A Meditation on Happiness Vital Powers. Excellence. Scope. I have always believed that happiness will elude you if you seek it too directly, too face-on. It seems to me that ‘happiness’ is a by-product of meaningful activity, acquired the way the British acquired their Empire - in a fit of absence of mind. Let’s go through the side door and define ‘meaningful activity,’ a somewhat less slippery concept than happiness. My favorite words on this subject come from those ancient Greeks, and they loosely translate as follows, “The Good Life requires the [...]
Why aren't the under 30s listening to rock in large numbers? Rock music hasn't evolved in very interesting ways in the last twenty years. There may be some bands that are both melodically interesting and innovative in the way that Radiohead was, but I don't know who the hell they are, and I listen to a lot of music. Also, rock music seems to have lost the battle of the lyric to both hip hop and innovative pop music.
Consensus in a Post-Truth World What Happens When We Don't Examine Our Opinions? Imagine you’re in the Louvre with your crew. The six of you have fought your way through the politely manic Japanese photographers, and you are all staring at the Mona Lisa. Do you all see the same thing? This question has perplexed philosophers for a very long time. I used to think it didn’t matter much. The great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, whose prose style made many graduate students weep bitter tears, tells us that all we have of [...]
Transhumanist Inequity What Happens When the Wealthy Upgrade Mind and Body? I recently wrote a piece about a not-that-distant future in which the majority of us either don’t need to or can’t work for wages -- a world in which we have leisure and will need to figure out what to do with it. I suggested that we start planning for this likely future now, by instituting universal basic income schemes. We will also need to invest massive sums in improving education and strengthening the voluntary and creative sectors. The goal here [...]
The Coming Employment Shift What Happens When Work is Not Needed? I like to think I have a philosophical temperament. What does that mean? Well, among other things, it implies a capacity for detachment, for viewing the daily hustle and the short-term bustle from a distance, the birds-eye view. The Latin term for this is ‘sub specie aeternitatis,’ which means ‘from the aspect of eternity.’ Now I am not a philosopher. If I were, I would be spending most of my time wrestling with the Big Questions. You know, the questions we [...]
Worse Problems than Trump Why a Changing Society is Republicans' Real Danger The American election draws closer; the hype is heightening, the pundits are predicting, anxiety amongst those desperate to see La Donald get gone ratchets ever upwards -- ah yes, The American Silly Season is upon us. Of course, given the antics of the Pinocchio in the Oval Office, one might suggest that the Silly Season started in 2016 and never ended. I think a plurality of Americans now know that DT will never be a real boy, will remain a [...]