By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Philosophy=How to Live

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Update: Courtesy of, my latest book is now available for free through January 1, 2012, as part of a 5-day Kindle ebook promotion. You can get it for yourself and/or send it to someone else as a gift.

That is the old and perennial idea that will not die, in spite of the best efforts of ivory tower academic philosophers. Here is a link to an excellent book review in the Dec. 27, 2011, Wall St. Journal on A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry.

I found the book review of Ferry's points quite fetching since they match the insights I got from writing my recent short book on philosopher José Ortega y Gasset (by the way, if readers leave me their email in the comment box, I will send them a free Kindle edition of my book on Ortega via email).

What points does the French philosopher Ferry raise that match what I and others find in Ortega? Here are some of those points quoted from and/or summarized by me from the WSJ book review, which in turn quotes Luc Ferry:

1. Philosophy "gives us the intellectual resources for living 'in a better and freer way.' "

2. Philosophy must face the problem of "salvation" in the face of death. In other words, life presents a problem to be solved.

3. Christianity makes an enormous contribution to philosophy--namely, "that 'the moral worth of a person does not lie in his inherited gifts or natural talents, but in the free use he makes of them.' " So much for our culture's overemphasis on I.Q. and other alleged and exaggerated measures of innate ability. This assertion is right out of Ortega, who emphasizes, as those who read my new book will see, that all of us appear in life with particular circumstances, parameters, and constraints but also with a margin of freedom to decide what we are going to do in those straightened circumstances. Ortega, like Ferry, will give a big and generous nod to the value of Christianity to Western philosophy.

4. Ferry speaks about the need "to reassert the possibility of human freedom--human choice," in the face of a pseudo-scientific determinism that is in vogue (it seems now more than ever). Ortega eloquently emphasizes that such freedom is metaphysically constitutive of human living--we live by deciding what we are going to be, we live with a freedom of decision-making intrinsically ordered to the future.

Yes, it is very providential, in my view, to have this book and book review emphasize the Orteguian themes that I also find crucial for our times. 

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