A few scratches on the blackboard yesterday in preparation for a lesson on political philosophy. I inherited a very messy board!:
Among other “lighter” reading, I am tacking two important, but formidable books: After Virtue: a Study in Moral Theory by Alasdair MacIntyre and Sources of the Self: the Making of Modern Identity by Charles Taylor. It is good to have friends like Bill and Tim accompany me for both of these adventures.
Here’s a page from a recent read, though many times I am reading sections more than once (!) from Sources of the Self:
Esther Meek wrote a terrific book entitled, Learning to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People. In it, she describes how finding a reliable mechanic helped her better understand how we use certain clues to determine whether God as known in Jesus Christ is who He claimed.
More generally, how do we know what we know? It is an important branch of philosophy called epistemology. Too many people, including plenty of Christians, don’t think about how and why they think the way they do.
I read Meek’s book several years back. At the time, my experiences with mechanics was mixed. Some were okay while others had clearly taken advantage of me.
Enter Joe Ruiz. Joe’s shop is here in Austin. Two friends I implicitly trust told me how Joe kept their cars running. Many times, Joe told Gil or Mike that they did not need all the other “recommended” stuff other mechanics had tried to sell them.
My experience with Joe mimics what Gil and Mike have experienced. Our car (with 210,000 miles) recently lurched forward from a stop. I figured the transmission was going since it is the original one. I took it into Joe. Joe told me the catalytic converter may be responsible. He thoroughly checked out everything else including the transmission. All looked good. He recommended adding five gallons of high octane fuel which I did.
Our car is back running just fine. Joe charged $107 for all the work. I was dreading a large expense that would have been challenging on our budget.
Meek’s argument that we pick up clues to determine whether God is trustworthy is inspired by the great philosopher of science, Michael Polanyi. I highly recommend it!
And if you live in the Austin area, I know a great car mechanic!
This is a worthwhile investment of your time, but you will need to put on your thinking cap. If you want to shorten the time spent, fast forward to the discussion among the three scholars.
My latest interview on the importance of philosophy and theology:
I am reading John Frame’s massive, A History of Western Philosophy and Theology. Today, I came upon this dandy description Schopenhauer made of Hegel:
“Hegel was a flat-headed, insipid, nauseating, illiterate charlatan, who reached the pinnacle of audacity in scribbling together and dishing up the craziest mystifying nonsense.”
I don’t remember being this engrossed in a book for some time. This has been a good year with a number of wonderful reads, but this one is special. And I don’t even agree with lots of it!
Here is my review: John Kaag is a philosopher, but don’t let that scare you away from his writing, at least not with this book.
American Philosophy: a Love Story is remarkable twin tour of a long abandoned library and the human heart. Kaag is a candid diagnostician of his own interior life with all its complexities and contradictions.
I’ve been reading some of Kaag’s interlocutors for some time, especially Ralph Waldo Emerson. As a Christian, I disagree with much of what Emerson wrote, but he makes me wrestle with important issues in ways that make me a better Christian…at least a better thinking Christian.
Kaag is vulnerable about his own personal struggles and path to happiness. Like Emerson, I don’t agree with Kaag’s philosophy of life, but reading about his pilgrimage to greater sanity was fascinating and time well spent.
This is a brilliantly conceived and exceedingly satisfying read. If scholars like Kaag wrote more books like this one there would be a whole lot more interest in philosophy!
I think a wonderful movie could be made from this book…at least a well-crafted documentary.
So Rand is correct that there are two options: caring what other folks think or not. Her “how not to care about other people’s view of you” is very different than the Bible’s, but she gets that there is a true dichotomy.
“Tolerance is a virtue when it comes to behavior, but not great when it comes to belief.”
Worth the six minutes to watch: