Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Daybook Entry #4

“The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy” (Meditations 102).
It is important to remind myself that I do not have all of the answers to life figured out. When I see someone else that seems to be off track, I should tell him or her in a calm and gentle manner. I should tell them in a way that is acceptable and respectful every time.

“Then remind yourself that past and future have no power over you. Only the present – and even that can be minimized. Just mark off its limits” (108).
This goes along with the eastern principle of living in the present. The present moment is all that matters. Once I attempt to think and analyze about the future, that present moment has already escaped me.

“External things are not the problem. It’s your assessment of them. Which you can erase right now” (110).
My perceptions about external phenomena have the ability to control my outlook on life. It is what creates this anxiety that has plagued my life.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Daybook Entry #3

“Look inward. Don’t let the true nature or value of anything elude you” (Meditations  69).
Only be concerned about things that are the way they actually are. Don’t let things out of things I have no control over.

“The mind is that which is roused and directed by itself. It makes of itself what it chooses. It makes what it chooses of its own experience” (70).
The power to control a situation is purely mental. This can help with my anxiety.

“Like seeing roasted meat and other dishes in front of you and suddenly realizing: This is a dead fish. A dead bird. A dead pig. Or that this noble vintage is grape juice, and the purple robes are sheep wool dyed with shellfish blood. Or making love – something rubbing against your penis, a brief seizure and a little cloudy liquid. Perceptions like that – lathing onto things and piercing through them, so we see what they really are. That’s what we need to do all the time – all through our lives when things lay claim to our trust – to lay them bare and see how pointless they are, to strip away the legend that encrusts them” (70-71).
I totally disagree with this mode of thinking. Why can’t I enjoy a glass of vintage wine without delving into its fundamental label of grape juice? Why can’t I savor the pleasure of sex without stripping it of its pleasurable mystique? If Aurelius is a cynic, this passage firmly expresses it. Enjoyment should be pure enjoyment. I think over-analyzing pleasures will just taint the overall experience.

“Remember – your responsibilities can be broken down into individual parts as well. Concentrate on those, and finish the job methodically – without getting stirred up or meeting anger with anger” (74).
I find this very practical when it comes to any sort of task – especially overwhelming homework assignments – or even a stressful week.

“When you need encouragement, think of the qualities of the people around you have… Nothing is as encouraging as when virtues are visibly embodied in the people around us, when we’re practically showered with them” (80).
Look for the positive.
“The mind itself has no needs, except for those it creates itself. Is undisturbed, except for its own disturbances. Knows no obstructions, except those from within” (87-88).
Don’t exaggerate the minds necessities. Don’t create unnecessary boundaries.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Daybook Entry #2

More from Meditations.

“People try to get away from it all – to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too. Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like. By going within. Nowhere you can go is more peaceful – more free of interruptions – than your own soul. Especially if you have other things to rely on. An instant’s recollection and there it is: complete tranquility. And by tranquility I mean a kind of harmony” (Aurelius 37).
I really want to make this my ultimate goal. I am nowhere close to accomplishing this task.

“Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been” (39).
Easier said than done. Another goal of mine.

“Does what happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all the other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself” (48)?
Don’t let my past determine my present.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Daybook Entry #1

My professor assigned reading from Marcus Aurelius' text called Meditations. Many of my daybook readings will originate from this work. Here are some stimulating passages that I came across:

1. "Ignoring what goes on in other people's souls - no one ever came to grief that way. But if you won't keep track of your own soul's doing, how can you not be unhappy" (19)?

This commentary is thought provoking because I always want to understand the point of view of others. Aurelius points out that I need to understand myself before I can ever attempt to understand others.

He also goes on to say, "Nothing is more pathetic than people who run around in circles, 'delving into the things that lie beneath' and conducting investigations into the souls of the people around them, never realizing that all you have to do is be attentive to the power inside you and worship it sincerely" (21).

2. "The present is the same for everyone; its loss is the same for everyone; and it should be clear that a brief instant is all that is lost. For you can't lose either the past or the future, how could you lose what you don't have" (21)?

I should not let the past or the future control my present experience. I am constantly struggling with this aspect. My life is plagued by anxiety in all forms and sizes. Aurelius' idea seems analogous to the fundamental teaching of eastern philosophy.

3. "The human soul degrades itself... when it puts on a mask and does or says something artificial or false" (22).

I have had many times where I have felt as if I had an obligation to say something in a social situation. It is good to keep silent if there is nothing I have to say. Sometimes I think silence equates to social awkwardness. This is a downfall to American society, where people supposedly have to constantly express ourselves verbally. This is not necessarily true.

4. "We should remember that even Nature's inadvertence has its own charm, its own attractiveness. The way loaves of bread split open on top in the oven; the ridges are just by-products of the baking, and yet pleasing, somehow: they rouse our appetite without our knowing why" (27).

Existence is simple and real. I should accept what is and disregard what is not.

5. "Don't waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people - unless it affects the common good. It will keep you from doing anything useful. You'll be too preoccupied with what so-and-so is doing, and why, and what they're saying, and what they're thinking, and what they're up to, and all other things that throw you off and keep you from focusing on your own mind" (28-29).

This causes a lot of unwanted drama in my life. I feel as if I need to constantly know what is going on in order to be in the loop. This is especially true, I must admit, when it comes to relationships with girls. I'm sure many people experience this as well.

6. "Never regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust, or lose your sense of shame, or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill will, or hypocrisy, or a desire for things best done behind closed doors" (31).

This quote is pretty self-explanatory.

Daybook - Introduction

It's been a while since my last post. Life has been up and down for me lately, but I am not complaining one bit. As I always say, "Life is an adventure."

