Tag Archives | Philosophy

The Fully Externalized And Hollowed Out Being

maskDoes an interior life still exist when all of our motives, quirks, and desires are quantified, quasi-monetary units? Via The New Inquiry, Rob Horning writes:

When the mechanistic imperative has been successfully internalized as the prevailing life style of our society, we shall find ourselves moving through a world of perfected managers, operations analysts, and social engineers who will be indistinguishable from the cybernated systems they assist.

The cybernated system might demand not conformity but constant innovation within constrained categories — the mechanistic imperative could be: CREATE! Creativity in personal expression is not immune to being bureaucratized.

The new fear is not that people will be all the exact same “blank” dispassionate drone — people’s identities are more variegated and articulated than ever — but that they will become indistinguishable from their social-media profiles, the mark of a systematized personality.

Indeed the sites propose that all of identity must be externalized in order to be authentic.

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Manifesto for Living in the Now

RelojDespertadorCounterculture stalwart Douglas Rushkoff tells Discover that the future is bright for those of us willing to live in the present:

Discover: Are some people confusing the idea of “presentism,” of living in the present, with tweeting and texting and constantly updating Facebook?

Rushkoff: The faux now of Twitter updates and things pinging at you — all the pulses from digitality that we try to keep up with because we sense that there’s something going on that we need to tap into — are artifacts, or symptoms of living in this atemporal reality. And it’s not any worse than living in the “time is money” reality that we’re leaving.

D: What do you have against clocks?

DR: Time has always been used against us on a certain level. The invention of the clock made us accountable to the employer, gave us a standard measure and stopwatch management, and it also led to the requirement of interest-bearing currency to grow over time, the requirement of the expansion of our economy.

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The Danger Of Putting A Price On Everything

market societyVia Motherboard, Harvard philosophy professor Michael Sandel on our slide toward a market society:

In recent decades we’ve been in the grip of market faith, which says that markets are the primary instrument for achieving the public good. This assumption has gone largely unquestioned in the past 30 years. As a result from that we have drifted from being a market economy to being a market society.

A market economy is a valuable tool for organizing productive activity. A market society, on the other hand, is a place where everything is up for sale, in which money and market values begin to dominate every aspect of life. From family and personal relationships to health, education, civic life, and politics. We need to step back and ask some fundamental questions about what the role of money and markets should be.

Utilitarianism assumes that all good things in life can be translated into a single uniform currency or a measure of value, typically money.

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Simulation Theory is a Religious Belief System

gauguin.sermonI find simulation theory – in essence, the possibility that we’re living in a artificially generated reality – philosophically interesting, even though there really isn’t much evidence to support the idea. Then again, it’s not really needed.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the theory, at least from a cultural perspective, is that it is at this point a religious belief system. As the bronze age myths of gods and heroes have increasingly failed to address in any convincing manner humanity’s perennial existential woes (“Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?”), we invented technological ones to replace them.

To a greater or lesser degree, the various branches of the Abrahamic faiths have at least at one time considered Earthly life to be illusory, transient, and even sinful; a transitional state of being on the path to the godhead. In the tech-friendly world of Simulation theory, Earthly life is once again illusory: An artificial construct created by powers unknown who might as well be gods.… Read the rest

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Laws Of Man And Laws Of Nature

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Marcelo Gleiser philosophizes on how the laws of man and the laws of naure differ. via NPR

We humans are an unruly bunch. So much so that we need laws to keep order, to make sure we stay on track. Without our laws, society would quickly descend into chaos. The laws of man are guarantors of order, a necessary control against the inherent greediness of our species.

Nature, on the other hand, shows ordered patterns at all scales: trees branch, and so do rivers, bodies, and arteries; tides and planetary orbits are periodic, day follows night, the seasons alternate, the moon has phases. The display of order in Nature allowed for a methodic counting and organizing as a means to gain some level of control over what was otherwise distant and unapproachable, the marching patterns of a world moving in ways beyond human reach.

The laws of Nature, from the simplest to the most complex, are attempts to summarize this widespread display of order.

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The Natural History of the Incorporeal Garage Dragon

dragonSkeptics, believers. Lay down your shotguns and knives. Take a moment to bandage and reload, and I will explain to you why an incorporeal garage dragon means that you should not be fighting. As much.

This strange beast, and its fantastical properties, are described in The Demon Haunted World, by Carl Sagan.

“A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage,” he begins, “…Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself.”

You do, but you can’t. The dragon is invisible. You could spread flour on the floor to capture its footprints, but, alas, it also floats. You offer to fetch your infrared camera, but, sadly, its fire is heatless. Perhaps a can of spray paint, then, to make the dragon visible? Oh, right. Incorporeal.

You see where he’s going: “Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless,” he writes, “the only sensible approach is to tentatively reject the dragon hypothesis, [but] to be open to future data…”

The garage dragon is a straightforward parable about the scientific value of a non-falsifiable hypothesis, but it contains an important nuance.… Read the rest

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Kenneth Smith: Cultural Critic of the Modern Era

Kenneth SmithIn 1988 artist and philosophy professor Kenneth Smith began writing a philosophy column called Dramas of the Mind in The Comics Journal. Smith’s column ran there intermittently for the next twenty years. Smith wrote about philosophical issues as they relate to modern civilization, covering ethics, violence, sex, education, science, art, etc. Smith wrote powerful analysis of contemporary manias and delusions in a blazing, take-no-prisoners style. His insights into the modern age are penetrating and worthy of the great cultural critics and essayists of the past, in the traditions of Chomsky, Mencken, Bloom, Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Edward Said, Vidal, Žižek, etc. Certainly his is a voice that deserves greater exposure.

This information page gives an overview of Kenneth Smith, links to many resources, and posts scans of his classic run of TCJ columns. The scans contain his most essential writing, but there is a Tumblr blog and a Gaim library that provide quotes from longer pieces.… Read the rest

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Broken Saints – Chapter 1 – “Introitus”

Broken Saints is an award-winning, partially Flash-animated film series by Brooke Burgess, Ian Kirby, and Andrew West. First published in 2001, it is one of the earliest examples of a motion comic.

Centered on philosophical, religious, political and spiritual themes, it tells the story of four strangers from “the quiet corners of the globe” connected by a vision they all receive of a coming evil. Their search for the truth behind the vision leads them to each other and to far larger and more disturbing truths than they could have expected.… Read the rest

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