Category Archives: Philosophy Essays

Entering the Stoic World Pt. 2- Metaphysics

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Marcus Auerlius, Roman Emperor and Stoic

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)] Read the rest of this entry

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Entering the Stoic World Pt.1- Cynicism 2.0

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Epictetus on Stoicism's fundamental principle.

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.

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Encountering Henri Bortoft

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This UNESCO World Philosophy Day, 2013, I thought it would be good to look for thinkers who are under appreciated. The (recently) late Henri Bortort is, I suspect, such a thinker. He was a phenomenologist whose major contributions revolve around our approach to complex systems, phenomena which find significance in environmental science, linguistics, business, and digital technology, among other disciplines. (Please excuse the few grammatical errors- it’s a great piece from a fascinating blog.)

Transition Consciousness

Now that I am beginning to lecture and teach complexity, many people are asking me about who I teach, and what my key references are. This is quite a difficult question to answer on a number of levels, especially when you are trying to teach people that “thinking” is just one of the ways of knowing the world, and that “sensing”, “feeling” and “intuition” are just as important.

One very key person who I admire greatly and who I base much of my work around is that of Henri Bortoft, author of the book “The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe’s Way of Science”.  I remember reading this book for the first time around February 2009, in preparation for my MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College.  I had been recommended this book since Henri teaches the first week of the MSc, and Henri’s philosophy provides one of the foundation stones for…

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Can you kill a goat by staring at it? A critical look at minimally invasive education

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Happy World Philosophy Day!! Here’s an excellent piece on educational innovation and the need for philosophical skills to supplement e-learning. Click through to the site to read the whole article.

philosophyfoundation

In his renowned ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiments in developing countries, Dr Sugata Mitra gave children access to an internet-connected computer and left them to learn what they could, unsupervised, with apparently remarkable results.

Photo 1 (Hole in the Wall 1)

At an internet kiosk in a New Delhi slum, local children figured out how to search the Web, learned English, gleaned information from a variety of websites and taught each other what they had learned. Similarly, with access to a streetside computer in a south Indian village, Tamil-speaking kids managed to figure out basic principles of DNA replication by playing around with English-language web material on their own. ‘Minimally invasive education’ is how Dr Mitra describes this method, alluding to the high-impact, low-disruption techniques of minimally invasive medicine.

Photo 2 (Hole in the Wall 2)

Hole in the Wall: Minimally Invasive Learning Stations designed by Dr Sugata Mitra. Top photo: source unknown. Bottom photo by Philippe Tarbouriech, Jaipur, Rajasthan.

This novel educational approach has garnered…

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Star Wars and the Intersection of Game Play with Storytelling – Changing Our Collective Stories

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Another fascinating post, which again relates to more than just the transition towns movement and storytelling. (Click through to the site to view the article properly.)

Transition Consciousness

Maria and I finished our Star Wars marathon this weekend when we watched Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. In this episode we witness Anakin Skywalker’s conversion to the dark side, in order to save Padmé from dying, an event he foresaw in a vision.

Star Wars

On the Blu Ray release there were many great additional features on the bonus DVD, one being a recording of a preliminary meeting of George Lucas and his production team as they develop the series The Clone Wars. George Lucas re-acquaints his team with his vision of the force and his instruction is really worth exploring:

We have a destiny which we follow. We live for a reason, and must discover what it is.

The core of the force, you have the light side and the dark side. One side is self-less, the other is selfish. We want to keep them in balance. What happens…

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Virtual Insanity: Social Media with Jacques Lacan, Pt. 1

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This article originally appeared on The Partially Examined Life

I’ve been aware of Lacan through semiotics and literary criticism for several years, and over the past weeks I’ve found it impossible to develop my understanding of this aspect of his thought without also studying Lacan the psychoanalyst and philosopher of the self.i But what I want to do is simply to relate some of my own views on the digital phenomena of our age to some of Lacan’s ideas, as I (mis)understand them Read the rest of this entry

A slightly deeper look at Storytelling

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A fascinating post in relation to a number of different issues. (Click through to the site to view the article properly.)

Transition Consciousness

While doing my masters degree at Schumacher College, I took part in the Transition Towns movement in Totnes, and spent time with the Transition Tales team, a small and pioneering team who formed part of Transition Towns Totnes, the first Transition Town in the world. One of the aims of this project is to raise awareness within Primary and Secondary School children of the transition solution of community led response to the twin challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change by creating positive stories. This is done in partnership with local schools in the Totnes area, either as part of class time, or in after-school clubs.

I have written up the history of Transition Tales, how they formed, and how they worked with schools. You can read my essay here which was also published in the on-line journal Energy Bulletin.

Both Maria and I have a deep interest in education…

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