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A Great Book Can Change Your Life

Philosophy and Literature For Your Life

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art

Of Love and Justice: Plato’s Republic

At the beginning of the Republic, Socrates piques the interest of  the group of young men he is speaking with, suggesting that to know justice is to know the only way of living that is worthwhile.  However, as he begins... Continue Reading →

Palm Trees and Being Just

In the “Symposium,” Diotima, who is described by Socrates as the women who taught him all he knows about love, but also as a sophist, describes a ladder of love. Desirous of beauty, she says that individuals ascend from limited... Continue Reading →

Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Dante Version

The Divine Comedy, Dante wakes up lost in a dark woods. He has to take a terrifying and arduous journey - first through Inferno, then up Mount Purgatory and finally through the dizzying spheres of Paradise before he can finally... Continue Reading →

Plato, Hegel and Drawings on a Wall

In the Republic, a dialogue about justice, Socrates and a group of young men put poetry or artwork on trial. One of the primary pieces of evidence against art is that it is deceptive. For instance, one can paint a... Continue Reading →

The Poetry of Love: Plato’s Symposium Part II

At the end of the Symposium, Alcibiades bursts in and drunkenly declares his love for Socrates. To him, Socrates is both the beautiful and the good. Alcibiades, however, doesn't understand the poetry of love. He seeks the good for his... Continue Reading →

The Poetry of Love: Plato’s Symposium

In the Symposium, Socrates recounts what his teacher, Diotima, taught him about love. In her speech she indicates a relationship between the act of loving and the act of creation, or, as she says, of poetry. We all, she says, love... Continue Reading →

Plato’s Symposium: My Wisdom is … a Shadow in a Dream

In the middle of Plato's dialogue the Symposium, Aristophanes follows several others, all of whom have been tasked with giving speeches on love or eros.  Aristophanes prefaces his speech, once his hiccups have subsided, by saying that he will speak in... Continue Reading →

In Awe of Art: Plato and Poetry

In the Republic, Plato argues that an education in poetry or art more broadly understood is essential to the education of children. In one of my favourite passages, he says that we must "seek out craftsmen who are by nature... Continue Reading →

The Sea Was Angry that Day: George Costanza as paraphrased by J.M.W. Turner and M. Ward

In an iconic Seinfeld episode, "The Marine Biologist," George Costanza becomes the unlikely salvation of a whale whose blowhole is obstructed by a golf ball. As George famously says, "The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old... Continue Reading →

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