in a futile 'quest for certainty' and
search for an eternal or sacred meaning in nature , modern science since the
enlightenment-era has become a more practical tool for framing open-ended
questions and generating temporary hypothesis. Unlike the science, philosophy,
and theology of ancient times, modern science does not see reality or nature as
having any fixed or determined metaphysical or supernatural structure. Nature,
as the subject-matter of current science, is a malleable and dynamic construct
of the human intellect. Science, according to Dewey, has created, 'A natural
world that does not subsist for the sake of realizing a fixed set of ends' and
'is relatively malleable and plastic; it can be used for this or that'. (RP, 70)

Heidegger agrees with Dewey that this is indeed what has happened, but thinks
it is a bad thing. Dewey however, sees the advent of modern science as the
great liberating event in the history of ideas and extols its possibilities for
empowering human potentials------advocating: 'the transfer of the experimental
method from the field of physical science to the wider field of human life'.
Dewey concludes that in the contemporary world:

     Nature as it already exists ceases to be something which
     must be accepted and submitted to, endured and enjoyed just
     as it is. It is now something to be modified, to be
     intentionally controlled. It is material to act upon so as
     to transform it into new objects which better answer our
     needs. (QC, 80-81)

 -- And indeed this is just as it must and should be: For nature is the source
of human abilities, and the ultimate evolutionary product of nature is the
human ability to transform nature itself. Our ability to bend nature to our
will is an aspect of nature. The improvement of human conditions by
manipulating and transforming the natural world via science, technology,
commerce and the arts, is nature's own supreme achievement.

Heidegger, in contrast, tends to view nature more as 'something which must be
accepted and submitted to...', as the unfolding of something sacred and
supernatural ('Being') with which humanity looses touch when it is treated as
an object of scientific knowledge or commercial exploitation. Our destruction
of the natural world is symptomatic of our spiritual alienation from the
ultimate source of meaning in our lives. Having reduced 'Being' to a
scientific-technocratic-commercial world of objectified 'beings', humanity now
finds itself alone in a trivialized world of 'resources' and 'commodities'.
Having separated nature from its sacred animating ground, humanity has robbed
nature (and itself, for that matter) of intrinsic value. Nature now seems
lifeless and meaningless in any deep sense.

Thus a kind of 'Homelessness', as Heidegger calls it, 'has come to be the
destiny of the world' (LH, 243), and the only remedy for this dilemma (which
Heidegger seems dubious about, even while advocating it) is for humanity to
reject the 'frenzy of rationalization', technology, and commercialism (QT, 449)
in favor of 'freedom'. Heidegger describes this 'freedom' as the 'letting-be of
beings' (ET, 125). It involves an attitude of quietism, reverence, and profound
appreciation for nature as a sacred incarnation of 'Being'. In this state of
mind, nature would be celebrated once again as a source of wonder, and would no
longer be used merely as an object of exploitation.

 Science, Nature, and Environmental Policy

Having examined Dewey's and Heidegger's contrasting views on these issues then,
their possible respective answers to our original questions regarding global
warming might seem obvious. Given his rather strong endorsement of an
'activist' scientific spirit, Dewey would probably see the cause of global
warming as a possible miscalculation of our collective goals and methods with
respect to what we currently know about our technologies and the environment.
His probable solution would involve evaluating how our development (on many
levels) is effected by this phenomenon and then re-evaluating how best to
utilize the technologies that are responsible for it.

However, his radically dynamic and open-ended conception of both nature and
human nature would make these evaluations quite problematic. If nature and
human development are in perpetual flux, have no inherent structure, and are
continually re-configured by the ever-evolving matrix of inter-relationships
that they are a part of, then even defining what the natural environment 'is'
-- let alone what may or may not be harmful to it -- becomes extremely
difficult at best. There is nothing intrinsic or essential to nature in Dewey's
view. It is an ever unfinished project whose limits cannot be defined and whose
'purpose' is a matter of interpretation. Whether current policies are
benefiting or harming nature is therefore a matter of interpretation as well --
and our interpretations are largely tentative and change with every temporary
change in values, needs, and worldviews. Indeed, the spirit of Dewey's
instrumentalism suggests the possibility that there may be ways still
unimagined in which global warming may actually enhance human potentials and
improve the environment!

