Happy New Year! The January Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species. Discuss it now.

The February Philosophy Book of the Month is The Fourth Age by Byron Reese (Nominated by RJG.)

Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Discuss morality and ethics in this message board.
Featured Article: Philosophical Analysis of Abortion, The Right to Life, and Murder
Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3547
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Fooloso4 » November 21st, 2018, 11:31 am

chewybrian:
The question of 'How can I change the world?' is likely to be met here with great skepticism and perhaps outright contempt, as it seems flawed. It includes the idea that one could change the world, when one of the cornerstones of many philosophies is that one can not.
This may be a cornerstone of Stoicism but see Descartes provisional moral code in the Discourse on Method:
My third maxim was to try always to master myself rather than fortune, and to change my desires rather than the order of the world….
This was a provisional stance. In the Meditations he talks about the Archimedean point from which he could move the world. With the advance of method one no longer has to accept the world as it is. Modern science has changed the world.

I do not think it was just the modern thinkers who changed the world. Plato and Aristotle were influential in changing the world as well, although not the physical world. Alexander, however, did.

There are a long list of technological advances that have changed the world.

I was not able to confirm Mr. Rouse’s claim that:
I’ve assembled a large team, spanned across the globe, and established powerful connections
But there will be people who will make technological breakthroughs and people who will amass wealth. People who have the power and desire to do good. Mr. Rouse may be a bit over ambitious, but sometimes the young do things that those who are older do not because they have not yet been convinced that they cannot.

User avatar
Achievable
New Trial Member
Posts: 8
Joined: November 19th, 2018, 9:21 pm

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Achievable » November 21st, 2018, 6:35 pm

chewybrian wrote:
November 21st, 2018, 8:16 am
Achievable wrote:
November 20th, 2018, 8:35 am
The response here has provided nothing but mirth. I expected high-level, calculated responses. I got a bunch of children mouthing off instead, who are likely double my age.

If someone wants to respond with some dignity, I'm happy to respond. Had any of you done some basic research, I think you'd be taking me a bit more seriously.

OPTIMIZED LED LIGHTING ARRAY FOR HORTICULTURAL APPLICATIONS
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
[0001] The present invention relates generally to horticultural lighting systems, and, more
particularly, relates to an arrangement of LED lighting elements in an array element to optimize light distribution, for consistency in photon distribution under the array element, and to provide spectral customization beyond what is currently available on the market today.

I completely made that up, as well. I'm glad you all think this is a joke. I take this topic extremely seriously. Maybe I was wrong in thinking this was a serious audience.

I'm actually disgusted.
I think you got some serious responses, but you were perhaps surprised by them. You are asking in the question in a philosophy forum, so you must consider what that implies. People are going to come at it from very different perspectives--some harshly scientific, some religious, some 'mystic' and some with a wild mix of all kinds of ideas.

Consider the example of Diogenes the stoic and Alexander the Great. Alexander sought out and found Diogenes for a 'meet and greet'. He found Diogenes wearing his cloak and laying on his large clay bucket, thus in use of both (all) of his worldly possessions. As probably the richest and most powerful man in the world, Alexander asked Diogenes what gift he could bestow upon him, and Diogenes responded that he could move to the side just a bit, so he would not block his sunlight.

So, if I answer from the perspective that Alexander was lost and Diogenes had found the answers, you might expect my answer to be off center from the norm, and perhaps it will be. Most answers in a forum like this will seem odd unless the source and motivations are considered.

The question of 'How can I change the world?' is likely to be met here with great skepticism and perhaps outright contempt, as it seems flawed. It includes the idea that one could change the world, when one of the cornerstones of many philosophies is that one can not. Philosophy requires an honest assessment of reality (though the lens through which one views reality may be quite clouded). It's obvious that almost all of us will be virtual unknowns in a hundred years, much less a thousand. And, those who might even be remembered might be remembered for the wrong things, as in Alexander's case. Despite advancements in technology, the world remains unchanged in many ways.

