Three cheers for the end of the world?

by Massimo Pigliucci These days most thinking persons are—or should be!—preoccupied with a number of major challenges facing humanity, from international financial crises to cold and hot wars to the big elephant in the room: climate change. Some people, however, are taking a very different approach to these issues, wishing instead for humanity as aContinue reading “Three cheers for the end of the world?”

Everything you always wanted to know about Greek philosophy

by Massimo Pigliucci My academic semester is just about to end. Indeed, today will be my last class. Not only that: I’m about to go on sabbatical, which means that I will neither teach nor participate to administrative meetings for the entire 2023. Just reading and writing about Hellenistic philosophies and about Cicero, the topicsContinue reading “Everything you always wanted to know about Greek philosophy”

How to keep an open mind with Sextus Empiricus

by Massimo Pigliucci What do you know? Not much, and you? That was the tagline of a Public Radio International comedy quiz show that ran for three decades hosted by Michael Feldman (and which is now a podcast, of course). But it could just as well describe the skeptical philosophy known as Pyrrhonism. Named after Pyrrho ofContinue reading “How to keep an open mind with Sextus Empiricus”

What criterion for knowledge?

by Massimo Pigliucci There is a problem in epistemology—the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of knowledge—that has been raised more than two millennia ago and just doesn’t seem to go away. Here is how the problem, in a nutshell, is rendered by Andrew Cling in his contribution to the edited collection Skepticism—From AntiquityContinue reading “What criterion for knowledge?”

The philosophy of football

by Massimo Pigliucci The football (i.e., soccer, for Americans) World Cup is in full swing. Setting aside the more than justified controversies about FIFA, the organizing body, and Qatar, the hosting country, I’ve had some time to reflect on the game itself from a bit of a detached perspective. After all, Italy didn’t make it toContinue reading “The philosophy of football”

How to be free, Epictetus style

by Massimo Pigliucci Epictetus was a late first century and early second century slave-turned-teacher and Stoic philosopher. He literally changed my life. His Discourses were the first book from original sources that I read after discovering Stoicism as a practical philosophy, and it struck me like a ton of bricks. But in a good way.Continue reading “How to be free, Epictetus style”

Profiles in Skepticism: the Cyrenaics

by Massimo Pigliucci The Cyrenaics were the original hedonists, far more so than their more successful later competitors, the Epicureans. Their creed was that pleasure is the only true good, and by pleasure they meant physical and immediate. No delayed gratification for them, and no fancy intellectual stuff either. The Cyrenaics were the true sex,Continue reading “Profiles in Skepticism: the Cyrenaics”

Philosophy as a Way of Life—IV—Only the present is our happiness

by Massimo Pigliucci Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once wrote a letter to his long-time correspondent, the composer Carl Friedrich Zelter, to lament our inability to live in the present moment, to grasp its essential healthiness. The Greco-Romans, says Goethe, understood that the present is pregnant with meaning, and to them it was sufficient in itself.Continue reading “Philosophy as a Way of Life—IV—Only the present is our happiness”

Reflecting on Ken Frazier, skeptic

by Massimo Pigliucci Ken Frazier has passed away a few days ago. His death affected me more than I would have anticipated. We were not close friends, largely because we have lived our lives thousands of kilometers apart and had only a few opportunities to spend time together at conferences. But I have known of Ken forContinue reading “Reflecting on Ken Frazier, skeptic”

Who’s afraid of skepticism?

by Massimo Pigliucci Here goes an old joke about skepticism. Two skeptics meet at a convention. One of them says, “Hi, I don’t believe we’ve met.” The other responds: “I don’t believe you don’t believe we met…” Skeptics have that sort of reputation, or worse. A friend of mine, who has been working for manyContinue reading “Who’s afraid of skepticism?”