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Tag: philosophy

Review: Mark Johnson and George Lakoff’s “Philosophy in the Flesh”

In a recent discussion, a friend of mine identified a conspicuous lacuna in our cultural conversations about the human mind and technology. This lacuna, he said, arose from a tendency to treat the brain as a discrete, self-contained information-processing and experience-producing system. When we do this, it becomes easier (albeit still daunting), to imagine successfully [...]

Review: William Rawlins’s “Friendship Matters”

Late last year, I spent several months writing a series of essays on the nature of friendship. I wish I had read William Rawlins’s Friendship Matters before undertaking that process, but unfortunately I only discovered it after completing the essays. This dry but extremely thorough examination of friendship is an essential text for anyone who cares about [...]

Review: Albert Camus’s “The Plague”

Every great novel has a time, or times, when it is needed most. For Albert Camus’s The Plague, that time is now. As I write these words, 24,127 lives have been lost to SARS-CoV-2, and this is just the beginning. Locked in mortal combat with an enemy we will certainly vanquish––either by wit, endurance, or some combination [...]

Review: Ted Chiang’s “Exhalation”

Each story in Ted Chiang’s Exhalation feels whispered onto the page from a different dimension. In a voice both lyrical and mysterious, Chiang toys with classical philosophical questions and contemporary scientific problems, whipping up beautiful narrative blends that tease, inspire, baffle and delight. The main thing that makes this book stand out is the impressive number of [...]

Review: Richard Powers’s “The Overstory”

I grew up and still reside in Humboldt County, California. My body-mind came of age amidst giant Redwoods and Douglas Firs, many of which grace my family’s six-acre parcel. It’s no exaggeration to say that these majestic beings were my companions and castles, brimming with all the mysterious life-energy a boy’s imagination could ever need. [...]

Review: Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”

After a captivating but ultimately bitter encounter with Anna Karenina last year, I was worried that Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace would produce similar results. To my surprise and delight, however, War and Peace helped me finally understand why Tolstoy’s work occupies such an important position in literary history. Those determined enough to commit to this epic novel will discover a [...]

What is Friendship? Part Four and Conclusion

Note: This is the final section of a four-part essay. If you haven’t already done so, please begin with the Introduction and Part One. Part Four: Friendship is the crucible in which our global identity should be forged My ethical research and experience have taught me that good in the abstract is accessed most effectively [...]

What is Friendship? Part Three

Note: This is the third section of a four-part essay. If you haven’t already done so, please begin with the Introduction and Part One. Part Three: Friendships are the bedrock of social homeostasis Since the Enlightenment, we have seen a tectonic shift in the way humans understand our nature as social animals––including the relatively new idea [...]

What is Friendship? Part Two

Note: This is the second section of a four-part essay. If you haven’t already done so, please begin with the Introduction and Part One. Part Two: Friendships are a narrative resource In the spring of 2012, I was preparing to apply to graduate programs to pursue a doctorate in philosophy. My intended area of study [...]

What is Friendship? Introduction and Part One

Introduction: Why Friendship? I am entering the phase of life in which I am supposed to “put away childish things,” as the Biblical saying goes (1 Corinthians 13:11). I’m in my early thirties, I’ve got a wife, a home, a good job and a dog. What comes next? Have a kid or two, build up your career. [...]