Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Phoenix Cycle

It's a sad but true fact that for most people philosophy is a fairly dry and uninteresting discipline.  I've often thought that was strange, because philosophy--more than any other discipline that I know--deals with the most important questions that any human being could have: What's the meaning of life? What's the right way to live in community with other individuals?  What happens to us after death.
Perhaps the problem is not with the kinds of questions that the discipline of philosophy asks, but the approach that philosophers often take to asking these questions.  Let's be honest: The ideas of Immanuel Kant are probably as relevant today we when he developed them, but who wants to wade through The Critique of Pure Reason to get at them?  For most ordinary folks that would be a fate worse than death.
But there are other ways than important philosophical ideas can be presented--using fiction for example.  And that's exactly the approach that Robert Edward, author of the new Phoenix Cycle, takes to philosophy.  The Phoenix Cycle is a dystopian series in which many of the main character are famous philosophers and deals with philosophical questions in a way that many people may find compelling.
Here is an excerpt from Edward's book for those who are interested:

I have been an avid book reader ever since I was a child.  Over the years I gained more interests in the literary world, such as Philosophy and psychology.  These interests have lead me to read stacks of philosophy books and Essays, such as the Plato Republic and The Rebel.  These types of books are now stacked around my room, no longer able to close and covered in scribbled ink and washes of highlighter.
Now I am writing a book that makes philosophy come to life.  I hope that with my series, “The Phoenix Cycle.”  I can make philosophy cool.  By making it cool I believe more people will become interested in learning about philosophy.  


  1. I read the blurb and I think that it's an interesting project. I agree that philosophy is often a hard sell - especially for younger people who may not want to spend the time necessary to get the most out of great philosophical texts. Perhaps a novel-format like this one (or Sophie's World) is the best way to get them hooked on philosophical thinking.

    - Sara

  2. That's the idea!

    Philosophy needs a face lift.

    If it doesn't get one soon, I fear that the next generation (maybe even my own) will become so disinterested in philosophy that it will become completely irrelevant to society at large. If that were to happen, people would be inexperienced in thinking critically within the philosophical realm. This would likely make most people less able to understand what is happening to their society at a higher level.

    If this were to happen, I believe that people and society will be more susceptible to self interested people who wish to shape them/it in a way that behooves their own agenda.

    I have no crystal ball...but I don't think that that will be a good thing for the people who live in that world. So I'm doing what I can to change the course, it seems, that the world is heading down.

    "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi

  3. Looks interesting. I went on the author's site and it seems like he put a great deal of thought into this project. Always happy to support any attempt to make philosophy more widely appreciated.

    - Cory

  4. I not totally convinced that fiction is the optimal venue for developing philosophical ideas. Great ideas require the kind of extended exposition that would make fiction boring. Conversely, trying to fit philosophical ideas into the structure of a novel might very well reduce those ideas to something utterly banal.