a growth Medium for the whole mind
The Case Against Buckets
We're taught to think of education as filling buckets with information - geography, history, science - and we're encouraged to worry that the buckets are never full enough. But intellectual excellence and psychological self-mastery are not achieved by filling buckets.
Think of the difference between an essay that warrants a B grade in High School and one that warrants an "A+!" at an elite college. Or the difference between a young professional who seems merely competent to her boss and one who seems almost shockingly excellent.
Is the difference more knowledge? A higher IQ? Luck?
Mainly, no. Mainly, it’s something that emerges from the written and spoken voice. Confidence without arrogance. Precision without unnecessary detail. An engaging enthusiasm that has left performance anxiety behind. A sense of the larger intellectual landscape... and an ability to think critically - philosophically - about how those "buckets" are related.
What you need isn't more information. What you need is better tools for thinking clearly.
“We don't yet know what we don't yet know.”
British physicist David Deutsch
Sessions with Richard often revolve around questions you won't find on any syllabus. Thinking and writing about these things isn't only worthwhile in itself; it forms a vital context for deeper responses to all our everyday thinking and decision-making:
What's the relationship between a fact and a theory?
The moderately poor today are materially richer than Renaissance kings, but even the rich are often unhappy. Why?
What would an ideal society look like? (And is asking what an ideal society would look like a good or bad way to think about how we should live?)
Picasso says that "art is the lie that helps us see the truth." Does it?
It's my opinion that whales are mammals, and that torturing people is wrong. Do I have good reasons for believing these things, or are they “just opinions”?
Think of your mind as a house. A tutor arrives with new furniture. Richard will help you rebuild the house.
“It may be that I am in the universe the way my cat is in my library.”
American philosopher William James
Is this therapy? counseling? coaching?
Psychotherapists and mental health counselors work with patients who are unable to function within a “normal” range of behavior because of issues such as anxiety, depression, or OCD. The therapist’s job is to identify the dysfunction and help the patient mitigate it.
Life coaches and executive mentors help people with self-diagnosed practical issues including procrastination, poor planning, or a lack of a sense of purpose or direction.
Some philosophers call themselves counselors because they employ philosophical traditions that were explicitly designed (often, long before psychotherapy existed) to help people manage practical life difficulties, ranging from boredom to self-doubt to grief.
Caring about your mental flourishing is central to Richard’s style of mentoring too - and is centrally concerned with enriching your life by enriching the intellectual tools you have for examining your own ideas.
“It is no ordinary thing we are discussing, but how to live our lives.”
Mentoring works best as a long-term engagement but even a few hours can make a big difference.
Richard charges $90 / hour. The first meeting is free - it is your opportunity to get a sense of whether this is a good fit. If you think it is, save 10% by committing to five sessions ahead of time. You can pay via PayPal, Google Pay, or Venmo.
Richard will also set up group sessions for friends or colleagues who want to do their intellectual exploring together.