The “Souls” of Magnets in the 17th Century

Lodestones are dull, lumpy, and slate-gray, but their “magnetic intelligence” made them fabulously expensive. Magnets have souls. At least, that was the leading scientific explanation for magnetism circa 1600, as laid out in the highly influential De Magnete. Its author, William Gilbert, experimented with lodestones, lumps of magnetite that, after being struck by lightning, turn into natural magnets.[…]

An Atheist’s Eternity

Contemporary physics aligns smoothly with the doctrine of the eternal return suggested by Nietzsche. By Duane Altheide If death is a deep sleep, then eternity is as one night Plato This philosophical letter offers atheism a solace for death based on recent support for the multiverse―a set of multiple universes. Contemporary physics aligns smoothly with[…]

Titian’s ‘Pastoral Concert’: A New Genre in Renaissance Italy

This genre became one of the most important artistic contributions of Renaissance Venice. Farewell, peoples and cities. The countryside will offer delightful displays for my eyes. Jacopo Sannazaro, Elegies, Book 1, Poem II, line 24 I know that then my verses will appear/ unpolished and dark, but I hope that even so/ they will be[…]

Italy’s Erotic Revolution in Renaissance Art Joined the Lusty to the Divine

There was a split between the pure ideal and base reality, between sacred and profane love. In the Sistine Chapel, you look up at Michelangelo’s Last Judgment and see muscular angels hurtling through space, nude or with just a scrap of cloth tight across their buttocks (Figure 1, above). Then after leaving the Vatican, you[…]

Musonius Rufus: Stoic Teacher of Epictetus

Rufus is primarily known today as the teacher of Epictetus, the slave who became a famous Stoic teacher. Introduction Gaius Musonius Rufus (c. 30 CE – c. 101 CE) was an influential 1st-century CE Stoic philosopher. While in modern times he is best known for being the teacher of Epictetus (c. 50 CE – c. 130 CE),[…]

Epicurean Ideas and the Challenges of Modern Secular Life

Epicureanism competed with Stoicism to dominate Greek and Roman culture. By Temma Ehrenfeld ‘The pursuit of Happiness’ is a famous phrase in a famous document, the United States Declaration of Independence (1776). But few know that its author was inspired by an ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus. Thomas Jefferson considered himself an Epicurean. He probably found[…]