Tagged: philosophic life

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...

Philosophic Principles, Part Two

In Part One of this discussion, I included the following among my principles: Profit. Never seek material gain from the best thing you can do; for that is the literal meaning of selling one’s soul. You will not get it back. Upon reading this particular principle, a serious student who is trying to work out her own life priorities at this time offered...

Philosophic Principles, Part One

Purposefulness. It is better to die never having found the answer than to live never having heard the question.

Profit. Never seek material gain from the best thing you can do; for that is the literal meaning of selling one’s soul. You will not get it back.

Teaching. Those who have just opened their eyes must be led toward the sun….

Rarefaction

He craves the desert, where he would be alone, and as far as possible untouched by water — by anything that cools, dampens, or tends to suffocate. He would slake his thirst, when necessary, on cactus fruit, or perhaps track an occasional passing bird to its water source. The cacti, who would be his only friends in this setting, are ideally designed to...

Disappointment and Wisdom

The number of people who will disappoint you in your life will vastly outstrip the number who will pleasantly surprise you. Worse yet, many of the former group will come from among the latter, which is particularly painful, as dashed hopes will sting most where hopes were highest. Nevertheless, this does not justify ceasing to seek the rare pleasant surprises. For even the...

Going for Broke

Theory of deficit spending.– At a certain point, irredeemable debt starts to feel irredeemable. From that point, every tether is cut. It is too late to repair the damage by correcting the trend, so psychological limits disintegrate. When one feels that one is adding quantities to infinity, what is the difference between two trillion and four trillion? Or seventy-five trillion, for that matter?...

Two Senses of Moderation

Recently, a student asked me whether possessing the virtue of moderation can make a person happy. “What I can be sure about,” she said, “is that not being moderate makes me unhappy.” It does not follow from this, however, she observed, that being moderate actually causes happiness — unless happiness is defined merely as the absence of unhappiness. A Stoic or Epicurean might...