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?”

Decisions Accumulate

In a recent post entitled How a Business Wins, Arnold Kling made the following observation: Building a business, especially an innovative business in a complex environment, requires many, many decisions. You can be lucky with any one decision, but to get enough decisions right to make the business work takes much more than luck. AsContinue reading “Decisions Accumulate”

Means and Ends

Last week we looked at the distinction between internal goods, external goods, and shared goods. At that time I touched on a further distinction between means and ends in life. Here again Aristotle can be of assistance, because he discusses these matters in his two major books about character and action, which have come downContinue reading “Means and Ends”

Good Things Come in Threes

In my recent post There’s No Such Thing as the Mind, I expressed astonishment at a statement by Italian philosopher Maurizio Ferraris to the effect that one’s body is part of the external world. This raises the question of what exactly is internal vs. external, and how to categorize the various good things we valueContinue reading “Good Things Come in Threes”

Thoughts, Actions, Values

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics famously begins with the following sentence (as translated by W.D. Ross): Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim. We can see here a point ofContinue reading “Thoughts, Actions, Values”

Have a Beautiful Life

Last week I explored how we might apply Aristotle’s ideas about ethical beauty to the “micro level” of specific virtues and particular situations. This week I’d like to see how we might apply the same basic insights to the “macro level” of living a beautiful life. Here again I’ll consider Aristotle’s six criteria: Coherence (τάξις)Continue reading “Have a Beautiful Life”

That Flourishing Feeling

Positive psychology is sometimes perceived as putting a premium on pleasant experiences – what critics call “happiology”. Yet just because pleasure is a positive experience doesn’t mean it’s the only positive experience! Yes, it’s true that thinkers as ancient as Socrates and Aristotle have maintained that people who flourish also experience greater enjoyment in life.Continue reading “That Flourishing Feeling”