Category Archives: Philosophy

Isn’t the question really “what gives you meaning?”

Isn’t the question really “what gives you meaning?” Happiness is so ephemeral.

Is a new mother happy with the pain of childbirth? No. And yet is she not fulfilled with the creation of life?

Or an artist who struggles for 20 years to create a piece that meets their own expectations. You have the eye before the skill, which is what is so frustrating. This is why we tear up our work. And delete entire photo shoots from our CF cards. Or rip the roll of film out of the Mamiya to expose it to light, killing it like a vampire thrown into daylight.

It is that our creation lacks fails to meet our vision. This is not happiness.

But do you want to live in a world where people, where you, don’t strive outside of your bounds? I don’t. I don’t need the happiness project. If I wanted that, there is some drug I can take surely. No, the brutal truth of reality, and frequently failed “creation,” is the reality I wish to live in. It gives meaning.

Meaning trumps happiness. Even with a tip of the hat to the “Holographic Universe” and Fraankl’s work. Meaning is meaning.

Kenan Branan

“60-something years to transform to a more optimistic state of mind”

Kenan Branan
Kenan Branan

I was drilled for surviving nuclear apocalypse as a “duck-and-cover” teenager, believing that the world might end before I reached adulthood. But I suspect my personal perspective was the biggest factor: I didn’t like the world the way it was and wanted to “figure out” how I could make it better. I was hurting and scared. Survival instinct pure and simple!

It’s taken me 60-something years to transform to a more optimistic state of mind, actually a passionate state of mind. Maybe through the wisdom of my varied experiences and learning, I have not only figured out what a better world can be, but more significantly, through the media of the Web, I have discovered “signs” of a large community of likeminded people. For the first time in my life, I can justify hope and faith in the future of humanity.

- Kenan Doyle Branam (source)

and

“In retrospect, I have always had the temperment of an artist, looking at the world with curiosity and sensitivity—sometimes, so much that the beauty of nature overwhelms me.

Like Pecos Bill, I was raised by a pack of dogs. I thought I was one… until they started to chase, kill, and eat squirrels. I guess I will always be a pacifist. I still love running in the woods.”

- Kenan Doyle Branam

we’re not completely not termites

From the article:

The first dreams we ever had were to be held. And loved. And to explore this amazing world with love in our lives.

We dreamed of seeing, touching, and experiencing the world around us, with the happiness and comfort that comes from family.

As adults, many of us dream of building a family, and do so.

It’s the day-to-day realities that don’t always feel so dreamy. We get busy, exhausted, and overwhelmed. We’re changing diapers, cleaning up spills, searching for a jolt of caffeine to keep our eyes propped open until we can fall face first into a pillow.

Along the way, we sometimes see some work dreams take a back seat. We worry they may slip away, that we may never get back to them.

There are tough tradeoffs that moms and dads have to make every day. But since my son’s birth, I’ve stopped seeing those tradeoffs as sacrifice.

Because when we give up something for a time to make sure we’re putting enough focus into our families, we’re not giving up dreams. We’re committing to our biggest, deepest ones.

We’re prioritizing the dreams that make up who we are.

And “be the cups and ice” which is truly amazing.

Monica, in her usual fashion, takes over completely, leaving Phoebe in charge of only cups and ice. Phoebe decides to make the most of it; she makes everything imaginable out of cups, and serves every kind of ice.

those who remain determined “mouse-avores” starve

“IV. At the same time, living systems adapt themselves to changes in their environment they learn, grow, develop, evolve. When the mouse population in a region suddenly declines because of an epidemic, the predators who adapt to a new prey survive; those who remain determined snake bit“mouse-avores” starve. Life events affect us and change us, and we can see these changes reflected in the nevertheless familiar faces of our friends. The ability of living systems to adapt and self-organize allows them to defy the second law of thermodynamics, which insists that everything runs down and returns to a state of disorganization and homogeneity. Not so for living systems! They continuously reorganize themselves into ever more complex patterns and interrelationships.”

Molly Young Brown, Patterns, Flows and Interrelationships

On Hegel’s Dialetic and Husserl’s Epoché

Woke up thinking about this stuff from days gone by, so consider these notes to myself.

From a Simple Explanation of Hegel’s (1770 – 1831) Dialetic by Tanasije Gjorgoski

The analogy would work with the notions of “Left” and “Right”…. There is nothing that distinguishes them internally. The half-space that we named Left can be Right, and the half-space that we named Right can be also Left.

It is in this abstract symmetry where different notions become equal. (or more general produce a contradiction of some kind)

But for sure Left and Right as notions are not equal, they have different meaning. So, we are brought to a contradiction, they are different, but also they are equal.

This contradiction is resolved by externalities;

The resolution is based on really simple principle – if the distinction between two universals is not in them taken alone, then their difference is something outside of them.

Hence the role of an external “observer” to break the symmetry.

On phenomenology from the Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) entry on Wikipedia.

Husserl made some key conceptual elaborations which led him to assert that in order to study the structure of consciousness, one would have to distinguish between the act of consciousness and the phenomena at which it is directed (the objects as intended). Knowledge of essences would only be possible by “bracketing” all assumptions about the existence of an external world. This procedure he called epoché.

And Stanford’s entry on Phenomenology continues

We are to practice phenomenology, Husserl proposed, by “bracketing” the question of the existence of the natural world around us….

Consider my visual experience wherein I see a tree across the square. In phenomenological reflection, we need not concern ourselves with whether the tree exists: my experience is of a tree whether or not such a tree exists. However, we do need to concern ourselves with how the object is meant or intended. I see a Eucalyptus tree, not a Yucca tree; I see that object as a Eucalyptus, with a certain shape, with bark stripping off, etc. Thus, bracketing the tree itself, we turn our attention to my experience of the tree, and specifically to the content or meaning in my experience.

Which, in pop-culture, is probably best explained by The Matrix

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

It’s incredibly selfish if you think about it. If I imagine the spoon bending, it is bending because I am the external observer of said spoon. Or Eucalyptus tree if you wish.