Metaphysics in Verse II

Among the strangest conceptions of metaphysics is Aristotle’s fanciful (or perhaps deadly serious) hypothesis of the Unmoved Mover. It’s difficult to understand quite what he was getting at, and I’m not about to formulate a scholarly exegesis of the idea. But I did compose a little poem about it: Had I a god, I’m sureContinue reading “Metaphysics in Verse II”

Best Self vs. True Self

As previously mentioned, I am skeptical about the notion of the true self. Recently I’ve done some reading that has reinforced this skepticism. In particular, research by the likes of Roy Baumeister shows that human beings tend to identify with the activities and desires that they think are best (either individually or socially) and toContinue reading “Best Self vs. True Self”

Metaphysics in Verse

One of the things I do to avoid exposure to the news is immerse myself in poetry. Most recently I’ve been reading English and American poets from the 1500s and 1600s, such as Anne Bradstreet, Samuel Daniel, and Thomas Traherne. At the same time, I’ve started an intensive re-reading of Aristotelian texts and commentary inContinue reading “Metaphysics in Verse”

Growing into One’s Nature

Existentialist philosophers insist on the ability – indeed, the responsibility – for human beings to create themselves. This is the import of Sartre’s famous formulation “existence precedes essence”: there is no human essence, and if you believe so then you are engaging in “bad faith” and living inauthentically. Given all that we have discovered soContinue reading “Growing into One’s Nature”

Approaching Excellence

Aristotle is famous for his so-called doctrine of the mean: a particular excellence of character is not the opposite of a single fault (e.g., courage vs. cowardice) but is intermediate between excess and defect (e.g., courage is opposed to both rashness and cowardice). Although some scholars never go deeper than this surface understanding, as IContinue reading “Approaching Excellence”

Political Moderation

Here in America we’ve survived another national election (yet again the most momentous in our history!), so following up on my post last week about moderation it seems timely to offer a few reflections on political and ideological moderation. Having been a dogmatic libertarian earlier in my life, I well understand the allure of politicalContinue reading “Political Moderation”

What Is Philosophy For?

Occasionally one reads something so singularly misguided that it puts into stark relief a vital concern of human existence. In the case at hand, the vital concern is the place of philosophy in the best life for human beings and the piece of writing is a scholarly paper published just last week by philosopher HannoContinue reading “What Is Philosophy For?”