Showing posts with label Philosophy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philosophy. Show all posts

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Münchhausen Trilemma

For a brief moment, my next novel, now called License to Ill, was going to be called The Obamacare Trilemma, and it was going to have the below inscription, both in German and English at the beginning. Even though I've changed the title, I'm going to keep the inscription because it's still very much apropos to the story and it sets the right tone because it's so funny (I think).

This may be the only place you can find the English translation of the Barron von Münchhausen bootstrapping story anywhere (see below), which is a little odd because the Münchhausen Trilemma is such an important philosophical issue.

For a more complete understanding of the concept, I invite you to click on the link and read, but for my purposes The MünchhausenTrilemma demonstrates that rationality (i.e. thinking) must have input from some source other than itself. Rationality is like a calculator in that it requires a finger from somewhere to press the buttons.

The input comes from consciousness. Rationality is but a tiny subset of our larger consciousness. Feelings bubble up into ideas (rationality) and those ideas become words for the very limited purposes of communication and the creation of labor-saving devices. Those feelings come from our connectedness to all that is, not from our own thinking.

That's why a so-called "rational" approach to life (as opposed to a consciousness-based approach to life) is considered bootstrapping. It does not allow for this input from all that is. It simply assumes that the thinking started up on its own. That the calculator pressed its own buttons.

[As always, you need not take my word for any of this. Go into your body and make your own determination as to the nature of reality.]
The world of Science (what I would call the Religion of Science) would have you ignore this point. As stated aptly on
The Münchhausen Trilemma is a problem in philosophy that all statements can be questioned and then need evidence. This problem has been well known in philosophy for thousands of years, but rarely gets addressed because it breaks the legs of philosophy, science, and any other possible approach to reality.
I would disagree, however, that the Münchhausen Trilemma breaks the legs of "philosophy" and "any other possible approach to reality." It only breaks the legs of rationality-based philosophies and approaches to reality. If so-called reality is an illusion, all falls into place. I would certainly agree, though, that the Münchhausen Trilemma breaks the legs of science.

The story behind the below quotation is interesting.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Connection Between Observation and the Material World

A friend of mine sent me the following video about an interesting new technology. Isn't it interesting that everything we look for . . . we find?

Perhaps there's more of a connection between the act of observation and our "discoveries" than we realize. Maybe we're actually creating the world, rather than discovering it. I talk about this in The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Emails About Kierkegaard

I know what you're thinking: "Gee, Todd, your life must be pretty dull if you're exchanging emails about a Danish philosopher from the 19th century." Ok, ok, I hear you, but hear me out.

Let me give you a little background on how this email came about. A couple of friends of mine read my book, The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder, and one of those friends described my book to the other as, "out there." Which is about the best review a writer can hope for. Why? Because this means that the book contained ideas and concepts that the reader didn't necessarily agree with (or thought he didn't), and yet it was written well enough that he was able to get through it, he was able to finish the book. That's big! I couldn't really hope for more.

This fellow, I'm told, is also a big fan of Søren Kierkegaard, the aforementioned 19th century Danish philosopher (these are the upper crust circles of people who actually have favorite philosopher that I run in, folks, what can I tell you?). So much so, in fact, that he named his child after him (Søren, not Kierkegaard). Which I think is pretty cool because it's a pretty cool name, only I hope he didn't use the o with the slash through it (ø), which would probably get a little annoying for the kid.

Anyway, I was only vaguely familiar with the philosophy of Kierkegaard  (I'm a novelist, after all, not a philosopher, or worse a "philosophizer" as Robert Persig puts it in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), so after the conversation I went on line and brushed up on it, and lo and behold, what did I find but that the depressed Dane agreed wholeheartedly with everything in The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder! He professed, you see, Kierkegaard did, a similar brand of what has been labelled "existentialism."

I had always heard the term bandied about and had an idea what it meant, but not until now did I make the connection between the "existence" in "existentialism" and "being" and "consciousness." These are all exact synonyms. What Kierkegaard was talking about, what Eckhart Tolle is talking about, what I'm talking about in The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder--it's all the same thing.

And now from the email . . . Oh, and be sure to check out the link to the exercise mentioned a couple of times below so you know exactly what we're talking about when we talk about existence.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Response to Atheist Op-Ed About Miracles

Professed atheist posted an op-ed piece to the Lexington Herald-Leader today called Miracle: Just a puzzle science has not solved.

I posted the following response, to which a not-so-cleverly-disguised Richard Dawkins, himself (Hawkins? Rhymes with Dawkins? Come on, Richard, we know it was you!) posted the below rebuttals.*


Existence itself is supernatural and something that science will never be able to explain until it changes its antiquated philosophical framework. Where did the universe come from and why did it arise? What was there before it arose? Science is but a tiny sliver of Consciousness (God), which many have experienced through direct contact with reality, but which science lacks the philosophical tools to comprehend. So all this eyewitness testimony is simply ignored. A good book on the subject is The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder, which I just happen to have written.

