cultivating & crashing

an organic collection of notes, observations, and thoughts

Tag: philosophy

Returns, departures

I missed this place. I would think of it from time to time and feel a twinge of guilt every time I realized I had nothing to say. I’ve been very, very busy with work, Chavurah, running and weight lifting, JavaScript or Python, feeding myself real food and sleeping enough. Too busy to read, write, see people other than Mike or spend time thinking about things. So much so that I feel like I’m becoming one of the mindless masses. I guess the Little Prince would see me as a full grown adult!

Anyway, I took a quiz on what philosophies I am closest to. The results explain why I disliked Plato so much when I took epistemology.


I particularly liked this quote by Willard Van Orman Quine:

Life is algid, life is fulgid. Life is what the least of us make most of us feel the least of us make the most of. Life is a burgeoning, a quickening of the dim primordial urge in the murky wastes of time.

To be frank, I’m scared that I’m turning into a boring person. Someone who works and doesn’t have time left over to care about the life of the mind, the lives of others, or anything meaningful and transcendental for that matter. However, knowing how good I am at developing irrational fears, I’ll cut myself some slack. That said, if anyone sees me getting complacent, please smack me.



Just got out of classical social theory class. Today, prof. gave a great lecture on Kant and Nietzsche.

Here are the notes:

-truth, morality, beauty –> all connected
-absolute truth exists and it is not merely social conventions
-human reason has the power to rise above individual interest to find universal truth and true morality
-Kantean idealism claims that there exists one Truth and one objective world that is ahistorical and acultural
-ignorance is dangerous
-what is enlightenment? emergence from self-incurred immaturity. that is, using one’s understanding without direction or courage. one must have the courage to use one’s own understanding, to challenge the illogical things we see in the world. we must DARE TO BE WISE
-dialogical relations develop understanding, and can elevate societies; theory and practice depend on each other
-volition –> debate –> active =/= automatic, passive, irresolution

-people are herd animals; there exist superior human beings. what sets these apart is determined by their will power to go beyond others
-the world is not what it is. rather, it is continually becoming something else
-looks back to ancient Greek culture and casts light on the aspect of this society that was ignored by the Renaissance: the Dionysian creativity and the balance between mind and body
-philosophy needs be historical
-there is no absolute truth; even so, the search for truth becomes embedded in our human nature
-although the scientific method is a manifestation of this search, belief in this system is simply another faith, similar to that of religion
-there is no single point from which truth claims can be made
-power decides truth. trust claims represents vested interests that the powerful convince others of
-“I am not a man. I am dynamite!”
-the ubermensch has Dionysian creativity that puts him beyond good and evil
-irrationality > science. imagination > logic.

Feel like dropping everything stupid I do (all the things that waste my time uselessly like Facebook, SASU, checking e-mails, getting caught up in the small details that gradually take over one’s life), in order to sit and read to get to the good stuff, get to the fiery ideas, the crazy ones that shake it up. Let’s get out and explore the implications of what’s being said here. It’s dynamite because this philosophy, this epistemology, added to the critical and proactive legacy of sociology is explosive. For some reason playing rugby makes itself felt as important. So does learning to play songs by silvio rodriguez. So does hanging out with people. Making contact with other critical, intelligent people with brilliant minds, spending time with them. Sharing stories, meals, and ideas: ideas to grow from, ideas to build on, ideas to break walls and change realities. Change what? To what extent? I don’t know, but better to try than not to.

I am by far the most terrible human being that has existed so far; this does not preclude the possibility that I shall be the most beneficial. I know the pleasure in destroying to a degree that accords with my powers to destroy–in both respects I obey my Dionysian nature which does not know how to separate doing No from saying Yes. I am the first immoralist: that makes me the annihilator par excellence.

Des choses

I know Wikipedia is unreliable and that I shouldn’t be getting information from there, but I already did. So.

For Ortega y Gasset, philosophy has a critical duty to lay siege to beliefs in order to promote new ideas and to explain reality. In order to accomplish such tasks the philosopher must, as Husserl proposed, leave behind prejudices and previously existing beliefs and investigate the essential reality of the universe. Ortega y Gasset proposes that philosophy must, as Hegel proposed, overcome both the lack of idealism (in which reality gravitated around the ego) and ancient-medieval realism (which is for him an undeveloped point of view in which the subject is located outside the world) in order to focus in the only truthful reality (i.e. life). He suggests that there is no me without things and things are nothing without me, I (human being) can not be detached from my circumstances (world). This led Ortega y Gasset to pronounce his famous maxim “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia” (“I am myself and my circumstance”) which he always situated in the core of his philosophy. For Ortega y Gasset, as for Husserl, the Cartesian ‘cogito ergo sum’ is insufficient to explain reality—therefore the Spanish philosopher proposes a system where life is the sum of the ego and circumstance. This circunstancia is oppressive; therefore, there is a continual dialectical exchange of forces between the person and his or her circumstances and, as a result, life is a drama that exists between necessity and freedom.

In this sense Ortega y Gasset wrote that life is at the same time fate and freedom, and that freedom “is being free inside of a given fate. Fate gives us an inexorable repertory of determinate possibilities, that is, it gives us different destinies. We accept fate and within it we choose one destiny.” In this tied down fate we must therefore be active, decide and create a “project of life”—thus not be like those who live a conventional life of customs and given structures who prefer an unconcerned and imperturbable life because they are afraid of the duty of choosing a project.

What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know, except in so far as a certain knowledge must precede every action. The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. … I certainly do not deny that I still recognize an imperative of knowledge and that through it one can work upon men, but it must be taken up into my life, and that is what I now recognize as the most important thing. Soren Kierkegaard

Their [Kierkegaard and Nietzsche] focus was on human experience, rather than the objective truths of mathematics and science that are too detached or observational to truly get at human experience. Like Pascal, they were interested in people’s quiet struggle with the apparent meaninglessness of life and the use of diversion to escape from boredom.

It’s funny to run around living life and thinking a lot and one day realize someone has already understood and written all about it. So I guess I should read what they’ve written.

The loops I find of one idea connecting itself through others to other ones I’ve entertained at other points in my life make the parts seem coherent and justified in the context of the whole they produce. Also, I sense that there is something to be drawn from the loop—a way of understanding my life in a way that makes it meaningful and allows me to believe that I can pursue that which I’m doing. Instead of merely complaining that life is a paradigm of habits and justifications, we can accept this and work with it.

PHIL 263

I’m taking epistemology.

I think Plato’s ideal eternal forms correspond to anthropology’s cultural universals: in a more exaggerated way, norms, languages, customs, belief systems, et cetera are the manifestations of ultimate truth, which is unchanging and perfect. Maybe that Truth is survival, or—following the idea that is it necessarily beautiful and good—flourishing. (I find it funny how we construe such complex and thought-out theories about things we can’t know.) (Wait, was Plato a skeptic? I think that’s next class.)

I know this a radical interpretation, but I’m not sure yet whether it’s so radical that it goes beyond and leaves what Plato meant.

Philosophy and wolves

I liked this review of Mark Rowland’s book The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness. It reminds me of my philosophy professor who had a beautiful dog that was half wolf. I wonder if he’s read it…

I think that before becoming philosophers, people must first be scientists of some sort. Only after his life as a physicist did Niels Bohr get to say that the opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth. Before sitting around to reflect upon the deep matters of life and the human experience, you have to live, toil, experience and learn first. This is why, before the advent of the term “science,” people who studied the natural world were called philosophers.

I’m coming to the realization that I’m pretty vain about my name.