On the other hand, Heidegger's response might not be quite as predictable -- if
he would choose to respond at all. Commentators have speculated widely on the
reasons for an attitude of philosophical disregard and personal aloofness
concerning real-world affairs that Heidegger seemed to hold throughout his life
and career. Some have suggested that it had obvious origins in his rejection of
science, commerce, and all such institutions of modern culture. Others have
claimed that abstract quasi-mystical themes like 'freedom', 'Being',and
'nothingness' that dominated his latter writing, led to an Ivory-Tower lack of
interest in worldly concerns. Still others have suggested more cynical and
opportunistic motives behind his his unwillingness to risk taking personal
stands on controversial issues. Whatever his reason(s) may have been, Heidegger
claimed that humanity and nature have now reached the end of their
potentialities, and that humanity cannot hope to 'engineer' its way out of the
spiritual malaise wrought by its alienation from Being via science and
technology. 'Being' has now exhausted its possibilities in 'Nothingness', which
manifests itself in contemporary culture as nihilism and meaninglessness. World
civilization is dominated by an instrumentalist mentality in which nothing is
intrinsically valuable or sacred. The devaluation of nature to the status of a
mere resource for technology and industry is an example of this nihilism.

Unfortunately, Heidegger also says that any attempt to engineer yet another
scientifically calculated solution to this dilemma would be, paradoxically, a
perpetuation of the very nihilistic mentality that has caused it.
Scientifically generated public policies, ecological initiatives, and
environmental regulations, are part of the mentality that 'enframes' or
objectifies nature by controlling and manipulating it via science and
technology. Neither humanity nor nature can be redeemed in this way. In fact,
since the only hope for an authentic encounter with nature involves
appreciating it in 'freedom' -- which means 'letting-be', rather than trying to
change or improve it -- Heidegger seems to be claiming that inaction (simply
doing nothing) is our best course of action. We must, he states, wait patiently
for the 'soundless voice of Being' to reveal itself once again. But it must come
to us during an experience of the kind of quietism in which the 'frenzy of
rationalization' is finally stilled.

How any of this might translate into an actual environmental policy is anyone's
guess (and contemporary interpreters of Heidegger are certainly doing a lot of
guessing!) but some general possibilities come to mind. Environmentally,
Heidegger is heir to the legacy of Medieval Christian mysticism, German
idealism, and romanticism, and he is the inspiration for much contemporary
thinking associated with 'deep ecology'. He encourages a heartfelt awareness of
and appreciation for the natural world as a dwelling-place of the sacred. With
this awareness and appreciation may perhaps come a general shift in the public
consciousness (a renewed revelation of 'Being') that can lead, in turn, to a
new way of 'dwelling authentically' or living harmoniously with the natural
world. Such dwelling or living will then lead effortlessly to policies that
sustain this harmony. However we cannot make these policies unless the shift in
consciousness occurs first.

Dewey's views, in contra-distinction, are quite compatible with the spirit of
instrumental science, technology and commerce and are applicable to
environmentally sound policies like low-carbon technologies in industry,
international regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, and environmental
standards in the Kyoto Protocol. These are temporary flexible innovations made
by interested political and commercial parties that are based on tentative
research-findings which may be revised as circumstances change. Dewey does not
share Heidegger's antipathy toward modernity and sees things like environmental
problems as incentives to further research and improvement, rather than as an
end to human possibilities. While Dewey endorses a kind of
Heideggerian-sounding awareness and appreciation of the natural world (lauding
the value of 'aesthetic experiences' in the appreciation of nature, for
instance), he sees this as only one capacity among many that may be employed to
protect or improve the natural environment, which humanity is an integral part
of. The Global Roundtable On Climate Change based at Columbia Universities'
Earth Institute in New York, in which various scientists, corporations, civic
organizations, and political action groups from around the world are
researching and adopting a comprehensive statement on environmental science and
policy, seems like precisely the sort of initiative that Dewey would support.

