Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘philosophy

The self, empirically amenable to scientific investigation

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Şerife Tekin, an assistant professor of philosophy and the director of the medical humanities minor at the department of philosophy and religious studies at Daemen College in Buffalo, New York, writes in Aeon:

‘Know thyself’ is one of philosophy’s most ancient aphorisms. But is there such a thing as the self and, if there is, can it be empirically investigated through scientific methods? Antirealists deny the existence of the self – for them it is an illusion, a fiction of the mind. If there was no one to perceive it, there would not be a self. The concept of the self, in their telling, is invented by cultural, social and linguistic conventions. It is nothing but a useful conceptual tool for organising human experience.

David Hume, the 18th-century Scottish philosopher and economist, remains the preeminent antirealist. He suggests that we have no experience of a simple, individual impression that we can call the self – where the ‘self’ is the totality of a person’s conscious life. In A Treatise of Human Nature (1740), Hume wrote:

When I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception.

Today, Daniel Dennett, a philosopher of mind and cognitive scientist at Tufts University in Massachusetts, also defends the antirealist view. For Dennett, each ‘normal’ individual of the species Homo sapiens creates a self by spinning stories about herself in the process of presenting herself to others through language. The tendency to create selves by way of creating stories, for humans, is akin to how spiders weave webs to protect themselves: it is both intrinsic and unconscious, argued Dennett in Consciousness Explained(1991). Because the self is constructed and abstracted out of narratives, it is permeable and flexible, and because of its permeability and flexibility, the self eludes scientific scrutiny.

The antirealists also argue that the phenomenal experience of the self requires ‘privileged access’, whereby the subject is a witness to her own mental states, and these mental states are not intersubjectively validated. For instance, how a teenager conceives of her body (say, as overweight) is given directly only to her, not to others. Perhaps she falsely represents herself to herself as overweight, due to cultural influences on her conception of what the ideal weight is. The self, then, according to the philosopher David Jopling at York University in Ontario, is experienced in ways that are intimately interlaced into the fabric of culture and language, so variations in culture and language will lead to different experiences of the self, making the self a non-stable, moving target, escaping scientific enquiry.

Or take individuals with schizophrenia, some of whom report a deep sense of disintegration between themselves and their actions. They feel that they are automatons, not agents who see, feel, eat, suffer – their bodies can feel to them like alien objects. Meanwhile, phenomenologically typical individuals are immediately aware that they are the subject of their feelings or actions, as they are simultaneously aware of said feelings. For them, the self is the ‘unarticulated constituent’ of experience, in the words of the philosopher John Perry of Stanford University in California. If science aims to come up with generalisable explanations and predictions of human behaviour, how can it empirically track a self that appears to be intrinsically flexible, private, subjective and accessible only to the subject whose self is in question?

The answer is that science does all this by rejecting antirealism. In fact, the self does exist. The phenomenal experience of having a self, the feelings of pain and of pleasure, of control, intentionality and agency, of self-governance, of acting according to one’s beliefs and desires, the sense of engaging with the physical world and the social world – all this offers evidence of the existence of the self. Furthermore, empirical research in the mind sciences provides robust reasons to deny antirealism. The self lends itself to scientific explanations and generalisations, and such scientific information can be used to understand disorders of the self, such as depression and schizophrenia, and to develop this self-understanding facilitates one’s ability to live a rich moral life.

I call my proposed model the ‘multitudinous self’. ‘Do I contradict myself?’ asks the poet Walt Whitman in ‘Song of Myself’ (1891-92), ‘Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)’ The multitudinous self is empirically tractable and responsive to the experiences of ‘real people’ who do or do not have mental disorders. According to this model, the self is a dynamic, complex, relational and multi-aspectual mechanism of capacities, processes, states and traits that support a degree of agency. The multitudinous self has five distinct but functionally complementary dimensions: ecological, intersubjective, conceptual, private, and temporally extended. These dimensions work together to connect the individual to her body, her social world, her psychological world, and her environment.

