Empathy and Truth Are Companions

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks just like a nail. In my case, right now, I am immersed in existentialism and everything I read reeks of it. Here’s what I mean. Linda Greenhouse’s [column](http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/opinion/linda-greenhouse-the-supreme-court-justices-have-cellphones-too.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region) in the NYTimes today was a commentary on the just-issued decision to ban warrantless cellphone searches. Her theme was that when the issue at hand is something the justices can relate to personally, the opinion could be said to more humane, less ideological. Here’s the closing paragraph. I had planned to conclude my discussion of the court and the search cases with a mention of “empathy,” the ability to put oneself in someone… Read More

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Why democracy is Necessary for Flourishing

Before you write me that there is a typo in the title, don’t bother. The small “d” is intentional. I am not writing about the big sense of Democracy, as in Democracy versus Socialism or any other political ideology. I want to focus on democracy as a particular way of interacting at all scales from families all the way to nations. If we are to flourish as both individuals and a global community, we must change our routine behaviors, that is our norms, such that the unintended consequences that are producing unsustainability and the growing departure form our common visions disappear entirely or shrink to a point that they become… Read More

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Even the NYTimes Needs Critical Thinking

> Let’s go back to first principles. Call it automation, call it robots, or call it technology; it all comes down to the concept of producing more with fewer workers. Far from being a scary prospect, that’s a good thing. > Becoming more efficient (what economists call “productivity”) has always been central to a growing economy. Without higher productivity, wages can’t go up and standards of living can’t improve. What’s wrong with this quote? It appeared in an oped piece, by Steven Rattner in today’s (June 22, 2014) NYTimes Sunday Review section. The topic, as this quote suggests, was about the “danger” of losing jobs to more innovation. Here’s a… Read More

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All About Care (Part 1)

The notion of care is central to my way to flourishing. I found it among my forays into philosophy while trying to understand more about just about everything. The notion of care or concern is central to Heidegger’s ontology of human Being. Like most people, I have struggled hard to get what Heidegger is saying and a clear sense of how he got there. Understanding what it is to exist as a human being is necessary and prior to fully appreciate what flourishing is. So before I get to care, a preface about Being. In my use of the term, flourishing, I not only mean possessing the minimal means to… Read More

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An Amazing Woman

My wife has been reading a biography of Margaret Fuller (*Margaret Fuller: A New American Life,* by Megan Marshall), who led a truly amazing life as a member of the better known Concord transcendentalists. She lived in a way as proof that women could stand up to her better known peers, Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, etc. Among the many accomplishments of her life was the establishment of a group of women holding regular “Conversations.” This was just one of her many actions to “transcend” the stronghold that men had over civic and other matters that affected how people lived. My wife read me a number of paragraphs and this one struck… Read More

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Among the Missing

I am still getting settled for the summer and deeply into my reading. I will restart my posts shortly. If you have any thoughts about where I/we should head, send your comments to the email address at the bottom of the list of posts on the right-hand side. I found a wonderful quote from Erich Fromm this morning in James Carroll’s column in the Boston Globe, “The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning.” My posts may become even scarcer as the sun has begun to shine here in Maine.

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Summer Reading

> Habit and routine are great veils over our existence. As long as they remain securely in place, we need not consider what life means; its meaning seems sufficiently incarnate in the triumph of the daily habit. Now that I am fully relocated from Lexington to Maine for the elusive summer, I can get into my summer routines and habits. Two predominate: fishing and reading. The fish haven’t migrated far enough North yet, so I am largely relegated to reading. I brought up more than I usually can get through, but this year I have limited the subjects to two, so maybe I will go back with a sense of… Read More

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