Using the PhiloSophos Knowledge Base
Ask a Philosopher was added to the Pathways site in July 1999. The original, the two-monthly pages of questions and answers increased in size from 5,000 to over 60,000 words. The archived versions are divided up into individual pages. In 2004, a new format was introduced of shorter, more frequent pages of questions and answers. We have kept the same format for the archives.
The Ask a Philosopher archives can easily searched or browsed. For students writing philosophy papers, philosophical terms and theories explained in easy, non-technical language. The FreeFind search engine searches for pages which have all the terms entered in the search box. If no pages have all the terms, then the search engine will show the pages with the best fit first. With practice, you can conduct searches of the archives with pin-point accuracy.
A special selection of questions and answers on time travel, artificial intelligence, big bang theory, creation vs. evolution, meaning of life, life after death, extraterrestrial life, cultural relativism, ethical dilemmas, social justice can be found at The Ten Big Questions.
Looking for someone to discuss your philosophy course or debate the problems of philosophy with? You can find your ideal study partner at StudyPartners.net. This service is free to all Pathways students. As it states on the web page, 'It's all about your mind.'
On Geoffrey Klempner's Tentative Answers you will find some answers to questions which have recently been submitted to Ask a Philosopher, with the opportunity to submit your own comments or criticisms. There is no need to register in order to post comments.
AskPhilosophers is a new service run by philosophy professors at Amherst College Massachusetts, USA, which boasts an impressive line up of top-notch academic philosophers. On the main page, you will find links to many of their home pages. See if you can trip them up with a really difficult question.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has established itself as one of the primary starting points for students researching philosophy papers, as well as providing a valuable reference for professional philosophers. The main rival to the Stanford philosophy encyclopedia is the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Both of these works are tremendous achievements, involving the collaborative efforts of thousands of philosophers.
We strongly recommend purchasing a good philosophy dictionary. At over 1,000 pages, the Oxford Companion to Philosophy edited by Ted Honderich (Oxford University Press 1995) is a heavyweight philosophy encyclopedia with excellent coverage. Just as comprehensive, but with a slightly less academic tone, is the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy edited by Robert Audi. Or you might choose the wide ranging Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy which is based on the massive eight volume Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy edited by Edward Craig.
A word of warning. With all these research tools available, it is easy for students to fall into the bad habit of checking every search engine every time they have philosophy papers to write. Getting information from search engines is no substitute for reading, especially reading original texts, and thinking for yourself. Try out the different resources, discover their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, just a single article is enough to launch you into your own original philosophical investigation.
© Geoffrey Klempner 20012012