Yet, while Heidegger's views may seem too extreme for the practical necessities
of our current situation, Dewey's more practical approach is vulnerable to the
Heideggerian criticism that it may be too accommodating to this situation.
Heidegger would probably say that any attempt to preserve, protect, or improve
nature by tinkering with it through science, defeats its own purpose -- and it
does appear as though every new 'solution' to ecological dangers over the past
half-century has only yielded new problems -- the latest of which is global
warming (and some of the proposed scientific solutions to this problem are
ominous themselves: From giant space shields, to spreading aerosol particles in
the upper atmosphere, to spraying water-clouds into the air from the oceans).
Thus perhaps the very impractically of Heidegger's ideas make them particularly
worthy of consideration. It is fairly obvious that environmental degradation is
largely -- if not primarily -- a result of the impact of science, technology
and commerce on the natural world, and that the kind of reverent appreciation
for nature's sanctity that Heidegger advocates would engender a deeper concern
and respect for nature. What may therefore be needed for environmental
protection over the long-term (as opposed to short-term fixes for temporarily
'fashionable' issues like global warming) is a Heideggerian-type transformation
in the public consciousness, rather than more Deweyan technocratic innovations.
A renewed experience of authentic 'freedom' and the revelation of that 'Being'
which is the groundless ground that sustains both nature and humanity, might be
just what is needed for the earth's sustainable future.

 Reading

Dewey, John. Intelligence In the Modern World: Philosophy of John Dewey.
Ratner, ed. (New York:Modern Library) 1939:

------'The Quest For Certainty

------ 'Reconstruction In Philosophy'

------'Knowing and the Known'

------ 'Art as Experience'

Foltz, Bruce. Inhabiting the Earth: Heidegger, Environmental Ethics, and the
Metaphysics of Nature. (New Jersey: Humanities Press) 1995

Heidegger, Martin. Basic Writings. Krell, ed. (San Francisco: Harper) 1993:

------'Being and Time'

------'The Essence of Truth'

------'The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking'

------'Letter on Humanism'

------'The Question Concerning Technology'

------'What is Metaphysics'

Katz, E. Light, J. Environmental Pragmatism. (New York:Routledge) 1996

Zimmerman, M. Contesting the Earth's Future: Radical Ecology and
Post-Modernity. (Berkeley: University Press) 1994

(c) Richard Grego 2007

Dr Richard Grego, Associate Professor
Department of Humanities/ Culture
Daytona Beach College
USA

E-mail: gregor@dbcc.edu

-=-

II. 'AN APOLOGY FOR NAIVE PHILOSOPHY' BY D.R. KHASHABA

The following sketchy note will be found by many ambiguous and by many more
wrong-headed. I offer it as a provocation and a challenge, no more.

If Socrates were to come back into our world and were invited to partake of the
rich fare offered by our present-day philosophy departments with their numerous
and continuously increasing disciplines, I believe that he would answer with
words similar to those Plato makes him say, though in a different context: 'I
have no leisure for such inquiries. Because, my friend, I am unable yet to
comply with the Delphian injunction to know myself. It would be ludicrous,
while ignorant of this, to examine things which are not my concern. I leave
such inquiries alone and, instead, examine myself.' [See Phaedrus, 229e-230a.]
Not that he would belittle these sophisticated disciplines and studies, but he
would simply say, as he said of physical inquiries in the 'autobiographical'
passage in the Phaedo, that they are not his concern. For in that passage,
Socrates draws a line between inquiry into nature, which is the concern of
science, and the examination of one's own mind, which is the proper concern of
philosophy. He considers these as two completely independent domains.

You might say that Socrates should find in such a discipline as the philosophy
of mind, with or without the support of neuroscience, something answering to
his quest for self-knowledge. No, Socrates would say; the philosophy of mind
makes of mind an object to be known by observation and objective analysis. The
self-knowledge sought by Socrates is a probing within one's soul -- to use the
word Socrates would have used but which has now become suspect, a probing of
the subject and not of the object. Philosophy of mind, no less than psychology
as it is now studied, no less than neuroscience, is a science that may give us
much valuable objective knowledge, even knowledge about ourselves, but does not
give us any understanding of ourselves.

