Big Idea People

When we think of philosophy, we tend to think of theoretical philosophy: cloistered academics, armchair thinkers, and dreamy contemplatives arguing over the fine points of abstruse topics that have little if any practical import. This reputation is, unfortunately, well-deserved, especially in recent times. Yet if we accept the validity of philosophy as a way ofContinue reading “Big Idea People”

Live Long and Prosper

Recently I came across a study entitled “Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging” (Levy et al. 2002 – apparently Becca Levy has a new book out entitled Breaking the Age Code, which I have not read yet). The abstract states: “This research found that older individuals with more positive self-perceptions of aging, measured up toContinue reading “Live Long and Prosper”

Philosophical Forms and Functions

Following up on my post a few months ago about philosophical professionalism, I’ve been thinking about the many forms of philosophical writing and their functions in our intellectual and practical life. Throughout history, philosophical questions and answers have been presented in so many written forms: aphorisms, dialogues, essays, letters, allegories, parables, stories, novels, plays, poems,Continue reading “Philosophical Forms and Functions”

Wisdom and Freedom

Why do we continue to find such value in the life wisdom of ancient philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Siddhartha Gautama, Epicurus, and Epictetus? It’s not as if we’re still reading Ptolemy on astronomy or even Euclid on geometry, so why have these philosophical insights endured? In the first chapter of his book TheContinue reading “Wisdom and Freedom”

Social Affordances and Self-Conceptions

As I mentioned a few months ago in my post “Idealism and Identity“, personal identity is, paradoxically, often a social construct. Here I’d like to dig more deeply into why that’s the case, but without straying too far into theoretical matters because I like to provide practical insights in my blog posts. For many yearsContinue reading “Social Affordances and Self-Conceptions”

Egoism, Altruism, and Oxygen Masks

A friend asked me recently if I think that self-improvement is selfish. My short answer was that building up your character is a matter of cultivating your higher self rather than gratifying your lower self, so this activity might exist beyond the dichotomy of egoism vs. altruism. Here’s an analogy that’s fresh in my mindContinue reading “Egoism, Altruism, and Oxygen Masks”