Aristotle on Human Fulfillment

The more deeply I ponder Aristotle’s conception of eudaimonia (usually translated as “happiness” or more recently sometimes as “flourishing”), the more radical it seems. For instance, we are perfectly comfortable saying things like “that basil plant is much happier since we moved it to the windowsill” or “their daughter is really flourishing in her newContinue reading “Aristotle on Human Fulfillment”

Ways of Life and Lines of Work

Because labor is so central to human existence, throughout history various thinkers have speculated about what the Buddhist eightfold path calls “right livelihood” for those who would seek and practice wisdom. For instance, both the Stoic Musonius Rufus and the Confucian Wu Yubi advocated subsistence farming as a noble line of work. The Taoist sageContinue reading “Ways of Life and Lines of Work”

Much Ado about Nothingness

In pursuit of wisdom, I often explore intellectual traditions I’m not familiar with. Most recently, I’ve been reading a sourcebook of Japanese philosophy, in which I found a fascinating essay by Abe Masao (1915-2006) on the Buddhist concept of emptiness or nothingness. Abe’s foil here is Plato. In Plato’s dialogue Parmenides, Socrates argues that there mustContinue reading “Much Ado about Nothingness”

The Determinist Fantasy

Determinism – the belief that all events (including animal behavior and human actions) are fixed or ordained before they happen by antecedent conditions or external forces – doesn’t keep me up at night, but it seems to be something of a bogeyman for many people. To my mind, it’s a fantastical notion. Here’s how IContinue reading “The Determinist Fantasy”

Writing as Thinking

Why write? I suppose there are many reasons: sharing your opinions, persuading others of your positions on issues, journaling through personal challenges, getting things off your chest, creating something beautiful, making a name for yourself, getting published, perhaps even generating income (good luck with that!). For myself, I find writing to be my best wayContinue reading “Writing as Thinking”

The Pursuit of Happiness

It’s been said that America’s three greatest contributions to world civilization are jazz, baseball, and the Declaration of Independence. Much as I like the first two, today is a fine day to ponder the third not only because it is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday but also because this blog post is entry number 1776 in theContinue reading “The Pursuit of Happiness”