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Understanding Kant

During his life, influential philosopher Immanuel Kant did much to revolutionize philosophical thought. For example, in his first of three monstrously influential critiques, Critique of Pure Reason, Kant developed the concept of a priori knowledge, revolutionizing conceptions of metaphysics and answering destructive questions, such as the problem of induction and the closely related problem of causality posed by David Hume. However, Kant’s work on the aforementioned topics was expanded upon by his successors, thus diminishing the importance, not the influence, of his work. The other topic in which Kant has remained a major influence is his moral philosophy, known as the categorical imperative. The categorical imperative might actually be more influential than his transcendental idealism, just due to the more widespread interest in moral philosophy. In this post, I will be addressing the latter topic, Kant’s moral philosophy and righting what I see as a common misunderstanding of Kant’s moral philosophy. First, we’ll discuss the common misunderstanding of Kant’s philosophy, then elucidate why the misunderstanding is incorrect,  and finally, will explain Kant’s moral philosophy.

Kant’s moral philosophy is known as the categorical imperative, and contains 3 different formulations. We will only be examining the first and most famous one however, because that is where this mistake is being made. The first formulation of the categorical imperative is to, as written by Kant in Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.” In reading this, it is important to define terms. A maxim is a subjective principle of action, usually stated in a means end format. Next, a universal law is a law of action that all others must follow.

Now that we are introduced to the imperative, we will examine the mistaken interpretation and explain why it is incorrect. The interpretation that is mistaken, and a lot of people believe to be the nature of the categorical imperative, is that in any given situation, could you will that everyone else do it in similar circumstances. Thus, if I was stealing food to survive and had no cash, I could will that anyone else needing to survive and had no money would also steal food. However, upon further examination of the wording of the imperative, we learn this imperative to not be true.

The first error in this interpretation is in their understanding of categorical versus hypothetical imperatives. The categorical imperative can be broken down and better understood by examining the meanings of both words. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “it is an imperative because it is a command. More precisely, it commands us to exercise our wills in a particular way, not to perform some action or other. It is categorical in virtue of applying to us unconditionally, or simply because we possesses rational wills, without reference to any ends that we might or might not have. It does not, in other words, apply to us on the condition that we have antecedently adopted some goal for ourselves.” Thus, the imperative cannot then be applied to situations, leaving us with the question, how is it applied?

Let us once more examine the categorical imperative. “Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.” According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, to apply the imperative, “first, formulate a maxim that enshrines your reason for acting as you propose. Second, recast that maxim as a universal law of nature governing all rational agents, and so as holding that all must, by natural law, act as you yourself propose to act in these circumstances. Third, consider whether your maxim is even conceivable in a world governed by this law of nature.” By examining the third step, we realize the importance of a small word from the imperative, can. This can assumes you being able to do it within a rational world. For example, with lying, the effect of promising would become impossible, thus creating a logical inconsistency, and you not being able to will it. This means it is immoral and you have a negative duty not to lie.

Hopefully this has improved your understanding of Kant :D

Evan

The Life and Death Drives 3.0

To attempt to reconcile the two positions, we will briefly look at Freud’s Eros, or life/sex drive. In The Ego and the Id Freud sums up his conception of Eros, explaining “that Eros, by bringing about a more and more far-reaching combination of the particles into which living substance is dispersed, aims at complicating life and at the same time, of course, at preserving it”(38). Later, he furthers this explanation, saying “it its the claims of Eros, of the sexual instincts, which, in the form of instinctual needs, hold up the falling level and introduce fresh tensions” (46). Thus, Freud’s idea is that our sexual drive, also present in Darwin, aims to extend our life by bringing about short rises in tensions, accompanied with a opposite lowering of that tension, resulting in the sensation of pleasure. However, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud suggested that the sexual instincts, or Eros, “do not seek to restore an earlier state of things.” This creates a contradiction in his definition of instincts, which he felt so justified using for the death drive. If we are to, like the death drive, make slight alterations to Eros, this dispute can be resolved. Above we discovered that the death drive was actually a manifestation of the pleasure principle, which in trying to decrease tension, is always striving for tabula rasa, or the infinite pleasure initially felt by the psyche. This struggle for tabula rasa necessarily ends with death, the only other way to manifest infinite pleasure in the complete reduction of tension. Eros, on the other hand, supposedly strives towards life. However, if we recognize our inability to avoid stimulation, and therefore, reduce tension, we see that Eros is not a separate drive at all, but rather the death drive struggling against the constant increase of tension by stimuli. Stimuli are unavoidable in life. The mind, as such, must constantly deal with these stimuli and lower the tension caused by them, only to encounter the next stimuli. Sex, as well as sublimations of Eros, allow for the lowering of tension.