The multitudinous self is based on the psychologist Ulric Neisser’s account of the self, laid out in his paper ‘Five Kinds of Self-knowledge’ (1988). Neisser encourages us to reevaluate the sources of information that help us to identify the self. There are five sources, which are so different from one another that it is plausible to conceive each as establishing a different ‘self’. First there is the ecological self, or the embodied self in the physical world, which perceives and interacts with the physical environment; the interpersonal self, or the self embedded in the social world, which constitutes and is constituted by intersubjective relationships with others; the temporally extended self, or the self in time, which is grounded in memories of the past and anticipation of the future; the private self which is exposed to experiences available only to the first person and not to others; and finally the conceptual self, which (accurately or falsely) represents the self to the self by drawing on the properties or characteristics of not only the person but also the social and cultural context to which she belongs.

The multitudinous self is a variation of the Neisserian self in that it individuates the self as a complex mechanism with many dimensions that interact and work together to maintain a more or less stable agency over time. At times these different dimensions of the self contradict each other (very well then). Interpersonally, I might come across as gregarious, and present an image of a someone who enjoys companionship, yet my private sense of self might be that I am shy and introverted. Because these five dimensions are all more or less integrated, however, they help with self-regulation, and function as a locus of experience and agency. The multitudinous self gives a partial but helpful representation of the selves we encounter in our daily lives. It is also scientifically scrutable.

To see how this is so, take the following example. We can acquire information about the selfhood of 12-year-olds, tracking information about them in all five dimensions by relying on both first-person and third-person perspectives. First, we could interview them on how the physical changes in their bodies are manifested in their ecological dimension: how the changes in their height or weight affect their physical activity, or how such physical changes affect their interpersonal dimension through their effects on the nature and quality of their interpersonal relationships.

Similarly, we can acquire information on how the physiological changes are manifested in the temporal, private and conceptual aspects of themselves. For instance, through first-person reports, we can evaluate whether and what kind of short-term memory loss the preteen might be experiencing, and whether it affects his sense of the future. This would yield information about the temporal dimension of the preteen self. Or we might learn about the private aspect of the self by interviewing them about ‘what it is like’ to be 12.

Finally, to develop a robust understanding of how their self-concepts are evolving in response to the changes they are undergoing, we might ask them how they represent themselves to themselves. Some might be changing their physical self-concepts – they might consider themselves tall after a radical growth spurt, or might think of themselves as overweight. Note that these alterations in self-concepts are not necessarily accurate or truth-tracking: a girl’s (or boy’s) weight might be considered in a typical range for her height, sex and age, but not seem so to herself.

The self of the preteen is also empirically tractable from a third-person perspective through sciences of the mind, including cognitive psychology, social psychology, clinical psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience and genetics. Through physiology and biology, we can determine the statistically typical range of changes in preteens’ bodies for their sex- and age-groups. We can evaluate the changes in their interpersonal dimensions, such as increased conflict with parents, by referring to research in developmental psychology, neuropsychology and social psychology. Similarly, we can acquire information about short-term memory loss and how it shapes temporality. Changes in the private dimension of the self can be at least partially tracked by analysing how behaviour changes. And alterations in the preteens’ conceptual dimension can be tracked through psychology and anthropology. For example, children in the United States tend to experience a decline in their positive self-concepts during their adolescent years; this decline often begins around age 12 for girls. Based on these first- and third-person perspectives, then, we can indeed draw reliable inferences about preteen selves.

Recall that the antirealists argue that the self is flexible, private, subjective and accessible only to the subject, which precludes the self from being the subject of sciences. The multitudinous-self model is responsive to this challenge as well. The flexibility, subjectivity and transiency of the self that antirealists have in mind are the features of the private and conceptual dimensions of the self – but this is not the whole complex mechanism of the self; there are other dimensions. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2018 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Science

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How Schopenhauer’s thought can illuminate a midlife crisis

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Kieran Setiya, a professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose latest book is Midlife: A Philosophical Guide (2017), presents an extract from the book in Aeon:

Despite reflecting on the good life for more than 2,500 years, philosophers have not had much to say about middle age. For me, approaching 40 was a time of stereotypical crisis. Having jumped the hurdles of the academic career track, I knew I was lucky to be a tenured professor of philosophy. Yet stepping back from the busyness of life, the rush of things to do, I found myself wondering, what now? I felt a sense of repetition and futility, of projects completed just to be replaced by more. I would finish this article, teach this class, and then I would do it all again. It was not that everything seemed worthless. Even at my lowest ebb, I didn’t feel there was no point in what I was doing. Yet somehow the succession of activities, each one rational in itself, fell short.

