illustration from Stephen Greenblatt’s piece in The New Yorker about Lucretius
this twenty-first century morning makes me
a Roman meditating a thousand years ago
On the Nature of Things, a universe
The Meaning of Life
I try to take on Big Questions on this site, so it was inevitable that I would have to take on the…
A Tear at the Edge of Creation
An image of an event in CERN’s CMS detector during the search for the Higgs boson – which Gleiser…
Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)
I’m very good at entertaining thoughts.
Hesse, an author I enjoyed reading but not an author I associate with laughter, was born July 2, 1877. This Nobel Prize-winning German novelist’s books—particularly Siddhartha and Steppenwolf— introduced me to Eastern philosophy as a teenager, as they did for many Westerners.
I like this photo of Carlos Castenada because he looks like some young college kid on his way to a date in 1967 - and most people think of him as some strange, hippie philosopher, out in some desert, high on something.
Born in 1925 in Peru, anthropologist Carlos Castaneda wrote a total of 15 books, which sold 8 million copies worldwide and were published in 17 different languages. In his writing,
Castaneda describes the teaching of Don Juan, a Yaqui sorcerer and shaman. His works helped define the 1960’s and usher in the New Age movement. Even after his mysterious death in California in1998, his books continue to inspire and influence his many devoted fans.
His The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge is still widely read.
“Fear of things invisible in the natural seed of that which everyone in himself calleth religion. ” — Thomas Hobbes
“A perfect faith is nowhere to be found, so it follows that all of us are partly unbelievers.” ― John Calvin
— Henry D. Thoreau
It’s the birthday of philosopher and big doubter René Descartes, born in La Haye en Touraine, France (1596).
He is called the father of modern philosophy, but he considered himself a mathematician and scientist.
He became interested in philosophy when he heard that the church persecuted Galileo for his scientific theories. Descartes realized some of his own theories were also controversial, so he wrote a book called Discourse on Method(1637), about the necessity of doubt in scientific inquiry.
He also wrote about beginning to doubt everything about his life, even the fact of his own existence. But in the process of doing so, he realized that he couldn’t doubt the existence of his own thoughts, and he produced his most famous line: “I think, therefore I am.”