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?”

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”

It’s Values All the Way Down

One often hears the claim that science must be value-neutral, especially in social sciences like economics, psychology, and sociology. This claim is one instance of fact-value dualism: the doctrine that facts are facts, values are values, and never the twain shall meet. Another instance of this dualism is the assertion (traceable to British empiricist DavidContinue reading “It’s Values All the Way Down”

There’s No Such Thing as the Mind

Not long ago, a friend recommended that I check out the work of Italian philosopher Maurizio Ferraris, so I promptly ordered his book Manifesto of New Realism via interlibrary loan. Overall it is a valiant attempt to dig out of the hole of postmodernism – valuable, at the very least, for those who have fallen into thatContinue reading “There’s No Such Thing as the Mind”

Big Idea People

When we think of philosophy, we tend to think of theoretical philosophy: cloistered academics, armchair thinkers, and dreamy contemplatives arguing over the fine points of abstruse topics that have little if any practical import. This reputation is, unfortunately, well-deserved, especially in recent times. Yet if we accept the validity of philosophy as a way ofContinue reading “Big Idea People”