“Provincial Letters” By Blaise Pascal

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes. –Proverbs 26:4,5 Blaise Pascal, a Catholic theologian, scientist and brilliant thinker, wrote these letters to defend his Jansenist friends against charges of heresy by the Jesuits. I tend to think that Pascal and Kierkegaard are … Continue reading “Provincial Letters” By Blaise Pascal

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

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

“Magna Moralia” by Aristotle

The Philosophical vs Practical Mind The part of the soul which is possessed of reason has two divisions, of which one is the deliberative faculty, the other the faculty by which we know. That they are different from one another will be evident from their subject-matter. For as colour and flavour and sound and smell are different from one another, so also nature has rendered … Continue reading “Magna Moralia” by Aristotle

“Economics” by Aristotle

The Use of Currency in Raising Revenue The people of Clazomenae, owing their mercenaries twenty talents of pay and being unable to find it, they struck an iron coinage of twenty talents, bearing the face-value of the silver. This they distributed proportionately among the wealthiest citizens, and received from them silver to the same amount. Through this expedient, the private citizens possessed a currency which … Continue reading “Economics” by Aristotle

“Eudemian Ethics” by Aristotle

Socrates the Snake Charmer In Book I of Eudemian Ethics, Aristotle makes a constructive criticism of Socrates for once, rightly pointing out that knowing (objectively) what is good and just is not the same as being good and just. [Socrates] thought that all the virtues are forms of knowledge, so that knowing justice and being just must go together, for as soon as we have … Continue reading “Eudemian Ethics” by Aristotle