The Space of Love and Garbage
By Phin Upham
“The Space of Love and Garbage,” is a collection of the best twenty essays from the Harvard Review of Philosophy. I had the privilege of working on this book while pursuing my studies as an undergraduate philosophy student at Harvard University. Among other great minds of today, the collection includes essays by Hubert Dreyfus and Gisela Striker.
In the essay “The Brave New World of The Matrix,” Hubert Dreyfus thinks through the philosophical implications of the movie The Matrix, examining the film’s question of elemental skepticism—Do we exist in reality as we seem to ourselves?—and extends that skepticism to question the value of reality. Is it “better to live in the real world no matter how miserable rather than living in an illusory world that makes us feel good?” and Dreyfus father and son give their provocative answers.
In another thought-proving essay, Gisela Striker asks the question: “Why Study the History of Philosophy?” After all, she points out, students of chemistry, biology, and astronomy can do well without anything more than a current snapshot of their respective fields while ignoring outdated versions. She argues that although advances have been made and mistakes corrected, overall “progress in philosophy does not seem to be of the cumulative sort” and that studying past philosophy not only contains valuable insights but helps us avoid costly mistakes—in argument and in life—and finding valuable arguments that have been overlooked or forgotten. Further, the value, beauty and usefulness of philosophy rest in the power and subtleties of its arguments, not just in the accuracy of the conclusions. The value of philosophy is in its ability to further disciplined and rigorous thought by reading excellent examples of this work.