The Deepest Human Life is an elegantly written, impassioned, and sometimes disjointed plea on behalf of philosophy. Scott Samuelson invokes poets, novelists, and theologians to defend the dialectical process that Socrates imparted.
Aristotle famously asserted, “Philosophy begins in wonder.” Sometimes I wonder about that. My experience has been that many of us who join the Socrates guild initially do so because we want to be healed of deep vexations. As Irvine quotes Epicurus, “Vain is the word of a philosopher which does not heal any suffering of man.
In 1621 Robert Burton published The Anatomy of Melancholy, and now, nearly 400 years later, Eric Wilson has given us what amounts to an apology for melancholy. Aristotle and other intellectual immortals have observed that a disproportionate number of geniuses suffer from the inexplicable sadness that is melancholy.
Joy and gratitude are the subjects of many popular books. There are workshops on grief and anger and a library of literature on depression. And yet disappointment sits in the corner, a much neglected feeling. This neglect is surprising given that there is so much potential for disappointment in the United States.
Philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that it is always wrong to treat a person or a people purely as a means to an end. According to Kant, to say nothing of common moral sense, human beings are subjects and as such should never to be treated as mere instruments or objects. And yet it seems that the U.S.
Doink! A neighborhood kid kicked a ball that nearly punched out my kitchen window. I shot out into the backyard ready to deliver a lecture, but the angular teen disarmed me with a smile and a “Sorry, Mister.” I picked up the ball and asked him his name.
Ask your teenaged son how he is doing and you are likely to get a terse reply. “All right.” “Fine.” Or maybe, “I’m chillin’.” Though most young males are teeming jungles of thoughts and emotions, they seldom talk about their inner lives.
In April the NFL will bless about 250 draftees with a professional contract; the rest will be cleaning out their identities along with their lockers as they make a sharp turn out of football into new lives.
In the biblical story, God tests his faithful servant Job to see whether Job will stay devoted to God even if God takes everything away from him. Now you don’t lose your family, health and possessions, as Job did, without falling into a terrible funk. It’s possible, then, to understand Job’s story as being about remaining true to God through a devastating depression.
Scholars can be like children in a schoolyard. We push one another around, turn our noses up and have our cliques. On the terrain that I know best, the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, today’s Gettysburg is the struggle between readers who see play and misdirection everywhere in Kierkegaard and those who are inclined to read him as a philosophically and poetically gifted evangelist.
A century ago the bone weary must have come home from their labors and relaxed by watching the flames dancing in the hearth. But since the invention of the television, weary Americans have been sinking their self-consciousness into the riot of unpredictable images flitting across their television screens. I am no exception.
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