Category Archives: philosophy

how to think about other people’s interests: Rawls, Buddhism, and empathy

Facebook18 Twitter1 Google+0Total: 19Last week, my colleague Erin Kelly and I taught excerpts from John Rawls’ Theory of Justice along with Emily McRae’s chapter, “Empathy, Compassion, and ‘Exchanging Self and Other’ in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism,” from the Routledge Handbook of Philosophy … Continue reading

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conservatism as gratitude or humility?

Facebook6 Twitter2 Google+0Total: 8(DCA) Yuval Levin offers this definition (h/t Robert Pondiscio): To my mind, conservatism is gratitude. Conservatives tend to begin from gratitude for what is good and what works in our society and then strive to build on … Continue reading

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“Empathy” is a new word. Do we need it?

Facebook4 Twitter1 Google+0Total: 5According to the OED, “empathy” entered the English language in 1895 to mean “a physiological brain-function”–specifically, “a form of psychophysical energy” in the nervous system–that correlated with a feeling. This meaning is now obsolete, because the underlying … Continue reading

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Habermas, illustrated

Facebook13 Twitter1 Google+0Total: 14I’ve categorized a bunch of recent tweets by putting them in Jürgen Habermas’ three buckets: In the first column, the tweets are literally legible–I can read them–but I don’t know much about their significance. That is because they … Continue reading

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avoiding a sharp distinction between the state and the private sphere

Facebook11 Twitter1 Google+0Total: 12Several political theories and ideologies are invested in distinguishing the state from the private sector (which may encompass the market, families and civil society): For libertarians, the state bears the badge of original sin because it alone … Continue reading

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to what extent do you already know the story of your life?

Facebook7 Twitter1 Google+0Total: 8If people were asked this question on a survey, I think the variations in responses would be significant and useful to know: In general, people would give lower scores as they got older, but not always. The … Continue reading

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was Aristotle right about what we must know to be good citizens?

Facebook12 Twitter1 Google+0Total: 13Let’s posit that a good citizen should be able to a) form ideas about what would improve her community or society, b) understand how decisions about such matters are actually made and who has power to make … Continue reading

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defining equity and equality

Facebook17 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 17You can find authoritative explanations of the differences between “equity” and “equality,” but I think the definitions of these words vary, and there is no objectively correct distinction. However, we can generalize a bit. To say that … Continue reading

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V.S. Naipaul’s view of culture

Facebook7 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 7I read a lot of Naipaul in my youth and see value in his work. But Ian Buruma’s obituary profile reminds me of the main way in which I disagreed with him. Naipaul believed there were “whole … Continue reading

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postmodernism and Trump

Facebook14 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 14In the Washington Post, Colby College English professor Aaron Hanlon argues that postmodernist theorists didn’t inspire or prepare the way for Donald Trump and other politicians who openly disparage truth. Rather, postmodernists lamented a world in which … Continue reading

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