BPL Presents: Ian Olasov

Tuesday, Sept 15, 7:00 PM ET
Philosophy in the Library: Ian Olasov Discusses Ask a Philosopher
Live via Zoom. Free with RSVP through Brooklyn Public Library

The September Philosophy in the Library features the series’ own curator, Ian Olasov, who discusses his debut book, Ask a Philsopher, in conversation with Nancy Arden McHugh. A collection of answers to the philosophical questions on people's minds—from the big to the personal to the ones you didn't know you needed answered. Ian Olasov runs the Ask a Philosopher booth, where philosophers travel to parks, street fairs, farmers markets, and elsewhere to talk with visitors about their questions and ideas. In Ask A Philosopher:  Answers to Your Most Important and Most Unexpected Questions, Olasov collects the answers to the most provocative and puzzling questions he has been asked, such as: 

  • Are people innately good or bad?
  • Is it okay to have a pet fish?
  • Is it okay to have kids?
  • Is color subjective?
  • If humans colonize Mars, who will own the land?
  • Is ketchup a smoothie?
  • Is there life after death?
  • Should I give money to homeless people?

Ask a Philosopher shows that there's a way of making philosophy work for each of us, and that philosophy can be both perfectly continuous with everyday life, and also utterly transporting. From questions that we all wrestle with in private to questions that you never thought to ask, this book will get you thinking.

Ian Olasov is the author of Ask a Philosopher: Answers to Your Most Important -- and Most Unexpected -- Questions (St. Martin's Press, 2020). In partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library, he has organized the Brooklyn Public Philosophers event series since 2013, which has held Ask a Philosopher booths, philosophy talks, screenings, and more in Brooklyn and beyond. He is an adjunct lecturer in the Philosophy Department at Brooklyn College, and lives in Flatbush with his two dogs and one partner. 

Nancy Arden McHugh is the director of the Wittenberg Institute for Public Humanities and Sciences and professor and chair of philosophy at Wittenberg University. She was the president of the Public Philosophy Network from 2018–2020.  McHugh is the author of The Limits of Knowledge: Generating Pragmatist Feminist Cases for Situated Knowing (2015, SUNY Press), the research for which was funded by the National Science Foundation, and Feminist Philosophies A–Z (2007). She is also the author of articles in feminist philosophy of science and epistemology. McHugh teaches philosophy courses in juvenile detention centers and in adult prisons, and she also partners with reentry programs for women who were incarcerated. Her work with the Kettering Foundation to develop deliberative conversations to rethink reentry from prisons intersects with her work in the carceral system. 


Click here to register for this event on BPL's webpage

Registered audience members will receive a Zoom link prior to the event.

Books are available to order from Greenlight for in-store pickup or direct-to-home shipping. Please allow time for shipping if not currently on our shelves. 

Event date: 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 7:00pm

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Ask a Philosopher: Answers to Your Most Important and Most Unexpected Questions Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250756176
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (while supplies last)
Published: Thomas Dunne Books - September 15th, 2020

"Based on thousands of interactions on New York City streets, Ian Olasov has written a book about the philosophical curiosities of everyday pedestrians that is sure to delight anyone who loves life's most puzzling questions. I've often wondered what philosophical questions the everyday New Yorker wants to have answered, and I'm even more curious about the answers. To my delight, Ian Olasov has written a book about both! From whether we have free will to whether ketchup is a smoothie, Ian Olasov has written a book responding to the philosophical questions that vex the average New York pedestrian, and his answers are sure to delight and inspire."
—Barry Lam, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Vassar College, and host of the podcast Hi-Phi Nation

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