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204. Some Uses of Philosophy in the Wake of George Floyd’s Death, Part 3: J.S. Mill on Liberty

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for at least eight minutes while he was lying face down handcuffed on the street. His death, and many other horrifying acts of Read more ›

203. Some Uses of Philosophy in the Wake of George Floyd’s Death, Part 2: Sartre on Racism

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for at least eight minutes while he was lying face down handcuffed on the street. His death, and many other horrifying acts of Read more ›

202. Some Uses of Philosophy in the Wake of George Floyd’s Death, Part 1: Natural Law Theory

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for at least eight minutes while he was lying face down handcuffed on the street. His death, and many other horrifying acts of Read more ›

193. Coronavirus and “The Masque of the Red Death”: Poe’s Cautionary Wisdom

Edgar Allan Poe, 1809-1849 It is March 21, 2020 and the coronavirus is a pandemic threatening everyone on Earth. In my relative isolation of social distancing, I have had more time to read and I was drawn to a tale Read more ›

191. A Divine Conceptualist Argument for God’s Existence

In earlier posts I briefly presented both St. Augustine’s (see here) and Leibniz’s (see here) arguments for God from eternal truth. Since I find this underrepresented approach to demonstrating God’s existence both fascinating and promising, I decided to present my Read more ›

184. Some Common Grounds for Moral Duty and Beauty

Our experiences of beauty and duty appear to be very different. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), in his book Critique of Judgment, argued that judgments of the beautiful must be “disinterested.” This means that we make these judgments (1) without concern for the truth; (2) without Read more ›

168. Beware of intellectuals…they need propaganda!

Jacques Ellul, in his book Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes (Vintage, 1965), defines propaganda as follows: “Propaganda is a set of methods employed by an organized group that wants to bring about the active or passive participation in its Read more ›

138. Ingmar Bergman’s Metaphysical Reduction, Part 3: The Silence

In May 1963, the Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) retrospectively described his films Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence as a trilogy with a theme: “The theme of these three films is a ‘reduction’ – in Read more ›

137. Ingmar Bergman’s Metaphysical Reduction, Part 2: Winter Light

In May 1963, the Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) retrospectively described his films Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence as a trilogy with a theme: “The theme of these three films is a ‘reduction’ – in Read more ›

136. Ingmar Bergman’s Metaphysical Reduction, Part 1: Through a Glass Darkly

In May 1963, the Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) retrospectively described his films Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence as a trilogy with a theme: “The theme of these three films is a ‘reduction’ – in Read more ›

132. If we are arguing should we be substance dualists?

I have been thinking a lot about what philosophical positions might be implied by the fact that we present and evaluate arguments. Consider this argument or set of premises from which a conclusion is derived: Premise 1: All humans are Read more ›

120. Philosophy and the Sublime

Many of our efforts at self-examination presuppose at least a sense of things we don’t know. We sense our life is inadequate and take steps to acquire more knowledge to remove our ignorance. We widen our scope, gain new perspectives, and Read more ›

118. Trump and Nietzsche: Alternative Facts, Power, and Tyranny

Sometime between 1883 and 1888 the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche made a startling observation: “No, facts is precisely what there is not, only interpretations.” This view, which Nietzsche called perspectivism, has recently found an unparalleled analogue in American politics. For example, Read more ›

107. St. Gregory of Nyssa on the origins and nature of the soul

St. Gregory of Nyssa (335-394), in his work On the Soul and Resurrection (St. Vladmir’s Seminary Press, 1993), presents a very stimulating dialogue between two characters: Gregory and his sister Macrina. Through Macrina he argues that the existence of virtue Read more ›

92. Plato’s Wooden Horse Argument and the Soul

How is it that we can experience incoming data from the five senses as coherent, rather than incoherent, perceptions of objects and people? This issue, often referred to as “the binding problem” in neuroscience, has been a concern of philosophers Read more ›

41. Freedom and Critical Thinking

Can we, sometimes, make free choices? Obviously, a lot rides on what we mean by free choices. Mark Balaguer has recently formulated a helpful definition in his book Free Will (MIT, 2014): a choice is the product of my free Read more ›

25. Memes

What is an idea?  According to Peter A. Angeles’ Dictionary of Philosophy we have the following candidates: Idea:  (Gk., idea, “concept,” “class,” “kind,” “idea,” “mode,” “sort,” “species,” “form,” “nature,” “from eidos, “visual appearance,” “form,” and idein, “to see,” “to grasp conceptually”).  1. Anything that is Read more ›

13. Augustine on God and Eternal Truth

In his dialogue On Free Choice of the Will (Macmillan, 1964), St. Augustine (354-430 C.E.) argues that our minds can know truths that are eternal.  For Augustine, something is eternal if it exists in a timeless, unchanging state.  So eternal truths are unchanging Read more ›

5. Kierkegaard’s Demonic Fashion Designer

Soren Kierkegaard The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) put forth an intriguing account of demonic evil in chapter 4 of his 1844 work The Concept of Anxiety. There Kierkegaard claims the demonic person has “anxiety about the good” which means he is Read more ›