August 7, 2018

[Excerpts from this book. See also this blog post, "Excerpts on happiness."]

The meaning of life?— Life is not totally “meaningless.” People’s commitment to their work, to relationships, and to life itself proves that. However, it is hard to deny that life is not as meaningful as we’d like. It is the evolutionary product of “meaningless” random variation and natural selection, no...

June 10, 2018

The journal I've kept for two decades is full of notes on books I've read. Sometimes I reread these notes and think it's possible that people might find them of interest, so I post them on my website. Here's one set of old notes on a classic book by the psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott. I happen to be skeptical of psychoanalysis, since it lacks a scientific foundation and consists l...

January 22, 2016

[Excerpt from this book.] There are delights and dangers in adopting a broad perspective on oneself and one’s society. Looking at the “big picture” can either electrify or paralyze one’s will. The latter possibility is obvious, given, for example, the big-picturesque horrors of global warming and capitalist global pollution. Oceanic garbage patches the size of continents, slums t...

October 3, 2015

L’enfer, c’est les autres?— Contrary to what Sartre pessimistically thought, if hell exists, it is not other people. It is the absence of other people. An eternity of not being reflected in an other. After a while, in fact, the self would simply dissolve for lack of something to contrast itself with and define itself in relation to. The “abstract Other” in its consciousness, whic...

June 13, 2015

Albert Camus: “We [moderns] read more than we meditate. We have no philosophies but merely commentaries. This is what Étienne Gilson says, considering that the age of philosophers concerned with philosophy was followed by the age of professors of philosophy concerned with philosophers. Such an attitude shows both modesty and impotence. And a thinker who began his book with these...

September 15, 2014

The psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott said it simply—one of those simple but profound truths worth remembering: “It is creative apperception more than anything that makes the individual feel that life is worth living.” Creativity is not peculiarly human, but humans are peculiarly creative. We have a need to create, and to love, and to inquire—to express ourselves and see ourselves re...

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