Philosophy series: Montaigne edition

Michel de Montaigne is perhaps one of my favourite philosophers. Rather than spouting obscure phrases or finding ethereal ideas – his writing was very much based upon the real world. He could be considered something of a narcissist as he largely wrote about himself, but as his anecdotes were largely combined with insightful observations about the world… I think he can be forgiven.

Montaigne believed that many people were unhappy because they felt inadequate in some way. For anyone who has lacked self-esteem at any point, this is an easy concept to identify with!

Montaigne identified different areas that he felt were particularly problematic – our own bodies, society as a whole and the world of intellect. It strikes me that although Montaigne was writing in the 15th century – his ideas still pervade the world today.Read More »Philosophy series: Montaigne edition

The Philosophy series: The Epictetus edition

Today we continue with the Philosophy series – asking what wisdom the second century C.E. philosopher, Epictetus can impart to parents today. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been thinking a lot about returning to work but I think that he has provided a way to look at the world a little differently.

Epictetus based his work on the philosophy of early Stoics – think logic, physics, and ethics – but the teaching we can draw on today (the Discources and the Handbook) largely focus on ethics. The ultimate aim of a Stoic teacher was to help his students reach eudaemonia (happiness). Given that happiness is a good goal to hold both as a parent and individual, I don’t think it’s a bad pursuit.Read More »The Philosophy series: The Epictetus edition

The Philosophy Series: The Seneca addition

This time of year is naturally all about resolutions.  Whether your aim is to lose weight, read more, laugh more, or even continue your life without any new goals, I believe that Seneca can give pause for thought.

Seneca was a Roman Philosopher in the 1st century, who identified anger as a serious problem in the Roman empire and aimed to try to remedy this issue. He had good reason, given he worked for the notoriously mental emperor Nero. That said, anger can be an issue for many people on different levels today too. Sometimes it may be as mild as a simple irritation or perhaps a resentment over something – either way, it’s rarely a positive feeling.  Seneca offered a rather simple solution to dealing with it…

Read More »The Philosophy Series: The Seneca addition

The Philosophy Series: Epicurus edition

Epicurus was a 3rd century Greek Philosopher who is interesting purely because of the way that his ideas have pervaded philosophy throughout the ages. Only small fragments of his writings have made it through the channel of history, yet we know quite a lot about his life and his ideas because of his influence on others.

Epicurus is our philosopher for Christmas because he spent much of his life considering what it meant to be happy. He believed that we should not feel bad about our own happiness and indeed that we should chase the things that give us pleasure. Whilst that may conjure ideas of great feasts, flowing gin and tonic and piles of new books – he actually followed a very simple life, supping on water, bread, and a few olives.Read More »The Philosophy Series: Epicurus edition

The Philosophy series: David Hume edition

An old school friend of mine posted on Facebook that her five year-old had recently posed the question, ‘How did the first person get on this world? There wouldn’t have been anyone for them to be born from.’

Whilst I  found the question amusing, my response was definitely that of a philosophy teacher:

‘David Hume would say that she’s only looking for a first cause because it’s emotionally reassuring, and that you should tell her that ‘instances of which we have had no experience need not resemble those of which we have had experience…’ The existence of man may just be ‘brute fact’.

I was initially worried that my response was overly convoluted but I needn’t have worried as my friend’s response was additionally thought provoking –  pondering the question of why children ask some questions and of course, the observation that they are rarely governed by reason!

It struck me that a number of the philosophers that I talk about in the classroom are applicable to the world of parenting and that it would be interesting to consider what advice they may give – so let’s begin with Hume:Read More »The Philosophy series: David Hume edition