Existentialism For The 21st Century

“Is our technology changing what it means to be human that much?

This is a question without a definitive answer … so far.  Futurists claim we are already cyborgs (we have glasses and pacemakers and use Google instead of memorizing things) and are going to keep changing, while leading sociologists of technology like Sherry Turkle point out that this often has more in common with malnutrition than evolution:  just as eating junk food will keep us alive but not make us healthy, social networking and modern media are a cheap substitute that doesn’t really fulfill our needs as human beings.

New Existentialist Eugene Taylor has suggested that trying to deliberately “advance” the human species has been tried many times before, and always failed. “

This is from a very interesting article on the subject.  Well worth the read.

What are your thoughts on how technology is changing human society & the actions/thoughts of Individuals?  Do you think Empathy is something we can teach, or are (as the author suggests) times of solitude also important to help humanize ourselves?  Let me know your thoughts in the comment space below.

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The Lost City Of Dwarka…

As a westener, I do not know much about Hindu mythology or the history of India.  It is a subject I have been curious about for some time.  Until recently, I have never taken any opportunities to research this ancient culture.  But that all changed when I heard about Dwarka. Continue reading

Reflections On The Limits Of Human Knowledge…

Dead_crow_4 - JPEGDown the hill from my home, I came across a dead crow lying in the road.  I was driving on my way out of town and there it lay – peacefully & undisturbed in its post-mortal slumber.  The image is burned into my mind.

I have always felt a special affinity for ravens & crows.  The myths & archetypes of my ethnic & cultural backgrounds have always placed these birds in a special category amongst animals.  They are intelligent & this prompted my ancestors to associate them with knowledge & wisdom.  Indeed, they are symbols of the very quality I seek.

To see one dead, lying upon the concrete roadway of a modern human town, the symbolism & the archetypes spin through my thoughts.  One could see this as a representation of our modern life – how humanity has set aside the pursuit for wisdom (the crow) for the pursuit of material & economic progress (the roadway).  We find the bird dead upon the concrete, a victim of the very technology our human knowledge has created.

On the other hand, we could dig a little deeper & think about the limits of human Knowledge.  At times, the dead bird reminds me of how little we do Know & understand about the world, our place in it & the reason for existence itself.  Its passing from this world makes me think of how much there is beyond the mere physical that our collective & our individual Knowledge has yet to discover.

Maybe our modern pursuit of progress can be turned into something worthwhile for all of humanity.  Maybe we could pour our collective creativity, wonder & urge to explain things into figuring out what is truly important.  Maybe we can concentrate more on what makes us happy & what makes our lives feel fulfilled & concentrate a little less on material wants & all those things society tells us we need.

I know this is very idealistic.  Yet, when we think about how little we know about ourselves, about the world & about this universe we inhabit – it seems abundantly apparent (to me at least) that our priorities as Individuals need to be re-examined so that we do not become like the crow: a missed opportunity for knowledge found dead on a road.

Let me know what you think.  What sorts of thoughts fill you from this musing of mine?  What archetypes & symbols do you identify with & what do they make you think & feel?  Let me know in the comment section below & thank you for reading my musings.

A moment of beauty…

waterfall_7There is something about the beauty & the raw elemental power of a waterfall that captivates the soul.  One of the most powerful – yet simple – experiences of my life was because of a waterfall.

There is a provincial park just fifteen minutes from my house & at this park there is a beautiful beach that is enjoyed all summer long by locals & tourists alike.  The beach is located at the western end of a lake where the water flows into a series of waterfalls that are the source of a river.  The geography is such that one can walk along the granite stones of the shore & out into the water right where the first waterfall starts.  One can then sit down in the water (which is about waist deep) with one’s back to the waterfall.  The rushing water cascades over one’s shoulders filling one’s body with an amazing energy – that raw elemental power of the waterfall.

I try to perform this little ritual at least once a summer (if not more often).  It invigorates me & fills me with a gratitude for everything nature has to offer.  It is beautiful, powerful & meaningful.

What are some of the moments of beauty from your life?  Tell us what natural places are special to you & how they make you feel when you go there.  Leave a comment below & share your own experiences.

In the mean time, if your interested in some music to help you experience some Moments of Beauty, check out a little album I wrote & recorded last year.  You can find it on my Bandcamp site.

Candle’s Moments Of Beauty full length studio album

 

The Top 5 Philosophy Books That Influenced Me

 

5. The Republic – Plato

As one of the Father’s of Western Philosophy, Plato has had a massive influence
on our civilization and the way people think. The Republic is probably his best
known work. In the dialectic style, Plato attempts to describe a perfect society
while addressing many of the issues any society would face. The sociology &
politics aside, the part that sticks out the most in my mind is The Allegory Of The
Cave
which begins on line 514a of the text. If you are able to see the material
world for what it truly is, it might bear a striking resemblance to Plato’s Cave.
What you can learn from this observation might shock & free you at the same
time.

 

4 Être Et Le Néant (Being & Nothingness) – Jean Paul Satre

Perhaps the greatest existential atheist to have ever lived, Jean Paul Satre was a
man who evoked strong reactions from his readers & from the world as a whole.
His ideas regarding the nature reality and the power of the Individual turned
philosophy on its head. For me, the most important thing I learnt from Satre is
that we are beings who are Free except that we are only constrained by Choice.
It is the understanding of the Power of Choice that will Truly set you Free.

 

3. Meditations – René Descartes

Whenever I think of Descartes, I can’t help but get Monty Python’s The
Philosopher’s Song
stuck in my head. You know the one: “René Descartes was a
drunken old fart//’I drink therefor I am’” But I digress… My own epistemology &
understanding of knowledge starts with Descartes. His famous Cogito (mocked
so well by Python & many others) is for me, the foundation of all Epistemology.
This a priori (or self-evident) Truth proves that at the very least, I exist. And from
there, anything is Truly possible

 

2. The Celestine Prophecy – James Redfield

Though not a Philosophical work, strictly speaking, the life’s philosophy
contained in The Celestine Prophecy will put you on the path of connectedness &
help you reach your goals. The idea of the Celestine is that every day
synchronistic coincidences happen to Individuals. These coincidences are
messages from the universe that, if heeded, will help Individuals along their life’s
path. The trick is, staying connected & following these coincidences to their
ultimate end. This is an endeavour I am still struggling to master.

 

1 Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Friedrich Nietzsche

The great german Nihilist. The often misunderstood philosophical genius &
madman. Nietzsche’s masterpiece is superbly written & complex to its core. The
ideas it presents demand that the reader take up the hammer and strike down
everything – & then run through the forest dancing & singing, living life to its
fullest. It warns of the dangers of the Mob & forces the Individual to reach for
the higher goals in life. As Zarathustra himself says many times: “Man is but a
bridge to the overman.”

 

What are some of the books that have influenced you? Leave me a comment & let me
know. Maybe we can share our Knowledge & help each other cross Zarathustra’s
bridge faster.