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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 28, 2018

[Early grad-school notes...] I'm reading about John Brown--David Reynolds' John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights--an excellent, massive book that rehabilitates Brown from the propaganda that he was insane and a fanatic...

John Brown, hero. R. W. Emerson: “John Brown will make the gallows as glorious as the cross.” Did...

May 20, 2018

[From Notes of an Underground Humanist.]

How is mass inhumanity possible?— When I ask myself how it’s possible that so many white Southerners used to support slavery even on moral grounds, as having a “civilizing” influence on blacks, I’m led to the conclusion that it is very easy for humans to invent and believe in ideologies which justify activities that bring material benefit a...

February 23, 2017

I'm copying here a "statement of teaching philosophy" I wrote recently for job applications, in case it has any general ideas that others might find interesting or useful.

In the age of Donald Trump, knowledge of history is more important than ever. Such knowledge has always been empowering, for several reasons: it gives one a foundation for more effective and informed civic and p...

February 13, 2017

[From this book.] The more one experiences the world, the more one understands how difficult it is to be “successful” and have integrity at the same time. Maybe most successful people don’t have much of a “core self” to begin with; they’re just malleable, their essence from youth is malleability. Few convictions, certainly no courage of whatever convictions they have. Depending o...

December 29, 2016

In an age when the State is daily demonstrating its willingness, or rather its extraordinary eagerness, to brutally repress dissent and democracy, it may be of interest to recall the experiences of survivors of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The following first-hand account was circulated in the weeks after the hurricane hit. As global warming intensifies, massively disrupting commun...

October 25, 2016

I attended my first Episcopalian service last night [in April 2010]. It was Maundy Thursday, so we did the whole foot-washing thing and then the Eucharist, etc. Endless singing and antiphonal rituals, responses, prayers. A certain pungent beauty in the foot-washing, beautiful symbolism. But how foreign it all is to the spirit of the times! A relic of antiquity, as Nietzsche said....

September 13, 2016

The following is a long comment I wrote on a Facebook thread months ago arguing against a left-wing friend that--in swing states--one should vote for Hillary Clinton over, say, Donald Trump. I find the arguments of leftists that one shouldn't vote for a "lesser evil" to be logically and morally imbecilic.

*

To the argument that because Democrats are terrible, like Republicans, one...

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...

December 4, 2015

[Notes from my journal.]  I'm reading Paulo Freire’s famous little book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), which is apparently required reading for leftist intellectuals. It’s overrated. Repetitive, derivative (of Hegel, the early Marx, Sartre, Erich Fromm, etc.), and full of verbiage, albeit inspiring and enlivening verbiage. It consists of little more than eloquent and verbo...

November 18, 2015

Max Scheler’s Ressentiment (1912), while dated and silly in some respects, is worth reading. Scheler is a semi-Nietzsche in his psychological and phenomenological insights, though also in his misguided contempt for the masses. But he thinks Nietzsche misunderstood true Christianity, as he implies, for example, in the following comparison between the ancient and Christian concepti...

November 9, 2015

[Notes from my journal.]

Reading parts of a collection of essays published in 1978 called Anarchism, edited by J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman. Pretty good philosophical essays, but I have to say that what I’ve seen of the literature on anarchism leaves much to be desired. Actually, the whole universe of anarchism, with all its different strains and movements and doctrines,...

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