Recent essays, #14

Most of my original writings now appear over at Figs In Winter, my Patreon site devoted to practical philosophy. The most recent posts are behind a paywall (monthly subscription levels at $1, $3, and $5), but the majority of the material is free to read. Here are some of the most recent entries:

The differences among philosophy, rationality, and therapy. Stoicism is a philosophy, which means a general framework for navigating one’s life. It has a body of theory (e.g., the three disciplines) and a set of practices. Stoicism is just one particular philosophy of life, others include some of its Hellenistic competitors, such as Epicureanism, as well as bodies of ideas coming from outside the Western tradition, especially Buddhism. As Bill Irvine argues in his A Guide to the Stoic Life, the advantages of adopting or developing a more or less coherent philosophy of life is that one has always available a handy reminder of how to interpret things, what to prioritize, and how to behave. Not bad, if you ask me. (continue to read)

Misguided ideas in applied ethics: the neurophilosophy of moral intuitions.

Patricia Churchland is one of the most famous and controversial contemporary philosophers. She and her husband, Paul Churchland, have for decades now being pushing a notion in philosophy of mind known as “eliminativism.” Eliminativists claim that people’s common-sense understanding of the mind (to which they refer to as “folk psychology”) is false, and that moreover certain classes of mental states that most people believe in do not, in fact, exist. (Here is an in-depth treatment of the concept.) Eliminativists’ favorite analogy is with the shift from the geocentric to the heliocentric models in astronomy: in ancient times, people took the appearance that the Sun and the other celestial objects were rotating around the Earth at face value, but Science (note the capital “S”) dismantled that primitive notion and gave us the modern understanding of the world. (continue to read)

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Massimo

Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at platofootnote.org and howtobeastoic.org. He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.