The Enlightenment Luminary Voltaire on Ancient Philosophy

ancient philosophy March 17th, 2018

I have spent nearly forty years of my pilgrimage in two or three corners of this world seeking the philosopher’s stone that is called Truth.” With those interesting words, Voltaire, the 18th-century writer, skeptic, and iconoclast begins an interesting essay about ancient philosophers. It is actually the submission to The Philosophical Dictionary, a project of tremendous importance to the Enlightenment, and it is entitled “Precis of Ancient Philosophy.” Alongside Denis Diderot’s and Jean d’Alembert’s Encyclopedia, published starting in 1751, France was churning out some incredible works of Enlightenment nonfiction. Considering this was during the reign of King Louis the whatever and Pope whomever, the use of the pen was actually dangerous business. We should all take our hats off to these men of great courage and vision. And be happy Switzerland existed.

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Quotes About Philosophy, by Modern Philosophers

quotes about philosophy March 16th, 2018

Quotes about philosophy, by philosophers, is the subject of this blog. I myself have been collecting philosophical quotes for 25 years now, but obviously the hobby goes way back. In fact, I have a penchant for collecting old books of quotes, and it’s really neat to open a book from the ’30s or ’40s and see what quotes about philosophy, science, politics, and values were like. I believe that a short collection of some intriguing quotes about philosophy by modern philosophers (mostly) is a cool idea, so here I go! Enjoy. 

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True Success is Primarily About Character

true success March 15th, 2018

Success is a complicated word to define, is it not? Does it mean fame? Is it really about dominance in some field or endeavor? With whom is one competing: peers, the self, one’s superiors, the community? Is the accumulation of money the operative idea? Generativity, such as raising good children or leaving the world better than one found it? I have had the pleasure of reading the older but still extraordinary book True Success, by the philosopher, former professor, person of faith, and founder of the Morris Institute for Human Values, Tom V. Morris. I will share some quotes about true success, as well as try to shape or clarify the concept (and compare my views to Dr. Morris’) in this blog, and here is the first: “To the extent that we want to have goals that are right for us and that will help make the contribution we are put in this life to make, we can be said to have as a goal true success.

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How to Find Happiness in Modern America

happiness March 9th, 2018

Attitude is everything, so they say. There is truly something to that. According to one strain of research, our happiness is about 50% “determined” by our genes. There is little we can do to stray very far from our “set point” level of happiness. A death will bring us very low, and that “new car smell” will give us a happiness bump for days, perhaps weeks. A promotion will engender some greater satisfaction, but it’s effect, too, will fade (perhaps only leaving a somewhat larger paycheck and potentially greater stress associated with increased or different responsibilities). The point is, If genes account for 50% of one’s level of happiness, what does that leave us with? This is a blog about psychological research, applied philosophy, and values and virtues such as personal growth, free will, and responsibility.

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Humility is the Opposite of Certitude

humility February 22nd, 2018

We are smack-dab in the middle of the white-hot debate about guns, mass murder, 2nd Amendment rights, the power of gun manufacturers, democracy, and peace in America as of this writing. I sometimes lock horns with my intellectual and erudite interlocutor, Robert L. Lloyd, Ph.D., and this topic is no different. Though we both own, gosh, ten guns between us, I tend to be less of a 2nd Amendment supporter and I see public violence a bit differently. The larger issue  beyond what works and what doesn’t, how politics either facilitates or impedes social progress, or whether America is looking at a bright future or if we are witnessing the sclerotic attempts at social change that characterize all empires in decline  is virtues of civility and humility. In this blog, I recapitulate a bit of our dialogue on guns specifically, but conceptualize the heart of the matter as certitude, intellectual humility, willingness to hear the other, compromise, and unity. Many additional quotes about humility, quotations on certitude, and tolerance quotes are brought to the fore.

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Is Education 2nd or 3rd Place at Elite Universities?

education February 17th, 2018

I am on a liberal education trip these days. I have zipped through books with titles such as In Defense of a Liberal Education; Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life; and Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters. It’s a fascinating subject, considering I like things ancient, think Good Will Hunting and Dead Poet’s Society were fantastic movies (can you tell that I miss Robin Williams!?), and spend a heckuva lot of time reading and recording fantastic quotations about values. My latest acquisition is by scholar William Deresiewicz and is entitled Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite. In this blog, I highlight some interesting quotations about education and reflect a bit on the Ivy League, America’s values, and what education means.

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Socrates, Russell, & Voltaire: Profound Provocateurs

Voltaire February 10th, 2018

In this blog, I compare and contrast three of history’s most trenchant and profound provocateurs: Socrates the Greek, Bertrand Russell the Englishman, and Voltaire the French philosophe. In addition to a bit of historical information, you will find Socrates quotes, quotations by Bertrand Russell, and an array of unvarnished insights by Voltaire.

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Scientist & Philosopher Jacob Bronowski Quotes

Bronowski quotes February 9th, 2018

Jacob Bronowski (1908 – 1974) lived for nearly 70 years before I was born. This genius was a Polish-born mathematician, historian of science, playwright, poet, and inventor. Bronowski is primarily responsible for the 1973 12-part exploration of creativity, ingenuity, vision, integration, science, and progress, The Ascent of Man, and the accompanying book. It was very careful, rational, and aspirational. He seems like a great man, a real scientist, and one of humanity’s greatest losses. He did say and write many important things, and I will now present you with the fifty or sixty Jacob Bronowski quotes that are a valued part of The Wisdom Archive, which is yours to search for free. Enjoy.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes

Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes February 5th, 2018

I was watching the Superbowl tonight, and was really moved by a wonderful quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. It got me thinking about what a powerful leader he was, how many obstacles he faced, and how educated he was. I would imagine that 24 out of 25 Americans know at least a little something about the reverend, and that is saying a lot, considering our spotty record of educating our youth here in America. There are many powerful, interesting, and wonderful Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes, and I present a couple dozen of my favorites, and connect them to the virtues the quotation represents. 

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Quotes About Existentialism and Meaning

meaning February 2nd, 2018

Meaning, existence, fulfillment, passion, and insight are values and virtues that cohere in some way. They are all relevant to existentialism, a philosophical doctrine that examines man’s existence, state, and nature. Mostly it’s not cheery stuff, but truth and reality often are not. In this blog, I share many of the quotes about meaning that I particularly like, as well as existentialism, living well, freedom, and choice. As you can tell by this first quotation by 19th-century German existentialist Arthur Schopenhauer, this is not a simple or reassuring topic: 

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