There is a phrase you are as likely to find in a serious philosophy text as you are in the wackiest self-help book: ‘Know thyself!’ The phrase has serious philosophical pedigree: by Socrates’ time, it was more or less received wisdom (apparently chiselled into the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi) though a form of the phrase reaches back to Ancient Egypt. And ever since, the majority of philosophers have had something to say about it.
We all know the most famous bit of ancient advice inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi: Know thyself. It’s a powerful and daunting recommendation. If you take it seriously, you will begin to push through all of the misconceptions you have, not only about yourself but about human beings generally. You will begin to think deeply about who you really are and who you ought to be.
Have we become unreasonable? In democracies around the world, anxious commentators exhort their fellow citizens to be more open-minded, more willing to engage in good-faith debate. In our era of hyperpolarization, social-media echo chambers and populist demagogues, many have turned to civility as the missing ingredient in our public life.
Does Rilke fly in the face of our modern conceptions of marriage as an ever approximating intimacy, in which both sides ideally grow closer together, eventually merging into one?
This slightly repetitive but fascinating New York Times op-ed piece (“Wittgenstein’s Confession”) takes us into a real-life dilemma of one of the 20th century’s most influential philosophers—Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951).
For ‘reason is the god in us’ [some poets say] and ‘Mortal life contains a portion of some god.’ We ought, therefore, either to pursue philosophy or to say farewell to life and depart hence.
Logic and ethics are fundamentally the same, they are no more than duty to oneself.
Our bloody nature, it can now be argued in the context of modern biology, is ingrained because group-versus-group was a principal driving force that made us what we are. In prehistory, group selection lifted hominids to heights of solidarity, to genius, to enterprise. And to fear.