The First Step

“The beginning of a long journey begins with a single step” (Lao-tzu). And so this blog begins with the first step. Let me introduce myself. I am Andrew Dell’Olio and I’ve been a professor of philosophy for about thirty years. In that time I’ve accumulated a lot of teaching experience and I’ve learned quite a bit about what we might call the wisdom traditions of the world, East and West. I’ve always thought that what is really valuable about philosophy, what drew me to it, is its practical benefit as a guide for living a good life and the achievement of peace of mind. We know from historians of philosophy such as Pierre Hadot and Martha Nussbaum that the ancient philosophers understood philosophy precisely as a way of life, the art of living, whose aim was self-development or virtue and the relief, ultimately, from psychological suffering. As Epictetus the Stoic wrote, “Empty is that philosopher’s argument by which no human suffering is therapeutically treated.” And so I aim with this blog and with this new practice of philosophical counseling to bring relief, in some small way, to the suffering of others.

Keeping with the theme of the first step, I see this blog as a kind of walk through the woods, oftentimes without a clear destination until an opening appears, something like Heidegger’s pathways into thinking. As such it might ramble at times before it finds its way. I’ll offer reflections on what comes to mind, sometimes directly related to philosophical practice, sometimes on what I am reading or what is happening in my life or in the world. Throughout I hope to bring the perspectives of those philosophers who have travelled this path before us to bear on what may be our personal issues and the collective issues of the day.

So, if you, too, are a fellow traveller down these paths, I hope you will join me on this journey and I hope you will find these musings helpful. I look forward to walking with you and also hearing your thoughts. “Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise” (Horace). See you on the road.

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