philosophy

philosophy


Robert Nozick Quotes: On the Examined Life

an examined life July 8th, 2019

Philosopher Robert Nozick made quite a splash with his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974). He assertively planted a flag on the libertarian hill with quotes such as, “There is no social entity with a good that undergoes some sacrifice for its own good. There are only individual people  with their own individual lives. Using one of these people for the benefit of others, uses him and benefits the others.” Fascinatingly, though, he never published an encore, choosing instead to concentrate his scholarship on distinctly different areas of philosophy. One of those later works is the aptly titled The Examined Life. This blog presents eighty or ninety of the most interesting and insightful Robert Nozick quotes from his book on the examined life – a reference to Socratic wisdom if there ever was one.

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Morality is Your Personal Responsibility

morality in your life January 8th, 2019

Having one single, discreet, multi-purpose principle, rule, or maxim that you plug in to various moral dilemmas and questions of the good and of justice (personally, societally) is not the best way to reason. It might not be possible. Moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that entitles one to claim: “This is what I think; this is what my community believes; this is what is right; this is what is good.” Moreover, it requires a rational, critical, explicit defense of the standards, values and ethics, and ends one has in mind. Not all acts, beliefs, and customs are equal. May the best-supported ones survive and the selfish, arbitrary, elitist, ill-conceived, and harmful ones meet the metaphorical guillotine.

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The Mystery of Good Character

character October 16th, 2018

The following is a guest blog written by A. C. Reid Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University, Christian B. Miller. In it, he addresses character and introduces the reader to the concept of a character gap. His new book is entitled The Character Gap: How Good Are We?  There is also a link to a blog written by Jason Merchey entitled “The Values and Virtues America Desperately Needs”

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Views of Death Held by Various Philosophers

death October 16th, 2018

Epicurus 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 ought not to be feared or be a source of great anxiety. He did admit that “being alive is generally good.” The context of this notable Greek thinker was primarily a response to the theistic imaginings of the day that predicted very unfortunate occurrences in the “afterlife.” 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’s logically sound. What follows is a summary of some philosophical points of view about death.

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Aristotle’s View of Humanity’s Highest Aspirations

humanity's highest aspirations September 15th, 2018

Aristotle is the grandfather of ethics and human flourishing; his book The Nicomachean Ethics has been a classic read in philosophy and ethics courses at universities since about 340 B.C.E. He studied with Plato and is largely credited with inventing logic and natural science. In this blog, I will share a brief outline of Aristotle’s first section entitled “The Human Good”, including a few quotations about humanity’s highest virtues.

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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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Words of Wisdom from Confucius Through Today

words of wisdom July 25th, 2018

Stephen S. Hall wrote a wonderful tour of the halls of wisdom in his book Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience. As a fan of both philosophy and neuroscience, I found it quite readable. In it are hundreds of wonderful words of wisdom, hallmark ideas from Confucius on down to today, and interesting findings from psychologists who study the brain using the latest techniques such as PET scans. Blending ancient and old philosophy with modern science is a great angle, and in doing so we find pithy thoughts such as this one by venerated philosopher Immanuel Kant: “The narrow gate to wisdom lies in science.” As well, we can see from this insightful quote by Hall that modern psychological research is contributing to the age-old search for wisdom begun in earnest by Socrates and pursued to this day in philosophical circles:

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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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Quotations About Hope, Optimism, Doubt & Skepticism

quotations about hope July 2nd, 2018

The question I want to explore in this blog is whether life is worthy of hope and optimism. Conversely, perhaps you tend to feel that humankind’s existence is more fraught with difficulty, absurdity, despair, and deserves a skeptical and doubtful attitude. One can marshal quotations about hope and quotes about doubt to cast a favorable light on one’s predetermined conclusions. I urge you to suspend your judgment and view the following quotations about hope and skepticism with an open mind. I am of the opinion that the philosophical question of what the nature of life is is a bit hard to definitively determine. Well, here we go – a look at some very unique quotations about hope and an equal measure of apt doubt, skepticism, and pessimism quotes.

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Will Durant Quotes About the Meaning of Life

quotes about the meaning of life June 30th, 2018

Will Durant was one of America’s greatest intellectuals. He lived from 1885 to 1981. In his long, varied, and distinguished career, he taught, wrote, earned a doctorate in philosophy, and came to know many of the most important and elusive truths. His interest in history was as salient than his love of philosophy, for he is best known for his book the massive, 11-volume set The Story of Civilization, his take on significant historical happenings and patterns (which he published with his lifelong interlocutor, his wife Ariel). They won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the work. Only slightly less remarkable was The Story of Philosophy, which detailed the lives and works of a dozen of the most impactful philosophers throughout history, such as Plato and Nietzsche. Durant was truly a remarkable man; we are so lucky he lived to the ripe old age he did, and that he was a philosopher, historian, teacher and writer – and not a banker or a tennis player or a gambler. This blog is about Will Durant’s quotes about the meaning of life from his superb book on the subject.

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