four five pretty unrelated things that have been on my mind:
Entrepreneurs: sell vs befriend
I, like I am sure millions of other people, keep getting followed by all sorts of dealers who promise to “help small business” and lead to “explosive growth” on social media. Why do these people exist? How have they not been banned by everyone? Or will selling hope always be big business?
It would be nice to have a community of entrepreneurs. But what do entrepreneurs do? They sell and they compete. Trying to have a community of entrepreneurs is like trying to farm spiders. They will eat each other.
A community of this nature could only form based on prior friendship, where social bonds are stronger than the need to sell. But most of these communities offer to put you into a network for a small fee: this doesn’t exactly inspire warm and fuzzy feelings. The circular nature of their business is also worrying. Conferences, seminars, mindset trainings, honestly…
I have, on the other hand, made many friends online, who happen to be entrepreneurs, but never directly in connection with their entrepreneurship. (You know who you are. Perhaps, some of you would like to meet my recently acquired Buddhist friend.)
Nietzsche: is it all lies?
I am quite worried about how things are unfolding in the US.
Nietzsche keeps getting brought up. He has to be the most misunderstood philosopher. Did his relatives doctor his writings too much after he died? Or is he just forever contradicting himself?
Any Nietzsche scholars very welcome to comment on this article of Nietzsche and the alt-right.
Curate or censor?
In other news, Google recently stopped Gab, apparently a sort of Twitter for people who get banned from Twitter, from being able to be downloaded from their Playstore. Apple stopped them a little earlier this year. Also, Instagram’s Kevin Systrom wants to curate the Internet.
Taleb is in a new battle with the establishment.
Vaccinate or die
France is tightening vaccination requirements. I support vaccines, of course. As a society though, are we better off having people die from preventable diseases or limiting their freedoms?
Diabetes is a preventable disease, but I don’t see anyone being confined to a gym by law. Though the herd immunity argument makes vaccines different. In addition, the fact that it is children who are affected makes vaccines different, but then again we can’t stop some people overfeeding their children with junk. I’ve taken enough trips on routes that serve hospitals to know that you don’t have to be above one year of age to be served Coke in your bottle.
There is a philosophy that suggests that taking responsibility for everything that happens to you is the best way to live (e.g. William James).
I think that the world is one giant furnace of entropy and within that we each have a small island we call the self, where we can affect things. I cannot force someone to ask me to come to their party, but there is a myriad of things I can do to try to gently weasel my way into it.
The single most damaging thing I do, my worst bad habit, is fretting about things I cannot control. In other words, I feel responsible for things that are beyond my reach. I sit there and feel like a failure if I am not invited to the metaphorical party.
The question is: does this fretting push me to look for solutions that I wouldn’t have found if I just rested within my boundaries? Or are parts of William James and his followers’ philosophy just soothingly empowering wishful thinking? Or am I even doing damage by fretting and preventing myself from seeing ways to get into the party? Please share your thoughts on this last thing.
P.S. I couldn’t find a picture of a weasel, so here is a nice chilled out otter. I must take some of my own pictures soon.
16 thoughts on “Five in one”
I have spent an uncounted but large amount of time trying to answer the question “Why did they do that?” I also studied philosophy in college and have read extensively on the topic. Of the occasions in which I actually found out why someone did something, my track record is perfect. I have never gotten it right. I am “oh for many” as a batting average.
Over time I found that my personal philosophy has become “what is is, stuff happens.” Apparently I am a philosophical minimalist. Unlike William James, I feel that most of what happens to me is not my responsibility, but like playing a game of cards, you can only play the one’s you are dealt (except occasionally), I am not responsible for the cards I did not get, nor am I particularly responsible for the cards I did get. I am responsible for how I play my hand.
I am sure you are aware of the trolley problem. I am the only one I know of who solved it correctly, saving the lives of all concerned. When the problem was posited, I solved it intuitively. As the trolley careens toward the certain death of the people in jeopardy, I calmly reached into my pocket and pull out a pistol, firing three quick shots into the air. The people near the tracks, startled, looked around to locate the threat, saw the out of control trolley and stepped out of harm’s way. Ta da! When challenged that the problem did not mention a gun in my pocket, where did I get it? I said I got it from the same place the positer got the trolley.
Too often the problems we fret about are just in our minds. If you take any of these, write it on a piece of paper and throw it away, that problem is unlikely to come up again. Just because we developed the power of imagination to preserve our lives, that doesn’t mean we have to have it running constantly in the background, hypothesizing problems and solutions. Many real problems solve themselves. Hypothetical problems really do not need solving.
As another example, I responded to someone irrationally claiming that the universe was created for life by saying, the universe has to support life, because if it didn’t you wouldn’t be here to ask the question. QED. (If anyone asks: the universe was created to make vacuum. There is more of it than anything else and more and more of it is being created as we converse. Looking at the reality of the situation usually shows most problems to be moot at best.)
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“Unlike William James, I feel that most of what happens to me is not my responsibility…”
I don’t think that’s what James is talking about. I am responsible for my life, my happiness. If something bad happens that is out of my control, I am responsible for my reaction to it. For me, happiness means all the machinery is working right – emotional, intellectual, social, moral – so I am ready to handle whatever comes.
“It’s not my fault,” is never the right answer.
Thanks for stopping by Tom. I followed you until you said “‘It’s not my fault,’ is never the right answer.”
The bit before that would suggest that there are things outside your control. Then it really and truly isn’t your fault?
