Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On the Eternal and Contemporary Need of Philosophy


Mankind is growing out of religion as out of its childhood clothes.  Faith and knowledge do not go well together in the same head:  they are like a wolf and a sheep together in the same cage – and knowledge is the wolf that threatens to eat up its companion.  In its death throes, we see religion clinging to morality, whose mother it would like to pretend to be – in vain!  Genuine morality is dependent on no religion, although religion sanctions and therefore sustains it.
Human beings have for thousands of years received a great deal of their morals and beliefs about ‘metaphysical’ things from religions – which in the West and elsewhere are in stark decline.  America is behind the countries of Western Europe, but is hastening to close the gap ‘tween the two and may one day truly be European (to the extent Europe can be referred to or thought of as homogenous) in both politics and culture.
Regardless of the occurrence of such a day, the importance of art and philosophy is becoming ever-the-more invaluable to those who understand the is-ought distinction and wish for people to be more virtuous, ascetic and compassionate in their practices and perceptions of the world we (assumingly) share in common.  For as Schopenhauer points out, religion is that which is born out of ignorance, and in the last century though wisdom has not increased much knowledge has illuminated the world and shown the revered shadow-of-God to be simply that – a shadow crated by the light of Man’s nature of mind (seeking eternal grounding metaphysically and ethically) and the obfuscation of ignorance.
However, the absence of religion through the introduction of knowledge does not equate necessarily to the introduction of wisdom.  For knowledge of this empirical world that we seem to inhabit does not give us our morals or metaphysical grounding – it can only describe this Earthly plane, but can provide no ‘thing in itself’ nor can it give us any ultimate value judgements which we use to assess our empirical sense-data – in other worlds, it can provide us neither the Noumenal nor the Normative.
What should have replaced religion with its inevitable decline, and rightly so since the two are its natural superiors are art and philosophy.  Art and philosophy respect (usually) their natural barriers and do not try to perform the others task.  Religion is that which attempts to be both but never quite accomplishes the respective roles of either.  Namely, art as allegorical truth and philosophy as literal truth.  Religions attempt to be both (as Schopenhauer points out in his Essays and Aphorisms) through attempting to illuminate mankind of moral truths through allegory but claiming the allegory to be reality for the sake of the ignorant peasantry. 
Art properly understands that its nature is to take the human individual with all its myriad forms and meaningless details and to encapsulate him and her into raw and essential types.  It is when these types are created so wonderfully and competently that we (particularly in a well-written plot) see people that feel to us more ‘real’ than reality itself.  Schopenhauer would argue that is because of the reality of ‘forms’ or other idealist proposals.  I propose it is because human beings learn in a platonic fashion, that is, the mind is impressed upon by these ‘types’ or ‘forms’ and learn of them rather than of sheer particulars which if such was impressed upon them they could learn nothing of the general or universal character of objects and subjects.  That is of the common qualities of things and people in the world which art represents through character tropes.
Philosophy is the only thing which in essence attempts to rationally and directly (without allegory) come to terms, or discover the nature of, the ‘thing-in-itself’ and the normative truths of the world as well.  I make the Pragmatic/Noumenal distinction in my philosophy, which I have written on in past essays and it is this distinction that must be remembered when studying religion as well.  Christianity is more a faith of the salvation of man than the nature of God or cosmos.  All religions are anthropormorphic consructions which, due-to the epistemological and societal conditions of people in the ancient worlds, merge art and philosophy and create both a system of Realism and Man’s relation to this supposed reality.  Religion’s decline is a necessary condition for humanities’ intellectual and cultural development, but is not sufficient to it.  For while religion containing both good and ill in its essential matrix (and the particular goods and ills of particular faiths) gave people hope and taught compassion waned – due-to the Neo-Liberalism and Egoism of Western culture art and philosophy was not cultivated to tend the dying flower of human moral sentiments, intellectual development and virtuous activity.
In our Market-driven Neo-Liberal culture, all things have become increasingly for profit and therefore for entertainment or sensual arousal rather than for the cultivation of that which is not immediately pleasurable to the tongue, or eye or ear.  People are not taught, or improved for virtues’ own sake, in a market-driven economy, they are offered delights in-exchange for cash-payment, and work service-industry or customer-service jobs to service the customer and immediately give him or her what he or she wants, give them more of it and give it to them more directly.
The Neo-Liberalism of our day has tainted art and closed down philosophy through lack of profitability.  It has done so through apathy – which is more powerful and dangerous than the most severe ban from the most authoritarian despot.  Someone fighting for virtue can rally others to fight against censorship from State or Church, but Man can never ally with an apathetic mass to give them what they need but do not want.  Consumerism has done to the human soul what no other ill on this Earth can do from the aspect of the individual being complicit in the demoralization and weakening of his own soul.  This is a truth provided in Brave New World and the writings of Foucault as he writes on the distinction between medieval and modern forms of punishment.
Though religion was perfectly adequate for many to live noble lives filled with a sense of meaning and purpose, ultimately philosophy is superior through its grounding on that which Man makes for himself (fostering his own philosophy through his own thoughts) and therefore the garden is far-more luscious and he understands and can utilize the latter more than the former.  Many, if not most, Christians cannot understand the good of Christianity and it is for this exact reason.  They were taught to have faith in the Lord, and we are to emulate the life of Christ, but being taught this does not mean the child will learn why Christ is a virtuous character and that compassion for our fellow sufferer is not only a virtue but one of the highest order (or of the ‘front rank’ as Schopenhauer would say).
Regardless of one’s attitude towards religion and faith, whether they are religious and decry the introduction of our Brave New World, have a nuanced position similar to myself, or are akin to the New Atheists who wrongly believe that science can replace philosophy – the fact remains that religion will continue to decline in the West.  What has been done cannot be undone, therefore, we must, if we love virtue and the fruits of a good life (rather than the fruits of materialism and Hedonism – that which is mass-produced through the means of technology using the value system of Neo-Liberalism) cultivate art and philosophy to educate and shape people as religion had (but not as effectively – seen in the history of stealing and murder in Christendom).

Philosophy and art are two things which human beings cannot do without and need more than ever with the choices and freedoms people today have.  Though things seem bleak we must remember that humans have a proclivity to virtue as well as to vice – we must simply be effective in bringing about societal changes both through politics and through cultural and personal means to encourage and heighten the former over the latter.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Selling my Soul for Beer Money - and I Usually Don't Drink Beer

Hey guys.  I just found out after making posts on this account for about three years (damn time flies) now that you can turn on ads for what'll add up to chump change.

If I had something like a Patreon, then I wouldn't have ads at-all (and remember when I asked you chumps to help me out to fly to India?  So it's not like I can rely on you parasitic fucks to give me a buck or two now and again) but I don't, and a college kid has got to make his Ramen, wine and video game money somehow.

I'll always write for my own sense of exploration and achievement more than anything else, but hey, money may be evil, but that doesn't mean I can't get some doing what I love rather than doing what I hate at Taco Bell.

Another Entry for my Future Psychiatrist at the Happy Home

Pretty much all of the pains in my life were through wanting what was not really of value and things that I really wouldn't have wanted/appreciated but only thought I wanted.  Most of the suffering in my life I caused for myself.  The evils of society are real but once they are realized you can quickly turn your back on others and know who you are and what your true nature is.

I don't know the tragedy of the exterior - of the damned souls that walk this Earth and are plagued with the wretchedness of their pitiable lives.  I could not have done otherwise but provide myself (or be a part in my own despair) with the tragedy of the interior, just as I cannot help but do so in the future.  But by reminding myself of the lack of value in all things, I can remember that the best things in this life are created by the independent mind, and that it was never my nature or role to have what the common rabble have.  What I have is something they can never appreciate or understand, but it is something that is self-sufficient in its virtue and contentment while others relay on each others and on their vices to achieve fleeting happiness.

I am glad I am who I am.  I will err in the future, as I have in the past, but this is just a small cost of being the person that I am.  I have and continue to achieve in some sense what few have and in another what no one has in my writing.  For those of you who are suffering, I feel abstract sympathy for your pain - but I likely cannot relate to your pain, because it may be a pain created by misfortunes outside your own mind, when all of my sufferings have been created by my mind valuing what is worthless and forgetting my nature as a self-sufficient philosopher.

I'm glad I'm not attached to anyone.  Maybe I'll feel sad when someone I know intimately dies, but mostly what I feel is a synthesis of contempt and pity for this species and their inevitable and meaningless plight.

"These aside, it appears as if the dear Lord created the world for the benefit of the Devil - in which event he would have done far better not to have created it at all."  A.S.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

On the Utility of Intellectual and “Non-practical” Pursuits

It should be noted that while the distinction between Realism and Anti-Realism is a purely intellectual distinction with no practical distinction in how science, or other projects for that matter, are performed – the distinction and favoring of Anti-Realism does have us appreciate the pragmatic essence of science and all human endeavor.
Schopenhauer, in his Essays and Aphorisms writes that though Man is of greater intelligence than the beasts, most humans are non-intellectual in the sense that they utilize whatever intelligence they have only for immediate or long-term satisfaction of desire.  Those of higher intellect work on the projects of machinery, aeronautics and the “practical sciences” and even greater minds delve into the mysteries of existence and mind itself (what Schopenhauer calls “metaphysics”) and whether the scientist is performing experiments that discover the nature (the “thing in itself”) of things and what the purpose of science, art and ethics ultimately are.
These parameters provide no (or very-little) change in the respective fields in which they analyze, however, they provide human beings with the foundation of all their pursuits and prevent them from being overwhelmed by hubris and forget the nature of these endeavors.  That is, though Philosophy does not change science or art, it does remind the science and artist of the proper utilization and nature of their project (to have us learn in order to improve our lives) and can lead them from acting poorly.  Philosophy provides the normative realm which decides how human beings should behave while interacting and learning about the descriptive one.  Science cannot tell scientists whether developing nuclear weapons is a proper use of their intelligence and knowledge but philosophy (specifically ethics) can.

The exact knowledge we have of the “metaphysical realm” is by the nature of us inhabiting a physical plane (we perceive perceptions, which is our “physics” rather than have access to the thing-in-itself) incredibly limited.  However, it is this skepticism of the physical plane being with certainty the metaphysical one, and what the metaphysical consists of that allows humans to be reminded of the aims of their goals – the relinquishment of pain and enrichment of experience.  For just as all knowledge is centered on the structure of our minds, so it is that all endeavors and efforts should be structured on what our minds and lives should be.  For nothing else is of importance (practically or phenomenally) save the mental states of sentient beings.  Because of the egotistical dimension of human beings, this knowledge is self-evident when it comes to one’s own mental states (or is it?  For often we run after imagined pleasures when if we really were wise and cared for ourselves we wouldn’t place our happiness in imagined and exterior things but in our own wisdom and virtue) but philosophy and art remind us of the sufferings (if other minds truly exist) of our fellow creatures plighted to exist.

