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Category: Philosophy

Nietzsche was right. Sort of.

Nietzsche was right. Sort of.

I’ve often heard it said that “human nature” makes true system-change impossible, that we’re too greedy, selfish, or just plain rotten to ever live in a more cooperative, harmonious way with one another, which apparently means any system-change is bound to fail. I find that to be blinkered thinking on several levels, and ultimately destructive. First off, there is no such thing as “human nature,” as anthropologists, biologists, bio-geneticists, and psychologists of various stripes have been telling us for more…

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The Shaman and Time’s Arrow

The Shaman and Time’s Arrow

Over the course of the next few weeks, I played Daniel-san to the Shaman’s Mr. Miyagi. He had me wash his car, weed and seed his lawn, and take his clothes to the dry-cleaner’s, among other chores. All of this struck me as a waste of time, of course, which was likely the point. Either that, or a lesson in Entropy, a word the Shaman had left out of his lessons so far. But things changed dramatically soon enough. Archery…

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The Shaman and the Coffee Shop

The Shaman and the Coffee Shop

The Second Lesson Percolates Cat Stevens sang “Morning has Broken” above us, as we sat in the corner café, with its old stone walls, its monstrous fireplace, and its unbreakable wood tables and chairs. I suddenly felt relaxed in a way that had escaped me for weeks. The Shaman looked at me quickly, saw my newfound comfort, and pushed me violently to the floor. Luckily, there was no coffee to spill yet, no cakes to fly upward into the vaulted…

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The Shaman’s Secret

The Shaman’s Secret

First Lessons Abide “Moderation in all things is terrible advice,” said the Shaman as we walked, then ran, then stood still. “All is contrast within context. If you wish to live sweet lives, take the highs and lows, embrace the deepest darkness and the most luminous visions, as if your life depended on it, because it does.”           So I asked him, as we ran, then walked, then stopped: “But moderation and mindfulness lead to balance and wisdom, so say…

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Elisabeth Roudinesco’s Philosophy in Turbulent Times

Elisabeth Roudinesco’s Philosophy in Turbulent Times

There is something about the French, a certain . . . No, I won’t say it. But their best writers can abstract and poeticize deep, dark thought in a way that somehow “lightens” it (paradoxically), connects it with other worlds, and sends it to the stars. Thoughts dance in windy minds. They run off in their own directions, joyous (in a sense), even when the darkness of the topic engulfs you. No one seems to be able to make death…

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It’s About Time, says the Alien.

It’s About Time, says the Alien.

I’ve been out of a math or science classroom for more years than I can count. Can’t count them due to the distance, I suppose. So it brings me much joy to learn more from the Alien about Time, its non-existence, its contingency and relativity. The Alien tells me that Einstein was on the right track, well ahead of his day for an earthling, but never quite got there, and that contemporary meta-physicians like Carlo Rovelli are closer. But he’s…

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The Alien Suggests

The Alien Suggests

The Alien Suggests Go camping. Go together. Share a tent, a fire. Build the campsite with one another, for one another. Wake up to the sounds of brooks and rivers nearby. Pause and listen. Walk in the forest together, or by yourself when the dawn appears. Climb the mountainside for kindling and a peak at the sunrise over the distant hills. When you face forward, spin, take in your 360s, your panoramas. The old metal coffee pot is on the…

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Todd McGowan’s Universality and Identity Politics

Todd McGowan’s Universality and Identity Politics

Identity. It is to die for, sometimes. But we’re driven to form them – against. We become Not-our-parents, Not-our-siblings, Not-our-classmates, but never purely so. And rarely without a multitude of complications. There is always a mix, a set of contradictions that includes conformity with, too. They flow in and out. And while we develop our identity forms, we paradoxically become less in sync with our many selves. Our perceptions of the way others see us shape these forms even when…

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A Belated Update on This Life

A Belated Update on This Life

Some well-deserved recognition for a must-read book (which I reviewed here):   Professor Martin Hägglund wins the prestigious René Wellek Prize Martin Hägglund’s This Life has been awarded the René Wellek Prize for the best book in the field by the American Comparative Literature Association. The Wellek Prize is generally considered to be the most prestigious award in comparative literature. Past winners include Umberto Eco and Edward Said. In their prize motivation, the awards committee offered high praise for This Life:

Self-Reliance in the Age of Pandemics

Self-Reliance in the Age of Pandemics

It was never the case, at least not in the modern world. Outside a few. Outside a few lone souls, able to live on grass and berries. Able to hunt and gather, make their own shelters, their own clothes, treat themselves when they got sick. Pull their own teeth. Make and fix their own modest tools. Having next to no layers between themselves and the earth. Right there. Being there always. Right on top of the earth, like mother and…

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