Vertical Thinking

by Nathan Cheever

Marginal Strangeness vs. Total Strangeness

At least 4.6 billion1 people believe they will live on after they die. They believe that somewhere, somehow, their spirit, soul, or essence will persist beyond the grave. However mystical the process, life after death is not a strange idea to them. In fact it is quite familiar and perhaps comforting. But to that same group the idea of reincarnation – of living again in a different human or animal body – that idea sounds too strange to take seriously.

Deprivation and Absence

In which I talk about the difference between the two

I stumbled upon a line when reading the other day that got me thinking. “Error is not just an absence, but a deprivation -— the lack of knowledge that somehow ought to be in me."1 Whether error is an absence or privation isn’t important to me at the moment, but how well this line highlights the difference between absence and deprivation. To illustrate the difference, if I say, “Mary had a little….

Love, cheese, and dead French philosophers

A triologue of three French philosophers on the intersection of intellect, love and how to educate our souls.

I’ve picked up reading Blaise Pascal’s Pensées lately and this statement made me wonder: “The greater the intellect one has, the more originality one finds in men. Ordinary persons find no difference between men."1 Do you agree? Intelligence corresponds with an ability to see, perceive, and find things. And not just regular objects, but qualities such as uniqueness, originality, and worth. Failing to see difference in men could mean one is more prone to prejudice and bias.

Form Thinking

Essay 1: An introduction to form thinking

The strangest homework assignment I received in college was to go outside after class and burrow into the ground. I did not complete that assignment. The next day my biology professor asked if any of us tried it. Nobody raised their hands. He then explained why. “That’s because you don’t have the right shape for burrowing! But a mole, with their small bodies, their paws and claws, they’re quite at home burrowing.

The Essential Philamping Packing List

Four maxims to pack when you're roughing it...philosophically

Today I want to talk to you about philamping and what to pack for it so you’re prepared. “Phila-what?”, I hear you asking. Yes, I made that word up. I guess that’s the kind of thing that happens when you’re driving across the country in a Uhaul with no radio or smartphone. My mind starts to mash up words. It means philosophical camping. I don’t think this term exists, but it ought to, as I’ll explain.

DeadTED #1: God Is Dead

A fictional TED-talk-like speech given by Nietzsche from his book 'The Gay Science'.

A fictional TED-talk-like speech given by Nietzsche from his book 'The Gay Science'.

Why I Recommend Philosophy

Mark Twain once said: “Philosophy is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime." Actually, the first word he said was ‘Travel”. Read it again with “Travel” and you’ll see that the two are interchangeable. They’re similar in that respect.

Human Free Will is a Qualitative Reality

In which I talk about why you should care about the free will debate

A year ago, free will was freedom to do what I wish. Eating a bowl of delicious honey nut cherrios now or later. Wearing the button down shirt I wore yesterday that doesn’t smell bad or a fresh one. Also, to decide who I will be, my attitudes, my priorities. To be the captain of my soul. That fullness of ability I often neglect yet that can still inspire me. That was free will.

Compulsion or Compassion?

A look at what’s behind Political Correctness

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”1 The Allure of Correctness My senior year of high school I fell perhaps too much in love with English. I gained a bit of a reputation as a grammar Nazi. I took a sort of pleasure in catching people when they dangled prepositions, failed on their subject-verb agreements, and said who when they should have said whom.

Brooks, Connors, Emerson, and Tolstoy on How to Balance Commitment with Change

We're told to decide and commit, but how do we stay flexible for change?

Introduction Sometimes it’s useful to call up a meeting with your personal board of directors when faced with difficult decisions. In this article, I’ll call in a few of mine to see what I can learn about the interplay of commitment and flexibility. Tolstoy’s Young Man with a Big Problem Nikolai Rostov was a young man with a major dilemma. He was betrothed to his cousin Sonya but he wasn’t in love with her.