The Many Benefits of Youth Sports

Youth sports carry tremendous but largely untapped potential, especially in their ability to form exceptional character traits in children as they mature into adulthood. Ideally, these positive qualities will stay with them throughout their lives, making them better workers, better spouses, better parents, better citizens, and better human beings overall. Unfortunately, this understanding of sports as a means of character development is often overlooked – especially by egotistical parents and coaches – for the sake of more transient and superficial goals, such as winning athletic competitions at any cost. Winning is a wonderful thing, of course, but contrary to much popular opinion it should never be the sole or even the primary motive for becoming involved in athletics. This is especially true at the youth level. In what follows I will briefly articulate just a few of the many possible benefits I have in mind. My reflection on the topic[…]

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Philosophy as Personal Liberation and Social Transformation

Authentic philosophy has wisdom as its goal, and an essential component of wisdom is liberation. At some point in the life of a genuine philosopher, the dominant beliefs and values underlying their society are no longer accepted instinctively and uncritically. The social framework announces itself as a contingent, arbitrary, and often unjust arrangement of power and control. The contingency and injustice are initially concealed, of course, and the system is presented through various means (e.g. the educational system, religious institutions, etc.) as the exact opposite of what it actually is: a manifestation of eternal Truth and Justice. Seen in this light, genuine philosophers do in fact represent a legitimate threat to the established order. By questioning the underlying, taken-for-granted assumptions holding sway within a specific historical community, the entire socio-political edifice is called into question. These guiding assumptions were precisely what Socrates challenged in ancient Athens, and also why the[…]

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Epistocracy: Should “Experts” Rule?

What is an Epistocracy? Does it represent a viable or even preferable alternative to Democracy? In order to understand what it is we should begin by placing it within the context of an ongoing battle between two opposing forces around the globe: elites and populists. As populist candidates and issues have gained traction among the masses in recent years – most conspicuously with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump – a few elites have started to question the desirability of democracy, broadly conceived as the rule of the people, for the people, and by the people. As the name suggests, Epistocracy is the rule of the most knowledgeable (episteme = knowledge) members of society – so-called “experts” – over everyone else. It is seen by its advocates, admittedly only a small number at the moment, as being a superior form of government to Democracy, especially within a techno-scientific, bureaucratically-administered world[…]

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Improving Race Relations by Shifting the Narrative

Race relations around the world are worsening each day, and this trend must be reversed quickly if we are to avoid widespread violence and social disintegration in the near future. This is especially true within multiracial nations like the United States, and it’s imperative that we develop new tactics for alleviating racial antagonisms, posthaste. Since our political leaders seem either unwilling or unable to move our racially-diverse society in this direction, we must endeavor to do so – as with everything else – at the grassroots level. We must engage in this noble struggle until enough pressure is created from below to make them responsive to our most pressing need, which is to forge a compelling collective identity beyond material self-interest, racial identity, and the like. The goal of any new strategy must be to generate goodwill instead of enmity, and with that in mind certain tactics now employed –[…]

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Western Medicine and Mental Health

In today’s world, psychological ailments, especially anxiety and depression, are interpreted in highly negative ways. This is true among both mental health “experts” and the general public alike. They’re perceived as afflictions best avoided or, assuming they make an unfortunate appearance in our lives, to be rid of as quickly, as effortlessly, and as painlessly as possible. The “professional” approach to treating these psychological “disorders” typically involves some combination of counseling and medication – or even just medicine – the latter of which significantly alters the patient’s brain chemistry in ways that make them happier and more productive.. Pharmaceuticals aim to restore our ability to cope effectively in a stressful world, and can apparently be quite effective in that. But what if we’ve misinterpreted what these purported afflictions are communicating to us at a deep existential-ontological level? What if they potentially serve a positive role in our lives, disclosing certain things[…]

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The Human Spirit: Man Does Not Live By Bread Alone

Human beings can be viewed as a combination of matter and spirit. One of the most profound things about us is our willingness to risk our comfort, and even our lives if need be, for the sake of non-material ends. Our desires cannot be entirely reduced to natural desires and biological drives, as important as these are, and this transcendence beyond the material is something which distinguishes us from non-human animals. This aspect of our being is ambivalent, and is the source of both our potential greatness but also – depending on its scope and expression – of our depravity and inhumanity. In our world today this spiritual side of our being is denied altogether, or at least significantly neglected as we focus our attention and energies on the satisfaction of material desires. This hasn’t always been the case, however, nor need it be so for future generations. This ostensibly[…]

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Why Shaming Should Be Avoided

Is shaming an effective strategy? Does it assist us in our efforts to shape or influence the way others think and act? Many would answer in the affirmative and point to their own experience as parents, coaches, business managers or owners, etc. as proof of its efficacy. I discussed this topic recently with a seasoned corporate trainer who sincerely believes in its usefulness as a method of keeping employees in line. Not just one method among others, mind you, but the best and only truly effective one. The conversation quickly segued into the wider topic of whether this authoritarian business practice – specifically its purported “usefulness” – carries over into the realm of political discourse. “Don’t reason in good faith with those who disagree with you,” the trainer said with a smug sense of self-righteousness, “but humiliate them into submission.” This combative approach is something those of us who frequent[…]

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On the Ambiguities of Nationalism

Nationalism has come heavy attack in recent years, mainly through its associations with racism, xenophobia, and other illiberal things which run contrary to our modern multicultural value system. In its current “populist” form it represents a legitimate threat to the interests of wealthy and connected global elites, and they’ve come out hard against it. This is shown in the perpetual barrage of attacks by the “mainstream media” and “establishment politicians” on populist movements around the globe like Brexit, and especially on the the presidency of Donald Trump in the United States. And yet many of these same elites who so vigorously oppose nationalism now were its biggest champions not so long ago. This is particularly true in the United States. Both Republicans and Democrats alike made frequent emotional appeals to the American populace in support of an ambitious foreign agenda after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Our “freedom” and democracy[…]

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A Progressive Defense of Family Values

One of the more significant changes that has taken place in the Western world over the past fifty years concerns the breakdown of the family.This is a well-known story: marriage rates are down, divorce rates are up, average family size is down, etc. And while there are legitimate financial reasons to avoid starting a family these days – or for limiting the number of children within the household – shifting public opinion against marriage and children has doubtless contributed to this trend. Many people in our hyper-consumerist, career-oriented society view having children as a major burden, especially from a financial standpoint. This is obviously true. In addition to the major commitment of time and effort involved in being a parent, raising kids is expensive! Food, diapers, toys, daycare, and many other things can strain an already tight budget, and with mounting student loan debt, decreasing job prospects, and stagnant wages for[…]

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Anthropocentrism, Ecocentrism, Environmentalism

As anyone with rudimentary knowledge of the European intellectual tradition knows, the philosophy of Rene Descartes launched Western humanity on a path towards dualism and anthropocentrism. Through his work the locus of meaning, truth, and value shifted away from a transcendent source – previously Nature or God – and towards self-conscious subjects. This trend towards subjectivity reaches its apotheosis in Nietzsche, who famously declared the death of God and waxed enthusiastic about future human beings who would project value upon an otherwise harsh and meaningless universe. This form of anthropocentrism, also known as “subjectivist metaphysics,” is largely taken for granted these days, and this is especially true among educated people who associate religion and transcendence with the dangerous superstitions of benighted masses. It is somewhat curious to note, however, that this ascendancy in the estimation of humans as heroic value creators has coincided with a radically diminished conception of our position[…]

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