Tagged: thinking

Whispering in a Crowd

The philosopher eschews the crowd, knowing that neither will his lone, strange voice be heard above the crowd’s incessant and familiar din, nor will his pointed questions and logical complexities penetrate minds caked in the mire of the tribe’s roiling certainties. This has been axiomatic among thinkers from the earliest times: The crowd is the enemy of thought, and hence of conversation, and...

Philosophic Detachment

A student who is about to move away from home to begin graduate studies in philosophy was ruminating about the value and significance of detaching oneself from relationships and sentimental entanglements which distort or limit independent thought. As a young man deeply interested in both Eastern and Western thought, he mentioned having recently heard a Buddhist monk explaining the spiritual benefits of cutting...

Afraid To Ask

“If I have 80% understanding and 20% ignorance about a topic, then I think it will be easy to form questions about my ignorance, but in this case, I think I have 10% understanding and 90% ignorance, so it is not easy to even form a proper question, because I’m not sure if it is a good question to help my understanding.”

Thoughts Out of Season

The only thoughts that ultimately matter much are those which we may, following Nietzsche, call “thoughts out of season.” This is true in part because seasonal thoughts, by definition, do little to advance the discussion, and tend to merely amplify the ambient noise, but mainly because such thoughts, being reflections of one’s time and surroundings, are often difficult even to classify as thoughts...

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...

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...

Standards

The best writer writes as the most intimate friend speaks, namely as though he were talking to himself, and for himself. He also hesitates to take his writing too seriously, and may even be suspicious of it. The best teacher is not the one who can answer all your questions, but rather the one who knows how to ask questions, and what the...

On Loneliness and Understanding

As I write this, it is still the early hours of a temporally indefinable election aftermath in the United States. In this age, there is perhaps no sharper focus in which a thoughtful person may observe his own soul than an election time, as there is never a moment when the extent of such a person’s isolation is clearer than when everyone around...

Overcoming Prejudices: Being Right, Being Lazy

Recently, a student told me that she feels “disgusted” by her father’s way of speaking of other people, whether in the news or in the world generally, as he tends to criticize everyone as though they are all “stupid” if they do not think as he does. In reply to this student, I noted that sometimes we feel “disgusted” by another’s attitude —...

The Noise and The Silence

Today is full of the noise. Every moment, the mindless chatter of the most mindless of chattering creatures, the late-modern slave, cuts through every thought, interrupts every quiet intake of breath, disturbs the rhythm of every calm reflection.  I walk to the pond, a cup of coffee in my hand and a camera around my neck, hoping for a peaceful moment of escape...