With this realization, we understand that Freud was in fact correct when he said that Eros spawns from the death drive, particularly, its constant war with stimuli. In addition, Freud was correct is saying that an “organism shall follow it”s own path to death,” as the death drive, whilst striving toward death, maintains life. In this way, Freud comments that “what we are left with is the fact that the organism wishes to die only in its own fashion” (47 BPP). This is because the increase in tension on the path to death is too great early in life, when our bodies are more receptive to stimuli. Thus, we avoid this displeasure in the immediate sense, always striving to reduce tension. However, with these understandings, we can do away with the death drive and Eros altogether. Freud manifested the pleasure principle in two drives by ignoring the temporal differences between ultimate goal, and the consequence of that goals manifestation. What then, is the consequence for Freud’s relationship with Darwin? With the pleasure principle now being the driving force behind both, we must reevaluate Darwin’s “struggle existence.” The pleasure principle, as formulated by Freud, necessitates a striving toward death, at least in the abstract. However, with the constancy of stimuli, the pleasure principle is shown to actually extend life. Thus, Darwin, a studier of organisms rather than the psyche, saw this pleasure principle as a struggle for life. Freud on the other hand, closely examined the psyche to discover the true logical nature of this drive. This distinction between the two led to an apparent contradiction, but with a new understanding of Freud’s concepts we have shot the supposed contradiction out of the sky.

In conclusion, the apparent contradiction between Freud, supporter of the death drive, and Darwin, supporter of the “struggle for existence,” was not a contradiction at all, but rather two viewpoints on the same principle, that of the reduction of tension, with the goal of increasing pleasure. We thus find that Darwin’s Natural Selection is not the primary process of nature, but rather a side effect of the pleasure principle and organic life’s desire to die their own way. In addition, we find that there is, in fact, no “beyond” the pleasure principle. The compulsion to repeat is a process intent on decreasing stimulation, thus bringing about more pleasure. However, the changes that we applied to Freud’s work do not invalidate his findings. Instead, we propose that he instead just explicated those findings in a way that was disingenuous to the facts of his research. In aligning these findings more in consistency with Darwin, Freud’s work not only gains more validity, but also results in a shift in our understanding of Natural Selection.

The Life and Death Drives 2.0

This is the second part of a three page paper. If you have not read the first post, i strongly recommend that you do so. It is entitled The Life and Death Drives 1.0

Sigmund Freud, beginning with his magnum opus The Interpretation of Dreams, pursued his own project, that of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis can be defined most basically as an effort to understand the workings of the human mind, but also includes an emphasis on the explanation of behavior and the treatment of psychological disorders. In 1920, Freud published a work entitled Beyond the Pleasure Principle in which he discussed the possibility of a motivation for human action and thought that was beyond the pleasure principle, which until then, had been the lone driving force according to psychoanalytic theory. According to Freud, the pleasure principle equated with an economic factor, specifically related to the raising and lowering of tension in the psyche. For Freud, pleasure and unpleasure can be determined through an analysis of “the quantity of excitation that is present in the mind but is not in any way ‘bound’”(4). Freud goes on to state that unpleasure corresponds to an increase in the quantity of this excitation and pleasure to a diminution. Thus, Freud’s pleasure principle is reminiscent of Epicurus definition of pleasure as a reduction of pain, but not completely the same, as Freud’s represents the economy of psychical energy. One can easily make the connection between this view and Darwin’s Natural Selection; whether you view Darwin’s struggle for existence as a life drive or a pleasure drive, connections with Freud’s pleasure principle are apparent. Given consistent conceptions of pleasure, Darwin viewed as a pleasure drive completely equate the two viewpoints. In addition, Freud’s negative definition of pleasure also lends itself toward the survival of the individual, thus creating a connection with Darwin’s “life drive.” However, although the pleasure principle is consistent with Freud’s viewpoint, we must now turn to the beyond of the title, the death drive, and hopefully repair a seemingly unsolvable dispute.


