Category Archives: Philosophy

The Tragic Sense

In literature or drama the tragic situation is one in which the protagonist suffers some great hardship, occasionally as the result of personal shortcomings, but very often due to circumstances beyond the individual’s control. Tragedy is not possible where nobility … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, George Orwell, Literature, Philosophy, Roger Scruton

Footnotes and Addenda

I was reminded of a line from C. S. Lewis’ memoir Surprised by Joy in which he says: “The surest means of disarming an anger or a lust was to turn your attention from the girl or the insult and … Continue reading

Posted in George Orwell, Literature, Philosophy, Politics, Stoicism

Pliny and Suicide

“I have suffered the heaviest loss…. Cornelius Rufus is dead; and dead, too, by his own hand!”–Pliny the Younger, Letter VIII Among the Roman pagans suicide was seen as a permissible exit, especially if age, disease or dishonor seemed to … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy

Cosmic Meaning

Adam Kirsch’s essay “Our Quest for Meaning in the Heavens” eloquently sums up humanity’s changing view of the universe. For much of our history the realm beyond the earth was populated by gods or angels. The 19th Psalm comes to … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy

Secondhand Meditations

In a recent essay Theodore Dalrymple chronicles the decline of cigarette smoking. Although a couple generations behind him, I saw plenty of ashtrays growing up. Some offices still permitted smoking while I worked summers as a college student. Although I … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, H. G. Wells, Literature, Philosophy, Politics

Love of Wisdom and Gnosis Contrasted

“The consequence of your thoughts should avoid vain and random fancies….”—Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (III.4) In my previous notes I discussed Eric Voegelin’s treatment of modern ideologies, which can be succinctly described as escapist anti-philosophies. It happens that I have also … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, Philosophy, Stoicism

Knowledge and Superstition in Politics

Eric Voegelin’s concise volume, Science, Politics and Gnosticism (1968), is currently at the top of my reading pile. Readers familiar with the philosopher will recall that a key aspect of his historical analysis is the growth and spread of “gnostic” … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, History, Philosophy, Politics

Idle Solitude

“[I]n solitude we have our dreams to ourselves, and in company we agree to dream in concert. The end sought in both is forgetfulness of ourselves.”—Samuel Johnson, Idler, No. 32 Recently I had been plagued by either having too much … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Samuel Johnson, Stoicism

Theatre of the Absurd

The fantasy of the world as presented in the Theatre of the Absurd… also says something… revealing the meaning that lies embedded in meaninglessness, the order underlying confusion, the indestructible love at the heart of the holocaust of hate, the … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Religion

Bigger Than Politics

“Envisioning the possibility of a good government is a dangerous illusion, and, indeed, virtually ensures the installation of a bad one. When has the overthrowing of a government installed a better one in its place?”—Malcolm Muggeridge As a postscript to … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Religion