I'm going to be taking a break here on Litkicks for the month of August, and the blog will be back in a slightly transformed condition by the beginning of September. I'll explain more about my new direction during the next few days, but the basic idea is that I'm tweaking the formula to include more of what works on the site and less of what doesn't.
As for this Philosophy Weekend series, I'm sure my philosophical readers will be happy with the changes, since this is one part of the site that has shown a lot of life, and I certainly plan to continue the weekend series.
Before I step into the redesign cocoon and disappear for a month, I wanted to lay down a few progress markers to reflect the current state of various discussions we've been conducting here on Philosophy Weekend. Here are our main threads, as I see them:
The ethical question
What is the nature of communality in human life? Are we essentially individuals, existentially isolated (as Ayn Rand would have it), living together in order to best satisfy our separate needs? This doesn't seem to fit the evidence. But if this isn't what we are, then what are we, and why is it that various communities we belong to bind us so strongly?
The psychological question
What is a self? Have there been any advancements in our knowledge of the self since Rene Descartes "cogito ergo sum", and if so, what are they?
The political question
Is a peaceful world possible and achievable? Why is the ideal of pacifism in such ill repute today? If pacifism's premises are false and we are fated to an eternity of global and civil war and violence and oppression, how do we best endure this dreadful future?
The historical question
What can we learn by mapping together the history of our civilizations and the history of philosophy? Do our circumstances affect our philosophical beliefs? Do our philosophical beliefs affect our circumstances? (This is an area we've barely touched on so far, but I'd like to explore it more in the future.)
The spiritual question
What is the meaning of our lives? What is the nature of good, and what is the nature of evil? (This last question seems especially pertinent today. But then the question of the nature of evil always seems pertinent, doesn't it?)
The etymological question
How do we know anything about ethics, or politics, or religion? Should we try to prove our ethical arguments through logic and reason, or is this a pointless pursuit?
The procedural question
How should we go about discussing ethical, religious and existential philosophy on this website? Is this a useful activity, or are we just wasting our time? Is it actually possible to have substantial debates about controversial topics on the Internet?
I wanted to lay out these questions in plain form to make sure we keep our sense of direction as Literary Kicks enters its transformational phase. I can't think of a more exciting set of questions to try to answer, and I'm glad that enough of you are willing to engage my questions and allow me to play-act Socrates in our comment-based dialogues. Maybe we'll even produce some results here. See you again at Philosophy Weekend in September!