Friday, May 23, 2014
"The primary error of the crush lies in overlooking a central fact about people in general, not merely this or that example, but the species as a whole: that everyone has something very substantially wrong with them once their characters are fully known, something so wrong as to make an eventual mockery of the unlimited rapture unleashed by the crush. We can’t yet know what the problems will be, but we can and should be certain that they are there, lurking somewhere behind the facade, waiting for time to unfurl them.
How can one be so sure? Because the facts of life have deformed all of our natures. No one among us has come through unscathed. There is too much to fear: mortality, loss, dependency, abandonment, ruin, humiliation, subjection. We are, all of us, desperately fragile, ill-equipped to meet with the challenges to our mental integrity: we lack courage, preparation, confidence, intelligence. We don’t have the right role models, we were (necessarily) imperfectly parented, we fight rather than explain, we nag rather than teach, we fret instead of analysing our worries, we have a precarious sense of security, we can’t understand either ourselves or others well enough, we don’t have an appetite for the truth and suffer a fatal weakness for flattering denials. The chances of a perfectly good human emerging from the perilous facts of life are non-existent. Our fears and our frailties play themselves out in a thousand ways, they can make us defensive or aggressive, grandiose or hesitant, clingy or avoidant – but we can be sure that they will make everyone much less than perfect and at moments, extremely hard to live with."
The Philosophers' Mail, On the madness and charm of crushes
We are all broken, but some of us are broken more than others.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
There is a narrow social space within which Pakistani women are expected to navigate their lives. With every milestone of their lives (marriage, motherhood, etc), they become more and more trapped. Those who deviate are threatened with dishonor and destruction, are emotionally blackmailed and infected with moral guilt. In such circumstances, the ones who thrive are either those who happily play along with the social roles they are offered or the ones who are fortuitous enough to have found a family that values the ideals of personal freedom and growth. There is no honor in the burden of "honor" that the society places on the shoulders of female sex the moment one is born. Our social moral values are built on centuries of systematic oppression of women; what good is an edifice of virtue whose foundations are rotten with vice? Set it on fire, let it burn, let it crumble! In many cases the oppressed sex does not even possess a language with which to vocalize her un-freedom. The most subtle oppression is one which cannot even be expressed. (P.S. It's not like men in Pakistan have a lot of freedom either, but what they experience is far less compared to what women experience.)
Monday, May 19, 2014
Edvard Munch, The Voice/Summer Night, 1896
(click to expand)
According to Munch, this painting refers to his memory of first love. (Contrary to the calm serenity of the painting, it was a tumultuous affair with a married woman, Milly Thaulow.)
"I stood before the Mystery of Woman - I looked into an undreamt-of World..." (Munch's manuscripts)
"One cannot be much of a philosopher without a good measure of detachment, even alienation. To see the Cave as Cave one must be in it, but not of it. One who dwells comfortably in the human-all-too-human may make brilliant contributions to logic and linguistics, say, but will never get the length of an Augustine or Spinoza. A philosopher is one who is haunted by Transcendence, whether in the form of the really real, authentic existence, or genuine knowledge."
William Vallicella, Starting with Nothing. From the book Falling in Love with Wisdom: American Philosophers Talk about Their Calling
Gary Gutting: "I agree that no theistic arguments are compelling, but I don’t agree that they all are logically invalid or have obviously false premises. I think the best arguments (especially, sophisticated versions of the cosmological argument) are dubious only in the sense that they use premises (e.g., any contingent thing requires a cause) that are not obviously true but that a rational person might properly believe."
The Case for ‘Soft Atheism’, Gary Gutting interviews Philip Kitcher
Gutting succinctly states what I have myself believed for the last few years with regards to the philosophical arguments for God's existence, a (sane) position which I feel has been largely ignored in the debates surrounding New Atheism. There is no logical necessity to believe (or disbelieve) in God, but given certain premises (which are not unreasonable) there are logically valid arguments for God's existence. I do not accept the either extreme position endorsed in popular debates according to which a rational person ought, or ought not, to believe in God at the pain of irrationality. You can rationally believe or disbelieve in God without maintaining that there is a logical necessity to do so, and without maintaining that anyone who disagrees is a fool.
Of course, that is aside from the fact that invalid arguments (or invalid versions of valid arguments) exist in abundance in popular debates on both sides. I am also talking just about the philosophical concept of God, and not a particular portrayal of God in this or that religion.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Edvard Munch, Death and Life, 1894
(Also titled as Death and the Maiden)
I have seen Munch's Death and Life several times before but I never knew until just now that what is depicted on the left is a stream of sperms. (See here, click on Details.) This is a difficulty I experience repeatedly in my pursuit of appreciating art properly... how can one ever know such things about a work by just looking at the image, when, once known, it is apparent that such facts are crucial to a proper appreciation of the painting? Appreciating art, it seems, entails more than just looking at the painting; it also requires reading and researching about it.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
In conversation with a friend
Me: With passing years I am realizing I'm making peace with life's absurdity. I don't fight or struggle with it philosophically like before. Nor am I plagued with existential anguish as a result. It's a resignation of sorts, or perhaps an exhaustion. I realize my life will probably never amount to much in a historically significant way, but I live on, often happy and satisfied. The thought would've been excruciating for the adolescent me.... Life has tamed us.
Z: Like so many before us.