“The Pathway Of Life” by Leo Tolstoy

[Posted to commemorate the 106th anniversary of Tolstoy’s death] Who Am I? A man who has attained old age has passed through many vicissitudes : he was first an infant, then a child, an adult, an old man. But no matter how he has changed, he always calls himself “I.” This “I” was the same in his infancy, in his period of maturity, in his … Continue reading “The Pathway Of Life” by Leo Tolstoy

“The Invisible Collection” by Stefan Zweig

Conciseness has always seemed to me to be the most essential problem in art. To fit his destiny to a man so nicely as to leave no vacuum, to inclose him as radiantly as the ember does the fly and yet the while preserve every detail of his being has, of all tasks, ever been the dearest to me. –Stefan Zweig Stefan Zweig was an … Continue reading “The Invisible Collection” by Stefan Zweig

The Brothers Karamazov: III. The Foundation of Morality

In a previous post on Dostoevsky, I formulated his argument that belief in God is necessary for morality from an ontological perspective. In this post, I’ll formulate it from an epistemological perspective, following the method of René Descartes. Foundation of Knowledge In his Meditations, Descartes reasoned that ideas formed within our mind have their origin beyond our mind, that is, our ideas are caused by … Continue reading The Brothers Karamazov: III. The Foundation of Morality

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“The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Brothers Karamazov has the reputation of a great philosophical and psychological novel, and that was the main reason I chose to read it, but I have to admit I was disappointed on both counts. Dostoevsky’s philosophical arguments lack clarity and logical coherence. He shares this characteristic with another Existentialist philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, who was no doubt influenced by him. His psychological portraits, while perspicacious … Continue reading “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Brothers Karamazov: II. The Nature of Freedom

Choice vs. Freedom There is an important distinction, which most people overlook, between free choice of the will, commonly known as free will, and freedom. Choice is consequent of multiplicity, but freedom is consequent of power of being or becoming. For example, when a person is present at a crossroad, he has a choice between one way or the other, but he does not necessarily … Continue reading The Brothers Karamazov: II. The Nature of Freedom

The Brothers Karamazov: I. The Nature of Morality

The Natural Law The word morality comes from the Latin root mos (meaning “custom or law”), which in turn is a translation of the Greek word ἠθικός (“character or moral nature”). The idea of natural law originated with Plato and the Stoics, and found its full expression in Cicero: The universe is governed by God, who has implanted the immortal soul in man from His … Continue reading The Brothers Karamazov: I. The Nature of Morality

The Chess Game Analogy: Feynman on the Laws of Nature

One way that’s kind of a fun analogy to try to get some idea of what we’re doing in trying to understand nature is to imagine that the gods are playing some great game like chess. Let’s say a chess game. And you don’t know the rules of the game, but you’re allowed to look at the board at least from time to time and … Continue reading The Chess Game Analogy: Feynman on the Laws of Nature