Anyways, the reason why I am starting this series of commentary is, I think, of great benefit for myself. My professor recently assigned an ongoing project called the daybook. A daybook is supposed to serve as a sort philosophical journal, in which I can freely express my ideas and concerns regarding any subject. I am very excited to begin this endeavor - mostly because it will enhance and sculpt my worldview and understanding.

And it may come to a surprise to some as to why I chose to make this information public. In all honesty, the reason is somewhat personal. I think that it would prove beneficial for me in the sense that I can freely come to terms with my own identity. Character is a struggle for many people. If one would deny this fact, they are making a bold claim indeed.

So, what I will provide, through the next few months, is my journey on paper (or cyber paper, for that matter). As always, I am open to any commentary or suggestions. Do not be afraid to comment on my posts.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Wonder and Beauty of Scientific Chaos

It's been a while since I published my last blog. I thought it would be nice to take a little time to reflect on some recent discoveries I have been making on my journey to a greater understanding. Lately, I have been interested in science. I know that this topic is such a common subject that exists within the minds of extremely curious individuals, but many philosophers seem to ignore the purely aesthetic aspect of the scientific realm.

Chaos, contrary to many spiritualists, is simply beautiful. And of course, science is abound with chaos. The paradox of simplicity is implicit within nature's chaotic state. Biologically speaking, the process of Darwinian natural selection is executed in the smoothest fashion that is both stunning and intricate. The anarchic assembly of gene structures and proteins is truly and wonderfully fascinating. Astronomy also speaks of the glories of chaos. Principles about particle physics are always under strict revision with new discoveries, and this is a very exciting time for areas that involve dark matter and energy. New theories are coming forth that attempt to deal with the extravagance of the cosmos, and it is apparent that there is much to be discovered and examined. (I am really excited to take my astronomy class next semester.)

I think I am finally beginning to understand what Dawkins implies when he notices the "... awed wonder that science can give us" (Dawkins 1998). From chaos, the evolution of the human mind came into being. The human mind is quite good at noticing changes and making astute observations. This should not be taken lightly. We have all heard the boringly cliche saying, the mind is a terrible thing to waste. Mundane or not, there is truth in this saying. Our minds were made to wonder, and science and chaos serve as a promising catalyst.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Genius of Ralph Waldo Emerson

I must admit that I am a huge fan of American Transcendentalism. The simplistic lives of thinkers that make up this movement are truly remarkable.

At the end of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature, this particular passage left me deep in thought:

"Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house is a world; and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you. For you is the phenomenon perfect. What we are, that only can we see. All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do. Adam called his house, heaven and earth; Caesar called his house, Rome; you perhaps call yours, a cobbler's trade; a hundred acres of ploughed land; or a scholar's garret. Yet line for line and point for point, your dominion is as great as theirs, though without fine names. Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions." 

This passage is simply incredible and insightful.  

Friday, February 4, 2011

What I am Learning from Plato

Since the beginning of the semester, I have been reading Plato's Republic for my social and political philosophy class. Within the book, Plato writes dialogues between a group of men whom talk about a wide range of issues. The main points of discussion originate mostly from Socrates, Plato's legendary teacher. Socrates wishes to discuss what it means to constitute the perfect city. Obviously, Socrates reasons, in order for the city to remain perfect, the people must practice perfect justice. Here arises a problem. What is meant by justice? How can the citizens in a perfect city practice unparalleled justice if the definition is unclear? In a nutshell, Socrates claims that justice is when an individual pursues and practices what they are suited to pursue and practice. In other words, the individual is wise when it comes to passions, disallowing them to overcome their life.

The Socratic view definition of justice brings up many great points. If, lets say, humanity is inherently born good, man cannot be corrupted by anything other than his passions. His passions are not corruptible in simplest form; they are only a hindrance when they rage out of the man's control. With that being said, it would serve no purpose for a man to indulge wildly in his passions, allowing them to take priority over him and causing him to neglect his intended pursuits and practices. When this happens, injustice arises. For if a man strays away from his intended purpose, whether it be art, construction, or parenthood, he enters a realm of total unfamiliarity, thus creating chaos. This is the origin, I believe, of injustice.

But, apart from the presupposed notion that humanity is inherently good, the idea of justice seizes to have a cornerstone. If, lets take for instance, mankind is not born inherently good, this whole system is apt to collapse. It seems that the whole basis of justice would be askew if man was born with injustice already implanted in his consciousness. This is one of the many reasons why I tend to believe that humanity is born good and just.

This is what I do in my spare time. :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Little Things

I don't know why it has taken me this long in life to notice the little pleasures throughout the days. I clearly remember my insecurity and restlessness of my high school years. Every little assignment and duty seemed tedious to the point of endless business.

But now, times have changed for the better. I have developed a sense of self-sustainability that has finally matured into something apparent. I am not, however, making the claim that my self-sustainability has reached full development; I still have a lot to learn.

Living is getting better and better everyday. I have a lot to look forward to... especially if the sun arises and is unobstructed by the clouds that bring dreariness. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Life Without God and the Pursuit of Happiness

Over the past few months, my mind has radically changed. I used to be the type of person that would defend the doctrine of Christianity at all costs. I felt as if I had obtained the perfect life for myself, and Jesus was the skipper of the ship. I could not see myself apart from God or religion.

For the past year and a half, I attended Greenville College. Upon arrival, I attempted to get involved in any activity that had to do with Jesus. I remember attending Campus Crusade for Christ with the intent of "receiving spiritual food." I thought that spiritual growth was beneficial for my existence. But all that seemed to change when I opened my mind to the evidence.

With all of that said, I am finding it reassuring to discover the nature of my new classes at Webster. Today was my first day, and I could instantly feel the relief of being free from the bondage of religion. Both of my classes dealt with consciousness and a wide assortment of philosophical topics. I do not wish to speak too early, but I truly think I found my identity. I am a philosopher.