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If nobody can agree on what someone has said, have they really said anything at all? In the realm of philosophical and theological texts, the answer is more or less yes. The boundless interpretations of the bible and Hegel should not undermine the depth and insight of such works.

But what about the public intellectual; those who either willingly or accidentally find themselves thrust into the arena of popular discourse? The comprehension of their work is now undoubtedly a responsibility. As Alan Lightman writes,

Such a person must be careful, he must be aware of the limitations of his knowledge, he must acknowledge his personal prejudices because he is being asked to speak for a whole realm of thought, he must be aware of the huge possible consequences of what he says and writes and does. He has become, in a sense, public property because he represents something large to the public. He has become an idea himself, a human striving. He has enormous power to influence and change, and he must wield that power with respect.”


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Some public intellectuals have suggested that discussing reality and truth entails a healthy skepticism when attempting any solutions or answers. Although such thinkers may be engaging in intellectually insightful and honest discourse, they fail to explicitly satisfy that which may have pushed them into the public arena to begin with: a sense of what one is to do. Of course, any public figure that attempts to answer such an inquiry with any normative claim must also address David Hume’s IS/OUGHT problem; namely, one cannot derive an ought from an is; a moral fact from a physical one. …


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Public intellectuals are a common feature of contemporary discourse. Leary, Lacan, Chomsky and Rand have all had their time in the spot-light, representing entire movements in public thought and political change. However, none of these figures lived in a time in which social media allowed for instantaneous communication and, thanks to the glorious algorithm, the formation of toxic echo-chambers. These modern tools, that have led to the rise of dogmatic loyalty and hyperbolic criticism, have never been more apparent than in the emergence of the controversial Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson.

LIFE

Born in Edmonton in 1962, Peterson was raised by a fairly well-off Christian family in the small Albertan town of Fairview. At a young age, he recalls that many of his questions on the literal truth behind the biblical stories he was taught were met with surface-level responses. This pushed Peterson away from attending church. …


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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Depending on where you live, you’re potentially looking at a dark and lonely winter of increased cases, depression, loneliness and pants-free conference calls. Unfortunately, mental health has been yet another antagonist of this global pandemic, evident in the rise of almost all mental issues since the beginning. The constant locking down and opening up is probably tiring. Not seeing your friends or family is distressing and trying to not infect them when you do see them is perhaps equally stressful. And not seeing a concrete end in sight is just plain annoying. …


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Philosophy and philosophers can be kinda depressing. Even the more hopeful theories and ideas still get to their conclusion with a healthy dose of sobering reality and pessimism. And then there’s pessimism itself, a branch of philosophy in which the conclusion is more or less “it is better to not be than to be”. Nobody has taken this to its extreme more than Phillip Mainlander, the philosopher who took his own life.

Life

Born in Germany in 1841, and the product of his father forcing himself on his mother, Mainlander was the youngest of six siblings. His demanding father forced him to go to school in Dresden where he would learn to become a merchant. Afterwards, at the the age of 19, he worked at a trading house in Italy, learning Italian and acquainting himself with the works of Italian writers, such as Dante and Leopardi. …


Primary Sources

Camus, A. (1946). The human crisis: A lecture delivered in America, Spring 1946.

Carr, N. G. (2010). The shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember = The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. London: Atlantic Books.

Frankfurt, H. G. (2006). On bullshit: Sobre la manipulación de la verdad. Barcelona: Paidós.

Žižek, S. (2018). The courage of hopelessness: Chronicles of a year of acting dangerously / Slavoj Žižek. UK: Penguin Books.

Baddies

Why Politicians Are Always Rich: https://www.psypost.org/2020/06/people-who-feel-wealthy-are-more-likely-to-think-their-political-views-are-objectively-true-study-finds-57087

Paradox of tolerance: http://www.openculture.com/2019/03/does-democracy-demand-the-tolerance-of-the-intolerant-karl-poppers-paradox.html

Arendt, Pan-Movements & Democracy: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/01/totalitarianism-in-age-donald-trump-lessons-from-hannah-arendt-protests

Pollution Inequality: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/21/worlds-richest-1-cause-double-co2-emissions-of-poorest-50-says-oxfam?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other


A Rational Guide To One Hell Of A Year

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If you or a loved one is currently suffering from eco-anxiety, hopelessness, opiate addiction, social isolation, extremist political sentiment, or an absolute hatred for what humans have revealed themselves to be in times of crisis, you may be living in 2020.

Yes, it does suck that we are living through what will likely be the least popular destination for any time traveler. No, the fact that this one year sucks doesn’t mean that it’s one randomly bad year that will peacefully depart from us as soon as 2021 rolls around. …


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Photo by Mishal Ibrahim on Unsplash

The first few years of our existence are characterized by a wide range of activities, beliefs and commitments that are either inherited or thrust upon us. Rarely challenged to forge a path of our own, who we are becomes more or less the agglomeration of our environment and genetics.

Until, of course, that fateful period when the training wheels are ripped off and suddenly we’re under the pressure to find out ‘the right thing to do’ all by ourselves. Do we go to university? Do we entertain the same political beliefs as our parents? Do we flirt with other religions and gods or cast them aside altogether? Do we rebel against the things that had previously constructed our sense of self in an effort to gain autonomy? …


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Photo by Lauren Richmond on Unsplash

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things” -Kurt Vonnegut

Quotes like this are nice but quickly fill us with a certain dread; the fact that we have, and will likely continue, to live for the future, attached to seemingly unshakeable contracts, deadlines and aspirations. We sense that our kids smile, the dog greeting you at the door and those flowers on the way to work deserve our attention. Unfortunately, they rarely demand it. …


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Psychiatrists aren’t usually thought of as revolutionaries. If anything, such a profession requires a strict compliance with disorder classification and a calculated treatment of human biology. Little room is made for revolutionary thought, philosophizing and Marxism. However, one psychiatrist, who inspired everyone from the Black Panthers to Che Guevara, is notably distinct from the rest. Frantz Fanon, who developed a psychiatric and philosophical system of ideas enmeshed in negritude, Marxism and existentialism, is the psychiatrist who started a revolution.

Life

Born on the French-colonized island of Martinique, Fanon was in a position of slim advantage in the year 1925. His family belonged to the black bourgeoise, a social group that enjoyed a sort of middle class privilege that was hard to come by for those who were colonized. Unfortunately, this came at a cost. His family followed certain principles to uphold their status such as the constant need to assimilate and identify with white French culture. …

Ben Thomas

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