Protecting Identity

By JohnR |

We don’t just live in our minds.  We also don’t just live in a world with other people.  We live with the need to have the world in our mind fit with the world of other people, and the shape our life takes is determined by how these two mesh. At one level, this need […]

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The Law of Laws

By JohnR |

There are many essential aspects of human life that are inherently non-individual, that is, aspects of life that individuals depend upon but that no individual alone could ever define, create or maintain.  Language is one of most obvious examples of this: minimally, language must be something adopted and developed by at least two people acting […]

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The Health that Really Matters

By JohnR |

In the Gorgias, Socrates draws our attention to an important parallel between the human organism and the human psyche—both can be healthy or unhealthy.  Though we are very accustomed to thinking in terms of bodily health, we can find ourselves to be quite inarticulate when we consider our psychological health. When we think about the […]

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The Laws of Inheritance

By JohnR |

“Did you earn it or inherit it?”  This is the question that Socrates asks the shield-manufacturer Cephalus at the beginning of Plato’s Republic.  Socrates asks this question about Cephalus’s wealth, noting that people who inherit wealth from another tend be less careful about its use than do people who have earned it themselves. Already this […]

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Friendship and The Limits of Math

By JohnR |

In his dialogue Lysis, Plato gives a nice description of a very familiar human experience.  Lysis, a young teenage boy, would like to come over to join a conversation that Socrates is having with some others, but he is too timid to do so.  When his friend Menexenus arrives, however, he feels able, in the […]

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Can You Do the Math?

By JohnR |

Apparently, some urban elementary schools now encourage their 12-year-old students to “go out for lunch,” that is, to get together in small groups and go out to purchase their lunchtime meal at a nearby downtown restaurant. When I first heard this, I was surprised, and my first thoughts were critical.  “Should schools be encouraging consumerism?” […]

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