Friday, May 27, 2016

More Correction of the Stoics and More

Despite the wisdom contained in both the Cynics and the Stoics, of the two the Cynics are of greater pragmatism for they understand the causal nature of things.  The Stoics understand the power of the human will to affect or cause one’s state-of-mind, but do not give externalities their proper credit.  The Cynics acknowledge that unpleasant passions come about from valuing that which is lacking in value or is not good or true according to “Nature” or our own nature.  However, Lucian the Cynic entails reasons why one should not eat rich foods, or pursue the life of Hedonist frivolities, and one of the reasons is that these foods must be shipped from around the world and such commerce creates suffering (The Cynic Philosophers pg. 6-7[1]).  The realization of social factors in suffering makes us realize here a divide.  The Stoics would say to those working in disastrous conditions so others can eat fine meals that any suffering that is brought about is from their own weakness of character or ignorance.  They fails to see the Universal Logos of God and for this they suffer.  But the Cynics ascribe the reasoning behind the suffering to the action or causation of things rather than solely the slaves’ or workers’ frame of mind.  Now, in some situations, what the Stoics claim is closer to the truth (suffering is created by one’s own judgements and impressions) and in other cases someone who focuses on externalities (like Marx or Bakunin) would be correct.
The wisdom of the Cynics is they understand both sides of the coin through their pragmatism and their dislike of the norms of society.  These impressions and values were forced unto others and whether they accept them is in some sense out of their control.  However, with help (or without help, though help certainly helps) one can (if so fated) remove themselves from the state of mind they had assumingly in agreement with the norms of their society and adopt different attitudes and values hopefully in agreement with “Nature” (or what is reasonable and true and not merely said so by society).
Humans are determined by their perceptions of value but also other things which are immune to “Stoic reasoning.”  Epictetus gives the example of a wife that harms her children to spite her husband.  If she could see proper reason, he argues, she would have no desire to do this.  What they fail to see is that provided by Spinoza and Hume, rather that reason is guided by the passions rather than the other way ‘round.  Though (despite what Spinoza says) reason has some efficacy depending on the individual and situation, ultimately the passions dominate the mind because the passions in a sense are that person at that particular moment while reason is merely a filter where there thoughts are guided through.  Reason can be at-times a strainer, removing the unwanted passions and leaving only the serene state of being at the bottom of the basin, but ultimately it is that state of being, that dispassionate state, that we become, not the reasoning that brought us to that state.  Also one could argue there would have to be some “passion” or motivation within our minds to bring us to use reason as a strainer.  Those who have no interest in listening to reason will not, and even if they are told the most valuable truth from the wisest man on this Earth, if they do not listen they will not hear and it will be like the sound of wind to them.
The Stoics believe that we suffer not from bad befalling us, but through having a bad will.  And even if this is in some sense true, since the will is connected to our lives (unless we are complete dualists) through causality we do suffer through what befalls us, for what befell us caused us to have a bad will, and since we do not have complete control over our thoughts and state of being (despite what the Stoics believe) we always suffer ultimately, yes, by having a bad mental state (for we are nothing but our minds and can only suffer “directly” in this way) but causally the source comes from without or outside us, and therefore this is the source of our misery and what we must direct our attention to.  There are situations in life where it is the external that deserves almost the entirety of our attention (political problems for example); there are situations where we must focus on our own mental constitution instead (in personal relations to others for example).  The difference being the source of the ill.  Tax cuts for corporations and raising taxes on the poor harms the citizenry.  It is not the citizenry that harms themselves.  However, over-valuing or having an incorrect perception about a friend can cause harm, so even if they betray you the majority of the pain is created by your own perception of them whether or not said perception was justified or not.
The question then arises of how effectively we can assess the source of a problem.  In a sense all things observed by a conscious being (to recite Husserl) have two components (regardless of the nature of existence) a thing that is being perceived and a thing perceiving.  And so all of our sentiments have both the sentiment towards or about something external and the sentiment that is because of the nature (whether a consistent or momentary nature or state) of the subject.  But there are times where, unlike what the Stoics will acknowledge, evil does occur in the world and we must evaluate it and respond to it.  But not necessarily be distressed by it, which is something I think the Stoics can still teach us despite their flaws.  It is wrong to say that “everything the Lord has made is good, and it is only our own ignorance or vanity that colors thing darkly” but it is not wrong to say, “all things are manageable and it is within our power to work towards desired ends and not have what we cannot control worry us.”  We should concern ourselves with the external, but not worry or fret over it. 
Epictetus is right to say as he does in his Discourses (Stoic Six Pack p. 151[2]), for nothing can be good or bad (for us, for as a skeptic I believe human beings will never know any normative claims outside of the pragmatic conception of our lives and the lives of beings we encounter – making the phenomenal/Noumenal distinction of Kant but siding with the phenomenal) outside of our state of mind.  And nothing can be of value save to how it affects the mental states of conscious beings.  However, we must remember two things of the Stoics in their absolutism.  A – Their philosophy developed in an incredibly unstable time both politically and socially.  Human lives were “cheap” and it did seem as if everything one loved and held dear could be taken in the night.  Much of the first world both societally and politically is far more harmonious despite the economic concerns of its populous – and though America involves itself abroad militarily American soil remains untouched by the disruption and dismay of war.  And B – their philosophy was developed when the connection between mind and brain were still essentially non-existent (this relation between mind and brain can exist even if the brain or material reality is created by something we cannot conceive of.  I.e. even if we inhabit the Matrix, laws of brain activity and apples falling applies even if said things are in reality a computer simulation).  Now we know that our mental states cannot be completely changed in the Idealist way (thought exercises) they recommend though to their credit the meditations of the Stoics are taught by clinicians across the country for anxiety and other ailments of the mentally perturbed.  We know that there are social and exterior socials to our ills rather than solely mental or internal ones.  That regardless of whether or not what we communally experience is “reality” we do inhabit a shared world (so it seems) where we can learn and act on the knowledge gained to benefit our lives rather than merely cope stoically.
Though the Stoics were Realists their insistence on pragmatism leads towards the possibility of Anti-Realist or Instrumentalist interpretations of Stoicism.  The Cynics even more-so, since they focused solely on ethics and had no physics or epistemology (at-least not explicitly stated) to speak of – and therefore no ideas of existence save how it applied to us.  Their views of how knowledge is gained also leads the way towards Pragmatist and even Humean views.  For though they are by some considered Rationalist for their insistence of using reason and public inquiry or discussion to arrive at the truth, they begin by having us talk with others about the world to learn its contents and regularities.  That is, we look at our world and confer with others about it – much like our modern science whether Realist or Anti-Realist.  It is Humean because through its emphasis of pragmatism it lends itself to an Empiricism where no reference to fundamental essences is given – only the sense perceptions which allow us to make sense of the world.  For its not as if Hume thought reason was impotent, only that we gain knowledge of things via the senses and utilize reason to make sense of those impressions.
The major distinction ‘tween the Stoics and Hume is in moral sentiment.  The Stoics believe that reason guides men’s steps when Hume points out otherwise – that humans can never be motivated by “pure reason” and instead are always motivated by the passions or “normative perceptions” which reason is impotent to provide us, though can either reinforce or dismantle normative value-judgments.  Because once again, reason is a useful tool and is adequate at-times of either disabusing people of detrimental or hazardous notions or can be used to insert these notions in people’s heads as we see in our society with people adopting the values they do in-part of societal inculcation and “socialization.”
Though the catacombs of philosophy are as large as they are wide-spread (both in-terms of geography and chronology) in-effect I find the most wise sentiments and “truth” as far as Man may discover it in the writings of the Cynics in-regards to what we should value and how we should live (asceticism and rejection of pleasure and “peer pressure” or normalcy for normalcy’s sake); Hume, in-regards to how we learn things and what motivates human behavior; and Schopenhauer in how we should see each other (fellow sufferers) and what we should strive for in this existence (to be free of pain and content, rather than pursue pleasures which are seldom as pleasant as we imagine).  Also the latter two give proper reasoning for punishment (consequential – to deter further crime rather than because of the inherent “wrongness” of the crime that “deserves” punishment and needless suffering) though he is ignorant of the human capacity of improvement (when given the proper resources either through compassion or sense of justice and fairness) and deterring crime through fostering virtue in people (which the Greeks attempted to do) rather than threatening them with pain and imprisonment (or Hell in the case of religions).
To refer once again to a Pragmatist lens of various philosophers, the views of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics appear mystical and absurd when viewed in a Realist light.  But when we remember that even Schopenhauer himself said (though he was a Realist) that the world is composed of an evil ‘Will’ only so far as it applies to living things, and otherwise it is ignorant and indifference – this to applies very-much to an Anti-Realist Pragmatist position of what the world is in its significance being not atoms or Geist but what it is in relation to us.  Which rationally is the necessary thing (whether this world is generated through something outside our comprehension or really exists in the Realist sense) that allows us to exist and suffer as we do.  And viscerally is something to be rejoiced in for rejoicing is always better than lamenting.  Anti-Natalism should be encouraged but not stewed in.  That is, we rationally realize it is better never to have been, but since we are, we rejoice in this life and treat all beings as fellow sufferers who should be helped to see life in ways of potential rather than the inevitabilities of suffering and injustice which abound everywhere.  Suffering and injustice abound everywhere, as they always will as long as humans exist, but these ills can be mitigated through both the internal and the external, through Virtue, reflection and the creativity of human artistry.
This life is made in error, but through our own efforts it can be made into something which is so ethereal it appears to us to (but never rationally does) vindicate the erroneousness of this existence.



