My Big Think Interview: What makes for an excellent human life?

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Here’s an except from an Big Think interview with me:

Is that an intellectual pursuit or an experiential one? For example, should we be juxtaposing philosophy and meditation?

I think that philosophy begins with a convulsive experience; experience that shakes you out of your own certainties, out of your way of being in the world. Philosophy comes to the scene to illuminate that convulsive experience, it is not a merely intellectual affair. It’s rather what I would call existential. Let’s take death for example. Death can be considered abstractly and theoretically alone but that is not interesting or philosophical. Death can also be just considered deeply personally, but that’s not quite enough either. Philosophy occurs at the very moment when I am gripped personally, emotionally, by something but I can also grasp that it transcends me.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

My Latest Quartz at Work Piece: Our Time Famine

The article begins as follows:

There’s just not enough time. You’re busy, hurried, harassed by What’s Next and by What Else. As you struggle to keep up, you vacillate between subscribing to more life hacking and throwing your hands up when faced with what you ironically call “the futility of life.” The nervous laughter you expend when you hear such a grand expression come out of your mouth does little to alleviate the burden you so achingly carry.

Sometimes you dream of getting off this treadmill of tasks, but you fear that, if you did, you’d be passed by and summarily forgotten.

Welcome to our “time famine.”

Time is, in our modern society, a scarcity, a “precious resource,” and the unspoken enemy that must be subdued. But this was not always so. At other moments in history, time was abundant. So what changed? How did time turn against us?

You can read the rest of the piece here.

The idea that Everyone Should Have a Job is so Common we Forget to Question it

My latest piece for Quartz at Work begins this way:

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “We must create full employment or we must create [basic, guaranteed] incomes.” More than 40 years later, we talk a lot about the last half of that statement: Technology entrepreneurs like Y Combinator’s Sam Altman and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes have campaigned for universal basic income (UBI)—the idea that everyone should receive a regular, unconditional, government-issued stipend that would be sufficient to cover one’s material needs—to the point at which it’s become a trendy topic.

There is much less talk about the philosophical underpinnings of King’s other idea—“full employment.”

This view that every able-bodied and able-minded adult should have—and, what’s more, should want to have—a job has become so widespread that it is almost invisible. In our work-obsessed society, most people would say that of course everyone should have a job….

But the claim, I believe, warrants just as much debate as UBI.

After we decouple the claim that “having a job” is an unalloyed good from the desires to survive, to leave some traces on the world, and to make a reasonable contribution to the lives of others, we might see that having a job is at least a sacrifice, if not a Faustian bargain.

You can read the piece in its entirety here.