Fellows like Dawkins live entirely in their minds, and so have never experienced reality directly. To him, science and the material world is all there is. If he could shut down that voice in his head for a minute and live life through his body (i.e. his own little slice of this reality we share) he might be quite surprised what (and some might say Who, with a capital W) he would find there.

Aaron Hawkins:
Well I feel that eyewitness testimony is not enough to prove anything. If you were to go around believing everything that people said they saw, then you would have to believe in bigfoot, werewolves, vampires, and aliens just to name a few of the things that now exist just because someone said they saw it. This is not enough evidence to base a decision on. You have to look at motives and understand reasons that people say what they say. Am I calling them liars? No, there are many explanations and maybe they did see what they said they saw, but by no means does this hold enough weight to call it proof of existence.   
As for the later part of your post that isn't plugging your book, you say that Dawkins has closed himself off to the reality that would show proof of existence. While I may agree with you that he is science based and as such leaves no credibility to superstition, mysticism, or metaphysics. You base your ideas on the same line of thought, only reversed. Perhaps if you shut the "good" book and started living in the real world you would see his views. Not that I am literally trying to get you to do so, it just shows that your argument gets us no where.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Another Review The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder on Amazon

Another Review The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder on Amazon, this one from Tom Thompson, of Southern Pines, North Carolina. Tom gave it 5 stars and wrote:
"Great book! I enjoyed it very much. Not at all what I expected. Nice review of the self-improvement literature intermixed with a murder mystery complete with detectives, suspects, and Catholic priest. The author really goes into some depth with the whole Aristotelian model vs. wisdom/in- tuition. Highly recommended for those wishing to explore this area more deeply and from a new angle."
Thanks, Tom!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Love, and do what you will." --St. Augustine

I am the least moral person I know. Let me explain.

One of my favorite books is A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle. In that book, Tolle quotes St. Augustine's "Homily Number 7 on the First Epistle of John," reproduced below in it's entirety, in which Augustine preaches, "Love, and do what you will."

Augustine (354-430 AD) was the Bishop of the city of Hippo in what is modern-day Algeria. His simple precept is a far cry from what the Roman Catholic Church (and most Christian denominations) are today, with its complete incorporation of ethics, morality and judgment, a result of the adoption of Aristotelian philosophy in the thirteenth century via the writings of Thomas Aquinas, most notably Summa Theologica.

"Love, and do what you will," is the original Gospel with a capital G. Jesus taught people not to judge.

The problem is, you can't have a conception of morality or ethics without judgement. Most people just laugh this off, thinking, "That can't be what Jesus really meant. He just meant to say, 'don't be a judgmental person,'" as if this answers the question. What is a judgmental person? Where do you draw the line? Judgment is judgment and Jesus didn't misspeak.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Feel Good First: The New Hedonism

The Hedonists Had it Right . . . Almost

Owing mainly to the swinger resorts of the same name, the word "Hedonism" conjures up visions of freewheeling sexuality. . . not that there's anything wrong with that. But that isn't really what hedonism was originally all about. Shall we say that this is a perversion of the original school of philosophical thought?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dennis Miller and the God Question

My book, The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder, deals directly with the below issues in Chapters 12 and 13, which focus on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (link to free online version). 

I recommend that anyone interested read my book as a primer, then read Zen and the Art, which is quite a long book, well worth reading, but you have to know what you're looking for and how it all fits together.
* * *
Below is a short audio clip of an Interview from The Dennis Miller Show. Dennis is interviewing Vince Bugliosi, author of Divinity of Doubt: The God Question (as well as Helter Skelter, and others), a book in which Bugliosi intellectualizes many tenets of Christian faith, like virgin birth, immortality of the soul, the divinity of Jesus and others.

In the interview, Bugliosi says that he is an agnostic, and that atheism is an "intellectually empty philosophy. Says Bugliosi of popular atheists like Christopher Hitchens, who he names specifically, "They simply cannot find a non-sequitur that they do not like."
But like such atheists (and religious folk from the opposite side), Bugliosi sets up these straw man intellectual arguments which do not advance the debate at all, but rather simply further obscure the basic difference between religious/spiritual people and intellectual people, which is a PHILOSOPHICAL difference concerning the nature of reality.
This sounds quite esoteric, but let's make it very, very simple:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Balthasar Gracian and the Pain-body

