Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Ayn Rand in the mind of an impressionable twenty-something

September 24th, 2014 Comments off

I went to see Atlas Shrugged Part III the night it opened. The evening led me to reflect on what had attracted me to Ayn Rand as a twenty-something graduate student in economics.

And let it be said: I was very attracted to her ideas. I appreciated how she dramatized the evils of a centrally planned economy. I was Ayn Randpersuaded by her depiction of the fast descent of economic control into a totalitarian state.

Most of all, I loved how she said it was ok to be selfish. There it is. The naked truth about the appeal of Ayn Rand. Selfishness and an irrational individualism continues to be a glaring weakness of much of the Right today.

But why exactly, was selfishness so appealing to my twenty-something self? Read more…

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What is good? What does “ought” mean?

Philosopher Thaddeus Kozinski takes up these questions in his very interesting article in today’s Public Discourse.  His bottom line: “am I saying that only an ethics rooted in the divinely revealed truth of creation-as-gift and creator-as-love can coherently and adequately make sense of the universal experience of ought? Indeed I am, though I think that purely philosophical explanations are similarly indispensable.” 

I’m just lifting elements of his argument. You should really read the whole thing. 

We all have had the experience of ought, of something that, at least in a subjective sense, renders our imminent action morally relevant, so that what we are about to do or not do is more than a mere question of what will be pleasing to us, socially beneficial, psychologically comfortable, or useful for some plan of action. … What seems right also seems good, and if it did not, it would not seem right; indeed, it could not be right at all. Thus, the good and the right seem correlative and inseparable in experience, though Read more…

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How to make a marriage last

May 1st, 2011 4 comments

I wanted to revisit the article on Hume’s defense of marriage.  There was some good stuff buried deep in the link:

Contrary to what some romantics may think, marital happiness and conjugal human love cannot be sustained by amorous or infatuating passions, Hume says, since they are by nature unstable and fleeting. “Amorous love,” he says, “is a restless and impatient passion, full of caprices and variations—arising in a moment from a feature, from an air, from nothing, and suddenly extinguishing after the same manner.” Whatever its value may be, no marriage can be sustained by it. Read more…

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The French Got It Right on Surrogacy

April 7th, 2011 37 comments

from Yahoo News:
France’s top court refused Wednesday to allow French citizenship for 10-year-old twin girls born to a surrogate mother in the United States, in a ruling that affirmed France’s legal ban on surrogacy.

In a case straddling international legal rights and bioethics, the Court of Cassation ruled a California county went too far by ruling that a French couple are legally the twins’ parents.

Keep reading…

“Surrogacy is also banned outright in most European countries, including Germany, Spain, Finland, Italy, and Switzerland. But the French have articulated the reasons for this rejection most eloquently”: Read more…

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Bored to Death

Bored to Death is the title of an article by philosophy professor Russell Snell. He talks about boredom as the “stance toward the world most evident in the historical and social space of contemporary Western life.” 

Many of us no longer find the world beautiful, or good, or of worth, and since the world and the things of the world are quite worthless in themselves, they bore us. Of course, since we too are inhabitants of this world without worth, we find almost no worth in other persons either, or in ourselves. At the same time, many find this boredom impossible to give up—we like this stance, we like the boredom—because the meaninglessness of the world allows us to treat it and others and ourselves exactly as we wish. We are free! Since the world, for us, does not have the weight of glory, we owe it nothing and can do with it precisely as we wish. But a culture of freedom without truth, a culture where freedom is unchecked by the good of being, ends up as a culture of death. Our bored culture is a culture actively engaging in a revolt against limits, place, order, and we are willing to harm and kill our world, each other—especially the weakest among us—and ourselves in a pique of freedom.

I would take it one step further: not only are we willing to harm and kill our world, and one another, we are willing to kill ourselves. I have often wondered whether the increase in suicide, especially among the young, is related to this theme. Nothing has any meaning, including our own existence.  We keep telling the young that nothing matters, and some of them are believing us…..

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Condemned to Joy

March 9th, 2011 57 comments

I write this post with trembling hands.  You see my recent post on a particularly execrable high school play has inspired a histrionic conniption over at Good As You.  There’s even a threat to report me to the Southern Poverty Law Center.  I quake to think of what they’ll do to me.

You see, Mr. Good as Me (he doesn’t say what he’s as good as me at doing, though) and I have a vastly different worldview.  My own worldview is derived from the ancient Jewish sources.  It is one that asserts that life has a higher purpose.  It looks at human life and human happiness in a vastly different way than modern people do.

I would presume that Mr. Good as Me looks at life in a more typically modern way.  Here’s an article that describes the viewpoint. Read more…

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Anencephalic Fetuses Are Subhuman “Par Excellence”

February 17th, 2011 5 comments

How many of you are long-in-the-tooth enough to remember when pro-‘choice’ folks ridiculed anyone who warned that legalizing abortion-on-demand would lead to things like euthanasia… and sex selective abortions… and aborting the handicapped… or euthanizing the handicapped?

Well this article, about “well-known Brazilian pro-abortion activist and anthropologist Debora Diniz” justifies all those fears, if you ask me.

Debora Diniz:
Subhumans are those whose lives are bound to ‘fail’—as Dworkin, a liberal American jurist who studies abortion, explains—or those for whom, to say the least, the concept of life is inadequate. Subhumans are extreme human otherness, those not expected by the miracle of procreation. Read more…

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Aristotle’s Ethos, Pathos, and Logos – in Which Do You Excel?

January 11th, 2011 34 comments

Ethos: the source’s credibility, the speaker’s/author’s authority
Logos: the logic used to support a claim (induction and deduction); can also be the facts and statistics used to help support the argument.
Pathos: the emotional or motivational appeals; vivid language, emotional language and numerous sensory details.

Located here.

A recent blog comment by “RuthRocks” triggered a memory from a speech class I took several years ago. The speech professor taught us about ethos, pathos, and logos, and that comment reminded me that pathos was my weakest of the three. Ruth Rock’s comment was clearly an appeal to pathos, and I thought it was an excellent appeal: Read more…

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More on the Incest Case

January 5th, 2011 Comments off

Matthew Franck writes today about how we have lost the moral vocabulary to even talk about what’s wrong with incest. 

natural hierarchies, duties, and trusts are shattered by incest, even between “consenting adults.” But the recent discussions of this matter reveal how decayed is our moral vocabulary for considering it, how nearly lost is any understanding that our various loves have their natures and purposes, which must be respected if those loves are to conduce to our happiness. Only such decay can account for the failure to grasp that a man cannot be a father to his lover, or a lover to his daughter…. Read more…

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Teaching our children about morality is not optional

Here is a thoughtful article by Friend of Ruth, Rev. Dr. Dale Kuehne. He starts with this example, to illustrate how morally unglued we are becoming:

I recently had a discussion with a Middle School student in which s/he shared that s/he was bi-sexual.

Having done a fair amount of research on sexual orientation, my reading of the scholarly literature tells me that a person won’t fully understand their sexual orientation until their late teens or early 20’s. Hence, I was surprised to hear such a discovery from someone of such a young age.

When I thanked the student for trusting me with such an intimate revelation, I asked how s/he had come to this self-understanding? Read more…

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