Tag Archives | Philosophy

Slavoj Žižek: Events and Encounters Explain Our Fear of Falling in Love (With Kafka)

Renowned philosopher Slavoj Žižek discusses his new book on events, detailing how they retroactively create their causes and why they explain the 21st century fear of falling in love. Žižek’s latest is Event: A Philosophical Journey Through A Concept.


What’s an event? It’s a difficult question not because we lack definitions but because there are too many definitions. In my book I focus on event in the sense of something extraordinary takes place. But with all this wide span of what we call an event I think an elementary structure can be described in formal terms. Within a certain field of phenomena where things go on the normal flow of things, from time to time something happens which as it were retroactively changes the rules of what is possible in the sense that something happens. It is generated by that situation. Of course it’s causally produced by that situation but in a way it changes interactively the whole situation.… Read the rest

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Symbols and Signs


Via Rebel News

How can we decrease the commodification of these empty signifiers? We can continue to build spaces, both virtual and material, that can be utilized by people who share common goals. We can continue to evolve as people and avoid over-identification with easy to replicate symbols of identity. Our interests and digital footprint aren’t who we are. We mustn’t let the map of our identities — personal or social — become the territory. But the border skirmishes on that map are never ending.

This is far from easy. Products themselves have become secondary, as symbols have overtaken the things they symbolized. Fight Club parodied this tendency as the “Ikea nesting impulse.”

This is a challenge of modern life, but it’s hardly a singular observation. Guy Debord’s Society of The Spectacle, now a standard text amongst neo-Marxists and counterculturists alike, deals with this matter in nearly aphoristic style,

The first phase of the domination of the economy over social life brought into the definition of all human realization the obvious degradation of being into having.

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“Kenshō” Narrated by Alan Watts

“If you awaken from this illusion and you understand that black implies white, self implies other, life implies death (or shall I say death implies life?), you can feel yourself. Not as a stranger in the world, not as something here on probation, not as something that has arrived here by fluke, but you can begin to feel your own existence as absolutely fundamental.

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What’s missing in college philosophy classes? Chinese philosophers.

His Hand
Are college students only exposed to Western philosophers? Probably. Does it matter?

Eric Schwitzgebel via LA Times:

Philosophy professors in the United States have all heard of Confucius and the Daoist Laozi. Many have also heard of their approximate contemporaries in ancient China: the later Confucians Mencius and Xunzi; the easygoing skeptic Zhuangzi; Mozi, the advocate of impartial concern for everyone; and Han Feizi, the authoritarian legalist. But most of us have not read their works.

As a result, most U.S. university students are not exposed to Chinese thinkers in their philosophy classes. Looking at the course catalogs of three major universities in Los Angeles — UCLA, USC and Cal State L.A. — I find 23 philosophy department course listings that mention ancient Greek philosophy or specific ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato or Aristotle. Four such classes are on the fall 2015 course schedule. In contrast, neither USC nor Cal State L.A.

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Freedom or Happiness?

Michael Dickens writes at Philosophical Multicore:

The foundational tenet of morality is to do the most good for the most people. The individual, while important in some sense, is only relevant in terms of the community as a whole. But similar to the question of individual versus collective happiness is the question of happiness versus liberty.

It shall go without saying that the moral thing to do is to try to make the world better — more specifically, to do the most good for the most people. After that, the natural question to ask is, what is “good”? Two very important ideals of goodness (which unfortunately are sometimes in conflict) are freedom and happiness.

What is happiness? Moral philosophers have been asking this question for a while, and John Stuart Mill was one of the first to provide some really good answers. He proposed the concept of higher and lower pleasures.

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Ending Suffering is the Most Important Cause

NeuroMeditation-450x506Andrés Gómez Emilsson writes at IEET, “If you don’t think about these questions, you are at risk of being killed by bad philosophy.”

via IEET:

In my junior year at Stanford I started inviting David Pearce (IEET Fellow, who advocates the “abolition of suffering”) to give talks there. I was able to hang out with him over the course of many afternoons, and even had the chance to interview him once.  He made me aware of the causal relevance of the Stanford Transhumanist Association (it is a force multiplier, memetically speaking), and solidified my commitment to prioritizing suffering over everything else.

In addition to that, we talked at great lengths about philosophy of mind. This is a thorny subject, you see. In the rationalist community the most prevalent philosophy of mind is (neuron-resolution-level) functionalism. I used to have the strong view that functionalism was the only possible theory of mind (this lasted for four years), so I know what motivates this particular theory of consciousness.

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What really matters at the end of life

Well, we all need a reason to wake up. For me, it just took 11,000 volts.

One night, sophomore year of college, just back from Thanksgiving holiday, a few of my friends and I were horsing around, and we decided to climb atop a parked commuter train. It was just sitting there, with the wires that run overhead. Somehow, that seemed like a great idea at the time. We’d certainly done stupider things. I scurried up the ladder on the back, and when I stood up, the electrical current entered my arm, blew down and out my feet, and that was that. Would you believe that watch still works? Takes a licking!

My father wears it now in solidarity.

That night began my formal relationship with death — my death — and it also began my long run as a patient. It’s a good word. It means one who suffers. So I guess we’re all patients.… Read the rest

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Alchemy, Soma, and the Eschaton with Ananda Bosman – FRM Podcast

Also available via Itunes.

In this installment, cosmologist Ananda Bosman joins the Free Radical Media crew for a highly informative talk on Entheogens and the history of their use, alchemy, and the current state of humanity and the relationship between the human realm and our interdimensional brethren. Bosman is a prolific writer and public speaker on many topics, including shamanism, science, and cosmology. You can visit his website here.

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