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?”

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”

The Self as an Achievement

What is the self? Naturally this question invokes vast reflections spanning philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, sociology, biology, and many other fields. Although I claim no special insight, in my Aristotle readings over the last few years I chanced upon a fascinating perspective that I thought I’d share. In her book Aristotle’s Philosophy of Friendship (SUNY Press, 1995),Continue reading “The Self as an Achievement”

How Much Is Enough?

As mentioned in my post Delphic Wisdom and Modern Science, on the walls of the ancient Greek temple at Delphi could be found the inscription μηδὲν ἄγαν, meaning “nothing too much”. Yet how can one know how much is enough? Naturally it’s hard to say precisely – after all, if it were easy, life wouldn’tContinue reading “How Much Is Enough?”

Aristotle on Ways of Life

While I’m reflecting on philosophies and ways of life, I thought it would be interesting to look at what Aristotle says about ways of life in his writings on ethics. First, he states that there is a fundamentally human way of life or bios (it always helps to remember that Aristotle founded the science ofContinue reading “Aristotle on Ways of Life”