All in PHILOSOPHY
Newton’s third law of motion tells us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The Buddhist principle of karma similarly teaches us that everything we do, every decision we make, has a consequence. Philosophical determinism suggests that we cannot escape the inherent causality of human existence, and that our actions will inevitably give rise to the effects that reflect our essential morality. Faced with the imbalances that subsequently blight much of our over-exploited, under-resourced, conflict-riddled world, the question is – how should we live?
The novelist Haruki Murakami describes himself as "a runner and a writer". The two are inextricably intertwined elements of his whole being. As a runner and a writer, I wholeheartedly agree. What is it about the physical exertion of running that is so vital for the parallel process of creative release? How do the two activities mirror each other such that the Holy Grail of "the flow" finally becomes attainable?
What is it that we’re saying when we talk of highs and lows? Why do we linguistically frame our lives this way? How have we even come to collectively associate and articulate “forwards” and “up” as signs of progress, while assuming “backwards” and “down” to be regressive?
“The magic of escapist fiction is that it can actually offer you a genuine escape from a bad place and, in the process of escaping, it can furnish you with armour, with knowledge, with weapons, with tools you can take back into your life to help make it better. It’s a real escape — and when you come back, you come back better armed than when you left.” - Neil Gaiman.
In his final novel, Island, Aldous Huxley created a vision of utopia where the Pacific island of Pala is an “oasis of happiness and freedom,” free from the trappings of capitalism, consumerism, and technology. Some say that the Island is an example of humanity at its sanest and most admirable. Yet it ends, predictably, in sorrow, “the work of a hundred years destroyed in a single night.” So, what was Huxley’s point in creating then destroying a vision of paradise?
What’s the point of the news? What purpose does it serve, does it do us any good, and how can we, as information consumers, manage the flow in a purposeful way? Answers via those who have tried and suggest that cultivating purposeful ignorance might actually empower rather than overload our intellect.
“Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough.” The inimitable Richard Feynman, on science, beauty, truth and the philosophy of ignorance.
The late great Dostoevsky once wrote: "If one wanted to crush and destroy a man entirely, to mete out to him the most terrible punishment, all one would have to do would be to make him do work that was completely devoid of usefulness and meaning.” Don't be that man. Or woman.
Buoyed on by Morrissey’s pronouncement that Meat is Murder, a love of animals, and a rampantly militant attitude towards anything conformist (i.e.: I was a moody teenager), in 1993 I swore never to eat another living creature again. For ten years I lived by that oath, embracing lentils, tofu and quinoa, riding the hippy wave of independent spirit that every generation mistakes as unique to itself. Ten years later, I did the terrible thing that my teenage self would have hated me for — I started to eat fish.
Can money ever buy you happiness? It may not be a question that we explicitly contemplate, but it’s the subtext to much of our behaviour.
The phrase “blue sky thinking” litters conversations these days, the supposition being that it will prompt radical new ideas to flutter through. But rather than sparking the imagination, the call for forced creativity can invoke dread. And rightly so; as Orwell pointed out, this kind of inane management speak is a deliberate distortion of reality.