Morality is Not Like a Science

The scientific method is based on the idea that physical objects or events will always behave in the same way under the same conditions. Thus, a scientific law is universal. H20 boils at 100 C without exception but only if the vapor pressure equals the atmospheric pressure and only if there are no minerals orContinue reading “Morality is Not Like a Science”

Epicurus and the Ethics of Pleasure

Posted initially at Three Quarks Daily. If philosophy is not only an academic, theoretical discipline but a way of life, as many Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers thought, one way of evaluating a philosophy is in terms of the kind of life it entails. On that score, if we’re playing the game of choose yourContinue reading “Epicurus and the Ethics of Pleasure”

A Challenge for Ethics and Practical Reason (and why I think Deleuze might help)

If philosophy is not merely an academic subject but a way of life, it is because philosophy can guide our judgments about how to live. In this context, philosophy embodies a distinctive form of practical reason. Practical reason is the capacity to resolve through reflection questions about what to do and how one should conductContinue reading “A Challenge for Ethics and Practical Reason (and why I think Deleuze might help)”

A Problem For Practical Reason: There Is Always Something New

Should you sacrifice everything for love; betray a friend to protect another friend; lie on a job application; leave a relationship because vaguely something doesn’t feel right; blow the whistle on a corrupt but dangerous boss; stir the pot just to see what happens; act with cruelty in order to wake someone up; succumb toContinue reading “A Problem For Practical Reason: There Is Always Something New”

Stoicism: Is It Therapy or Philosophy

This post first appeared at Three Quarks Daily. One of the more remarkable developments in popular philosophy over the past 20 years is the rebirth of stoicism. Stoicism was an ancient Greek and Roman philosophy founded around 300 BCE by the merchant Zeno of Citium, in what is now Cyprus. Although, contemporary professional philosophers occasionallyContinue reading “Stoicism: Is It Therapy or Philosophy”

To Quell the Self-Sufficient Machine

In modern life, we have given up God only to worship the self. Staunch individualists celebrate “freedom” by refusing to wear masks or get vaccinated. Large swaths of American society treat with derision the idea that we might be responsible for the welfare of others or share a common fate. We fail miserably to musterContinue reading “To Quell the Self-Sufficient Machine”

Is Life Like a Work of Art?

I’m a great admire of philosopher Bence Nanay’s work on perception and aesthetics. But I am less enamored with this brief article  he wrote for Psychology Today about the thesis that life ought to be lived as a work of art. Nanay is skeptical of this idea. Taking a quote from Robert Musil as hisContinue reading “Is Life Like a Work of Art?”

Forgetting Aristotle

Originally posted at Three Quarks Daily For many of the ancient philosophers that we still read today, philosophy was not only an intellectual pursuit but a way of life, a rigorous pursuit of wisdom that can guide us through the difficult decisions and battle for self-control that characterize a human life. That view of philosophyContinue reading “Forgetting Aristotle”

The Challenge for Philosophy as a Way of Life

Here is an argument for philosophy as a way of life: P1 Reason should be the dominant capacity for directing one’s life P2 Philosophy is the perfection of reason Conclusion: Therefore philosophy is the best way of directing one’s life The controversial premise is  P2. This idea of the perfection of reason is one wayContinue reading “The Challenge for Philosophy as a Way of Life”

The Silent Art

We often think of imagination as an ability to invent fantastic images or create original patterns in media such as musical notes, words, or images. But I think this misses the heart of imagination. The most important role of imagination is a capacity to create new possibilities, to create new structures of experience and discloseContinue reading “The Silent Art”

Build a Better Person

Most educators believe that education builds a better person, a person more knowledgeable, more aware, better able to communicate, highly motivated, and more adept at solving the full range of problems that arise in life. I suspect that most educators think this is the primary goal of education. Doesn’t it then follow that the testContinue reading “Build a Better Person”

One Incoherent Defense of Vegetarianism

It had been many years since I attended a party for philosophy conference participants and graduate students. My patience for what passes for social life in academia has been withering for years, but alas I found myself in such company before the pandemic shut down these gatherings. Many guests were vocal vegetarians and their justificationContinue reading “One Incoherent Defense of Vegetarianism”

Is Western Civilization Based on Pious Hope?

“Irrespective of whether we are believers or agnostics, whether we believe in God or karma, moral ethics is a code which everyone is able to pursue.” – Dalai Lama This quotation from 1400 Lessons of the 14th Dalai Lama is the great hope on which modern civilization is based. But I wonder whether it isContinue reading “Is Western Civilization Based on Pious Hope?”

A Short History of Ethics and a Possible Future

Ancient philosophers concerned with ethical matters were preoccupied with the question of how one should live. Their answers to that question required the existence of a cosmological order to which a good life must conform—an ideal of human nature built into the very structure of reality or advanced via God’s word. Among philosophers, belief inContinue reading “A Short History of Ethics and a Possible Future”