Battle of the Bricks

Last year I decided to read War and Peace for the first time. Although Tolstoy’s powers of psychological observation are amazing, I got stuck about halfway through (during a lengthy description of a fox hunt), and since then I haven’t really been able to get back into it. It didn’t help that none of the characters appealedContinue reading “Battle of the Bricks”

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”

Idealism and Identity

Personal identity is a deep, and deeply meaningful, subject: at some level, what’s more important than what makes you you? Paradoxically, throughout history and across cultures, often personal identity has been a social construct, tied closely to tribe, clan, family, ethnic group, race, caste, class, societal role, and so on – usually in opposition to some Other (“I’m aContinue reading “Idealism and Identity”