Religion is not the source of morality,
Empathy is the source of morality.
Religion is not the source of morality,
Empathy is the source of morality.
Pharmacology and psychology fill the space that philosophy once occupied,
Taking the onus to find meaning and happiness away from the individual,
Moving it to external sources.
Live better with the assistance of various substances and biochemical manipulation
Or with the help of someone else shrinking your head.
Meanwhile, philosophy has become associated with irrelevance, a kind of intellectual masturbation.
It is no longer considered practical information that can help us live happier, more meaningful lives.
To a great extent
Your thinking got you where you are
Your thinking can get you out of it
And that is what philosophy is all about.
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Instead of asking for the meaning of life (…which lacks a definitive answer, due to the utter subjectivity of meaning).
Ask what your reason(s) for asking the reason of life is.
Put another way:
What is your meaning,
Instead of the meaning?
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The idea of Pascal’s Wager is that you can live a godless life and then convert to religion right before you die, just in case you were going to go to hell for your godless ways.
Nobody seems to think about the ‘Reverse Pascal’s Wager‘, the very real idea that you could be wasting your life living as a religious person, preparing for an afterlife that may not exist.
The caveat here, of course, is how we define ‘religious’ behaviour – which, like human behaviour, can encompass both the best and the worst of what humanity has to offer.
The Reverse Pascal’s wager may not apply to the guy who volunteers at his Church every weekend to feed and clothe the homeless. It may, however, apply to the guy who devotes significant time and energy to trying to spiritually blackmail the non-believers surrounding him.
Then again, a Hedonist might tell you that, if a man abuses others in the name of his God and enjoys his life – that was a life well lived.
Like most things, we should probably err on the side of not being a twat.
As usual, there is no certainty and no answers… only questions.
In this era of accelerated change, information overload, fake news, and ‘post-truth’ politics
Your ability to deal with what you don’t know
May be more important than what you do know
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Having trouble embracing the idea of ‘less’?
It may be down to how you think about less.
An emphasis on less should focus on less of the bad, as a means to get more of the good.
Less time spent on the unnecessary,
Less money spent on stuff you don’t really need.
In return, more time to spend on the activities and people you love
More energy to devote to the people and things you love.
Socrates is supposed to have said that ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’.
But the ‘over examined life’ sounds so unhappy and neurotic as to be not worth living either.
Like many things in life, there is probably a middle ground.
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Be a better philosopher;
Say that you believe things
Not that you know things
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Disclaimer: you are more than enough
Considering the times you live in
You’ve been able to take in far more, and far ‘better’ information than the likes of Marcus Aurelius, Jesus, Buddha, Pythagoras, Einstein (etc.)
You’ve been able to read more ‘great’ books
(…and maybe more ‘not great’ books)
You’ve been able to access nearly unlimited culture and art through the wonders of the information superhighway
Learn about almost anything you want
Look up more information than you could ever consume for your entire life.
On an intellectual or philosophical level
You have not necessarily made ‘better use’ of this information than these people.
(…though I probably don’t know you and even if I did, this would *not* be a judgement on how you have chosen to spend your entirely unique existence).
What I am getting at here is this:
Perhaps reading more is not the solution,
Nor reading better
(…both of which can be seen as a type of intellectual consumerism also predicated on the idea of you not being enough).
Perhaps the solution is what you make of this information
These books you read
Conversations you have
Artworks you scrutinise.
After all, what you think about
Will determine what you do
And thus the trajectory of your life.
Could you find alleviation for the human condition
Standing in a check out line?
Or utter profundity in an episode of Jersey Shaw?
Maybe – I’m sure some people have
Was it Bodhidharma who found enlightenment staring at a wall?
(…no sacred books, 7 day meditation retreats, dogma, gurus or online bootcamps required).
Ensuring that you expose yourself to the ‘right’ stuff is relatively easy
So, I suppose the question is how do you make ‘more’ of what you are exposed to?
That I don’t know.
This is the big mystery.
Of course, it doesn’t matter anyway, unless you want it to.
When you see an elderly person
Or anyone struggling with (…or against?) the inevitable march of time
You could see an opportunity to remember your common humanity
And to share the burden of the human condition.
You could see as a chance to remember that,
As carbon based life – we were given these amazing but fragile bodies
Prone to errors in repair and replication
And quickly breaking down
This is neither good, nor bad – it just is.
And so, this person in front of you is an opportunity
To remember that we are all dying together
…although this particular person is probably closer to the end point than you are
And probably feeling the pull more than you are.
And, no matter how well he’s taking it
(…we do hope he’s taking it well)
Maybe he can teach you something by his example
Perhaps to treasure your youth whilst you have it
No matter how old you are.
When I look at an ‘old person’
Dealing with what appears to be this slow catastrophe
This thing we call ageing
I can’t help but feel some admiration.
I watch him weathering the storm;
But there he is
And I can’t help thinking;
That’ll be me one day, if something else doesn’t get me first
Maybe I can learn something through his example
‘Youth’ as an idea is slippery slope
Such a relative concept
I remember some acquaintances from when I was 11
(…those a little too old to be properly called my friends)
Men, I suppose, in their early 20s who seemed so old, strong, distinguished, unknowable
Now I am 29, these fresh faced 22 year olds
Worry me with their youth and their inexperience
They affect me with the things they have already done with their short lives
What they might yet do.
I look at them with a sense of loss that I can’t help but feel
I lament the hours I feel that I wasted when I was their age
They too, in their own and very unintentional way, are a memento:
I’m 29 – not old exactly ‘old’,
But there they are all the same
Being many years my junior
And with them is a sense of the abrasive nature of time
Wearing away at my body and my psyche
A little voice in my head
Telling me that I need to ‘get on with it’.
Problem is, I don’t really know what ‘it’ is
And so I suppose this age gap
Reminds me to examine the trajectory my life is taking
By looking at back at how I got here
What I was doing then.
It’s more than a little neurotic, no doubt about it.
Maybe when I’m 80,
I’ll be looking back on those spry 60 year olds in much the same way
Or maybe I’ll be dead
‘Age’, is almost a synonym for ‘youth’
And just prone to the same amount of relativity
Someone once proclaimed that ‘you are as old as you feel’
That person was probably not a decade older than 70
(…though I may be wrong).
What is age but a reminder?
Whether you look forward or backwards
In this way everybody; older or younger, could be seen as a memento mori
A memento of life;
What you had
What’s left of it
No matter how much is left of it.
We should cherish the elderly
(…sometimes barely breathing at that )
Remember your youth
No matter how old you are