Written after the World War I, Beyond the Pleasure Principle seems to be Freud’s attempt to deal with the problem of what he calls “traumatic neurosis.” In particular, he is interested in the reason for the existence of a “compulsion to repeat” unpleasurable experiences. Freud remarks that “we come now to a new and remarkable fact, namely that the compulsion to repeat also recalls from the past experiences which include no possibility of pleasure”(21). This brings about a rejection of the pleasure principle for Freud. After outlining several insufficient explanation for these compulsions, Freud begins working toward the death drive with his discussion of instincts. Freud comments that “ an instinct is an urge inherent in organic life to restore an earlier state of things,” namely one that it was forced to abandon as a result of outside forces (43). Freud, based on this conservative notion of instinct, posits then that “the aim of all life is death,” and in doing so, solves his problem with the compulsion to repeat. Continuing, Freud elaborates on the death drive, suggesting that the“tension which then arose in what had hitherto been an inanimate substance endeavored to cancel itself out. In this way the first instinct came into being: the instinct to return to the inanimate state” (46). However, this raises serious concerns for Freud, whose major concern comes from those who are of the attitude that desires, motivations, or choices, cannot be confabulated, but must instead have basis in experience. This criticism that it would be ontologically impossible for a brain,composed of particles without a unique origin, to desire to return to an inanimate state. Herein lies the contradiction between Freud and Darwin. The death drive, as a drive toward the earlier inanimate state, is in direct contradiction of the struggle for existence. However, with reexamination, Freud’s work can be slightly altered so as to avoid drastic conceptual change, as well as possibly reconcile the contradiction with Darwin’s “life drive,” “pleasure drive,” or struggle for existence. Will this alteration of Freud be enough to maintain the theoretical structure? In addition, will it really solve the contradictory nature of the two thinkers ideas?

First, let us examine Freud’s conception of instinct, “an urge inherent in organic life to restore an earlier state of things.” It is from this definition that Freud says that other than the death drive, “we cannot arrive at any other notions as to the origin and aim of life” (46). However, by more closely examining Freud’s argument, we can indeed posit an alternate theory, contained within Freud’s conservative notion of instincts. As is noted above, one major problem with Freud’s argument is the idea of desiring a return to an inanimate state, which Freud said must be true due to psychical tension which arose from experience of stimuli. However, if we are to consider the mind tabula rasa for the briefest moment at its inception into the world, we can consider the death instinct a drive toward that state, devoid of tension. In this way, the drive necessarily results in death, but in Freud’s view of conservative instincts, cannot be a drive toward death. Let us briefly reflect on tension. Freud writes that it was due to the tension which arose from the inception of life that causes the death drive. Our model of a drive towards tabula rasa maintains such a disdain for tension and brings us to an exciting discovery, namely that the pleasure principle is the origin of this alternate drive regardless of whether we embrace Freud’s death drive or one toward tabula rasa. With the basis of the drive in the pleasure principle, along with abandonment of Freud’s illogical drive toward the inanimate state in favor of tabula rasa, Darwinian Natural Selection can be somewhat reconciled with the theories of Freud. However, with this desiring for a lowering of tension, being conservative in Freud, we still have a point of contention with Darwin. The question remains, how does the pleasure principle both support Freud’s drive, which necessarily results in death, and Darwin’s, which struggles for life?

The Death and Life Drives 1.0

Since it’s original publication in 1859, Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection has, with certain modifications, become a prevalent explanation for many previously unknown subjects. Natural selection fueled by the struggle for existence, Darwin’s major concept, revolutionized the human understanding of the physical processes occurring in the evolution of species. Similarly, Sigmund Schlomo Freud’s work in understanding the human psyche has had a significant impact on current psychology. His terminology and theories have pervaded into popular culture, and Freudian analysis of movies is a hoot and holler every time. Why, however, are these ideas so popular? Something about Freud’s theories and Darwin’s theories make sense to us. Even with their common sense appeal, they haven’t endured their criticisms without scars. The criticisms leveled at Freud, as opposed to Darwin, have been especially harsh, including from supporters of Darwin. For example, Freud’s idea of the death drive has been contested by many Darwinists who point out its contradiction with the struggle for existence, or the life drive, which Freud accounts of through the dualistic nature of his drives.. In this paper, I plan to examine the possible contradiction between Darwin’s seeming support of a survival instinct, and Freud’s death drive. Specifically, the question that I seek to answer during this paper is, “Does Freud’s support of the death drive contradict with Darwin’s theory of evolution, specifically the struggle for existence?” Before critically engaging Freud’s ideas with Darwin’s, I think it wise to explore and understand Darwin’s conception of the “life drive.”

