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Monday, August 31, 2015

The Mechanics of Virtue #342: Supreme Ambition

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Supreme ambition has done more for mankind than any extreme attempt at selfless virtue. It may even constitute the condition from which selfless virtue emerges ... out of jealousy.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A predator will never entirely eliminate the prey it depends on. It will starve from its success and thus do its part to re-balance the two populations. Atheism can never reign as itself. As a cultural element, with any defeat of Theism, Atheism loses its relevance as a necessary refutation.
It is easy to admire a hero for the strength of his moral convictions, even when we know that his undivided strength depended upon a poor vision on moral ambiguities. It is easy to admire him because we ourselves do not like to squint.

A Human Strategy #509:

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Nothingness does not approach the horror of somethingness.  Nothingness is an escape ... room for something-like-God.   With somethingness there is no door or vent.  One chokes on the air.  But we cannot hold one to the exclusion of the other.  To have the one in the foreground is to force the other into the background.  Neither absolute is possible.  Reality is not beyond comprehension; it precedes cognition.  There is a “difference” between perception and that unity inferred by perception.  It is the final difference before the experience of this unity.

The Mechanics of Virtue #344: Severe Ambition

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  A supreme ambition must see through both fear and euphoria to achieve its object.  Thus, ambition is allied with honesty: both transcend emotions and both require reality.  The higher our goal the greater the demand for our private honesty.

  And wouldn't the object of a severe honesty be ambitious?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Accuracy beyond the Sensation: The odds have already been stacked against us. It is easier to have optimism from ignorance than to have a pessimistic outlook on inaccuracy. So both those in a presently comfortable neglect and those in earnest labor for accuracy have their work cut out for them, eventually or presently.  

If we interviewed these two, we would see that each considers himself the optimist and the other the pessimist.  The distinction hinges on whether “Optimism” is defined by the present sensation or an eventual point of conversion where pleasant and unpleasant sensations will be exchanged for each other. 

Contrary to popular belief, both forms of optimism come with frowns: one, at those facts forcing a correction, and the other at the “pessimist” who pointed them out.
What is it that we really want? …. more of reality … or less? For what the mind actually grasps and makes use of, the concepts of infinity and eternity are less than the finite reality out of which these concepts were derived.
 
Why is it that the more essential facts underpinning our lives are “boring”?  Without a brave orientation, those facts which do not relieve the mind of this reality trigger reflexes which propel thought away and into distractions of a “More” that is actually so simplistic it is closer to being infinitely less.  Being sold on a singular claim ticket for a box with all the items in the world is not the same – in number, quality, and type -- as owning a real box of tools and prizes.

There is a difference between a word and what the word designates, just as there is a difference between a stimulus-response circuit, and what the conditioning attaches itself to. If you want to dodge the labor required by your own reality, then let philosophy and religion sell you a grand claim ticket for “Everything.” Be conscious only of the cognitive response but not of the unexamined stimuli, thus surrendering your mind and life to unconscious reflexes. Don’t worry, the unexamined machinery will take care of you, converting the randomness in your life through concept juggling in the memory. In exchange for an intelligent understanding of your own reality, you will have a guided tour down the ancient corridors of surviving ignorance.

But if you love your life, love it enough to examine its machinery. Own your reality and labor over your own cultivation. To Socrates’ prodding, “The unexamined life is not worth living” … we must add, “The unexamined life is not really lived at all.”

A Human Strategy #510: Realism, Eternity ... or something more?

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I would understand this foreign reality but that I no longer trust my interpreter.  I have decided to stop listening to the translation and to observe directly the gestures and expressions as they manifest themselves.  It is something like the expression of an exotic dance: I can take pleasure in it, but I have no adequate explanation for that expression ... no opportunity to sit back and meditate, for that damned interpreter keeps butting in and babbling on and on with his nonsense of “that something more from this something less” ... with his damned leaps: “Eternity!  Infinity!”  I am all too painfully aware of the explanation, that it never equals the beauty of the dance itself.  Experience cloys with the slightest explanation.  There is always something too much, and I begin to suspect that this something too much is nothing other than the addition of Eternity.  It has been a very slow process, but I am finally getting my interpreter to acknowledge the disparity between what he says and what I see, and so now he is making statements like, “Man is limited.  Man wants more.  This is beautiful.”  But then I catch myself listening again.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Human Strategy #511: Ridiculous attempts to redeem what is lost to expression

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I am sure and confident, until I open my mouth to speak.  This is the squeeze of our condition.  We must speak to express our deepest feeling, but the act of this expression requires the compromise of individual feelings into universally accepted symbols.  We are too big for the box of grammar and lose our tails when the box closes itself into a sentence.  “But humans have no tails!”  is the objection.  We remain silent, for with the loss of our tails we have also lost our proof, and every attempt to prove incites laughter. 

