Tag Archives: philosophy

Quote of the day

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Some kind of philosophy is a necessity to all but the most thoughtless, and in the absence of knowledge it is almost sure to be a silly philosophy. The result of this is that the human race becomes divided into rival groups of fanatics, each group firmly persuaded that its own brand of nonsense is sacred truth, while the other side’s is damnable heresy. (…)

Dogmatism is an enemy to peace, and an insuperable barrier to democracy. In the present age, at least as much as in former times, it is the greatest of the mental obstacles to human happiness. The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but it is nevertheless an intellectual vice. (…)

But so long as men are not trained to withhold judgement in the absence of evidence, they will be led astray by cocksure prophets, and it is likely that their leaders will be either ignorant fanatics or dishonest charlatans.”

Bertrand Russel – “Philosophy for Laymen” in Unpopular Essays (English Edition)

#dogmatism #democracy #freedom #ideology #peace #personaldevelopment #philosophy

Quote of the day

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We are now again in an epoch of wars of religion, but a religion is now called an ‘ideology’. At the moment, the Liberal philosophy is felt by many to be too tame and middle-aged: the idealistic young look for something with more bite in it, something which has a definite answer to all their questions, which calls for missionary activity and gives hope of a millennium brought about by conquest. (…)

Our confused and difficult world needs various things if it is to escape disaster, and among these one of the most necessary is that, in the nations which still uphold Liberal beliefs, these beliefs should be wholehearted and profound, not apologetic towards dogmatisms of the Right and of the Left, but deeply persuaded of the value of liberty, scientific freedom, and mutual forbearance.”

Bertrand Russel – “Philosophy and Politics” in Unpopular Essays (English Edition). First published in 1950.

#dogmatism #freedom #liberalism #ideology #personaldevelopment #philosophy

Quote of the day

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“Education, in the sense in which I mean it, may be defined as the formation, by means of instruction, of certain mental habits and a certain outlook on life and the world. (…)

The search for an outside meaning that can compel an inner response must always be disappointed: all “meaning” must be at bottom related to our primary desires, and when they are extinct no miracle can restore to the world the value which they reflected upon it.

The purpose of education, therefore, cannot be to create any primary impulse which is lacking in the uneducated; the purpose can be only to enlarge the scope of those that human nature provides, by increasing the number and variety of attendant thoughts and showing where the most permanent satisfaction is to be found.”

Bertrand Russel – Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays (1910)

Epidemiology

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One epidemic calls forth another
and one infectious protein spawns
infectious thoughts.
Mental representations spreading like viruses.
Unchecked.


Alert! Long lines before inoculation centers.
Demand for fiction is high.
Trust has been thrown off-kilter.
Too little truth produced
to fight this lethal disease.


No medicine as yet against the fever of
conviction.


Maintain a safe distance
and epistemological hygiene.
Refrain from visiting the specters of panic.
To stop the proliferation,
avoid contact.


Stay home, in your consciousness,
and disinfect it.
Regularly.


Specious is bad
for the species.

Questions

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Setting: Catholic religion class at school.

Characters: New teacher – a man. A bunch of 9-year-olds.

Open discussion about covenants. (Based loosely on recollection, don’t shoot the messenger!)


Girl in my daughter’s class, with genuine curiosity: Why are all the priests men? Why are there no women priests?

Teacher, gently: Well, you see, Jesus was a man, and his apostles were men, and…

Several girls in my daughter’s class: But his mother was a woman!

Teacher, full of kindness: Yes, but she could not have brought Jesus into the world without a heavenly Father…

Red-haired girl: He couldn’t have been born without a mother, either.

Teacher, softly: Yes, you’re right… but, maybe, you know, if some priests were women, then the men in church would stop paying attention to God and stare at the pretty priest…

My daughter, mumbling to herself: But the same can be true the other way around. If the priest is handsome…

Boy seated next to my daughter, searching for a solution: Maybe men are just uglier than women!

Red-haired girl: But if the women were really ugly, could they be priests then?

My daughter, musing after class: What if all the priests were women? Then there wouldn’t be any male priests to tempt… 🙂


(Ah, the dilemmas, quandaries and predicaments that arise when children are allowed to think freely. 🙂 Which, thankfully, they are.)

Watch for timelessness instead

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Watch for timelessness instead

a watch is a little

glass prison

for time –

 

where the seconds

serve a life sentence

without the possibility

of parole.

 

people like to wear

captive time

around their wrist.

when all the seconds are numbered and can never escape,

they call the watch good.

 

measuring

heartbeats,

counting down

to the end.

 

I’d like to start a petition

to free time

I’d like to see it

fly

and watch

for timelessness instead.

 

Copyright A. Sepi 2020. All rights reserved

 

 

The Days

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The Days

Remember these days

these brief days

when we walked in groups of one

we gave thanks to the ones who toiled

and our lives touched each other even though our hands didn’t.

 

Remember these days

these brief days

when daddy was no longer at work (yay!)

because people mattered more

than production:

we discovered we had lungs (so fragile)

and the air became breathable.