[1] In short, instead of a simply life you choose to fill it with unnecessary complication.  Because all this expensive stuff which is supposedly so conducive to happiness and which you hold so dear costs a lot in terms of pain and aggravation.  Just look at gold, which is so sought after, or silver, or expensive houses, fancy clothes, and all that goes with them.  Then consider at what price they’re acquired in terms of trouble, pain and danger- or rather in terms of blood, death and shattered lives, not just because many people die at sea searching for these luxury goods, or ruin their health manufacturing them, but because they are the source of so much intrigue and conflict among you, setting friend against friend, child against parent, even wife against husband.
[2] The being (nature) of the good is a certain will; the being of the bad is a certain kind of will.  What, then, are externals?  Materials of the will, about which the will being conversant shall obtain its own good or evil.  How shall it obtain the good?  If it does not admire (over-value) the materials; for the opinions about the materials, if the opinions are right, make the will good.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

More Correction of the Stoics

 This is a work in progress.  I finished the paper I told you fine folks about and may post it here at a later date.  It honestly isn't something I'm proud of though, and wrote it solely for class credit.  A class where a single paper was at-least half of our grade but we spent most of our time reading hundred page assignments for five point reading quizzes.  But the professor was nice so I guess that excuses everything.

Decided my philosophy is a synthesis of The Cynics and Hume with some Schopenhauer thrown in.  The Cynics are more hard core anyway.  And the Stoics focus a tad too much on the internal.  Enjoy.

--
Despite the wisdom contained in both the Cynics and the Stoics, of the two the Cynics are of greater pragmatism for they understand the causal nature of things.  The Stoics understand the power of the human will to affect or cause one’s state-of-mind, but do not give externalities their proper credit.  The Cynics acknowledge that unpleasant passions come about from valuing that which is lacking in value or is not good or true according to “Nature” or our own nature.  However, in X, Y entails reasons why one should not eat rich foods, and one of the reasons is that these foods must be shipped from around the world and such commerce creates suffering.  The realization of social factors in suffering makes us realize here a divide.  The Stoics would say to those working in disastrous conditions so others can eat fine meals, that any suffering that is brought about is from their own weakness of character or ignorance.  They fails to see the Universal Logos of God and for this they suffer.  But the Cynics ascribe the reasoning behind the suffering to the action or causation of things rather than solely the slaves’ or workers’ frame of mind.  Now, in some situations, what the Stoics claim is closer to the truth (suffering is created by one’s own judgements and impressions) and in other cases someone who focuses on externalities (like Marx or Bakunin) would be correct.
The wisdom of the Cynics is they understand both sides of the coin through their pragmatism and their dislike of the norms of society.  These impressions and values were forced unto others and whether they accept them is in some sense out of their control.  However, with help (or without help, though help certainly helps) one can (if so fated) remove themselves from the state of mind they had assumingly in agreement with the norms of their society and adopt different attitudes and values hopefully in agreement with “Nature” (or what is reasonable and true and not merely said so by society).
Humans are determined by their perceptions of value but also other things which are immune to “Stoic reasoning.”  Epictetus gives the example of a wife that harms her children to spite her husband.  If she could see proper reason, he argues, she would have no desire to do this.  What they fail to see is that provided by Spinoza and Hume, rather that reason is guided by the passions rather than the other way ‘round.  Though (despite what Spinoza says) reason has some efficacy depending on the individual and situation, ultimately the passions dominate the mind because the passions in a sense are that person at that particular moment while reason is merely a filter where there thoughts are guided through.  Reason can be at-times a strainer, removing the unwanted passions and leaving only the serene state of being at the bottom of the basin, but ultimately it is that state of being, that dispassionate state, that we become, not the reasoning that brought us to that state.  Also one could argue there would have to be some “passion” or motivation within our minds to bring us to use reason as a strainer.  Those who have no interest in listening to reason will not, and even if they are told the most valuable truth from the wisest man on this Earth, if they do not listen they will not hear and it will be like the sound of wind to them.
The Stoics believe that we suffer not from bad befalling us, but through having a bad will.  And even if this is in some sense true, since the will is connected to our lives (unless we are complete dualists) through causality we do suffer through what befalls us, for what befell us caused us to have a bad will, and since we do not have complete control over our thoughts and state of being (despite what the Stoics believe) we always suffer ultimately, yes, by having a bad mental state (for we are nothing but our minds and can only suffer “directly” in this way) but causally the source comes from without or outside us, and therefore this is the source of our misery and what we must direct our attention to.  There are situations in life where it is the external that deserves almost the entirety of our attention (political problems for example); there are situations where we must focus on our own mental constitution instead (in personal relations to others for example).  The difference being the source of the ill.  Tax cuts for corporations and raising taxes on the poor harms the citizenry.  It is not the citizenry that harms themselves.  However, over-valuing or having an incorrect perception about a friend can cause harm, so even if they betray you the majority of the pain is created by your own perception of them whether or not said perception was justified or not.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Summertime has Come

Working on a paper that I won't post on here, so it'll be a little while until I post something here (unless I take a break and churn out a quick 1,500 word essay which is entirely possible).  Have a lot of potential stuff to work on.  My philosophy now has become a synthesis of the Stoics and Hume with some Schopenhauer thrown in to stay cool and edgy.

Moved into my new apartment half a week ago.  Not too shabby.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

