Cultivating virtue helps us to live well, and within reason. But how are we to understand the kind of guardrails reason provides? Why suppose that reason can govern action and emotion in the way that modern Aristotelian theorists of virtue seem to suggest that it can? After all, there is an impressive body of empirical research suggesting that people frequently fail to live up to their own ideals. In this blog, Professor Candace Vogler writes about reason, virtue, and living wisely.Read More
December 22nd, 2020
May 11th, 2020
I was just listening to Bravado, one of Rush’s greatest songs. On their 1998 album Different Stages, it really stood out to me (and the mead probably helped!). I wanted to juxtapose the lyrics to it with some thoughts I have. Maybe listen to it live on Youtube or something, it’s quite a piece. Very aspirational and inspiring. The first two lines feature the pithy line, flying too close to the sun.
It is an amazing song about willingness to risk, courage, vision, sacrifice, dedication, love, sorrow, and meaning.
It has me staring out the window, eyes welled up with tears.Read More
April 26th, 2020
My father was a brilliant surgery resident at the famed Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA when he was oh, probably, 27 years old. He ended up specializing in and completing another residency in family practice (long story!) by the time he was 31, or thereabouts. Coming from relative poverty, a loveless and sometimes-physically-abusive home, and facing anti-Semitism growing up in the 1950s, I remember him telling me “I went off to college at age 18 with only a suit.” As in, no money, no furniture, no books, no nothing. My father busted his butt and was an admired and even loved physician in the rough part of L.A. when I was growing up. He was asked to be the head of four Kaiser Permanente when he was, oh, about 40. Instead, he opted to remain at Kaiser-Montebello and be the Physician-in-Charge at that clinic. Mort Merchey spoke Spanish with probably 50 percent of his patients—who always remembered him generously during the Christmas holidays. As if that weren’t enough, he also was a Captain in the Reserve Corps of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, a huge organization. My pop knew how to shoot his Magnum .357 as well as any uniformed deputy could. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he did pretty darned well, considering where he came from. He makes me look like a slacker in comparison, that’s for sure! He was smart, good-looking, funny, amiable, and competent. Driven to school in his true-blue Mercedes convertible in the mornings, needless to say, I had the greatest respect for my dad’s professional and educational achievement.
This story does not, however, have a happy ending, exactly. My dad suffered greatly in retirement. This happens with many people, perhaps especially those who are like him.
October 15th, 2019
I was watching the fabulous sequel to the enthralling series “Breaking Bad”, the movie El Camino today. A wonderful script, unparalleled performances. It, plus a few other factors, have me thinking that perhaps my best bet is simply to play defense; keep the status quo; satisfice instead of constantly striving to win; put simply: “Don’t Be a Loser”.Read More
September 17th, 2019
Most of us are obese, smoke, drink to excess, don’t have $10,000 in our bank accounts. Cancer and autism are grave threats. Heart attacks, car accidents, and opioid addiction/overdoses plague us. Stress-related illness plagues us. Like our arteries, we don’t have the flexibility and resilience to absorb many more problems. Indeed, “The Doomsday Clock” now indicates we are two minutes to midnight. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists call this state of dysfunction and dystopia “the new normal.” I don’t think Obama wrought the decay and dismay we see reflected on CNN and Fox, but nevertheless we are mired in it. It sometimes seems all-consuming. I reject the materialism, speed, unfulfillment, anxiety, and restlessness that plagues me. I don’t want to be Type A; I don’t want to die of a stress-related illness; I don’t want to see another child in a border detention camp. I want to make the most of the time I have left. I wish for peace and prosperity, health and well-being, relationships and charity, joy and security to be my goals, and it probably involves realigning my life to be less tuned in to social media, news, and money. This blog is about a modern urge to, as Timothy Leary put it, “turn on, tune in, and drop out.”Read More
July 4th, 2019
“Immanuel Kant defined enlightenment as the human being’s emancipation from ‘self-incurred minority’. Minority is defined as a condition in which one’s understanding is used only under the authority and direction of another, and minority is self-incurred when it is due not to the immaturity or impairment of the understanding, but because it refuses to trust itself and prefers the comfort and security of tutelage to the risks and responsibilities of thinking for oneself” ~ Allen Wood. This quote is about willingness to risk. That is, when not taken to extremes, one of the values of the wise. This blog explores exploration – of the literal and the metaphoric types.Read More
March 25th, 2019
Inspiration, motivation, meaning, fulfillment – the stuff we would buy if it were for sale. Even though pharmaceuticals, sporting events, books, massage, sex, make-up, children, and virtual reality video games are indeed for sale, inspiration is not really able to be purchased directly. You have to grow it in the garden of your mind & soul. Mark S. Albion offers some sage advice: “There is a big difference between more sales or money and more happiness or fulfillment. The kind of growth that seems the most important to people is the kind of growth you can’t count.” Read on to find out more about how inspiration can be understood and ideally, found.Read More
February 25th, 2019
Some people don’t get much joy or fulfillment from reading quotes. I don’t really understand those individuals. Quotations on values, virtues, and phenomena such as strength, love, creativity, honor, passion, humor and fulfillment seem so, well, valuable to me. I think life would be sorely lacking in flavor if we lived in a black and white world of monotonous labor, the quest for survival, and being caught up in the consumerist desire to keep up and own more. I have smiled many times in my day, and felt temporarily lifted and a part of things when I read something someone wrote that reminds me of thoughts and feelings I have within, that moves me, that enlightens me. Such is the wisdom of reading quotations on values.Read More
October 16th, 2018
Epicurus put forth an argument centuries ago that still retains much appeal and boasts some notable adherents (e.g., Rosenbaum, 1986). His thesis was that the actual occurrence of death (as distinguished from any possible afterlife or the act of dying) was not a bad thing, and ought not to be feared or be a source of great anxiety. He did admit that “being alive is generally good.” The context of this notable Greek thinker was primarily a response to the theistic imaginings of the day that predicted very unfortunate occurrences in the “afterlife.” Epicurus believed that no post-mortem experience was likely, and that we never really know death because where we are, it isn’t, and where it is, we aren’t. It’s logically sound. What follows is a summary of some philosophical points of view about death.Read More
September 27th, 2018
Aristotle’s landmark work, The Nicomachean Ethics, puts forth many prescriptions and claims about how to live the right kind of life, what to value, and how human beings ought to ideally act. Especially considering the incredible age of the work, it has to go down as one of the most influential pieces of writing byRead More