We must speak, but speaking is incomplete.  We feel our meaning, but speak in absurdities.  We are vessels that must pour out this something within but find no vessel without. 

Perhaps what would satisfy us most would be a silent communication, one which required less of the pouring out of “mind” or “reflection” and more of the gratification of a total experience: for example, the sudden realization of potential ... or the exhibition of strength and beauty — an ecstatic pouring out and receiving, at the same time ... not really understanding this ecstatic here and now ... yet having it!  We identify our basic need for exaltation, as opposed to what we merely want.  Once in this exalted state, we do not satisfy the “need” for communication, but have eliminated that need altogether.  The superfluity is.  It knows nothing of “need” or “want.”  It is enough to spill over.  If there are no vessels to receive and contain ... what is that to the experience?
At the outset of leaving a bad religion. I was right, I was wrong: I knew that all would be different on the other side of the question mark, but I did not know just how much of my life had depended upon the maintenance of uncertainties.

The Mechanics of Virtue #345: Out of futility and nihilism

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Out of futility, we trade our failed attempts at a unified system for a monomaniacal fascination with nihilism – and we trade this one sort of unity for the other precisely where accepting our multiplicity would have allowed us to coordinate all faculties into a grand strategy – a new sort of unity – around an ambitious goal.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Discipline and Will-power can be obstacles



Discipline and Will-power are one’s obstacles if one believes they must “overcome” and “exclude” reflexes, habits and culture and not accompany these within an intelligent strategy.

There is sometimes an advantage to insecurity -- and there can be an ironic vulnerability to security



There is sometimes an advantage to insecurity -- and there can be an ironic vulnerability to security: One who must prove his strength constantly represses a suspicion of inadequacy, and thus believes that he has it … and that he can prove it. With repetitive exercise proportional to the suspicion of inadequacy and the constant need to suppress that suspicion through attempts at proof, he just might develop it in the end. One who has strength and knows it does not need to prove it and so needs not exercise it, and so he just might no longer have it in the end.

A Human Strategy #512: We teeter between misery and happiness

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The brain is an organ capable of believing that there is no limit to the suffering it must pay for a limited gain ... and incapable, at the critical moment, of believing the opposite, that there is a limit to happiness.  We teeter between a misery blind to the light that makes our shadows and a happiness more akin to catastrophilia than we would be happy to acknowledge, but what would happen if we inched our way down the lever and stood, motionless, at the fulcrum point?
What is the principle farthest upstream? Clarity or the sensation of power? It cannot be power itself; one needs clarity to know that one does not merely have a sensation.

The Mechanics of Virtue #346: Ego in Virtue

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It ought to be a vice to cultivate a virtue which contributes less than one's highest potential to humanity.  Additionally, to catch sight of one's highest potential requires a severe self-inspection that is tantamount to egoism.  Thus, to catch sight of the correct virtue, it is our duty to march through the otherwise muddling vices of egoism and ambition.  We rephrase the original assertion: it ought to be a vice to cultivate a virtue which has not first passed through a moral filter of vanity: “What is my highest potential?” 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Human Strategy #513: The social mind or realism



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The social mind swings far and wide, like a pendulum, reaching out toward one illusion and then falling back with fear or disgust ... only to race out again toward another illusion.

But there is a shorter, faster swing available to the human experience ... and it is not the “middle ground” of opposing “causes” or “moralities” ... but the coexistence of two imaginary universes ... an overcoming of both stark reality and heady achievement over and over again ... training and practicing the reflexes ... perfecting one’s observation skills so that the corrections become shorter and faster ... as one who tightens an iron string and takes joy in the vibration as it increases in pitch.