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Growing up and progressing in life...

Mar. 5th, 2007 | 12:21 pm
mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
posted by: ironpaw in revicon

Click on the cut for some tired introspection on growing up and progressing in life.

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(no subject)

Nov. 16th, 2006 | 09:58 pm
mood: soresore
posted by: ironpaw in revicon

“Who I want to be” Meme Part One




This list is (hopefully) more than your standard “haveyoudone/doyoulike” type meme. I’ve created it for a kind of introspective and productive purpose.

Moving beyond my teenage years, I often find my life is incongruous with who I decided I want to be. Life and practicality sneak up and goals/dreams are pushed aside in favour of obligations and necessity. Well, here I am on the other side of the battle to grow up. My bills are paid, my wife is (well) fed and I’ve got a stable job. What now?

Now it’s time to get back to the foundation - the basis - for what I wanted to become but had to find another way to arrive at. It’s time to approach my dreams the same way I’ve learned to deal with the necessities of every day life. The first step of which is deciding the direction in which you want to proceed. Hence, this meme.

Part # 1 below is a list of categories encompassing some major areas of “what I want to become”. It is not all inclusive, and not categorized by importance and no consideration given to interrelation between them. There is no time limit and no issue of practicality to consider. It’s simply this: take each category and write down what you would consider ideal for yourself. Please feel free to add categories to the list that are important to you.

Part # 2 is the hard part. Part # 2 will come soon, and (fair warning) you will be asked to give a simple, quick, “step leads to step” progressions of getting from where you are now, to where you want to be. Keep this in the back of your mind while filling this out, but don’t let it affect your answers. Also, I’d ask that if you do part 1, that you commit to doing part 2 as well, as it’s vital to the concept.

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Archipelago

Oct. 31st, 2006 | 07:45 pm
posted by: pifactorial in revicon

http://haikujaguar.livejournal.com/334201.html

I just read that, and it struck me and saddened me. Since it relates so well to some of the things I'm going through, I'm going to take a "teenage moment" (I'm sure I haven't used up my quota) and blame some of my problems on society.

To clarify, when I say society, I'm excluding two particular elements.
First of all, I don't mean the Media. The Media is a beast of legendary might, with its adamantine jaws capable of shredding any truth, digesting it, and vomiting it upon the world. Even so, I don't believe it plays a significant role in our everyday human interactions - correct me if I'm wrong.
Secondly, I'm not talking about counterculture. I think there are several countercultural movements that have come close to solving some of these problems, but they make up a negligible part of our society.
I'm talking about when you walk down the street, the people you talk to, your daily business.

The problem I see is this - our mantra has become, "mind your own business," when it should be, "mankind is our business!" Our artificial, solipsistic, politically correct world is at once too afraid to offend, too afraid to care, and too afraid to stand out.

There's a song by Regina Spektor that addresses this issue, "The Ghost of Corporate Future", in which the eponymous apparition approaches a timid businessman and tries to warn him of the dangers of being afraid to stand out - in so doing, warning us all of the consequences of our society's unceasing "march forward":

And people make you nervous
You'd think the world is ending,
And everybody's features have somehow started blending
And everything is plastic,
And everyone's sarcastic,
And all your food is frozen,
It needs to be defrosted.


I can't say I know the root of all this, it seems to be such a complex problem. One particular issue seems to be the abolition of the (small-scale) concept of "scandal" - in haikujaguar's example, most people wouldn't have acted much differently if she'd been wearing a Halloween costume or nothing at all. (At least, in our society's ideal.)

Nonconformist behavior ought to be given notice. After all, if you're willing to stand out, it should mean you're willing to be paid attention to - it should mean you're willing to defend your actions. If people have no defense for their deviance then, by all means, it is scandalous!

I don't know if you're like me, but it seems that almost every day I find myself in a position of wanting to comfort, compliment or confront a person, and wondering if it's "appropriate". When isn't it appropriate? If for some reason - say, the person's too busy, or in a really bad mood - it isn't appropriate, can't you just apologize? What is there to be afraid of? Why should we "mind our own business"?