On Socratic Rationalism and Empiricism

On Socratic Rationalism and Empiricism

As human beings inquire and see what is true and false, it seems that there are two seemingly mutual exclusive sources of knowledge or truth that people refer to.  I’m ignoring arguments directly from authority here, though later I’ll reference how Empiricism can fall into this.
In today’s highly scientific world, it seems that Empiricism has largely won out against what I would call “Cartesian Rationalism” or epistemology that is explicitly based on reason and rejects sense data in all ways.  Ironically enough, any form of Realism cannot be grounded on Empirical claims either, since if all knowledge is to be gained from sense perception, not only can the senses be fooled (we can be mistaken in a simple sense) but that they themselves have no direct line to reality itself and can never verify that we are indeed habiting the “real” world as opposed to a simulation.  Cartesian Rationalism is at odds with both the Empiricism of Scientific Realism and the more sound and skeptical Anti-Realist schools of Instrumentalism and Constructive Empiricism.  However, there is a different form of “rationalism” or reasoning that I believe is still of utmost importance and is largely lacking in our society today – in-part because of poor education and in part because of the instant access to information that technology brings.
The kind that I speak of I will call “Socratic Rationalism” for it involves the inquiry and reasoning of either someone or a group of people to ascertain the truth.  It could be called simply critical thinking, but what I like about the term Socratic Rationalism is that it implies a type of Rationalism, or form of knowledge, that is a source of authority in its own right, when I have the impression that in today’s highly technological world people might presume that critical thinking is only of utility to gather more sense-data or correct mistaken sense-data.  The problem with this is it either does not acknowledge the ‘is’ ‘ought’ distinction in philosophy (or distinction between normative and descriptive claims) or it simply gives no regard to normative claims, which in previous essays I’ve argued (and I would argue established) is always of higher importance than descriptive claims.  Science can tell us what the world is like, but never tell us what the world should be like or how we should be as people.  The New Atheists, particularly Sam Harris, has attempted to show the distinction of claims to be false, or that science can provide us with normative claims (he, or they, would be right in saying that science can help us get what we value, or showing us specific things to value – like eggs for health – but they are mistaken in saying that science is the end-all of human knowledge and speculation) but this type of “Scientism” is blunt and ignores a great deal of wisdom coming from people who knew one-thousandth of what we do know. 
Wisdom comes from reflection and proper temperament, it can never come solely from sense-data.  Otherwise a computer would be the wisest thing on this planet.  Socratic Rationalism, or critical thinking, is necessary not only by allowing us to question both the validity of empirical claims (which is important in today’s world of segmented print and online journalism and confirmation bias) and normative claims, but also through this process it helps us see that the ultimate judge of any claim descriptive or normative is ourselves and only we can choose what is believed by our own minds.  Therefore we should be the most careful and patient judges we can be.  Others can convince of what is the proper course to take, but ultimately only we can think our thoughts and live our lives, so it is our responsibility to ourselves and others to be reflective and thorough.
This is perhaps why the Stoics were Rationalists.  They focus on everything of a person being “internal” or based on their own nature, thoughts and value-judgments, rather than the actual activities of the world around them.  And though Rationalism in the sense of Plato and Descartes is incorrect (a form of Rationalist Realism where we reason about the forms or existence of God through abstract logic alone) which the Stoics make some tepid attempts at, ultimately it could be seen that their form of Rationalism, like S.R. is complimentary of Anti-Realist or Pragmatist Empiricism rather than in conflict with it.  Now, the Stoics were unaware of Realist/Anti-Realist arguments and distinctions, but the balance they give of using our minds to judge what our senses present, rather than mind or sense alone, is a practical synthesis of the two that I’m not sure appears in the epistemology of Kant.
For it is true that although we can never know “reality” we can know things of this world through the combined use of the senses and reason.  The senses are glorified and reason (even in people who hold to be its champion) is sadly left by the way-side, for sense-data has given us the things to crave our animal and psychological cravings for nourishment and distraction, but reason alone can access the validity of a claim and how we are to proceed based on the knowledge we have of this world.
Socratic Rationalism is not only important because it teaches us that the only ultimate judge of anything is ourselves, it teaches us or implores the value of creativity.  The common citizen cannot perform experiments with quantum bonds in their basement.  However, anyone with some intelligence and either a library card, access to the internet, or even simply time to think and ponder can reflect on the world and the most basic yet important questions of our existence – many of which science cannot answer.  These are the questions that most people have answered for them by religion, and though a religion can teach good things, it also often preaches immoral teachings and also the very fact of preaching of telling someone what to believe and not to reflect on it is always (if effective) worse than telling someone the most immoral thing in the world.  For someone trained in critical thinking and then told to do the most heinous action on earth (assuming human’s act on reason rather than sentiment – sentiment of course having influence as well but we are now discussing things to the extent that a person’s reasoning and beliefs have efficacy over their actions – which they surely do if only in relation to their moral sentiments or state of mind) will not do said deed assuming those who are rational observe the distinction ‘tween proper and improper normative claims and (once again, to the extent that reason has influence over action) choose the right over the wrong or the sound reasoning over the unsound.  However, someone who has been trained to passively obey and believe based on either popular opinion or argument from authority can be theoretically taught to believe and do (to the extent belief influence action) anything.  However good reasoning can only implore us to act on the good and reasonable.
Science is an invaluable tool, but ever the more so is the combination of confidence and skepticism that critical thinking and reflection brings.  In fact without reflection, the average mind absorbs and accepts the truths of science exactly the same as one accepts the doctrines of any faith.  It is not the source that is of absolute relevance but the inner analysis of the thinking mind which looks at all the relevant criteria to ascertain the legitimacy of a claim or proposal.  For though there is a distinction in intellectual epistemology, in terms of the individual there is no absolute or radical distinction between any source of knowledge – all data is sense observation, and the sense data itself in no way can verify any claim about it, and the sense data itself attempts no claim.  The table does not say, “I am here!” the laymen simply assumes the table exists in the Realist sense and even the Anti-Realists is convinced after thought that the table’s properties seem to exist in what appears (though I’ll never know if it is or not) a “common world” of other minds which can agree or disagree about any claim I can give about tables or anything else, regardless of whether those minds truly exist or not.

