Ayn Rand, Aristotle, and Modern Moral Philosophy

Ayn Rand's visceral hatred for religion is something she shares with modern "humanist" philosophers, and because of this, the only objection the Humanists can offer up against Ayn Rand, is the shameless appeal to collectivist utilitarian concerns, or our natural revulsion to "selfishness". Even Ayn Rand recognized this herself, which is why she titled her essay, "The Virtue of Selfishness". She was trolling the Humanists.

Rawls, Justice, And Metaphysics

In Political Liberalism, Rawls argues against his critics, insisting that the original position was merely a thought experiment meant to aid in the intuitive realization of the principles of justice according to a uniform standard of fairness. This essay will briefly summarize the original position (and the veil of ignorance that completes it), explain the metaphysical view of the self the critics imply, and conclude by disagreeing with the critics, but wondering what Rawls is up to, if its not metaphysical.

Plato Versus Aristotle – Two Routes To The Same Good

Plato and Aristotle were very different thinkers. They came at the same fundamental philosophical problems from radically different directions. Rafael nicely characterized this in his famous "School of Athens" painting - Plato, ever the tutor, sternly pointing to the sky; Aristotle, the indignant pupil, gesturing reflexively toward the earth. But this image is somewhat deceiving. … Continue reading Plato Versus Aristotle – Two Routes To The Same Good

Libertarians, Your Metaphysics Matters!

The new Libertarians are still trying to push the Enlightenment principle of self-governance (individual sovereignty) as far over as it will go, without collapsing into anarchism. But they've divorced themselves from the ground that made self-governance possible in the first place: a commitment to virtue. That commitment can come from religion, or a shared set of philosophically derived metaphysical commitments. But the end result is an individual that has a commitment to the good life, as a life lived in the pursuit of excellence (and, arguably, measured against the transcendent values of truth, goodness, and beauty). Single mothers, whoring themselves out in order to pay for their 15 year old daughters' birth control pills is about as far from that ideal, as you can get. And that is what the Libertarian needs to grapple with.

Facts, Values, Rights, and The Human Animal

The human animal is thought by some to have a "divine spark" in him. What is this? I don't mean, in a metaphysical or definitional sense. I mean, what do humans do, what capacity do they have, what power are they endowed with, that sets them apart from the other animals so much so that they are thought to have this spark? Why on earth would anyone say humans are "touched by the divine"?

Aristotle 101: The Aporia of Future Contingency

In On Interpretation, Aristotle presents the thought experiment of the sea battle in order to grapple with a logical paradox stemming from his commitment to correspondence in truth and the Law of Excluded Middle on the one hand, and his commitment to potentiality in the future, on the other. Given these commitments, if we are to say that there will be a sea battle tomorrow, then two questions (at least) need to be considered. First, is it already true that there will be one? Second, is its occurrence already determined by that? The term "already" is an important key to understanding these questions. It suggests a role for necessity in answering this problem. This essay will briefly summarize the logical problem, outline some possible solutions to the problem, and conclude with shrugging resignation at the fact that there isn't more extant writing from Aristotle on the question.

Aristotle 101: The Soul And The Faculty of Perception

According to Aristotle, the eyes are an organ of the body meant to inculcate the soul with the capacity for perceiving the forms of shape and color. If one recalls that Aristotle's theory of the soul is mean to account for the kinds of change that a living body undergoes, and that change is the transition from potentiality to actuality, then the question becomes, how do the eyes enable this kind of change? This essay will briefly summarize Aristotle's general theory of sense perception, provide a specific account for sight, and then raise some concerns about the efficacy of this theory in the context of Aristotle's theory of causes.