Michael W. Austin

Ideas that Matter.

Category: Philosophy (page 1 of 5)

Want Happiness?

If you want to be happy, stop trying to be happy.

In contemporary culture, we understand happiness very differently than in ages past. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts at Ethics for Everyone, (here and here), happiness in its classical sense meant something different than it does to our modern ears. A quick survey of dictionary definitions of happiness turns up the following contemporary understanding of happiness:

“pleasure, joy, delight…an active or passive state of pleasure or pleasurable satisfaction” (Dictionary.com)

“a pleasurable or satisfying experience” (Merriam-Webster.com)

“feeling, showing or causing pleasure or satisfaction” (Cambridge Dictionaries Online)

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Ideas that Matter: Seeking Wisdom for Everyday Life

I became a professional philosopher because I was convinced that ideas matter. I’m more convinced of that now. I’ve always approached any text, thinker, or idea in the hope that I could find some truth or wisdom. I believe that we should welcome truth and wisdom, wherever they can be found.

When I first launched this website and blog back in 2015, my plan was to focus primarily on ideas from a particular Christian philosophical perspective. However, many people associate the term “Christian” with much that is very un-Christian these days. Yet there are many ideas rooted in the historic Christian faith that can be very useful not only for those who are Christians, but others as well. This is true whether one has different religious commitments, or none at all.

There are ideas to be found in many religious and philosophical traditions that are helpful for our growth in moral and intellectual virtue as well as our pursuit of wisdom and happiness, and there is a tradition within Christianity of appropriating such ideas (for instance, see Acts 17 where Paul quotes Cretan philosophers Epimenides and Aratus).

With this in mind, I’m expanding the scope of this blog to include an exploration of such ideas in ways that people will hopefully find to be both interesting and helpful, regardless of your particular religious or philosophical perspective. That’s my hope, at least. If you’re a Christian and read this blog for particularly Christian ideas concerning life and the formation of character, I’ll still write about such themes. But I think you’ll find ideas from other traditions helpful and interesting. They will also help you find common ground with others to have conversations of substance. Here are a few posts to check out:

In that spirit, I welcome any comments and suggestions my readers might have. Feel free to send ideas for topics, thinkers, issues, or any other feedback my way. Let’s try to make some progress in our pursuit of truth, wisdom, and genuine happiness, together.

The 7 C’s of Success: A Strong Confidence

Tom Morris calls the following “The Seven C’s of Success”: a clear conception of what we want, a strong confidence that we can attain that goal, concentration on what it will take to achieve it, consistent pursuit of our goal, an emotional commitment to the value of our goal, good character that guides us along the way, and a capacity to enjoy the process.

I’ve previously discussed the overall approach to life and happiness that the Seven C’s fit within, as well as the first C of success: a clear conception of what we want.

The second C of success, according to Morris, is a strong confidence that we can attain our goal. As C.S. Lewis puts it,

Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already.

Morris is not arguing that we can do anything we put our minds to, nor that if we just believe we can achieve. Rather, he advises us to choose goals or projects for which success is a real possibility. Our goals may still be very challenging, but in some important sense they are still realistic. Given this, we can reasonably cultivate an inner attitude of confidence, which will help us not only pursue but achieve the goals in question.

While such confidence in ourselves is not required for success–we may just get lucky, after all–it has an important role to play. As Morris notes,

A strong confidence is no guarantee of success. But it is among the chief facilitators of it.

Confidence facilitates success because it helps us to persist and persevere through difficulties, reminds us that we chose the goal we are pursuing because it is within our grasp, and enables us to tap into the gifts and abilities that we possess. It may also help us discover new ones along the way, which can further boost our confidence.

The above is drawn from Tom’s entertaining and enlightening book, Philosophy for Dummies.

Radio Appearance on Faith and Sport

I recently was interviewed on the show “Faith and Sport” on Radio Maria. I discuss character and sports, at this link, around the 17 minute mark:

Pascal on Things that Matter

I wrote this a while back, over at Ethics for Everyone. But it seems just as important, if not more so, today. Pascal was a deeply committed follower of Jesus, and is still studied in philosophy programs around the world today. I especially appreciate that his philosophical thought is both deep and practical.

Want more from Pascal? See his Pensees.

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