The Contemplative’s Socrates: A Dialogue

I’ll be in dialogue with David Collins (@bodhidave3) at The Stoa on August 20.

We’ll be discussing Dave’s latest article for TSV, “The Contemplative’s Socrates.”

RSVP here for access.

Dave will highlight Socrates’ daemonic and spiritual side, offering the perspective that the origins of Western philosophy were rooted as much in contemplative practice as in rational argument.

I’ll draw from some of my own research to ask Dave about the relation between spiritual exercise and reason, using insights from Pierre Hadot.  

Askēsis and Care of the Soul

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In the lectures published as Plato and Europe, Jon Patočka (1907–1977) asks a series of questions: What does the soul mean? What is its significance? and What does it mean to care for it? These questions Patočka says are central to the heritage of Europe’s spiritual identity. To answer them, he will appeal to readings of Greek myth, Plato, Democritus, and Aristotle, but more fundamentally these questions are approached in the mode of phenomenology, principally stemming from a unique reading of Husserl, and to an extent Heidegger. I won’t recount Patočka’s historical exegesis here, as my concern is with the phenomenological account he gives, and with how this understanding relates to the role of askēsis, or spiritual exercise, in the formation of perception. To this end, I will summarize Patočka’s phenomenology, paying attention to the role care of the soul plays within it, before making my own connections with askēsis. Continue reading

Philosophy: The Practice for Death and Dying for The Stoa

What I’m going to do today is offer you some concepts and ideas that come out of Western traditions of contemplation and philosophy that I think may aid us in navigating the times ahead. So I’ll say a little bit about practice in general, and then I want to talk about a few texts—namely, Plato’s Phaedo and Pierre Hadot’s reading of philosophy as spiritual exercise. I haven’t developed all of these ideas as much as I’d like to, but I’m hoping we can have a little discussion afterwards and maybe unfold these themes a bit further. I’ll also post a list of the texts I’m using if anyone wants to follow up on them later. Continue reading