Secular Monks And The New Celibacy

Andrew Taggart
Dec 30, 2019 · 21 min read

Secularism, Protestantism, and Pelagianism, when combined, are not a viable spiritual option.

Jack Dorsey’s Spiritual Exercises

Jack Dorsey at a Vipassana Retreat

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and co-founder of Square, wakes up at 5 a.m. He drinks a salt juice consisting of Himalayan sea salt, water, and lemon. He takes an ice bath. He meditates for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. He intermittently fasts throughout the day and drinks only water during the weekend. He moves between dry sauna and ice bath before going to bed and, while sleeping, has a device monitor the quality of his sleep.

Jack Dorsey was raised Catholic, likely didn’t read St. Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises in junior high or high school, and is no longer a believer. He is rather a Stoic, a practitioner of Vipassana meditation, and a biohacker. He is 42, unmarried, and childless. He is also our secular abbot.

Financial Insecurity, Pre-adulthood, or Neither?

Something uncanny is happening.

I’m a practical philosopher. Each day I speak with individuals working in technology, finance, entrepreneurship, and venture capitalism about fundamental matters of human existence. “Who am I,” “Why am I here,” and “What is this all about” are just some of the questions we ask and seek to answer. Fairly recently, I began to notice that the well-educated, bright, well-off, urban 35–45-year-old heterosexual American men with whom I regularly speak are tending either to remain single or to marry later on in life and, if married, to have fewer children. [1] Of his own accord, one conversation partner, a co-founder of a startup, conducted an informal straw poll and found that 50% of the 24 male friends who fit the profile above are unmarried and only 13% have children. Why might this be, I wondered, and what larger social phenomenon could this be a symptom of?

The standard explanations won’t do. The leftist materialist explanation holding that rising economic inequality and greater financial insecurity — in brief, “It’s the economy, stupid!” — are the sole causes is insufficient since the well-educated and well-off I’m referring to are not in debt, have made plenty of sound financial investments, are making six or seven figures a year, and, in truth, are at the top of their games. Granted, as a number of conversation partners have attested, raising a child in New York City or San Francisco today is a very pricey proposition, especially when the going assumption, itself worth questioning, is that each child will attend elite private schools from the very beginning. However, $50,000/year tuition for K-12 education can only partially explain deferring having children, not the deferral of marriage.

But then the standard conservative view, which takes the sexual revolution as the prime mover, seems to be missing something crucial as well. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Kay S. Hymowitz pointedly asks, “Where have all the good men gone?” She concludes that heterosexual men in their 20s and 30s have succumbed to a purgatory of “pre-adulthood” marked out by easy hook-ups and listlessness chiefly because masculine virtues like courage, providing, and protection are no longer widely needed. Granted also: well-educated women are looking for more mature men in their 30s and are often enough coming up empty. As another conversation partner, an insightful 40-year-old, observes based on what some women he asked had to say, “Younger men ‘don’t know what they want from personal life,’ ‘aren’t ready to settle down or have kids,’ and ‘can’t sustain the commitments they make’ as a result.” Therefore, a large number of “men in their early 30s are simply taken less seriously as coupling prospects.” Quite surprisingly, though, as The Atlantic recently reported, “Young people are having less sex,” not more, and so the presumption that most captains of industry are purely sexual conquistadors completely unwilling to grow up and accept masculine responsibilities may also, at least in crucial respects, be skewed. Or so I’ve come to think.

Some facts might reveal the outlines, and perhaps also the enormity, of the enigma I inadvertently stumbled into. The US Census finds that fewer American men overall are choosing to marry (only 52%, with 36% never having been married as of 2018) and that, should they do so, they’ll likely end up marrying later on in life (the mean for men in 2018 is age 30; in 1950, it was 24) and, upon marrying, they’ll likely have fewer children (1.9 children in 2018 vs. 2.3 in 1971). And these trends are not bound to the US alone. According to Euromonitor International, a for-profit strategic marketing research outfit based in London, households in developed countries are getting appreciably smaller: in 2012, couples without children began outnumbering couples with children worldwide, and a scant 0.4 children per household is projected in developed countries by 2030. These numbers are consistent with broader trends toward singlehood status in the US: fewer Americans between ages 18 and 34 are involved in romantic relationships (51%, reports The Washington Post), and more and more Americans are remaining singletons during long swaths of their lives. Apparently, Americans aren’t just bowling alone. [2]

