Category Archives: Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff

Living cynically

(an excerpt from Doubts) The contemporary German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk defines “cynicism” as enlightened false consciousness. It is what results when we know all too well our own weaknesses and limitations, and our own involvement in dastardly practices, but then … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Historical episodes, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff, Stacks of Books | 7 Comments

Voting for artichokes

For some reason there’s been a lot of talk about voting. My understanding of voting is (predictably) rather instrumentalist and flat-footed: since there is no more rational way of deciding things, we make our preferences known (show of hands, cast … Continue reading

Posted in Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 6 Comments

Achieving Star Trek

Culture is an engine that transforms food into ideas. Individual bodies are responsible for turning food into energy, but it takes a mind to create ideas, and a mind is possible only in a community. Just as a body requires … Continue reading

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Under the right conditions, ideas matter; but far less than we commonly suppose

In the big picture, ideas don’t matter as much as people like me try to pretend. Obviously, in some broad sense, some ideas matter very much to some people, sometimes. But even in those cases where ideas matter in big … Continue reading

Posted in Historical episodes, Items of the academy / learning, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff, Metaphysical musings | 5 Comments

Energy, culture, and Civilization

I only recently came across the ideas of Leslie White (1900-1975). White was an American anthropologist who developed a mathematical model for civilization. Civilization, or Culture, according to White, is a product of Energy and Technology (C = E x … Continue reading

Posted in Machines / gadgets / technology / games, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 4 Comments

Delusions and politics

Last night, in discussion with friends, I found myself defending my own skepticism. The topic was whether there is an objective human good, or even a genuine human nature that determines how humans should live if they want to have … Continue reading

Posted in Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 14 Comments

Defining the divine

Here is a big question: Is anything divine? It’s easiest simply to assume (for now) that there is a natural world, and that this world is pretty much what it appears to be (with corrections supplied through scientific inquiry, of … Continue reading

Posted in Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 16 Comments

Haig Khatchadourian (1925-2016)

I learned yesterday through Facebook that one of my teachers, Haig Khatchadourian, has passed away. He was a warm and generous man, and a philosopher with such broad knowledge and penetrating intellect as to both intimidate and inspire those of … Continue reading

Posted in Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff, This & that in the life of CH | 6 Comments

Natural and agreeable fools

Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escaped shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries … Continue reading

Posted in Kant and/or Hume, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 6 Comments

The Cyborg of Practical Wisdom

The biggest struggle my fellow modern-day cyborgs and I face is to create a virtual reality that connects more wholesomely with the human part of our nature. The artificial reality we currently plug into is a Terry Gilliam nightmare. Too … Continue reading

Posted in 3QD essays, Machines / gadgets / technology / games, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | Leave a comment

A philosophical interpretation of recent campus protests

For many of us college folk separated by thousands of miles from the east coast, the recent protests at Yale and Princeton initially seem both frivolous and ridiculous: here is a bunch of students and faculty at fancy schools getting … Continue reading

Posted in Items of the academy / learning, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 31 Comments

More on meaninglessness

I’m glad that my “everything is meaningless” essay generated so much discussion over at 3QD. But the discussion has made it clear to me that I could have been much more explicit in what I was trying to say. First … Continue reading

Posted in Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 10 Comments

Everything is meaningless – but that’s okay

What would it be for life to have a “meaning”? What does it mean when people say life is meaningful? I’m not sure, so let’s start with smaller, more obviously meaningful things. Better yet, let’s start with some meaningless things. When … Continue reading

Posted in 3QD essays, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 7 Comments

Museums of religion

“What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?” – Nietzsche, The Gay Science Along with a few others, I have often balked at the New Atheists’ triumphalism. My worry has been … Continue reading

Posted in Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff, Nietzsche | 4 Comments

Worlds of Terry Gilliam and M. C. Escher

I recently had the chance to watch Terry Gilliam’s film, The Zero Theorem. I gather that some have called it the final piece of the Brazil trilogy (following Twelve Monkeys), and that makes some sense: in all three films, we … Continue reading

Posted in Machines / gadgets / technology / games, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff | 2 Comments