In “How Philosophy Can Help Us Get Unstuck in Work and Life,” Jules Evans outlines seven pieces of practical advice from “one life-hack that a lot of entrepreneurs and business people have found useful” … ancient Greek philosophy and Stoicism in particular.
Are professional ethicists more moral than others? Apparently not. According to Eric Schwitzgebel, many professional ethicists tend to be “cheeseburger ethicists.” A cheeseburger ethicist is someone who reasons that it is morally wrong to eat meat and nevertheless enjoys a cheeseburger because everyone else does it. “In most cases, we already know what is good. No special effort or skill is required to figure that out. Much more interesting and practical is the question of how far short of the ideal we are comfortable being.” And professional ethicists seem more or less as comfortable as everyone else in falling short of their moral ideals. So … what is the point of philosophical reflection about how we ought to live? “Genuine philosophical thinking critiques its prior strictures, including even the assumption that we ought to be morally good. It damages almost as often as it aids, is free, wild and unpredictable, always breaks its harness. It will take you somewhere, up, down, sideways – you can’t know in advance. But you are responsible for trying to go in the right direction with it, and also for your failure when you don’t get there.”
Lee McIntyre says in “The Attack on Truth” that we have entered the age of willful ignorance. “There is simple ignorance and there is willful ignorance, which is simple ignorance coupled with the decision to remain ignorant.” And once you have chosen to remain ignorant, what does the truth matter? McIntyre explains how we got to this point and what we might be able to do about it. “Respecting truth is a choice.”
Why is the examined life worth living? In “The Whole Order,” Ed Lake suggests it has something to do with target “there’s something strange about being a minded being in a universe that seems mostly mindless.”
Disgust is often used to persuade. But are gut feelings a reliable guide to right and wrong? Carol Hays’ persuasive answer is that they are not. Reasons rather than emotions should guide our moral reasoning.
It’s no surprise that NPR’s new series on 50 great teachers begins with Socrates. So what is the Socratic method: “… just what good teaching looks like: an engaged, passionate teacher facilitating a critical dialogue and acting as a kind of intellectual coach. Not a teacher merely lecturing or teaching to a test.”
Dan Pashman humorously asks whether it is ethical to cherry-pick your favorite ingredient from a snack mix. Socrates, Hobbes, Kant, and Nietzsche weigh in.
Adam Kirsch uses Plato, Xenophon, and Aristophanes to “to triangulate the greatest man of antiquity — Socrates himself” … and also to reflect on how much we can know at all.
Confusion may be better for learning than clarity. Why do philosophers have to disagree with everything that anyone says? Whatever their motivation, one result is that the Socratic method of generating confusion is better for learning. As this article explains …
“Common wisdom holds that confusion should be avoided during learning and rapidly resolved if and when it arises,” wrote a team of researchers in a paper published earlier this year. While this might be true when it comes to superficial tasks such as memorizing facts and figures, “Confusion is likely to promote learning at deeper levels of comprehension under appropriate conditions.”
In other words: If teachers want students to learn the really important stuff, like comprehending difficult texts and modeling complex systems, they should put their students in confusing situations.