The beguiling but flawed portrayal of language and its limits by Wittgenstein

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Philosophy and ordinary life have moments of clarity and times when progress seems out of reach. We think and speak clearly about everyday objects, but with matters of seeming importance — right or wrong, the ugly or beautiful, or cosmic realities and meaning — we are at a loss. We struggle for explanations, seek descriptions hinting at meaning, or resort to metaphors. Life becomes opaque.

Sometimes, we consider that the approach is the problem, not the issues.

Could the common thread be language? Definitions evade us and paradoxes abound, e.g., how we can understand the phrase, ‘The present King of…


Life is messy; universalizing moral truths can drive social progress.

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The certainty of moral maxims like, “thou shalt not kill” or “it is wrong to harm the innocent” seems axiomatic in society.

But we can encounter a moral thicket.

Is it permissible to kill a person like Hitler? How was it possible that slavery was not perceived as an outright evil for thousands of years? Why can’t we agree on issues like euthanasia or abortion?

We learn at an early age what we ought and ought not to do. Society is built on laws and principles of acceptable behavior. …


And can it avoid being dogmatic or absolutist?

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Religious belief is confronted by everyone in life. We can ignore believing or taking an interest in quantum physics, but that is not open regarding religion. We must take a position — to believe, disbelieve, or to abstain believing by being agnostic.

But what are we endorsing or refusing to endorse? Answering in terms of a single religion is unlikely to be productive. It is more fruitful to separate issues of religious belief into roughly 4 categories:

1. Discussions of religious belief should focus on what is common across religions. What is it and how does one come to believe?


Is the seemingly most viable religious option actually irrational? William James thought so.

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Confronting issues of religion, the thinking person’s view may be that agnosticism presents the most reasonable alternative. To be a believer requires a leap of faith. Disbelieving — given the absence of empirical evidence — has appeal, but since God may exist, atheism appears based more on intuition than on reason. Hence, the abstaining, middle position of agnosticism comes across as the best alternative.

What for some is straightforwardly reasonable struck William James, no Bible-thumping evangelical, differently,

“…this command that we shall put a stopper on our heart…till (we)…have raked in evidence…seems to me the queerest idol ever manufactured in…


The pandemic has brought Italy, Germany, and Europe to a critical juncture. One path leads to ruin, another to a revived Europe.

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Dear Chancellor Merkel,

You have served as head of the German government for 14 years, which is a significant testament to your leadership. You have indicated you will not seek reelection at the end of your current term. Why not end your chancellorship in a bold and memorable way that furthers the European project? Unless you act in that fashion, you may be remembered more for what you failed to do rather for what you have accomplished.

Of course, you know Italy is on the ropes right now. The pain inflicted on the population is the most dramatic and harsh…


The modern paradigm of the self is a faulty concept, oppressive, and limits the fullness of our development.

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If Rene Descartes had done nothing else, his catchy, “I think, therefore I am” would have enshrined him in history.

Descartes saw his tasks as to rationally prove his existence and to ensure the veracity of his knowledge and the reality of the external world. He defied the skeptic in the guise of a demon to undermine the bedrock he believed to have reached in these endeavors.

Descartes’ work was ground-breaking; he is also given credit for the dualism of mind and body and made important contributions to mathematics and the methods of science.

Descartes may have been most revolutionary…


The Clash, Paradox, and Necessity Of Mystical Oneness and The Free Individual

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While not a religious tract, “The Allegory of the Cave” found in Plato’s Republic, served as an instructive metaphor for Western monotheism. Socrates explained the meaning of the Allegory in the following passage,

“This entire allegory… dear Glaucon, you (can) interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world… that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of…


How To Combat Trump’s Twisted Nationalism

It’s not by condemning nationalism or seeing it as inherently racist. But Trump’s version is distorted — and it was inevitable.

Lacoon and His Sons Attacked by Sea Serpents — Vatican Museum- Source Wikimedia Commons

Ever since President Trump’s election, the media and Democrats have obsessed over comprehending and blunting his appeal and his brand of nationalism. Their feeling of urgency is compounded by the desire to avoid a Trump repeat and to halt white nationalists promoting hate and violence.

Condemning everything that Trump stands for is understandable. But that approach is misguided, and it will drive more people into his camp.

Furthermore, American nationalism per se is…


The Japanification of the US Economy

The Japanese economy blew up and has struggled since. It could happen to the U.S. and the EU.

In the 1980s, the question was not if Japan would take over global economic leadership from the U.S. only when…but then it blew up.

Japan in the 1980s appeared to be an unstoppable juggernaut, especially in cars and electronics. Their innovations in engineering and manufacturing became subjects of intense interest. The Japanese stock market soared to unheard-of levels creating tremendous wealth, and its investors bought high-profile real estate in the U.S. like Pebble Beach Golf Club…


A Plea for a Unifying Candidate

When we are divided into rival camps, we are less strong.

Pixabay

While she is criticized for some of her beliefs, Marianne Williamson was undoubtably right when she said recently that this is a dark time for American politics.

Her remarks were directed towards the President, but they apply equally across the cultural and political spectrum, including our relations with fellow citizens. Besides the tainted rhetoric coming from our politicians, it is manifest in online conversations, hate crimes, and mass shootings with political motivations.

Privately, I’ve had it suggested to me that the only solution…

Keith Kelley

Interested in Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Business, and Religion. I believe we can learn from each other.

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