What We Talk About

We talk about a life lived most intensely.

The Meaning of Life

The question concerning the meaning of life is the most burning question of human existence. To discover “what makes all this worth it” is philosophy’s most pressing task. It is about what is of the greatest possible value, something we want to be in touch with. We ask,

  • What is it that is higher, more supreme, more valuable than human survival?
  • What are you willing to live and die for?

Alienation and Nihilism

Two problems characteristic of modern life are those of alienation and nihilism. We think that we don’t belong to the social world, that we’re not a part of nature, or that we’re not connected to anything sacred. Without a home, a standing, or a place in things, we could draw the nihilistic conclusion that there’s no point to things. Instead, we inquire:

  • Why do I feel called to examine my life when I say that ‘It’s all for nothing’ or ‘There’s really no point’?
  •  Why do I feel estranged from my peers, my colleagues, my family as if I were a stranger?
  • Could recalling vivid experiences in which I’ve felt at one with things illuminate my relationship with the natural world?
  • Even if I don’t believe in a God who stands behind the world, is there room nonetheless for feeling that my life ‘leans on’ something beyond my individual experience?

Virtues

Virtue is doing the right thing for the right reason in the right way. Being a virtuous person is not the result of a single act; it is the description of a disposition that has become second nature. The most important virtue for our time is courage. We ask:

  •  How do I learn to be virtuous: brave, generous, perceptive, and discerning?
  • How do I cultivate toughness?
  • What roles do virtue play in facing up to myself (self-examination), in speaking well (eloquence), and in acting rightly in the face of fear (toughness)?
  • What roles do virtue play in facing up to myself (self-examination), in speaking well (eloquence), and in acting rightly in the face of fear (toughness)?

Goodness and Beauty

In the modern world, goodness and beauty have been unnecessarily hemmed in: goodness becoming attached to a small set of actions, beauty to a small number of the things we perceive. But many of us have had more expansive experiences with what is worthwhile, admirable, valuable, and higher (the good) as well as with the way a dancer moves (gracefully), how we stop and look (unhurriedly), in what manner a day unfolds (gloriously). To re-connect goodness with beauty, we ask:

  • Can I understand a good human life in terms broader than those of responsibility, productivity, obligation, and consequences?
  • What role could my love of art or natural beauty play in helping me to live a more excellent human life?
  • What is the relationship between performing a good action and cultivating a good character?
  • Is beauty only the realm of mere physical appearances and, if not, why does it attract me so?
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