 

Remember these days

these brief days

with the deafening chants of birds, their speeches, their courtships, their pleas

finally audible,

and how we watched them build nests from our dining room window,

the whole family gathered around the table for once,

the playgrounds locked, quiet,

the streets devoid of the screams of neglected children;

the strange intimacy.

 

Remember these days,

these brief days

when we looked at each other with fear and awe

and doubt and hope and kindness

– but we looked! –

and were on the verge of rediscovering

humanity;

 

A book and a stroll meant the world to us,

we sang on balconies

while deer with unnatural eyes and glistening antlers

wandered into Nara and took the empty metro nowhere.

 

Remember these days

these brief days

when the trees stood erect and reached into the sky while the stock markets fell

(not the other way around)

when the river exhaled a soft haze at dawn before the buzz began,

the buzz of a thousand and one insects.

 

Remember the days

when the engines of destruction stood still for a minute

while food continued to grow out of the dark soil

and we were afloat in the poetry of necessity.

 

Remember these days

for they will not last forever

and maybe, one day, who knows,

they shall be missed.

 

Copyright A. Sepi 2020. All rights reserved

 

 

 

(Post)modern obsessions

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Have you noticed how the following themes keep popping up, almost obsessively, in contemporary discourse – in the media, in the public sphere and increasingly in ourselves?

This obsession with sex – and complete devaluation of love and tenderness and commitment.

This obsession with doing – and complete devaluation of being.

This obsession with the intensity of fragmented experience – and complete devaluation of profoundness and resilience and eternity.

This obsession with work and maximization – and complete devaluation of contemplation and spirituality. Of the time it takes to realize that you have a soul, that you are a human being capable of transcendence, not a machine plugged in to churn out as many objects as possible per unit of time.

We treat ourselves and each other as equipment, as products. We apply to beings the logic of machines. We have transferred the maximum efficiency mantra of the technological sector to human life. We have internalized the algebraic depersonalisation, the callous disregard, the flattening subjugation of being to efficiency and utility present in our discourses. We find it OK to behave and to be treated increasingly like predictable robots or like working animals. Like mammals, all dapper and happy to be allowed to act out their basest instincts.

This obsession with Darwinism, with us as little more than physical organisms in biological evolution, this bench-marking against apes, not against angels or saints. This devaluation of angels and saints as melodrama and cheap esoteric – or, even, as oppression. This talk of our “natural instincts”. Nature, our nature, as a new goddess. But should we always make way for our natural instincts? Will that improve us? What will build more character and more goodness and a deeper path to the absolute we secretly yearn for?

(Is something good or legitimate simply because we were born with it? Because we acquired it? Because it is fun? Because it brings pleasure or monetary value? Are we not supposed to transcend ourselves?)

This frenzy of devaluation… No religion, but brand religion. The branding iron.

What is slavery for theoretically free individuals? According to Simone Weil, the disconnect between one’s efforts and their life’s work. (We work, but we no longer have a life’s work, an opus, an oeuvre. We expect our work to be the foundation of our identity, but in fact, so many of us no longer feel like creators. We no longer develop our being in the process of our work. Work all too often feels like odd life-draining tasks under excruciating time pressure, away from the ones we love. It no longer feels like purpose. Just endless busyness. Our work has control over us, but we no longer have much control over it.)

What else is slavery? In Gravity and Grace, S. Weil goes on to say it is the coercion to accept that “reading” of yourself, that interpretation of yourself, which others stamp on you. Having no choice or having only wrong choices. Allowing yourself to be devoured by exhausting activities, and making all this daily effort simply to stay in your current condition – no horizon, no finality, mere survival. Day to day to day. The arbitrariness of how you are treated. The dependency. The addiction.

Any illusion begins to feel real when enough people accept it and internalize it as “the thing to do”. Repeated, it reproduces, it propagates.

This destruction of the human soul…

We no longer recognize the sacredness of our own and each other’s being.

Will the human spirit ever rise against this flattening iron?…

 

 

Perspectives for personal development

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When the road to change seems full of roadblocks, adopt a different perspective.

Just like a photographer circling his subject to find her best side, just like a writer looking for the revelation of something strikingly original and true, to reach awareness, look at things from a different angle. Ask the right questions.

Sometimes we are so wrapped up in what we want to become, that we forget who we want to become or even who we are and why we are here.

I think the who is much more important than the what. Who is the subject, what is the object. Do we really want to be objects? (And yes, you see, grammar does help later in life…)

What you are is a label glued on your exterior, a tag on a product up for sale, a business card, a title that is yours today and might become somebody else’s tomorrow. Who you are is personal and true, it is in-depth and unique. It is that distinctive, non-interchangeable combination of traits and values which gives you authenticity, direction, a purpose on the planet, and which nobody can take away from you.

Too obsessed with the what you no longer have time for the who-s around you. Drowning in your self-centered or job-related cognitive processes, you no longer have resources for empathy and giving.

To find meaning, sometimes all it takes is to change the angle and ask the right questions.

PS: A couple of days after publishing this post, I came across this article in the New York Times. Really worth the read!!!
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/arthur-c-brooks-love-people-not-pleasure.html