I am not alone. Perhaps you have felt, too, an emptiness in the pursuit of worthy goals. This is one form of midlife crisis, at once familiar and philosophically puzzling. The paradox is that success can seem like failure. Like any paradox, it calls for philosophical treatment. What is the emptiness of the midlife crisis if not the unqualified emptiness in which one sees no value in anything? What was wrong with my life?

In search of an answer, I turned to the 19th-century pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer is notorious for preaching the futility of desire. That getting what you want could fail to make you happy would not have surprised him at all. On the other hand, not having it is just as bad. For Schopenhauer, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you get what you want, your pursuit is over. You are aimless, flooded with a ‘fearful emptiness and boredom’, as he put it in The World as Will and Representation(1818). Life needs direction: desires, projects, goals that are so far unachieved. And yet this, too, is fatal. Because wanting what you do not have is suffering. In staving off the void by finding things to do, you have condemned yourself to misery. Life ‘swings like a pendulum to and fro between pain and boredom, and these two are in fact its ultimate constituents’.

Schopenhauer’s picture of human life might seem unduly bleak. Often enough, midlife brings with it failure or success in cherished projects: you have the job you worked for many years to get, the partner you hoped to meet, the family you meant to start – or else you don’t. Either way, you look for new directions. But the answer to achieving your goals, or giving them up, feels obvious: you simply make new ones. Nor is the pursuit of what you want pure agony. Revamping your ambitions can be fun.

Still, I think there is something right in Schopenhauer’s dismal conception of our relationship with our ends, and that it can illuminate the darkness of midlife. Taking up new projects, after all, simply obscures the problem. When you aim at a future goal, satisfaction is deferred: success has yet to come. But the moment you succeed, your achievement is in the past. Meanwhile, your engagement with projects subverts itself. In pursuing a goal, you either fail or, in succeeding, end its power to guide your life. No doubt you can formulate other plans. The problem is not that you will run out of projects (the aimless state of Schopenhauer’s boredom), it’s that your way of engaging with the ones that matter most to you is by trying to complete them and thus expel them from your life. When you pursue a goal, you exhaust your interaction with something good, as if you were to make friends for the sake of saying goodbye.

Hence one common figure of the midlife crisis: the striving high-achiever, obsessed with getting things done, who is haunted by the hollowness of everyday life. When you are obsessed with projects, ceaselessly replacing old with new, satisfaction is always in the future. Or the past. It is mortgaged, then archived, but never possessed. In pursuing goals, you aim at outcomes that preclude the possibility of that pursuit, extinguishing the sparks of meaning in your life.

The question is what to do about this. For Schopenhauer, there is no way out: what I am calling a midlife crisis is simply the human condition. But Schopenhauer was wrong. In order to see his mistake, we need to draw distinctions among the activities we value: between ones that aim at completion, and ones that don’t.

Adapting terminology from linguistics, we can say that ‘telic’ activities – from ‘telos’, the Greek work for purpose – are ones that aim at terminal states of completion and exhaustion. You teach a class, get married, start a family, earn a raise. Not all activities are like this, however. Others are ‘atelic’: there is no point of termination at which they aim, or final state in which they have been achieved and there is no more to do. Think of listening to music, parenting, or spending time with friends. They are things you can stop doing, but you cannot finish or complete them. Their temporality is not that of a project with an ultimate goal, but of a limitless process.

If the crisis diagnosed by Schopenhauer turns on excessive investment in projects, then the solution is to invest more fully in the process, giving meaning to your life through activities that have no terminal point: since they cannot be completed, your engagement with them is not exhaustive. It will not subvert itself. Nor does it invite the sense of frustration that Schopenhauer scorns in unsatisfied desire – the sense of being at a distance from one’s goal, so that fulfilment is always in the future or the past.

We should not give up on our worthwhile goals. Their achievement matters. But we should meditate, too, on the value of the process. It is no accident that  . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

26 January 2018 at 9:01 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

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Which is more fundamental: processes or things?

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I would vote for processes, obviously, since things are in fact processes (though sometimes slow processes). Celso Vieira writes in Aeon:

Metaphysics is the attempt to understand how existence works by examining the building blocks of reality, the distinctions between mental and physical entities, and the fundamental questions of being and reality. But metaphysics is not only an arcane branch of philosophy: human beings use metaphysical assumptions to navigate the world. Assumptions about what exists and what is fundamental exert a powerful influence on our lives. Indeed, the less aware we are of our metaphysical assumptions, the more we are subject to them.