Darwin’s project with On the Origin was to explain ideas he formulated from observation of species in nature. In regards to various questions about the nature of species, Darwin states that the answers “follow inevitably from the struggle for life”(40). Thus, we can already see Darwin’s “life drive” per se with the announcement for life. More completely, Darwin explains that “Owing to this struggle for life, any variation, …, if it be in any degree profitable to an individual of any species, …, will tend to the preservation of that individual”(40). Positive variations, then, are preserved through to the next generation, who also have a higher chance of surviving. Success in the struggle for life then, it seems, is based not on the individual efforts of an individual, but instead on variations “however slight and from whatever cause proceeding”(40). However, we must ask whether Darwin’s ultimate attribution of survival is to a individuals struggle or to these “slight but useful variations”(40). Darwin “called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection,” explicating that the cause of this selection process, although labeled by “the struggle for existence,” is actually explained not by the conscious “struggle” of any one individual, but by the forces of nature being more receptive to certain traits. What is the purpose of Darwin’s “struggle” then? He explains that he uses “the term Struggle for Existence in a large and metaphorical sense,” serving merely as a anthropomorphization of the economy of nature, which serves to eliminate those who are weak, due to the scarcity of resources (40). This economy, he explains, “is the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms”(41). The key idea behind Malthus’ doctrine, as referenced by Darwin, suggests that the limited availability of resources serves as a limit to the exponential growth of species. Darwin, using this principle, posits that the struggle for existence has it’s basis in the concept that at all times, the number of individuals striving for a particular resource R will always exceed the amount of R available. The explication of the Malthusian doctrine as the primary cause for economic struggle within nature brings us to the end of our exploration of Darwin’s “life drive.” An interesting way of thinking about Darwin’s theory is that the struggle the animal undergoes is toward a maximization of pleasure, rather than against death. Thus, animals with positive variations will be able to experience more pleasure in their life than animals without variations, mainly due to increased ease of life resulting from the advantageous trait. Recapping, it is the necessary competition of individuals as spelled out by the Malthusian doctrine as well as the Natural Selection of traits, which originally surfaced as slight but useful variations to an individual within a species, that account’s for Darwin’s apparent “life drive,” or struggle for survival. This struggle for survival, however, seems to be in direct opposition to Freud’s conception of a death drive. Can the two positions be reconciled and if not, which view represents a more accurate description of psychical drives?

Jay’s Intro – A Response

It should be stated that Jay and I are not in complete agreement in our philosophical approaches even though we are committed to a cohesive philosophy. This, we feel will lead to a better completed project, with disagreements becoming less and less prevalent as our young project continues to completion. That said, I would like to provide a response to a few of the ideas that Jay put forward in the previous post.

First, I should remark that the first section of the post is quite interesting, and I agree. It is important to recognize Nihilism as “a capacity for construction,” rather than a dead end. That is, our philosophy will recognize the Nihilism of the radical doubters who deconstruct truth, not of the destructive nihilism that comes to most peoples minds when the word is used.

The second section is where I begin to spot disagreements with Jay, first of all regarding Friedrich Nietzsche. I do not view Nietzsche as a nihilist, more specifically a moral nihilist, like Jay does. Instead, I view his deconstruction of the moral systems and ideas of his time period as the necessary first step in his project. While we have the postmodern tradition behind us to give us an intellectually solid ground to work from, Nietzsche had to create this himself. One notices in his writings that although he destroys the morality of his time period, he begins to posit a value system of his own. Therefore, I view Nietzsche as the first true post-nihilist, and his work has been both incredibly inspirational and essential to the post-nihilist philosopher. However, it is true that Nietzsche came up short, misunderstanding the necessary effect of others on our values, positing that the individual had almost complete control.

Next, I disagree with Jay that reason is a separate phenomena from reflection, and thus creation. Reason is nothing but a tool, serving faithfully in consciousness as the means to reflection. Without reason, we would not have the capacity to reflect, or to create. Reason structures and organizes our worlds, and is fundamental in the creation of the phenomenological concept of the lifeworld, a necessary component of intersubjective communication.

Finally, I disagree strongly with Jay that consciousness causes action, insofar as I believe him to be talking about the decisions we think we are making in the subjective experience of consciousness. If he is instead talking about the physical nature of consciousness in the brain causing action, then I agree with him.

However, overall our disagreements are trivial in relation to the developments of our philosophy, and only serve as grounds for improving upon that philosophy. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t post our disagreements when we have them, it just means that such disagreements are not grounds for dismissing our philosophy, as the two are separate phenomena.

