On Life: Philosophical Dialogues

On Life: Philosophical Dialogues

On Life: Philosophical Dialogues

On Life: Philosophical Dialogues


'Do you believe we can know the truth about all things, or are there things we simply can never know the truth about?' This quote from On Life captures the spirit of the book. In it, four friends -- Director, Friend, Artist, and Scientist -- pursue, in short dialogues, the truth about such topics as love, happiness, madness, belief, and pleasure. the characters engage in serious inquiry, but in a lighter way, a way that allows them to hunt truths concerning life -- without burning out.This is useful philosophy: discussions of ethical questions and puzzles of life, in every-day language, without special terminology or complicated thought experiments. Each character in the book brings a distinct view to the topics addressed, enhancing the overall picture of the various themes.The book is well suited to the many of us who lead a harried life with compressed reading time available. the book can be read through at once or savored briefly, again and again. It's accessible to younger readers, while those with a philosophy background can also enjoy the way it treats familiar themes with a lighter touch.


What is this book and what is it not?

This book is an interwoven collection of short philosophical dialogues between four characters, where certain themes are taken up repeatedly, each time in a new light. This book is not a treatise. Who wants to read a strict treatise on life? I know I don’t want to write one.

But what makes up this book? the interaction between the characters, what they say to one another. and by what they say to one another, I mean what they say to Director and what he says to them.

Director appears in all of the dialogues. He is the only character who does. in fact, the other characters — Friend, Artist, and Scientist — appear only one at a time. So we can say the book is nothing more than Director’s conversations with them.

Who is Director? in some ways he resembles Socrates. But only in some ways. Director is our contemporary. He deals with issues other than those of Athens. Some of these issues grew out of ancient Greece. Many did not.

But Director differs from Plato’s Socrates in another important way. He gives no long speeches such as those we find in The Republic, for instance. the dialogues in this book are emphatically short. Director employs a different technique.

But to what end? What is the book about? I can only point to the title and say — life!

Yes, but what can you say about life that hasn’t already been said? Maybe nothing. But if we weren’t listening the last time through, it might be worth saying again.

So do I concede I say nothing new, that I just repeat the lessons of the past? Well, no. I freely admit I have no new doctrine to propound. But if I screw up my courage enough, I’m just bold enough to say — I offer a new approach.

Nick Pappas . . .

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