I'm not sure what basic research you expect of us in order to answer your question. I googled the company name, and found it has no web presence, and nobody is discussing it. The headquarters is a house. So, all I can tell is you incorporated, and I'll take your word that you have a patent, but I can see no evidence of the rest. But, recalling Diogenes, I would not be impressed either way.

I would say that the posturing and drama shown is evidence that you have some work to do on the inside before moving on to change the outside world. We all do, and this is where great work begins. Looking outside yourself for success and happiness is Alexander's strategy, and there is never a payoff, never satisfaction. Diogenes knew that the only way to have all you want is to decide that all you want is what you already have. My advice in response to your question is to consider that path. Here is a great place to begin:

http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.html

Blast away if you wish, but I only tried to do as you asked and consider your question thoughtfully. You may dislike the answer or consider it harsh, but it is only straight truth as I see it. That is what people seek in a philosophy forum, and that's what I am trying to give you as best I am able. I wish you luck in your journey. I'll say once more that the answers are within, not without. I wish I was able to see this when I was your age. This is the advice I would like to go back and give to my 22 year old self if I could.
I'm unsure of proper words to describe the impact you just made on me. Thank-you, so very much, for blessing me to such a degree. This is absolutely incredible and beyond.

With that, I will be withdrawing from this discussion.

Thank-you. Take care, everyone.

User avatar
Achievable
New Trial Member
Posts: 8
Joined: November 19th, 2018, 9:21 pm

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Achievable » November 21st, 2018, 6:40 pm

ktz wrote:
November 21st, 2018, 11:25 am
I'll focus on the original question, since I find it interesting and I suppose I am on a path that seeks similar answers. I'm inclined to side with OP in any drama that ensued, since I believe it takes more courage to admit insufficiency than to provide mocking quips chiding young seekers of noble goals, and I generally prefer to side with those who open themselves to a higher degree of vulnerability -- as Nassim Taleb characterizes, those with "skin in the game". I can understand the urge to call out vagueness or to sort of "put an uppity young'un in their place", but I feel like it's generally more constructive to engage strangers in good faith rather than unnecessary cleverness, and to answer even questions with too limited or too broad scope to the best of our ability.

Please note that I am quite opinionated, but there are likely many paths to your goals and my recommendations are certainly not dogmatic constraints -- I encourage you to develop your own path (and share with other truth seekers as you get there!)

In terms of a very general answer to the idea of developing a "real education" --

I would recommend a self-evaluation in four core skills that I deem as providing a solid foundation for someone who seeks to make effective change -- what a friend of mine once characterized as, "mind body soul will" -- i.e.,
1) mind -- autodidacticism techniques (which you seem to have a handle on),
2) body -- the discipline to maintain physical fitness through good routines in terms of sleep, nutrition, and daily exercise,
3) soul -- communication/leadership skills (both listening and sharing esp. in adversarial contexts, see Dale Carnegie), and
4) will -- the ability to persist in the face of challenges difficult obstacles without succumbing to cynicism/sarcasm/negativity, 7 deadly sins, or the comfortable plateaus of generalized incompetence.

I think a foundation in these four core skills feels like a prerequisite for the highest levels achievement that one can aspire to, and I can specify so many good specific resources if you are interested in any of this line of thinking in these 4 directions. Typical business books e.g. anything Stephen Covey, anything that references "Soft Skills", or specialized stuff like the War of Art seek to develop these kinds of skills which seem to be at least somewhat correlated to success in the modern world. Of these four qualities, a formal education generally only provides opportunities for networking, useless without a good foundation in communication skills, and willpower in the form of the discipline to achieve established goals, even though outside of STEM fields these goals can actually be a bit tedious and not necessarily constructive uses of time in and of themselves.

