Leafing through this old A-to-Z of celebrities is like finding a Mad Magazine from the nineteenth century. The book’s lyrics and images wondrously lampoon the– mostly– old men of European civilization. Instead of being revered as timeless sages, they are brought low, returned to us as fallen flesh-and-blood creatures. Their everyday lives get the tabloid treatment. And, just like today, lust is the common sin that most often brings these high and mighty men crashing down to earth.
Various Thoughts on the Occasion of a Comet (1682), nominally dedicated towards taking down erroneous and popular opinions about comets, was a controversial bestseller, and a foundational work for the French Enlightenment. In it, Bayle launches a battery of arguments for the possibility of a virtuous atheist.
Stoicism. The principle that emotional and physical self-control leads to inner peace and strength, allowing one to live a happier life.
Do you think your individual or group identity is more important? Are you an individualist or collectivist?
Is literature wise? In the sense, does it help us to live? And if not, what exactly is it good for?
“Know Thyself. Delphic Oracle.” This famous call to the examined life that Socrates answered and passed on to the world is reprinted on the title page of The Rule of Life, a forgotten but extraordinary book published in 1834. The book reminds us that a genre of popular literature, collections of moral maxims, helped keep alive the Socratic tradition of the examined life.