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:
Surprisingly, you may not be the best judge of your own emotions. It’s beginning to look like I have another (admittedly, self-appointed) job: to counter the opinions of new public philosophy columnist Agnes Callard, who has recently started writing for The point magazine. You may recall that last month I responded to Callard’s first column, where she was loudly wondering whether public philosophy is really a good thing. My short answer was a resounding yes. You can check the more nuanced version here.
Callard’s second column rails against what she calls “the emotion police.” As usual, she does have some good points, but I think her basic position is highly problematic, and has substantial (negative, if adopted) practical implications, so let’s take a closer look. (continue to read)
Television review: Netflix’s Roman Empire. A few weeks ago I published a reviewof a recent theatrical production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. And before that I wrote an essayon how Stoics approach entertainment. And here is my commentary on an ongoing television series on the Roman Empire produced by Netflix. What does any of this have to do with practical philosophy, the alleged theme of Figs in Winter? Well, seems to me that how to spend one’s leisure time is most certainly within the domain of practical concerns. And to approach it philosophically just means that you frame the issue in terms of reasoning about the value of your time, arguably the most precious thing you have. So here we go with my first review of a television series.
Roman Empire is produced by Netflix and available on its streaming service. It is an ongoing series, the first season having been released in 2016, the third one just a few weeks ago. The idea is to focus on specific moments of the history of ancient Rome by using a combination of acting and academic commentary. Much of each episode is taken by the unfolding story as interpreted by actors. However, we also get a peppering of short commentaries by a number of leading academics who help putting things in context. It’s an interesting formula, and it works pretty well, overall. (continue to read)