I think a couple of core epiphanies (in no way comprehensive and mostly just off the top of my head) that may help you in navigating change in a modern Trump-era environment would include --

-- the fundamental attribution error, and taking care to address systemic problems rather than blaming human responses to systemic problems -- see aaron swartz's 7th article in his solid raw nerve series (RIP bro).
-- the nature of telescopic evolution, google for professor healy's video from waking life
-- Frankl's dimensional ontology, (coming out of and understanding that people are more than the sum of their data points, can create conflicting/incomplete pictures based on projections data points, and understanding why denouncing or characterizing someone based on data points will always be missing higher dimensional information (ie trying to discriminate against). And checking out reductionism/logical positivism for the opposing view which can be significantly more efficient but also much more destructive and unethical
-- issues with teleological geopolitical machinations -- I now recommend adam curtis as an entry point since he has some nice free accessible documentaries on thoughtmaybe like Hypernormalization and the Power of Nightmares that I feel like serve as a good introduction here. I started with kleinbl00's red pill reading list (before the term got coopted by crazies) before getting into meatier stuff like chomsky's who rules the world (accessible) or manufactured consent (somewhat inaccessible), modern nonfiction by authors like Michelle Alexander and Tim Wu, and most recently Habermas's theory of communicative action.

Moving deeper into philosophical/political economy territory, I think a few of the core modern systemic problems that may be helpful to understand are -- tragedy of the commons, rent seeking, filter bubble, and the logic of collective action, since in my view if our species can't wrap our head around these very critical problems and their impacts on actually lethal threats like climate change, sixth extinction, antibiotic resistance, and the kind of existential political unrest that you get from too few actors capturing too much of the growth.

Specialized knowledge is obviously useful as well, but like that one admin commented generally requires a better understanding of your background and specific goals to be effective.

Is this more in the direction of what you're looking for?
Yes.

User avatar
ktz
Posts: 165
Joined: November 9th, 2018, 12:21 am
Favorite Philosopher: Habermas

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by ktz » November 22nd, 2018, 3:07 am

OK. Best of luck. Don't seek external validation, especially not from strangers on a philosophy forum -- instead, set goals, break them down into achievable components, and use your daily small victories to hang your hat on internally. I agree with the previous poster that answers come from within and not without, and you can generally trust your intuition to recognize what you are looking for with an exposure to a wide breadth of modern challenges, problems, and techniques for accomplishment. Success, achievement, and "changing the world" are not to be pursued, but rather ensue from the difficult and tedious work of well-disciplined daily training and forward progress. Choose heroes and read biographies of those who have made accomplishments in your chosen directions -- maybe you can start with Atul Gawande for medicine, and I found Simon Singh's book on Fermat's Enigma an interesting characterization for mathematics. Read, read, read, listen to audiobooks, watch youtube videos, and follow the recommendations of high achievers in your chosen field.

I gave a generalized toolset before that perhaps could be applied to anyone, but in future inquiries try to use the tools of specificity in your search -- the world has become so complex that a single person can dedicate an entire's life study and more to one single gene or metabolic pathway, one problem in mathematics, and in fact this sort of singular dedication is almost a sure path to great accomplishment. Spreading yourself too thin is an easy recipe for relentless and sustained failure.

People have little sympathy for pretenders, and someone without the internal validation granted by formal education my find themselves feeling the need to seek to fill this hole from the outside, which is obviously folly. But if you ask specific questions and seek to solve specific goals, over a period of time you may find yourself drawing closer to yourself the resources you need to accomplish what you seek.

User avatar
ktz
Posts: 165
Joined: November 9th, 2018, 12:21 am
Favorite Philosopher: Habermas

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by ktz » November 22nd, 2018, 3:42 am

Oh. And one more caveat that I forgot to mention. The road to effective accomplishment of the kind you are seeking is not one that is paved with.money, fame, adulation, and chains of successful startups. It is a fight that takes many tedious and sometimes terrifying forms and will call upon every last reserve of strength, sanity and comradery you possess. Open up a biography of MLK or a pacific POW for an example of what I am talking about. It's an understatement that most are not up to the task and fall into the depths of temptation or failure instead.

I suppose from the ashes of memories of my own failings, I'll admonish you to do your best to bear your assigned burdens with dignity and grace. All great things in the world have a price. If you maintain your course, there may come a time when it will feel unfair that you are the one being asked to pay the costs. I hope in those moments of grief and despair that you can find the courage to let your true character shine through.

