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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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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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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Freedom Understood Differently

At times, dominant forces in our world can seem so powerful, so oppressive, and so far beyond our control that we lose faith in our ability to act freely and affect significant change. We feel overwhelmed and impotent, and this being the case we may resign ourselves to lesser but more realistic goals like the satisfying our desires for food, sex, travel, and the like. Seeking out ever new and heightened stimuli at least temporarily can fend off the meaninglessness of living within a disenchanted, commercialized world. And yet we need not, and should not, allow ourselves to be overcome by external factors to such a degree that we slip into hedonism and escapism. There are plenty of things that we can do, even in this world, that will allow us to align our contrarian values with a way of living and being we find most congenial. This practical application[…]

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Creativity and Consciousness

Creativity and the Mystery of Being

The problem of creativity is one that is rarely addressed in philosophy, and yet it is one of the distinguishing factors between man, the other animals and any form of artificial intelligence (AI). At first glance, it has to do with something subjective, something that comes from within man’s own consciousness. It is easy to remark that in the absence of this subjectivity one simply cannot be creative. Animals and robots are capable of solving problems, if by solving problems we understand using one’s environment (or body) to fulfil a goal. But this is not creativity, but rather ingenuity. Creativity most fully reveals itself in art – and it is in art that man outshines all other creatures, as G.K. Chesterton remarked in The Everlasting Man. No animal species comes close to the artistic achievements of man – indeed in this case, a difference in kind, and not a difference in degree[…]

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