Deeper explanations are called for, and one such comes from the sociologist and Catholic Mark Regnerus in his book Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy. Drawing upon the English sociologist Anthony Giddens’s arguments concerning the profound social changes brought about by the invention of the birth control pill and by the emergence and subsequent ubiquity of the “pure relationship,” “a relationship of sexual and emotional equality” (in Giddens’s words) that is maintained just so long as both parties remain mutually satisfied with it, Regnerus contends that “cheap sex” has been made readily available to everyone, including and perhaps most notably to young men. Since women no longer have to worry about unwanted pregnancies and since young men no longer have to sacrifice themselves to show their marriageability and thus their fitness for being long-term committed sexual partners, both can freely enter into pure relationships defined just by sex or by emotional intimacy also, relationships which can be summarily dissolved whenever they cease serving one or both parties. Hymowitz no doubt would agree.

One consequence of this social development, Regnerus claims, is that “marriage is in the throes of ‘deinstitutionalization,’” and with women enjoying more self-determination through the economic opportunities afforded them, marriage has become at once a choice and an achievement and hence has ceased to be the default mode. In short, the wide availability of “cheap sex” disseminated through hook-ups and pornography has led men to grow up more slowly while choosier women, owing to their career ambitions, financial success, and high status requirements for their mate, are finding fewer men to be marriageable material or are at least are having a harder time of it.

Although surely changes in intimacy is a factor to consider here, something about the cheap sex explanation doesn’t quite fit the cases I have in mind or, at any rate, strikes me as incomplete, for it seems to me that something outside the domain of sexuality bears on the question before us. My hypothesis is that the particular cohort I have in mind have become what I call “secular monks,” individuals endorsing a secular “immanent frame,” ascetic self-control, and a particularly stringent version of human agency. My hunch is that this secular monasticism may unwittingly be giving birth to a new kind of celibacy.

To see how these secular monks became who they are, I’ll need to make a long detour through secularism, Calvinism, and Pelagianism before returning to the matter at hand.

The Immanent Frame Sinking down

In A Secular Age, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor coins the term, “the immanent frame,” with a view to describing what it’s like to live in the modern world. “[W]e come,” he observes, “to understand our lives as taking place within a self-sufficient immanent order,” which is such that it does not require anything transcendent in order to function or to continue to function. Instead, it seems to arise out of itself and to unfold according to its own internal, self-perpetuating logic. [3]

I believe the immanent frame sinks down even further than this. The process I call “secularization” here refers neither specifically to the withdrawal of religion from the public sphere nor to the waning of faith (though, of course, both of these claims are true) but rather to the way in which the immanent frame structures the daily lives of secular monks. Such a force reaches down into the very soil of their lives out of which their very existence seems to grow. There is the very real feeling of “mundanity” and “diurnality” pervading their existence: the practical conduct of everyday life, which is what matters most to them, seems to define the scope of human existence, with daily affairs, tasks, and projects shaped by set routines and habits. It is held without question that there is no world but this one, no day but this. Together, mundanity and diurnality create the sense of a supreme and supremely seamless personal and interpersonal ordinariness, an order in which it becomes unimaginable that anything could possibly happen in one’s life that is beyond what is typical, ordinary, and expected. Life’s plot conforms to the strictures of a bourgeois psychological realist novel.

The process of secularization I’m describing chimes with what Taylor writes about the immanent frame having “sunk to the level of such an unchallenged framework,” to that of “something we have trouble often thinking ourselves out of, even as an imaginative exercise.” For a secular monk, the only knowable pursuits are human pursuits, the only genuine aims human aims, and these are as mundane as they are diurnal. Even the social entrepreneur’s vision of “saving the world” means saving this world, the world of fellow humans above all else. A good human life, on this view, is framed by a compressed finitude, the ordinary capacities of ordinary humans exercised from birth up until death. Hence, a secular monk just is secular in the sense that the limits of his cares and his projects are spelled out entirely by the limits of his day and his world, the “dayworld” he was thrown into, regularly inhabits, and acts upon. He knows, imagines, and conceives of no other. [4]

Monks with Mundane Occupations

Yet what is it about the secular monk that makes him monastic? In his seminal treatise The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, the sociologist Max Weber claims that a certain religious mentalité develops hand-in-hand with the emergence of a modern, rational form of capitalism. As he saw it, the crux of Calvinism was that its critique of other-worldly Catholic monasticism made room for each devout Calvinist practitioner to be “a monk all his life”; henceforth all would be devoted to pursuing “ascetic ideals within mundane occupations” (my italics).

