Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Existentialism

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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Asking the Wrong Questions

Recently, I’ve been struck by how seemingly unconcerned social scientists, theorists, and philosophers often are with the practical relevancy of their own work, with its capacity to benefit actual people. It seems unremarkable that, in the face of this disinterest in the problems of real people, the general public would come to hold a contemptuous view of ivy tower intellectuals, one that likely only serves to further predispose intellectuals to ignore their problems. So today I’d like to posit a reciprocity view of what academics ought to be doing and discuss the various ways in which we are presently failing to uphold our end.

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Man of Steel and Genetic Engineering

Earlier this week, I went to see Man of Steel, and wrote about the way I thought it ignored and marginalized interesting and controversial moral debates about whom we have moral duties to. Toward the end of that piece, I noted that I also had thoughts concerning genetic engineering, another issue the film briefly raises, then discards. Today I’d like to pursue that thread further. Having thought about it more, I’m now convinced that the film’s take of genetic engineering is even more knee-jerk and surface level than its attitude toward imperialism.

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Scumbag Babies

A new study reveals that babies can be scumbags. This may seem like an interesting bit of popular psychology, but if the study’s results are true, it contributes to one of the central debates of political theory and philosophy, one which is too often considered in isolation–nature versus nurture, the question of the malleability of man’s nature, if he has a nature at all. This nature versus nurture question is as pivotal in our political discourse as liberal versus conservative, capitalist versus socialist, any of the various supposed dichotomies in our theory. But first, let me explain this study, because it’s really cool.

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A Critique of Existentialism

There’s a problem with existentialism, specifically Jean Paul Sartre’s concept of “existence precedes essence”. Today I’d like to talk about that concept, why it is flawed, and what implications all of this has for our wider society and political structure.

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