Personal Growth

Personal Growth


Existentialism: Authenticity vs. ‘Bad Faith’

authenticity May 3rd, 2018

In a prior post entitled “Existentialism, Humanism, Responsibility, and Freedom,” I examined meaning in life, Jean-Paul Sartre, existence, etc. In this blog, I would like to go a little further toward examining authenticity vs. the idea of “bad faith.” It will hopefully generate more light than it does heat as far as living one’s life with success, passion, deliberateness, and insight. As always, wisdom is about the highest goal, and happiness is not far behind. 

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Death Can Lead to Authenticity and Passion

death April 30th, 2018

Morrie Schwartz was an interesting fellow who was dying, and was visited many times by a former student. Their relationship and the advice and insight Morrie provided Mitch Albom, the student-turned-writer, made for a very popular book, Tuesdays with Morrie. This was just one in a long line of books and movies that deal with death. Though death can be perceived as frightening, an appalling deprivation of one’s life, and the ultimate loss of control, it can also have a positive side. This blog explores the positive side of death, showing that it can lead to living more authentically and passionately. This is the heart of existentialism.

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Twenty-Five Little-Known Wisdom Quotes

wisdom April 27th, 2018

What is wisdom? It’s one of the deepest, widest, most elusive, most complex, simplest, most intriguing concepts around. When you think you know what wisdom is, you’re not quite there; it cannot be pursued and grasped or taught and learned easily. It has long been the province of philosophers and theologians, but recently psychologists have begun to try to define, describe, and delineate this nebulous and fascinating idea. Here are twenty-five little-known quotes about wisdom that I imagine you would find worth your time. Think of them more like a little puzzle piece that takes time to understand, interpret, grasp, and appreciate than to envision each being a simple rule that can be easily memorized. More wisdom quotes can be found by searching The Wisdom Archive – a searchable quotation database that is always no-cost, easy, and ad-free!

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Is Death Good or Bad? To be Feared or Not?

death April 25th, 2018

Many writers, philosophers, theologians, and physicians have reflected over the centuries on the nature of death, including whether death is “good” or “bad”. Philosopher Thomas Nagel phrased the issue thusly: “If death is the unequivocal and permanent end of our existence, the question arises whether it is a bad thing to die.” In this blog, I will analyze death vis-à-vis meaning in life, and reflect on how we can integrate beliefs about the nature of death into our own lives. Epicurus’ ideas will be the keystone.

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Two Types of Values and Their Relevance

values April 23rd, 2018

British moral philosopher Bernard Williams (1929-2003) believed that categorical desires are those desires and aspirations that buoy us, give our lives deeper meaning, and really matter. The rest are mere ancillary and contingent desires. In Williams’ words, he believes we must have “systematic desires around which one organizes life activities which make life worthwhile.” Desires can give life meaning if wisely-placed. At least for a while. This blog will briefly summarize and reflect on the kinds of values human beings hold, and how positioning certain values front-and-center can be inspirational and motivational.

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Pithy Quotes by Unitarian Universalists

Unitarian Universalist philosophy April 16th, 2018

I have been looking more and more into the religious/spiritual movement of Unitarian/Universalism. Not sure if you’ve heard much about it. It’s in the category of agnosticism, spirituality, deism, and pantheism as far as being a reasonable, admirable, defensible, humanistic approach to personal growth and community enrichment. I wanted to share a bit about the philosophy (I think that is a decent word to describe this thing – more apt than “religion” or “sect” or something. Perhaps “tradition” or “movement” would be fine, too. To that end, I will quote liberally from the Unitarian Universalist Association website and then I will share a few quotations from prominent (even, famous) U-U thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Existentialism, Humanism, Responsibility and Freedom

existentialism April 13th, 2018

I am taking a wonderful class entitled “Meaning in Life.” It deals with meaning, obviously, and personal significance, purpose, fulfillment, death, and philosophy. My professor is named Mattias Risse and he’s really quite erudite. The topic I wanted to write about follows a lecture of his about renowned existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre. Ancillary topics are scientism, truth, and ethics. The background is in the era of 1900-1960, thinkers such as inimitable philosopher Bertrand Russell and the French intellectual Sartre were trying to find meaning and purpose in a secular-humanistic way. Much later, philosopher Robert Nozick made some improvements to their work. None wanted to slide into radical scientism as much as they didn’t want to resort to theological/religious assumptions. Indeed, Sartre penned a significant essay entitled “Existentialism is a Humanism”, and this is a medium-length encapsulation of how Sarte believes ethics is part and parcel of a developed form of existentialism.

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Teaching Virtue & Character Education (V&E-20)

character education April 2nd, 2018

This blog is excerpted from chapter 20 of the book Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom and explored character, and a phenomenon called character education. We’ve all seen examples on television – and many of us on our very streets – of children and adolescents who are somehow “off-track,” selfish, crass, violent, careless. Obviously, this has a lot to do with the family, community, political and socioeconomic environment in which the child is embedded. Should schools be teaching children how to be good, responsible adults with integrity and ethics? Or does that step on religious institutions’ toes? What would it look like to teach something as hard to communicate as virtue? Jason interviews character education expert, former professor, and author, Bernice Lerner, Ed.D. to find answers to his questions.

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10 Keys to Well-Being (Plus Motivational Quotes)

well-being March 20th, 2018

The very interesting Greater Good Science Center at UC-Berkeley has some assertive and scientifically-based ideas on wonderful topics such as well-being, fulfillment, meaning, happiness, flourishing, etc. Along with U-Penn’s Positive Psychology master’s program, these are two powerhouse schools that take the science of optimism, happiness, flourishing, and well-being seriously. It’s neat to see, since at times in the past, topics such as these, or meaning, goodness, love, wisdom, and “psi” were not considered suitable subjects for psychological science to research and investigate. Click through to learn which ten keys the GGSC, positive psychology, and I suggest for greater fulfillment, joy, contentment, and success.

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A Poem About Wistfulness: “The Still Small Voice”

poem about wistfulness March 20th, 2018

This is a poem about wistfulness. Wistful is clarified by Vocabulary.com: “People who appear wistful often show a longing for something or a look of serious reflection. One way to describe the adjective wistful is as the sad appearance of someone looking back and thinking if only… A thoughtful or pensive mood centered on something good in the past that is missed or something not so good in the present that could have been better if only something had gone differently — these things make for a wistful outlook.”
This solid piece was written by the long-dead writer, John Rollin Ridge, reputed as the first American Indian novelist. It speaks of wistfulness, regret, selfhood, memories, pain, remembrance, meaning, and peace. It’s amazing not just for its stylistic excellence, but for how well it has lasted, considering it was written by a Cherokee Indian almost 75 years ago. Enjoy.

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