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”

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”

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”

What Does it Mean to Lead a Philosophical Life?

To lead a philosophical life is to live a life devoted to reason—to live in accordance with one’s own deep and comprehensive understanding of how one’s life can be most fully lived. This is not about accepting a text or set of principles as authoritative. One must be committed to one’s own process of reasoningContinue reading “What Does it Mean to Lead a Philosophical Life?”

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”

Socrates the Unwise

Socrates famously argued that we achieve the good life only through the rigorous practice of philosophy. Most of the premises in Socrates’ argument have proven to be false or at least highly contentious. Through philosophical reflection and dialogue, he came to believe that the soul survives death. Thus, we should be deeply concerned with its’Continue reading “Socrates the Unwise”

Risk, Rigor, and Philosophical limits

Philosophy pushes at two limits. It refuses to take common sense at face value and advances risky, experimental, or extreme hypotheses to show how appearances can be deceiving. But then it adopts rigorous standards of evidence and logic in its commitment to truth. Much of the history of philosophy is a series of jaw-dropping, preposterousContinue reading “Risk, Rigor, and Philosophical limits”