History

  • A Declaration

    When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the ...

  • African Art in Western Museums: It’s Patrimony not Heritage

    Museums with colonial-era collections have always known about the brutal parts of their biographies. But, through acts of purification via historical distance, they have chosen to ignore them. Museum directors now have to re-think their position as defenders of their collections in light of a different political agenda that locates people and their patrimony in ...

  • American Hegemony

    Author of Blowback, The Sorrows Of Empire, and Nemesis: The Last Days Of The American Empire, Chalmers Johnson has literally written the book on the concept of American Hegemony. A former naval officer and consultant of the C.I.A., he now serves as professor Emeritus at UC San Diego. As co-founder and President of the Japan ...

  • Atheism has been Part of Many Asian Traditions for Millennia

    To many, atheism – the lack of belief in a personal god or gods – may appear an entirely modern concept. After all, it would seem that it is religious traditions that have dominated the world since the beginning of recorded history. As a scholar of Asian religions, however, I’m often struck by the prevalence ...

  • Between Gods and Animals: Becoming Human in the Gilgamesh Epic

    The Epic of Gilgamesh is a Babylonian poem composed in ancient Iraq, millennia before Homer. It tells the story of Gilgamesh, king of the city of Uruk. To curb his restless and destructive energy, the gods create a friend for him, Enkidu, who grows up among the animals of the steppe. When Gilgamesh hears about ...

  • Biblical Prophecy

    In a chapter entitled “The Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament Fulfilled in Jesus Christ,” Josh McDowell lists a grand total of 61 Old Testament prophecies he claims were fulfilled in the life of Jesus. The first great problem with accepting these as valid proof is that there is no extra-biblical source of validation. True, ...

  • Civil Disobedience

    I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe–“That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be ...

  • Civil Liberties Organizations Launch Protests Against CISPA

    On January 17, some of the most popular websites locked their doors, blacking out for hours at a time to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, a Congressional bill that would have censored certain websites if they were found to host pirated content. Three months later, the Internet is at war with Congress again, this time over the ...

  • Constitutional Idolatry?

    The question Whether one generation of men has a right to bind another, seems never to have been started either on this or our side of the water. Yet it is a question of such consequences as not only to merit decision, but place also, among the fundamental principles of every government. The course of ...

  • Domestic Drones

    Congress is finally standing up to President Barack Obama on targeted killing. Almost a year after three American citizens were killed in US drone strikes, legislators are pushing the administration to explain why it believes it’s legal to kill American terror suspects overseas.

  • Don’t let the rise of Europe steal World History

    The centre of a map tells you much, as does the choice where to begin a story, or a history. Arab geographers used to place the Caspian Sea at the centre of world maps. On a medieval Turkish map, one that transfixed me long ago, we find the city of Balasaghun at the heart of ...

  • Emil Cioran

    Over this past Easter weekend, a good friend of mine happened to mention an obscure philosopher that he had recently stumbled upon. After a bit of research, I’ve found this philosopher to be a man after my own heart. This philosopher’s name is Emil Cioran and he had some interesting things to say about existence. ...

  • Full Sail Graduates

    The 2010 Spike TV Video Game Awards paid tribute to the year’s outstanding achievements in the industry for games, designers, music, animation, and more. Full Sail University graduates put their marks on the evening as 33 graduates were credited on 8 winning projects, including Game of the Year winner Red Dead Redemption.

    Worked on by 14 Full ...

  • Great Doubt, Great Death, Great Awakening

    The Kyoto School (京都学派 Kyōto-gakuha?) is the name given to the Japanese philosophical movement centered at Kyoto University that assimilated western philosophy and religious ideas and used them to reformulate religious and moral insights unique to the East Asian cultural tradition.” However, it is also used to describe several postwar scholars from various disciplines who have taught at ...

