Why We Must All Be Philosophers: Ethical Education and A Poetics of Freedom


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Should not we focus on training people to be good citizens than on punishing them when they fail to be good citizens?

A liberal arts education as capable of shaping citizens for the rights and responsibilities of political life is one of the founding principles for HTCS, and for it’s inspirational program, Columbia’s Core Curriculum[31]. The Core is a set of courses, including Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization, that every undergraduate at the College has to take. Taking into account their many imperfections, these courses are grounded in the idea that, through encountering Plato and Aristotle, Nietzsche and DuBois, Wollstonecraft and Gandhi, students can be more thoughtful and effective in their pursuit of ethical and justice-focused lives. Of course, some of these texts, taught carelessly, do have frightening things to say about eugenics, infanticide, and the utter disenfranchisement of women and people thought to be “natural slaves.” And, in the centuries since the oldest of them was composed, they have been used (or abused) by later generations to make arguments justifying the subjugation of others.

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Nicole Callahan — EuropeNow

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The Fundamental Problem of Philosophy: Its Point


An interesting academic paper exploring – If Philosophy has a point.

Abstract of the paper

The fundamental problem of philosophy is whether doing it has any point, since if it does not have any point, there is no reason to do it. It is suggested that the intrinsic point of doing philosophy is to establish a rational consensus about what the answers to its main questions are. But it seems that this cannot be accomplished because philosophical arguments are bound to be inconclusive. Still, philosophical research generates an increasing number of finer grained distinctions in terms of which we try to conceptualize reality, and this is a sort of progress. But if, as is likely, our arguments do not suffice to decide between these alternatives, our personalities might slip in to do so. Our philosophy will then express our personality. This could provide philosophy with a point for us. If some of our conclusions have practical import, philosophy could have the further point of giving us something by which we can live.

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Ingmar Persson — Journal of Practical Ethics

On Being an Arsehole: A defense


The arsehole, writes philosopher Aaron James, is someone who “allows himself to enjoy special advantages in social relations out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunizes him against the complaints of other people.” At the other end of the spectrum is the fully cooperative person who recognizes others as equals and therefore acts respectfully. From my perspective I was being respectful to the archaeologist: the real disrespect, it seemed to me, lies in assuming your interlocutor needs to be treated with kid gloves. And if I broke the no-follow-up rule, well, that was down to a failure of self-control rather than an entrenched sense of entitlement: This is where the fun begins, I wanted to exclaim. Looking around the room, however, it was clear that I had already pooped the party. I had spoken out of turn, but more importantly I seemed to have revealed myself as the kind of person who is willing to embarrass a colleague to make a trivial point.

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Jonny Thakkar — The Point Magazine

What is Stoicism and How Can it Turn your Life to Solid Gold?


The core of the philosophy seems to be this: To have a good and meaningful life, you need to overcome your insatiability. Most people, at best, spend their lives in a long pursuit of happiness. So today’s successful person writes out a list of desires, then starts chasing them down and satisfying the desires. The problem is that each desire, when satisfied, tends to be replaced by a new desire. So the person continues to chase. Yet after a lifetime of pursuit, the person ends up no more satisfied than he was at the beginning. Thus, he may end up wasting his life.

The solution, the Stoics realized, is to learn to want the things you already have, rather than wanting other things. The most interesting technique that will help you achieve this is Negative Visualization.

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Mr. Money Mustache

Wild Wild Country’s white American provincialism


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The other side of the story.

Yet by framing Rajneeshpuram as a “sex cult” without this historical context, Wild Wild Country elides the fact that plenty of middle-class Indians had the same reaction to the “sex cult” as did citizens of Antelope. Not only that, we also miss out on a crucial irony: that India’s first godless and capitalist guru merely claimed to be a religious teacher for U.S. immigration purposes. Even worse, Wild Wild Countryremoves the capitalist-elitist substrate of the “material spirituality” Rajneesh espoused. Always a smooth operator, Rajneesh tracked his newspaper and magazine coverage, and though his lectures were designed to outrage the Indian masses (in order to ramp up publicity), he often appealed to elite venues such as the Rotary Club and the “cocktail circuit” of Mumbai.

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Noopur Raval & Phalguni Desai — The Baffler

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Jean-Paul Sartre’s Concepts of Freedom & “Existential Choice” Explained in an Animated Video Narrated by Stephen Fry


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Just a two minute video to help understand existentialism.

For the Existentialists, the self can be a prison, a trap, and a source of great anxiety. Heidegger called selfhood a condition of being “thrown into the world.” By the time we realize where and what we are, according to restrictive categories of historical thought and language, we are already there, inescapably bound to our conditions, forced to perform roles for which we never auditioned. Jean-Paul Sartre took this notion of “thrownness” and gave it his own neurotic stamp. We are indeed tossed into existences against our will, but the real condemnation, he thought, is that once we arrive, we have to make choices. We are doomed to the task of creating ourselves, no matter how limited the options, and there is no possibility of opting out. Even not making choices is a choice.

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Open Culture

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Simone de Beauvoir’s #MeToo


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This dissatisfaction has arisen on the basis of moral objections to particular actions in particular situations. So to Colosimo’s claim that #MeToo feminism promotes a view of women as “victims and helpless objects of male desire rather than free agents” we need to ask two questions: first, if in other moral contexts free agency involves the freedom to denounce behaviour that we consider harmful, what’s different about this one? Second, what is this ‘male desire’, such that women are victims of it?

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Kate Kirkpatrick — IAI

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