Tag: philosophy

  • Remembering Lives: Blueberry Bushes and Guava Pastries

    Remembering Lives: Blueberry Bushes and Guava Pastries

    We tend to memorialize two kinds of lives: big public lives and the lives that are closest to us. Both make perfect sense. Most big lives matter a little bit to a lot of people. The people we know matter a lot, but only to us. No one would think it wrong to memorialize the…

  • Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue

    Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue

    Nobody seems to give a damn about politeness. Until, that is, they are treated rudely, ignored, made to feel ignorant or displaced, or pushed aside in a queue. Then, suddenly, we see all too clearly how much we appreciate polite society. Those moments do not translate into the world of ideas, where “polite society” is a…

  • Is Love a Virtue?

    Is Love a Virtue?

    Virtue theories are the only strand of modern ethical thinking that makes much sense in light of cognitive science. Utilitarian calculus becomes a funhouse of infinite regress in a world where experience changes both who we are and what we value. It didn’t take cognitive science to cast doubt on Kant’s strange metaphysics of freedom…

  • Utopia: Its the People You’re With

    Utopia: Its the People You’re With

    People are the essence of what makes a community and it’s hard to imagine anything could be more important. If we don’t like the people, we won’t like the community. If we do, we will. It really is that simple. But deciding what kind of people you’d want in your utopia turns out to be…

  • Thinking About Utopia

    Thinking About Utopia

    We are all trapped in time and place to certain kinds of life. We spend most of our big-picture energy thinking about the kind of life that’s best for us, given the world we live in. And so we should. But every now and then, a group of people decide to wipe the slate clean…

  • The World Is Spinning

    The World Is Spinning

    As of a week ago, Wednesday, the world was spinning. I do not mean literally spinning — though of course that’s true regardless of the date. Nor do I mean this metaphorically as in picking some political or cultural event and suggesting that it is somehow new and world-turning. I give it as a statement…

  • In Defense of Bourgeois Values

    In Defense of Bourgeois Values

    “The term “bourgeois” has almost always been — been one of contempt. Yet it is precisely the — the bourgeoisie which is responsible for — well, for nearly everything good which has happened in our civilization over the past four centuries.” Charlie Black — Metropolitan Nothing is more important to living a good life than…

  • Democracy and the Good Life: The Politicization of the Self

    Democracy and the Good Life: The Politicization of the Self

    Modern political ideologies are nothing more (nor less) than lifestyle brands built to capture votes in the democratic marketplace. They are the shallow, intellectually incoherent two-buck chuck of the political world: sweet, deeply addictive, and very cheap to acquire. These ideologies have already exacted a terrible toll on our democracy and they may or may…

  • Democracy and the Good Life: Saving Democracy from Ideology

    Democracy and the Good Life: Saving Democracy from Ideology

    In my past four posts, I argued that democracy (like capitalism) has significant benefits if you’re trying to build an ethical life, but that many of those benefits are squandered due to the exploitation of political marketplaces and the growth of what I’ve called Consumer Packaged Ideology. In the economic sphere, we are marketed to by…

  • Parfit and the Philosophical Life

    Parfit and the Philosophical Life

    Reasons and Persons may be the most extraordinary book I have ever read. Yet the why behind that statement isn’t easy to articulate. It isn’t the best book of philosophy I’ve read. It’s an important and influential book, but not on the level of something like A Theory of Justice. It’s a grind to read.…