  • How Al-Farabi drew on Plato to argue for censorship in Islam

    You might not be familiar with the name Al-Farabi, a 10th-century thinker from Baghdad, but you know his work, or at least its results. Al-Farabi was, by all accounts, a man of steadfast Sufi persuasion and unvaryingly simple tastes. As a labourer in a Damascus vineyard before settling in Baghdad, he favoured a frugal diet ...

  • How Camus and Sartre Split Up Over the Question of How to be Free

    Sartre, the existentialist, who said that humans are condemned to be free, was also Sartre, the Marxist, who thought that history does not allow much space for true freedom in the existential sense.

  • Interview with Simone de Beauvoir (1959)

    Simone de Beauvoir was a French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist. Though she did not consider herself a philosopher, she had a significant influence on both feminist existentialism and feminist theory.

  • Lost in Translation

    It would surely be a category error to assume that the story of Christ’s overthrow of death and sin cannot express a truth that transcends the historical and cultural conditions in which it was first told. But, before we decide anything at all about that story, we must first recover it from the very different ...

  • Mad Men

    REDWOOD CITY, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apr. 4, 2012– Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) today announced a collaboration with consumer products giant Unilever to feature a variety of its most popular consumer brands in EA games. The agreement will first feature a variety of Unilever products in The Sims Social™, each integrated in a unique way to enhance players’ in-game experience ...

  • Man’s Search for Meaning

    “A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth—that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.”

  • Meister Eckhart

    Education and culture were the two driving forces behind European urban development in the 13th and 14th centuries. Among the mendicant orders that had settled in the cities were the Dominicans (ordo fratrum praedicatorum), dedicated to promoting in their teaching, way of life, and preaching the ideal of man’s self-discovery—self-cultivation—as a singular cultural value. The ...

  • Muhammad: an Anticlerical Hero of the European Enlightenment

    Publishing the Quran and making it available in translation was a dangerous enterprise in the 16th century, apt to confuse or seduce the faithful Christian. This, at least, was the opinion of the Protestant city councillors of Basel in 1542, when they briefly jailed a local printer for planning to publish a Latin translation of ...

  • New York State Celebrates First Same-sex Marriages

    NEW YORK/NIAGARA FALLS, New York (Reuters) – Wedding fever hit New York on Sunday, as hundreds of gay and lesbian couples lined up to be married on the first day that same-sex marriage was legal in the state.

    In western New York, two grandmothers became the state’s first legally wed same-sex couple, one month after Governor ...

  • On Mythology

    Campbell’s concept of monomyth (one myth) refers to the theory that sees all mythic narratives as variations of a single great story. The theory is based on the observation that a common pattern exists beneath the narrative elements of most great myths, regardless of their origin or time of creation.

  • On the Origin of Inequality

    Discourse on the Origin and the Foundations of Inequality Among Men

    By Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  • Open Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein

    I am not your subject. I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant. I am the flesh and blood of America.

    I am the man who fought for my country. I am the man who learned. I am an ...

  • Past Tense

    A compendium of quotes from various authors with some of my own ideas interspersed throughout.

  • Patriocracy

    Americans are polarized and angry. In the crossfire, the loudest voices drown out reason and facts with fear and anxiety. Patriocracy explores the extreme polarization in America that cripples the country from tackling its most serious problems. Whether it’s the national debt, healthcare reform, the war on terror or illegal immigration, Americans are shouting at each other ...

  • Philosophers in the Midst of History

    This excellent series by Professor Gregory B. Sadler helps put some major thinkers in the Western tradition into historical context. Context is key when attempting to properly interpret a writer’s intentions, motives, influences, and thought processes.

  • Philosophy Primary Sources

    Some primary sources from the history of philosophy. This was the first of two posts that inspired what is now the Bookshelf.

  • Philosophy Primary Sources II

    This post will serve as Part II of Philosophy Primary Sources and a supplement to Primary Sources & Encyclopedias (check out the Links section for even more research sources). There are certain books that are essential to an education about the human condition of which I believe should be available for free and with easy access ...

