Plato week has ended, but you can still see the details below if you're interested.

A couple weeks ago, we kicked off a series called "Philosopher Week" in order to build up the content we have about famous thinkers.

The basics: We will designate one philosopher each week, and each person who asks a question relating to that philosopher will be eligible to win a prize.

How to enter: Ask a question relating to the philosopher of the week, and tag it with that person's name (this week, use the tag). Each question you ask will get you one entry into a random drawing to win a book of your choice (up to $50).

After running this contest for a few weeks and observing the results, we're adding a few more stipulations:

  • The book you choose doesn't have to be about the Philosopher of the week, but it should pertain to philosophy in some respect. Paperback, hardcover, or books for e-readers like Kindle are all fine.
  • There must be a minimum of 8 new questions about the Philosopher of the Week in order for the prizes to awarded.

Choosing the philosopher of the week: We choose the philosopher of the week based on your suggestions. If you have suggestions, leave them as an answer to this meta post.

Previous topics:

  • December 12-19: Aristotle (winner Jon Ericson)
  • December 19-26: Descartes (winner Thomas Klimpel)
  • December 26-January 2: Locke (winner Otavio Macedo)
  • January 16-23: Plato (winner Otavio Macedo)
  • Sounds great! Just to echo what @Lauren says here -- please let us know which thinkers and writers you'd like to see in upcoming weeks!
    – Joseph Weissman Mod
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 16:56
  • @JosephWeissman do you mind tagging this post "featured" so more people will see it? Might help increase participation.
    – Lauren
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 16:58
  • 3
    I have also added a system message indicating we've kicked off the contest and pointing back here if anyone has questions. Please let me know if there's anything else we might want to look at doing in preparation here. (I am thinking of trying to organize a related discussion to brainstorm questions in the chat space.)
    – Joseph Weissman Mod
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 5:47
  • +1 for the chat idea!
    – Lauren
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 12:51
  • 1
    Why have you decided to hold off doing another contest? Is it because of the number of questions asked in the last one? Perhaps that was because it happened in the week between the end-of-the-year holidays, and also because Locke is not so popular to a broader audience as Aristotle and Descartes. You should give another try with Plato or Nietzsche, or even Kant. Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 21:53
  • 2
    @OtavioMacedo this week is another short week where a lot of people will still be on holiday, so we didn't want to run it and get such limited participation again. We will announce another topic next week, probably using one of your suggestions.
    – Lauren
    Commented Jan 4, 2012 at 18:09
  • I edited the question to finish a vital sentence. Did I guess the final word correctly? It's a good rule in my opinion. Commented Jan 6, 2012 at 16:52
  • Haha yes, thank you!
    – Lauren
    Commented Jan 6, 2012 at 16:53

3 Answers 3


Well, we certainly have seen a lot of activity already! I'm really looking forward to what we might come up with in terms of Aristotle questions over the next few days.

I wanted to mention here that I am definitely planning on trying to organize this question-brainstorming discussion session in chat over the weekend. (If you think you might be interested, let's talk about what time you might want to hold it.)

Just to recap, here are some of the suggestions we've been discussing for mechanisms to determine which philosophers to focus on next.

  • Use voting to select next thinker of the week (probably the most straightforward)
  • Organize thinkers based on 'affiliation' or 'affinities' with one another (it strikes me that this might get a bit hairy, but it could be interesting)

Another suggestion might be to organize higher-level categories grouping representative philosophers together. So we could do a 'modern philosophy' quarter with 'existentialism', 'phenomenology', 'logical empiricism' months, and representative thinkers from each school per week. While this could be interesting, I think for the time being we should probably just vote on the target philosophers for the first few rounds as we're feeling it out.


+1 for the idea.

Couple of points:

  • Since users may ask anything related to a philosopher, just using the tag, perhaps the rule should be that the question has to be tangential to the philosopher in a relevant way as opposed to questions that deals with the tag only via "infinite-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon"? :)
  • Maybe we run down in alphabetical order for next featured philosopher? Berkeley? Alternatively, we can trace down the 'philosophical lineage' then users will be able to build on knowledge of previous philosopher?
  • 1
    Re: your first bullet point - yes, we definitely want questions that are relevant to the philosopher. I assume people know that, but if it appears to be a problem I'll make an edit. What do you think of the Aristotle questions we've gotten so far?
    – Lauren
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 16:36
  • 1
    Re the second bullet - what do you mean philosophical lineage? Does that mean going from teacher --> student? Just not familiar with the term.
    – Lauren
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 16:37
  • 1
    Yes, that's what I meant by 'lineage'. I tried to apply the concept of "mathematical genealogy project". Questions seem great; although few. (Are people afraid of downvotes?) :)
    – user1207
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 21:00
  • I think it just takes a while for people to realize it's going on. And going by philosophical lineage might be good - why don't you go ahead and suggest somebody specific so everyone can vote on it? :)
    – Lauren
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 14:58
  • 1
    Can I narrow it to 3: Avicenna, Averroes or Maimonides?
    – user1207
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 22:04
  • good suggestions! why don't you leave them each as a separate answer so that people can vote and we can choose one?
    – Lauren
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 16:05

Let's use this answer as a community board for suggesting topics. If you've got an idea, add it to the list!

  • Aquinas
  • Aristotle
  • Bergson
  • Berkeley
  • Deleuze
  • Descartes
  • Epicurus
  • Hegel
  • Heidegger
  • Hobbes
  • Hume
  • Husserl
  • Kant
  • Leibniz
  • Locke
  • Lonergan
  • Machiavelli
  • Marx
  • Nietzsche
  • Plato
  • Plotinus
  • Pre-Socratics, the
  • Sartre
  • Spinoza
  • Stoics, the
  • Voegelin

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