In The Triumph of the Therapeutic, Rieff describes modern society (the book was written in 1966) as completely different from the past. Previously, society was marked by “religious man” — and then, many centuries later, by “economic man”, and now, in the current stage, by “psychological man.”

And this new type of individual differs from ancestors in the way he creates meaning in his life. Whereas the older generations sought meaning from without, by burdening themselves with cultural traditions and economic aspirations, psychological man is mainly interested in maintaining a balanced mindset, he seeks meaning from within. …


In The Triumph of the Therapeutic, Rieff describes modern society (the book was written in 1966) as completely different from the past. Previously, society was marked by “religious man” — and then, many centuries later, by “economic man”, and now, in the current stage, by “psychological man.”

And this new type of individual differs from ancestors in the way he creates meaning in his life. Whereas the older generations sought meaning from without, by burdening themselves with cultural traditions and economic aspirations, the psychological man is mainly interested in maintaining a balanced mindset, he seeks meaning from within. …


A great overview of Mimetic Theory, by Wolfgang Palaver. In a systematic careful synthesis of Girard’s thought, Palaver summarizes the mimetic insights that were derived from authors such as Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Flaubert, and Proust. And finally, he shows the precise stories of the Old and New Testament that confirm Girard’s thesis. What is Girard’s thesis?

Man is fundamentally mimetic, he imitates the desires of others ( models). If the models are internal (within his social sphere), he may reach a point of conflict with his model because they are both competing for the same desire. If the model is…


In The Narcissistic Personality of Our Time, I discussed the trade-off that the modern individual must face when isolating himself from his cultural roots.

The critique that Lasch presented in A Culture of Narcissism is not towards isolated behaviors that aim to better oneself, but the belief that the combination of multiple autophile behaviors will be an inadequate substitute for traditional communities and social contracts (that impels the individual to direct their libidinal energy outwards, away from the ego).

When this was done in the past, it grounded people and gave them a sense of humility. Today’s self-centered society believes…


In The Narcissistic Personality of Our Time, I discussed the trade-off of modernity, which recapped the ideas of A Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch. The belief of modern society, and perhaps even more so in the future, with the rise of techno-utopianism, is the belief that a combination of multiple autophile behaviors will be an adequate substitute for traditional communities and social contracts — that impel the individual to direct their libidinal energy away from the ego.

In the past, when people directed this energy outwards, it grounded them and gave them a sense of humility. …


The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham is often cited as one of the best books on investment, most notably by Warren Buffet.

Graham lays the foundation for laymen by giving a sound approach to investment, written with simple language that is easy (albeit dated) to understand. You are presented with Graham’s personal investment philosophy and other potential investment philosophies based on the type of risk you are willing to tolerate.

For example, he doesn’t believe in speculation. Many people think about the stock market as a casino, where they can make money quickly by buying low and selling high. Graham…


In Essays and Aphorisms, Arthur Schopenhauer makes an interesting remark about the pitfalls of reading too much. He refers to Alexander Pope’s poem.

Forever reading, never to be read.

Alexander Pope

When you read the thoughts of others, you are allowing their flow of thoughts to steer you in one direction or another, even if you do not feel like going there.

reading forcibly imposes on the mind thoughts that are
as foreign to its mood and direction at the moment of reading as the signet is to the wax upon which it impresses its seal.

When the mind is…


Ivan the Fool is a short parable by Leo Tolstoy first published in 1886. It presents Tolstoy’s philosophical critique of militarism and commercialism.

Ivan belongs to a peasant family. He has two brothers. One of his brothers is a soldier, the other is a fat merchant. Ivan is the story’s hero; he is called a fool because he lacks keen intelligence and understanding of how the materialistic world works. Ivan stays home and takes care of his parents and his sister (who is dumb because she cannot speak) on his family farm.

In the story, it is Ivan the fool…


Altered Traits by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson takes a scientific look at the practice of meditation. From the start, we are assured that the authors are not interested in giving us a sales pitch about meditation.

They acknowledge that many hucksters try to make money by promoting meditation in a dishonest way, promising benefits that have not been validated by any evidence, and find a way to personally benefit from people’s wishful thinking.

But that is not to say that meditation does not have proven benefits. …


The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch was published in 1979. Lasch argues that the “me generation” that Tom Wolfe previously celebrated, was in fact, dysfunctional, empty, and worthy of contempt.

He bases his argument on Sigmund Freud’s insights, who wrote an important paper on the subject called, On Narcissism. At first, Lasch points out a social paradox. People are expected to submit to the rules of society, but modern society refuses to ground these rules into a moral code. The individual’s reaction is to become self-absorbed, and far from feeling elated or grandiose, he loses self-efficacy and self-worth. …

Farah Smiley

I write about the best quality ideas that I have discovered

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