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The Absurdity of Life: Does that mean meaningless and despair?

March 6, 2010 2 comments

Read time: 12 minutes.

Post based on Thomas Nagel’s paper, The Absurd, in the book ‘Mortal Questions’.

Abstract

What makes life absurd? Can we escape this view? and if not, does it matter? This is a continuation to my last post, why so many people think the western work ethic is right. For those of us who realise that this work ethic is fatally flawed, we often think it’s because such work is absurd and pointless. This post explores this idea further, and suggests why the idea of absurdity is in fact a good thing.

What makes life absurd?

Human life is full of effort, plans, calculations, success and failure: we pursue our lives, with varying degrees of sloth and energy. It would be different if we could not step back and reflect on the process, but human beings do not act solely on impulse. They are prudent, they reflect. They ask whether what they are doing is worthwhile.

They spend enormous quantities of energy, risk, and calculation on the details: His appearance, his health, his sex life, his emotional honesty, his social utility, his self-knowledge, the quality of ties with family, colleagues and friends. Leading a human life is a full-time occupation. Read more…

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Why So Many People Think The Western Work Ethic is Right

February 24, 2010 3 comments

Read time 7 minutes

Solomon Asch set out to study social influences and how social forces affect a person’s opinions and attitudes when he began his conformity study in the 1950’s (Hock, 2005). Asch noted that participants in these past studies often changed their differing opinions to those of the majorities, when confronted with opposing views (Asch, 1955).

These tests on how others can effect our judgement without altering our knowledge about the situation, it turns out, show that we’ll often side with majority even if we quite strongly believe they’re wrong. Asch said “That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong…is a matter of concern. It raises questions about…the values that guide our conduct.” (Asch 1955).

Not only does this suggest at frighting thoughts of how a jury panel may be wrongly influenced, it also harks at how religion may have developed. But more interestingly, to me, is how this natural, in-built, most likely evolutionary disposition to side with the majority has effected our view on the typical way to live life, wherever that may be. The typical work/life balance. The status-quo of the western 9-5.   Read more…

Can we live the Ideal Life Anywhere?

February 11, 2010 1 comment

This topic sprung up in a philosophy seminar I had last week, and with the coincidence of Scott Young writing something about this just a couple of days ago, it got the old brain juices flowing.

As I read him, Scott believes there’s an ideal city for us. Our character may suit the romanticism of Paris more than the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Each city holds different things for each of us, with the challenge being to find the city that suits us most fully, in order for us to reach the peak of enjoyment and satisfaction in life.

I want to go against this idea though. Consider London, believed be fast paced, exciting and vibrant. Who would suit this kind of place more than a fast paced, vibrant person, you may ask. But it must be remembered that all the places mentioned in this debate are colossal in size, and so it’s simply too quick to say that one place is unsuitable for certain characters, yet perfect for others. Labelling a city with just one characteristic is like saying all Christians are homophobic, or no Caucasians can dance.

Read more…

Categories: 'Self Help', Misc, Travel Tags: ,

Speed-Reading: How I’ve increased my reading speed by 79%

February 1, 2010 2 comments

Reading for me has of late become a chore. With up to 40 hours worth per week for my course, I time and again find it hard, no, impossible to adjust, sit back and revel in some light reading. Coupled with a boiled-down attention span when it comes to reading, one thing I routinely notice is that I abandon and abdicate from books (mainly novels) at least 70% of the time. I get two thirds of the way through, momentum ceases, I hit a brick wall, and sentence the book to a life on the shelf with a tatty dog-ear on page 160 to deceive myself that one day, just one day, I will finish that book. Predictably, it rarely happens.

For all that, over the past few weeks, I have, despite delay, indulged myself in researching and practising speed-reading. This is where certain reading habits are developed to dramatically increase reading speeds (mine has increased by 79%) almost immediately. And through developing this disposition, reading rates should continue to increase with practice. Read more…

Study Hacks- A Study Blog to Behold

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

The most poignant and bloody-minded entry on the list right now is to get a ‘decent degree’. This is my Everest. Mein Kampf. The one area of life where I need as much guidance, sustenance, advice and help as I can get.

Though a little late for me now, B pointed me in the direction of Study Hacks. This is by far the most useful study blog I’ve found, and allegedly the most popular on the net, so I’m surely not lacking good company. There are a few posts that I sorely wish I’d read in my first year to avoid hours of stress and agitation with my subject. But Hey Ho. C’est la vie. Read more…