Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana
After WWll in the German city of Nuremberg, trials of the surviving Nazis were held for the most serious of war crimes. Nazi Reichmarshall and Luftwaffe-Chief Hermann Göring was interviewed by german speaking psychologist and intelligence officer Gustave Gilbert who had free access to the prisoners during the trials for private conversations. Although he was not the propaganda minister, a job left for Joseph Goebbels, he did know the power of it for manipulating the population.
Gilbert : We got around to the subject of war again and I said that contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction. Göring : Why of course the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm what to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally the common people don’t want war. Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America nor for that matter in Germany that is understood but after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. [click to continue…]
In a recent episode of This American Life you can hear the story of a good doctor, and by all accounts an exceptionally good doctor who – ‘Murdered his Father’, then (obviously) to be found guilty and go to prison for the rest of his life.
No spoilers – Listen to the story to find out what happens.
It’s easy to initially lay blame on Vince but as we discover, just like William Chester Minor he’s not responsible. His brain chemistry was out of kilter.
If someone is mentally ill and not responsible for their actions they’re not seen as being criminally responsible but at some level (even if not to this severity), aren’t we all like this from time to time? [click to continue…]
Just think for a moment of your reaction the latest major news item and how it affected you. Maybe the Boston Marathon Bombing or the Waco Fertiliser Plant Explosion or something more recent. How relevant is it to your life and how much has it really affected you? (And affect meaning more than just emotionally buying into it) Not much I’d gather unless you were nearby.
News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether.
I’ve found most of the time news is simply noise in our lives and has almost no value and the few titbits of information which are relevant, we’ll find without wading through the mind numbing, short form, superficial dross put out by the media. I’ve thought this for years but here it’s explained as to how dangerous it really is as…
Without wanting to get into the dynamics and philosophy of fortune-telling futures and time-travel scenarios I thought it was worth looking at the ancient Greek myth of Oedipus mentioned in the recent post on determinism and free will for a story about how determinism locks you into a future where, even if you know what is going to happen, events will conspire to force the eventual outcome anyway.
So you choose or don’t choose to watch this video. That’s free will… Well maybe not.
The idea that if all events without exception are caused by antecedent events, such that any give state of affairs follows necessarily from prior causes.
Determinism say everything in your existence from before your birth to today will at some level consciously or unconsciously cause you to play or not play this video. So you have no free will but are just following the deterministic path to the inevitable.
One day a scorpion asks a frog to carry him across the river. The frog, afraid of being stung during the trip declines helping the scorpion. The scorpion argues that if it stung the frog, both would sink and he would also drown, so for his benefit he would never sting him. The frog eventually agrees and carries the scorpion across the river until midway, the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both to drown. As they slowly sink into the water the frog asks why he had stung him and the scorpion simply points out that, “I had no choice as this is my nature“.
The nature of things
You’ve had the feeling haven’t you? If only someone would stop being such a jerk they’d be a half decent person. And you probably really want this change in them for their own good – Right?
Maybe they need just one small aspect to change, then life would be much better for all. Maybe you’re motivated by their potential, to improve their lot in life which they can’t see.
How does it feel to have the same pressure pushed onto you? How do you react? Well, that’s an entirely different story. “Accept me as I am”, you say!
Maybe this isn’t you and you’re genuinely interested in improving your personality for yourself and others around you. You know you’re not perfect and want to change the deficiencies but is this because you feel a lack of some aspect of who you are? Are you harsher on yourself than anyone else could ever be to you? This internal criticism of yourself is a variation on the external criticism of others, simply turned to look inward. [click to continue…]
If your existence is one of subsistence, say in a traditional tribe in Papua New Guinea, you only know your day-to-day circumstances and in accepting it, you’re happy. Even in the long past feudal days, society had a social caste. There were those who had and those who had not.
Those who had little – yes the peasants – didn’t even know they how much others had compared to themselves but lived a life accepting what they had. But, if you can compare yourself with those who have more, well then you have dissatisfaction and that unhappiness leads to all sorts of issues including Status Anxiety if not down right revolution.
So we compare ourselves against the wonder kids and our contemporaries and wonder why we don’t seem to match up to their success. We’re told we can have it all, but we don’t have it, leaving us with the anxiety of what we haven’t done or achieved like those around us who have a bigger house, better job or more beautiful spouse. Here we have Status Anxiety of this video and it’s one of the major causes of unhappiness in Western Culture.
A long history of warnings.
In Democracy in America , Alexis de Tocqueville suggested 180 years ago that the incessant desire for more would lead ‘items of luxury’, to become the ‘decency of life’, to eventual the ‘physiological necessity’. I look at all the perfectly functional cathode ray televisions being thrown out today, as it’s now a necessity to have a wall size, flat screen TV in every home. If you still have an old box do you feel a little anxious? [click to continue…]
If there are Three Realities and one of them is The Reality which is impossible for us to perceive how can we ever hope to get a grip on what it is?
There is no way to know the full context of Reality but some very smart people spend a huge amount of time considering what we can’t perceive and devise experiments, mental gymnastics and theoretical philosophical expeditions to gleam some aspects of what Reality may be.
We’ve started to see a chink in the armour of how we live our lives in the modern West. This site is about exploring what we’ve been told as fact but seems to be broken. How at a deep level we know this and what is the best way for all of us to live a good life. Some is new research from modern science, some is ancient wisdom and some is from the personal experiences of people around us. This site is about exploring all these avenues to shed light on the reality and the lies.