“Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways,” wrote Karl Marx (1818–1883) in his Theses on Feuerbach (1845), “the point is to change it.”
The first thing worth noting: Marx was as enraptured by science as any other thinker of his time. He believed he had a scientific socialism, based on dialectical laws of history he’d uncovered, as opposed to the utopian socialism of his predecessors based on fantasies.
There I was, chowing down on a fresh tuna sandwich in a somewhat dark and slightly cramped café just off one of the main streets running through one of the “student ghettos” in the university town where I was doing my graduate work.
Tables scattered about, air cool and slightly damp from a morning rain, noticeable coffee aroma…. A wall at the far end lined with old books…. The latest Dead Can Dance CD playing at low volume from speakers set near the ceiling in opposite corners of the place.
A guy with longish hair and a thin beard sat…
Grand theory was a type of philosophy that tried to understand the world as a whole — the whole shebang, from the “first principle of all things” down to what is really of value to us and what it means to live a good life.
Ambitious, for sure!
The great philosophers of the past were good at x-ing out the grand theories of their predecessors and substituting — what else? — their own.
How was that working out, anyway? Especially with science and technology getting results and starting to gain an edge.
Even the philosophers of the 1700s and 1800s…
What is philosophy? It may be the one human endeavor for which its own subject matter, goals, and methods are its first problems, priorities, and points of contention.
Everyone who has taught the subject probably introduced it etymologically: philosophy derives from the Greek words philo (“love of”) and sophia (“wisdom”): love of wisdom. But this never gets us very far. It elicits the further question, What is wisdom? which threatens to take us off into some very tall weeds.
A strategy I used to keep on track introducing the subject was to ask, What have philosophers done? What do their…
A basic truth about empires is that they have life spans just as people have life spans. They have a "breakout" or birth, a period of rapid growth and development (and heaven help anyone who is in the way!), eventually reaching a period of maturity with trade routes laid down, a single governing structure and administrative system, a single language and culture with sets of expectations for most of their citizens (or defining ethos), and a set of recognized defining achievements.
Then things begin to go off the rails little by little. They grow comfortable and complacent. Money and its…
The Law of Attraction (LOA). All manner of descriptions of it are floating around the success coaching world. Some of the caricatures seem a bit unfair: “Tell the universe your deepest desires, and the universe will conspire to make it happen!”
As if “the universe” is a living, conscious being that loves you and cares for you.
Goes without saying, that’s not going to get you very far in the real world.
The LOA often incorporates meditation, creative visualizations of various sorts including vision boards, and is associated with popular films like The Secret. Tony Robbins is noted for preaching…
Science fiction can be great fun. I’ve enjoyed it since I was a kid. But now, as an adult with an academic career behind me, I’ve come to realize that there’s more to it than fun and games. Much more.
Here are a few quotations from seven great films of the past 70 years guaranteed to make you wonder: is this just science fiction?
“And in today, already walks tomorrow.” ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Imagine: a world of abundance, like something out of a dream, only it’s real. Pinch yourself. What you’re seeing is still there.
An abundance of clean water, clean air, healthy food, and a minimal need for health care (the costs of which have therefore dropped like a rock).
Housing — no McMansions — but comfortable and attractive living spaces showing how 3D-printing has evolved!
Lots of green in between….
Vertical farms rising…. Tended by robots requiring minimal human oversight. Robots don’t need or ask for wages, of course.
It’s a world…
It’s rare that we get solid insight from a dream, but it does happen. As I write, it happened to me last night — a wake-up call, literally as well as figuratively, as I was awake the rest of the night.
This was the dream. My wife and I were with another couple, staying in a large house. Like we were on vacation.
The other couple had a boy, aged 12 or 13.
A slightly husky kid with scruffy blond hair and a lot of energy.
He was lamenting all the freedoms we adults have that kids don’t.