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”

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”

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)”

On Philosophers and their Lives

“What was Aristotle’s life?’ Well, the answer lay in a single sentence: ‘He was born, he thought, he died.’ And all the rest is pure anecdote” This is how Heidegger introduced a lecture on Aristotle. This is conventional wisdom among philosophers. The life of the philosopher has little to do with his or her work.Continue reading “On Philosophers and their Lives”

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”

Taking Philosophy out of Philosophy as a Way of Life

For Socrates, philosophy was the sole authority for judging what kind of life is best for a human being and how we should implement that philosophical analysis in our own particular lives. But, according to Socrates, a philosophical life is more than just following a set of principles based on good reasons. Philosophical exploration andContinue reading “Taking Philosophy out of Philosophy as a Way of Life”

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”

Philosophy is Not About Consolation

In reading some of the work of Pierre Hadot, who is largely responsible for the contemporary debate about philosophy as a way of life, it seems to me there is a fundamental tension between philosophy inspired by a sense of wonder with a commitment to pursue the truth come what may vs. philosophy as aContinue reading “Philosophy is Not About Consolation”

The Value of Metaphysics

Originally published at Three Quarks Daily. Among the ideas in the history of philosophy most worthy of an eye-roll is Aristotle’s claim that the study of metaphysics is the highest form of eudaimonia (variously translated as “happiness” or “flourishing”) of which human beings are capable. The metaphysician is allegedly happier than even the philosopher whoContinue reading “The Value of Metaphysics”

On Conversion Experiences

Religions have always relied on the idea of a conversion experience. But conversion experiences are essential to many of the characterizations of philosophy as a way of life. Plato’s allegory of the cave where one transitions from the corrupt sensible world to the incorruptible world of the spirit; the Stoic intuition of the presence ofContinue reading “On Conversion Experiences”

The Scandal of Philosophy

Shortly after launching this blog, I summarized my views on philosophy as a way of life in an essay for Three Quarks Daily entitled The Scandal of Philosophy. The short version of the essay is that philosophy has become an academic discipline existing almost exclusively in academic institutions. As a result, it has sacrificed itsContinue reading “The Scandal of Philosophy”

Norms, Critique, and the Double Mind

When faced with questions about how one should live, most people begin by exploring answers within the settled norms and conventions that already frame their lives. The conventions we live by are familiar and thus seem right even when life throws curveballs at us, even when we swing and miss. To look for answers outsideContinue reading “Norms, Critique, and the Double Mind”