Weber’s depiction of Calvinist asceticism provides me with a lucid description of the ascetic aspects of secular monks I mean to describe. For ease of understanding, his discussion can be divided into five related parts:

  1. On a theological level, the Calvinists’ God is, for Weber, a transcendent being inscrutable in key respects to the faithful who, in His perfection and wisdom, has separated the chosen from the unchosen without making that choice plainly manifest. In this, the Calvinist God resembles the nominalist God.
  2. On a metaphysical level, the faithful see life itself, this-worldly existence, as suffering, as indeed a vale of tears; therefore are they committed to a “restless and systematic struggle with life.” Suffering and struggle are thus entwined.
  3. On an epistemic level, they yearn for certitudo salutis, an indubitably certain sign that they are among the saved, yet such proof, because it cannot be supplied by absolution, sacraments, confession, good deeds, regular church attendance, or even a special class of religious feelings, remains elusive.
  4. Owing to this epistemic uncertainty, on a psychological level the faithful are overcome both with religious anxiety and with “an unprecedented inner loneliness.”
  5. All of this somehow gives rise on the practical level to Calvinists’ active stance toward the world.

What comes to matter in Calvinism, then, is conduct, a bewildering practical consequence of Calvinist doctrine. In scattered passages throughout the book, Weber implies that what differentiates Lutheranism, Pietism, Methodism, and Baptism from Calvinism is that the former three are more “mystical” in nature in the sense that they seek “divine possession” often through an “emotional act of conversion” whereas the latter, being more “ascetic,” seeks to make the practitioner into an “instrument of God,” which, once secularized, unleashes “the liberation of individual powers.” Calvinism’s world-facing stance is bewildering because, logically speaking, predestination should entail fatalism — not, as what actually happens, the doubling down on worldly engagement. Yet such is precisely what happens.

And this doubling down is evinced more clearly once the concept of “this-worldly asceticism” is unpacked. Each Calvinist is ascetic inasmuch as he exerts rational, “constant self-control” over himself over the course of his life so that by means of active supervision, “constant thought,” and vigilant monitoring he can learn how to direct his will. His will could thereby become aligned with God’s. [5]

So much for the direction of the will. But what about the object of the will? His object is the calling, a “mundane occupation” through which he can exercise his will for the sake of God’s glory. His constant efforts should produce fruits, and those fruits might be a sign of God’s favor.

The new Protestant ethic, what I’ve been calling “secular monasticism,” unfolds in accordance with spirit of secularism. When, through secularization, God drops out of the picture, secular monks come to embrace a throughgoing this-worldly asceticism. From Calvinists, they inherit the following: the veiling of anything transcendent — in this case, the veiling of the very possibility that the transcendent could disclose itself here and now; a shared life, now construed in terms of an endless competition, marked by suffering; an epistemically uncertain world, with the limits of intellectual knowledge becoming increasingly clear over time; the desire for certain ground to stand on; existential anxiety and ambient loneliness; and, above all, a commitment to work — to working on oneself and to working on the world — as the key to earthly salvation. [6] Motivated by anxiety on one side and by loosely defined notions of success on the other (about which more below), practitioners submit themselves to more and more rigorous, monitored forms of ascetic self-control: cold showers, intermittent fasting, data-driven health optimization, meditation bootcamps, and much, much more.

The Pelagian Heresy and Tim Ferriss’s Life Design

Image Credit: Robert Maxwell

Two features of secular monasticism discussed so far are secularism and Protestant asceticism; the third is Pelagianism. Pelagias, a fourth century English monk and theologian, advanced a heretical doctrine whose chief thrust was that humans could, on their own, perfect themselves. In John Passmore’s insightful remarks about Pelagianism throughout The Perfectibility of Man, one can make out four salient attributes of Pelagianism.

— Firstly, for Pelagians the standard of human endeavor, which was set not by God but by human beings, was human perfection.

— Secondly, the faculty well-suited to the quest and attainment of human perfection was the will, and it was the will, unaided by divine grace, that was able to achieve perfection through its own deliberate exercise.

