Tag: Philosophy

Philosophy, Politics, Society

What is the Point of Government?

The question “What is the point of government?” likely strikes you either as an obvious question or an absurd and pointless question, depending upon your philosophical beliefs. I assume either you think it’s a question always worth asking or a question never worth asking. Count me in the former camp. I believe asking “what is …

1972, Books, Non-Fiction, Philosophy

Jumpers (1972) by Tom Stoppard

My favourite philosopher, Hannah Arendt, believed that space exploration, particularly manned space exploration, created a new paradigm for human beings. For the first time in history, humans could physically see what astronomy and math had only proved before, namely that we were just animals on a little planet in some little corner of the universe. …

2018, Hockey, Philosophy, Society, Sports

The Nihilist Hockey League

I have been a fan of the hockey comedian/commentator Down Goes Brown for some time. I don’t remember when I became aware of him, but it was before he started writing for Grantland. I have appreciated both his comedic takes on what is a very silly league and also his perspective, which often seems to …

2013, Books, Non-Fiction

The Meaning of Human Existence (2014) by Edward O Wilson

This is a weird book, which doesn’t exactly live up to its title. It’s a book of philosophy by a biologist, who spends his time telling us where evolutionary biology is in 2013, what he thinks about aliens and getting mad at “The Humanities” for ignoring science. I can’t say I really enjoyed it all …

1968, Books, Non-Fiction

The Revolution of the Saints (19968) by Michael Walzer

Many years ago, I read a history of ideas about radical/left-wing politics, Main Currents of Marxism by Leszek Kolakowski, which felt to me like the definitive statement on the religious origins and nature of ideologies. The only thing lacking with that book, to my mind, was its scope was limited to the left; whereas liberalism …

2013, Books, Non-Fiction

Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City (2013) by Russell Shorto

When I was in high school and even when I was in university we learned liberalism like this: The Magna Carta invented “responsible government” Thomas Hobbes invented the liberal constitution but his king had too much power John Locke took the Hobbesian constitution and paired it with better institutions and gave us liberalism Then the …

Books, Movies, Music, Philosophy, Politics, Society, Theatre, TV

In Praise of Cultural Appropriation

This article is about the accusation of “cultural appropriation” being thrown around at works of art. I may not be entitled to write this.

2001, Books, Non-Fiction

Fooled by Randomness (2001) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This is an important, valuable book. It’s basically a must-read. It would go on my list of essential non-fiction only I have a few reservations (all of them stylistic). Still, very, very important stuff.

Philosophy, Society

Alternative Facts Are Older Than Facts

aka Western Philosophy Caused Alternative Facts We are told that so-called “alternative facts” are a new threat to us as a society; to how we view and understand the world and how we make decisions about the world (policies etc). But I think the idea of an “alternative” fact is far older and, worse, rooted …

2014, Books, Non-Fiction

The Quest for a Moral Compass (2014) by Kenan Malik

I have been reading Malik’s blog for more than a few years at this point (I think), in part because I feel like he has much greater insight into the issues around jihadism than most of the people writing in North America (who I’ve had a chance to read). I find his approach not only …

1961, 2015, Theatre

The Physicists (1961) by Friedrich Durrenmatt, adapted by Michael Healy, live at the Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford, July 25, 2015

This is a play about the social responsibility of scientists posing as a murder mystery-cum comedy, set in an insane asylum. The play uses comedy and the teensiest bit of mystery to dilute it’s otherwise very heavy-handed message. The play itself is so prescient (and so relevant to our time) that I am shocked I …

Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society

The belief in Justice is probably the breeding ground for injustice

I have long identified myself as an atheist – even though I’m an agnostic – in religion, an existentialist in philosophy and “anti-apocalyptic” or “anti-ideological” person in politics (i.e. a pragmatist). I have long struggled with this last definition, not because I don’t know what I am – I know exactly what I am, politically …

