November 28, 2022
Should Buddhists Be Social Activists?
Buddhism is widely admired in the West for its commitments to progressive social activism. But is this really in the spirit of true Buddhism? (more...)
November 12, 2022
Books that Lead You to Philosophy
Karl Popper: The Open Society and Its Enemies
What are the books that brought us to philosophy? For John Shand, philosophy professor at the Open University, it was Karl Popper’s “The Open Society and Its Enemies” (more...)
October 7, 2022
A Short History of Happiness
From Eudaimonia to Gross National Happiness
The pursuit of happiness has always been one of the main driving forces of human lives. This article recounts the amazing history of the concept of happiness, from ancient times to today, from Eudaimonia to Gross National Happiness. (more...)
September 19, 2022
The Homeric Poems First of All
The poems of Homer, the Ilias and the Odyssey, mark the proper start of Greek civilization and can be seen as what shaped Greek identity, argues ancient philosophy Professsor Livio Rossetti. (more...)
August 26, 2022
Kant’s Categories and the Stevenson Screen
One way of thinking about and getting an understanding of Kant’s Categories is to draw an analogy with the Stevenson Screen. This article sheds light on what Kant’s Categories are and how they function in our understanding of the world. (more...)
May 19, 2022
Epicurus: A Guide to the Principal Doctrines
Text, commentary and study guide
The Principal Doctrines is the main work of Epicurus on happiness. This article presents the original text with explanations and discussion questions. It also includes tips for organising an Epicurus reading group or book club. (more...)
April 22, 2022
Shénnóng and the Agriculturalist School
According to Shénnóng, rulers had a limited number of very simple functions, mainly concerning agriculture. A ruler should teach people agricultural arts, inspect their fields, and keep a grain store. (more...)
In Praise of Pyrrhonian Scepticism
Radical scepticism has a good claim to be both the longest lasting tradition in philosophy and the consistently least popular. There’s a lot to be said for it. (more...)
Plato and the Ancient Politics of Wine (2)
Part B. The Test of the Wine
Plato’s use of drunkenness, mainly in the Symposium but also in the Phaedrus, is a metaphor designed to defend Socrates’ philosophical inspiration. (more...)
Plato and the Ancient Politics of Wine
Part A. The Philosopher’s Drunken Vision
We discuss Plato’s description of Socrates’ philosophical inspiration as “drunkenness” and/or Dionysian mania; Plato’s metaphor draws on earlier Greek poetry. (more...)
The Wisdom of the Dao
Main themes in the Dao De Jing
The Dao De Jing is often not so different from other philosophies of its time. Acting according to nature, virtue as a skill, and the Daoist praise of humility are reminiscent of similar passages in the works of Stoics, Epicureans and Aristotle. (more...)
Dao De Jing: A Hermit’s Manual
Daoism and the hermit life
The Dao De Jing, one of the main books of Daoism, has always appealed to hermits. In this article, we look at it through a hermit’s eyes. (more...)
Dao De Jing
The Taoist book of the Way
The Dao De Jing, literally “The Classic of the Way and the Virtue,” is traditionally attributed to an author known only as Lao Zi, which means “Old Master.” (more...)
Why We Should Read Descartes
The overall aim of Descartes’ philosophy is to found science on a secure and absolutely certain footing. Without that anything built by science would be open to doubt following from the weakness of its foundation. (more...)
What Are Friends For?
Epicurus on Friendship
Epicurus’ view on the value of friends has often been romanticised and equally often misunderstood. Here, we discuss Epicurus’ philosophy of friendship. (more...)
Reading Epicurus: Pleasure and pain
Is happiness only the absence of pain?
For Epicurus, pleasure is nothing but the absence of pain. Pain can further be subdivided into pain of the body and trouble in the soul. (more...)
Are some desires better than others?
Epicurus on what is natural and what is vain
Epicurus believed that the most reliable way to be happy is to reduce one’s desires until it’s easy to satisfy them. He distinguishes three types of desires: natural and necessary, natural and unnecessary and vain. (more...)
The Artificial Man in Ancient Myth
The story of our fascination with our own image
The “artificial man” is not a new concept. Today, we call them robots, but many cultures have a myth about the creation of man and often it is a god who, through the use of divine powers, makes man out of some inanimate material. (more...)
The Conquest of Happiness and Why It Matters Today
Bertrand Russell on how to be happy
Bertrand Russell’s book ‘The Conquest of Happiness’ (1930) attempts to analyse the conditions for happiness in our modern world, focusing on the different mindsets of the unhappy and the happy person. (more...)
Plato and Christianity
Perfection, theosophy and organic hand-creams
Plato’s ideas about the eternal world of perfect Forms provided a template upon which Christian philosophers could build their vision of the eternal, transcendent realm of God. (more...)
The Paradoxes of Zeno of Elea
Does an arrow really fly?
Zeno of Elea (490-430 BC) is famous for his paradoxes that seem to prove, among other points, that no movement is possible. If an arrow in flight is standing still whenever we take a photograph of it, when is it actually moving? (more...)
Novalis and the Romantic View of the World
From the Romantics to modern science
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. (more...)
How Can We Define Love?
How is love different from liking or friendship?
Love is characterised by: 1. Exclusivity; 2. Constancy; 3. Reciprocity; 4. Uniqueness; and 5. Irrepleaceability of the beloved. (more...)
Hannah Arendt on work and being human
Labour, work and action
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) distinguishes three types of work; Labor, work, and action. (more...)
What Is a Stoic Person?
Learning to control one’s mind
A Stoic is an adherent of Stoicism, an ancient Greek and Roman philosophy of life. Stoics thought that, in order to be happy, we must learn to distinguish between what we can control and what we cannot. (more...)
Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love
What is love made of?
Robert Sternberg thinks that we can best describe love as composed of three “primary” components that combine to produce all the kinds of love that we observe around us: intimacy, passion and decision or commitment. (more...)
Confucius on Loyalty and Betrayal
Would you send your father to prison?
For Confucius, one’s personal loyalties to family, friends, co-workers and superiors are more important than the rules of some abstract ethical theory. (more...)
Kant on Autonomy and Human Rights
Are humans meant to be free?
The theory of evolution changed our understanding of our own humanity, but overlooks that we are able to act against our instincts and to be truly free. (more...)
Love is All Around
Eryximachos’ views in Plato’s Symposion
In Plato’s Symposion, the doctor Eryximachos says that love is the harmony of opposites. This resonates with beliefs in the traditional medicine of many cultures, as well as with our concept of a “balanced” person. (more...)