Tag Archives: Philosophy

Where does confidence come from?

I’ve never thought of myself as a confident person. Yet sometimes people ask me where I get my confidence from, so I must be projecting the illusion of confidence at some level.

I don’t feel confident right now. I feel vulnerable. Continue reading

24 hours to save the world

Each one of us is blessed with 24 hours in every day. But what we do with those 24 hours varies enormously. Continue reading

Why is morality relative?

The Ten Commandments by Gerry DIncher

The Ten Commandments by Gerry DIncher Creative Commons licence (CC BY-SA 2.0)

God gave the Israelites some pretty clear rules for how to live their lives. “Thou shalt not kill,” comes in at number six, and seems pretty clear cut. “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” is also very straightforward, and is at number seven. Yet Leviticus states, “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

So what’s going on here? Is morality not as clear as we first thought? And if so, why not? Continue reading

Ethics and Aesthetics

Morality, it is sometimes said, represents the way that people would like the world to work. And Aesthetics could be said to represent the way people would like the world to look.

Ethics and Aesthetics can be grouped together in philosophy under Value Theory, the implication being that the two principles derive from the same fundamental instinct; from the same part of the human mind.

As Wittgenstein put it: “Ethics and aesthetics are one and the same.” (Thanks to Michelle Joelle for this.)

Now a moral world where no one suffered would be a beautiful thing for sure, but there’s a strong negative aspect to this correlation between ethics and aesthetics too. Continue reading

Why do we feel sad?

Here I’m not asking what makes you sad. Rather I’m asking, what is the purpose of sadness? Generally speaking, there is an evolutionary reason for all the abilities and faculties that we humans possess. So what is the evolutionary advantage of sadness? Continue reading

Infographics are like philosophical dialogues, but shorter

dialoguesNon-Believer: I have no idea what you mean. Infographics are nothing like dialogues.

Believer: Do you even know what a dialogue is?

Non-Believer: Duh. It’s what we’re doing right now.

Believer: Sure, but do you know what dialogues are for?

Non-Believer: Stop treating me like an idiot! Continue reading

Choose joy

I’ve been feeling a little down recently, for various reasons. This is what Buddhists call suffering, and they say it is caused by desire, or passion. Desire is what binds us to this life, they say, and is the cause of our suffering. Christians have a similar world view. They say that sin is the root cause of our suffering, and that our redemption is through Jesus Christ.

While there are many differences between Christians (who believe in an eternal soul), and Buddhists (who supposedly do not – although people like the Dalai Lama certainly seem to), religions generally regard the physical world as a place where humans are trapped. It’s easy then to imagine that we were born to suffer. Continue reading

What is time?

Time is an oddity. In mystic thought, it is often cyclical. In classical Newtonian physics it was thought of as a steady march onward. In Einstein’s universe, it is wrapped up with the fabric of spacetime and can dilate in unexpected ways.

One thing we know about time is that it waits for no one. Time marches on (although not in a steady way, thanks to Einstein) and we experience it passively. Without any effort on our part, future becomes present and recedes into the past, even while we sleep. We can’t feel the passing of time like we feel the wind against our face, although change is happening imperceptibly, and after a lifetime, we realize that its passing has ravaged our fragile bodies.

Where did the time go, we ask? As if it is a thing that moves. Continue reading

Frozen to Life: A Personal Mortality Experiment (Book review)

frozentolifeI was sent a free copy of this book by the author, and asked to write an honest review. As the author noted in his email to me, ‘I think we have quite a few interests in common. ‘That’s very true, so I thought my review might also be of interest to my blog readers.

The book is the story of why the author (DJ MacLennan), has chosen to have his brain cryogenically frozen when he dies – or as he puts it – when current medicine can do no more to save him from death. It’s a personal story, and a scientific and philosophical investigation of what it means to live and die. Here’s my review of the book. Continue reading

Newton vs Einstein

newtonMy all-time favourite scientist was Isaac Newton. Newton was very clever. In fact he was a genius. He discovered lots of interesting and important things. Unfortunately, most of them turned out to be wrong. That doesn’t make him a bad scientist, of course. Finding wrong answers is an important way that science makes progress.

One of the reasons we know that Newton was a genius is that it took a very long time before anyone proved that he was wrong. Around 200 years, in fact. Then Albert Einstein (my second favourite scientist) showed that Newton was wrong, by coming up with some better explanations. Continue reading