Are human rights natural—or a social construct?

Either way, universal human rights are essential for human flourishing. The Declaration of Independence says “all men are created equal”—“endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”—because of “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Trees exist whether human societies exist or not. But money doesn’t exist outside of human societies. Money is aContinue reading “Are human rights natural—or a social construct?”

Fearing change: Marcus Aurelius

Life is change. From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Frightened of change? What can exist without it? What’s closer to nature’s heart? Can you eat food without transforming it? (7.18) There is nothing bad in undergoing change — or good in emerging from it (4.42). What follows is always in affinity with what went before. Not aContinue reading “Fearing change: Marcus Aurelius”

Does goodness really exist?

It’s a question of faith. What is “the good”? We’ve debated this question since ancient times. More to the point, is goodness objective? That is, does goodness go beyond personal opinion? The morass of opinion If goodness is subjective then it’s relative. There would be contradictory notions of goodness, negating the existence of goodness asContinue reading “Does goodness really exist?”

Anger: Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism is not about repressing emotions — it’s about not allowing emotion to override reason. But emotions such as anger and fear most easily override reason. From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Why feel anger at the world? It’s not like the world would notice (7.38). When you lose your temper, or even feel irritated, remember thatContinue reading “Anger: Marcus Aurelius”

A Mani-Cure

Sometimes a guy needs to have his nails done. I’m obsessed with filing my fingernails’ sharp corners. I even buy sandpaper sticks. It’s all because I broke my wrist six years ago this month. Breaking a wrist doesn’t hurt as much as you might think. It didn’t hurt at all until later that night. ClumsyContinue reading “A Mani-Cure”

Jordan Peterson, and straw men for everyone

First published in October 2018 Peterson should be met with critical, but intellectually honest, thought rather than adulation. People can’t stop talking about psychology professor and intellectual dark web thinker Jordan Peterson. Charismatic personalities are emotionally compelling, for better or for worse. But I have mixed feelings about him.  I agree with Jordan Peterson’s basic psychologicalContinue reading “Jordan Peterson, and straw men for everyone”

Of Crackers & Yankees

We’re not so different. New Englanders think Southerns are all the same. And Southerns think Yankees are all the same. So I guess we’re even. Or maybe we’re more alike than we think. I’m a Maine Yankee, even though I don’t sound like one. People are skeptical when I say I’m from coastal Maine. NoContinue reading “Of Crackers & Yankees”

Calmer than you are

There’s a scene from The Big Lebowski where the Dude is upset, and hotheaded Walter brags, “Calmer than you are.” But we all know that Walter is faking it. What does it really mean to not worry about things that are not up to us? I just completed a cross-country move to be closer to family.Continue reading “Calmer than you are”

Stoic Buddhism? Or Buddhist Stoicism? Or neither?

Stoicism and Buddhism have many similarities, but significant differences as well. What follows is my attempt to modify Stoicism with aspects of Buddhism. I also modify aspects of Stoicism I don’t fully agree with, such as describing a spectrum rather than a dichotomy of control, and saying that things that are not up to us (externals)Continue reading “Stoic Buddhism? Or Buddhist Stoicism? Or neither?”

Outrage: Passion as a disease of the mind

What Stoicism says about resisting manipulation. Resisting cultural forces requires constant effort. The unending stream of media and entertainment is background noise that influences us more than we’re aware of or care to admit. And as Russ Roberts points out on his Econtalk podcast, the internet age enables us to customize our newsfeeds to amplifyContinue reading “Outrage: Passion as a disease of the mind”