With the crucial UN Climate Conference taking place in Paris, 30 Nov–11 Dec 2015, it is fitting to look at some alternative ideas that have been published partly in an attempt to influence it. In a previous article I introduced Pope Francis’ environmentalist manifesto, Laudato si’, as a radical social justice document, and noted that recent papal writings have developed four concepts on debt, waste, ecology, and poverty. In that article I focused on Francis’ concept of ‘ecological debt’, so here I will overview the remaining three: ‘the culture of waste’, ‘integral ecology’, and ‘the earth as the poor’. Continue reading
Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and Stoic. I was not able to source this quote but it looks cool.
This article examines the metaphysics or philosophy of nature behind the Stoic views on community and detachment described in Part 1, and how this metaphysics changed in the later centuries of the school’s history. Before going into detail it will be helpful to contextualise the Stoics’ metaphysics within their broader tradition of philosophy. Despite preferring their porticoes to the horticultural environs of their Epicurean contemporaries, a popular Stoic metaphor depicts philosophy itself as a garden where:
“Logic is the walls, metaphysics the soil, and ethics the fruit”. [G. & S., (2012)] Continue reading
Epictetus on Stoicism’s fundamental principle.
This article of mine was written for The Partially Examined Life.
This week, Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th November 2015, is the fourth annual international Live Like A Stoic Week. The organisers, Stoicism Today, have provided lots of resources on mental exercises and principles of virtue to assist you in the endeavor, along with psychological reasons for aspiring to this practice in the modern world. So why I am here? To provide some less practical, historical and philosophical background to the deeply inspiring, pragmatic tradition of Stoicism. The Partially Examined Life’s recent podcast focused on the Enchiridion, the popular handbook from the later Roman Stoic Epictetus (55-135 CE). This was wise because about half of Epictetus’ work survives, whereas as they noted, sadly very little survives from the earlier Greek tradition.
This article of mine was originally published on The Partially Examined Life.
That the Pope cites experts rather than scientific research of his own does not nullify Rick Santorum’s embarrassment.
If you needed proof that Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on care for the environment, Laudato si’, was not only seminal but radical, it would be that it is now being published by Verso, a leading publisher of leftist continental philosophy. It is sad then, that rather than focusing on the ideas themselves, all of the attention being given to this event is to sensationalist reactions to the Pope among conservatives- not least of all when he visited the USA. Even the respected philosopher Robert P. George tried to downplay Francis’ ability to know that climate change is anthropogenic, presenting the consensus on the matter by 97% of scientists as if it were of equal weight to the opposite opinion. But as Francis says in the document, this consensus means that the burden of proof is on the proponents of a business as usual approach to demonstrate that it will not cause serious harms. (§186) In this piece I will engage with just a little of the criticism of Francis, as an aid to clarify the ideas as well as to examine their limitations. Continue reading
Increased support for a more representative electoral system is one of the reasons to be hopeful.
In the UK, us left-wingers were dealt a devastating blow last week with the election of a Conservative government for the next 5 years. The proverbial dust has settled, but is this little more than glitter on a turd? I hope not, and here are my reasons for being positive.
In the UK’s upcoming 2015 general election, many people seem tempted to vote for Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party (an anti-Europe, anti-immigration party), seeing it as a fresh change from the tired old politics of the main parties. Here are some rather quick, but no less damning thoughts as to why that’s a terrible idea. Continue reading
This month we saw a Democratic President of the United States seek an audience with the Pope, likely with the hopes he could regain his tarnished progressive image by having some of the Bishop of Rome’s credentials rub off on him. And if nothing else, this unusual state of affairs goes to show that the music of Prince, who, two decades ago sang “You can be the president, I’d rather be the Pope” is as relevant as ever.i
The following is an article I co-wrote with Sean Oakley; the original version appears in the American magazine The Daily Confidential.
By last month Pope Francis, or Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was a year in to his tenure as leader of the oldest and largest religious organisation on the planet. Bergoglio, formerly the archbishop of Buenos Aires, had taken charge of a church whose members believe him to be the final authority on all holy matters. And judging by recent media reaction it seems that some in the secular world are beginning to think the same. Continue reading
The following is a guest post from Toby Coe.
In Book Two of The Politics we witness the exciting clash of two conflicting political ideologies, Aristotle’s politics being primarily based on pragmatic concerns; whilst Plato’s state is founded on more idealised principles. In this essay we shall examine Aristotle’s critique of Plato’s utopia and whether these criticisms are valid, concluding that Aristotle’s criticisms of Plato are broadly successful, because they expose Plato’s conception of happiness as false.
Aristotle has two main complaints concerning Plato’s state:
1) The practice of wives and children being held in common is both impractical and wrong.
2) Communism among the guardians will be inimical to their happiness and bad for the state. Continue reading