Reflection is invaluable in terms of belief and of great importance in terms of strength of mind and temperament.  It can stay our hand and teach us to be patient rather than impulsive and Stoic rather than consumed with grief over which is not sensible and is out of our control.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The solution to existence is experiential

Today I felt this deep love of humanity coursing through me.  I felt it before I saw my grandparents, and talking with them filled me with it all-the-more.  Such a beautiful feeling.  I want you all to know that there is no reason to be afraid, no reason to worry or doubt.  That life can be beautiful and goodness can be extolled at any moment if the conditions are right.  That love is never at a loss or waste, that is love, not desire.  I hope you all have your dreams come true and feel what I feel now.  Forever and ever.

Life is good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyXuGOfqyZw

Thanks.

Had a great dinner with my grandparents.  It was nice to know that they're proud of me and I want to get these last things done to make them proud.  Very generous and kind people.  Gave me a little bit of shit that my room was messy, but honestly it was clean by my standards.  Know they mean well though.  I should've made my room a little bit cleaner.  Things are as they are though.

I wouldn't be where I am without them.  I am so lucky.

Just Another Episode in the Sitcom of my Life

Because I am in good spirits I wish to write all this out.  Maybe I shouldn’t be drudging it up in my memory again, but if nothing else this short fable of an insignificant trifle in someone else’s life might be of some value to someone else.
Months ago on my birthday someone I knew from high school ended their life.  I already made a blog post about this if you can recall.  It was a strange day and through that day I interacted with many people I knew from high school.  People telling me they wished me the best in my scholastic endeavors away from home – and I could tell by their inflection of voice that they were sincere and heartfelt.  I became more intoxicated than I had ever been asides from one other occasion in my life.  At closing time I was told that people were going to someone named “Tanner’s.”  I could only recall one Tanner from high school and thought I’d see if it was him.  I got a ride from someone and blathered about the absurdity of this existence.  To me it’s simply a fact of this life, but afterwards I realized how some may be emotionally affected by such a sentiment – which I’ll return to shortly.  It turns out that the Tanner in-question was the son of my father’s ex-girlfriend.  We had never met and it was really nice to get to know him.  He, his friend, his mother and I talked about big and small things throughout the night and she drove me home after getting little sleep.
The next day I spent some time with a close friend of mine and we discussed Lydia’s death and our interactions with her over the years.  Her death didn’t affect me emotionally the day I heard but the day after I remember feeling disturbed by the thought of another human being’s feelings of hopelessness.  I remembered the person I talked to in the car, and that she most-likely was feeling something I couldn’t possibly begin to understand.  I’m fortunate in not having whatever other people do that causes them to morn – I suppose it’s Epicurean sentiments that has me morn the sufferer rather than the deceased, but like I said knowledge of the state someone was in before they took their life affected me.  I wrote the person a note saying that this mutually experienced pain people feel can only inspire love and warmth in the long-run, and that the pain would recede with time.  I also said that a part of me wanted to stay in my hometown so I could get to know her.  I honestly can’t remember what we discussed that night, it probably was nothing that impactful – but of course with what happened people at-times tend to exaggerate or create meaning where there is none.
I gave the note to someone I know (who from what I was told didn’t tell the person I wrote it although I gave this person a deck of my Magic cards which moved him to tears) and played pool until I decided it was time to get some more packing done.  I didn’t go to her wake nor her funeral.  I thought of it but I knew I had to get ready for school so I pushed away the thoughts I had and focused on starting a new life when someone I knew had theirs end.
I went to college.  Had an okay time, things were going well and I was getting all A’s.  But somewhere between a month and a half and two months into I thought I should let the person I wrote to know that I did write to them.  Time progressed further and in some state of melancholy over which I cannot even recall I decided to message her again and convey said feelings.  She left me a voicemail from receiving my number from a friend of mine I would later find out.  We texted for a while and then for whatever reason my anxiety from high school returned to me.  I texted her in-effect saying that I wished she’d contact me and asking if she ever wished the same of me.  She said that she was an introvert and her friends tell her they wish she’d interact more.
We make plans for doing something and I secure arrangements for going to my hometown.  I wanted to see her because I was infatuated with her.  Maybe the way I painted this up to this point didn’t properly convey that fact.  I arrive and had lingering anxiety for some inexplicable reason.  This is an entirely different story but in High School my first impassioned encounter with the opposite sex was with someone who was cold and used me when they wanted my attention but otherwise ignored me.  Now I still doubt at-times the sincerity or true feelings behind much of what people say at-least at-times.  I have a good time in my hometown.  See friends.  See old college professor.  See Carissa.  We have a good time and as I get out of her car for a bus I would later found out I already missed she says, “We’re going to do something real soon.”  I am happy.
