Recent essays, #42

Most of my original writings now appear over at Patreon and Medium. Many are free, but the recent ones are behind a paywall (monthly subscription at $3 for Patreon, $5 for Medium, but the latter comes with access to additional authors as well). Here are some of the most recent entries:

“Why do I need a philosophy of life?” Let me tell you

Recently I had a very enjoyable video conversation with my friend John Horgan, an author and Scientific American contributor. The wide-ranging chat was on science, philosophy, and Stoicism. All in about one hour and 13 minutes…

At the end of the session, off the record, John commented on the whole concept of having or adopting a philosophy of life, concluding: “Why do I need a philosophy of life? I don’t like systems, I prefer to go with the flow.” So this is my answer to John and to all those who prefer to “go with the flow.”

In a recent book I co-edited with Skye Cleary and Dan Kaufman, How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy, we define a philosophy of life (or religion, which we take to be a special case) as a system of thought based on the following two elements…

(continue reading on Patreon, Medium)

“I don’t read biased news.” Yes you do, because there is no other kind. And that’s okay

A close relative of mine and I have been having discussions about the Democratic Presidential Primaries of late. She and I both subscribe — generally speaking — to a liberal-progressive view of politics, though of course we disagree in specific instances. One such disagreement emerged recently, after the Sanders-Warren dustup about whether Bernie Sanders did or did not say to Elizabeth Warren (in a private conversation) that he thinks a woman is unelectable in 2020.

I absolutely do not wish to revisit that discussion here. That’s not the point of this post. My concern is much broader than that, and it encompasses nothing else than our very ability to engage in meaningful, rational, evidence-based conversations as a society. Without that ability, seems to me, we are doomed. So this is somewhat important.

But my conversation with my relative furnishes a good example of what I’m concerned with. At some point I sent her an article that I thought contained both pertinent factual information and a reasonable analysis of the episode, asking her to read it and let me know what she thought. To my surprise, she rejected my suggestion on the ground that “I don’t read biased news.” That led to an interesting discussion of what, exactly, constitutes “bias.”

(continue reading on Patreon, Medium)

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

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