Steve3007
Posts: 5680
Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes
Location: UK

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Steve3007 » November 22nd, 2018, 12:20 pm

To chewybrian :
Achievable wrote:I'm unsure of proper words to describe the impact you just made on me. Thank-you, so very much, for blessing me to such a degree. This is absolutely incredible and beyond.
At the risk of sounding sarcastic again: Wow. You don't do half-measures do you? Everything seems to be either the most terrible, awful comment that you've read in your life, or the most wonderful, incredible words spoken by a mortal man. I have to admire your gusto. Maybe that was what it was like to be young, before becoming old and cynical.

User avatar
Achievable
New Trial Member
Posts: 8
Joined: November 19th, 2018, 9:21 pm

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Achievable » November 22nd, 2018, 8:44 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
November 22nd, 2018, 12:20 pm
To chewybrian :
Achievable wrote:I'm unsure of proper words to describe the impact you just made on me. Thank-you, so very much, for blessing me to such a degree. This is absolutely incredible and beyond.
At the risk of sounding sarcastic again: Wow. You don't do half-measures do you? Everything seems to be either the most terrible, awful comment that you've read in your life, or the most wonderful, incredible words spoken by a mortal man. I have to admire your gusto. Maybe that was what it was like to be young, before becoming old and cynical.
Do you think its too late, for you to return to the way you're supposed to be?

User avatar
ktz
Posts: 165
Joined: November 9th, 2018, 12:21 am
Favorite Philosopher: Habermas

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by ktz » November 23rd, 2018, 3:10 am

Yikes. This degenerated into ad homs pretty quickly. I feel a bit naive to be the one of only.ones in this thread to have not seen it for what it is. Still, it was a nice personal exercise even if this particular subject quickly revealed his total lack of interest in engaging with the actual hard work of what his original question entailed.

Steve3007
Posts: 5680
Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes
Location: UK

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Steve3007 » November 23rd, 2018, 6:22 am

Achievable wrote:Do you think its too late, for you to return to the way you're supposed to be?
It's never too late for any of us, while we're still breathing, is it?

Could you expand on your expression "the way you're supposed to be"?

User avatar
chewybrian
Posts: 304
Joined: May 9th, 2018, 7:17 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Epictetus
Location: Florida man

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by chewybrian » November 23rd, 2018, 9:57 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
November 21st, 2018, 11:31 am
chewybrian:
The question of 'How can I change the world?' is likely to be met here with great skepticism and perhaps outright contempt, as it seems flawed. It includes the idea that one could change the world, when one of the cornerstones of many philosophies is that one can not.
This may be a cornerstone of Stoicism but see Descartes provisional moral code in the Discourse on Method:
My third maxim was to try always to master myself rather than fortune, and to change my desires rather than the order of the world….
This was a provisional stance. In the Meditations he talks about the Archimedean point from which he could move the world. With the advance of method one no longer has to accept the world as it is. Modern science has changed the world.

I do not think it was just the modern thinkers who changed the world. Plato and Aristotle were influential in changing the world as well, although not the physical world. Alexander, however, did.

There are a long list of technological advances that have changed the world.

I was not able to confirm Mr. Rouse’s claim that:
I’ve assembled a large team, spanned across the globe, and established powerful connections
But there will be people who will make technological breakthroughs and people who will amass wealth. People who have the power and desire to do good. Mr. Rouse may be a bit over ambitious, but sometimes the young do things that those who are older do not because they have not yet been convinced that they cannot.
Descartes' quote is simply a restatement of the stoic position that you have little to no power to affect the outside world, but you control your attitudes, opinions, desires, and aversions. Thus, you control your experience in the world by being able to align your desires and aversions to reality, rather than the other way around. Expect things to happen as they do, and you have no need to be surprised, shocked, angered or sad. Reality may remain the same, but your experience of it can be better, not by lying to yourself, but by learning to appraise reality more correctly.

