Tagged: philosophic life

On Anger

You may learn from your anger, but you cannot learn while angry. Anger is an intellectual ditch: no movement possible, all reality transformed into a dark hole in which the soul gradually buries itself in an attempt to justify its perspective by denying the possibility of light. The required spiritual change does not necessarily entail denying the condition that occasioned the anger, which...

What You Need

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” says the proverb. And so it is — or nearly so. For it would be more precise to say perceived necessity. That is, invention is born of the subjective sense of need, rather than only of actual, natural needs, a truth which may easily be observed by considering the kind of invention typical of our age, most...

Finding One’s Identity

A student who has been investigating the subject of “identity” informs me that she became somewhat lost amid all the diverse explanations of this notion that one encounters from various sources, until at last she settled on an approach reminiscent of Socrates’ famous “second sailing” (Phaedo, 99dff), a path she explains as follows: I just thought, after talking with you about this topic,...

Philosophic Principles, Part Four

Good-and-Evil is the horizontal axis. Good-and-Bad is the vertical axis. The horizontal axis measures the moral realm — practical and “human, all too human” — where the standard is right and wrong in a social context. The vertical axis measures the cosmic or theoretical realm, where the standard is either wisdom vs. ignorance (Plato) or life-enhancement vs. life-diminution (Nietzsche). That either-or is not...

Polis, Soul, Nectarine

Political life is over. There are only money and guns now, each of these, in any socially effective quantities, increasingly concentrated in the hands of an increasingly affiliated few. Everywhere, men are cowering, conceding, complying — and not only with their bodies. Modern men, in fact, have developed an impressive ability to feign courage, resistance, and erectness with their bodies, as a veil...

Two Kinds of People

Everything in our experience can be divided in two. After all, that most basic division explains why we have our world of experience in the first place: the primordial world-egg was split in half, or God created heaven and earth, or the Yin and Yang were distinguished — as you please. And this is why we rational animals are so naturally apt to...

For the Birds

There are gods even here. — Aristotle, Parts of Animals When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is amusing herself with me more than I am with her? — Montaigne, Apology for Raymond Sebond We imagine we are better than we are, because we instinctively exaggerate the value of the things we do well. Every time I watch a sparrow...

Philosophic Principles, Part Three

Reputation. The most important book in philosophy, Plato’s Republic, is at its core an elaborate answer this question: Who will have the happier life, the completely just man who is hated, reviled, punished, and dies without a friend, or the completely unjust man who is loved, respected, rewarded, and dies with a hero’s reputation? It is necessary to remind yourself of this question,...

Irreconcilable Differences, Part Three

A few more ways that I am at odds with today: I would rather live in a world with many things to fear than in a world with nothing to fear, because the opposite preference represents the emotional state of a child — and implies the practical conditions of a slave. It is preferable to live in a society in which people care...

The Meaning of Life

Meaning is definition. The meaning of life is therefore essentially the definition of life. Hence, the search for the meaning of life is a search for a definition that will tell us what we are really doing when we live, or (if we believe in freedom of the will) what we ought to be doing. I emphasize the point that meaning is definition...