— Thirdly, the means by which human beings could do so involved applying the will to extirpate or reform recalcitrant habits.

— And, fourthly, as a consequence of this Pelagian doctrine, human beings were utterly severed from God; a secular outlook, in time, could not but be the practical result, indeed the default setting.

And so? And so, this position just was heretical in that it denied human beings’ ontological dependence upon God, a proposition expressed in its rejection both of original sin and predestination.

In a footnote, Passmore makes the connection between Calvinism and Pelagianism that much clearer. One one side, he remarks, Christian doctrines (such as those propounded by Lutheranism, say) can swing toward human beings’ utter dependence on God to the point at which it can be insisted that human beings simply lack free will. On the other side, of course, stands any secular version of Pelagianism. And in the middle, providing something of a bridge? “Calvinism is in this respect a strangely intermediate doctrine,” Passmore writes. Though humans have no “merits in the eyes of God,” nevertheless “[t]he elect ought, in the worlds of 2 Peter 1:10 to ‘give diligence to make [their] calling and election sure.’ Although, then, success is not a consequence of merit, it is a sign of election, which is to be confirmed by diligent effort. Thus it is that Calvinism opens the way to a secular version of Pelagianism. Take away the idea of election, and it is easy to reinterpret Calvin thus: ‘Show your merit by diligent application to your vocation, and success will follow’” (my emphasis).

Pelagianism could be said to be the reigning doctrine and practice whenever and wherever human agency defines the scope of all relevant agency in the world. And Pelagianism becomes fully secular when that agency is limited to diurnality and mundanity. [7] The Pelagian attitude, which unapologetically alchemizes anything that happens into a “thus I willed it,” and secularism, through which the transcendent’s absence is strenuously enforced, march forward in lockstep and find their clearest, most mundane expression today in “life design” or “life hacking” of the kind urged by American entrepreneur and life designer Tim Ferriss.

When a podcast interviewer recently asked Ferriss whom he would choose to meet if he were able to travel back in time, he said that he would like to have drinks with Benjamin Franklin. [8] The reason? Franklin was “a bit of a merry prankster and a bit of a showman” and, more than both, an avid experimenter on himself.

So too is Ferriss (“I am not the expert. I’m the experimenter, the scribe, and the guide.”) whose philosophy of life, secular, ascetic, and Pelagian, is fit for our time and finds an easy reception among its many adherents. (The Tim Ferriss Show has been downloaded over 100 million times as of 2017.) It begins with the metaphysical primacy of human agency. In Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World, Ferriss asserts this without so much as the need for argument: “You are the author of your own life.” The obvious Pelagian implication is that each person, though surely he may be helped in an instrumental sense by other people as Arnold Schwarzenegger argues in the Foreword of Ferriss’s Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-class Performers, is the sole author of his own life. Ferriss’s commitment to the agental side of the Stoical fork, with value placed entirely on what is within one’s power, tells his hand. Given this metaphysical primacy, what follows from here?

Instrumentality through and through. As human agents, Ferriss assumes, we should go about dividing our actions into means and ends, and if we’re good optimizers, then we should seek to discover and then utilize the most effective means by which we can satisfy those ends. This, really, defines the scope of human existence as Ferriss sees it: an endless, immanently bounded game of self-oneupmanship. Hence, he has devoted much of his life to crafting “tools for success,” which include “routines, books, common self-talk, supplements, favorite questions, and much more.” Any technique, detached from any tradition, is fair game for mashup and remixing for the purpose of self-fashioning or “self-growth.”

While Ferriss claims, in Tools of Titans, that human beings are “imperfect creatures,” he presumes nonetheless that human perfectibility is indeed the path to be trod. Why else experiment ad nauseum and with the utmost precision with an extraordinarily wide range of life optimization tools? No, the asymptote is surely ceaseless optimization of ourselves, the nearest we may ever get to perfection, tethered to a subjectively defined notion of success. Thus Ferriss: “Success, however you define it, is achievable if you collect the right field-tested beliefs and habits” (my emphasis). In short order, success has moved from a human standard to a wholly individual one, and it is assumed that the only thing standing in the way of your becoming successful, for Ferriss, is your lack of pragmatism: the bad habits that govern your conduct as well as the unverified beliefs you hold too close to yourself. And since your conduct in life (and, not the least, that on yourself) is what ultimately matters, you shouldn’t maximize all of your abilities but instead should “find your unique strengths and focus on developing [good] habits around them.” Secular wisdom, we might say, is effective decision-making coupled with good habit become second nature.

