Scott Samuelson on Suffering and Soul-Making: On the Deep Value of the Liberal Arts

Jan 9, 2015

Dr. Scott Samuelson writes, "Wisdom isn’t a doctrine: it’s a style." Host Jonathan Judaken and Samuelson discuss his new book, The Deepest Human Life: An Introduction to Philosophy for Everyone.  


Host Jonathan Judaken and author Scott Samuelson discuss Samuelson's book, The Deepest Human Life: An Introduction to Philosophy for Everyone. Samuelson writes:

We’re human, all too human, thank God. We have serious limits…not just an evolutionary history and all the brute facts of the body, but our ignorance of the ultimate truths as well. We also have the capacity to wield earth-shattering, heaven-opening powers; and without some kind of harnessing of those energies into the goods of spirit and mind, our days and nights are either wicked or drab affairs. Philosophy is the story of humanely realizing our humanity, of making an honest living with both our transcendence and our ignorance, of taking seriously those words engraved on the Temple of Apollo: “gnothi seauton”– know thyself.

According to Dr. Samuelson, there are two general visions of suffering--the "Promethean" attitude, which holds that we'd be better off if we could minimize, perhaps even eliminate, suffering; and the "Orphic" attitude, which holds that finding ways of coming to terms with suffering is a crucial part of how we form our identities.

Though skills pertinent to both attitudes should be cultivated in a good education, the Promethean attitude now threatens to drown out some of what's crucial in the Orphic approach. The deep value of studying the liberal arts is that it helps us in what John Keats called "soul-making."

In their conversation, they discuss the definitions of philosophy, the meaning of happiness, learning to understand the knowledge of God, and the nature of good and evil.

Samuelson will be in Memphis on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 6 pm for a free public lecture across the street from Rhodes College at Evergreen Presbyterian Church, titled “Suffering and Soul-Making: On the Deep Value of the Liberal Arts.” 

For more information on the lecture, http://goo.gl/gPeiHo -- for more information on Dr. Samuelson and his writing, http://scottsamuelsonauthor.com/.