Here we are at the end of another year! In case you didn’t follow the blog over the whole year, here are some of the posts that I, personally, find the most insightful and inspiring.
Although Daily Philosophy has been going since October 2016, it’s only this year that I finally managed to work regularly on my articles. So sit down with a glass of wine (or juice), some light music in the background, and enjoy a relaxed hour of sharing some of the thoughts of the best minds from three millennia of philosophical history. Let’s go!
On September 19th, 2020, I started the new run with a topic that is very dear to me as a professional philosopher: freedom of speech. The article discusses the famous words of socialist reformer Rosa Luxemburg “Freedom is always the freedom to think otherwise.”
It will be no secret to the readers of this blog that I like Aristotle, so there were quite a number of posts over the past months that explored the ancient philosopher’s views on virtue, ethics, and happiness. Here are two examples:
Aristotle on moral development
For Aristotle, the moral development of a person progresses in three stages. From the child, which cannot resist temptation, through the intermediate stage of the grown up, who is tempted but resists temptation, to the final stage of the wise person, who is never even tempted and always, spontaneously, does the morally right thing.
Life Is a Skill
Aristotle on living a life well through exercising one’s virtues.
In my personal opinion, philosophy is most relevant when it allows us to use the wisdom of the past in order to understand the problems of today. Richard Taylor makes a case for more creativity in our lives:
Richard Taylor on the Creative Life
Richard Taylor (1919–2003) thought that it’s creativity that makes us feel happy and fulfilled. According to Taylor, a life lived without exercising one’s creativity is a wasted life.
And, similarly, Erich Fromm laments how the modern ways of industrial production have impoverished human experience. You can find our Ultimate Guide to the Philosophy of Erich Fromm here:
Another area in which the modern concept of progress is radically different from the past is our ability to separate the elements of complex systems from each other and to use them outside of their original context: the refining of sugar, the extraction of petroleum and our ability to have the pleasure of sex without the dangers of pregnancy are all instances of the same basic pattern:
St Augustine on the Function and Pleasure of Sex
For St Augustine, the pleasure inherent in any activity is good as long as the activity is performed because of its intended function. When we try to get the pleasure without the function of the activity, we are violating the order of nature and committing a sin.
In terms of applied ethics, we have talked about the ethics of whistleblowing, of eating meat, of social media, and whether it can be right to break the law. Here’s an example, and you can find the rest on the homepage:
Which Social Media Site Is the Most Ethical?
Social media affect our society in many ways. We consider issues of addiction, democracy, the decline of journalism, privacy, surveillance, and effects on friendships and user happiness. Taking the most obvious problems of social media into account, it seems that LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Pinterest are more ethical, on the whole, while Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are least ethical.
Finally, we have covered some of the classics of philosophy and related fields. One topic I particularly love is the Romantic movement at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, which can claim some of the brightest minds of history. We didn’t have too much time to get into these in the past year, but I will write more on them in the next! Here’s an example from the German philosopher Novalis:
Novalis and the Romantic View of the World
German Romantics, much like their English counterparts, valued spontaneity and naturalness, in part as a reaction to the beginning loss of the natural world due to industrialisation and urbanisation.
And with this we’re at the end of the past year!
But the most important thing is not the past but the future, and here is what’s coming up next year: our year-long experiment of _actually _living six different philosophies, each for the duration of two months. I’d be happy if as many readers as possible would participate in this! You don’t need to commit to anything, and you can just read along and decide, day for day, whether you want to take some of the advice offered by the day’s philosopher or not. It’s all free and voluntary. But, of course, the more you (privately) commit to following that program, the more benefit you are likely to get from it. Here are all the juicy details:
One Year, Six Ways: A Philosophical Experiment
Daily Philosophy has the idea for this year’s resolution: live your life like a philosopher. Six classic philosophies of life, each lived for two months, with multiple weekly emails to keep you informed, entertained and engaged on your journey. Come along to the One Year, Six Ways project!
Thanks for reading! I hope that you enjoyed this little retrospective, and even more, I hope that you will come along in the coming year!
See you in 2021! Happy New Year!