I thought the Archimedian point was the frame of reference of "I think therefore I am, and that's all I know for sure." Isn't it the reasonable starting point of the journey of discovery? I know Archimedes said he could move the world with a big enough lever, but can you expend on what Descartes said about changing the world? Either way, I think it is fair to say philosophy often reminds us that we have little effect on the world.

The changes in the world in a hundred or a thousand generations are not earth-shattering, and arguably not material to the experience of being human. We can extend life expectancy and comfort for some, but many important things remain much the same, with new actors on a new stage performing essentially the same play. People still love and hate, dare and fear, and sacrifice and steal. We still have injustice and war and murder and suicide and poetry and music and art and dogs. I don't have the quote at hand but Marcus Aurelius said basically this in "The Meditations".

None of that should be seen as discouraging people from attempting to do great work. But, they should enter it with the necessary humility, rationally, without fear of things going wrong, or notions of how things must necessarily proceed.

On a related note, I believe things quickly went wrong for Achievable here because he is missing out on that stoic outlook. He perhaps entered with an idea of how the thread should evolve, and quickly attached motives to others when the responses were not as expected:
Achievable wrote:
November 20th, 2018, 8:35 am
I'd consider it downright insulting, rude, and disgusting behavior, personally...

The response here has provided nothing but mirth. I expected high-level, calculated responses. I got a bunch of children mouthing off instead, who are likely double my age....

If someone wants to respond with some dignity, I'm happy to respond. Had any of you done some basic research, I think you'd be taking me a bit more seriously...

I'm glad you all think this is a joke. I take this topic extremely seriously. Maybe I was wrong in thinking this was a serious audience.

I'm actually disgusted.
Actually, none of the responses struck me as mean or lacking seriousness, and remained mild even as people were accused of not being serious enough. This is where you could alter your experience for the better, by being ready to take events as they come, and not making them into something they are not.
'If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?' Epictetus
If I was looking for trolling, or upset because events were not unfolding according to my plan, I could have also found reasons to be offended. I try hard instead to assume that others are giving their best, and to assume that I have something to learn from all of them. Instead of being upset that they did not get my point, I should perhaps consider that I did not get theirs.

Image

Maybe some of you can recall the Twilight Zone episode called "Walking Distance". The man goes back in time to encounter his younger self, and desperately wants to warn him to stop and enjoy the journey and not chase material things. Yet, the harder he tries to get the message to his younger self, the worse things go.

"Martin, I only wanted to tell you that this is the wonderful time of life--now, here. That's all I wanted to tell you, God help me..."

This is how I felt reading the OP's message. I can see myself making similar statements at that age, and being immune to learning as a result, even in a place ripe for learning such as this one. I was seeking validation from others, and seeking happiness from the outside, and thought if I became wealthy I would be better able to show the world what a good person I was on the inside. But, I found much later that this strategy is tragically flawed, and you must begin on the inside, and build the pyramid from the bottom up, not top down. Doing so removes all the stress and drama and gives you a better chance to achieve great things in the long run, or at least to be satisfied with what you are able to achieve.

Steve3007
Posts: 5680
Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes
Location: UK

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Steve3007 » November 23rd, 2018, 10:33 am

chewybrian wrote:On a related note, I believe things quickly went wrong for Achievable here because he is missing out on that stoic outlook. He perhaps entered with an idea of how the thread should evolve, and quickly attached motives to others when the responses were not as expected:...
As I commented to Achievable in a recent post, he seems to swing wildly from being utterly disgusted by people's remarks to thinking they are absolutely wonderful. I can't know for certain why that is, but I guess it could be simply a function of how seriously he takes the subject about which he's trying to talk. The trouble is, I still can't really figure out what he's after, other than a very general answer to the very general question: "what should I do with my life?"

Steve3007
Posts: 5680
Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes
Location: UK

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Steve3007 » November 23rd, 2018, 10:39 am

chewybrian wrote:Maybe some of you can recall the Twilight Zone episode called "Walking Distance". The man goes back in time to encounter his younger self, and desperately wants to warn him to stop and enjoy the journey and not chase material things. Yet, the harder he tries to get the message to his younger self, the worse things go.

