Modern Stoicism – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

stoic joy

A number of my friends have gotten more interested in Stoicism of late and have been reading A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine for a practical introduction.  I give Irvine total credit for writing a philosophy book that's meant to be actionable, not a historical survey.  But, as a recovering Stoic, I'd like to couple any praise with a warning about the philosophy.    The GoodA Stoic avoids becoming attached or indifferent to the things ze ca … [Read more...]

An Apologia for Tentavism

hold lightly

I tend to rag on postmodernism leading to relativism, so, to see a much more charitable description, you should pop over to Christian H's blog to read his apologia. [O]ne of the recurrent complaints my peers and I had about some of our English Masters classes was that, at the end of it all, we were afraid of making any positive statements. All we were doing was problematizing. But when all positive statements seem to do damage (to women, to Asian Canadian populations, to First Nations p … [Read more...]

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

amazing stories cover

There's always been more fiction than explicit philosophy on this blog and, in C.S. Lewis's Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, he puts his finger on why I like sidling up on meaning of life questions in this way.  Lewis is discussing various subtypes of science fiction -- starting with the ones where plot and character take a back seat to the author showing you a clever engineering problem and ending up here: In all these the impossibility is, as I have said, a postulate. Something to be g … [Read more...]

The rule of my heart is mine! And no other’s!

steward of gondor

In the Patheos Hindu channel, Ambaa gives her perspective on Jedis and gnosticism, inspired by the same essay by Brother Humbert that prompted me to write "Emotional Weapons for a More Indifferent Age." Ambaa explains that there's a middle road between abandoning emotions and abandoning yourself to them. Quoth she: I don’t think Hinduism calls for anyone, even ascetics, to not have emotions. But a practiced monk can see the emotions playing out over his psyche and know that they are shifting a … [Read more...]

“You’re Gonna Have to Serve Somebody”

RocknRoll3

In yesterday's post, I talked about the unenviable invulnerability of indifference, and, it so happened that the play I saw this weekend (Tom Stoppard's Rock and Roll at the Actors Ensemble of Berkeley) touched on similar themes.  The play is structured around (among other things) resistance to Soviet-dominated Communism in Czechoslovakia.  At one point in the play, Jan gets into an argument with his friend Ferdinand (recently released from prison) about who represents a larger threat to the go … [Read more...]

What Good is Sitting Alone at Your Desk?

grindstone-nose

In The Washington Post, Elsa Walsh takes issue with Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In.  Walsh thinks Sandburg's tactics are pretty good instrumentally, but she's a bit sickened by the kind of success Sandberg is using them for: I have to wonder if Sandberg does not realize that she is going to die someday. There is so little life and pleasure in her book outside of work. Even sex is framed as something that men will get more of if they pitch in and help their working wives.Success, particularly the … [Read more...]

Would you rather be wrong than boring?

bored dandy

In a post titled "The sad, sad tale of the philosophical meta-game" Eli of Rust Belt Philosophy does a useful job calling out our fascination with outrageousness and impatience with obvious sounding truth. Plus, his frame metaphor is awesome: Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. (Don't worry, you don't need to know what that is to follow his point. Let me block quote a little: Now, Marvel is a game - I mean, a paradigmatic game, the kind where there's really nothing significant on the line except what … [Read more...]


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