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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 ›

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 ›

142. Solitude and Education, Part 4: Schopenhauer on Contemplation and the Sublime

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), in his book Daybreak (1881), wrote: “On Education. – I have gradually seen the light as to the most universal deficiency in our kind of cultivation and education: no one learns, no one strives after, no one 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 ›

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 ›

112. Some Thoughts on John Locke’s Theory of Mind and Education

John Locke (1632-1704), in Book II of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) writes: “Our observation employed either about external sensible objects, or about the internal operations of our minds perceived and reflected upon by ourselves, is that which supplies our Read more ›

74. Leibniz on Atoms

The enlightenment rationalist G. W. Leibniz (1646-1716) was a master at articulating certain general and fundamental principles and applying these principles to various philosophical problems.  Principles are statements of basic laws, truths, or rules from which other laws, truths, or Read more ›

55. Eros vs. Thanatos, Part 1: Archive Fever

Sigmund Freud, in Civilization and Its Discontents, claims, like the pre-Socratic Empedocles before him, that there are two “Heavenly Powers” or mutually opposing instincts: Eros and Thanatos. Freud characterizes these two principles as follows: eros is the instinct to conserve 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

The Danish proto-existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) put forth an intriguing account of the demonic 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 both Read more ›