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Where does one draw the line between honoring the work of an earlier writer/scholar/artist and plagiarism or fraudulent re-use?

Surely intent to deceive has something to do with this. If I set out to use X's ideas in order to solve a problem, and I make it clear that is what I am doing, then that is honouring. If I don't make it clear that is what I am doing, nor could I reasonably expect that all my readers will know this is what I am doing, then that is plagiarism. A slightly different version of your question would be this: "Where does one draw the line between honouring ... and merely rehashing old ideas?" (I love the word 'rehash', by the way, it being literally visceral.) We are probably all tempted by the answer: "a work of philosophy (or art, or whatever) is not a rehash if it exhibits some amount of originality." So, suppose I use X's ideas (and I'm clear about what I am doing) to try to solve a problem that X did not consider, or to write a novel about a kind of situation that X did not. That is surely a sufficient degree of originality to avoid the accusation of rehashing. But originality is not so easy a concept to...

I really want to do a phd in philosophy and teach, but the society says I should not. I am 19 , but have got to go back to high school to finish up . A long way to go. How do I motivate myself? How do I ignore my other and unimportant desires/distractions to become what I want and is most meaningfull to me?

I think it is great that you know what you want at the age of 19 - I certainly didn't. If the goal of achieving higher qualifications in philosophy is a genuine goal for you, then it will stay with you for the next ten years or so, by which time with a bit of luck you will have arrived at your destination. If it turns out to be a genuine goal for you, then at worst what you call distractions will just delay you a bit. In fact, the philosopher who lived his or her life without distractions is just a myth, and certainly not a standard against which the rest of us should be judged. "Life is short" is often said but, in fact, for most people life is quite long, at least in the sense of presenting more opportunities than one imagines.

I'm a literature student and I've become aware that Marxist theorists (Fredric Jameson, Terry Eagleton, and so on) often talk about 'dialectics' - a term, I have traced to Hegel. But I'm unclear what is meant by this or how the term has been adopted. Is there anywhere you could point me which has an overview/guide to this?

Why not try here: Very crudely: dialectic describes a process whereby some social formation (e.g. a set of economic relations, a political institution, a set of religious beliefs, or even cultural forms (like the conventions of the novel)) does not quite 'work', and thus tensions arise (some kind of opposing beliefs or formations, or even a social formation that temporarily combines within itself two opposing ideas), until a resolution is reached. So, it is a way of understanding how and why change happens.

Being a lover of movies, I sometimes watch a movie that I find very inspiring, motivating or just aesthetically pleasing and I sometimes that many people like it too. However, it is not uncommon to find criticisms from film critics who conclude that the movie is trash or below standards and are not worth watching. My question is: who decides if the movie is "really" good and worth watching: the film experts who don't like it or the public who adored it?

After a hard day's philosophising, I find nothing more relaxing/distracting than a very loud, stupid movie with lots of things blowing up. The kinds of movies that, with rare exceptions, critics hate. Which of us is right? Well, neither, AT LEAST because we are applying different criteria. I want something mindless; critics rarely do, because genuinely intelligent or subtle films are what they want after a long day's watching loud stupid films. Now, let's take your inspiring movie. Again, its quality of being inspiring to you, and to many others, is only one thing a movie might want to do. And some such films work very well and fare well also with the critics -- like the first Rocky, for example. But a film critic has to balance a lot of different possible criteria: story-telling, script, acting, direction, etc. He or she then has to give thumbs up, or down, based upon this balance. That is why film critics often write things like this: 'Well, if you liked Rocky, then go see this; but otherwise...'. What...

It's typical to say that there's no such thing as an "objectively" good piece of art. But if that were so, why would we even bother sharing our thoughts about it? What would be the point in discussing a movie or song or painting with other people if we really thought that all our opinions were ultimately arbitrary? In other words, is there any way to make sense of the way we commonly talk about art that doesn't imply at least some kind of objectivity?

