Is Death Bad? Epicurus and Lucretius on the Fear of Death

By The Death Bed, 1896 by Edvard Munch

Author: Frederik Kaufman Categories: Ethics, Metaphysics, Historical Philosophy Word count: 987 Most people think dying would be bad for them and so they fear it. Is that fear rational? The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BCE) says no. He argues that death— as the permanent extinction of consciousness—is not bad, so we should not fear … Continue reading Is Death Bad? Epicurus and Lucretius on the Fear of Death

John Stuart Mill on The Good Life: Higher-Quality Pleasures

John Stuart Mill

Author: Dale E. Miller Category: Ethics, Historical Philosophy Wordcount: 994 One important question in ethics is what makes people’s lives go well for them. Philosophers have proposed various theories about what things in and of themselves make people better off, i.e., theories of “well-being.” Many such theories say that pleasurable experiences are at least part of … Continue reading John Stuart Mill on The Good Life: Higher-Quality Pleasures

al-Ghazālī’s Dream Argument for Skepticism


Author: John Ramsey Categories: Epistemology, Historical Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Islamic Philosophy Word Count: 997 Right now you probably think that you are awake, that you are not asleep and dreaming. But do you know you aren’t dreaming? French philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) famously asked a question like this at the beginning of his Meditations … Continue reading al-Ghazālī’s Dream Argument for Skepticism

Aristotle’s Defense of Slavery

Enslaved people working in a mine in Laurium, Greece.

Author: Dan Lowe Categories: Historical Philosophy, Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Race Word Count: 999 Aristotle (384-322 BC) is one of the greatest philosophers, and his moral and political philosophy remains especially influential. But he also believed that, for some people, being enslaved was just and even beneficial for them. How could Aristotle … Continue reading Aristotle’s Defense of Slavery

Mill’s Proof of the Principle of Utility

Cartoon drawing of John Stuart Mill

Author: Dale E. Miller Category: Ethics, Historical Philosophy Wordcount: 999 It may seem obvious that happiness is valuable, but is it the only thing valuable for its own sake, as opposed to being useful as a way to get something else? The 19th-century utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) argues that it is.[1] His argument … Continue reading Mill’s Proof of the Principle of Utility

Wu-Wei: Acting without Desire

Cook Ding Cuts Up an Ox

Author: Henrique Schneider Categories: Chinese Philosophy, Historical Philosophy Word Count: 997 Wu-wei (無爲, wúwéi) is a central concept in early Chinese philosophy. However, different schools of thought conceptualized the notion differently, so it is difficult to briefly capture its multiple senses and uses. Our focus here will be on one sense of wu-wei in the … Continue reading Wu-Wei: Acting without Desire

Plato’s Crito: When Should We Break the Law?

The Death of Socrates

Author: Spencer Case Categories: Historical Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy, Ethics Word Count: 1,000 Plato’s Crito describes a conversation that takes place in 399 B.C.E. in an Athens prison, where Socrates awaits execution. Not long before, an assembly of more than 500 Athenian citizens convicted Socrates of corrupting the youth and impiety, essentially failing to … Continue reading Plato’s Crito: When Should We Break the Law?

Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am”

"The Matrix" film

Author: Charles Miceli Category: Historical Philosophy, Epistemology Word Count: 994 If you are reading this, then you are probably looking at a screen or a piece of paper. Think to yourself: “I have some paper in my hand,” “I am in front of a computer” or whatever fits. Is your belief here certain? Is there … Continue reading Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am”

Descartes’ Meditations 4-6

Author: Marc Bobro Categories: Historical Philosophy, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind and Language, Philosophy of Religion Word Count: 999 Editor’s Note: This essay is the second in a two-part series on Descartes’ Meditations. The first essay is here.  4. Meditation 4: The Source of Human Error Descartes argued in Meditation 3 that since God exists, … Continue reading Descartes’ Meditations 4-6