Anxiety, Uncertainty, And Death

Kierkegaard offers us a brief, pithy, definition of anxiety:  What is anxiety? It is the next day. This pair of sentences is truly remarkable in capturing a central dimension of anxiety: it is our reaction to the ineluctable uncertainty present in our lives. As human beings, with our lack of divine omniscience, we do notContinue reading “Anxiety, Uncertainty, And Death”

The Indifferent ‘Pain Of The World’

In All the Pretty Horses (Vintage International, New York, 1993, pp. 256-257), Cormac McCarthy writes: He imagined the pain of the world to be like some formless parasitic being seeking out the warmth of human souls wherein to incubate and he thought he knew what made one liable to its visitations. What he had notContinue reading “The Indifferent ‘Pain Of The World’”

Subway Buskers And Life’s Soundtrack

This morning, as I alighted at a subway station, I was greeted by music and song and melody. A subway station busker–one of New York City’s most familiar residents and features–was holding forth with instrument and vocal chord; his chords and notes and full-throated voice floated up and around and over me as I madeContinue reading “Subway Buskers And Life’s Soundtrack”

A Thank-You Note This Philosophy Teacher Will Treasure

Teachers love thank-you notes from students; they, along with great classroom interactions with students, are easily the highlights of our careers. Here is one I received recently, which as a teacher of philosophy, I will particularly treasure–because it cuts to the heart of the enterprise I take myself to be engaged in. It comes fromContinue reading “A Thank-You Note This Philosophy Teacher Will Treasure”

‘Westworld’ And Our Constitutive Loneliness

The title sequence to HBO’s Westworld is visually and aurally beautiful, melancholic, and ultimately haunting: artifacts–whose artifice is clearly visible–take shape in front of us, manufactured and brought into being by sophisticated devices, presumably robotic ones just like them; their anatomies and shapes and forms and talents are human-like; and that is all we needContinue reading “‘Westworld’ And Our Constitutive Loneliness”

Nietzsche’s Six Methods For Combating Facebook Distraction

Nietzsche has something to say about everything. Including Facebook Distraction, an ‘impulse’ whose ‘vehemence’ we seek to combat, and for which he has found ‘not more than six essentially different methods.’ (‘The Dawn of Day‘, trans. JM Kennedy, Allen Unwin, 1924, Section 109)

The Comforts Of ‘Abide With Me’

Legend has it that Mohandas Gandhi adored Abide With Me, “a Christian hymn by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte most often sung to English composer William Henry Monk‘s…’Eventide‘.” I learned of this particular proclivity of the Mahatma long after I had first heard the hymn’s notes as a child attending or watching the Beating RetreatContinue reading “The Comforts Of ‘Abide With Me’”

Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Mountains Of The Mind

A few years ago, while visiting my brother in India, I browsed through his collection of mountaineering books (some of them purchased by me in the US and sent over to him.) In Robert MacFarlane‘s Mountains of the Mind: Adventures in Reaching the Summit, I found the following epigraph: O the mind, mind has mountains  –Continue reading “Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Mountains Of The Mind”

Jean-Paul Sartre On ‘An Odd Moment In The Afternoon’

In Jean-Paul Sartre‘s Nausea, Antoine Roquentin offers us a characteristically morose reflection about a very particular hour of the day: Three o’clock. Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do. An odd moment in the afternoon. Today it is intolerable. [New Directions edition, 2007; pp. 14] Monsieur Roquentin isContinue reading “Jean-Paul Sartre On ‘An Odd Moment In The Afternoon’”

Reflections On ‘Imagined Communities’ – I: Children And Humanity

In Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (Verso, New York, 2006, pp. 10-11), Benedict Anderson writes: [R]eligious thought also responds to obscure intimations of immortality, generally by transforming fatality into continuity (karma, original sin, etc.). In this way, it concerns itself with the links between the dead and yet unborn, the mystery ofContinue reading “Reflections On ‘Imagined Communities’ – I: Children And Humanity”