Category Archives: Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff

Sloterdijk’s Spheres

I finished reading volume 3 of Sloterdijk’s Spheres trilogy, and then went back and read the whole series again. It has been a delightful struggle to think through the rich banquet of ideas and images he offers. I have written up … Continue reading

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Knowledge, that human practice

Ordinarily, we think knowledge is having in one’s head some kind of story or an explanation that matches how Things Really Are. This ordinary conception has at least two problems. First, it assumes that there is a way Things Really … Continue reading

Posted in Historical episodes, Items of the academy / learning, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 13 Comments

Living in the light of necessity

[excerpt from To View from Eternity] The neoplatonists urge us to see our troubled lives from the view of eternity. The world issues from the metaphysical character of the One, which means that the order of the planets and the balance … Continue reading

Posted in Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff, Stacks of Books | 6 Comments

Needed: a handbook for e-life

There probably is room in today’s ideosphere for a handbook for living a balanced life in our ephemeral e-world. If course, for a great many humans (the majority? I think so, but I’m not sure) there really is no e-world, … Continue reading

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Victorian anthropology

[Reading George W. Stocking, Victorian Anthropology (Free Press, 1987)] Stocking’s book is most centrally about how 19th-century upper-class British males managed to combine their sense of superiority with an emerging awareness of Darwinian evolution. Many loose threads needed to be woven … Continue reading

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Living cynically

(an excerpt from Doubts) The contemporary German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk defines “cynicism” as enlightened false consciousness. It is what results when we know all too well our own weaknesses and limitations, and our own involvement in dastardly practices, but then … Continue reading

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Voting for artichokes

For some reason there’s been a lot of talk about voting. My understanding of voting is (predictably) rather instrumentalist and flat-footed: since there is no more rational way of deciding things, we make our preferences known (show of hands, cast … Continue reading

Posted in Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 6 Comments

Achieving Star Trek

Culture is an engine that transforms food into ideas. Individual bodies are responsible for turning food into energy, but it takes a mind to create ideas, and a mind is possible only in a community. Just as a body requires … Continue reading

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Under the right conditions, ideas matter; but far less than we commonly suppose

In the big picture, ideas don’t matter as much as people like me try to pretend. Obviously, in some broad sense, some ideas matter very much to some people, sometimes. But even in those cases where ideas matter in big … Continue reading

Posted in Historical episodes, Items of the academy / learning, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff, Metaphysical musings | 5 Comments

Energy, culture, and Civilization

I only recently came across the ideas of Leslie White (1900-1975). White was an American anthropologist who developed a mathematical model for civilization. Civilization, or Culture, according to White, is a product of Energy and Technology (C = E x … Continue reading

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Delusions and politics

Last night, in discussion with friends, I found myself defending my own skepticism. The topic was whether there is an objective human good, or even a genuine human nature that determines how humans should live if they want to have … Continue reading

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Defining the divine

Here is a big question: Is anything divine? It’s easiest simply to assume (for now) that there is a natural world, and that this world is pretty much what it appears to be (with corrections supplied through scientific inquiry, of … Continue reading

Posted in Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 16 Comments

Haig Khatchadourian (1925-2016)

I learned yesterday through Facebook that one of my teachers, Haig Khatchadourian, has passed away. He was a warm and generous man, and a philosopher with such broad knowledge and penetrating intellect as to both intimidate and inspire those of … Continue reading

Posted in Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff, This & that in the life of CH | 6 Comments

Natural and agreeable fools

Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escaped shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries … Continue reading

Posted in Kant and/or Hume, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 6 Comments

The Cyborg of Practical Wisdom

The biggest struggle my fellow modern-day cyborgs and I face is to create a virtual reality that connects more wholesomely with the human part of our nature. The artificial reality we currently plug into is a Terry Gilliam nightmare. Too … Continue reading

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