I am reading several nights past this day and am reading a book from a philosopher I admire.  I send her one text about the persistence of wisdom though happiness does not last.  Then I read a passage about how dreams create castles that are painful to tear down, and find this ironic because I texted her about the pendulum of hope and dread.  I instantly regret texting it to her.  I text her throughout the day because of my anxiety and tell her this and that and yadda yadda.  I feel like I need to know what’s going on so I call and she answers.  We have (from my point of view) a good time making small talk.  She mentions going out to eat which makes me happy and I express concern about medication she briefly alluded to in a past conversation.
Time passes and I continue to do well in school.  Then something happens which some might say alter everything, some might say only increase the speed of the inevitable conclusion.  Someone I grew to know in one of the clubs I attends dies of unknown causes.  I silently manage the thoughts I have of someone else I know dying and not being here in this world and more misfortunes occur.  I discover I don’t have a place to live for the summer.  That what I wanted to do I cannot.  I should have reached out to my friends first.  But for whatever reason my first inclination was to text Carissa to see if she wanted to talk.  Some time passes and I decide I wish to send Lydia’s mother what I wrote the day of her death (which is on this blog and of which I’m still personally astounded that I would write what I did before knowledge of her demise).  So I go onto Facebook and send it to her.  I then look at several people’s pages including Carissa’s.  I see that although she hasn’t responded to my inquiry about talking she’s made some insipid post of which I can’t remember.  This is really when I know she doesn’t want anything to do with me.  The fact that she would prefer to scroll through her Facebook Newsfeed to find a way to entertain herself rather than responding to my message was all the information I needed and it felt like my heart was kicked in.
I look for any type of sharp and clean instrument I could use to slash my wrists but all of my razors that I can find have been used due-to my laziness.  I talk to a friend of mine for about an hour about this, that and the other thing and then lay in bed.  I turn my phone off for a short period because I cannot stand the idea of waiting for someone just to be dismissed.  I then go on Facebook and send Carissa another message, because I’ve seen she posted something else.  I turn my phone back on and found she’s sent me messages saying hers was off – which is true because in my erratic state I tried calling her.  We talk and it both makes me incredibly sad and happy to hear her voice and its tone of concerned sadness.  I tell her among other things that I feel an overwhelming platonic love for her, and I would do anything for her at the slightest request.  After some time the conversation is over and I spend the next few days in my room – save going to the showers to clean my wounds.
I text her on Saturday telling her I’m feeling better and I’m thankful for her for being there, also that I did well on my past exams – even though the grades for those exams I had some time ago so was no new information to me.  She doesn’t respond again and I feel abandoned.  “Am I really so forgettable and uninteresting?”  I think.  I pry a response out of her but the fact that I had to leaves me in a state of anxiety.  I cry in elevators and hug a random person playing Nintendo because I need contact with someone.  Because I am foolish I don’t contact my friends.  A week goes by of this, some of the worst anxiety I’ve had in my entire life.  I then decide to contact Lydia’s mother because I think maybe she’ll give me some emotional support.  Some time passes and no avail.  I decide to break down and tell Carissa I feel alone and could use someone to text or talk to from time to time because of my state; if she does not wish the burden of a friend with anxiety then I would be understanding – be honest, was the message I wanted to convey essentially.  After all I just tried killing myself a week earlier so my thoughts are going to be a bit unhinged.
Because I am in an erratic state I decide to go on Facebook and see that Carissa has posted a message saying it will not be a good day for her.  I’m not sure if this is true but I assumed because she is saying she will have to tolerate me.  I am mortified that instead of either telling me she is there for me or at-least be honest with me she decides to make a Facebook comment.  I then lose my mind and say things that were not correct of me to say.  Things about myself and about the person whose life ended.  I tell her that I’d leave her alone as long as I could know that my anxiety, my wretched and pernicious fears, hadn’t caused them to make dark fantasy a reality and cause through said dread the very thing I’ve been dreading.  Some time passes and she says she’s at work.  I go to a movie though I can’t focus on anything.  When I return I decide to let her know how awful I realize it was to say some of what I did.  We haven’t talked since.
Ultimately I’m glad we don’t talk anymore.  A short time after we stopped talking I began binge-watching Adventure Time, have taken hikes and conversed with friends.  Though I hadn’t mentioned this to them, it was through their indirect support that I was able to put things in perspective.  Though Carissa was there for me, she was only ever there through a sense of demanded moral obligation – not because she wanted to talk to me as a friend.  My friends all were there for me without my having to take pliers out; which I felt guilty afterwards for doing to her in the states I was in.
It’s amazing how different a person can feel in such a short-period.  I have negligible if any anxiety over this.  The only thing I feel slight anxiety over now is not finding a place to live here and having to find some place in Fond du Lac to stay if any would exist.  I do believe that Carissa is a good person, and wish her the best in her pursuits in Anthropology or whatever her passions compel her towards.  All humans are terribly flawed and cannot help but do what they do.  I hope she finds peace from the loss she endured and solace in the knowledge her friend is at peace.
I hope we can all find the contentment we yearn for and the strength and compassion to desire that same contentment and serenity unto others.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sharing time children!