Western metaphysics tends to rely on the paradigm of substances. We often see the world as a world of things, composed of atomic molecules, natural kinds, galaxies. Objects are the paradigmatic mode of existence, the basic building blocks of the Universe. What exists exists as an object. That is to say, things are of a certain kind, they have some specific qualities and well-defined spatial and temporal limits. For instance: Fido is my dog, he is grey, and was born one year ago. (It’s worth noting that such a simple statement will give rise to a litany of metaphysical disputes within substance metaphysics: realists believe that universals, such as the natural kind ‘dogs’, exist while nominalists believe them to be only intellectual abstractions.)

Though substance metaphysics seems to undergird Western ‘common sense’, I think it is wrong. To see this, consider the cliché about the glass of water: is it half-empty or half-full? The question assumes a static arrangement of things serving as a basis for either an optimistic or a pessimistic interpretation. One can engage in interminable disputes about the correct description of the physical set-up, or about the legitimacy of the psychological evaluations. But what if the isolated frame ‘a glass of water’ fails to give the relevant information? Anyone would prefer an emptier glass that is getting full to a fuller one getting empty. Any analysis lacking information about change misses the point, which is just what substance metaphysics is missing. Process philosophers, meanwhile, think we should go beyond looking at the world as a set of static unrelated items, and instead examine the processes that make up the world. Processes, not objects, are fundamental.

The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus provides the most famous image of process metaphysics. ‘It is not possible,’ he says, ‘to step twice into the same river’ – because existence depends on change; the river you step into a second time is changed from the river you stepped into originally (and you have changed in the interval, too). And while substance philosophers will tend to search for the smallest constituent objects in order to locate reality’s most fundamental building blocks, process philosophers think this is insufficient. So do modern physicists. Electrons are now understood as bundles of energy in a field, and quantum vacuum fluctuations prove that there are fields without bundles but no bundles without fields. Things seem to be reducible to processes – and not the reverse. (As the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead put it, we should think about ‘occurrences’ instead of ‘things’.)

Change poses a recurring problem for substance metaphysics. Universals have traditionally been a popular way to circumvent it. These static entities are difficult to define precisely, but can be thought of as ‘hyper-things’ that are instantiated in many different particular things. A universal is the thing that particulars have in common, such as types, kinds and relations. Universals are essentially different from particulars: Aristotle, for instance, argued that particulars – such as Fido my dog – are subject to generation and corruption, while species – the universal – are eternal. This particular example provides another instance in which science seems to favour process metaphysics. Thanks to the theory of evolution, the Aristotelian view that species are unchanging and eternal was proven wrong. Species evolve. They change. Dogs, after all, evolved from wolves to constitute a whole different kind. Once again, we’re better off using the paradigm of change rather than substance.

Process metaphysics leads to a re-evaluation of other important philosophical notions. Consider identity. To explain why things change without losing their identity, substance philosophers need to posit some underlying core – an essence –that remains the same throughout change. It is not easy to pin down what this core might be, as the paradox of Theseus’ ship illustrates. A ship goes on a long voyage and requires significant repairs: new planks to replace the old, fresh oars to replace the decayed, and so on, until, by the time the ship returns to port, there is not one single piece that belonged to the ship when it departed. Is this the same ship, even though materially it is completely different? For substance philosophers, this is something of a paradox; for process philosophers, this is a necessary part of identity. Of course it is the same ship. Identity ceases to be a static equivalence of a thing with itself. After all, without the repairs, the ship would have lost its functionality. Instead, as the German philosopher Nicholas Rescher argues in Ideas in Process (2009), identity just is a programmatic development. That is, the identity of a process is the structural identity of its programme. Other things being equal, every puppy will turn out to be a dog. (This programme need not be thought of as deterministic. The interactions between processes, Rescher argues, open room for variations.)

