Nothing Matters. But That’s Not What Matters

“I wake up in the middle of the night and notice tears in my eyes. … I know that I’m not depressed; not anxious; I don’t even think I’m lonely. But what’s left? I can’t put my finger on it. It feels like the whole Universe is silent — that it’s right here, everywhere, inside of me, outside of me, […]

Morals Are Objective

We can’t seem to decide whether moral principles are subjective or objective. On one hand, facts about right and wrong don’t seem to have the robust objectivity that facts about physics can boast. Philosophers have long noted an “is/ought distinction,” which delineates facts from values. Our values—what we feel to be good and bad, right and wrong—can […]

Moral Philosophy and What To Aim For In Your Life

I have an imaginary friend, whom I’ll call John. John wants to know how he should live. In particular, he wants to know what kind of life he has most reason to aim for. He keeps asking me: “Which life do I have the strongest reasons to try to have?” The source of reasons That’s already deep stuff, but […]

Who Are You ‘Really’? Traits, Dispositions, And Vanishing Autonomy

Let’s get one thing straight. I am the most interesting thing in the universe. And so are you. So let’s think about who we are. I used to be doubtful about ‘who we are’ — about personality — as an overarching thing ‘over and above’ consistent regularities in behavior: “I am all these behavioral tendencies — to argue when I’m annoyed, drunk or tired and to […]

How Can There Be Truths About How To Live In The First Place?

‘How does the world work?’ and ‘How should I live?’ are two fascinating and important questions. At first glance, they appear to call for separate inquiries, but if the world contains truths about values, they actually don’t. If objective values exist, then a complete inventory of all that is true about the world will also provide rough initial solutions to […]

So You Think Humans Can’t Know Objective Reality

If there is one topic to which most philosophical — ‘deep’ — conversations I have with friends turn to, it’s the question of whether we — humans — can know reality as it is in itself. For example, many people have come across the idea that ‘the observer affects the observed’. That sounds catchy, but what does it mean? Something like this: in trying to […]

Meta-Ethics: Think Way Too Deep About Why Things Matter In Life

What are the most important things in life? Here’s my answer: 1. Family 2. Friends 3. Work What does your list look like? I hope this exercise didn’t consume all your thinking power — we’re just getting started. Second question: Why are these the items on your list; what about them makes them important? Be warned: this question has been known to cause […]