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Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • Rediscovering Plato’s Vision Sep 26, 2017 - This piece is published in the new issue of Philosophy Now. It’s a frustrating time to be a fan of Plato. Public intellectuals routinely misrepresent him, and it’s hard to find courses that can unveil the richness of insight and meaning which the best thinkers of twenty-three centuries, from Plotinus to Iris Murdoch, have discerned in his dialogues. Take one
  • Zhuangzi – prophet of the Axial Age Sep 17, 2017 - How can the Daoist, Zhuangzi, be understood in relation to what is known by historians of ideas as the Axial Age - or, as I think it is more accurately put, the Axial shifts that can be observed as part of civilizational development? The notion was formulated by Karl Jaspers. He discussed how many cultures have come to recognise key
  • The Sufi imagination Aug 27, 2017 - I was recently part of a group reading the Sufi mystic, Ibn 'Arabi. I got particularly interested in the role of the imagination in his perception of the Way, the imagination being the place where physical reality meets spiritual reality. Here are a few thoughts on what I gathered about how to discern the imagination. "There never is any false
  • Stoicism and meditation Aug 17, 2017 - Two new articles that may be of interest: Stoics and Christians: a common intuition - published in the Church Times. "Ancient and modern Stoics alike say that, if you do take notice of such feelings, you are less likely to be thrown about by them. An inner space opens up that, over time, leads to a sense of stability and
  • Christianity and psychotherapy Aug 14, 2017 - My contribution to the blogs at think tank, Theos, looking at mental health. Jesus was a master of the inner life. He taught in parables so as to initiate transformations of perspective (Mark 4:11; Matthew 13:13). He reformed the notion of the Kingdom of God, turning an expected social eruption into a discovery "within you" (Luke 17:20-21). The fullest realisation
  • Gene-editing technology Aug 8, 2017 - This piece was written for The Idler. There's a new vision of the apocalypse, a calamity that could undo us all. It's not about bombs. It is about terrorists. It could run out of control before climate change. Its source is a biotechnology called CRISPR - pronounced "crisper", as if a supermarket snack. But truly: we should fear it. My
  • Speaking of the devil Jul 7, 2017 - This piece was written for The Idler. Exorcisms are "booming", apparently . The reputable think tank, Theos, has examined the intersection between Christianity and mental health. It reports that attempts to cast out demons in churches have reached "astonishing" levels. The UK is in the grip of a "burgeoning exorcism scene". Now, I know what you're thinking. Isn't demonology supposed
  • Belief in angels Jun 20, 2017 - Rupert Shedrake and I have published the latest in our Science Set Free podcasts, discussing belief in angels. Recent studies suggest that a third of people in the UK believe in guardian angels, and nearly three quarters of Americans believe in such celestial beings. So what is angel belief a belief in? We explore the modern sense of angelic presences
  • Politics is driven by feelings Jun 15, 2017 - This piece was written for The Idler. Theresa May has survived the after-blasts of her radioactive campaign like a political cockroach. Jeremy Corbyn has apparently brought back socialism from the dead like a red phoenix. We're told that everything has changed. We're back to the old days. There's one party on the right, one on the left. It's the 1970s
  • Why modern Stoicism misses the point May 30, 2017 - A piece written for The Idler. The wonderful British Library is celebrating its Greek manuscripts collection. Its copy of The Handbook (or Enchiridion) of Epictetus is a showcase piece. And I hope the online resource encourages people to read this slave-cum-scholar-cum-stoic. It will show them how etiolated modern Stoicism has become, and how challenging the way of life advocated by

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