The Play of Mind:

Software on Philosophy (Plus Some Serious Foolery)

This site is for anyone interested in philosophy or the history of ideas. You'll find here fifteen

interactive programs, as well as an assortment of videos, essays and poems. All are free.

(Please note: The programs require that the .NET Framework be installed on your PC.)

                   Interactive Programs on Philosophy:

The Forbears programs are basic and relatively effortless introductions to the history of ideas. You are shown what some great thinkers have said on a variety of issues under the general topic (philosophy, ethics, politics or American thought). You are also asked to choose those quotes you most agree with and in return the program analyzes your choices and displays a graph of your "philosophical proclivities."

Download Forbears Programs

The Bull Session programs are computerized meetings or clashings of minds -- yours included. The final product will be a dialogue where you are discussing several difficult questions with thinkers from around the world and throughout time. Because you have to actually write your responses, the four programs here (on art, religion, law and human nature) are more demanding than the Forbears programs.

Download Bull Session Programs

The two Tree Owls programs (one on European philosophers, the other on American) are challenging introductions to the history of ideas. You are shown some of the most pivotal and provocative ideas of some of the most important thinkers. You are also asked to indicate to what extent you agree with them, and graphs will be periodically displayed based on your responses.

Download Tree Owls Programs

The Philosophy Bee program is a quiz game. It will test and, if necessary, refresh your knowledge of 20 important philosophers. In each of four rounds you will be asked 36 questions about these philosophers. Besides keeping track of your score, the program offers follow-up explanations of the answers and brief biographies of the philosophers.

Download Philosophy Bee Program

The Mouse Maze programs are talmud generators. That is, the output of these 4 programs (on time, language, nature and love) will be several uniquely formatted pages of quotes each circling a different question related to the chosen topic. You will be asked to choose what questions most interest you and then, for each question chosen, what quotes you would like to print. If you wish, you can also add your own thoughts.

Download Mouse Maze Programs


                   Plus Some Serious Foolery:

Rooster Reveilles and Swan Songs is a collection of twenty videos, slideshows and cartoons that attempt to entertainingly bring to life some issues related to philosophy and the history of ideas. Though the brief shows here at times lean a little more towards fun than philosophy, at other times they are guilty of trying to make a point.

View Rooster Reveilles and Swan Songs

Fish Stories is a another collection of twenty videos and cartoons. Unlike the first set, this one uses direct quotes from philosophers and other writers and therefore more closely links up to the history of ideas. However, the brief shows here are still based on the belief that ideas can be poignant and entertaining as well as provocative and edifying.

View Fish Stories

When in his twenties and before he was enmeshed in the world of computers, the creator of the programs on this site liked to write essays. Four of these essays are included here because they are (it is hoped) playful and they do (to some extent) relate to philosophy. Other than a word processor, no special software is required to read these essays.

Download Shaggy Dog Stories

Bottomless Dreams is a collection of ten videos and cartoons inspired by the works of Shakespeare. However, as Shakespeare himself liked to use the stories of others for his own purposes, these videos sometimes go off in directions (philosophic and otherwise) that Shakespeare would probably not endorse. Bardolaters beware.

View Bottomless Dreams

Other Animals is a sort of humorous addendum to all the above stuff. The program includes 20 light poems on various animals, along with some computer animation. One option is to hear these poems read by Microsoft's Merlin character. Another option shows before and after images.

Download Other Animals


                   And for those interested in photography...

And for those interested in photography, you might want to check out my web site called (with an intentional link to this site) The Play of Light.

The Play of Light


       Please send comments or suggestions to


       Note to educators: Feel free to use any of the above programs in your class. All that is asked for in return

       is that you email the above address when the class is over to say how things went with the program.