Really, we're living in the great archipelago of humanity - every man is an island. I guess all we can do is our own little part to change things.

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[Discussion] Ends and means

Oct. 3rd, 2006 | 03:20 pm
posted by: pifactorial in revicon

I saw a definition of pragmatism once, that read roughly like this:
The willingness to set aside an ideal, when it is prudent in order to achieve a more immediately important ideal.

Fiction immemorial has glorified this trait in its heroes, from Robin Hood to Jack Bauer. The problem with this pragmatism is that it's an example of the ends justifying the means. Does the fact that I give to the poor justify me robbing from the rich?

Kant, whom I admire but don't always agree with, laid down the Categorical Imperative. It was basically a generalized version of the Golden Rule, saying, "Always act according to principles you would want everyone to adhere to." In turn, the Imperative says that morally, the ends never, ever justify the means.

Kant even said, since lying is immoral, it would be immoral to lie to a murderer to try to prevent them from committing a murder. While, based on his worldview, he makes a pretty good argument for this, it seems like hogwash to me. At very least, it's the exact opposite of the pragmatism I described above.

I doubt anyone here believes the ends always justify the means. But do the ends ever justify the means? If so, under what circumstances? Which ideals are okay to "set aside", and which ones aren't?

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Titanic

Aug. 5th, 2006 | 12:20 am
posted by: pifactorial in revicon

A final example might explain this shift in our view of elites in America. Of the many differences between the blockbuster movie Titanic and history, one in particular is telling. In the movie, as the ship is sinking, the first-class passengers scramble to climb into the small number of lifeboats. Only the determination of the hardy seamen, who use guns to keep the grasping plutocrats at bay, gets the women and children into the boats. In fact, according to survivors' accounts, the "women and children first" convention was observed with almost no exception among the upper classes. The statistics make this plain. In first class, every child was saved, as were all but 5 (of 144) women, 3 of whom chose to die with their husbands. By contrast, 70 percent of the men in first class perished. In second class, which was also inhabited by rich professional types, 80 percent of the women were saved but 90 percent of the men drowned. The men on the first-class list of the Titanic virtually made up the Forbes 400 of the time. John Jacob Astor, reputedly the richest man in America at the time, is said to have fought his way to a boat, put his wife in it, and then, refusing to take a seat, stepped back and waved her goodbye. Benjamin Guggenheim similarly declined a seat, yielding his place to a woman, asking only that she convey a message home: "Tell my wife... I played the game out straight and to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward." In other words, some of the most powerful men in the world adhered to an unwritten code of honor - even though it meant certain death.
The movie-makers altered the story for good reason: no one would believe it today.

-- Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Freedom

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Political Stuff II

Jul. 7th, 2006 | 11:00 am
mood: goodgood
posted by: pifactorial in revicon

I recently got into reading the book The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad. I just finished the introduction when it hit me, "Wait a second... this is revicon."

Take the following thesis (emphasis mine):
To undertake a restoration is not to seek the return of an old order. We like the democratic changes that we have lived through and cherish their achievements. The goal is liberal* democracy not as it was practiced in the nineteenth century, but as it should be practiced in the twenty-first century. Democratic societies need new buffers and guides, designed for modern problems and times. And yet, any such undertaking must begin with a return to history, to the struggle for liberty and democracy that began in the West and spread elsewhere. If we want to renew the perennial quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we must recall the forces that produced them in the first place. Only by understanding freedom's past can we help secure its future.

* I use the term liberal in the nineteenth-century sense, meaning concerned with individual economic, political, and religious liberty, which is sometimes called "classical liberalism," not in the modern, American sense, which associates it with the welfare state, affirmative action, and other policies.

Anyway, I could post more quotes if you like, but I suggest you go read this book for yourself. It's a bold and fascinating look at the balance between liberty and democracy - between the past and the future.

I'm encouraged to see that it was a bestseller. Clearly I'm not the only one who is interested in these issues.

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Political Stuff

Jul. 6th, 2006 | 07:15 pm
mood: curiouscurious
posted by: pifactorial in revicon

I was just watching Glenn Beck on CNN. (As an aside, Beck is my favorite TV host, and hereby dubbed an honorary revicon.)

