Friday, January 11, 2008


What is "nanophilosophy"? Nanophilosophy is the search for and study of very, very small philosophical questions. It was begun by the Department of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo in an attempt to drag our age-old discipline kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. The Century of Very Small Things.

I think this is a fantastic development and I want you, my readers, to form the avant-garde of this burgeoning movement. (I choose you because, frankly, I think that readers of this blog qua "readers of this blog" have already demonstrated your concern with matters of infintesimally small significance.) Ideally, there should be a set of nanophilosophical questions for all of the standard subdvisions of philosophy proper. Here are some to start:

What is the sound of two hands clapping?
Is there something rather than nothing?
If a tree falls in the woods, does a bear still shit there?
Is this the best of all actual worlds?

Is there life after birth?
Can "God" be studied?
Is faith consistent with believing?

If a human could speak, could we understand it?
If a scientist was poking my brain in a vat, would my shoes still fit?
Is there a relationship between language and talk?

Is it permissible to harm none to save five?
Do two wrongs ever make more than one wrong?
If I'm okay and you're okay, am I still okay?
Can we derive an "is" from an "is"?

Can science be naturalized?
Is classical mechanics consistent with Newton's laws?

Is there any difference at all between expensive art and cheap art?
Are tragedies always sad?
Does buttered popcorn add anything to the cinematic form?

How would things look if the Earth rotated on its axis?
If the unexamined is life is not worth living, what is it worth?
Can I, in fact, know my arse from a hole in the ground?

Is obeying the law legal?
Does an absolute sovereign have absolute power?
If we never removed the "veil of ignorance," could we form an idiocracy?

These are just a start, of course. I am counting on you to add your own burning nanophilosophical questions. Very, very little is riding on your participation.


Brunson said...

Looks like nanosociology beat us to the punch:

"Why Humans Have Sex":

The most reported reason? "I was attracted to the person."

Booga Face said...

Well, Nano-technology has been one of the biggest growth industries for the past couple years. I mean, if you're an engineer of physicist and you want money, your best bet is to go Nano. So, I suppose it's about time the social and human sciences went Nano-nano. (Mork and Mindy reference, sorry.) After all, we all know that the best way for the impoverished humanities to get any federal grant money is to attach themselves to the hard sciences, petitioning the powers-that-be that philosphy or literature's contribution to the NSF will help society more ethically and usefully integrate new technologies, even though we secretly know that 12-year-olds are probably way ahead of us. Really, nano-philosophy... sounds like a desperate cry for help.

Dean Whitbread said...

Thank you.