Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hypatia: The Movie

Later this year comes a major motion picture depicting the life and death of Hypatia of Alexandria. It's called Agora and you can watch a teaser trailer below (the film looks quite stunning in its recreation of the ancient world!)

Hypatia preserved the legacy of Plato and Aristotle until she was attacked and murdered by Christians that mobbed Alexandria in 415 CE.

Lest you think that the Christians were mindless thugs bent on destroying philosophy, everyone should be reminded that the patron saint of philosophy is also a woman: St. Catherine (also from Alexandria, though she preceded Hypatia by more than 60 years).

Alexandria must have been quite the interesting city to unite both pagans and Christians around women philosophers.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Best Philosophy on the Internet: Vote Now

The folks over at 3quarksdaily are having a contest for the best philosophy blog posts of the past year. Our recent ruminations on the Sotomayor nomination are among the choices. So go over and check out some of the philosophy available on the internet and let them know what you think (and voting for Engage is good for your karma).


Should College Graduates Swear an Oath to Social Responsibility?

Peter Singer writes favorably about a new trend at Harvard Business School. New MBAs are taking an oath to use their skills and credentials to promote corporate social responsibility rather than just the bottom line. For years, mainstream capitalist theorists, such as Milton Friedman, have argued that the only responsibility corporate managers have is to make as much profit as they can for their stockholders (as long as they obey the law). Now, with the meltdown of the housing and credit markets, some MBAs are thinking they need to have a wider ethical perspective.

Singer admits that over 80% of Harvard MBAs have not signed on board to be more ethically minded, but he has hope.

This made me wonder whether college graduates shouldn't be encouraged to think about their social responsibility. As Singer points out, the idea of professionals swearing to "do no harm" is not a new idea. We should remember that the idea of a bachelor's degree comes from the medieval notion of having succeeded at being a baccalaureus--literally a squire to a knight. That is, one has mastered a set of special skills supposedly to be used for the benefit of society (saving widows and orphans and such).

There is a Graduation Pledge Alliance that champions the idea of college graduates taking such an oath. The oath goes something like this: “I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.” The idea has not really taken off beyond a few liberal arts and religious schools.

Is the idea of college graduate social responsibility an idea whose time has come or naive wishful thinking?

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