Processes are not the mere intervals between two different states of affairs or two objects, as the paradox of the heap exemplifies: take a heap of sand and remove one grain. It remains a heap; one grain doesn’t make a difference. But if you repeat the subtraction enough times, eventually there will be just one grain. Clearly, this isn’t a heap. Where did it become a non-heap? By looking at the process, and not the end-states of affairs, you’ll realise the impossibility of pinpointing the boundary between heap and non-heap. (Similarly, no individual was the exact turning point between wolves and dogs.) At the very least, this gives us a warning about the unnoticed abstraction operating on our division of natural kinds. Process philosophers such as Henri Bergson stop at this negative conclusion, believing that processes cannot be known but only experienced. Regardless, as the Danish philosopher Johanna Seibt notes, it might just be the case that focusing on the process requires a whole new perspective.

Looking at the world as a manifold of interconnected processes has scientific and philosophical advantages, but . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

6 November 2017 at 11:20 am

Posted in Daily life

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Roland Barthes – How to Read the Signs in the News

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I found this brief video that describes how Roland Barthese looked at TV news to be quite interesting:

And then I found this series of four brief videos on YouTube. Worth watching especially nowadays. It’s an interesting way to look at media, for example: peeling off and lifting up the cultural overlay on reality, removing the memes to see what is underneath.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2017 at 7:22 pm

Posted in Books, Education, Media, Memes

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Twenty-First Century Stoic — From Zen to Zeno: How I Became a Stoic

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William B. Irvine has written an interesting book on his decision to become a Stoic: A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. Boing Boing has a two-part essay by him, which I imagine is an extract from the book. The first part begins:

This is the first in a series of three essays, written by a Stoic, about what it means to practice an ancient philosophy in the modern world. (Read the second essay [and in my browser, you have to scroll down quite a bit – LG].)I never intended to become a Stoic. Who, after all, were the Stoics? They were those grim, wooden figures of ancient Greece and Rome whose goal it was to stand mutely and take whatever the world could throw at them. Right?

About a decade ago, though, I began a research project on human desire. The goal of the project was to write a book on the subject, but I also had a hidden agenda in conducting my research: I was contemplating becoming a Zen Buddhist and wanted to learn more about it before taking the leap. But the more I learned about Zen, the less it attracted me.

Practicing Zen would require me to suppress my analytical abilities, something I found it quite difficult to do. Another off-putting aspect of Zen was that the moment of enlightenment it dangled before its practitioners was by no means guaranteed. Practice Zen for decades and you might achieve enlightenment — or you might not. It would be tragic, I thought, to spend the remaining decades of my life pursuing a moment of enlightenment that never came. Zen doubtless works for some people, but for me, the fit wasn’t good.

Then something quite unexpected happened. As part of my research, I investigated what ancient philosophers had to say about desire. Among them were the Stoic philosophers — people like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus — about whom I knew little. As I read them, I discovered that they were quite unlike I imagined they would be. Indeed, it soon became apparent that everything I “knew” about the Stoics was wrong. They were neither grim nor wooden. If anything, the adjective that I thought described them best was “buoyant” or maybe even “cheerful.” And without consciously intending to do so, I found myself experimenting with Stoic strategies for daily living.

Thus, when I found myself in a predicament — being stuck in traffic, for example — I followed the advice of Epictetus and asked myself what aspects of the situation I could and couldn’t control. I couldn’t control what the other cars did, so it was pointless — was in fact counterproductive — for me to get angry at them. My energy was much better spent focusing on things I could control, with the most important being how I responded to the situation. In particular, I could employ Stoic strategies to prevent the incident from spoiling my day.

I also started making use of the Stoic technique known as negative visualization: I would periodically contemplate the loss of the things and people that mean the most to me. Thus, when parting from a friend, I might make a mental note that this could conceivably be the last time I would see the friend in question. Friendships do end, after all, and people die suddenly. Doing this sort of thing may seem morbid, but the practice of negative visualization is a powerful antidote to a phenomenon that will otherwise deprive us of much of the happiness we could be enjoying: negative visualization prevents us from taking for granted the world around us and the people in it.

When they hear about negative visualization, people often get the wrong idea. They think the Stoics advocate that we spend our days dwelling on all the bad things that can happen to us. This, of course, would be a recipe for a miserable existence. What the Stoics in fact advocate is not that we dwell on bad things but that we contemplate them, a subtle but important difference. They also recommend that we engage in negative visualization not constantly but only a few times each day and for only a few seconds each time. Our negative visualizations, then, will take the form of fleeting thoughts.

Visualizing in this manner has the effect of resetting the baseline against which we measure our happiness, and it can have a profound and immediate effect on that happiness. As the result of negatively visualizing, we might find ourselves taking delight that we still possess the things that only moments before, we took for granted, including our job, our spouse, our health — indeed, our very existence.

