Podcast at Knowledge for Men

I was pleased to be interviewed recently by Andrew Ferebee for the Knowledge for Men Podcast. Check out our talk!

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  1. Fascinating discussion of supplements! Very helpful.

  2. That we should live like wild animals is also a great motto. According to Aristotle, we just ARE animals, albeit Rational ones. But in light of evolutionary history, we now know we may not be currently living in accordance with what is normal for our species. Such deviations are likely to negatively impact the physiological underpinnings of our vegetive, perceptual and rational souls, and thus in turn to have a negative impact on the souls themselves.

    For Aristotle, the human being is not a pseudo-entity, reducible to an “immaterial soul-substance” plus a “machine-body”; that is a Cartesian and Platonistic notion. Instead, for Aristotle, the human being is a basic substance, and the soul is, categorially speaking, a non-substance, a Capacity; specifically, the soul is the capacity of a living human being (a biological substance) for growth, reproduction, sensation, perception, volition, reason, etc. These species-normal capacities define us as the kind of beings we are.

    I think it is conceivable that an Aristotelian ontology could be coherently united with the practice of Christianity, understood, e.g., along Tolstoyian or Kierkegaardian lines, (see “Practice in Christianity” by Anti-Climcaus”), but Aristotelian ontology is hard to reconcile with the preferred ontology of Christian theology, which tends to be Cartesian-Platonistic.

    • How might an Aristotelian understand diet and sport? I imagine he might say that diet and sport are the care of the vegetive soul. Whereas philosophy is the care of the rational soul. And art and music, the care of the perceptual soul.

      But an obsession with the flourishing of the vegetive soul is a kind of malfunction of the rational soul. There is certainly a risk to being malnourished, but there is also a risk involved in thinking about optimal vegetive flourishing, despite the fact that it’s a somewhat interesting intellectual problem. Indeed, it’s unfortunate that we do not live in a time in which the flourishing of the vegetive soul cannot just be taken for granted. Let us learn (hopefully sooner than later) to take care of our vegetive souls and then move on to the care of the rational and perceptual souls, which are a more fitting object of concern for beings like us.

    • The injunction that we should live as (or like) wild animals is somewhat bewildering. It is true that the physiological functions of the anatomical structures of human beings are most likely to flourish when we live in a way that accords with what is normal given our natural history (a point which has no conceptual connection with the theory of evolution, by the way). But the natural history of human beings is a history of a cultivated, cultured group of Rational animals with a sense of identity, social organization and cultural history. “Man is a political animal,” said Aristotle. “To be wild” is opposed to “being domesticated”. But it is also opposed to “being barbaric” or “uncivilized”. And man in his natural state (that is, the state that accords with what is normal as opposed to abnormal in our natural history) is largely defined by the presence of culture and civilization. Civilization and the state of being civilized is what is normal for humans in our natural historical state. Philosophy, as it was practiced by the Greeks, for example, is very likely an expression of what is normal behavior for a flourishing group of human beings in one of many possible optimal natural historical states of humankind.

      There is obviously no such thing as a “domesticated human”, and the use of this phrase in the paleo community is offensive, since ‘domestic’ is a term reserved for the status of non-rational farm animals or pets who have been selectively bred.

      There is no reason to assume that the bulk of our current way of life in America diverges from what is normal relative to the natural historical state of human beings short of some of the technological conveniences that obviate the need for exercise and which prevent the entrainment of our biological clock with sun-cycles; the addictive and brain-damaging use of the internet, the over reliance on agricultural foods, and the exposure to novel industrial foods are also probably atypical. But to correct these abnormalities is by no means to be achieved by “living as a wild animal” or by living as (or like) a “wild human”, whatever that would mean!

  3. It’s equally hard to reconcile Aristotelian categorial-ontology with the preferred ontology of atheism, which is also predominantly Cartesian-Platonistic. For, the rejection of theism (i.e., a-theism) tended to take place within the structure of the very same categorial framework, within which the theists operated.—This is why many people today, even those in the paleo community, feel that they must make a choice: either the human being is a “soul-substance” + “machine-body” OR the human is a “mere” “machine-body”, (where the “machine-body” is regarded as “designed by natural selection”—a very un-Darwinian notion, by the way; for, Darwin’s achievement was to explain the existence of the diversity of species without appeal to a designer).

    In any case, Aristotle’s work provides a clear alternative framework which avoids this dilemma.

  4. What do you think about Chris Kresser’s articles on legumes? http://chriskresser.com/are-legumes-paleo

  5. The link doesn’t work for me. Can you provide the website please so I can access the talk. Thanks

  6. Hi Paul. I wanted to mention what I never see the Blogsphere talk about.

    Randomized clinical trials are still rather weak evidence regarding diet. Having people shovel foodstuffs into their mouths and then tracking their mortality rates over several years is weak evidence and does not cut it. This is a different topic than drug testing.

    What we need ( and it would be very strong evidence) would be a complete or near complete understanding of human biochemical cellular operations. We are NOWHERE near that.

    are still unraveling how cells work. We need a much, much, much deeper understanding of how cells work. THEN we will likely be able to treat various diseases and know more effective prevention strategies. We are ALL taking significant risks with our diets. It is a minefield.

    Best Regards,

  7. In short, Mother Nature is FAR smarter and has a far greater imagination than we humans do – as Michio Kaku and Richard Feynman said …..

    We MUST challenge our beliefs every single day. You must first be careful not to fool yourself. This is the easiest thing to do.

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