Thursday, November 26, 2015

What leads to eudaimonia (human flourishing)?

Philosophy Now shares Philip Cafaro's "The Virtues of Self-Help" from its March-April 2004 issue. The article examines five self-help bestsellers for "virtue ethics," including Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul. The other selections are Wayne Dyer, Your Erroneous Zones (1976); Robert Ringer, Looking Out for #1 (1977); Leo Buscaglia, Love (1972); M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled (1978).

Cafaro suggests, "[A] benefit of looking at the self-help literature is that it focuses our attention on popular, current conceptions of human excellence and flourishing. Early in the virtue ethics revival, many proponents called for an increased empiricism in ethics, but more recently this goal seems to have been forgotten. In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle considers popular conceptions of eudaimonia, or human flourishing, partly because such popular beliefs are likely to contain some truth and because they are necessarily in competition with any doctrines that philosophers may propound."

Cafaro states, "Of the five authors surveyed here, only one, Thomas Moore, consistently uses the word ‘virtue’ to denote those character traits or personal qualities he praises. ‘Virtue’ is my word for such qualities. Interestingly, these authors get by without any single general term for the traits they are praising, but those of us who want to analyze and compare their views need such a term and ‘virtue’ is the natural and traditional choice."

He includes a chart sharing each author's list of desirable virtues with selected quotes from their books. For Care of the Soul, Cafaro shows: "Imagination, attentiveness, intelligence, self-knowledge, ‘capacity to be affected’, devotion, intensity (passion), creativity, forcefulness, individuality, courage, strength, depth, insight, self-acceptance, wisdom, reverence."

His quotes from Moore's Introduction are:
“We know intuitively that soul has to do with genuineness and depth … it is tied to life in all its particulars – good food, satisfying conversation, genuine friends, and experiences that stay in the memory and touch the heart. Soul is revealed in attachment, love, and community, as well as in retreat on behalf of inner communing and intimacy.” (pp.xi-xii)

“Fulfilling work, rewarding relationships, personal power, and relief from symptoms are all gifts of the soul.” (p.xiii)

“The goal is a richly elaborated life, connected to society and nature, woven into the culture of family, nation, and globe.” (p.xviii)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Columnist vows to try harder to live in the moment

". . . And he told me he thought people who sought ways to see their own religious traditions with fresh eyes and new perspective were doing a good work. 'But it does take imagination,' he said, handing my book to me." 
Owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Deseret News publishes Jerry Earl Johnston's piece about attending Thomas Moore's book signing for A Religion of One's Own, "A man for all seasons of the heart".

Johnston writes: "I heard him speak about the book in a West Coast bookstore not long ago. I liked what he had to say that night. I also liked the way he said it. Moore has mastered the art of living in the present moment. His mind doesn’t race ahead or drift off. He listens attentively, monitors his emotions and remains open to any and all spontaneous impressions that come his way. That ability, often associated with Buddhism, is the polar opposite of a performance. A performance is canned, prepackaged. Living in the moment is about being aware."

After receiving his signed book, Johnston concludes, "In that moment, I vowed to try harder to live in the moment. In fact, in my moment with Thomas Moore, it seemed like the only way to live."

Monday, November 09, 2015

Christ Church opens inclusive center in Houston

The Houston Chronicle publishes "Church will offer options for 'spiritual, not religious' generation" by Kyrie O'Connor who describes a new center that will "focus on community over doctrine."
"In January, The Bishop John E. Hines Center for Spirituality and Prayer will open in a repurposed printing plant at 500 Fannin, just across the street from Christ Church. The new space — harnessing a countervailing force in spirituality that has taken root nationwide — will incorporate elements from Eastern religions and emphasize community over doctrine, offering yoga classes and a labyrinth where visitors can walk and meditate."
"A recent Pew Research Center Study showed that 35 percent of millennials list their religious affiliation as "none" — but that doesn't mean they're all atheists. The Hines Center hopes to reconnect to those millennials who fall into the category of "spiritual, not religious," [Rev. Barkley] Thompson said." 
The article quotes Thomas Moore, author of A Religion of One's Own:
"I travel quite a bit, and I hear this all over," he said.  Young people's needs are often not being met.
"They are not fed by traditional Christian and Jewish religion. They want something, but they can't go back." While he sees plenty of people who are soothed and strengthened by tradition, it's not for everyone.
"It's a tougher world, and you have to think for yourself more," Moore said."