Thank you for your question: a definite puzzle. The real issue may lie in our tendency to divide all our judgements into just two classes, the 'subjective' and the 'objective'. Subjective would be judgements where there is no expectation of agreement from others, and therefore no sense in trying to justify our judgements; so, I like olives and you don't; what seems really pointless would be me trying to convince you that you like olives! Objective concerns those judgements where we believe others should agree with us, because the judgement is saying something about a world that is really out there, and we can all access the evidence concerning the object. So, I say that Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and you express scepticism -- well, we can together review the astronomical evidence. Art judgements seem to be neither one nor the other. They are not subjective, because it does make sense to talk about them, and indeed I may even be able to convince you: suppose, for instance, that I...

What are philosophy thesis defenses like? Does the quality of the questioning surpass that of the best courtroom cross examinations?

It varies by country: in some traditions, doctoral exams are big public events; in others, small private affairs. At my University, doctoral exams have a chair -- someone from outside the subject who observes, trying to ensure that the process is fair and the regulations followed. Because of this, I have experience of a huge number of doctoral exams, many outside philosophy (let's see, a few from botany, entomology, economics, forensic science, psychiatric nursing, biomechanical sports science, etc.). They are surprisingly similar in the pattern of questioning. Whether they are superior to courtroom cross-examination, however, is moot. This is because the purposes of the two practices are different: a court wants to establish the truth of X (or at least the appearance of the truth of X); a doctoral exam is frankly not interested in the truth of the content of the thesis, but rather in the validity and professionalism of the research and thinking that went into it.

Isn't prejudice just common sense? If it's reasonable to assume that since every dog I've ever met has four paws and a snout, then, until proven otherwise, every dog I will meet with have four paws and a snout, then why isn't it reasonable to assume, if every American I've ever met is foolish, unless proven otherwise, that every American I will meet will be foolish?

It seems to me that you have at least three classes of judgement in your question. 1. Prejudice. 2. Common Sense. 3. Informal definitions. 4. Inductive generalisation. Let's start with the latter: if all the Xs I have come across are Ys, and if I have no reason to believe that the Xs I have come across are exceptional or otherwise not representative, then I have some confidence that Xs are Ys. Americans are foolish. What I am calling an informal definition is a way of describing an identifying feature of something: dogs have four paws. Now, this is different from the above because you very likely learned about dogs in part by having the number of paws pointed out to you, whereas probably you didn't learn what an American is by having their foolishness pointed out. Continuing backwards, I would claim that the first two categories have something social or cultural about them, that the second two do not necessarily have. Common sense is called 'common' to indicate that it belongs to a particular social...

Other than subscribing to philosophy journals, what kind of funding do philosophy departments need for their research and teaching? I would think that philosophy requires the least amount of funding in all of academia!

My daughter told me a relevant joke: A university's Dean of Research became frustrated during budget negotiations with the science faculty. "Why do you physicists always need such expensive labs? Why can't you be more like the mathematicians? All they need is paper and a waste basket." After a moment he added: "Or like the philosophers? All they need is the paper." Yes, philosophy is cheap in terms of material resources. It is worth adding that the journals and books tend to be cheaper also, compared to other subjects. However, teaching philosophy is often an intensive, small-group experience -- so that costs. More importantly, like any other subject, the researching philosopher needs TIME. And time is comparatively expensive, with respect to material resources.

i just started reading some philosophy writings and got so mach interested in philosophy.But my assess to books is very much limited and i would appropriate its if anyone can help me with free e-book sites from where i can download some philosophy books. Thanks

You are in luck: the internet is densely populated with philosophical texts. Good places to start are: (also, they have a small set of recommendations in their 'philosophy bookshelf' but it represents only the tip of an iceberg!) and Google books has hundreds of pdf scans of old volumes. Now, there are three problems with these sites: for the most part, they present texts without commentary or explanation; often they use old editions or translations (because they are out of copyright); and finally, for the same reason, they tend to emphasize philosophy from times past. Recent philosophy is more difficult to come by, but not impossible. Certainly useful introductions can be found at the Internet or Stanford Encyclopedias; also, university teachers often put their lecture notes up on the web.