Philosophy Break is a clearing in your cluttered newsfeed. Each break takes only a few minutes to read, and is designed to spark curiosity about a particular talking point in philosophy — from how best we can live our lives, to the ultimate nature of the worlds we live in.
Philosophy Break's mission is to get more people engaged with philosophy. Our aim is to cultivate curiosity, encourage critical thought, and supplement a meaningful existence.
The addictive nature of the digital world afflicts many of us. The relentless torrent of information saturates our attention spans. But life is finite, and the things we give attention to define our lives. It's crucial to break free from the turbulent current and come up for air.
As Seneca put it almost 2,000 years ago in his brilliant treatise, On the Shortness of Life:
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.
But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realise that it has passed away before we knew it was passing.
So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.
Surrounded by distraction as we are, Seneca's words ring especially true today.
Streaming services hook us into one more episode; advertisements bombard us into submission; those of us with smartphones check them without thinking.
But the compulsion to watch, to shop, to hit refresh on our newsfeeds — all of it can be reined in by contemplating the world around us, and our place within it.
How can we best spend our lives on earth? What makes you happy? What gives you purpose?
Dwelling on such questions returns us to the present moment and fuels our drive for life, for as Socrates - that great martyr of philosophy - says:
The unexamined life is not worth living.
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