Archive for the ‘philosophy’ tag
I dare you to watch this entire video. It’s neat, I promise:
I think Alain de Botton is one of the most interesting and valuable thinkers and writers alive today. I really enjoyed this piece:
De Botton talked about some of the writers he loves – Montaigne, and the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott – and then he told me about a service, known as “bibliotherapy”, offered by the School of Life, which (I think) he thought I would hate. The idea is that someone suggests enriching books for you to read. “What a load of wank!” he exclaimed, gleefully taking the role of his detractors. “What do I want to say? Just calm down … ” It occurred to me, as it has long occurred to him, that our reactions to him might say more about ourselves than they do about him. “Is this the enemy?” He asked. “Is this really the enemy?”
(via The Browser)
A nice little essay from The Philosophers’ Mail about how you’re probably at least a little bit Marxist:
In his search for what makes work fulfilling, Marx speaks beautifully about workers needing ‘to see themselves in the objects they have created’. In other words, at its best, labour offers us a chance to externalise what’s good inside us (let’s say, our creativity, our rigour, our logic), and to give it a stable, enduring form in some sort of object or service independent of us. Our work should – if things go right – be a little better than we manage to be day to day, because it allows us to concentrate and distill the best parts of us.
A political columnist writes about his raccoon neighbor. It’s not so amazing a story, but I do like this conclusion:
Despite the banality of the thought, we have all found it uplifting to see this small confirmation that despite every natural and human challenge and unkindness, life has waged a battle that it has never lost. I should probably apologize for this platitudinous little yarn, but I will not — I have reviewed what other columnists and bloggers have written in the last few days on the more frequent current political and economic personalities and subjects, and Henrietta and her cub are more interesting and more admirable.
(via The Browser)
Venkatesh Rao is one of the most consistently interesting sources of thorough essays about novel but valuable ideas I know of. He is, typically, a bit too thorough for my patience, but I got further with this essay than most others. The central premise:
We generally fail to understand the extent to which both our sense of agency and identity are a function of memory. If you could coherently extend memories either forward or backward in time, you would get a different person, but one who might enjoy a weak sort of continuity of awareness with a person (or machine) who has lived before or might live after. Conversely, if you went blind and lost your long-term memories, you might lose elements of your identity, such as your sense of your race or an interest in painting.
Right?! Philosophy that interests me.
Consider this is your monthly reminder that Oliver Burkeman is great and you should really read his column. This quote struck me as worthy of excerption:
The trick, I think, is to take his comment not as an instruction about how you ought to think, but a bare description of a psychological truth: if you didn’t mind what happened, then you’d never have any problems. That’s undeniable: “having a problem” and “minding something” are the same. It’s a restatement of the Stoics’ insight into human distress: no event can trigger upset without a belief that it’s undesirable.
I’ve posted a piece (only one!?) by Slavoj Žižek, and have enjoyed a few more. So when out of the giant reading backlog came a really neat piece about what makes his writing so interesting to read, I had to share. A choice quote:
The biggest obstacle facing the reader of Žižek’s work is not the academic trappings — the technical terms, the references to other thinkers — but a writing style that defies convention. Broadly speaking, the general expectation of argumentative writing is that it will lay out a more or less straightforward chain of reasons supporting a clear central claim. Even though we acknowledge that this format is almost never encountered in its pure form, it still remains a kind of ideal. In Žižek’s writing, though, it’s difficult to pick out anything like a “thesis statement,” and the argument most often proceeds via intuitive leaps rather than tight chains of reasoning.
I’m not going to pretend that an old three minute clip from a late night comedian will change your life, but will it? Of course not. Still, it’s an interesting theory worth three minutes of your time.
I link to this story not because it’s exceptionally good (it’s not bad, just unexceptional), but because I find its subject rather interesting. I can’t help but feel affinity for people making points like this:
“The arrogance that says analysing the relationship between reasons and causes is more important than writing a philosophy of shyness or sadness or friendship drives me nuts. I can’t accept that.
“I had a line in the book I cut that said ‘The nirvana would be if the questions raised by Oprah Winfrey would be answered by the faculty at Harvard.’ The questions she asks are the most central – how do we live with other people, how do we cope with our ambitions, how do we survive as a society – though she fails to answer them with anything like seriousness.”
And though I would characterize it as similarly unexceptional, his most recent TED talk was recently made available.
Peter W. Singer, not the famous Australian utilitarian philosopher, considers some of the ramifications of the seemingly risk-free war the United States is carrying out in Pakistan.
And now we possess a technology that removes the last political barriers to war. The strongest appeal of unmanned systems is that we don’t have to send someone’s son or daughter into harm’s way. But when politicians can avoid the political consequences of the condolence letter — and the impact that military casualties have on voters and on the news media — they no longer treat the previously weighty matters of war and peace the same way.
(via The Browser)