I agree with Steve: how we handle problems and situations and our ever changing environments is our responsibility. We can control our thoughtful responses but are tempted to go along with our emotional reactions and then rationalize what we do. Having developed ownership of guiding principles (rather than merely borrowing from others when it suits us) is a really good base to use for framing our thoughtful responses.
As for Nietzsche – as well as many other philosophers who wrote works of fiction exploring and presenting certain ideas – I have often found that readers make the common mistake of confusing what characters say for the thoughts and beliefs of the author. I encounter this all the time when people use bits and pieces from here and there as if Nietzsche himself supports some opinion when the quoted snippet stands contrary to his actual conclusions! He’s not easy to comprehend because his writing style builds positions one block at a time and we have to hold off opining on this one or that, hold off assuming he supports this position or that, assume he believes this or that, until we have the entire structure in place and each block comprehended before we can really grasp why he concludes as he does. We’re free to disagree with that, of course, but it’s very difficult to find a weakness in the quality of his reasoning. That’s why understanding his philosophy is hard work but richly rewarding. The guy had a really big and highly disciplined brain.
I have sometimes advocated that access to all public services should be predicated on accepting public vaccinations. Someone’s self induced diabetes isn’t going to kill me or my children but someone’s preventable contagious disease could. To my way of thinking
and at the very least, one has an obligation as a member of the public accessing public services not to kill one’s neighbours if one can avoid doing so by such a simple preventative measure.
The monopolies in formats of social media are ripe for GroupThink control and we see this unfolding today. As long as we assume the corporate censorship favours our personal preferences, most of us are fine with this because its so easy to go along with and our sensitivities are not challenged. But when we encounter the brute force of censorship against our personal preferences, only then do we begin to to grasp just how dangerous this kind of dictatorial bullying is. And all of us are far, far poorer for allowing it to get even this far because we have so little access to ideas and reasons to challenge our presumptions, biases, and preferences. We call it creating ‘safe spaces’ but we should call it what it is: creating and enforcing echo chambers in artificial bubble worlds. Interestingly, these echo chambers in the halls of power (as well a social suppression of male aggression) are common indicators we find throughout history for civilizations about to crash and burn against harsh upstarts.
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I think you spread the New Thought Virus. When I read your articles I ALWAYS experience thoughtful hesitation while I think about what I’m reading and how does it apply.
So… Sorry if you suffer a bit from fretting. That said, a by product of your fretting is enlarging my world in a way I would not have discovered with my natural thoughts.
Also, Steve’s 3 shots solution works for me too.
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“Read, Observe, Stimulate your brain! Try not to get lost in your emotional response to everything? Those feelings only effect you when you decide to give them value. Try reading “How Emotions Are Made”
Lisa Feldman Barrett
If that doesn’t shed some light…I’m not sure I can find anything else that will 😎
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I am reading it now. It is a revelation, especially since our emotions are at the core of most of our decision making. (No, we are not particularly rational beings.)
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Being a Pole (and Australian because I live in Aussie world) I’m natural anti-German and when I meet some Germans in Australia I tend to be biased. But when discussion develops then they say that Americans where as bad or even worse. Then I start thinking that perhaps Americans didn’t have to nuclear bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I start thinking that perhaps Japanese had to bomb Pearl Harbour as Americans were getting to close to Japanese in Pearl Harbour to push Japan out of business in their sorrrounding (sphere of domination) . Instantly everything changes. I start reading that Hitler hasn’t ever been to any concemtration camp. Then I think What a poor man 🙂 If they accepted him into an art academy then he wouldn’t go into politics. So The art academy in Vienna was responsible for the Second World War. And it could be that in future Hitler would only be as bad as Napoleon.. Was Napoleon any bad? Everything is relative. They say that Nazi based their ideology on Nietzsche? If one stops blaming Nietzsche then one may stop blaming Nazi? Somebody must got it wrong somewhere but who was it? Nazi were not so inventive in their ideology or were they? if Nietzsche doesn’t take some blame then we have to start somewhere. One may say that perthaps Nietzsche was misunderstood but I don’t care. If it wasn’t for him he wouldn’t be misunderstood to start with. 🙂
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“Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing, and you’ll never be criticized” – Elbert Hubbard
“Diabetes is a preventable disease, but I don’t see anyone being confined to a gym by law. Though the herd immunity argument makes vaccines different.”
Yes. And that’s it. That’s enough reason to require vaccination. If you won’t have your children vaccinated against measles, don’t enroll them in my children’s school.
Perhaps by living in Australia I don’t have to be so judgemental any more??? Does one have to be judgmental at all ? Is there some sort of responsibility for the world which one has to carry?
There is another thing which I think about which is an evolution. Chinese people were considering if to accept Europeian alphabet the same way as Vietnamese did. But they decided no to do so as they would lose their cultural identity. But that’s also to do with evolution as well. So if Europeian alhabet failed Chinese alphabet would be obliged for the whole world but is it really possible for such scenario? I would say NO. Do you know that Americans at one stage considered German to be an official language for United States as quantity of Germans were the highest of any nation in USA at one stage?
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It seems you know the answers already.
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I wish 🙂
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Hi Dr Feyzrakhmanova! I thought to say that I really enjoy your posts (keyly the philosophical ones); very well written and clever. You’ve found a few of my posts too and I’d like to thank you for giving them a good ‘rap’ so to speak. I am looking for a little advice with my own blog too. How do you find inspiration for topics to talk about? How does one set up a weekly digest email to subscribers/followers?