"Martin, I only wanted to tell you that this is the wonderful time of life--now, here. That's all I wanted to tell you, God help me..."

This is how I felt reading the OP's message. I can see myself making similar statements at that age, and being immune to learning as a result, even in a place ripe for learning such as this one. I was seeking validation from others, and seeking happiness from the outside, and thought if I became wealthy I would be better able to show the world what a good person I was on the inside. But, I found much later that this strategy is tragically flawed, and you must begin on the inside, and build the pyramid from the bottom up, not top down. Doing so removes all the stress and drama and gives you a better chance to achieve great things in the long run, or at least to be satisfied with what you are able to achieve.
I think I do remember that Twilight Zone episode. They often contained some philosophically interesting points.

I suppose this general idea is also expressed by the mock-cynical remark (possibly by George Bernard Shaw): "Youth Is Wasted on the Young". i.e. many of us have thought how great it would be to be able to impart the wisdom we like to think we've accumulated on our younger selves. But if we did that, they wouldn't be our younger selves any more. They'd be us.

Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3547
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Fooloso4 » November 23rd, 2018, 12:02 pm

Chewybrian:
Descartes' quote is simply a restatement of the stoic position that you have little to no power to affect the outside world, but you control your attitudes, opinions, desires, and aversions.
Right, but that is what he calls the provisional part of his ethics. Descartes, along with Francis Bacon and others believed that man does have the power to control nature through science. Man can change the world, and they did.
I thought the Archimedian point was the frame of reference of "I think therefore I am, and that's all I know for sure."
Not the only thing he could be certain of but the first thing, the thing that stands as the point of leverage, the beginning of certain knowledge based on indubitable reason.
Isn't it the reasonable starting point of the journey of discovery?
Yes, but it differs from the ancient notion of 'theoria', which is passive. Descartes program was active. In the Meditations, for example, he says if one wills only what he knows he will never err. His algebraic method is a method for solving for any unknown. As we progress via this method more and more becomes known and more and more can be willed without error. So, it is not just a matter of knowing but of willing, that is, doing, bending things to one’s will.
Either way, I think it is fair to say philosophy often reminds us that we have little effect on the world.
The movement of modern philosophy/science is about changing the world. If we are to understand them, we should be aware of their rhetoric. The universal language they were so concerned with, what they identified as the language of nature, was the language that was destroyed at the tower of Babel. It was destroyed so that man could not do whatever he willed to do.
The changes in the world in a hundred or a thousand generations are not earth-shattering, and arguably not material to the experience of being human.
I disagree. The advances we have made would have been unimaginable to the Stoics. There is, however, in my opinion, something right in what they say. There are still many things that we cannot change, and so, we must work on ourselves.
None of that should be seen as discouraging people from attempting to do great work. But, they should enter it with the necessary humility, rationally, without fear of things going wrong, or notions of how things must necessarily proceed.
I agree with this in general, but in some cases it is a lack of humility, the notion that they can do great things that leads them to accomplish their goals.
On a related note, I believe things quickly went wrong for Achievable here because he is missing out on that stoic outlook. He perhaps entered with an idea of how the thread should evolve, and quickly attached motives to others when the responses were not as expected
I do not know what his expectation was. I asked but did not receive an answer. He dreams big and talks big, but seems too scattered to actually accomplish anything big. I asked whether he intended to master all these fields of knowledge or hire people with the requisite expertise, but no response. I have my suspicions about him but think it best to keep them to myself.

User avatar
ktz
Posts: 165
Joined: November 9th, 2018, 12:21 am
Favorite Philosopher: Habermas

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by ktz » November 24th, 2018, 6:51 am

On a related note, I believe things quickly went wrong for Achievable here because he is missing out on that stoic outlook. He perhaps entered with an idea of how the thread should evolve, and quickly attached motives to others when the responses were not as expected
I do not know what his expectation was. I asked but did not receive an answer. He dreams big and talks big, but seems too scattered to actually accomplish anything big. I asked whether he intended to master all these fields of knowledge or hire people with the requisite expertise, but no response. I have my suspicions about him but think it best to keep them to myself.