Understanding of what Eckhart Tolle calls the pain-body has been around a long time. Here is one of Balthasar Gracian's maxims from The Art of Worldly Wisdom, written in 1637:
lxix Do Not Give Way to Every Common Impulse.
He is a great man who never allows himself to be influenced by the impressions of others. Self-reflection is the school of wisdom. To know one's disposition and to allow for it, even going to the other extreme so as to find the juste milieu between nature and art. Self-knowledge is the beginning of self-improvement. There be some whose humours are so monstrous that they are always under the influence of one or other of them, and put them in place of their real inclinations. They are torn asunder by such disharmony and get involved in contradictory obligations. Such excesses not only destroy firmness of will; all power of judgment gets lost, desire and knowledge pulling in opposite directions. [Italics added]
What has been less clearly stated is exactly what to do about the pain-body, how to dissolve it. Tolle says you dissolve the pain-body through simply becoming aware of it. This is a two-step process.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Warren Buffett's Son Says Values Helped Him Remain Normal

This article was originally published by Technorati on 10 May 2010 as a Simply Spirited feature. To see all my Technorati articles, click Lifestyle in the Contents listing on the sidebar.

Apparently, Peter Buffett, the 52-year-old son of billionaire Warren Buffett has managed to breakout of the stereotype set for him by growing up to be rather normal.

Of course, anything north of self-absorbed drug addict would probably suffice as a breakout life for one born into such wealth, ironically enough. But that's far from Peter Buffett's reality.

Publicizing his new book, called Life is What You Make it: Finding Your Own Path to Fulfillment, he says that his parents taught him "values" that kept him out of trouble and, well, helped him find his own path to fulfillment.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fake Fake Things? Coffee Cup a Concession to Ugly Post-Modern World

This article was originally published by Technorati on 11 February 2010. To see all my Technorati articles, click Lifestyle in the Contents listing on the sidebar.

Are you kidding me? Has the world fallen in on itself? Something's gone haywire here.

The Daily Grommet has come up with a to go cup . . . that isn't. Called the I'm Not a Paper Cup and produced by Decor Craft, the ladies in a video posted to Shine on Yahoo! are fawning over this double-insulated porcelain replica of something you throw away as if it's just darling.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

President's Exhortation to Common Religious Bond is Important

This article was originally published by Technorati on 4 April 2010.

In his Easter address on Saturday, President Obama highlighted spiritual themes in route to plugs for some of his most important policy initiatives. "All of us know how important work is," was one lead-in. "All of us value our health," was another. And finally, "All of us value education."

Promoting these issues, Obama mentioned non-believers, but on this weekend of the Jewish Passover and Christian Easter, the emphasis was on the "common bond" that unites all people of faith.

What is that bond? That bond is a philosophy. More specifically, that bond is a philosophy of the nature of reality.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

No Role for Wisdom in American Jurisprudence

An edited portion of this article was published by
Technorati on 25 March 2010. To see all my Technorati articles, click Lifestyle in the Contents listing on the sidebar.

Back in Solomon's day, judges were lauded for their wisdom. Not so today.

Take the lesbian prom case out of Itawamba County, Mississippi, for example. School officials canceled this years soiree when they learned that lesbian Constance McMillen and her girlfriend intended to attend as a couple.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Texas School Board Demonstrates Need for Guiding Principles in Education

This article was originally published by Technorati on 16 March 2010.

In a preliminary round of voting, a conservative majority of the Texas School Board voted on Friday to make decidedly right-leaning changes to requirements for social studies textbooks to be used state-wide over the next ten years, to the chagrin of the board's more liberal members. After a public comment period, the standards will be voted on by the full board in May.

As power-buying Texas goes, so go many smaller textbook markets across the country. This decision has repercussions for smaller states, regardless of their politics.

Proposed changes tentatively approved include discussion of the decline of the dollar and the abandonment of the gold standard; use of the term "free market" over the less friendly "capitalism"; highlighting of the founding fathers' Judeo-Christian beliefs; mention of country and western music as an important aspect of American culture (I'm not making this up); Newt Gingrich's Contract with America; and many other darlings of the right.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How We Know Stuff

The following is a portion of a much longer article called The Philosophy of Success.

How do we come up with ideas?

