Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Agency

Jordan Peterson is a Garden Variety Christian Existentialist

A few people have asked me lately–what do I think of Jordan Peterson? Peterson is a Canadian psychologist who has written a book called 12 Rules for Life. He’s become very popular on YouTube and generated something of a following. I can see why–the particular kind of philosophy he’s advocating is unfamiliar to many people and feels transgressive in a modern context. But it’s an old kind of philosophy which dates back to the 19th century and takes its inspiration from Soren Kierkegaard. It’s called “Christian Existentialism”. Here’s how it works.

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Barack Obama’s Role in Giving Us the Trump Presidency

The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius is remembered as a great philosopher and successful military commander, but he is also remembered for picking his feckless son Commodus as his successor, an emperor who infamously cared more about making showy performances as a gladiator than he did governing the empire. Barack Obama is still a popular president–his favorability rating is +10 and his job approval rating is +8. In recent months many pieces have been written lamenting his imminent departure, and many more will likely be written before January. But no matter how likeable Obama is or how well Obama governed while in office, the fact that he could not ensure the election of a competent successor counts against his legacy. How did Barack Obama end up giving us a Commodus? What, if anything, could Obama have done to avoid this?

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A Scientist’s Shirt: How Feminism Has Turned On Itself

Last week, Matt Taylor, a British scientist associated with the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission (which landed a probe on a comet), wore a shirt with scantily clad women on it:

Many online commentators took offense to the shirt, calling it sexist. Taylor eventually issued a tearful apology. This piece is not about whether or not the shirt is sexist. A man was reduced to tears because he wore a shirt that some people didn’t like. Should feminism be in the business of making men cry because of the shirts they wear?

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Don’t Hate the Player; Hate the Game

I’m an NBA fan–I love pro basketball. Like most NBA fans, I have a favorite team, my local Chicago Bulls. And like most talented teams, my favorite team has a nemesis, the Miami Heat. And while my Bulls have been knocked out of the playoffs, said Heat are still playing, and I watch every one of their playoff games so I can cheer for the opposing team. First it was Indiana in the conference finals, now it’s San Antonio in the NBA Finals. None of this sounds especially political, to this point, I expect, but I would like to explore a larger philosophical question stemming from this example–why do I dislike the Miami Heat so much, and is my dislike justifiable?

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