On Being Yourself

''Be yourself, no matter what they say'' is the advice that Sting gives us in his elegant song Shape of My Heart. I agree. But how do we do that? How can we be ourselves? Deeper still, what does it mean to be ourselves? And how do I know who my-self is?  After all, whatever I …

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Timon, Pumba, Existentialism

Here is an interesting example of why it is worth the effort to invest time and energy into self-development and learning. It is an example from personal experience. If I were to ask you, what do Disney movies have in common with philosophy, what would your first thought be? I can say for myself - …

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Do Not Think About The Polar Bear

When Leo Tolstoy was a mischievous young boy, there was one time after another mischief that his "grandfather told him to stand in the corner until he could stop thinking of 'the white elephant'... He tried very hard... The harder he tried to eliminate the thought and the more he desired to be free of …

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Socrates and Phaedrus: Art of Thinking and Practice of Persuasion (Part 3 of 3)

This is the final part of the 3-part series on the art of thinking and pratice of persuasion as gathered from Plato's dialogue Phaedrus (a version of its translation available here). So far I have concluded that Socrates had the following goal in this dialogue: to demonstrate that no practice deserves to be called art if its practitioner does …

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Socrates and Phaedrus: Art of Thinking and Practice of Persuasion (Part 2 of 3)

Last week I published the first part of this 3-part series. This is the second part of the article where I continue by exploring in more detail the ideas that can be gathered from Plato's dialogue Phaedrus (a version of its translation available here). Of course, there are many insights that can be gleaned. The one I …

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Socrates and Phaedrus: Art of Thinking and Practice of Persuasion (Part 1 of 3)

In Plato's dialogue Phaedrus (a version of its translation available here), Socrates discusses the merits of rhetoric as the art of speaking. He wants to establish whether rhetoric, as practised and taught in Athens by the orators at the time and understood as "a way of directing the soul by means of speech" (we could say - …

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Reality as Being and Becoming

What do ancient Greek philosophers Heraclitus and Parmenides, the early 20th-century main protagonist of the novel Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, and Latvian writer and poet of the turn of the 20th century known by his pseudonym Rainis have in common? Across centuries and geographies, they all share an idea: a belief that being and becoming are …

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Anaxagoras on Change: Everything Contains Everything

One of the last pre-Socratic philosophers of Ancient Greece, Anaxagoras hailed from the Ionian city of Clazomenae but is notable for being the first one to bring philosophy to Athens. There he taught and flourished for about 30 years until the mid-5th century BCE when he went back to Ionia due to charges brought against …

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Parmenides on Truth vs Opinion

For the 5th century BCE pre-Socratic philosopher and leading figure of the Eleatic school Parmenides, truth is universal. It contains everything, unifies all. It is All and, therefore, One. Because of this, truth has the unshakable attribute of certainty. Accordingly, if something cannot pass the test of universality, it cannot generate certainty, so it cannot be the …

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Not-Infinite Being of Parmenides

Parmenides, in his prime in the early 5th century BCE, was a very influential pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. He was one of the leading figures of the school of thought named after his home city - Elea. According to 19th-century Scottish philosopher's Thomas Davidson's translation of the fragments available to us from the work of Parmenides, …

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