Skip to Main Content

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. 

Please register for this free Zoom event. Registered audience members will receive a Zoom link prior to the event. Ask a Philosopher can be ordered online from our partner Greenlight Bookstore for in-store pickup or direct-to-home shipping here.

Philosophy in the Library is supported by Brooklyn Public Library’s Fund for the Humanities.

close navigation 
Only 50% of Brooklyn households have responded to the 2020 Census. Have you?
Take the Census