For me, I recently re-read Aaron Swartz's Raw Nerve series and so I'm looking at this through the context of his second article on Fixed vs Growth mindset. The idea is originally attributed to Carol Dweck, and to paraphrase it she draws a distinction between individuals who see their identity as fixed and their accomplishments as proof of adequacy, and individuals who view life as a series of challenges and view their effort and goals as proof of adequacy. I think the original poster's active antipathy and/or unwillingness to engage constructively with anyone who remotely challenges his fixed mindset of himself makes this a reasonable lens through which to view this set of interactions.

Also, if you read between the lines of his original post, taking into account his lack of formal education, references to a parent's criminal enterprise, a description of a patent for what sounds for horticulture enthusiasts, and his end desire to create a psychiatric compound, I think it might not be entirely unwarranted to suspect him to be a young recreational drug user with enough intelligence to feed his imagination but no work ethic to back up anything more than philosophy forum posts and experimentation with research chemicals.

User avatar
chewybrian
Posts: 304
Joined: May 9th, 2018, 7:17 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Epictetus
Location: Florida man

Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by chewybrian » November 24th, 2018, 10:51 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
November 23rd, 2018, 12:02 pm
Chewybrian:
Descartes' quote is simply a restatement of the stoic position that you have little to no power to affect the outside world, but you control your attitudes, opinions, desires, and aversions.
Right, but that is what he calls the provisional part of his ethics. Descartes, along with Francis Bacon and others believed that man does have the power to control nature through science. Man can change the world, and they did.
Well, as much as I do enjoy the air conditioning, I don't know that we have altered the fundamentals much yet.
Fooloso4 wrote:
November 23rd, 2018, 12:02 pm
Isn't it the reasonable starting point of the journey of discovery?
Yes, but it differs from the ancient notion of 'theoria', which is passive. Descartes program was active. In the Meditations, for example, he says if one wills only what he knows he will never err. His algebraic method is a method for solving for any unknown. As we progress via this method more and more becomes known and more and more can be willed without error. So, it is not just a matter of knowing but of willing, that is, doing, bending things to one’s will.
But, he also willed and proved to his own satisfaction the existence of God. I will neither confirm nor deny such existence, but call foul on his methods in that case. I do appreciate the wisdom of the method, though. But, it still contains that element of the stoic in that we should not will that which we do not know, in a sense confirming that we have little power to change reality.
Fooloso4 wrote:
November 23rd, 2018, 12:02 pm
The movement of modern philosophy/science is about changing the world. If we are to understand them, we should be aware of their rhetoric. The universal language they were so concerned with, what they identified as the language of nature, was the language that was destroyed at the tower of Babel. It was destroyed so that man could not do whatever he willed to do.
I am quite the Luddite when it comes to philosophy, and I tend to end, rather than begin with Descartes, for the most part. I appreciate the philosophy of ethics over the philosophy of science, and I think there is a danger of moving on to the latter until we have done good work on the former, which we have not. Epictetus warns us of exactly this mistake, of working above our pay grade in philosophy. I think we have lost track of many great insights because we wrongly assume the ancients have little to teach us. It's quite frustrating to me that modern philosophers are busy 'proving' we can not be better people, because we 'have no choice', rather than teaching us the methods by which we might become better people, and celebrating good choices.
Fooloso4 wrote:
November 23rd, 2018, 12:02 pm
I disagree. The advances we have made would have been unimaginable to the Stoics. There is, however, in my opinion, something right in what they say. There are still many things that we cannot change, and so, we must work on ourselves.
If Diogenes was not properly impressed with Alexander the Great, I don't think he would have much love for bubble cars and jet packs, either. Rather than share my suspicions and concerns, I think he would display outright contempt for modern things and the conceit of modern people, including (probably especially) philosophers. We no more have things worked out than they did in his day, and have little reason to be any more pleased with ourselves for our achievements than they had.

Post Reply