As a philosophy professor, I rarely shy from speaking about our mortality with my students. I regularly lecture on Existentialism, and next semester I will teach “The Philosophy of Death” for the second time. While discussing death has been par for the course, with the COVID-19 pandemic, our conversations have hit closer to home. In March, our deaths and those of loved ones seemed to loom further on the horizon. Having taught students who became ill or lost family members to the virus, I now realize that we live with a heightened sense of life’s fragility.

With the rollout of the vaccine, comes the hope that life will return to normalcy. Yet the wounds of suffering and death will linger beyond the end of the pandemic. I wonder, what lessons can we learn from the tragedy of 2020? …

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It’s no surprise that Medium is flooded with advice on how to leverage new year’s resolutions. With 2021 around the corner, we’re all eager to leave the past year behind and start afresh. For the past week, I’ve been combing through article upon article about resolutions. Although the new year hasn’t come around yet, I wanted to share the words of wisdom that most resonated with me.

1. Don’t wait for the new year to roll around. This one comes from Shaunta Grimes. One of my goals this year is to write 100 blog posts. …

Last year, I struck up a conversation with a man sitting next to me at the bar of a TGIF at Miami International Airport. I never learned his name, nor did he learn mine. Still, we enjoyed nearly an hour-long conversation: we discussed his son’s hesitance to pursue a degree in the humanities, despite his obvious aptitude for writing and his dismal performance in computer science courses. The man sought my advice as a philosophy professor about how to persuade his son to switch paths.

I will probably never see this man again. Yet there was something touching to the ephemerality of our encounter. I don’t long to meet him again, but simply enjoy the memory of the pleasurable moment I had with him. I wonder if such moments might help us cope with our own ephemerality. Can the same beauty and poignancy be applicable to a person’s life as a whole? Is there something to life’s brevity that is worth admiring rather than mourning? …

What the Existentialist Author Can Teach Us About Body Positivity

Most photographs of Simone de Beauvoir show her seated, typically in a café, often writing or enjoying a cigarette.

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Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986)

What’s less well known is that the twentieth-century philosopher and novelist, best known for her groundbreaking feminist book The Second Sex, was also an avid hiker.

Her walking habits, like those of other philosophers (think Thoreau or Nietzsche), are well worth discussing since they reveal an important part of how we can cultivate healthier relationships with our bodies.

Beauvoir began hiking in 1931, at the age of 23, when she received a position as a philosophy teacher at a high school in Marseille. The Prime of Life, the second volume of her memoirs, describes the excitement she experienced as she hiked long hours on her days off. …

Why Marcus Aurelius Might Tell You to do a Digital Detox

Take a view from above — look at the thousands of flocks and herds, the thousands of human ceremonies, every sort of voyage in storm or calm, the range of creation, combination, and extinction. Consider too the lives once lived by others long before you, the lives that will be lived after you, the lives lived now among foreign tribes; and how many have never even heard your name, how many will soon forget it, how many may praise you now but quickly turn to blame. Reflect that neither memory nor fame, nor anything else at all, has any importance worth thinking of. …

About

Celine Leboeuf, Ph.D.

I’m a professor at Florida International University. I love applying philosophy to everyday life—and inspiring others to do the same! www.ccleboeuf.com

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