The Examined Life

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Alumni Weekly: Mapping an Argument. Reading philosophy is not easy.

Alumni Weekly: Mapping an Argument

If you’ve ever slogged through, say, Kant’s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, you’ll know just how dense it can be. Simon Cullen, a postdoctoral fellow in Princeton’s philosophy department, watched students struggle with Kant and other difficult philosophers two years ago, while leading an undergraduate precept in moral philosophy. Cullen was starting to despair when he recalled the brightly colored argument “maps” he’d seen back home in Melbourne, where they were used to teach critical thinking. “Basically,” Cullen said, “[they offer] a way of expressing concisely the content and structure of an argument.” What is Philosophy? An Omnibus of Definitions from Prominent Philosophers. By Maria Popova “Philosophy is 99 per cent about critical reflection on anything you care to be interested in.” Last week, we explored how some of history’s greatest minds, including Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Isaac Asimov, defined science. Philosophy Experiments.



Community. Truth/Education. The Tree of Contemplative Practices. The Tree illustrates some of the contemplative practices currently in use in secular organizational and academic settings.

The Tree of Contemplative Practices

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list. Below the Tree you will find links to descriptions of many of these practices as well as a more in-depth description of the Tree and image files for downloading. Some of the practices on the tree link to further information–either on our website, or on Wikipedia.


Food & Health. Earth. Creativity. Arts. Technology. Science. Mathematics. Brain. Religion & Spirituality. Cosmos. Morgan Harris - George Steiner on the incompleteness of life. Time. Watchmen. Texts.