This is some thin gruel indeed. You are your own author. Stand on the shoulders of performance titans. Cull their secular wisdom and design your own life practice for success. Map it all out. And, for sure, get after it now.

Success, the End of Secular Life

Secular monks have embraced a Calvinist spirit, a Pelagian view of human volition, and a secular outlook. And yet, toward what end or ends in life? Most conversation partners I speak with will say that they are seeking success, and success of the kind they’re after seems to come in four different forms. They don’t mean that they want to simply amass wealth or to lead a financially comfortable life. Instead, they emphasize preparation, optionality, creation, and optimization.

  1. Some conversation partners claim that they feel as if they’re always preparing for the unknown. The latter may refer to their own death, to climate change, to an increasingly opaque and volatile world, or to something else, something more elusive. Some underscore the importance of always continuing to grow (in terms of one’s character) while others emphasize becoming more resilient, what one of my older friends once defined as “the capacity to withstand a punch.” It follows that a successful person so understood would be ready for anything that comes his way and thus would be able to roll with any punches.
  2. A second group, often coming from a background in finance, speaks of optionality, a financial term that refers to the consideration of alternative investment opportunities alongside the opportunity being pursued. As a metaphor, optionality has come to mean the ability to have plenty of options in life without being obliged to pursue any of them. In this sense, it is just a repackaging of freedom of the will understood in libertarian terms: I am free just to the extent that in choosing this, I could have chosen instead to have done something else, given a set of alternative possibilities. Hence, financial freedom is highly valued just because it helps me, in my 30s or 40s, to keep my options open. If the fear is connected to shutting down my potentialities too soon, the hope is that I can continue to open myself up to often unforeseeable paths upon which I might trod, to becoming someone I won’t come to regret.
  3. Those with a more artistic or entrepreneurial bent are sympathetic to Steve Jobs’s famous line about the aim of modern human agency: “We’re here,” he said with conviction, “to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?” Here, creation dovetails with impact and legacy: I want to create something that is larger than myself, that enhances the lives of other human beings, and that leaves something “of me” behind. I want to be a god.
  4. A final group defines success in terms of optimization. These individuals always want to get better at whatever they are doing. If something is good, then it can be better. And if it is better, then it can be better still. Everything that exists and everything I do could always be upgraded and this process could go on indefinitely.

Secular monks seek success defined in one of these ways, but this is not the end of the story. I want to propose that beneath this desire for success is something more, indeed something more unsettling.

A New Celibacy?

Come back to Dorsey. Why does he engage in spiritual exercises? To gain access to superhuman powers (as Daoist shamans once sought to do)? To end suffering and attain enlightenment (as Buddhists and Advaita Vedantists try to do)? To humble his undeserving heart (as Christian monastics seek to do)? No, to — in his words — maintain “clarity” and “focus” and to boost “mental confidence.”

Dorsey is a secular abbot for secular monks. To an extraordinary degree, he embodies the ascetic self-control of the Calvinist, the Pelagian aspiration for indomitable human agency, and the secular orientation toward the practical conduct of everyday life, and he puts all three in the service of the good of success, subjectively defined. This, then, is the picture of secular monasticism that I’ve been sketching: certain young men are exercising their will to exert control over themselves and their environment in order to further the human aim of subjectively defined success. Yet in this picture, we can also espy something more than this, unstated goods more basic than success.

Dorsey and other secular monks share the twin fears of becoming slaves and of becoming impure. For these life designers and technologists, a slave is someone who falls victim to circumstance, indecisiveness, waywardness, or the need for long-term gainful employment. Hence, freedom from bondage may be achieved by adopting ascetic exercises whose point is to strengthen the resolve, sharpen the focus, and ward off the possibility of becoming base.

Freedom from slavery is consonant with the desire for purity. To be pure means to exist without limits such as those posed by an other, to live one’s life without being encroached or impinged upon. Untouched and beyond limits while also living free from circumstance, torpor, and listlessness: such is the vision of godliness, or the good life, limned here.

