The endless fascination with human history and evolution at the largest scale is due to the fact that the human story seems so improbable. Humans are simply one species of primate, sharing with chimpanzees both a recent common ancestor and 98.6 percent of their DNA. Yet culturally, humans and chimps could not be more different.Continue reading “Gaia Vince on the Four Elements of Human Cultural Evolution”
We all hold innumerable beliefs with varying degrees of certainty, but few of us have challenged the veracity of those beliefs to the degree that Rene Descartes did in the Meditations on First Philosophy, published in 1641. Descartes wrote:Continue reading “Rene Descartes and the Search for Certain Knowledge”
The human mind, uninstructed, has always been particularly liable to superstition. Throughout history, and even today, many people believe in a host of invisible entities and forces, including gods, angels, demons, ghosts, spirits, omens, miracles, telepathy, clairvoyance, and more.Continue reading “Francis Bacon on the Psychology of Superstition”
This is part 4 of a four-part series on the medieval arguments for the existence of God. Part 1 outlined the four types of arguments for God’s existence, part 2 covered ontological arguments, part 3 covered cosmological arguments, and this final part (part 4) will wrap up the series by covering teleological arguments.Continue reading “Medieval Arguments for the Existence of God Part 4: Teleological Arguments”
This is part 3 of a four-part series on the medieval arguments for the existence of God. Part 1 outlined the four types of arguments for God’s existence, Part 2 covered the ontological arguments, and this post (part 3) will cover cosmological arguments. Part 4 will wrap up the series by covering teleological arguments.Continue reading “Medieval Arguments for the Existence of God Part 3: Cosmological Arguments”
This is part 2 of a four-part series on the medieval arguments for the existence of God. Part 1 covered the four categories of arguments for God’s existence, the philosophical problems of faith, and key terminology relevant to the debate. This post will cover the ontological argument exclusively, while parts 3 and 4 will cover the cosmological and teleological arguments, respectively.Continue reading “Medieval Arguments for the Existence of God Part 2: Ontological Arguments”
This blog is going to pass rather quickly over medieval philosophy (other than this four-part series) for the simple reason that theology is not philosophy. The philosopher A.C. Grayling said it best in his book The History of Philosophy:Continue reading “Medieval Arguments for the Existence of God Part 1: Introduction”
The ancient Greek Skeptics, Stoics, and Epicureans all had a common task: the search for ataraxia (tranquility), or a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety.Continue reading “Sextus Empiricus and the Search for Intellectual Tranquility”
Reading a great book (specifically nonfiction) is to acquire, within a matter of hours, the insights and knowledge that the author spent months, years, and sometimes decades developing. In this sense, books are knowledge multipliers, shortcuts to years of research and thinking, and the more books you read, the more hard-won knowledge you accumulate in a fraction of the time.
The Enchiridion, or Handbook of Epictetus, stands as one of the most influential and concise presentations of Stoicism ever published. Written by Epictetus’s student Arrian in 135 CE (Epictetus wrote nothing down himself), the Enchiridion is a succinct summary of Epictetus’s more practical ethical teachings.Continue reading “8 Stoic Principles from the Handbook of Epictetus”
A philosophy of life is a considered set of principles by which one finds meaning, purpose, and coherence in the world. A philosophy of life contains an epistemology (what can be known), a metaphysics (how the world works), an ethical framework (how to behave and treat others), and variously a political philosophy that describes how society should be structured.
Stoicism is a version of eudaimonic virtue ethics that asserts that the practice of virtue is both necessary and sufficient to achieve happiness and contentment.
According to Epicurus (341–270 B.C.E.), an ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of Epicureanism, the path to living the good life is self-evident. At bottom, there is something that we all seek for its own sake, and that is pleasure, just as we all seek to avoid the opposite of pleasure, pain. Since we all know with relative certainty the kinds of things that bring us both pleasure and pain, we can use this knowledge as the foundation for living the best possible life.
An exceptional fact about the ancient Greeks is that they were the first group of thinkers to move beyond the particulars of their own culture to search for universal truths that transcend time and place. This is why they remain perennially relevant and valuable to us today.