Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Modern Take on Gorgias

Plato’s dialogue Gorgias is mostly about the difference between content and form. Or rather it’s about how Socrates saw the difference between philosophy – content and truth – and rhetoric – form and words. Both of which are practiced and studied today in much different forms from what they were in ancient Greece. But the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Crito: Doing What’s Right

In his dialogue, Crito, Plato has Socrates gently admonish his friend, Crito, for his concern over what the uneducated public might think, or might spread by rumour and gossip, and encourages him instead to focus his attention on those ‘reasonable people’ who know the facts and in doing what is right: “Why, my dear Crito, should we pay […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Skepticism Too Easily Slides Into Cynicism

Years spent in the media, plus decades of independent practice as a writer and social critic honed my native skepticism into a protective psychological barrier against a wide range of social ailments and inappropriate, often dangerous beliefs. It has made me question motives, statements, logic and conclusions, and search for the underlying truths. It motivated me to explore, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Best of Times

I was overcome this weekend with an urge to re-read Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities. I suspect it’s because of its brilliant, powerful opening. That opening epitomizes for me Collingwood’s municipal election and the dichotomy between the two camps: positive versus negative. It was the best of times, it was the worst […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Plato’s Apology

Plato records the trial and death of Socrates in four dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito and Phaedo. I’ve been reading The Apology this week and finding in it references that reflect well in today’s world, particularly in politics.* In The Apology – which meant defence in Greek, not saying sorry as it does today – Socrates defends […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Utility Animal

In the July/August edition of Pets Magazine (the Cat Care issue) there are two articles that caused me concern. One is “The Loyalty and Bravery of a Cat” (p.28), the other is “Quick-Thinking Cat Saves the Day.” (p.26). The latter is a pet profile from the Purina Hall of Fame that honours pets for “extraordinary […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Examined Lives

Thought and deed. Thought and life. How does a person’s life, their upbringing, their daily toil affect their deepest thoughts, their beliefs, faith and passions? And as outsiders looking in, can we understand a person’s thinking by examining their lives? Can we understand their philosophy that way? I don’t know. Biographies describe the events of […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Extra Virginity

For some time before I got this book, I’ve been aware that there is more to olive oil than meets the eye. Or tongue. How much more really was startling. When I started reading Tom Mueller’s 2012 book, Extra Virginity: the Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, I was simply amazed at how little I […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Some Latin Quotes to Ponder

Here are some translations from Latin quotations I took from a few books of mine, notably The Anchor Book of Latin Quotations, compiled by Norbert Guterman (Anchor-Doubleday, New York, 1966 and reprinted 1990) and Cave Canem: A Miscellany of Latin Words & Phrases, by Lorna Robinson (Walker & Co., New York, 2008). Some of these […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Unexamined Life

“The unexamined life,” Socrates declared in his trial, “is not worth living.” His student, Plato, wrote down those words in his account of Socrates’ trial and death, in the book, Apology.* Socrates was speaking for himself and about the value of his life as a thinking person. He was on trial in 399 BCE for impiety – […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Emperor’s Handbook

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus was considered the last of the “Five Good Emperors” of the Roman Empire. He lived 121-180 CE and died while on campaign in Germany. Like many Roman thinkers of his day, he followed the popular Stoic philosophy and his writing became an important document in the late Stoic phase of classical […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Treasure Trove

A recent trip to Toronto to see family and friends – and celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary – also netted me a treasure trove of books, thanks to the proximity of a new/used BMV bookstore to our hotel. And, of course, Susan’s patience while I browsed the shelves. Several times. I managed to find a […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Coffee with Cicero

Can you imagine what it would be like today to be able to meet the Roman philosopher, Cicero, for coffee and spend an hour chatting? Or meeting up at a local pub and settling down to a beer or glass of wine? How great would that be to spend an hour with one of the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Taoist Lessons for Politicians

Those who look down upon this world, will surely take hold and try to change things. So begins verse 29 of the 4th century BCE Chinese classic (Jonathan Star translation*), the Tao Te Ching. That verse suggests that those who feel themselves superior to the world and to others, who feel their actions, thoughts, views and beliefs are above […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Machiavelli and Xenophon

Another piece posted on The Municipal Machiavelli this week; this time a short comment about Machiavelli and Xenophon, the ancient Greek writer who Niccolo referred to in The Prince and The Discourses: ianchadwick.com/machiavelli/machiavelli-and-xenophon/ This recent post was sparked by a review of a new book on Xenophon aimed at the business-management reader: Larry Hedrick’s Xenophon’s […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: How to Run a Country

I’ve posted a review of Philip Freeman’s book, How to Run a Country on the Municipal Machiavelli site, here: ianchadwick.com/machiavelli/how-to-run-a-country/ Freeman’s work is a short (132 pages in a small format) book with a mix of English and Latin content derived from the writing of Marcus Cicero, thematically chosen around the topics of governance, politics […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Tricks of the mind

Reading involves bit of trickery. Mental trickery. It engages the imagination and fools us into thinking we are there within the book: nestled beside the author, or better yet, beside the characters. Immersed in the created world, floating through it like a ghost in a haunted house movie, or perhaps in the imagined flesh, interacting […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Gut instincts

A story on Science Daily says research suggests our so-called “free will” may be less free than we ever imagined. We may, instead, be meat puppets ruled by the desires and cravings of the smallest symbiotes we carry: our gut bacteria. The story opens: It sounds like science fiction, but it seems that bacteria within […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Great books: the academic view

In the mid-1990s, journalist David Denby took on a personal challenge to return to Columbia University for a year to take two courses, both focused on reading the “great books” of the Western canon. The results and his observations – along with an entertaining bit of biography about his journey – is told in Great […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Re-reading Heraclitus

I started to re-read Haxton’s 2001 translation of Heraclitus last night. I came across references to him when reading introductory material on Montaigne recently and I wanted to flesh out my knowledge and understanding. Heraclitus of Ephesus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived during the transformational Axial Age, roughly contemporary with other philosophers like Gautama Buddha, Zarathustra, Confucius and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Montaigne’s library

I read yesterday that Montaigne had a library of 1,000 books, of which he was very proud. It was his retreat – the room he went to where he wanted to get away from things and write. Machiavelli, too, had a study with a small collection of books he treasured, albeit a much smaller selection. […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Ruthful, funct and doleless

Why can’t someone be clueful, only clueless? Hapful, not simply hapless? Aweless instead of just awful? Ruthful not merely ruthless? Doleless, not just doleful? Gormful, not just gormless? We can be thoughtful or thoughtless, careful or careless, mindful and mindless. Why not ruthful and gormful? Why not the qualities of ruthiness, gormliness and doleliness? Can […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Lore of Tea

Whoa! Down the rabbit hole I tumbled this week. I started reading about tea in several books I recently purchased. What a story. What a delight! Many hours spent between the pages absorbing culture, history, types, classifications, production, terroirs and marketing.* I’ve read bits and pieces about tea before; mostly history and cultural notes; some […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: How to Spot a Communist

As I just learned from a recent piece on Open Culture, I must be a Communist. Based on my preference for writing (and reading), that is. (This would definitely surprise my left-wing friends who often think I’m right of Stephen Harper… himself being so far right of the iconic Genghis Khan that it defines a […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Reading the Dhammapada

One of the most inspirational, moving books in my library is the Dhammapada, a collection of sayings of the Buddha, originally from the Pali canon. I’ve had a version of the Dhammapada in my library since the late 1960s, and read it through many times. It’s good to reread it often. My first copy I […]