Author’s picks for April 2019

What follows is a short list of my favorite posts from this month:

1. What is Philosophy Outside the Text?

This post provides an overview of the nature and scope of a new Medium.com publication that I’ve launched, Philosophy Outside the Text.

2. What makes philosophy difficult?

This post provides some background to the motivation of the Philosophy Outside the Text project. In it, I argue that there are two main difficulties to doing philosophy today: one is the inherent difficulty of the questions it asks; the other is the linguistic and institutional baggage associated with academic approaches to those questions. I argue in favor of a way of doing philosophy that still engages with the former while jettisoning much of the latter.

3. On New Age-ism and western appropriations of eastern religion

This post argues that the popularity of New Age religion is largely a function of the way it functions as a lever in an internal dispute between traditional western religion and post-enlightenment western consumerism. In several important respects New Age appropriations of eastern religion actually conflict with both traditional eastern and traditional western religions where they agree with the newer western paradigm.

4. A glimpse of early Hebrew Metaphysics in the book of Genesis

This post examines a passage from the book of Genesis, on the patriarch Jacob’s meeting Rachel and Leah, and shows how a mistake in the received text itself exemplifies a shift from a linguistic framework where the attribution of attributes to objects is variable and context-dependent to one where the association of an adjective with an object is predetermined in advance. I argue that this linguistic shift itself reflects a shift towards an ‘object-oriented’ ontology where attributes are themselves always thought of as dependent on particular substances.

5. The political philosophy of distributism: a very short introduction

This post provides an introduction to distributism, often regarded as a third way economic philosophy between capitalism and socialism. Particular emphasis is placed on Hilaire Belloc’s concept of the servile state – a form of oligarchic capitalism to which both capitalism and socialism tend.

6. Libertarianism, racism, federalism, subsidiarity, localism

In this post, I show that the identification of libertarianism with federalism constitutes a category mistake. Against this, I show that libertarianism admits of both federalist and anti-federalist forms, the latter of which is arguably the dominant one. Against this, I provide a positive defense of the notions of localism and subsidiarity that does not itself depend on libertarian individualism.

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