In an excerpt from his new book The Comfort Crisis, journalist Michael Easter travels to Bhutan to learn about how confronting death head-on can lead to a more fulfilled life by Michael Easter In his new book, The Comfort Crisis, Michael Easter investigates the connection between modern comforts and conveniences and some of our most pressing problems, like heart disease, diabetes, depression, and a sense of purposelessness. Turns out, engaging with a handful of evolutionary discomforts can dramatically improve our mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. One of those fruitful discomforts? Thinking about dying. Death has always been the most uncomfortable … Continue reading The Secret to Happiness? Thinking About Death.
From monks to existentialists and hipsters, the search for a true self has been a centuries-long project. Should we give it up? by Alexander Stern is a writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the LA Review of Books, among others. Edited by Sam Dresser ‘Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.’ This popular quip, often misattributed to Oscar Wilde, appears without any apparent irony in self-help books and blog posts celebrating authenticity. Understandably, they take the dictum to ‘be oneself’ as a worthy, nearly unassailable goal. Our culture is saturated with authenticity: we’re forever ‘finding ourselves’, … Continue reading Authenticity is a sham
Gazing at a painting feels like an almost magical encounter with another mind but what real effects does art have on us? Ellen Winner is professor of psychology at Boston College and senior research associate at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her most recent book is How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration (2018). Edited by Nigel Warburton Scenario 1: suppose you’ve been gazing intensely at Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait (1659), which hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and later you’re told that this was actually a painting made by a deep-learning machine that had internalised Rembrandt’s style through exposure to his … Continue reading Changed by art
Overcoming the last great obstacle to awakening: the conceit of self By Christina Feldman When news of the impending death of a beloved and esteemed teacher swept through the village, well-wishers gathered to pay their last respects and honor him. Standing around the master’s bedside, one by one they sang his praises and extolled his virtues as he listened and smiled weakly. “Such kindness you have shown us,” said one devotee. Another extolled his depth of knowledge, another lamented that never again would they find a teacher with such eloquence. The tributes to his wisdom, compassion, and nobility continued until the … Continue reading Long Journey to a Bow
by Gary Z McGee, Self-inflicted Philosophy Waking Times “Someone once asked me, “What’s at the core of every human being? ‘Bullshit,’ I replied.” ~Gary John Bishop We are all full of shit to some degree or another. Knowing it sets us free. But why stop there? Sometimes, awareness isn’t enough. There must be action. Rather than wallow in the muck and mire of our bullshit, why not attempt to be become less full of shit? Rather than be driven by the bullshit of your past, why not allow yourself to be pulled up by the bullhorns of the future? You just need … Continue reading HOW TO BE LESS FULL OF SH!T
If philosophers and mathematicians struggle with probability, can gamblers really hope to grasp their losing game? by Catalin Barboianu is a gaming mathematician, philosopher of science, and problem-gambling researcher. Among his books for the general public are eight books on mathematics of gambling and What Is Mathematics: School Guide to Conceptual Understanding of Mathematics (2021). Edited by Sally Davies Amathematician, a philosopher and a gambler walk into a bar. As the barman pulls each of them a beer, he decides to stir up a bit of trouble. He pulls a die from his pocket and rolls it ostentatiously on the bar counter: it … Continue reading Mathematics for gamblers
When we face suffering, we have the choice to focus on the love we see as much as the pain. By Ayesha Ali Last June, 60 percent of respondents in a USA TODAY poll characterized George Floyd’s death as murder. As of March 2, that number has since dropped to 36 percent. The poll also found that 4 percent of respondents in June were unable to describe his death; now, 17 percent are undecided. I did not expect this. Yet I carry within me a deep knowing of this country and its history, so I cannot hold surprise. Instead, I feel the burden of … Continue reading The Burden of Awareness
Scientists believe they have the answer, but philosophers prove them wrong. by Alex Berezow Science is based on the correspondence theory of truth, which claims that truth corresponds with facts and reality. Various philosophers have put forth substantive challenges to the truth claims made by science. While science is the best tool to understand the material universe, it has nothing substantive to say about the things that matter most, like love, beauty, and purpose. In the Gospel According to John, the author retells a conversation between Jesus of Nazareth, who is on trial, and Pontius Pilate, the governor of the … Continue reading The hardest question ever asked: What is truth?
The fall of the Roman Empire wasn’t a tragedy for civilisation. It was a lucky break for humanity as a whole Walter Scheidel is Dickason Professor in the Humanities, professor of Classics and history, and a Catherine R Kennedy and Daniel L Grossman fellow in human biology, all at Stanford University in California… Edited by Sam Dresser For an empire that collapsed more than 1,500 years ago, ancient Rome maintains a powerful presence. About 1 billion people speak languages derived from Latin; Roman law shapes modern norms; and Roman architecture has been widely imitated. Christianity, which the empire embraced in its sunset years, remains the … Continue reading The road from Rome
by Gary Z McGee, Self-inflicted Philosophy Waking Times “Remember: you are master of your own destiny, digger of your own rut. Destiny can be altered. Ruts are filled all the time. If you lay in yours too long, someone will bury you in it.” ~Pat Mestern Fortitude. Backbone. Gumption. Grit. Mettle. All too often our abundant privilege and soothing creature comforts rob us of these vital aspects of character. We grow soft, weighed down by extreme convenience, uncontrolled contentedness, and a cultural conditioning that brainwashes us into believing that maintaining the comfort zone is the be-all-end-all. As a culture, courage is … Continue reading HONEY VERSUS BLOOD – THE BATTLE BETWEEN COMFORT AND COURAGE