Oct 9, 2019

Five Videos on Thomas Aquinas on Happiness


I created another set of short lecture videos for my students, enrolled in my Introduction to Philosophy and my Foundations in Philosophy classes, focused on a key discussion by Thomas Aquinas in question 2 of the First Part of the Second Part of his Summa Theologiae.  It is often called the "treatise on happiness", and that is the focus of those discussions.  What is the nature of human happiness?  What - among the things that people think will make them happy - really does make human beings happy? 

Here are those five videos, which I released early to my Patreon supporters last month:

Sep 25, 2019

Five New Guest Appearances

I'm long overdue for another roundup of my recent appearances on radio shows, podcasts, and video channels. I make these lists every so often, as the appearances accumulate.  I also have a more comprehensive list of most of my appearances in the last seven or eight years over at my company website, if you'd like to check any of those out.

I get fairly regular requests to talk about a variety of topics because of my philosophy-focused YouTube channel, my business ReasonIO, and my work as editor of Stoicism Today. If you'd like to invite me for a television, radio, video, or podcast appearance - or even for a live, in-person event, feel free to contact me.

With no further ado, here are those new appearances:

Guest Appearance on Riverwest Radio's Another Morning show - (starting at the 23:00 mark), hosted by Martin and Joe, discussing modern Stoicism, philosophies as ways of life, psychotherapy, happiness, and the Stoicon-X event - you can listen here

Guest Appearance on the Sunday Stoic podcast:  hosted by Steve Karafit, discussing my background in philosophy, expanding reading lists beyond the big three Stoics, and some of the odd Stoic paradoxes that we often ignore - you can listen here

Guest Appearance on the Enter The Void podcast: discussing public philosophy, the current state of academia, how practical philosophy can help us live through tough situations, and past and present science fiction - you can listen here

Guest Appearance on the Seize the Moment podcast: hosted by Leon Garber and Alen Ulman, discussing how practical philosophy can be used to help us overcome negative emotions - you can watch or listen here

Guest Appearance on the Death Hangout podcast:  hosted by Olivier Lavor and Keith Clarke, discussing what we know about philosophers' last wills and testaments, what the significance of wills are, and how we approach what happens after our own demises - you can watch or listen here

Sep 14, 2019

Seven Videos on Anselm's On Freedom of Choice


One of the texts I've been teaching for a number of years in my classes is Anselm of Canterbury's On Freedom of Choice.  It's a short dialogue between a teacher and a student, with the teacher clearly as a stand-in for Anselm.  On Freedom of Choice is the second dialogue in a trilogy of works, intended originally to aid the monks under his charge with their study of Scripture.

The other two works in that trilogy are also dialogues, the first one being On Truth, and the third, the significantly longer On The Fall of the Devil.  If you're interested,  you can get all three in a single affordable volume, ably translated by Thomas Williams and published by Hackett.

Anselm summarizes what On Freedom Of Choice is about in the preface to the three dialogues:
[W]hat freedom of choice is, whether a person always has it, and how many distinctions of freedom there are with respect to having or not having uprightnessof-will. . .  In this treatise I show only the natural strength of the will for keeping the uprightness which it has received; I do not show how in order to keep uprightness the will needs the accompaniment of grace.
This summer, knowing I'd be teaching the text again, I decided it was about time to create some core concept videos as aids for my students.  Here are those seven videos:

Aug 25, 2019

My Foundations in Philosophy Courses This Fall

Gregory Sadler in Milwaukee in front of US Bank and Northwestern Mutual Life buildings This summer, I got asked again to teach two sections of the Foundations in Philosophy class at Marquette University.  This is my third time teaching this semi-new course, which replaces their Philosophy of Human Nature course (which was basically an Intro to Philosophy course, with a few added features).  This time around, I'm sticking with many of the thinkers and texts that I incorporated in last academic year's classes, but I'm also adding in a few new ones as well.

My viewers, followers, and subscribers usually express considerable interest in how I set up my classes, so I'm going to write a series of blog posts (and perhaps also shoot some videos) about each of the classes I'm teaching this Fall.  This is the first one in that series.

The Reading List

This list of required readings for the class will likely strike many as overly ambitious, particularly those who are more accustomed to seeing philosophy taught to beginners in pre-digested bit-size snippets in Intro to Philosophy textbooks.  My experience in teaching philosophy to non-majors for 20 years, in a wide range of settings, has shown me that students who apply themselves - and most importantly, who are given the right types of support - are up to studying primary texts in the field.

Aug 16, 2019

Aiming at Control and Losing Control in the Workplace


Last week, I gave an interview to a student writing a thesis about how Stoic philosophy and practice can productively inform the domain of business.  One of the topics that inevitably came up was what has come to be called the "dichotomy of control".  This is a distinction articulated by the Late Stoic philosopher Epictetus between what is in our control, or is "up to us" (ep'hemon in Greek) and what is not in our control or up to us (ouk ep'hemon). It has come to play a centrally important role in the contemporary revival and reinterpretation called "modern Stoicism".

Like most components of Stoic philosophy, this dichotomy seems very simple (especially if one only focuses on Epictetus early discussions of it). It turns out to be quite a bit more complex if one actually reads beyond Epictetus' very short Enchiridion and studies the much fuller Discourses.  There are several reasons for that, two of which I'll just outline here  (I'll elaborate them in more general terms in a later post).

Aug 11, 2019

Seven Videos on Gabriel Marcel's On The Ontological Mystery


Earlier this summer, I created a number of new core concept videos as resources for my students enrolled in my online Existentialist Philosophy and Literature (taught for Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design).  This opened up an opportunity to shoot a sequence on one of my favorite works of the often overlooked French Catholic Existentialist, Gabriel Marcel, his essay "Concrete Approaches to Investigating the Ontological Mystery" (which you can find here, along with his play, The Broken World)

The reason I selected that essay (and provided that play as a supplemental reading) for the class is that it is probably the best introduction not only to some of the central themes of Marcel's philosophy - the distinction between problem and mystery, the dangers of a functionalized world, reinterpretation of faith, hope, and charity, and the need for ontological depth - but also to Marcel himself.  It is an essay he references frequently throughout his other works.

Marcel was one of the first authors to use the term "existentialist" and "existentialism" in French.  He would later abandon the title for his own work after Jean-Paul Sartre more or less took it over in his "Existentialism is a Humanism" (as would Heidegger), but Marcel remains a central figure within the broad Existentialist movement.

In any case, here are those seven videos.  I plan to shoot some additional ones on this work, hopefully later on this Fall.

Jul 8, 2019

Three Videos on David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature



I teach David Hume's works from time to time.  In fact, he made his way into my classes quite early on in my career.  My very first Ethics classes included some portions of his Treatise of Human Nature, and the first time I taught Intro to Philosophy his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding was a required text. 

I incorporated that Enquiry into my Foundations of Philosophy sections (at Marquette University) and my Intro to Philosophy class (at Milwaukee Area Technical College) this last semester, but - alas! - couldn't carve out the time to shoot footage for the core concept videos I'd wanted to produce on that text.  I did, however, manage to shoot a bit of material on the Treatise for my online Ethics class at MATC this summer.

One of Hume's most famous passages is where he claims:
We speak not strictly and philosophically when we talk of the combat of passion and of reason. Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them. 
That is from book 2 of the Treatise, part 3, section 3, and it fit in quite well to the section on non-cognitivism and emotivism in my class.  So I decided it was about time I created some Hume content for my students. Later this summer, I'm planning on shooting some additional videos on the Enquiry as well.

In any case, here are those three videos:
I hope you find them interesting and useful!