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Ignorance is Bliss

“I know nothing” – thus sayeth Manuel, the waiter in Fawlty Towers. This is the greatest wisdom. He must have been familiar with the great philosophers, and particularly Kant. So to unwind this story I need to very briefly relate Kant’s revolutionary revelation that we do not know reality. Our everyday experience takes place in space and time. These are constructs used by our minds to...

The Wages of Disempowerment

Disempowered people are dangerous people. All sentient creatures crave power – to dominate the pack, to enhance survival prospects, to confer power to offspring. We only have to consider Germany in the decade after the end of the First World War, to see what might grow out of the economic plight that affected the people of that country – Hitler. Germany was being pecked on all sides...

Spinoza on Desire

A raw unconscious drive is at the heart of all sentient creatures. Schopenhauer called it the will-to-life, where as Spinoza used a more ancient term – the conatus. For both these philosophers this drive was at the root of existence itself, although they had different takes on it. For Schopenhauer it was wholly lamentable, being the cause of great suffering. For Spinoza, it was simply...

Escape Velocity

If you could build a large catapult that would hurl you skyward at eleven kilometers per second (yikes) you would be able to escape the gravitational pull of the Earth and move out into the empty spaces of the Solar System. Eleven kilometers per second is known as the escape velocity and just to give some measure of its magnitude it is 30 times greater than the speed of sound. So, it’s quite fast...

Artificial Minds

There are more than a few commentators who believe that the next step in evolution is being crafted through artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. George Carlin claimed that the role of humanity was to invent styrofoam, since nature didn’t have the means of achieving this without aid. Having achieved this we can now be dispensed with. Well the same story could apply, but replace styrofoam...

Why You Can Know F*ck All

The world we experience is our representation of it – not the world as it really is. In fact, we can’t know the world as it really is because we have no access to it. So, is sugar sweet? In its own right sugar seems to be just a particular molecule with various properties – sweetness not being one of them. Sweetness is something a human tongue adds – it is a subjective...

Spiritual Imagination – A Luxury Item

I happened to recently watch a discussion between two of the best known contemporary “spiritual” gurus. I’m not going to mention names because I don’t want it to get personal, and these people seemed pleasant enough. However, after about ten minutes I did start to question whether these people lived on the same planet as me. Much of the talk was around topics such as mindfulness, being in the...

The Law of Repulsion

I guess most people reading this have heard of the Law of Attraction. Its claims is that by focusing the mind on the things we want we can achieve them with pretty much zero effort. The Law of Attraction is very popular – millions of hopefuls visualizing untold wealth, fame, endless sexual conquests, a private jet, or whatever a particular person’s thing happens to be. It doesn’t work. If...

Security or Freedom – Your Choice

We all want security and we all want freedom. It’s not going to happen. Security and freedom sit at opposite ends of a scale, and to have one means abandoning the other. This manifests in many areas of life. Most people want a stable relationship, typically marriage, but they also want the freedom to engage with other sexual partners. This often causes problems, as is testified by very high...

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... the will to deception, and craven self-interest should be accorded a higher and more fundamental value for all life. Nietzsche

Pleasure is absence of pain. So address the psychological and physical pains in your life and forget about pleasure - it is simply a side effect of reducing pain.

Ambitions are achieved through effort. Ambition implies a state of want, and a state of want is pain. So effort is always an attempt to diminish pain.

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