Evan

Introductory Remarks for Purposes of Exposition and Clarity, as I see it

I

“One hundred and fifty years of metaphysical rebellion and of nihilism have witnessed the persistent reappearance, under different guises, of the same ravaged countenance: the face of human protest. All of them, decrying the solitude of man and the nonexistence of any kind of morality. But at the same time they have all tried to construct a purely terrestrial kingdom where their chosen principles will hold sway. As rivals of the Creator, they have inescapably been led to the point of reconstructing creation according to their own concepts.” – Camus

Rivalry with the Creator is senseless: he never existed. We will not occupy our efforts rejecting God, as this entails further servitude; we will let his corpse rot in peace – this will be our only blasphemy.

Today, though faith in the Enlightenment project has been shaken, the influence of God still lingers, laying heavy in the stale air of university lecture rooms and the mouths of dogmatic elitists. The philosophically aloof comprise a reactionary faction; their fetish for deicide precludes any attempt at resurrecting Modernism. The irrationality of theological philosophy has, ironically, bred a philosophy of irrationality totally unconcerned with anything human. Every reactionary force, however, will inevitably face a rebellion. We are the face of this protest, the human face of this human rebellion. Our guise will be our Nihilism, yet it will be unrecognizable to our opponents as such; they have lost Nihilism and found a comfortable popularity. Unlike the post-modernists, we do not derive an opposition to all philosophy from Nihilism. Nihilism is not disobedience – it entails more than tantrums of negation aimed at a fraudulent Father. Nihilism is the capacity for construction. Our tools will be all of philosophy and none of philosophy – where cancerous roots co-exist with ripe fruit, we are unafraid to pick from the tree of Knowledge; where rotten apples fall to the ground they will be met our heels and our contempt. Everything that must be dismantled will be redefined and recreated. We refuse to hide from philosophy – we demand its creation.

II – Value and Subjectivity

Morality, characterized by an unalterable set of unconditional duties, has been defeated by moral nihilism. However, it is a mistake to suppose, as the postmodernists do, that nihilism has exposed ethics as impotent tomfoolery. On the contrary, nihilism has benefited ethics by destroying its delusions of grandeur. The study of right action, unencumbered by faulty presuppositions, is finally ready to be undertaken. To objectively ground ethics, we must investigate the tenability of value. An honest approach begins with recognizing the strengths of nihilism.

Nietzsche, the first true nihilist of Europe, is also the only nihilist worth respecting. All others could not recognize nihilism’s gift: the ability to say Yes, to negate absolute negation itself, and to do so without hesitation. While many were drowning in Sadism and self-indulgent egotism, Nietzsche alone had the strength to attempt the trasnsvaluation of all values; not for the sole purpose of destroying value, but to, for the first time, create value. Post-nihilism falls into this tradition. We accept that value cannot be conceptualized as it was in the age of divinity. Ours is an atheistic age; even those who cannot find the courage to deny the existence of God have killed God in their hearts. Faith is not what it used to be. The limits of human knowledge and the contingency of our existence has altered the arena of value. This alteration, however, does not preclude the possibility of objective or absolute value. Instead, it demonstrates that the roots of ethics can go no deeper than the human world. Our values are ours and ours alone. It is helpful if we characterize Nietzsche’s message, as Camus does, as “summed up in the word creation.” Human beings, not God, are the creators of the world. As such, we are the creators of our own values. This necessary follows from a healthy skepticism; atheism can only strengthen the absolute certainty of this proposition.

The failure of Nietzsche’s thought was his inability to account for the structure of value itself. In the face of nihilism, absolute value certainly loses all content; if each subject is the creator of their own values, then there are no universal values. But in no way does this imply that subjective value cannot be coherently systematized, categorized, or organized into absolute value. Though the character of these values would be contingent on each subject’s determination, the possibility of an objective ethic cannot be precluded. At this point, we cannot assert the reality of such an ethic; it is enough to admit its possibility. This is a bold move for one that accepts the legitimacy of nihilist premises. In all probability, it was Nietzsche’s distaste for Kantian morality that blinded him to this possibility. His critiques of Kant are sound: we would be on shaky stilts if we attempted to structure an ethic on the faculty of reason. The conflation of reason and virtue, dating back to the Greeks, is sufficiently refuted by moral nihilism. Contingency alone is enough to strip reason of the almost divine status given to it by Kant. We need not replace God with the syllogism.

