The Coherence of Biography and Philosophy: Hans Jonas’s Philosophical Biology in the Light of his Personal Memoirs

My senior thesis was just posted on VoegelinView.com.

VoegelinView

The topic is the relationship between a person’s biography and his or her philosophy. I studied this by reading a particular thinker’s memoirs and relating these to his philosophical writings to show the coherence between his experiences and his insights.

Feel free to take a peek, here.

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Don’t be a Nodder: Painting, Poem, and Periagoge

On Saturday I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with a group of wonderful students with whom I am currently attending the Witherspoon Institute‘s First Principles seminar.

Although it was my first time to the Met, being there reminded me of attending “Museum School” as a child. For one full week in Grade 3, my class and I had daylong visits to the Glenbow Museum where we explored art, artifacts, exhibits, historical documents, and international collections. We were given journals and encouraged to be curious and careful observers. The goal was to be still and observe with a sense of wonder, reflectively considering the “5Ws” – who, what, when, where, and why. We were encouraged to not try to observe everything, but rather to observe a few things well. We were educated to not race throughout the museum saying superficially, “That’s nice” and “That’s interesting.” In short, the most memorable lesson of Museum School was: “Don’t be a nodder.”

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Dying with Dignity?

Below is an excerpt from my parents’ Letter from the Editors in the May 2012 issue of The Carillon, the newsletter of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary:

Last month our daughter, Amanda, attended the Dying with Dignity seminar in Calgary. She wanted to, as St. Augustine urges, “hear the other side” of the euthanasia debate. Amanda said that she felt she was observing a contradiction. The seniors were visiting, laughing, discussing and snacking and everything they did seemed to affirm life. Yet, all the while, they were trying to advance the “right to die.” Proponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide seem to think that suffering is the greatest evil. Amanda has been reflecting on Socrates’ argument that it is better to suffer evil than to commit it. As Catholics, we unite our suffering with Christ’s sacrifice so that it can be transformed by God’s redemptive power. We agree with Amanda when she says that we ought to ground our public policies in a life-affirming philosophy rather than case-by-case verdicts on questions of convenience. She says that the answer to elder abuse is to eliminate the abuse, not the elder. It is the sanctity of human life, not our utility, that gives ultimate purpose to our lives. Let us recognize the face of Christ in the elderly and celebrate God’s gifts as they enrich our lives and we enrich theirs.

– Monique and Myron Achtman