Latest Observations

On the Problem with Systemizing the Un-systemizable

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 3, 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

By nature, I am a systemizer. It has taken every fiber of my will to keep from systemizing, what I fear, is unsystemizable; I suspect even the system of “self.” I spent, at least twenty years, trying to understand the difference between pneuma, psuche, and sarx. The delineations escaped me. Today, I find the notion of “I” suspect. What is the “I” in “I am”?

When I use this language I reference a concept. I do not think of my hands and feet as each part or even a picture of my body, my physical organs, my spiritual center, or any other specific part. I refer to a totality of my being, of which in itself, is an assumed concept. We may be trying to form a complete alignment in our spirit, when we are dealing with alternate streams of agency or intelligence. I want to believe in a unified “I”. I feel that I must face responsibility for my actions as a unified “I”. However, I cannot even explain the way my dreams take work.

I’m often involved in a dream and then surprised by its outcome. I’m careful to experience the experience of my dreams, and in doing so, I’m stunned by the way they unfold. Characters that speak in ways I’m not familiar, familiarity I have with the unfamiliar, endings other than the one I planned, etc. I realize that referring to the notion of dreams is in itself a way to cast doubt on everything I’ve said before, but dreams are part of my empirical experience and I do not ignore them. I also realize that Christianity has explanation for such, including the role of supernatural spirits, but even Christianity posits a responsible, unified “I”. In fact, Christianity offers a way to restore the eye, to a place of original unity.

Wittgenstein’s transition from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus investigations represents a dramatic change in his understanding of the mind. If I am a pluralistic set, in any sense, then it may be that I need to recognize that my “I” set is a set within sets. I find this particularly fascinating when searching for a moral “standard”. If I am “I” is a pluralistic expression, at the least a compound noun, then I am born into a social dynamic which in turn, informs my thinking about my relationship with those other pluralistic “I’s” whom surround me.

On the Difference between Sacrifice and Compromise

Topic:Personal
Posted on:May 2, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

A man needs to know the difference between compromise and sacrifice. The same activity may be construed as one or the other. When I make a change to an important priority in my schedule I must ask: Is this a compromise (am I doing this against my better judgment in response to the pressure)? Or is this a sacrifice (am I doing this because it is right and in fact I wish it were not necessary)? It is a different mindset; it is a different heart-set. The irony of a sacrifice is that it is often interpreted by others as a compromise.

On Leadership and the Wisdom that Only Comes from Carrying its Weight

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 29, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Part of being a leader is bearing the weight of your decisions. Wisdom, true wisdom, does not come from those who merely observe the leader carrying the weight; it comes from those who have truly carried the weight. With the weight comes a certain innate knowing. The leader can feel the weight of each decision, and thus has a special perspective. Beware, most of all, of those who have never carried the weight on their shoulders (consultants), but who offer you prolific advice about how to do so.

On Recognizing Artificial Arrangement of Facts

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 28, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

We must beware of “story-ized” facts. It is our nature to take a series of facts, or data points, and arrange them into a story fashion. This can be useful, but it can also lead to distortion.

Whenever you hear a compelling story, and before truly accepting its implied “moral,” one must deconstruct the story down to its essential data, down to its stand-alone quotes and facts, then the facts must be considered independent of any artificial arrangement.

At this point, one may decide that the facts, taken as a whole, support the conclusion/moral. On the other hand, one may decide that the arrangement of the facts has enabled the storyteller to promote a conclusion which cannot be established. Beware, particularly of inspirational stories. They almost always have a contrived arrangement of facts, even an omission of certain other facts, so as to promote the storyteller’s message.

On Philosophy without Rigorous Argument

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Apr 27, 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

I find it fascinating that Hegel, Heidegger, and even Sartre could gain so much respect in the world of philosophy, while ignoring the most sacred (and there are very few) rules. It’s hard for me to conceive of promoting philosophy without offering rigorous argument. Yet these thinkers, in many ways, chose to ignore this standard. I am not impugning them on this point; I am only fascinated by it. If I were to take some of their most seminal work, change the name (in an alternate universe where their work is not known), and hand it in as an assignment, the average philosophy department would not even give it a passing grade.

Again, this does not mean such work is to be discounted, but it must be properly understood. It is one thing to employ a weak argument, it is another thing to employ no argument. In the first, you demonstrate a weakness and lack of ability. In the second, you demonstrate a deliberate protest. I know this was Nietzsche’s point, but were these men incapable of sophisticated argument, or did they simply choose to disregard the norm?

On Life in the Abstract

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 26, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I like triangles in the abstract. There is no such thing as a triangle in the actual world. The perfect angles expressed in mathematics cannot be expressed in actuality. For this very reason, I am drawn to the digital world. Regardless of the scratches on my computer, the content is the expression of zeros and ones. It is life in the abstract. It is not that I am attracted to the abstract. It is only that I am attracted to the perfect. And the perfect does not exist in the world that I find myself.

On Leadership and the Danger of Overplaying Your Strengths

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 25, 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

If the leader wishes to discover his blind spot, he must first ask a revealing question: What is it about my greatest strength that naturally blinds me to its necessary weaknesses? Some of our greatest weaknesses are impossibly entangled with our greatest strengths. Beware, because your strength will dominate you. It will dominate your time, it will dominate your method, and it will constantly reinforce itself. The leader must monopolize his strength, while at the same time, maintaining acute awareness of its inherent weakness.

On Communication and My Acceptance of Misunderstanding

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 20, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I am used to being misunderstood. My profession is communication and you might think that being misunderstood would vex me. It does not. I have come to a point in my understanding of communication where I (finally) realize that only a fraction of what I am processing should be understood (or is even worth being understood), and of that fraction, only a smaller fraction should be communicated directly. If I could, I would never write another line of prose. My work would all be story and poetry.

On the Arrow of Time

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Apr 19, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I am fascinated by Eddington's reference to the Arrow of Time. Moreover, I am fascinated by translating its application from physics, (particle, quantum, radioactivity, etc.) to philosophy. I am reminded of Augustine's view of the present tense. How can one contemplate the present tense? The Arrow of Time does not pause for reflection. The future represents an unknown, and the past supposedly represents a known. But in point of fact, both are unknowable.

For the Chinese, the day before yesterday is called the front day, while the day after tomorrow is called behind day. The Arrow of Time is understood as a function of irreversibility. But such notions are dependent on some kind of solid past. In reality, we can neither be sure of the past nor the future. We are helpless. Grace is our only hope.

Bibliography: A.S. Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, Cambridge: The Ferris Printing Company, 1928.

On Achieving Discipline from the Whole

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 18, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Many of us struggle with self-discipline, and these struggles are characterized by attempts to achieve consistency in a number of different areas. We try to achieve discipline in our eating habits. We try to achieve discipline in our prayer life or discipline in our studies.

Most of the time, discipline is approached in piecemeal fashion. We are trying to achieve this virtue with a specific focus. I have noticed that there is a more fundamental and, perhaps, effective approach. When we have our spiritual compasses set, there is a kind of integrity at the core. From this place, self-discipline may emanate. We are too focused on peripherals instead of the center. Get the center right and it is easier to align the peripherals.