Election Survival Guide

Every four years I dread the prospect of yet another election for president of the United States. What a depressing, anxiety-ridden spectacle! It’s almost enough to make me a monarchist (if only we could find the right sort of monarch, of course). As with everything else, 2020 is worse than usual. With every election seasonContinue reading “Election Survival Guide”

Beyond Binary

As political polarization proliferates, it’s beneficial to explore realms of thought that are not limited to left vs. right and us vs. them. Personally, I’m partial to philosophy: it’s impossible to reduce all of philosophical thinking to, say, Epicureans vs. Stoics without ignoring the deep and unique contributions of Platonists, Aristotelians, Taoists, Buddhists, Confucians, Hindus,Continue reading “Beyond Binary”

Speaking Freely

Emerson was really onto something when he spoke about the high freedom of great conversation. I’ve been thinking about two more aspects of such freedom. First, great conversation requires great spontaneity. Although when conversing we might have a deep goal of sharing and discovery, our conversation doesn’t have an agenda or a script and weContinue reading “Speaking Freely”

Fascinated with Conversation

Since posting about Emerson’s thoughts on friendship and conversation a few weeks ago, I’ve continued to reflect on the actual practices involved (spurred by an email exchange with my friend Adrian Lory). Beyond just good listening, what can we do to cultivate the high freedom of conversation? The authors of the book Co-Active Coaching emphasize the importanceContinue reading “Fascinated with Conversation”

Philosophy and Money

Some great thinkers – Plato, Aristotle, Gautama Siddhartha, Epicurus, Thoreau, Rand, and many more – have reflected deeply on the place of money and wealth in human life. The reasons are not hard to find: In many ways we are a grasping, materialistic, status-driven species. It’s all too easy to have an unhealthy relationship (asContinue reading “Philosophy and Money”

How Useful Is Philosophy, Really?

It’s a commonplace of research into human behavior that most of what you do is caused by your inborn personality traits, your underlying biology, the society and location and class and family into which you’re born and in which you’re raised, and so on – plus a smattering of luck and chance events. It canContinue reading “How Useful Is Philosophy, Really?”

The High Freedom of Great Conversation

Aside from Montaigne and perhaps Plato, few philosophers have reflected deeply on conversation, especially the one-to-one, heart-to-heart exchange of thoughts between friend and friend. A shining exception is Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote as follows in his essay on friendship: Friendship may be said to require natures so rare and costly, each so well tempered andContinue reading “The High Freedom of Great Conversation”

The Power of Reflection

In a journal entry composed a few years ago on philosophy as a way of life, I observed: What Thoreau, the Stoics, and the Vedics essentially advocate is to be present with complete attention by, where needed, interposing the judgment of your mind between desire and deed, between impulse and action. Unfortunately, no one everContinue reading “The Power of Reflection”