Feb 022014

The philosophy I love is that of articulated wonder. (Not incidentally, I also find this the character of my favorite science.) Not wonder simply. No. There’s a reason that Dante’s Paradiso is so flipping hard to read. Page after page extolling wonder without the challenge of trying to understand is uninviting, uninspiring, even just plain boring. (Sorry Dante and any of your Dante lovers.) I like Plato and Socrates for this reason. Socrates is often tremendously annoying, but, if you read Plato’s dialogues with just the smallest smidgen of generosity, you see Socrates’ aggression and condescension has its home in articulated wonder — trying to sort something out but always remembering that the sorting out doesn’t come to an end. Those that focus on wondering itself too much or too long tend toward unripened mysticism or soggy sentimentalism. Those that focus too much on the articulation confuse clarity with certainty and construction with understanding. I might call the first group the theological philosophers and the second group the sciencey scientists.
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Dec 082011

Bad Faith WaiterThis Philosophy Bites episode focuses on concisely focuses on a key practical implication of Sartre’s picture of the self as a fiction as described on our episode: bad faith, which is a matter of identifying one’s free consciousness as that fiction, or more precisely, denying that the self is a fiction, that we each have a fixed nature that constrains our future choices.

Sebastian Gardner gives some of the examples of bad faith from Being and Nothingness (which has a chapter toward its beginning called “Bad Faith”), leading up to Sartre’s claim that human nature is paradoxical: we both are and are not defined by our past behavior and characteristics.

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