What is Philosophical Inquiry For? A Reconsideration

I have been a philosophical guide for about five years. I believe that a philosophical guide inquires with another human being about his life.

The question soon and often emerges: what is philosophical inquiring for? Initially (around 2011-12), I provided an answer that was too stringent: the aim of philosophical inquiry is to lead a radiant life. (See A Guidebook for Philosophical Life (2012)). A radiant person is someone who has the demeanor, I argued then, that is gentle and welcoming, such a demeanor arising out of his embodiment of a salient set of virtues manifested in beautiful expression. The answer is too stringent both because I had, with Plato, identified the best human life with the philosophical life and because I had taken up the overdemanding task of guiding each conversation partner toward radiance. To be sure, it seems reasonable to object that the most excellent human life needn’t be a the philosophical life (point conceded), and it seems outlandish to believe that those who come to inquire with me seek goodness elevated to the point of beauty (second point conceded). Excellent human lives can be lived in a variety of forms, though not in an infinite variety.

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Money Rules For Simple Living: A Very Brief Guide

Money Cares

You are someone for whom scarcity has loomed large. You may have accrued some debt over the years, some of it on your credit card, the rest used to pay for your college education. You may not have much money now, and you’re beginning to wonder whether struggling just to get by is what will always be in store for you. The future may not be looking gloomy, only exceptionally trying. Added to these worries is the fact that you fancy yourself a creative person, someone closely or loosely associated with the arts, someone who has lived quite unconventionally at that. This fact makes it even more difficult for you just to “take any job,” to “just grow up,” “to just be a sell out,” or to even be qualified to do the sort of work that is well-paid, though nauseating. For you, knowing what is enough remains as elusive today as it did some years ago.

Using Money Well

This 56-page book, Money Rules for Simple Living: A Very Brief Guide, is written with you in mind. What makes it a “very brief guide” is the tightness of its focus.

In it, I seek to ask and answer two basic, everyday questions about our relationship to money:

  1. How do we best consider what we should acquire?
  2. How do we use well the money we have?

4 Stages of Learning

I imagine that you the pupil are a young money practitioner who is setting out on the path to learn how to use money with proper care and ease. Accordingly, I outline four stages of learning how to become a “master” in the right use of money:

  • Grasping a fundamental set of rules associated with what is necessary, unnecessary, and superfluous.
  • Coming to an aesthetic appreciation of what you have.
  • Being properly generous when you have more than just enough.
  • Being magnanimous when you happen to have greater abundance.

12-Page Excerpt

You’re welcome to read the first 12 pages of the guide: Money Rules For Simple Living Excerpt.

$6 Money Rules

To receive your copy of the book, you can offer $6 via PayPal.

Expect to receive your copy the same or the following day. I hope this document helps you to come to a sense of ease about using well the money you have.

Contest 2: Charging. Toughness Training

I believe enduring something that threatens your life or what you care about is easier to do than charging into dangerous territory. This is why the first contest–the easiest–associated with learning toughness would withstanding. Will you withstand or will you cave in, give in?

Now we come to the second contest: charging. And the question is: how do you teach someone to charge, almost to the point of rashness or hot-heated boldness? What is puzzling about this particular “how you teach” question is that I’m a philosopher and philosophy, regardless of its background or commitments, takes place as one is stepping back and considering. A philosopher wanders, wonders, and considers, turning (as it were) the whole world over.

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Contest 1: Withstanding. Toughness Training

Suppose there were a first contest in toughness and it was called “withstanding” or “wise endurance.” A tough person is someone who withstands or wisely endures certain things. Forgo the puzzling matter of which things should be endured and which should not. (Here see Plato’s Laches.) Simply suppose that this is something that needs to be withstood or endured.

Then consider with me: what enables someone to endure what needs to be endured? Some answers seem question-begging: fortitude! But fortitude seems a bit like saying toughness, and my ear tells me that they are, at least in this case, one and the same. Other non-question-begging starting points: confidence, experience, and hope. Let’s have a look.

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The Logical Order of Contests of Toughness

Suppose you wanted to become tougher and suppose too that you believed that you could only do so by training. Suppose, thirdly, that such training would consist of “tests of characters”–events that, putting pressure on you, come your way and require your right response–and of contests. Not quite a game and not quite battle but resembling both in different respects, contests are such as to be sought out and engaged in.

Set aside tests of character for now. Contests would range from easier to harder. What would be the logical order of contests?

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