Descartes’ most important influence

The 17th century thinker René Descartes is seen as the father of modern philosophy: A man who was entirely original, whose work marked a clear divide from earlier thinkers, and who laid the foundation for modern thought with his focus on self-knowledge of the individual mind.

But that narrative is “unquestionably false,” says Christia Mercer, a philosophy professor at Columbia University. Indeed, “people in his period did not think Descartes was the father of anything,” she adds. Though the philosopher was renowned in his day for his work on physics and natural philosophy, it wasn’t until the 19th century that historians portrayed Descartes as a major break with the past. This idea has endured in part because, while historians searched for the great male thinkers who might have influenced Descartes’ ideas, they missed the female philosopher who came before him: Teresa of Ávila.

Read on.

Support Tommy Curry

Do consider signing this letter in support of philosopher Tommy Curry. His claim– that it would be good to *study* the history of black advocacy of anti-white violence– has been grotesquely misrepresented. As a result he is getting death threats and the head of his university has spoken against him.

[Although the letter was initially written for members of his University to sign, they are welcoming signatures from others.]

The letter is here.

QR codes and conference accessibility

Image description: QR code for English language Wikipedia
Image description: QR code for English language Wikipedia

As lots of you know I’m a philosopher with a visual impairment. When you try to ban laptop use by conference participants (this happened to me last year) I’m the person who writes in to say that actually I need my laptop (and the conference organizers were happy to accommodate). I often can’t read your handouts and your powerpoint slides. Large print handouts work but my laptop is better because I can control font size depending on how I’m doing that day.

That’s why I was happy to see this suggestion by Adam Cureton to use QR codes.

Cureton writes, “The idea is to insert QR codes (of the sort that are on airplane tickets) on presentation materials, which can easily direct a disabled audience member to an electronic version of the presentation materials, which can still be edited up to the time of the talk. After the talk, the presenter can cancel the code so that it doesn’t work anymore. This would really help, I think, to make presentations of most any kind more accessible for disabled people.”

The full explanation of using QR codes to make your presentations more accessible is here,

Thanks Adam.