Given this characterization, I don’t see how there could be any genuine conceptual or axiological room for the other or for love in this ascetic conception of the good life. From this point of view, it becomes understandable not only why success has become the idée fixe but also why a long-term commitment to a woman could awaken anxieties stemming from the threats of enslavement and impurity. The “new celibacy,” laypersons’ abstinence from marriage yet not necessarily from sex, is the logical consequence of not being willing to bear such infringements or transgressions.

Clearly, something has gone wrong if this is where the road leads.


[1] In order to nip in the bud any green meme objections at the outset, let me point out that, since 2011, I’ve also been conversing regularly with artists, designers, social entrepreneurs, and ecologists as well, not to mention with those suffering from a number of maladies. Note that this article is written in Medium, which is oriented toward the tech space. It doesn’t follow that the subset of conversation partners I mention above is identical with the set of all conversation partners with whom I speak. For extended considerations of the limits of the green meme, see “The Philosopher Is Not Present #5: Investigating the Green Meme at Kaospilot in Denmark.”

[2] As a matter of disclosure: my wife and I also do not currently have kids. To be clear, then, the brunt of my critique does not fall on those who choose not to have children. The point of the piece is to see choosing not to have children as an opening for further, and deeper, sociological, ethical, and cultural investigation of the kind I seek to initiate here.

[3] I also try to describe the secularizing process in a recent talk, “Psychotechnologies of Self-transformation,” given at IHMC in December. In fact, in many ways this Medium piece is really a precursor to that talk. The critique of secular monasticism proffered here may open the door, I hope, to genuine considerations of what could count as viable spiritual paths today. (See also Remark #2 under Concluding Remarks below.)

[4] For a more detailed elaboration of this form of secularism, see the section on Humanism in “Psychotechnologies of Self-transformation.”

[5] Here, if only in passing, might be an opportune place to point out one qualm (among others) with neo-Stoicism or modern Stoicism of the kind embraced by technologists in the Bay area and beyond. See that such practitioners, hewing close to one side of the Stoical fork, fetishize the control of the will and see, consequently, how there is precious little room for the vital metaphysical or cosmological dimensions of Roman Stoicism. In other words, neo-Stoicism appeals to life hackers, life designers, and secular monks just because it provides a loosey-goosey philosophical justification for pre-existing, pre-philosophical commitments to human autarky.

[6] Longtime readers of my Total Work Newsletter will recognize what I’ve just written as a thinly veiled attack on Total Work. For those interested in that attack, see, e.g., “The Brief Story of How Work Took over the World.” For an opening salvo, see my Aeon piece written back in 2017.

[7] In passing, Passmore suggests that the US is “the most Pelagian of Christian nations.” This should give us pause.

[8] Readers not familiar with Weber’s The Protestant Ethic may not catch what is so stunning about Ferriss’s reply. One of Weber’s protagonists in The Protestant Ethic is Benjamin Franklin — to be clearer still: Franklin’s ethic is the Protestant ethic!— and here, amazingly, Ferriss “tees up” my subsequent argument by providing me with the bridge I need.

Concluding Remarks

Remark #1: This piece has an interesting publishing history. Initially, a slightly abridged version of this article was accepted at a major, traditional magazine. After my editor unexpectedly left, the piece fell into purgatory. Over the years, I’ve had some first-hand experience with some magazines and newspapers, and I can’t say, based on my limited experience, that the organizations in question are running smoothly. There’s a reason why — notwithstanding traditional media’s struggle with “pivoting” to a new business model in the Digital Age nor, say, Jared Lanier’s reasonable critique of the libertarian claim that “content [on the Internet] wants to be free” — writers are turning to alternative publishing platforms such as Medium. It’s a Wild, Wild West at the present moment!

Remark #2: For those who managed to read this article in its entirely, I hope it’s clear that I have no truck with technologists per se. In fact, I like many of them. What I’m trying to do is to critique secular monasticism with a view, in key part, to opening people up to questions concerning, say, the possibility of a Second Axial Age. Being involved in practices ain’t a bad thing, yet hitching those practices to the ego is, needless to say, a highly questionable aim.Secular monasticism is just plain bad egocentric and anthropocentric spirituality.

Andrew Taggart

Written by

Practical Philosopher, Ph.D. | Founder, Askole ( | Examining What Technologists Are Taking For Granted

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