Waking Kid

Philosophy

If you want to see a good movie on philosophy and its intersection with science, you should check out Waking Life. I’m about 12 years behind on this movie but I recently saw it.

It inspired me to do the same kind of thing with videos of my daughter. Enjoy.

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New Age

Philosophy

candle

Today I turn 34.

Like most of my birthdays I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

A lot happened in the last year, most of which was the birth of my daughter. She was born a month after my 33rd birthday last year.

No doubt life has changed. It’s changed a lot actually. Every day is a routine from the moment she has her first bottle to the time she eats breakfast, then she eats lunch, then she naps, then she eats dinner, then she takes a bath and then she gets her night bottle before going to bed. We’ve developed a pretty well-oiled machine.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s much more magical than that. Watching her grow up and learn new things every day like crawling, laughing, making noises or giggling at feeling a dog’s whiskers on her cheeks, has been fun and of course for me, enlightening.

Every day I come home, she looks toward the door at me and grins. Then I pretty much can’t do anything else until I pick her up or get on the floor with her to play.

The whole thing has hit me on a gut level. I can’t even explain it. A new facet of my being has been created and every day is becoming a discovery.

So now it’s my birthday and I look at this shift in my life. I am still John but at the same time my identity has expanded to my daughter. While she has part of my DNA, she still is influenced by me and her mother through our behavior and mannerisms, all of which she absorbs.

Why do I think about this on my birthday? Maybe it’s because for so long I looked at my birthday as a milestone in my life. Now I know it’s not just my life that my actions affect anymore.

I wonder if I’m a good father and if I’m doing enough to enrich her life. As a philosophy-driven person, I am always looking at who I am as a person and what I can do differently to be fulfilled. Now I look at both our lives and how far we’ve come in just a year.

I can’t even imagine what I’m going to be like on her first birthday.

Big Thought

Philosophy, Uncategorized

I firmly believe that most all human problems are attributed to one flaw: our unwillingness to think when it’s inconvenient. We all have the capacity to think. It’s just that it takes effort most of the time and it seems like a task to think beyond what we experience.

Investment failures, prejudicial bias, political partisanship, relationship problems, they can all be traced back to a refusal to review, to think.

Not thinking makes life easy. We don’t have to see others’ points of view or try to comprehend something unpleasant. Life is simple when we can take something that we don’t want to deal with and put it in a closet and shut the door.

Being a black-and-white thinker is effortless. Despite all of our attempts to make our mind a canvas with one dimension, it goes against nature. The world is like a gem, with facets all around that refract light into different colors from different angles. To understand all of those differences, you need to be willing to look at them.

When we sit in our own personal corners and watch the world from that perspective, we stop growing. This is when we become “set in our ways.” We don’t want to learn new ways of doing things. We don’t want to make the effort to comprehend someone else’s point of view. We don’t want to understand different cultures. We don’t want to know why some abstract painting is art. We want people to do things our way. We want people to speak our language. That’s when things get dangerous. When we stop progressing, we draw lines in the sand and would rather fight than think about an alternative.

Lack of thinking generates a world of calamity. It creates enemies, starts wars and sets us all on the path of disaster.

There are those who will say “there are times when you must act and not think.” This is true, especially in times of a response to violence or the specter of violence. But our action can be the appropriate reaction when we think about how we’ll react before we are forced to confront a situation and make a hasty decision.

Be a thinker. Everything starts with a thought, an idea. Reason, choice, action, worship, epiphany and emotion— they are all products of thought. What goes on in your mind eventually matriculates to your actions. What you think influences what you do and what you do is who you are. Every bad deed and every good deed you’ve done started in your mind first before it became an action.

Be a thinker. No matter how disturbing or difficult the situation, thinking may not find you the answer, but it will get you closer.

Be a thinker. People may deride you because you seem unwilling to settle on one view. They’ll call you a lazy dreamer, pretentious and say your head’s in the clouds. They’ll say you think too much and don’t do. It isn’t true. Just because you take your time acting doesn’t mean you don’t take action; it means you know when to act.

At the end of the day, this is all about understanding both yourself and your world. It’s important to understand and to apply thinking to everything you experience because it spawns new ideas and new approaches to old problems. Understanding leads to generating better solutions both for you and your world.