Anyway, he was talking (as he often does) about the idiocy of self-interested partisan politics in the United States. He suggested someone should create the "Human Party", with the following platform:
  1. Do the right thing.
  2. Look at the issues through the eyes of your children and not the eyes of your party.
  3. Your country is just as important as your district.
  4. We're not always going to agree.
  5. Death penalty to any politician who commissions a focus group.

He then interviewed a representative from Unity08, a movement to create a unity ticket (i.e. the president comes from one party, the vice-president comes from another) in the next election. Is it just me, or is that a stroke of brilliance?

Whatever form it winds up taking, the American electoral system is well overdue for some sort of shakeup.

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Independence Day, 2006

Jul. 4th, 2006 | 06:01 pm
mood: contemplativecontemplative
posted by: graywolf44 in revicon

Today marks the 230th anniversary of the birth of our nation. As I am enjoying a day off from my daily job, I have had some time to reflect on just what this day really means, not only to me, but to the entire world.
 
Without brave men and women willing to stand up to the tyranny they perceived in their day, sacrificing, in many cases, all that they had, such evils as slavery, facism, world wide communism, and totalitarianism would, in all likelihood, be flourishing upon the face of the earth, enslaving billions to the whims of the few. But because of those self sacrifices made 230 years ago, more people today enjoy freedom from tyranny that at any time in the history of the world.
 
Those willing to sacrifice all for the cause of freedom still exist today, and as Booker T. Stallworth so eloquently puts it in his essay, as you go about your day today celebrating the anniversary of the birth of the greatest nation this world has ever seen, take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by those willing to stand up to and defy tyranny, and give thanks.
 
Give thanks that there were people willing to sacrifice all, those 230 years ago, and that there has been an unbroken line of people willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom through to today.
 
Be safe, and celebrate this great nation's birth.


Cross posted at my other blog.

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A breath of fresh air

May. 15th, 2006 | 04:25 pm
mood: cheerfulcheerful
posted by: pifactorial in revicon

Welcome to all out new members!

How is everybody? Taken any nice walks lately? Seen any good movies? Been letting your creative juices flow?

I'm sorry if it's been a little stuffy in here... now, how about we talk about something a little more lighthearted?

Feel free to post anything vaguely relevant here - philosophical quips, ethical questions, anything encouraging or interesting you may have seen, et cetera. And don't let the moderation scare you - that's just meant to prevent trolling.

I hope everyone's doing well, and I hope to hear from you!

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[Discussion] Kantianism

May. 10th, 2006 | 02:10 pm
posted by: pifactorial in revicon

I was asked a while ago about my thoughts on Objectivism. I admit that I am thoroughly undereducated in the area of philosophy, but I started researching when I received that question. I quickly stumbled across the philosopher Immanuel Kant, who Rand called "a man-hating monster", claiming that "on every fundamental issue, Kant's philosophy is the exact opposite of Objectivism."

After continuing my research, I was almost dumbfounded by how much Kantianism was in line with my own worldview. While it's outside of my scope to describe the entire school of Kantian philosophy - much less to compare it point-by-point with Objectivism - I will make an example of (to my understanding) Rand's and Kant's views on the nature of morality:
Morality
RandKant
motivated by selfishnessmotivated by selflessness
a property of the selfa property of the universe
circumstantialimmutable
judged by "the ends"judged by "the means"


If you would like further information about Objectivism and Kantianism, you can find out a lot from the wiki links above. If epistemology doesn't bore you to tears, you might also want to check out the book I'm reading right now - Kant's Transcendental Idealism: An Interpretation and Defense.

As the book points out, Kantianism as a whole has not been very popular with other philosophers, even since Kant's own time. Part of the reason for this is that, although Kant's assertions aren't theological in nature, his philosophy is almost completely inseparable from theism (or, at least, transcendentalism). Several times people have tried to marry Kantianism with naturalism, resulting in completely different philosophies (such as Sartre's existentialism).

Um, I've rambled enough for now. You really shouldn't have gotten me started :P

Any thoughts or questions? Has anybody here actually studied this stuff?

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