Joseph Addison: On Honor and Cato

Born in 1672, Joseph Addison is an English writer well-known for his 1712 tragedy, Cato, which was performed for George Washington’s Continental Army at Valley Forge and was a major literary inspiration for many of the key figures of the American Revolutionary War. The tragedy is about the final days of the stoic Roman statesman, Marcus Portius Cato, during which he contemplates the approaching army of his enemy, Julius Caesar. At the close of the play, Cato chooses an honorable death by suicide rather than a dishonorable surrender to Caesar. Continue reading

NIETZSCHE: The Dignity of Work

“Such phantoms as the dignity of man and the dignity of work are the feeble products of a slavery that hides from itself.” 19th century German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote these words in a short preface titled, The Greek State. In the preface, Nietzsche denounces the belief that work is honorable. On the contrary, he argues that work is a shameful necessity of culture. In this video, we will explain Nietzsche’s argument and we will also discuss whether his argument holds true today. Continue reading

Gustave Le Bon: The Crowd

In his 1895 treatise titled, Psychology of Crowds, the French sociologist Gustave Le Bon asserts, “An individual in a crowd is a grain of sand amid other grains of sand, which the wind stirs up at will.” Crowd psychology is a relatively new science, and Le Bon is one of its first scholars. In this video, we will discuss Le Bon’s thoughts regarding crowd psychology, and we will also interpret a few modern mass movements through the lens of Le Bon’s work. Continue reading

Ingersoll: Free Will

Commenting on the notion of free will, 19th century American thinker Robert G. Ingersoll writes, “People are under the necessity of feeding, clothing, and sheltering themselves. To the extent of their actual wants, they are not free. Every limitation is a master. Every finite being is a prisoner, and no man has ever yet looked above or beyond the prison walls.” In this video, we will discuss Ingersoll’s argument that free will does not exist. Continue reading

William James: The Moral Equivalent of War

In his essay titled, The Moral Equivalent of War, 19th century American philosopher William James writes, “History is a bath of blood. Our ancestors have bred pugnacity into our bone and marrow, and thousands of years of peace won’t breed it out of us.” Although war is horrific, it is also beneficial. Wars promote political unity by uniting people against a common enemy, and wars promote the cultivation of virtue by inspiring people to perform noble and heroic deeds of self-sacrifice. In this video, we will discuss William James’ examination of the relationship between mankind and war. Continue reading

SENECA: On Providence

If an all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful God exists, why does evil and suffering befall good men? This question has perplexed theologians and philosophers for centuries. Many have tried to solve this problem. Of the numerous proposed solutions, the Latin philosopher, Seneca, provides one of the best. He simply asserts that no evil ever befalls good men. In this video, we will discuss Seneca’s short essay titled, On Providence, in which he explains his unique solution to the problem of evil. Continue reading