Thought-Provoking Things 2020

Here are the books, podcasts, and television shows I encountered this year that I’ve found myself thinking about again and again:

<< See Part 1- The Fifth Risk, Michael Lewis

Part 2- The Will to Power: the Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

Dr. Gordy Mower, one of my favorite philosophy professors at Brigham Young University, gave me some advice that has stuck with me, he said “For most of you studying philosophy will not be your career or something that dominates your time and attention, but I urge you to make sure that you take time each year to engage with at least one philosophical work.” He admonished: “You have put a lot of work and thought to develop this part of your mind and it would be a shame to let that die out.” Life has its times and seasons, and my attention is divided in more and more directions, but I think there is real wisdom in Dr. Mower’s advice and I’ve tried to follow it.

It is good to remember that special time as an undergraduate when my dominant concern was simply to wrestle with great ideas.

This year I listened to a series of Great Courses lectures on the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, someone of whom I knew very little. I found it electrifying. Nietzsche, perhaps more than any other thinker, is a philosopher for our time. This year has strained our systems to the breaking point and we collectively seem to be facing a crisis of identity. As we search for ourselves and guiding principles, Nietzsche helps us understand that the measure of any mental model is not its logical consistency or its explanatory power, but rather its ability to actually help us make choices consistent with our ideals. Not cold and crystalline ideals, but the vibrant living parts of us that let us enjoy life.

Nietzsche would be the first to admit that he was far from perfect — and there are some aspects of his philosophy that I would discard — but he is a thinker we should all should wrestle with.

Continue to Part 3- Chernobyl, HBO miniseries >>

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