Spreading the Word

My Existential Valentine

See Skye Cleary at the Cornelia Street Café discuss the philosophical pitfalls and potential behind Valentines’ Day. Friday, February 12, 2016. Details here.



Post-Materialism on the March

‘Post-materialism.’ That’s the term being bandied about more and more to capture the change in values increasingly noticeable among the generation now very much coming to the fore (roughly, the post-boomers, born, say, between ’65 and ’85).  I’m tempted to say we’re witnessing a ‘satisficing’-shift in attitudes, with respect to more ‘materialist’ goods, at any rate.   It seems that growing numbers feel they make ‘enough’ money, or possess enough creature comforts, provided they have sufficient means to enjoy leisure with family or engage in non-economically defined productivity and (self-)development.

I think this shift in attitude might be fueling the Occupy Wall Street movement, and certainly generates sympathy with it. Our currently dysfunctional society, from its criminally unequal economy to its pathetically vapid news and entertainments, is rather hard to fathom outside of a culture whose materialism has run amok.  And there are, in any case, interesting reasons why any self-described post-materialist should be not merely sympathetic but actively help to productively shape the OWS movement.  Some are broadly ethical, as Will Wilkinson suggests here.  But there are also provocative fiscal reasons, as Reihan Salam notes, that could hopefully (my hope, not necessarily Salam’s) encourage transformative change across the board, and not permit the movement to succumb to the embrace of the business-as-usual left.  A truly profound post-materialism, one really worth acknowledging and actually pushing, should transcend a left-right divide that derives much of its meaning from materialist-dominated concerns.

When Good Arguments Go Bad: The Credentialed Society – By Michael Walsh – The Corner – National Review Online

The Credentialed Society – By Michael Walsh – The Corner – National Review Online.

I am quite in sympathy with the argumentative point of this piece; higher education, such as it presently is, is overvalued by both suppliers (in terms of what they charge for it and what they promise by it) and by consumers (in terms of what they believe it will secure for them). The good life, understood both materially and spiritually, can certainly be achieved without contributing to the bloated nature of the education sector while burdening oneself financially in the process. I also concur with the corollary that an effective, productive political agent needn’t be fêted by an Ivy-trained political class.

The problem with Walsh’s snark is with the ridiculously inane exhibit he would have us contemplate in support of those theses. Sara Palin stands as a powerful counterargument to these theses, theses that it is important for us as a country that we believe. It is unfortunate that the wise claim that there are a multiplicity of routes to the good should be obscured by the use of such a singularly bad example.

I find my self thinking of Anton Ego, who expressed the core idea much more graciously and humbly.

5th Annual Felician Ethics Conference CFP


The fifth annual meeting of the Felician Ethics Conference will be held at the Rutherford Campus of Felician College
223 Montross Ave, Rutherford, NJ 07070

Saturday, April 30, 2011, 9 am – 6 pm

Plenary Speaker: John E. Hare
Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology Yale Divinity School, Yale University, and author of The Moral Gap (Oxford, 1996), will present

“Can we be Good without God?”

Submissions on any topic in moral philosophy (broadly construed) are welcome, not exceeding 25 minutes’ presentation time (approximately 3,000 words). Please send submissions via email in format suitable for blind review by Feb. 15, 2011 to: felicianethicsconference@gmail.com.

Undergraduate submissions are invited for a proposed session consisting of undergraduate papers.

Alternatively, send surface mail to:
Irfan Khawaja, Conference Coordinator
Dept. of Philosophy
Felician College
262 S. Main St.
Lodi, NJ 07644

If you have any questions, please contact Irfan Khawaja, (201) 559-6000 (x6288), or felicianethicsconference@gmail.com.