Philosophy of/with Food and Wine

To me,  philosophy is a way of life not only because traditional work in ethics or aesthetics provides insights that can be brought to bear on everyday problems (although it sometimes does). Philosophy is a way of life because everyday affairs can be a source of philosophical insight that can make those everyday matters moreContinue reading “Philosophy of/with Food and Wine”

Is Human Suffering Metaphysical or Mundane?

Originally published at Three Quarks Daily. If we are to believe the most prominent of the writers we now lump under the category of “existentialism,” human suffering in the modern world is rooted in nihilism. But I wonder whether this is the best lens through which to view human suffering. According to existentialism, as theContinue reading “Is Human Suffering Metaphysical or Mundane?”

Does Deleuze Slay the Hegelian Monster?

I have been posting occasionally on the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze because I think his work is important regarding questions about how to live and how philosophy contributes to answering those questions. (Here is a post summarizing what I find attractive about his approach.) However, Deleuze thinks questions about how to live are at bottomContinue reading “Does Deleuze Slay the Hegelian Monster?”

Life Is Hard. Can Philosophy Help?

Originally posted at Three Quarks Daily. Does philosophy have anything to tell us about problems we face in everyday life? Many ancient philosophers thought so. To them, philosophy was not merely an academic discipline but a way of life that provided distinctive reasons and motivations for living well. Some contemporary philosophers have been inspired byContinue reading “Life Is Hard. Can Philosophy Help?”

Keiran Setiya on Philosophy as a Way of Life

The contemporary discourse around philosophy as a way of life has been inspired by the works of many ancient philosophers who actively promoted this idea. The problem with this contemporary debate is that answers to questions about how to live are often drawn directly from these ancient sources. Aristotle, the Stoics, or Epicurus are treatedContinue reading “Keiran Setiya on Philosophy as a Way of Life”

Deleuze, Leibniz, and the Test of the Large and the Small

If philosophy is able to provide guidance on how to live that is superior to reliance on conventions, habits, or impulses, it is because the activity of philosophy embodies a distinctive and more reliable approach to practical reason. But this depends on whether philosophical representations of reality are accurate and comprehensive. There is reason toContinue reading “Deleuze, Leibniz, and the Test of the Large and the Small”

Philosophy and Where One Stands

If philosophy has had one distinctive job throughout it’s history, I think it is captured in this quote from Wilfred Sellars: The aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term. Most of the philosophers weContinue reading “Philosophy and Where One Stands”

Skepticism As a Way of Life

Originally posted at Three Quarks Daily. Today “skepticism” has two related meanings. In ordinary language it is a behavioral disposition to withhold assent to a claim until sufficient evidence is available to judge the claim true or false. This skeptical disposition is central to scientific inquiry, although financial incentives and the attractions of prestige renderContinue reading “Skepticism As a Way of Life”

Existentialism’s Mistake

Existentialism produced a lot of interesting philosophy and it had much to say about philosophy as a way of life. But it seems to me the core insight of existentialism is mistaken. Existentialism got its purchase from the insight that the death of God (Nietzsche, Heidegger) or the loss of metaphysical foundations for human existenceContinue reading “Existentialism’s Mistake”

The Hard Work of Being a Sensualist

“Live in the moment” has been the advice of sensualists from Epicurus to Camus. Peak experiences, moments of extreme pleasure or catalyzing emotion, can nourish life especially when not burdened with a guilty past or an anxious future. Wine lovers and culinarians (“foodies” in the vernacular) are sensualists or at least we strive to beContinue reading “The Hard Work of Being a Sensualist”

Whither Stability?

In Western philosophy we have had a strong tendency to privilege being over becoming. This was firmly established by Plato when he argued that our constantly changing world of everyday experience is a poor copy of a realm of eternal, unchanging forms. Christianity reinforced this idea of ultimate stability by asserting that God was eternalContinue reading “Whither Stability?”

Creativity and Becoming

This is remarkable advice to young people from the renowned author Kurt Vonnegut about what is important in life. (From Michael Warburton’s Twitter feed.) In 2006 a high school English teacher asked students to write to a famous author & ask for advice. Kurt Vonnegut was the only one to respond. His reply was aContinue reading “Creativity and Becoming”

Deleuze: Aristotle Fails the Test of the Large and Small

I mentioned several weeks ago that I think the most important figure in recent philosophy, who can give us insight into how to think about change and our ability to create change through practical reason, is the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. He is important because he explains why conventional modes of thinking about reality canContinue reading “Deleuze: Aristotle Fails the Test of the Large and Small”

How To Be Free

“I’m a product of my decisions, not my circumstances” so said my friend Will whose abusive, alcoholic dad was all the motive he needed to never touch booze. This sounds wise but it’s nonsense. If our circumstances influence us they influence our decisions as well. You don’t avoid the consequences of determinism by pointing toContinue reading “How To Be Free”