Effective Altruism and Ineffective Egoism

The collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire at FTX and Alameda Research has cast a shadow over the “effective altruism” movement, of which he was a major financer. Ironically, I would argue that in the end he failed at altruism because he was an ineffective egoist! Consider the utter mess he’s made of his life:Continue reading “Effective Altruism and Ineffective Egoism”

The Mathematics of Freedom

While reading about the recent protests in China against the government’s Zero Covid policy (and, more generally, the totalitarian surveillance state established by the Chinese Communist Party), I was reminded of a fascinating quote from logician Kurt Gödel extending the results of his Incompleteness Theorem to matters of society and governance: A completely unfree societyContinue reading “The Mathematics of Freedom”

How Wise Was Socrates?

Did you know that Socrates’ 2500th birthday will occur in 2032? Lately I’ve been pondering the possibility of writing by then an intellectual biography of Socrates. One of the hard questions about Socrates is why he was so devoted to Alcibiades, the ultra-rich and incredibly handsome bad boy of 5th-century Athens. Friedrich Hölderlin composed theContinue reading “How Wise Was Socrates?”

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?”

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”