Tagged: philosophy

The Rule of the Experts, Part One

An honest search for knowledge inevitably and necessarily opens out on other avenues of inquiry beyond the one originally embarked on. The moment one begins to feel “knowledgeable” about X, further questions present themselves — questions which, if examined with the same honesty with which you set out on the initial investigation, typically complicate the original knowledge. Specifically, the whole truth you seemed...

It’s the end, but…

We are watching something remarkable, namely a civilization committing suicide. Those of us who see clearly what is happening have traveled, in the course of just a few short weeks, through several stages of realization: from bemusement at people’s susceptibility to media manipulation, to frustration at their deference to excessive authority, to alarm at their willingness to sacrifice societal foundations in the name...

What Not to Do

Popular sages and life-advice dispensers are very good at issuing ready-made, one-size-fits-all commandments on how to live well. They tend not to be quite so good at following their own advice, however, partly for the obvious reason that most easily-synopsized “rules for living” must be kept so nebulous or generic in form that one who is clever enough, and motivated enough, will always...

The Soul’s Motive

What motivates? A feeling that we need something, without knowing quite what it is. If we knew what we needed, it would no longer have much power to move us — and hence, perhaps, we would no longer need it very much. From the preceding, we may conclude that all essential motivation is indirect. For there must be a thing we can point to...

Socrates on the View from Our Hollows

Several days ago, I wrote a short piece about Socrates’ description of the Earth to his companions, as he sat in his prison cell awaiting the hemlock. Today, as a spiritual escape from the moral prison formed of modern politics and the mass hysteria of coronavirus, I would like to reflect on one of the key themes of that famous episode in the...

Mind and Body

Who would not think, seeing us compose all things of mind and body, but that this mixture would be quite intelligible to us? Yet it is the very thing we least understand. Man is to himself the most wonderful object in nature; for he cannot conceive what the body is, still less what the mind is, and least of all how a body...

Once More Around the Universe

One year ago today, I was sitting in a hospital bed awaiting surgery for a broken foot, trying to distract myself from the thought of losing my lifelong pastime and natural condition — walking — for an indefinite period of time. That evening, my chosen method of meditative self-discipline was to write about my experience for Limbo. Thus began a series of four...

Of Fish and Ponds: Advice for Aspiring Writers

One of the constants of the writer’s life is the underlying question, almost never explicitly asked, but in a sense always implicitly answered in his work: “What is a writer?” The answers to this question are as varied as the motives of those who write — which, contrary to our age’s ubiquitous relativism, is not to say that everyone who writes is a...

On Suicide

No one commits suicide due to a moment’s transitory suffering. Suicide is by definition a last resort, which means that one turns to it only when other “resorts” have proved unsuccessful, i.e., when one feels that time and circumstance have provided no other solution to one’s suffering. The suicidal person, then, is responding to the accumulated despair of past suffering, or the accumulated...

The Philosopher’s Scream

Rebelling, as we must, against late modernity’s fantasia of “the profundity of angst” — as though lacking self-control and fearing everything were some kind of higher virtue for the post-moral age — I offer the above, slightly elongated image of yours truly as my answer to the supposedly archetypal painting of our time, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” I call my version “The Philosopher’s Scream.”...