By Daryl on 24 November 2019
What is the meaning of life? What is it all for? Three thousand years ago, Socrates (or Plato) once said, “the unexamined life is not worth living”, so it is that we must pursue this means of the Socratic critical inquiry or man’s search for meaning. The Greeks thought it could be summed up in one word - Excellence but what exactly does that mean? To the Romans, it meant different things to different groups. There was Hedonism or Epicureanism, which was the pursuit of the “higher pleasures”. There was also Stocisim that championed fortitude and cultivating apathy towards one’s life. Yet the doctrine had still not solved the ultimate question of meaning which is where Christianity spread and gave meaning to the suffering where Stoicism did not. And with the rise of Christianity came the rise of the Catholic Church that propagated for thousands of years through fire and blood.
Till the enlightenment or the age of reason. That’s where Immanuel Kant, who championed that the individual is free and the motto of the enlightenment was for all to “dare to use their own reason”. It is this autonomy that is central to Kant’s entire ethical theory (the Categorical Imperative). This morality (Deontology), is directly opposed to Utilitarianism which is John Stuart Mill’s and Jeremy Bentham’s moral principle of the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Yet both theories are objectionable because morality is more ambiguous than that. And it neglects the most important model of human conduct which is the struggle to be free.
Whatever your goal, to build character or to be virtuous, the most important is to be free. The early philosophers for the most part were interpreting the world in various ways. But the point of it all is to change it.
By Daryl on 23 November 2019
A blog recounting the events of the day is far less interesting than one with filled with thoughtful ideas.
By Daryl on 16 November 2019
In “The Story of Philosophy”, Will Durant, dives deep into the lives of some of the most famous philosophers - Aristotle, Plato, Nietzsche, Kant, Spinoza and more. The more I read, the more I wanted to learn about philosophy; the different schools of thought and their champions. And as I read I realised that the terms were shockingly alien to me. What is metaphysics? What is epistemology? What is truth? What is morality? So as I explored further, I remembered listening to the podcast “The Partially Examined Life”. Listening chronologically to the podcast gave me some semblance of a structure as I started to chip away at the tip of this very large iceberg. Perhaps if this project keeps my interest I will write a bit more specifically on some of the more interesting topics.
By Daryl on 12 November 2019
I’ve been working on a side web log for some of the philosophy readings I’ve been doing and on a lark I thought of migrating my wordpress blog back to Jekyll.
The joy of a simple design and workflow of terminal + ia writer + GitHub pages makes it worthwhile.
By Daryl on 29 September 2019
I’m a fan of Jerry Weinberg and though he’s gone, his brilliant writings still remain.
The latest book I’ve been reading from him is a quirky one called Are your lights on?
It’s really about problems and asking the right questions- too often we jump into the solution and realise much later than the problem is really something else. I’ve been guilty of that so many times at work especially when you’re used to doing a piece of repetitive work a certain way and realise halfway through that the problem is an entirely different thing altogether.
So yes, this book is a timely reminder that before we jump headfirst into any problem, we should ask what is the problem about.
In fact, we should go further. Sometimes we should also ask is this my problem? If not, we should not solve other people’s problems for them. It just ends up in more pain for everyone.
Finally, we should ask ourselves if the problem is even worth solving at all. There are so many problems out there with either no solution or just not worth the hassle.
Once again, highly recommended.