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Profile: Kristian Urstad (Douglas College)
  1. Kristian Urstad, Hedonism - Some Aspects and Insights. Canadian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    Hedonism can take many forms. In this paper I sketch a particular version of hedonism which has its roots in some of the ancient Greek theories, like in the perceived theory put forth in Plato’s dialogue the Protagoras and in Epicurus, and which motivates, and extends to some, 18th and 19th century hedonists, like Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. I then try to raise some questions and test certain claims when it seems pertinent to do so, and try to (...)
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  2. Kristian Urstad, The Question of Temperance and Hedonism in Callicles. Leeds International Classical Studies.
    Callicles, Socrates’ main interlocutor in Plato’s Gorgias, has traditionally been interpreted as a kind of sybaritic hedonist, as someone who takes the ultimate goal in life to consist in the pursuit of physical pleasures and, further, as someone who refuses to accept the value of any restraint at all on a person’s desire. Such an interpretation turns Callicles into a straw man and Plato, I argue, did not create Callicles only to have him knocked down in this easy way. Plato’s (...)
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  3. Kristian Urstad, Loving Socrates: The Individual and the Ladder of Love in Plato's Symposium. Res Cogitans.
    In Plato’s Symposium, the priestess Diotima, whom Socrates introduces as an expert in love, describes how the lover who would advance rightly in erotics would ascend from loving a particular beautiful body and individual to loving Beauty itself. This hierarchy is conventionally referred to as Plato’s scala amoris or ‘ladder of love’, for the reason that the uppermost form of love cannot be reached without having initially stepped on the first rung of the ladder, which is the physical attraction to (...)
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  4. Kristian Urstad, Nietzsche and Callicles on Happiness, Pleasure and Power. Kritike.
    Although there is no mention of him in his published works, there is little doubt that some of Nietzsche’s most famous doctrines were inspired by the views expressed by the character Callicles in Plato’s Gorgias. Though many have been keen to notice the resemblance between their moral, societal and political views, little, if any, attention has been given to the kinship between their views on happiness and its various components or relations. What I would like to try to do in (...)
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  5. Kristian Urstad, Philosophy as a Way of Life in Xenophon's Socrates. E-Logos.
    An important idea in antiquity was that to engage in philosophy meant more than the theoretical inquiry into fundamental questions, it was also conceived of as a way of life modelled on the philosophical life of Socrates. In a recent article, John Cooper defends the thesis that, for Socrates and his all successors, the philosophical life meant to live according to reason, understood as the exercising of one’s capacity for argument and analysis in pursuit of the truth – which he (...)
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  6. Kristian Urstad, Pleasure in Plato's Phaedo. Philosophical Pathways.
    What is Plato's view of pleasure in his dialogue the Phaedo? He clearly (and famously) rails against bodily pleasures, seeing them as shackles of sorts which prevent the soul from attaining its proper perfection apart from the body, but does he leave room in the carnate life for some other forms of pleasure? These are some of the questions I would like to try to address in this paper. As it turns out, I argue that Plato does indeed recognize other (...)
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  7. Kristian Urstad (2010). Review: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism. [REVIEW] Journal of Buddhist Ethics 17.
    Adrian Kuzminski’s book is a work of comparative philosophy. It examines Pyrrhonism in terms of its connection and similarity to some Eastern non-dogmatic soteriological traditions, in particular, to Madhyamaka Buddhism. An important part of the author’s objective is to examine the historical evidence supporting Pyrrhonism’s origins in Indian Buddhism and to gain a more nuanced understanding of both these philosophical and religious traditions.
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  8. Kristian Urstad, The Moral Virtues and Instrumentalism in Epicurus. Lyceum.
    Julia Annas, in The Morality of Happiness, claims that the more traditional interpretation of Epicurus–i.e., one which sees him along more straightforward hedonistic or monistic lines and therefore as recommending justice and the other moral virtues as instrumental means to one’s pleasure–is mistaken. She argues that Epicurus regards virtue as a part of happiness, that he takes seriously the independent value of the moral virtues, and so agrees, or is in alignment, with the likes of Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics. (...)
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  9. Kristian Urstad (2009). James, George G. M., Stolen Legacy: The Egyptian Origins of Western Philosophy. [REVIEW] Kritike: An Online Journal of Philosophy 3 (2).
    First published in 1954, and most recently reprinted in 2010, the self-stated aim of James’ book is to establish improved race relations in the world by revealing an underlying truth concerning the contribution of the African continent to the rest of the world. It is an attempt to show that the true authors of Greek philosophy were not the Greeks, but the Egyptians. This theft of the African philosophical legacy by the Greeks has led to the mistaken opinion that the (...)
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  10. Kristian Urstad, Pathos, Pleasure and the Ethical Life in Aristippus. Journal of Ancient Philosophy.
    For many of the ancient Greek philosophers, the ethical life was understood to be closely tied up with important notions like rational integrity, self-control, self-sufficiency, and so on. Because of this, feeling or passion (pathos), and in particular, pleasure, was viewed with suspicion. There was a general insistence on drawing up a sharp contrast between a life of virtue on the one hand and one of pleasure on the other. While virtue was regarded as rational and as integral to advancing (...)
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  11. Kristian Urstad, Aristippus and Freedom in Xenophon's Memorabilia. Praxis.
    In Book II of Xenophon’s Memorabilia the hedonist Aristippus speaks very briefly, though quite emphatically, about a kind of freedom with regards to desires, pleasures and happiness. Much of the later testimony on him suggests a similar concern. My interest here in this paper is in understanding the nature of this freedom. For both dialectical and expositional purposes, I begin with a brief examination of some of the relevant views put forth in Plato’s Gorgias and of the larger socio-philosophical contexts (...)
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  12. Kristian Urstad, Prudence, Rationality and Happiness in Aristippus. Gnosis.
    It is noticeably clear from several ancient sources that the hedonist Aristippus of Cyrene (a friend and student of Socrates) asks us to concentrate on enjoying the pleasures of the present or near­future. What is not so obvious is his reason for such a recommendation. Although any explanation for this is bound to be somewhat speculative due to the inadequacy of the sources, I would like to offer a possible rationale for, and subsequent reconstruction of, his view, one which might (...)
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  13. Kristian Urstad, Freedom and Happiness in Socrates and Callicles. Lyceum.
    Callicles holds a desire-fulfilment conception of happiness; it is something like, that is, the continual satisfaction of desires that constitutes happiness for him. He claims that leading the happy life consists in having many desires, letting them grow as strong as possible and then being able to satisfy them (e.g. 491e, 494c). For Callicles, this life of maximum pursuit of desires consists in a kind of absolute freedom, where there is very little practice of restraint; happiness consists of luxury, unrestraint, (...)
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