We all know the most famous bit of ancient advice inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi: Know thyself. It’s a powerful and daunting recommendation. If you take it seriously, you will begin to push through all of the misconceptions you have, not only about yourself but about human beings generally. You will begin to think deeply about who you really are and who you ought to be.
Leafing through this old A-to-Z of celebrities is like finding a Mad Magazine from the nineteenth century. The book’s lyrics and images wondrously lampoon the– mostly– old men of European civilization. Instead of being revered as timeless sages, they are brought low, returned to us as fallen flesh-and-blood creatures. Their everyday lives get the tabloid treatment. And, just like today, lust is the common sin that most often brings these high and mighty men crashing down to earth.
Have we become unreasonable? In democracies around the world, anxious commentators exhort their fellow citizens to be more open-minded, more willing to engage in good-faith debate. In our era of hyperpolarization, social-media echo chambers and populist demagogues, many have turned to civility as the missing ingredient in our public life.
The best of this week’s philosophical internet from The New York Times, The Atlantic, Philosophy Now, Sam Harris, Medium, The Irish Times and The New York Review of Books.
“Studying philosophy may be about to pay off,” writes an Irish Times editor in a recent article. This is so, he claims, because the ethical challenges accompanying the rise of artificial intelligence, big data and biotech are simply too great, and apparently there is nobody around to address them.
Various Thoughts on the Occasion of a Comet (1682), nominally dedicated towards taking down erroneous and popular opinions about comets, was a controversial bestseller, and a foundational work for the French Enlightenment. In it, Bayle launches a battery of arguments for the possibility of a virtuous atheist.
Does Rilke fly in the face of our modern conceptions of marriage as an ever approximating intimacy, in which both sides ideally grow closer together, eventually merging into one?
Stoicism. The principle that emotional and physical self-control leads to inner peace and strength, allowing one to live a happier life.