Hermeticism and gnosticism

In his book on the hermeticist Hegel, Magee gives this helpful sketch of the differences between gnosticism and hermeticism: “Gnosticism and Hermeticism both believe that a divine ‘spark’ is implanted in man, and that man can come to know God. However, Gnosticism involves an . . . . Continue Reading »

Hegel and Hermes

In a 2001 book (Cornell), Glenn Magee argues that Hegel must be understood as a hermetic thinker. Hegel claims to have moved beyond the ancient notion of philosophy as “pursuit of wisdom” to an absolute knowledge that is simply identical with wisdom. As Magee says, “Hegel’s . . . . Continue Reading »

MacIntyre on Heroic virtue

In After Virtue , Alasdair MacIntyre provides a neat discussion of the virtue and selfhood in Greek antiquity. The unity of ARETE, virtue, “resides . . . in the concept of that which enables a man to discharge his role,” and refers to “excellence of any kind,” whether in a . . . . Continue Reading »

Logos: Harmony and Recipe

One Marc Cohen of the University of Washington, offers this account of the “logos” of Heraclitus in an online lecture outline: First, “There is an orderly, law-governed process of change in the universe. (Compare fragment 80 with Anaximander, who equates strife with injustice; for . . . . Continue Reading »

Life of Heraclitus

Some selections from Diogenes Laertius’ “Life of Heraclitus, from his “Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers: “He was above all men of a lofty and arrogant spirit, as is plain from his writings, in which he says, ‘Abundant learning does not form the mind; for if . . . . Continue Reading »

Asocial sociability

Seigel devotes a fascinating section of his book ( Idea of the Self ) to a summary of Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees , in which Mandeville describes what Kant characterized as the “asocial sociability” of human nature. Social in the sense that even in a natural state, prior to . . . . Continue Reading »

Eschatological self

Jerrold Seigel suggests that Locke’s self has “three different aspects”: We are selves to others “by virtue of what they know about our mental and moral life”; we are “selves to ourselves, but incompletely so, through the imperfect consciousness we have of our . . . . Continue Reading »

Interior Senses

Murphy goes into admiring detail describing Thomas’s theory of interior senses in higher animals. Apart from its purely historical interest and the anticipations of later scientific theories, Thomas’s discussion has philosophical and theological interest in its own right. He claims, for . . . . Continue Reading »

Dueling Theodicies

Robert Young claims that the controversy over Darwinism in the 19th century was not so much a religion-v.-science controversy as a duel between competing theodicies. At one level, he argues, “the protagonists in the debate were in fundamental agreement. They were fighting over the best ways . . . . Continue Reading »

Mind-Body and Energy

Murphy offers an amusing discussion of the question, Assuming a Cartesian dualism of mind and body, how can the mind cause a physical object like the body to move? If one assumes that physicists are correct that physical energy can be transferred to a physical system, it has to arise from a . . . . Continue Reading »