Friedrich Nietzsche spent his days hiking the Swiss Alps, where he discovered the joy of philosophy: not as a logical puzzle — but as an adventure.

Philosophy, as I have understood it hitherto, is a voluntary retirement into regions of ice and mountain-peaks — the seeking — out of everything strange and questionable in existence, everything upon which, hitherto, morality has set its ban. Through long experience, derived from such wanderings in forbidden country, I acquired an opinion very different from that which may seem generally desirable, of the causes which hitherto have led to men’s moralizing and idealizing…

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, Preface.3

The popular of image of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche has long been associated with Caspar David Friedrich’s famous painting, Der Wanderer über…

The love of fate as an alternative to individualism

It is not uncommon to see Nietzsche’s name counted among the individualist philosophers. Online, the overlap between fans of Nietzsche and the fans of Max Stirner — the infamous egoist-anarchist — is very strong. Even in Academia, Nietzsche is seen as a forerunner of the existentialist movement, whose authors were primarily concerned with the individual coming to comprehend, and define, his or her subjective experience.

John Watkiss (1961–2017) — The Birth of Free Will (Detail)

The reasons for seeing this streak in Nietzsche are not unfounded. Nietzsche’s rejections of the common morality, and of metaphysics itself, would seem to open the way to a radical individualism, wherein one is liberated…

Part II of PROMISED LAND, a series on the religious history of the United States.

Adam Smith, one of the patron saints of American Capitalism.


The religious history of America has always stood in curious relationship to its economic history. This is owing to the fact that the political revolution spearheaded by the United States was driven in turn the revolutions occurring in religious and economic thought.

The English Civil War of the mid-1600’s provided the perfect environment for the rise of liberal markets. In the chaos of the war, the royal monopolies and state license requirements couldn’t be enforced, which freed private holders of wealth from state regulation. This certainly aided in the opportunities for all merchants, big and small. …

Part I of PROMISED LAND: A series on the religious history of the United States.

Edward Percy Moran (1862–1935) — Pilgrim’s Landing (early 1900s)

The term “puritanical” usually connotes an insult in its usage today. But the label of “Puritan”, as an insult, has a history that goes all the way back to the reign of King Henry the Eighth, in the 1500’s. Henry himself was labeled a “Puritan” for his act of secession from England’s church. England’s reigning religious authority was separated from the authority of the Pope, with the inauguration of the Anglican Church.

Henry was a great example of the typical religious secessionist. He desired changes to the church doctrine, such as the doctrines concerning divorce (for personal reasons), and saw…

Whether we’re talking Star Wars or Twilight, Star Trek or Batman, there is no real difference between“canon” and “fan fiction”.

The entire argument has already been made in the headline and subheadline. The rest of this article will simply be a footnote on this point, which I believe to be more or less irrefutable.

Given this, you should recognize that this article is basically fluff, and consider that your next six minutes or so might be better spent doing something else.

Oh? You’re on your break at work and need something to pass the time? You’re in the restroom and need something to read? Or, you’re merely finding something else to occupy the agonizing, seemingly neverending hours of a sustained…

Disputing the popular view of Nietzsche as an irrationalist

“One of Nietzsche’s most famous maxims is that ‘truth serves life’, and that’s a very different idea than the purpose of truth, say, as the accurate representation of the objective world.”

— Jordan Peterson*

When Jordan B. Peterson first appeared on Sam Harris’ Waking Up Podcast (since rebranded as the Making Sense Podcast), the ensuing dialogue was as highly anticipated as it was ultimately disappointing.

Whatever you think of either of these figures, there is no question of their influence. Even after his visibility has waned a bit following his recent disappearance from public life (and stint in rehab), Peterson still has a fanbase of millions. Sam Harris’ popularity rivals Peterson’s, and he’s existed as an intellectual in the public eye for decades. …

What we find persuasive has very little to do with objective truth

The School of Athens (detail) — by Raphael (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

It seems like we’re always talking about “the battle of ideas” these days. This is nothing new— John Stuart Mill famously coined the term, “the marketplace of ideas” to describe open discourse within free societies. Given the availability for people to get their ideas into the public domain more easily than ever, the battle of ideas seems inevitable and beneficial.

When I say “we”, I’m of course referring to the philosophically-minded. Those of us for whom ethics is not simply inherited from our parents, for whom politics is not merely a team sport, for whom religion is not simply a…

The history of a divided world

Plato’s allegory of the cave by Jan Saenredam, according to Cornelis van Haarlem, 1604, Albertina, Vienna, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“The senses give both us and the animals access to the natural world, but we humans have superimposed a second world by internalizing a poem, thereby making the two worlds seem equally inescapable.”

― Richard Rorty

The second world that Rorty references is, of course, the “True world”, or the Lap of Being. The philosopher, Immanuel Kant, called this the noumenal world, or the world-as-such. This is in contrast with the world we experience through our senses. This is the objective world; the external world; the world of facts that don’t depend on human knowledge or perception.

Sometimes we call…

A brief history of “questionability” in the 20th and 21st century — and its victims.

Thomas Cole — Destruction (from the series The Course of Empire)

Philosophers are always thinking about the end. Why? Because every good story has a final chapter, where the conflicts are resolved and the loose ends are tied up. After having the same philosophical debates for such a long time, and without an end in sight to many of them, it is only natural to want to draw a definitive end point, however arbitrary such an end point may be. This encloses a given philosophical problem within a comprehensible narrative. Hopefully, dear reader, you can forgive me on this basis.

Nietzsche predicted the decline of Christianity in the western world. He…

“Socrates, to confess it frankly, is so close to me that almost always I fight a fight against him.”

— Nietzsche (fragment, 1875)

Socrates (470–399 BC), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900 AD)

Alpha and Omega

No philosopher has been more revered throughout history than Socrates. He was an unpopular figure in his own time, because he challenged the artists, statesmen, and other philosophers of Athens to explain their reasoning for what they held to be true. His unmitigated skepticism soured the community against him, and led to Socrates’ eventual downfall — but it is for this same reason that Socrates has been immortalized.

The persona of Socrates and his arguments come to us primarily through the writings of his student, Plato. Contained therein is a jewel of world literature, a philosophical…

K. J. L. Kjeldsen

Musician who has been touring for the past eight years. I write autodidact philosophy, memoirs, short stories and cultural criticism.

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