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Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • Light – a conversation with Rupert Sheldrake Jan 15, 2021- We naturally talk about seeking the light at the end of the tunnel, or hoping to be enlightened. But are such phrases that reference light more than metaphors? In this episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon explore how light is both physical and spiritual, and note the remarkable harmony between scientific and mythical ways of exploring…
  • Preview of my new Dante book! Jan 12, 2021- In case you'd not heard, 2021 is the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante, author of the great Divine Comedy. My book, which is a guide for the spiritual journey presented as a narrative retelling and interpretation, will be published in September 2021, in time for the actual date. To have a sneak read of the introduction, and sign…
  • Dante 2021 – Top 10 Spiritual Insights Jan 5, 2021- We will learn a lot about Dante's language, love, politics and humanism in 2021, the 700th anniversary of his death. But perhaps not so much about the spiritual insights he felt charged by heaven to communicate in his Divine Comedy. My top 10 spiritual insights are: 10. Comedy transcends, not excludes tragedy 9. Morality gets you nowhere, insight leads everywhere…
  • Could 2021 offer more than healing? Dec 31, 2020- Reverting to normal is a missed spiritual opportunity As 2020 ends and 2021 begins, people are talking of healing. There is a strong desire to recover from the suffering of the year and return, as speedily as possible, to normal life. The yearning is right, and the remarkably speedily development of vaccines promises to make it possible. The pain of…
  • The Meaning of Soul Dec 26, 2020- Pixar’s film wittily subverts the wisdom of our age Pixar’s great film, Inside Out, was a touching tale about inner conflicts. Coco took as its theme the destructive presence of the unresolved past. Now, Soul combines a near death experience with the ennui of modern life to tell a story that brilliantly subverts many self-help nostrums. It fearlessly brings together…
  • How To Read The Greatest Secret by Rhonda Byrne Dec 22, 2020- The new book sits uneasily alongside the bestseller that made her name The Greatest Secret by Rhonda Byrne is released, and immediately looks like as much of a publishing success as its predecessor, The Secret. The 2006 book has sold 20 million copies. So what do they have that is so immensely compelling? Is it the promise of an end…
  • The Meaning of Christmas by Owen Barfield Dec 19, 2020- Owen Barfield agreed with the other Inklings, like JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, that the life of Jesus marked a pivot point in history. But he had a particularly powerful way of capturing the truth... Reading from History in English Words by Owen Barfield. For more on his understanding of Christianity, and genius worldview, try here.
  • Artificial Intelligence – conversation with Rupert Sheldrake Dec 11, 2020- Artificial intelligence is rarely out of the news. But what is it? In this episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon take a lead from the breakthrough by Google in the prediction of protein folding, which Rupert has studied for decades. Whether this success reveals any deeper understanding of nature leads to a discussion of different types…
  • Beyond Flatland – the talks and a report Dec 1, 2020- Beyond Flatland, A Day on Transformative Ways of Knowing, was on Saturday 28th November 2020. Full details of the idea for the day, the programme and recordings of the talks are online. This is a report of the day written by Nicholas Colloff. Edwin Abbott's satirical novella, which gave this day its title, imagines the perplexities of a square as…
  • The genius of Piranesi by Susanna Clarke Nov 29, 2020- I hugely enjoyed the new novel by Susanna Clarke, prompted to read it in part because I knew of her interest in Owen Barfield. It did not disappoint and I wanted to share why by talking about it in relation to four levels of meaning: the literal, moral, tropological and anagogic. I'd go so far as to say it's an…

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