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204. Some Uses of Philosophy in the Wake of George Floyd’s Death, Part 3: J.S. Mill on Liberty

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for nine minutes and twenty nine seconds while he was lying face down handcuffed on the street. His death, and many other Read more ›

203. Some Uses of Philosophy in the Wake of George Floyd’s Death, Part 2: Sartre on Racism

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for nine minutes and twenty nine seconds while he was lying face down handcuffed on the street. His death, and many other Read more ›

202. Some Uses of Philosophy in the Wake of George Floyd’s Death, Part 1: Natural Law Theory

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for nine minutes and twenty nine seconds while he was lying face down handcuffed on the street. His death, and many other Read more ›

193. Coronavirus and “The Masque of the Red Death”: Poe’s Cautionary Wisdom

Edgar Allan Poe, 1809-1849 It is March 21, 2020 and the coronavirus is a pandemic threatening everyone on Earth. In my relative isolation of social distancing, I have had more time to read and I was drawn to a tale Read more ›

184. Some Common Grounds for Moral Duty and Beauty

Our experiences of beauty and duty appear to be very different. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), in his book Critique of Judgment, argued that judgments of the beautiful must be “disinterested.” This means that we make these judgments (1) without concern for the truth; (2) without Read more ›

168. Beware of intellectuals…they need propaganda!

Jacques Ellul, in his book Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes (Vintage, 1965), defines propaganda as follows: “Propaganda is a set of methods employed by an organized group that wants to bring about the active or passive participation in its Read more ›

159. An Overview of the Kantian Sublime

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Introduction We sometimes refer to experiences, things, and even people as sublime. In doing so we try to convey something exalted, overwhelming, astonishing, and even infinite about them. We may also try and express feelings of delight Read more ›

142. Solitude and Education, Part 4: Schopenhauer on Contemplation and the Sublime

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), in his book Daybreak (1881), wrote: “On Education. – I have gradually seen the light as to the most universal deficiency in our kind of cultivation and education: no one learns, no one strives after, no one Read more ›

141. Solitude and Education, Part 3: Harold Bloom on Reading for Greatness and the Sublime

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), in his book Daybreak (1881), wrote: “On Education. – I have gradually seen the light as to the most universal deficiency in our kind of cultivation and education: no one learns, no one strives after, no one Read more ›

139. Solitude and Education, Part 1: Nietzsche and Kierkegaard on Authentic Individuality

What is the purpose of education? Some common answers come to mind: education is a means to gaining more income, finding one’s calling, cultivating an enriched inner life, being a productive citizen, or becoming a life-long learner. These goals need Read more ›

138. Ingmar Bergman’s Metaphysical Reduction, Part 3: The Silence

In May 1963, the Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) retrospectively described his films Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence as a trilogy with a theme: “The theme of these three films is a ‘reduction’ – in Read more ›

137. Ingmar Bergman’s Metaphysical Reduction, Part 2: Winter Light

In May 1963, the Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) retrospectively described his films Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence as a trilogy with a theme: “The theme of these three films is a ‘reduction’ – in Read more ›

136. Ingmar Bergman’s Metaphysical Reduction, Part 1: Through a Glass Darkly

In May 1963, the Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) retrospectively described his films Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence as a trilogy with a theme: “The theme of these three films is a ‘reduction’ – in Read more ›

118. Trump and Nietzsche: Alternative Facts, Power, and Tyranny

Sometime between 1883 and 1888 the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche made a startling observation: “No, facts is precisely what there is not, only interpretations.” This view, which Nietzsche called perspectivism, has recently found an unparalleled analogue in American politics. For example, Read more ›

112. Some Thoughts on John Locke’s Theory of Mind and Education

John Locke (1632-1704), in Book II of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) writes: “Our observation employed either about external sensible objects, or about the internal operations of our minds perceived and reflected upon by ourselves, is that which supplies our Read more ›

107. St. Gregory of Nyssa on the origins and nature of the soul

St. Gregory of Nyssa (335-394), in his work On the Soul and Resurrection (St. Vladmir’s Seminary Press, 1993), presents a very stimulating dialogue between two characters: Gregory and his sister Macrina. Through Macrina he argues that the existence of virtue Read more ›

41. Freedom and Critical Thinking

Can we, sometimes, make free choices? Obviously, a lot rides on what we mean by free choices. Mark Balaguer has recently formulated a helpful definition in his book Free Will (MIT, 2014): a choice is the product of my free Read more ›

33. Tragic Conflict and Intelligence, Part 5

In the last few posts I noted the following virtues that John Dewey thought accompany intelligent action: Being conscientious or being interested in finding out what the actual good of a certain situation is Maintaining a bias toward fairness and Read more ›

5. Kierkegaard’s Demonic Fashion Designer

Soren Kierkegaard The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) put forth an intriguing account of demonic evil in chapter 4 of his 1844 work The Concept of Anxiety. There Kierkegaard claims the demonic person has “anxiety about the good” which means he is Read more ›