What if Socrates were asked what he thought about Experimental Philosophy? Let
me answer for him: Nothing in human life or human activity is clear-cut and
hermetically sealed. (I am not contradicting what I said above.) So I will not
say that the 'experimental philosophy' has no connection with philosophy. But
it is not of the essence of philosophy. In philosophy proper we probe
ourselves, we examine our values, and, most importantly, our presuppositions. A
'philosophical experiment' just like any chance event in life, may shock us into
looking at a dormant or a gloomy nook of our thought. But it is not the
'philosophical experiment' or the outcome of the experiment that is philosophy;
it is the incidentally triggered reflection and self-examination. A philosopher
can derive as much good from observing and experimenting as he can from taking
a good walk or a refreshing swim -- positive good, no doubt; but equally
accidental in both cases; it does not mean we may turn philosophy into a
science: that way we lose much more than we gain.

But Plato, you might say, did not stop short at Socratic self-examination. He
soared high into metaphysics. True. Plato caught from Parmenides the yearning
for absolute reality. But where did he find absolute reality? Ultimately in the
Form of the Good, which is nothing but our idea and our ideal of the highest
goodness and the highest understanding. An idea and an ideal. When 'Socrates'
is asked in the Republic to say what the Form of the Good is, he takes refuge
in allegory. Plato knew that the reality sought by the philosopher is not be
found outside of us and that the reality within us cannot be objectified except
in allegory and myth -- allegory and myth which the mind must create because
that is its means to be in touch with its inner reality but must also destroy
to remain free of superstition. In the Republic Plato relegates all natural
science to the lower segment of the higher division of the Divided Line. He
knew that any objective knowledge that presumed to transcend the shadows of the
phenomenal world is illusion. That is my reading of the Republic Books V-VII,
which is the crown of Plato's philosophy in my view. If it sounds enigmatic in
this condensed paragraph, my excuse is that what I tried to expound in book
after book cannot be put more clearly in a few lines.

To return to the topic of sophisticated and naive philosophy, I would say that
what is presented in philosophy departments of universities today may be very
good science but it is as far removed from philosophy as biology or
astrophysics. Indeed, the best philosophy today may be found in literary
essays, in fiction, in poetry, but not in academic dissertations on philosophy,
least of all in academic dissertations on Plato and his philosophy.

Every time I see philosophy defined as the science of this or the science of
that, I feel enraged. The sciences pursued by academic philosophers study the
object, even if that object is the mind objectified; philosophy proper examines
the subject, is concerned with our inner reality.

(c) D.R. Khashaba 2007

Cairo, Egypt

E-mail: dkhashaba@yahoo.com
Web site: http://www.Back-to-Socrates.com
Weblog: http://khashaba.blogspot.com

-=-

III. 'THREE NEW PATHWAYS ONLINE CONFERENCES' BY GEOFFREY KLEMPNER

All current and former Pathways students, members of the International Society
for Philosophers and Philosophical Society of England, as well as all current
participants of the Pathways online conferences are invited to join the three
new Pathways conferences which will be launched simultaneously on 1st January
2008.

Complete transcripts of the three Pathways conferences, 'Theories of
existence', 'Philosophy the learning curve' and 'Philosophy a way of life' have
been posted on the ISFP web site at http://www.isfp.co.uk/sitemap.html.
Totalling over 200,000 words the transcripts contain much food for thought as
well as ample evidence that there are still those today for whom philosophy is
not just a dry academic subject for study but a life choice.

The Pathways conferences are hosted by http://www.nicenet.org, a non-commercial
organization supported 100 per cent by charitable donations. The Nicenet
Classroom interface is simple and intuitive, and also very well suited for
online discussions which extend over many months. To help keep track of current
exchanges, you can set the interface to display new postings on the top of the
screen or at the bottom, to show all messages posted to date, or only those
which have been posted since your last login.

You can also use the conference interface to share internet links or documents
with other conference participants, or send email messages to other
participants directly.

In the past, discussions have been courteous and friendly with virtually none
of the flippant or ill-tempered banter that plagues many online forums. In the
five years that the Nicenet conferences have been running, as conference
moderator I have never yet found it necessary to ban a participant or remove an
unsuitable posting. I think that says a lot.

If you would like a conference key which will enable you to observe or
participate in all three conferences, please email klempner@fastmail.net and
you will receive your key and full instructions by return.

(c) Geoffrey Klempner 2007

E-mail: klempner@fastmail.net

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