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30
Oct
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The Great Philosophers: Henry David Thoreau

Most of the time, successful modern life involves lots of technology, constantly being connected with other people, working very hard for as much money as possible, and doing what we are told. These elements are almost a conventional prescription for success. So it may...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
26
Oct
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The Great Philosophers: Arthur Schopenhauer

For the griefs of love, he may be the finest among philosophers. He was surely also one of the most pessimistic. Arthur Schopenhauer was born in Danzig in 1788. In later years, he looked back on the event with regret: "Human existence must be a...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
24
Oct
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The Great Philosophers: Michel de Montaigne

We generally think that philosophers should be proud of their big brains, and be fans of thinking, self-reflection and rational analysis. But there’s one philosopher, born in France in 1533, with a refreshingly different take. Michel de Montaigne was an intellectual who spent his writing...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
23
Oct
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The Great Eastern Philosophers: Confucius

We know very little for certain about the life of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (a westernised version of his name, which means ‘Master Kong’). He is said to have been born in 551 B.C. in China; he may have been a student of the...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
19
Oct
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The Great Eastern Philosophers: The Buddha

The story of the Buddha’s life, like all of Buddhism, is a story about confronting suffering. He was born between the sixth and fourth century B.C., the son of a wealthy king in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal. It was prophesied that the young...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
19
Oct
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The Great Philosophers: Thomas Aquinas

It seems, at first, weird that we might learn from him. Thomas Aquinas was a medieval saint, said in moments of high excitement to levitate and have visions of the Virgin Mary. He was much concerned with explaining how angels speak and move. And...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
12
Oct
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The Great Psychoanalysts: Anna Freud

We’re particularly down on people we call ‘defensive’. They blame others for what’s probably their own fault. They hear reasonable criticism as a cruel attack. They deny they have a problem when they clearly do. But, of course, we must be doing this ourselves...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
08
Oct
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The Great Eastern Philosophers: Lao Tzu

Little is truly known about the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (sometimes also known as Laozi or Lao Tze), who is a guiding figure in Daoism (also translated as Taoism), a still popular spiritual practice. He is said to have been a record keeper in...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
26
Sep
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The Great Eastern Philosophers: Matsuo Basho

In the West, we have a vague sense that poetry is good for our ‘souls’, making us sensitive and wiser. Yet we don’t always know how this should work. Poetry has a hard time finding its way into our lives in any practical...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
26
Sep
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The Great Eastern Philosophers: Sen no Rikyu

In the West, philosophers write long non-fiction books, often using incomprehensible words and limit their involvement with the world to lectures and committee meetings. In the East, and especially in the Zen tradition, philosophers write poems, rake gravel, go on pilgrimages, practice archery, write aphorisms...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
26
Sep
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In Praise of Melancholy

Melancholy is not exactly a word on everybody’s lips. People don’t go around gossiping about how melancholic the new regional IT director is or drawing up lists of the more melancholy-inducing bits of natural scenery (Brighton Beach on an overcast morning; Rannoch Moor in...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail

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