I have (more-or-less) GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) and I can safely say it's likely the one emotion we can entirely do without.  Sadness I can understand.  Things don't go your way or something bad happens and you morn a loss.  Anxiety literally has nothing to do with the external world and exists entirely in the mind of the person experiencing it.  I should know.  I've freaked out over the craziest things in my life.  Especially since in high school I had long on-again-off-again relations with someone who was very flaky and fed into my already existing anxiety.  Giving it a breath that has lasted for years - at-least in certain segments of the last few years.

Anxiety makes everything seem both inevitable to go wrong and yet you constantly want to think about whether or not it can or will go right.  You cycle through your mind but the more you try to convince yourself the more you feed into it making all your worries seem like reality when all the good just doesn't register mentally.  Even if you get what you want you'll still be anxious, because you'll be worrying about keeping it or if you really have it.  Anxiety is pointless because it not only is painful it is counter-productive and self-destructive.  It causes us to act irrationally and by doing so both feeds the anxiety (the unpleasant feeling) and has us act in a way that will increase the chances of our dread being manifested into reality.  When we act on it we give oxygen to the fire of our worries.  The best thing to do is to remember it is all in your mind, and even it wasn't all you can control is your own actions and all you want is contentment; so why not just be content rather than constantly scrutinizing everything you have or want which will never make you as happy as just being at peace with yourself will?