I’ve indexed my posts by topic below so you can dive into my writing without endlessly scrolling on my profile page.
I believe that the wisdom that comes with the study of philosophy, culture and history can help you live a better life. If I can help you, or if you can help me help others, drop me a line: email@example.com
I’ve written lots on philosophy. This subject is…
What’s the meaning of life?
This is the wrong question to ask. It’s like asking “what’s the meaning of water?” So there’s no meaning to life, because life can’t have a meaning. But you can live a meaningful life. What meaning you give your life is not only up to you, it’s what you have to live with.
Consider the number five. What’s the essence of that number? What lies behind it? What’s its substance? What does it consist of?
We can ask such questions of most things in the world — people, trees, spider webs, photographs and cardboard boxes — but numbers are pure quantity. Five is identical with its essence (fiveness?), and it has no substance to it at all.
Numbers are universal — anything can come in fives, even fives. Numbers like five just are. Sure, they have different names in different languages, but all those names point to indisputably the same thing — a…
You see children suffering in a war zone on television. It’s terrible. What’s your first thought? Punish the people doing it to those kids? Drop bombs on them? Or do you wonder, how can we change the world so that such a war could never happen in the first place?
Sure, it’s not an either-this-or-that choice. But perhaps too many of us never even consider that latter option. It seems far fetched, doesn’t it?
One of the most influential philosophers of our time shows us that the challenges that face us are challenges of the imagination. …
The zombies have risen. The undead are taking over our neighborhoods and nations. They are loitering in voting booths, sitting behind news desks, and moving around state buildings unchallenged. They feed on brains. Our brains.
But these are not the walking corpses of folklore and film, they are what economist Paul Krugman calls “zombie ideas”. Zombie ideas are discredited falsehoods, ranging from obsolescent beliefs to bizarro conspiracy theories. They continue to consume our thinking time when they are already dead. While they have no resemblance to reality, they still shape our reality.
This crisis of truth is the subject of…
It took seconds to happen. A thud, a puff, a cloud of dust. A statue crumbled, its fragments threw up a choking plume of debris.
The men — all men — roared with delight. An ancient statue, enormous, beautifully wrought, lay in pieces on the ground. It was Afghanistan. Pre-9/11. One of the many battles won in the Islamists’ war on the past. The defenceless masterpieces of a lost culture, the Buddhas of Bamiyan, were reduced to rubble.
These images in stone, according to some religious scholars, are “idolatry”. That’s fair enough if that’s what you believe, but nobody is…
The people behind the numbers are human beings. It’s easy to lose sight of that when you obsess over the stats.
Follower counts seem to have a waning influence on how Medium posts perform. That’s probably for good reason. As the platform evolves, the metrics writers need to pay attention to surely change.
In fact, the more simplistic metrics could fade out of relevance, which is beneficial for writers who really care about their readership.
What has really confused (and annoyed) popular writers on this platform is that they’re seeing declining reads even while their follower count is rising fast.
Trouble seems to seek us out, doesn’t it?
You find stillness in your soul, everything is level and even. Then events conspire to rattle you. You consider how to react. Because react you must, right? Well, no. Not yet.
It’s telling that we use the word “disturbed” so much when we describe our emotional state.
Disturbed is a word that’s negatively, not positively, defined — to lose balance, integrity, harmony or momentum. We see disturbing images, or read disturbing news.
Suddenly, reality seems to rudely prod us, and we mentally flounder. …
Writing is the art of making meaning. It has the power to seduce people, to bewitch them to the ideas of the writer.
When I read Machiavelli’s The Prince for the first time, I was struck by how far removed the book is from its reputation.
What I thought was going to be a manual of manipulation and deceit was in fact a strikingly honest book about the state of politics as it was in Renaissance-era Italy.
The book takes on a double purpose, working on practical and transcendent levels — an amoral manual of power, but also an exhortation…
This idea changed everything for me.
It’s so simple.
But first, let’s examine the problem. The problem is truth.
Our relationship to “the truth” is complicated.
The truth is argued about a lot. It’s the high ground people claim when they disagree over practically any matter.
But how do we humans access truth? Truth needs a criterion — a yardstick, a gauge, a standard. To know the truth is to know reality. We access reality through its impressions on our senses and the faculties that process the data of our senses. Light waves enter our retina, or soundwaves enter our…