One of my favorite visualization exercises involves the sky. When I see it, I periodically remind myself that the sky didn’t have to be blue. But on most days it is blue, and a gorgeous blue, the hue of which changes subtly from hour to hour. Then I reflect on how wonderful it is that we inhabit a universe that can, on a nearly daily basis, present us with such a spectacle. A simple exercise, to be sure, and some would say a silly one. But if you can learn to appreciate the sky — something most people take utterly for granted — there is a good chance that you can learn to appreciate your life as well and thereby enjoy a happier existence than would otherwise be the case.

I mentioned above that the benefits to be derived from practicing Zen are uncertain. Stoicism, by way of contrast, does not dangle before its adherents a moment — maybe — of life-transforming enlightenment. Instead, it provides a body of advice for them to follow and a set of strategies for them to employ in everyday life. The strategies in question are easy to use. (Indeed, I suspect that many of the readers of this essay have already, in the last few seconds, successfully attempted negative visualization.) That said, I should add that it takes rather longer to internalize Stoic advice and strategies so that one’s response to the events of daily living becomes reflexively Stoical, at which point one can truly claim to be a Stoic.

My experiments with Stoicism were sufficiently encouraging that I abandoned my plans to become a Zen Buddhist and decided instead to follow in the footsteps of Zeno of Citium, the Greek who formulated Stoicism in about 300 B.C. I decided, in other words, to become a walking, talking anachronism: I would attempt to transform myself into a twenty-first century Stoic. My goal in the essays in this series is to describe some aspects of this transformation.

Most people, of course, would think of Zen Buddhism and Stoicism as being polar opposites, philosophically speaking, but that is because people tend to be, as I was, woefully ignorant of what Stoicism is. One of the most surprising things that came out of my research was how much Zen and Stoicism have in common.

They both advocate taking what Buddha referred to as “the middle path.” Buddha lived a life of luxury in a palace but was not fulfilled by that life. He abandoned the palace to live a life of extreme asceticism but again did not find fulfillment. It was then that he experienced his moment of enlightenment. The wise person, Buddha concluded, will not shun pleasure; at the same time, he will keep firmly in mind how easy it is to become enslaved by it. He will therefore be guarded in his enjoyment of pleasure.

The Stoics likewise advocated taking the middle path. Zeno of Citium began his philosophical education by practicing Cynicism, the ancient philosophy that advocated an ascetic lifestyle. The ancient Cynics (including Diogenes of Sinope and Zeno’s teacher Crates) lived on the street and owned only the clothing that they wore. Zeno abandoned Cynicism in part because he rejected its asceticism. In the Stoic philosophy he formulated, we are told that there is nothing wrong with enjoying life’s pleasures, as long as we are careful not to allow ourselves to be enslaved by them and as long as, even while we are enjoying them, we take steps to prepare ourselves ultimately to be deprived of them.

Offer a Stoic a glass of fine champagne, and he probably won’t refuse it; as he drinks it, though, he might reflect on the possibility that this will be the last time he drinks champagne, a reflection, by the way, that will dramatically enhance his enjoyment of the moment. Then again, offer a Stoic a glass of water, and he might go through the same thought processes with the same result.

In having “last time” thoughts (which, by the way, are a form of negative visualization), a Stoic is behaving rather like a Buddhist. Both Stoics and Buddhists think it important, if we are to have a good life, that we recognize the transient nature of human existence, and both advise us periodically to contemplate impermanence. This is what Stoics are doing when they reflect on the fact that since we are mortal, there will be a last time for each of the things we do in life. Thus, there will be a last time you drink champagne — or water, for that matter. There will be a last time you touch the face of another human being. There will even be a last time you utter the word “forever.”

Along similar lines, both Zen Buddhists and Stoics think it important for us to strive to . . .

Continue reading.

Also see The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 February 2017 at 7:50 pm

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Spot on!! 95 philosophical concepts, each realized in its own logo

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You have to see it:

That’s from an OpenCulture post by Colin Marshall, worth reading in its own right.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 January 2017 at 6:21 pm

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Teaching children to think philosophically

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The video comes from an Open Culture post by Josh Jones, which has some content worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 January 2017 at 10:02 am

Posted in Daily life, Education, Video

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