Living with one view is not thinking. Living with a single stance stymies understanding. That stagnancy causes your mind to atrophy and you end up being only what the world will allow.

Think about it.

(originally posted on Medium.com)

Jesus Christ, Philosopher

Philosophy

cross

As is obvious to anyone who pays attention to current events, we have too many “religious” people in this world using their beliefs as justification to slaughter and/or other heinous acts.

This is not a new problem of course, it’s been going on long before Abraham, Noah, Christ, the pagans and Mohammed.

There’s this classic posit in philosophy: Does God say something is right because it is right? Or is something right because God says it is right? Essentially is there morality independent of a spiritual foundation or is God just making up the rules as he goes along?

Me? I opt for the former. Saying that something is right because God says it is right denies God’s omniscience.

The posit illustrates a great problem in human belief systems. Instead of trying to comprehend the wisdom behind a diety’s words, too many people often point to it for moral authority rather. They should be trying to personify their beliefs.

I think the answer is that justifying someone’s actions by simply invoking a religious figure requires little to no thinking. It also, in away, pushes the blame on a Higher Power. People will commit heinous acts and then say they do it because of God.

Maybe we should consider that our actions are our responsibility and not God’s. Maybe God, or Christ, or Mohammed, merely point the way.

One of the most powerful things that Christ teaches is that the thoughts behind our actions are just as important as the actions themselves. If you kill someone, you are not only guilty of killing them; you are also guilty of the hatred which fueled the killing.

Why can’t we just go along with Christ’s teachings because those teachings are the right thing to do? Why do we go along with it because Christ says it is right? Are we so blind that we can’t see the truth in his philosophy? When we fall back on well that’s what  I do because Christ says so, I don’t believe we’re getting the point.

That’s a problem because then the religion attracts those who would exploit it for power and repulses those who need it.

Acceptance Finally

Uncategorized

Image

Does reality really matter anymore? I may have covered this somewhat already. Well, I’ll go over it again.

There’s been a long battle for centuries about the foundation of all knowledge. There are rationalists who believe we learn everything through reason. Then there are the empiricists who think every byte of brain power is by experience. It’s like the epic philosophical rivalry. Think Yankees v. Red Sox, Soviets v. Americans, Archie v. Reggie.

In the rationalist corner: Kant and Descarte, etc. In the empiricist corner: Locke and Hobbes, etc. Many philosophers who never had a dog in the hunt are often classified as one or the other.

I’ve struggled with it most of my life. I’m not really sure where I fall though I’ve always leaned more towards the rationalists. In my mind, the idea of all knowledge based on my senses makes me feel more like a hybrid ape than a human being. (Who knows, maybe at the end of the day that’s all we really are)

Empiricists argue that we all learn first from touching, tasting, hearing, smelling and seeing. Then at some point reason comes along and processes those sensations. Seems reasonable to me. How can you define a pure idea without any kind of empirical knowledge to back it up?

But then rationalists argue that all sensations are first processed by the reason filter. Which I take to mean, reason is there first. Your senses can deceive you. You can see a watery-looking image on the horizon on a hot day. But your reasoning capabilities helps you understand it’s a mirage.

Yeah, I’m going with the rationalist camp here. There really is no such thing as reality anymore is there? Maybe it was never really there. At the end of the day, we can’t really prove anything about what we perceive. Because it’s all perception, that pretty much belies empiricism doesn’t it?

A schizophrenic has all kinds of perceptions. What’s real to them? Is reality to a schizophrenic patient the reality we tell them after they take medication?

And if that’s the case, what’s real to us? This quickly devolves into that childish notion that we are all really living in our own play, with everyone around us merely being characters.

The true test for any reality is a result, I think. We can choose to believe perceptions that global warming isn’t real. But that’s not really going to stop global warming is it? It’s very much a tree-falling-in-the-forest-without-a-sound kind of thing.

Well, if that tree falls on your head and kills you, then the whole reality vs. perception thing doesn’t really matter anymore does it? The dead don’t perceive.

I say reality doesn’t matter anymore because it seems that people have given up trying to discover the truth of things, whether it’s politics, religion, science, etc. Every day we can log onto Web pages and read the things we like read. We can watch TV and listen only to the voices we agree with. It seems to me we have all withdrawn inside ourselves and in that case, perception is all we really know.

There is no such thing as reality.

And I think I hear the sound of a tree falling.