Robert Persig in his cult classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,says:
"The formation of hypotheses is the most mysterious of all the categories of scientific method. Where they come from, no one knows. A person is sitting somewhere, minding his own business, and suddenly . . . flash! . . . he understands something he didn’t understand before. Until it’s tested the hypothesis isn’t truth. For the tests aren’t its source. Its source is somewhere else. (p. 113)
And our good friend Eckhart Tolle says this in The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, naming Einstein, himself:

"The surprising result of a nationwide inquiry among America’s most imminent mathematicians, including Einstein, to find out their working methods, was that thinking “plays only a subordinate part in the brief, decisive phase of the creative act. So I would say that the simple reason why the majority of scientists are not creative is not because they don't know how to think but because they don't know how to stop thinking!" (Chapter 1)
The way these scientists are coming up with their ideas isn't Aristotelean at all! These are mysteries being described! The Philosopher (as Aristotle was known in the Renaissance) would not approve! So maybe the truth is that Aristotelian thinking (or the Aristotelian faith, you might say) has only survived by its reliance on other modes of thought.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Joy of Being, Explained

The Endorphin Effect: A Breakthrough Strategy for Holistic Health and Spiritual Wellbeing is a book by British psychologist William Bloom, published back in 2001. It is an Aristotelian approach to the Platonic (and pre-Socratic) mode of being called joy.

Take a look at this three-minute video. By way of contrast, it's a great tool for the understanding of the joy of being.

Bloom recommends five strategies to boost your body's production of endorphins: "rest"; "exercise"; "positive triggers"; "attitude of the inner smile"; and "connection with the natural world."

"Positive triggers" would be just about anything that makes you feel good--the thought of one's children, a beach in Hawaii, and ace in tennis, anything.

Exercise provides the best example as to the real essence of these strategies. Imagine the guy (or woman) who has to log sixty miles running per week. No one can care that much about running, can they? What he cares about is the endorphins that the running releases, the "runner's high," as it's called. He's become addicted to the endorphins, which are, in fact, a thousand times more powerful than morphine.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"Magical Thinking" a Slur Against Enlightenment

Whenever you hear someone use the term "magical thinking," beware! You're dealing with an intolerant Aristotelian, a person who cannot conceive or concede that there may be a philosophical conception of the world (e.g. Platonism or even pre-Socratic philosophy, see The Philosophy of Success, elsewhere on this blog) other than his or her own (i.e. Aristotelianism).

This intolerance stems from their blind adherence to the law of causation, which makes it doubly important for the person of faith to develop an understanding of occasionalism (see The Law of Cause and Effect a Tenet of Faith elsewhere on this blog).

More commonly, people profess Aristotelianism but practice Platonism. For example, you never hear rich, famous, powerful people declaiming against visualization, which is a Platonic principle (see the Visualization of Success, elsewhere on this blog). This is because they couldn't have reached their lofty position without it--it cannot be otherwise.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Law of Cause and Effect a Tenet of Aristotelian Faith

I went to a religious college for my undergraduate degree. I remember a professor in the Philosophy department answering a question from a student in class, "What in philosophy gives you the most qualms as a man of faith?"

The professor, without hesitation, said, "Immanuel Kant." It would be many years before I would really understand this answer and be in a position to offer the professor a prescription for his troubled mind (though surely he has passed by now, God rest his soul).

His problem with Kant had to do with the latter's view on miracles. Basically, Kant believed that there is no such thing.

Wrote Kant: "If one asks: What is to be understood by the word miracle? it may be explained . . . by saying that they are events in the world the operating laws of whose causes are, and must remain, absolutely unknown to us." (Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, Harper Torchbooks, p. 81, cite courtesy of Maverick Philosopher)

In other words, when you see something that appears miraculous, it's only nature functioning according to laws we don't yet understand.

But this view of Kant's is a natural progression from the law of causality (cause and effect), first stated with clarity within Kant's philosophical lineage by our arch nemesis Aristotle. (See The Philosophy of Success elsewhere on this blog). It's Aristotle with whom the professor should have picked his bone, not Kant. Kant's too far gone. He's too far down the line.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Trouble with Televangelists

Ever wonder why Plato wrote his Dialogues the way he did? They're narratives; they read like stories, generally about dialogues that took place between Socrates and philosophers or students in and around Athens. They are timeless, as good a-reading today, if you are interested in the subject, as they ever were.

Compare them with Aristotle's Metaphysics and the vast majority of written matter on the subject of philosophy, which is completely cerebral and dry as the dust that coats them in libraries. No one reads them except academics, a condemnation not shared by Plato.

Apart for abounding good taste, why did Plato write like this? The answer may be found in one of his Dialogues called "Phaedrus." In it, Socrates has traveled to the countryside outside the walls of Athens, where he engages in his familiar verbal jousting (called "dialectic") with his young friend Phaedrus.

The storyline is generally about the benefits of rhetoric versus philosophy. But one of the lines of questioning concerns the benefit of writing. Socrates tells Phaedrus a myth about an Egyptian god, Theuth, who, according to the myth, was the inventor of writing.

Theuth brought his invention to King Thamus, hoping that all the Egyptians might make use of it, claiming, "This . . . will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories."

King Thamus told Theuth that he was mistaken. Writing would not benefit memory at all. Rather, it would weaken it.

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What's Your Drama?

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