Living a Justified Life With an Existence that Is Unjustified

Getting Existential

Jean Paul Sartre was one of the father’s of Existentialism. Existentialism can be summarized by a particularly interesting quote from Sartre:

“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.”

In fact, Sartre thought humans were painfully forced (condemned) to be free. But this is no matter for the existentialists, for no matter the constraints of existence, we can exercise our freedom through the power of the will. And the justification for life arises in this action.

The existentialist justification of life is like your roommate throwing a…

The problem of human knowledge.

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Descartes discovered that the only knowledge beyond skepticism is that we are thinking beings and whether what we are experiencing reflects reality is beyond answerable.

The empirical scientists' answer to knowledge is that I can know things by experience, and this constitutes knowledge. The problem with this position will be made clear, but this is a claim most modern scientists take for granted.

In Plato’s dialogue Theaetetus, the immense difficulty of pinning down what knowledge is is demonstrated by Socrates. The dialogue features a conversation between a geometrician Theodorous, Theaetetus, and Socrates.

Knowledge is Perception.

The first premise trying to give an account…

The Race to Stop the Plunger

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Eternal Midnight

The writer Jerry Stahl used heroin and speed to attain “the soothing hiss of oblivion. […] Everything, bad or good, boil[ed] back to the decade on the needle […] a lifetime spent altering the single niggling fact that to be alive means being conscious.”

This unfortunate fact, to be human means to have consciousness, is a problem. We all answer this problem by kicking it down the road in some way, but the addict does so by reaching for the needle, the pipe, the pill, the bottle.

During the Vietnam war, nearly 50% of American servicemembers partook in smoking the…

The Fragile Male Lover

Kaufman, The Modern Tragic Director

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a Charlie Kaufman Movie where fragile male ego meets the reality of dating and life. Kaufman’s movies are existential in nature, always trying to not look away from the tougher parts of life. His goal in his movies is to make something that really appreciates the tragic facts of life, because you cannot really love life if you do not appreciate its worst aspects.

Escape the painful memories that you think are you.

Photo Credit: Mor Shani @unsplash

The flowers depart when we hate to lose them;

The weeds arrive while we hate to watch them grow.

Dogen

Flipping Backwards

I cried over and over, again and again, for weeks on end. The only thing I looked forward to was using drugs or alcohol at night to forget, or finishing a project I was working on to distract myself between crying episodes. It wasn’t that we weren’t compatible, it was that practical facts about life happened, and I was afraid of admitting my growing admiration. The result was that I found myself having to mute my computer video in…

Ancient wisdom for modern day dating.

Free for commercial use. No attribution required. @Pixabay

In The Symposium, Plato lays out his transcendent idea of love. He states that love has nothing to do with loving someone, but love is making things that makes the city-state more virtuous. Loving any one specific person is a waste of time, says Plato. It only sets you up for grief and hardship, and makes you less able to create good things, which is the real beauty in life. But Plato’s opinion that physical love lacks something undergirds most Western societies’ opinion of it.

Plato thinks solely physical love is incapable of virtue, and therefore is wrong; whereas most…

Find out what love really is.

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The Symposium

What is love? The ancient Greeks thought long about this question that haunts and enthralls most people. Love has a mixed track record, bringing empires into conflict, men to death, women to grief, and philosophers to answers that are at odds with what most people think. What is it, what are the bare minimum requirements for love, how can it go wrong, and how can it go right? These are the questions of the Symposium, in which the format for discussion is several speeches from notable Athenians.

The Symposium was written by Plato, and reflects what the upper-class Athenians thought…

Reduce Screen Time Before Bed, or is Scrolling Fine?

Blue Light Blues

Removing blue light exposure before bed is casually mentioned in conversation about improving sleep. But what does the science say? A meta-analysis reviews the question and looks for consistencies between studies. What did they find? First a small mechanistic explanation of the proposed reason why blue light is bad.

Blue light filters block 450–480 nm light. Retinal ganglion cells are highly sensitive to this wavelength, showing peak activation after exposure. This in turn suppresses melatonin secretion and increases neurocognitive alertness. Electronic personal devices with such a wavelength seem to increase the time it takes to fall asleep, and reduces subjective…

More Than What You May Think

Photo by Mohamed Nuzrath on Pixabay

Learning

Learning and addiction are highly related. If organisms cannot form causal connections between drugs and their source, they cannot form behavior to increase the benefits of the drug. Therefore, examining both learning and addiction in model organisms is in order to solve addiction. Fruit flies, drosophila, can actually tell us much about both phenotypes.

Invertebrates have a stigma surrounding them, that they are incapable of doing the things that “higher” organisms do. One of the things that belongs to “higher” organisms is learning. It is very human-centric to think that a biological adaption to the universal law of change —…

An Honest Review of Kratom

Pick Your Poison

When people use drugs to cope, we typically look down on them. But at the end of the day we have to realize competing values. When a person with ADHD takes Adderall, most people don’t take any issue with this, as it’s a medication. The clinical efficacy of Adderall seems positive. For one, Adderall increases attention span, which is highly associated with wellbeing and academic performance — I’m not concerned about Adderall specifically, just drugs that increase wellbeing and functionality in society. No one prefers to be more unclear in thought, and Adderall remedies this. Prescription drugs have little stigma…

Brandon Long

Writes about science, politics, philosophy, and the spaces that separates us as as species — and occasionally in story form.

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