An updated, categorized list of links to all my Medium articles

Here you can find any of my Medium articles at a glance. I’ve divided the series into categories and tried to order them logically, beginning each category with more general or primary writings or with ones that explore the historical background to the problems at issue. I’ve also tried to arrange the categories logically, starting with some of my more foundational writings, and ending with the social applications.

My older writings, going back to 2011 (I started writing on Medium in late 2019), can be found here. …

The hard problem of cultural variety ignored by progressives

Image by Life Matters, from Pexels

According to many liberals and their hallowed critical race theory, racism is everywhere, not just in overt acts of bigotry.

But in the context of political correctness, “racism” is only a shibboleth, a label to signal our virtue or a totem around which we dance. Let’s pause, then, for a moment and attempt to clarify what we’re supposed to be talking about when we level the charge of racism.

Concepts as Simplified Models

Racism is discrimination against individuals that begins with overgeneralizing about their presumed “racial” characteristics. The most extreme instance would be a snap judgment, say, that an African American stranger is violent…

Advanced Philosophy

Sexual games of power and love.

Image by Cody Black, from Unsplash

Why has there been so much more philosophizing about the meaning of death than about what’s hailed as the crowning joy of life, which is lovemaking? Have the world’s intellectuals as a class been creepy and morbid, preoccupied with the ominous and the disconcerting? Or have they done us a favor by avoiding the topic of sex because it is at least as absurd as death?

The Emergence of Modern Shame

In fact, that question is ill-posed. For thousands of years, sex for most people was transactional and meant relatively little because there was no widespread recognition of what we call personhood. …

Buddhist pragmatism and the secular reconstruction of morality

Image by Sayan Nath, from Unsplash

In so far as Buddhism features the Four Noble Truths, this religious philosophy is essentially pragmatic.

These four truths are (1) that life in samsara is characterized by dukkha, by suffering one disappointment after another; (2) that this suffering is caused by a mental deficiency, namely craving or the emotional attachment to things; (3) that this suffering can end by correcting that deficiency and renouncing what was craved; and (4) that the Noble Eightfold Path is a plan for correcting that inner deficiency.

Notice, then, that there’s no normative force to any of these essential Buddhist teachings. Even the eightfold…

The existential implications of hypnosis.

Image by cottonbro, from Pexels

A young fellow walks up to a young woman on a beach and asks if she’d like to be hypnotized for fun. She gives her consent, so he puts his hand on her shoulder and asks her to focus on his other palm as he goes into a rhythmic verbal patter, a series of instructions to calm her until she’s so relaxed that her head dips down and he supports her weight to keep her standing.

While she’s in that state of deep relaxation, he inputs a command, telling her that when he snaps his fingers, she’ll forget her name…

A perfect storm of paranoia, histrionics, militarization, and police humiliation

Image by Lorie Shaull, from Flickr

Even with multiple, unedited police bodycam videos released to the public, the essence of what happened when several police officers killed George Floyd doesn’t seem to be common knowledge. Certainly, the truth isn’t reflected in the politically correct, “woke” version of events drummed up by the corporate media outlets which are sure to show only snippets of the long footage, thus concealing the full picture.

If you asked most Democrats why Floyd died that day, they’d say the ultimate cause was “systemic racism.” That’s an oversimplification, based on unsustainable “postmodern” hyperskepticism and on liberals’ toxic femininity which their culture war…

Why enlightened mystics should be amoral nihilists

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In the Chinese version of the Diamond Sutra, the Buddha is credited as having said, “All conditioned phenomena are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow; like dew or a flash of lightning; thus we shall perceive them.”

Now ask yourself whether a wise Buddhist would thereby feel obligated to come to the aid of any part of this illusory world, including the aid of other living things. Could a dream, an illusion, or a shadow have moral rights? Would the crime of raping a woman or of murdering a child be any more consequential, mystically speaking, than…

The myopia of Chinese prudence and the necessity of nonrational ideals

Image by denis pan, from Unsplash

I recall that when I was a kid I once saw a cool-looking robot toy in a hobby store, and I begged my father to buy it for me. The small, plastic robot was gray and blue and was encased in a box that had a plastic window in front so you could see the enticing toy. My dad obliged and I’ve never forgotten that as soon as I opened the box the toy fell apart. The box was the only thing holding the limbs to the torso. …

Advanced Philosophy

Naturalizing Plato’s pessimism about nature.

Image by Daniel Lonn, from Unsplash

Is everything we perceive cheapened by its inferiority to a deeper reality?

This is what Plato argued, building on a presocratic dichotomy between an eternal, abstract, unified reality, and the mere appearance of a multiplicity of changing things in nature. Plato in turn distinguished between the eternal Forms or blueprints, such as the perfect triangle or the perfect dog, and the instances or approximations that only imperfectly imitate the Forms.

The surprise for us, though, should be that this subversive dualism can be reformulated in scientific terms. …

Our flawed coping strategies in religion and secularism

Image by Guillaume de Germain, from Unsplash

Most societies in history have been religious and even theocratic in that the priests who officiated the ceremonies held political power too. The word religion” comes from the Latin “ligare,” which means to tie or to bind, this being the same root of “ligament,” meaning the fibrous tissue that holds in place bones and organs.

According to that root meaning of “religion,” the members of an irreligious society would have to be defined largely by their lack of social binding. …

Benjamin Cain

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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