Fascinated with Conversation

Since posting about Emerson’s thoughts on friendship and conversation a few weeks ago, I’ve continued to reflect on the actual practices involved (spurred by an email exchange with my friend Adrian Lory). Beyond just good listening, what can we do to cultivate the high freedom of conversation? The authors of the book Co-Active Coaching emphasize the importanceContinue reading “Fascinated with Conversation”

Philosophy and Money

Some great thinkers – Plato, Aristotle, Gautama Siddhartha, Epicurus, Thoreau, Rand, and many more – have reflected deeply on the place of money and wealth in human life. The reasons are not hard to find: In many ways we are a grasping, materialistic, status-driven species. It’s all too easy to have an unhealthy relationship (asContinue reading “Philosophy and Money”

How Useful Is Philosophy, Really?

It’s a commonplace of research into human behavior that most of what you do is caused by your inborn personality traits, your underlying biology, the society and location and class and family into which you’re born and in which you’re raised, and so on – plus a smattering of luck and chance events. It canContinue reading “How Useful Is Philosophy, Really?”

The High Freedom of Great Conversation

Aside from Montaigne and perhaps Plato, few philosophers have reflected deeply on conversation, especially the one-to-one, heart-to-heart exchange of thoughts between friend and friend. A shining exception is Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote as follows in his essay on friendship: Friendship may be said to require natures so rare and costly, each so well tempered andContinue reading “The High Freedom of Great Conversation”

The Power of Reflection

In a journal entry composed a few years ago on philosophy as a way of life, I observed: What Thoreau, the Stoics, and the Vedics essentially advocate is to be present with complete attention by, where needed, interposing the judgment of your mind between desire and deed, between impulse and action. Unfortunately, no one everContinue reading “The Power of Reflection”

Justifying Anger

In my last post, I extrapolated from the philosophy of Epicurus to indicate how to avoid unjustified anger and its less virulent siblings (annoyance, frustration, disappointment, etc.). Indeed, Epicurus seems to have been the first person to identify what centuries later became the seven deadly sins – one of which was anger. Aristotle, by contrast,Continue reading “Justifying Anger”

Philosophy and Anger

The world is full of anger, both well-founded and ill-founded. In a future post I’ll talk about well-founded anger, but this time I’ll provide some reflections on ill-founded anger. In Chapter 10 of my book Letters on Happiness, I perceived an insight from Epicurus into the nature of anger (although this is an extrapolation from whatContinue reading “Philosophy and Anger”

Dialectic and Deliberation

One of Aristotle’s characteristic methods for solving philosophical problems is dialectic: upon (i) reaching an impasse (aporia), he (ii) surveys existing explanations (logoi) and reputable opinions (endoxa), (iii) engages in analysis to remove paradoxes and draw distinctions, then (iv) formulates a synthesis that harmonizes the explanations and saves the appearances (phainomena). As far as IContinue reading “Dialectic and Deliberation”