The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the sixteenth contribution in the series, submitted by Dustin Crummett.


Ants and the Problem of Evil

Theists are people who, like me, believe in an all-good and all-powerful God. Theists face the problem of evil: the problem of explaining why, if God is good and all-powerful, the world is such a miserable place. Philosophers considering the problem of evil focus overwhelmingly on the suffering of human beings, and, somewhat less frequently, the suffering of easily likeable non-human animals, such as fawns. But some people have asked why God would allow what they took to be the suffering of insects and similar creatures. Charles Darwin told his contemporary Asa Grey[1] that he could not understand why a good God would create Ichumonidae wasps, some of which lay their eggs within caterpillars, their larvae eating the caterpillars from the inside out upon hatching. And Robert Frost, in his poem “Design,” relayed seeing a spider eat a moth, writing:

What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?—
If design govern in a thing so small.[2]

The Daily Ant is establishing an intermittent ant film series, Theatre Thursdays. This inaugural installment is by our Film Correspondant Derek Langston. Enjoy!


Six-legged Celluloid Presents…
A review of Empire of the Ants: “Ant Misbehavin!”

Empire-of-the-Ants-_1977

Directed by Bert I. Gordon, Empire of the Ants is one of many films among Gordon’s giant/mutated/deformed abominations against humanity genre. It is based on a short story of the same name by H.G. Wells. Gordon has also filmed 2 other movies based on Wells’ works including Village of the Giants (starrring Beau Bridges and Ron Howard) and one of my childhood favorites, The Food of the Gods (starring literally no one you have ever heard of), both based on “The Food of the Gods and How it Came to Earth”. Interesting side note: The Food of the Gods was unfairly awarded the title of “Worst Rodent Movie of All Time” by the Golden Turkey Awards. Though in all fairness this was before the release of the highly overrated Pixar film Ratatouille (Yes I said it, Food of the Gods is better than Ratatouille). However, I digress.

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the fifteenth contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. Michael Rea.


Ants and the Hiddenness of God

If God loves us, why doesn’t God openly communicate with us?  This question resonates with a lot of people. My first clue as to the depth of its impact came in college, when a friend of mine broke down in tears over it.  “I have served God my entire life,” she said, “and God is supposed to be my heavenly father. So why can’t he, just once, whisper ‘I love you’?”

God
An ant’s search for God. Image: Andrea Lucky/Myrmecos

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the fourteenth contribution in the series, submitted by Amber Carlson.


She’s a Man(t)eater

What do Hall and Oates, anti-feminists, and myrmecologists have in common?

They’re each concerned with “maneaters.”

Hall and Oates are famous for their depiction of a woman who is beautiful, in control of her sexuality, but uses men for her financial benefit. “The beauty is there,” they say, but “money’s the matter” and so “if you’re in it for love, you ain’t gonna get too far.” But in addition to simply being a disappointing love interest for some, they liken her to a wild animal saying that “a beast is in her heart.” Any man interested in her must be warned. After all, “she’s deadly, man. She could really rip your world apart.” An empowering anthem for some women, but a fatal warning to men: “Watch out boy, she’ll chew you up,” they say. “She’s a maneater.”

MaleAnt
Female ants surround a male. Hall & Oates say “Watch out!” Photo: Alex Wild

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the thirteenth contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. David Schwartz.


Human Nature, Ethics, and Ants

Human nature is a perennial topic of Western philosophy: What does it mean to be human? What distinguishes humans from other species, or from machines? The history of philosophy is filled with answers, the most famous being that humans are the political animal, the thinking animal, the self-conscious animal, the tool-making animal, the warring animal, and the linguistic animal. Of particular interest to my field, ethics and value, is the claim that humans are the ethical animal. That is, we are the only animal that has a sense of fairness and justice, can act altruistically, and that possesses the free will needed to choose moral duty over instinctual reaction.

While it has taken philosophers a long time to catch up, this way of thinking about humanity – that we are different in kind from all other species – began to crumble with the work of Charles Darwin. His idea of natural selection offered a plausible mechanism that confirmed the idea that species are not immutable ‘natural kinds’ but only temporal snapshots of an on-going developmental process.   This greatly upset many people because it implied that humans were not different in kind from all other species, the sole possessor of an immaterial mind. Rather, humans differ from other species only by degree of evolutionary development. So while only humans can do mathematics or write literature, this does not mean these abilities are super-natural or somehow transcendent of material processes. It does mean that understanding human nature now requires understanding our evolutionary history.

Darwin2
Charles is like, “yeah lol ur wrong. Sorrynotsorry”

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the twelfth contribution in the series, submitted by Kevin Lande.


O Ant, Where Art Thou?

Do ants have any idea where they are and where home is at? When they go out into the world, do they grasp how far they have gone or what turns their path has taken? Desert ants (Cataglyphis) are able reliably to return to their homes, having left them in search of food. But the ability to reliably get back home does not imply that one has an idea, a mental representation or map, that specifies where in space home is located. Reflecting on why not helps us to get some purchase on a broader question: What sorts of abilities, or behaviors, indicate the presence of such mental representations? What abilities or behaviors indicate the presence of mind?

Huertas abandonadas VIII
Cataglyphis ant in search of home, maybe. Photo: José María Escolano

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the eleventh contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. David Detmer.


Giraffes Are Taller Than Ants, and Other Observations

Giraffes are taller than ants. I claim to know this. Moreover, I maintain that “giraffes are taller than ants” is an objective truth. It accurately reports on one aspect of what the world, quite apart from human subjectivity, is really like, so that anyone who denies it–anyone who thinks that ants are as tall as, or taller than, giraffes–is simply mistaken, wrong, incorrect.

Giraffe
Geoff the Giraffe considers objective truths