Every Blog Has Its Day

The FSPB has had a good run, but it’s been a while since it has been the active place for student discussions “of issues philosophical, religious, moral, political, and scientific” that it once was. So, it’s time for the blog to sign off. There will be no new posts, but all of the old material will remain for those who are interested.

Thank you to all who wrote, read, and contributed to the discussions!

All the best,




How appropriate that Plato should frame this work as a tale told second hand.  From his pen, we are hearing the story as told by a disciple of Plato named Apollodorus who had heard the story from Aristodemus who was present at the symposium in question.  Apollodorus has verified the account with Plato, and so we may consider it fairly accurate. Still, we are reading about it approximately twenty-four hundred years later and are also twice removed from the actual event.

Apollodorus is particularly ready to tell us because he has already recounted the story to his friend Glaucon while on the road to Athens.  Glaucon had caught up with Apollodorus by formally hailing him as “The Gentleman from Phaleron.”  I read in the footnotes that the joke is that men like Apollodorus are not addressed in this manner except in formal situations, such as when they are assembled at court.  Of course, this is how members of Congress are addressed today and calls attention to how much the Greeks still influence us.

Apollodorus makes much of the idea that philosophy is the only worthwhile pursuit in life and that focusing on the mundane activities of life as Apollodorus once did and as his friend does now, dooms a person to a life of failure. Unimpressed with this sentiment, Apollodorus’ friend urges him to begin to recount the speeches given at the symposium.
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When discussing contemporary theories of global socioeconomic justice we should begin with John Rawls, if only for the fact that the two other philosophers whose views I shall be examining, Martha Nussbaum and Thomas Pogge, refer to Rawls frequently in their own arguments.  Rawls concept of “Justice as Fairness” is found in the first chapter of his book, A Theory of Justice where Rawls say that it “corresponds to the state of nature in the traditional theory of the social contract.” [1]   In this hypothetical state behind Rawls’ “veil of ignorance” no one knows in advance what their social, political, or economic position in life will be, which serves as a strong motivation to agree that everyone should have equal opportunities, resources and rights.   In order for this to play out realistically in a society, in addition to everyone having equal access to opportunities, any inequalities that do exist should benefit the economically and socially disadvantaged.

In a later book, The Law of Peoples,[2] Rawls seems to take a more pragmatic view of the situation describing a society of “well ordered” peoples made up of “liberal” societies constructed as constitutional democracies and “decent” hierarchical states that allow for political input from their citizens while acknowledging basic human rights.  “Outlaw” societies are those which are totalitarian in nature or severely “burdened” by economic or cultural failings preventing them from operating in democratic manner.

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Very occasionally, in the morning when the weather is not too hot, I step out onto my front porch and sit on a broad wooden bench, looking out into my front yard and that of my neighbor’s, enjoying the coolness of the air with nothing save birdsong to disturb the silence. I may bring a cup of tea with me, and perhaps one of my cats will come to sit near.

For the moment, I am at rest. I own the ground upon which I sit. I am fully provisioned and no enemies appear on my immediate horizon. I am well aware that this is an illusion, but choose to pretend in the moment, that all is well. Now in my fifties, my ambitions are modest. “A home, respect, freedom, and neighbors who want the same” (Lamar). I desire peace and quiet broken only by the occasional company of my extended family and close friends. I think that this is a desire commonly held by the overwhelming majority of mature adults existent across the face of the earth, irrespective of their culture, their history, or their present social and economic position within their particular communities. In the following pages it is my intention to describe the realization of this desire by a certain class of men among the petit-bourgeoisie whom I shall refer to as neo-patriarchs.
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Eccl 8:15 – Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun. (KJV)[2]

rlclrose21If we consider the Epicurean philosophy emphasizing its position on death, the existence of God, and the resulting conclusions that follow regarding an afterlife, it seems that a more attractive philosophy than Epicureanism would be difficult to devise, for it holds that a man should arrange his life so that it yields the greatest amount of pleasure with the least amount of pain[3] and worry.  This is accomplished by seeking to be satisfied with the simpler things that come to one in life.  Simple food, clothing, shelter, and the like are good things that are “easy to get.”[4]  Richer fare and fancy goods, while not to be eschewed should they come one’s way, result in exposure to too much stress and strife in their pursuit, and therefore such pursuits should be abandoned.  The gaining of power and high office should likewise be abandoned as being equally stressful. Instead the joys of personal friendship can be relied upon for one’s security.[5]  The writer has lived this kind of life I have lived the last thirty years, and recommends it highly.
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The newborn just entered into the world, may say to herself, “I am soiled; I am hungry, and decidedly uncomfortable.  Surely, my mother knows this. Why then does she not come to feed and change me?”  Although surrounded by others, we are profoundly isolated, able to communicate only a small portion of our thoughts, feelings, and observations and unable to fully apprehend what others are attempting to communicate to us.  I think that it is this striking isolation that causes us to first consider the nature of our being.  Long before I knew the word philosophy, I stared intently at my own hand, concluding that whatever this wonderfully constructed organism was, it was not “me”.  I was apart from it, enclosed by it, wearing it if you will, but not it.  This was my first impression of my own “being.” Martin Heidegger made the contemplation and explanation of “being” his life’s work.
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On Rebellion


rlclrose21These are the words of Howard Beale in “Network”. The American movie classic is about an aging network broadcaster who rebels against the corporate oligarchy and subsequently is murdered at their hands.  Rebellion and the rebels that foment them are a recurrent theme in story and song.  Spartacus[2], Robin of Loxley, William Wallace, Zorro, Patrick Henry[3], John Brown, and Michael Collins are but a few characters, real and imagined, who considered their own liberty and that of their fellow compatriots more important than the authority of a tyrannical state.
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