Category: Ideas and Reflections

Sentimental Man Expresses Himself

Oscar Wilde wrote that “a sentimentalist is simply one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it.” Wilde’s century was rife with the luxury of unpaid-for emotion, which is the special indulgence of the comfortable class. Our own time, however, has elevated this romantic weakness for claiming unearned emotion to an artform — and then, as is typical...

Random Thoughts: Life, Death, the Living, the Dead

A student sent me a text message today consisting of the following questions: “Why is it important to try to think and find the existence of my soul? Why do you live?” Interestingly, the second question implies that the terms of the first question — thinking and finding the existence of the soul — are coextensive with the question of why I live....

Duty Ethics vs. Virtue Ethics

Doing as one is supposed to do (obeying rules or duties) is a substantially different thing from doing as one ought to do (acting virtuously). The former type of action is suitable for dependent children, the mentally deficient, or in general those who for some reason have either opted or been forced to relinquish their authority to decide for themselves, whether universally or...

Observations: Man Among the Animals

For all other animals, maturation involves growing into their bodies. For man alone, maturation involves growing out of his body. Those who deny the existence of truth are absolutely certain they are right. On the other hand, genuine believers in truth rarely claim to be certain of anything. The former hope to find their reason for living in their certainty. The latter find...

Learning and Teaching

In my recent “Reflections From A Great Distance,” I compared the thinking life to backing away from a mirror. Seeing yourself too close up exaggerates one’s perception of the immediate foreground of life, the accidental details of the moment — flaws, errors, pleasures, excitements, fears, frustrations, and all the rest of the transient and noisy. As you back away, those accidental details of...

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh had an excellent radio voice and manner. He spoke with a rare combination of mellifluousness, somewhat ironic pomposity, and down-home charm. He was the Johnny Carson of talk radio hosts — no one built a brand entirely around his own unique persona with more ease, humor, or confidence. At the peak of his rise to fame as a conservative talk radio...

The Body

Modern scientific materialists are inclined, we might even say predisposed, to ask, “What is this thing you call ‘the soul,’ and why do you believe that you still need this notion, or for that matter that you have any right to assume it?” But we might just as easily turn these questions around on the moderns, and ask what they mean by “the...

Nietzsche’s Collapse Into Madness

This age has pushed its rational minority to the edge. It has become difficult to walk out amongst one’s fellow human beings today without being intermittently struck by the thought of how embarrassing it is to belong to the same species as these others — these bipedal sheep, these regressed pre-individuals. But there is a hint of madness in such a musing, of...

Random Rants: TDS, Impeachment, Valentine’s Day!

The first time I saw the phrase Trump Derangement Syndrome, during the 2016 Republican primaries, I honestly assumed it was a reference to the mental state of Trump’s more ardent supporters, the millions who had very obviously traded in all their old beliefs and principles to join a TV star’s personality cult. I probably first realized my error when I started getting swarmed...

Fear of Death, Fear of Life

The single most universal and inescapable necessity of all human life is death. In principle, though not in subjective experience, it is known from the very beginning of life that this outcome is inevitable. This awareness, to the extent that it is achieved, colors every aspect of life, and increasingly so over the years, until its certain, though temporally unpredictable, arrival. It would...