A Month of Philosophy: Seeking out the Good Life


“Change, Thoreau reminds us, begins when we finally choose to critically examine and then recalibrate the ill-serving codes and conventions handed down to us, often unquestioned, by the past and its power structures. It is essentially an act of the imagination first.” ~Maria Popova, brain pickings

Bronze sculpture "Denkpartner" by Hans-Jörg Limbach, 1980, in front of the Friedrichsbau Varieté in Stuttgart, Germany

Bronze sculpture "Denkpartner" by Hans-Jörg Limbach, 1980, in front of the Friedrichsbau Varieté in Stuttgart, Germany

This experiment will continue in the vein of the first two as a re-embracing of former passions.  I consider myself a philosopher and a lover of wisdom. Last year I submitted an almost-one-hundred-page master’s thesis on philosophy, and very much burned myself out in the process. Far from what some of my peers wanted to do - diving straight into a PhD - I knew I needed a break. And now one year later, I find myself finally dusting off some of these big old books.

This month will be about reading and writing again. At some point I want to condense my thesis into something geared toward a general audience, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I’d like for this month to simply consist of an effort toward getting back into shape. Much like with yoga, music, or any other practice, philosophical contemplation takes an incredible amount of concentration and focus. And when I come home from work - having stared into a computer all day - my mind wants to skip, hop, and meander rather than staying on yet another task. But this specific task is one of my loves. And I know that only with a bit of discipline can I explore becoming through becoming.

Last month’s experiment, I realize now, was not necessarily bound by SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

With that in mind, my goal for this month will be very smart: I intend to read and write about a philosophical idea or work, for at least an hour, 3 days/week.  In my experience it takes at least an hour to melt into contemplation. The process is especially slow because I often have to read passages over and over again in order to begin to glean their depth. I do not yet know what role philosophy will play in my life, but through this work I have come to understand some of the fundamental principles and values by which I live. And I’m so excited to share some of these bits of wisdom with you all throughout the month!