  • Plutonomy and the Precariat

    We’re really regressing back to the dark ages. It’s not a joke. And if that’s happening in the most powerful, richest country in history, then this catastrophe isn’t going to be averted — and in a generation or two, everything else we’re talking about won’t matter. Something has to be done about it very ...

  • Postmodernism in Ancient Greece

    Antilogic involves the assignment to any argument of a counterargument that negates it, with the implication that both argument and counterargument are equally true.

  • Power and Terror

    Whether Noam Chomsky, the MIT linguist and political philosopher, is the most important intellectual alive, as the New York Times once famously called him, is open for debate. But without a doubt, Chomsky, now 73, is one of the most straight-talking and committed dissidents of our time. A steadfast critic of United States foreign policy ...

  • Pragmatism & Postmodernism

    What is it for something to be true? One might think that the answer is obvious. A true belief gets reality right: our words correspond to objects and relations in the world. But making sense of that idea involves one in ever more difficult workarounds to intractable problems.

  • Primary Sources & Encyclopedias

    Links for research purposes

  • Recreational Mary Jane Proposals Pass

    Should marijuana be treated like alcohol? Or should it remain in the same legal category as heroin and the most dangerous drugs? Votes this week by Colorado and Washington to allow adult marijuana possession have prompted what could be a turning point in the nation’s conflicted and confusing war on drugs.

  • Requiem for the American Dream

    Requiem for the American Dream is the definitive discourse with Noam Chomsky, widely regarded as the most important intellectual alive, on the defining characteristic of our time – the deliberate concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few. Through interviews filmed over four years, Chomsky unpacks the principles that have brought us ...

  • Revolution on the Horizon?

    Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, ...

  • Schopenhauer

    A key focus of Schopenhauer was his investigation of individual motivation. Before Schopenhauer, Hegel had popularized the concept of Zeitgeist, the idea that society consisted of a collective consciousness that moved in a distinct direction, dictating the actions of its members. Schopenhauer, a reader of both Kant and Hegel, criticized their logical optimism and the belief that individual ...

  • Secessio Plebis

    Secessio plebis (withdrawal of the commoners, or Secession of the Plebs) was an informal exercise of power by Rome’s plebeian citizens, similar to a general strike taken to the extreme. During a secessio plebis, the plebs would simply abandon the city en masse and leave the patrician order to themselves.

  • Self-Transcendence

    Buddhism begins with a man. In his later years, when India was afire with his message and kings themselves were bowing before him, people came to him even as they were to come to Jesus asking what he was. How many people have provoked this question – not “Who are you?” with respect to name, ...

  • Should contemporary philosophers read Ockham? Or: what did history ever do for us?

    If you are a historian of philosophy, you’ve probably encountered the question whether the stuff you’re working on is of any interest today. It’s the kind of question that awakens all the different souls in your breast at once. Your more enthusiastic self might think, “yes, totally”, while your methodological soul might shout, “anachronism ahead!” ...

  • Silence

    As nihilism encroaches upon the West and the death of God is both celebrated and denied, Silence offers a unique and insightful perspective on religion and the faithful.

  • Some More Early American Documents

    Federalist Papers vs. Anti-Federalist Papers

  • The Absurd

    My contention has been that death and the certain prospect of death make an absurdity out of life. But, argues Albert Camus, even if we humans were immortal, this would make life no less absurd.

  • The Empathetic Humanities have much to teach our Adversarial Culture

    Certainly, reading isn’t a zero-sum game. One can and should cultivate multiple modes of interpretation. Yet the nostrum that the humanities teach ‘critical thinking and reading skills’ obscures the profound differences in how adversarial and empathetic disciplines engage with written works – and how they teach us to respond to other human beings. If the ...

  • The Four Horsemen

    This little chat, a casual yet intellectually stimulating discussion between four brilliant minds was so excellent that I felt the need to share it. Many topics are discussed spanning science, religion, psychology and sociology. The way they interact with each other with sincerity, empathy and humility and a sense of fellowship is hard to come ...

  • The Hidden World of Immanuel Kant

    A Philosophy Now podcast.

