Josh Parsons' website

www.joshparsons.net / oxford

About this site

Welcome to my website. A selection of new material of all kinds is listed below.

You may be interested in my online papers, reading lists, CV, my PhD thesis, or my polemic against the gratuitous use of LaTeX.

My more whimsical web creations include flags of the world given letter grades, symptoms of depression also given letter grades, and my shrine to Bud Christman.

And there is a partial list of software I have written.

What’s new…

Symptoms of depression given letter grades23 May 2015

I have suffered from depression on and off since 2012 and probably a lot longer. In 2012 I came under a lot of stress, had a meltdown worse than any I’d had before, at a time when I couldn’t afford to just take time off to deal with it myself, and went to see my doctor, then a psychiatrist, then a therapist, and ended up taking sick leave from my job, a course of anti-depressants and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

A standard thing people try to do to help deal with depression is “taming the black dog”. The idea is that you get comfy with the idea that whatever you feel, however nasty, is part of you. You own it, it doesn’t own you. Another thing, part of CBT, is teaching yourself that even the worst thing that might realistically happen is not the end of the world (once you have your head around that, you can stop believing that it will happen). This page is an attempt to do both of those.

A few years ago now I gave humourous letter grades to the world’s flags. The last time I came back up from a bout of depression, it suddenly seemed like a stroke of genius to do the same to my symptoms (see Hypomania below). I have not attempted to review every possible symptom. Mostly, depression is no barrel of laughs. But in retrospect some symptoms are quite funny. So I have just chosen a few choice picks.

Before I begin, some caveats:

  • Trigger warning: some people with depression are upset by reading descriptions of depression. If that’s you, read no further (I will laugh extra hard at the jokes on your behalf).
  • I know lots of people who have had mental illnesses of various kinds and I have not had as bad illnesses as most of them. I don’t presume to speak on behalf of anyone but myself. There is no mental illness clubhouse, any more than there is a physical illness clubhouse. We all have mental health; when your mental health is impaired, then you have a mental illness.
  • There’s a lot of debate about “medicalising” depression / about whether anti-depressants are over-prescribed / about whether depression is a disease, a disability, or just what happens to anyone who is not a narcissist when they are placed under too much stress. Whatever the outcome of those debates, one thing I am sure of is that if you can’t work or enjoy yourself for days at a time, for whatever reason, then that is an illness, and there are professionals who can help. Also, laughing never hurt anyone.
Film review: The conversation (1974)30 Apr 2015

I used to play this party game of who would play who in “Analytic Philosophy the Hollywood blockbuster”, and one of my most confident castings was 70s Gene Hackman as Ted Sider. I hope Ted doesn’t mind. It had to be Gene Hackman as he was in the 70s when he was cool, youthful, funky - I think the model was as he was in The French Connection.

But anyway, Gene Hackman isn’t nearly as cool as that in The Conversation, but it is one hell of a good movie.

General philosophy reading list12 Mar 2015

This is a 4-tutorial reading list for the Oxford first year “general philosophy” paper. Students may wish to also consult the philosophy faculty’s reading list available through WebLearn.

Particularly significant readings are starred (*).

Before writing your first essay, you would be well advised to look at Jim Prior’s excellent guidelines on writing a philosophy essay.

Moral philosophy (Mill) 4 tutorial reading list12 Mar 2015

This is a 4-tutorial reading list for the Oxford first year moral philosophy paper. Students may wish to also consult the philosophy faculty’s reading list available through WebLearn.

A required text for this paper is J.S. Mill’s Utilitarianism Mill, J. (1998). Utilitarianism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Though I’ve recommended chapters of Mill for each essay, these are just the most relevant parts of Mill’s book. You would be well-advised to read the whole book cover to cover as soon as you can.

If you haven’t read it before, you might like to look at Jim Prior’s excellent guidelines on writing a philosophy essay.

Non-cognitivism reading list04 Mar 2015

This is a reading list for a series of 4 tutorials on the topic of “non-cognitivism”.

About me

I am a Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy at Corpus Christi College and an Associate Professor in the Oxford Philosophy Faculty. I work on metaphysics, philosophy of language, logic, meta-ethics, ethics, and other bits of philosophy.

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0000-0002-3985-2206

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