Instead, as shall be proposed fully later, reflection will be the key to structuring an ethic. For now, it is sufficient to take note of the premises we will need in this argument. First, reflection is a self-evident phenomenon of consciousness. The ability for consciousness to possess conceptual objects is the capacity for the transvaluation of value. Though reason is inevitably employed in reflection, and in a way presupposed in it, it is not reason itself that comprises reflection. Instead, reflection can be interpreted as the faculty of creation, and distinct from the faculty of reason. Second, consciousness has a structure. This is self-evident from the coherency of experience. This structure of the subject is the structure of value. Value is, as Sartre argues, consubstantial with subjectivity; though it is posited by epistemological assertions, it is not derived after reflection. It is instead concurrent with it. This does not mean that reflection is not necessary for value to become a conceptual object, only that value necessarily follows from subjectivity. In this sense, it is prior to knowledge. In another sense, it can only be articulated after reflection. We need not accept Sartre’s prereflective cogito, which comes with philosophical baggage, to utilize this distinction. Instead, we need only recognize that value is not contingent on reflection, and so can be embedded in subjectivity itself. Value is necessary. Reflection is likewise necessary. Together these two phenomenon of consciousness will lead to an objective ethic.

Currently, we need only recognize what Nietzsche failed to: value does not have to be consciously created, it is always being created. Every action produced by every consciousness is value-laden. This is the key to post-nihilist ethics. Of course, the beauty and profundity of human existence lies in our faculty of reflection, and it is through this faculty that we will discover an objective ethic and ethical progress. However, the necessity of value implies that the transvaluation of values is already complete; we have already transcended morality and are constantly positing wholly original values. What is missing, and this is the crucial distinction, is reflective recognition of this reality. This is the post-nihilist project. Much in the way Kant drew directly on the faculty of reason, we will draw directly on the phenomenon of reflection in our search for objectivity. Importantly, reflection and value share a relationship fundamental to subjectivity, so we will not have to stray far in our construction. We find some sympathy for this approach in Sartre: “reflective consciousness can be properly called a moral consciousness since it can not arise without at the same moment disclosing values.” The disclosing of values to consciousness skirts nihilist concerns of the meaning of value; values are disclosed by the subject to the subject in a self-evident and necessary fashion. Subjectivity is value. Reflection is consciousness of subjectivity and results in consciousness of value. And, as we will see, intersubjectivity is ethics.

Jay

Welcome to Post-Nihilism!

Hey guys!

Welcome to our blog! This first post is just explaining what our blog is about, what we plan to do with our blog, and what kind of content you’ll be seeing when you visit. First off, let me introduce myself. Jay will be posting in the near future with an introduction as well.

Well, I don’t know where to start. My name is Evan Oelschlaeger and I’m a rising junior at Macalester College, a small liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minnesota. I spent my childhood in Mequon Wisconsin, a wealthy(sigh) suburb north of Milwaukee. As I entered high school back in 2004 I began to take great interest in politics, probably fueled by the election that was happening that year, as well as by the conversations of a politically ideological family who frequently conversed on the subject.  As high school went on, I found myself in a friends group who, to the demise of our social lives, frequently discussed politics and religion, the two faux pas of lunch table conversation.

As I grew older however, I became more and more interested in the ideological basis behind the parties as opposed to the policies themselves. This began my interest in philosophy, albeit a very shallow exploration of it’s ideas. After taking AP Economics my junior year of high school, I knew that I was going to study humanities in college, more specifically Political Science or Economics. This interest led me to apply for a job at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as a community columnist. This position further solidified my interest in the humanities as I was given the opportunity to write and publish my opinions on topics of my choice, from free speech to moral relativism.

It was my interests in the humanities that helped me decide to go to Macalester, which had a fantastic International Studies program and a politically active student body. However, as I began to choose my First Year Course, a small seminar that all freshmen are required to take, the course that interested me most was a philosophy course called Ethics: Human Rights. First a basic introduction to ethical theory, the course was also a inquiry into the concept of human rights, thus creating an combination of topics that I simply could not turn down. After the class, I knew what I wanted to study. It was clear, philosophy was my passion, and I have been studying it ever since.

Now, what is this blog about? Quite simply the blog is a place for Jay and I to collect our philosophical writings, and share our ideas with the public. The blog will contain everything from short ideas or aphoristic essays that we write, to longer papers. We would love to hear feedback on what our readers think and are excited to read comments on our work.

The final question you may be asking is, what is post-nihilism? That, readers, you will have to wait and see.

Once again welcome to the blog, and I sincerely hope you enjoy your time here.

Evan