applied philosophy

applied philosophy


Is the Fear of Death Rational and Appropriate?

fear of death November 5th, 2018

Epicurus (341-271 BCE) put forth an argument centuries ago that still retains much appeal and boasts some notable adherents (e.g., Rosenbaum, 1986). His thesis was that the actual occurrence of death (as distinguished from any possible afterlife or the act of dying) was not a bad thing, and thus the great anxiety our fear of death brings many people is unwarranted. He did admit that “being alive is generally good.” Epicurus believed that no post-mortem experience was likely, and that we never really know death because where we are, it isn’t, and where it is, we aren’t. It is appealing, but though it contains a meritorious theoretical/cognitive technique to stave off anxiety, I believe that Epicurus’ argument is somewhat shallow and incomplete, it doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny.

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Alas, Wisdom Does Not Come Easily

wisdom does not come easily August 9th, 2018

Having read a great book on wisdom entitled Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience by author Stephen S. Hall, one of the aspects that clearly comes across is that wisdom is elusive, in need of deliberate development (or life giving one a few Aces right from the get-go), and complex. It’s multifaceted and culturally contextual. Some young adults are surprisingly adept and putting together the big picture and seeing patterns and learning from experience, and some people in late adulthood still don’t get it and can’t see the forest for the trees. Wisdom does not come easily, but it is a glorious and sought-after state of mental, spiritual, and emotional development worth pursuing.

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The Meaning of Life Always Involves Value/s

meaning of July 11th, 2018

The following is a guest blog about the meaning of life by philosopher Iddo Landau, Ph.D. He teaches philosophy at the University of Haifa, Israel. This essay is adapted from his new book, Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World, by Oxford University Press.

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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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Meaning in Life According to Irving Singer

meaning February 21st, 2018

Irving Singer (1925-2015) was a prominent philosopher at MIT. I read his book Meaning in Life: The Creation of Value, and liked it about a B+ on an A-F scale. It is rife with quotes about meaning, fulfillment, ethics, value, values, philosophy, and self-examination. In this blog, I will reflect on a few quotations, but will also provide all the quotes about meaning I found in the book, which are many. Enjoy! 

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Business Ethics: Doing the Right Thing (V&E-16)

business ethics November 17th, 2017

The goal today is to discuss business ethics, corporations, companies, non-profits, workplaces, and industry: what best practices are, which ethical principles are relevant, what can go wrong, what ought to happen, how corporations fit into the scheme of corporate social responsibility, how business ethics relates to sustainability, the “triple bottom line,” and the like. Ronald F. Duska, Ph.D. is my first partner in dialogue. He served as a past president and executive director of the Society of Business Ethics, and has published many books on this topic. Currently, he is an adjunct professor in the graduate business schools of St. Joseph’s and Villanova Universities. My second guest is Michael Boylan, Ph.D., the John J. McDonnell, Jr. Chair in Ethics as well as the philosophy department chair at Marymount University. In addition to books entitled Natural Rights and The Origins of Ancient Greek Science, he put one out last year named A Just Society – his manifesto on ethics and social-political philosophy.

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Applying Philosophy to Your Life (V&E-14)

applying philosophy November 16th, 2017

What is applied philosophy? How should we live? What is the right thing to do? Are we really free? What ancient ideas and teachings are still applicable to modern life? What can professional philosophers offer us that we can use in a practical way? These are important questions from the realm of applied philosophy, which is an ideal discipline to identify astute questions and provide insight into potential answers. In this excerpt from chapter 14 in the book Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom, I interview Tom Morris, Ph.D. and Arthur Dobrin, Ph.D., both philosophers, authors, and former professors at major universities to achieve some insight into applying philosophy to your life.

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Socrates: Still Relevant After 2,400 Years

Socrates November 5th, 2017

Few persons are relevant 2,350 years after they died. Confucius, The Buddha, and Jesus of Nazareth all have deep and lasting legacies. Socrates is certainly one of the most influential individuals ever to live. Considering how many ancient Greek documents and texts have been lost, we are lucky to have any information about him at all. He never wrote anything down! I will share a few thoughts and quotes about Socrates, one of the best teachers of wisdom and most interesting thinkers in history. He is a great guide to us in the waning days of empire here in the United States, just as he was in the tumultuous period in which he lived in ancient Athens.

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Quotations About Doubt and Skepticism

quotations about doubt September 28th, 2017

In the interview I conducted with the author of Doubt: A History, Jennifer Michael Hecht, many great quotations about doubt found their way into the book chapter. She is erudite and a great exponent of philosophy and literature, but quotations about doubt by great minds throughout the ages aptly supplement the discussion.

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Philosophical Books: Three Down-to-Earth Ones

philosophical books June 17th, 2017

Philosophical books often don’t win many prizes. They can be difficult, abstruse, antiquated, or just plain boring. Most of us realize the power and the merit of reading in the field of philosophy, but are wary of picking up a Nietzsche book. Now, I do recommend the readable and fairly wide-ranging book Philosophy for Dummies, by public philosopher extraordinaire, Tom Morris, Ph.D. However, that is only going to take you so far because it is necessarily wide in its breadth. It’s a good “Cliff’s Notes” version of the field of philosophy, but it isn’t as deep in the area of applied philosophy as you are probably needing. That is where Values of the Wise comes in. Read on for more insight into three wonderful, philosophical books that you can really sink your teeth into and get a lot out of. 

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