Philosophy

The Poverty of Ideology

This article on libertarianism says pretty much what I was trying to say in my book, only more rigorously (and with zero sense of humour). However, I think the general point of this article – that something like libertarianism is empty theory ignorant of human behaviour and human history – is actually a point that …

2013, Books, Non-Fiction

The Book of Legendary Lands (2013) by Umberto Eco

This is a history of human beings’ invented worlds, not specifically from fiction but rather (mostly) worlds which human beings invented to explain the unknown parts of the earth, which exploration and science hadn’t yet revealed. The chapters cover worlds such as Atlantis, Shangri La, and numerous other fabled lands. Each chapter is further supported …

2012, Books, Non-Fiction, Philosophy, Science

On the origins of the universe

In the CS Monitor‘s book of review of Jim Holt’s Does the Universe Exist?, Troy Jollimore discusses the nature of the universe and the bizarre fact that most scientists and philosophers seem to assume that we have to prove how the universe appeared, as if what existed before the universe – if ever we can say something existed before the …

Philosophy, Society

A Few Thoughts on Suicide

I am well aware of the practical considerations regarding the legalization of assisted-suicide and I don’t intend to discuss that now. But thinking about it in terms of survival instead (or in some kind of utilitarian fashion), I think there is a practical case to be made in favour of legal suicide.

Personal, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society

Full Disclosure: Influences

Existentialism: Hannah Arendt William Barrett Albert Camus Fyodor Dostoevsky Karl Jaspers Friedrich Nietzsche Jose Ortega y Gasset   History: Niall Ferguson Leszek Kolakowski   Language: Northrop Frye   Liberalism: John Dewey John Stuart Mill Jose Ortega y Gasset Karl Popper Richard Rorty Judith Shklar   Libertarianism: (early) Friedrich Hayek Robert Nozick   Literature: Fyodor Dostoevsky …

Philosophy, Society

Why is metaphysics dangerous in the hands of those who govern us?

All people generally think alike and don’t think alike at the same time. We have some things in common and other things which aren’t in common. But the claim there is a class, a coherent, self-contained ruling elite, that is distinctly different from the average joe, has no basis in fact; its basis is in …

Philosophy, Society

What is reality?

Saying “reality is everything” is hardly helpful. In fact, it’s “obscurantist”: a position which, deliberately or not, actually lessens human knowledge. The reason for this is that in order to understand what you mean by reality is everything, we must first understand what you mean by “thing.” There’s no other option because “reality is everything” …

Philosophy, Politics, Society

Why is metaphysics dangerous in the hands of those who govern us?

Metaphysics, i.e the study of “things” outside of physical reality, is incredibly dangerous for politics. But first, why do we use metaphysics? For some reason or other, human beings need to use abstracts to express themselves. We cannot always refer our ideas to concrete things. There is a whole field of philosophy that studies this …

2010, Philosophy, Society

Why do you beleive that’s the only reality there is and why do you [think] that it is meaningless?

Dr. Johnson, when confronted with the argument that this reality isn’t the real one, said “I refute it thusly” and stubbed his toe (or was it that he banged his hand on the table?). This is enough for some of us. It isn’t enough for most. But all evidence (based on our own perceptions but …

Personal, Philosophy, Society

Philosophical Differences

I am finding more and more that I am across a huge philosophical gulf from many of my friends. I assume so many things about the world, assumptions which I of course regard as correct, that other people appear not to share. I feel like I need to come clean on my philosophy, or whatever …

Philosophy, Society

Popper and existentialism

It seems strange that Popper slags existentialism in Conjectures and Refutations because he seems sort of existential himself. He is fairly dismissive of “essentialism” and he is very much concerned with actual issues, as opposed to theoretical issues. His political ideas seem very existential, in that they are focused on actual institutions and actual people, rather than …

Philosophy

Reflections on the god thing

I’ve been trying to read up on chaos theory today, as I think there may be some sociopolitical implications that haven’t been addressed by most of what I’ve read for the book. The description of chaos I’m familiar with sounds an awful lot like life: minuscule changes in initial circumstances have a big effect on …