Alone In The Labyrinth
Though philosophy began centuries ago in wonder, it has, unfortunately, become just another specialized discipline within an academic circle wide enough to include all fields from the sublime to the ridiculous. In their heyday philosophers puzzled about the world they lived in and tried to make sense of the unusual. Curtler has returned to philosophy in this sense of the term and like the Socratic gadfly seeks to annoy readers out of their complacency. In doing so, he provides the curious reader with reflections about the mundane (TV and sports) and the arcane (aesthetics and ethics) and ventures into fields such as history, literature, and anthropology, which are, after all, the stepchildren of philosophy. The hope is not to engender agreement, but to resurrect wonder from its dormant state.
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Comments from readers of Curtler’s previous books:
“This is philosophy written in an accessible and wonderfully refreshing way. Hugh Curtler offers penetrating insights about an astonishingly wide variety of topics, ranging from debates about the morality of war, relativism in arty, and the education of our children, to the impact of sports upon human emotion. Each chapter is a philosophically rich essay written in the grand style of Bacon, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and Russell. Timely, insightful, and informed, this volume contains something for every reflective person.”—Tomis Kapitan, chair, Department of Philosophy, Northern Illinois University
“Hugh Curtler has a truly independent mind, informed by decades of experience, reading, and reflection. His thoughts cannot be boxed and labeled “conservative” or “liberal.” He’s out to bother us all, to make us question easy attitudes and automatic thinking. Free of academic jargon, his style is conversational, clear, and direct. As he moved among a wide range of issues we encounter in everyday life, Curtler shows how deeply useful philosophy can be.”—Barton Sutter, senior lecturer, department of English, University of Wisconsin, Superior
“Reading Provoking Thought is like sitting down to a dinner conversation that you wish wouldn’t end. Ranging nimbly over the state of American education, sports, popular culture, and politics, Hugh Curtler taps into his 41 years as a philosophy teacher, making the great thoughts of the Western tradition speak to the anxieties, perplexities, and absurdities of our times.”—Austin Dacey, The Center for Inquiry, New York City.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SEEKING ANSWERS 1
LAW AND FREEDOM 141
VIRTUE AND VALUES 195
SOCIETY AND CULTURE 257
ART AND LITERATURE 335