  • The Kyoto School’s Takeover of Hegel

    Suares’s first book-length publication on philosophy fills a conspicuous lacuna of scholarship on the complex relationship between Hegel and the philosophers of the Kyoto School. The uptake of Hegel’s thought in Japan has been addressed by scholars in articles, book chapters, or in passing within the context of other subjects; but given the pervasive influence ...

  • The Map of Philosophy

    This video is such an excellent and comprehensive introduction to the various areas of philosophical interest. The narrator explains the intricate relations that each area has with the others. Also included in each section of the video are links to more videos about each specific subject. Carneades.org really did a great job creating this. They ...

  • The Problem of Atheism

    A crisis is taking place in the contemporary world in a variety of forms, cutting across the realms of culture, ethics, politics, and so forth. At the ground of these problems is that fact that the essence of being human has turned into a question mark for humanity itself. This means that a crisis has ...

  • The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories

    The Bible is a series of books written, edited and assembled over thousands of years. It contains the most influential stories of mankind. Knowledge of those stories is essential to a deep understanding of Western culture, which is in turn vital to proper psychological health (as human beings are cultural animals) and societal stability. These ...

  • The Second Sex

    The Second Sex is a 1949 book by the French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir, in which the author discusses the treatment of women throughout history. Beauvoir asks “What is woman?” She argues that man is considered the default, while woman is considered the “Other”. According to Beauvoir, two factors explain the evolution of women’s condition: participation in production ...

  • The Self-Overcoming of Nihilism

    The summaries of the relation to nihilism of Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Feuerbach, and Stirner, a nearly forgotten figure in intellectual history, are all perspicacious. Even the chapters on Nietzsche, about whom volumes are written these days, provide new insights. The brief section on the problem of nihilism for Japan is unprecedented in the English literature, ...

  • The Teaching of Buddha

    The Teaching of Buddha is a collection of writings on the essence of Buddhism, selected and edited from the vast Buddhist canon, presented in a concise, easy-to-read, and nonsectarian format. It also includes a brief history of Buddhism, a listing of the source texts, a glossary of Sanskrit terms, and an index.

  • There is Nothing New Under the Sun

    The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains for ever. The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries ...

  • Was the Real Socrates more Worldly and Amorous than We Knew?

    Socrates is widely considered to be the founding figure of Western philosophy – a thinker whose ideas, transmitted by the extensive writings of his devoted follower Plato, have shaped thinking for more than 2,000 years. ‘For better or worse,’ wrote the Classical scholar Diskin Clay in Platonic Questions (2000), ‘Plato’s Socrates is our Socrates.’ The ...

  • What did Max Weber mean by the ‘Spirit’ of Capitalism?

    The proliferation of knowledge and reflection on knowledge had made it impossible for any one person to know and survey it all. In a world which could not be grasped as a whole, and where there were no universally shared values, most people clung to the particular niche to which they were most committed: their ...

  • What Einstein Meant by ‘God Does Not Play Dice’

    ‘The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secret of the Old One,’ wrote Albert Einstein in December 1926. ‘I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.’

    Einstein was responding to a letter from the German physicist Max Born. The heart of the new theory of quantum ...

  • What is Christianity?

    The problems with interpreting the scriptures too literally are exemplified. Anybody that seriously calls herself a Christian should examine the things discussed here. Sapere aude!

  • Why Amartya Sen Remains the Century’s Great Critic of Capitalism

    Every major work on material inequality in the 21st century owes a debt to Sen. But his own writings treat material inequality as though the moral frameworks and social relationships that mediate economic exchanges matter. Famine is the nadir of material deprivation. But it seldom occurs – Sen argues – for lack of food. To ...

  • Why Our Declining Biblical Literacy Matters

    Biblical literacy is likely lower in Australia today than at any point since the convict era. General levels of familiarity with the Christian scriptures are difficult to plot precisely, but studies of Bible reading habits, and data on various forms of Christian socialisation, indicate a significant decline in Australians’ exposure to the Bible over the ...