Living a Justified Life With an Existence that Is Unjustified

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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…

Escape the painful memories that you think are you.

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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.

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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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Photo by Sam Rios on Unsplash

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?

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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

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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

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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…

Perspective Piece

Lorenz’s Tale of Avian Romance

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King Solomon’s Ring

Konrad Lorenz was the modern founder of ethology. Ethology is the study of animal behavior, namely the study of animals in their natural habitat — where animals behave as they evolved to. Lorenz was an eclectic keeper of animals — passersby’s of his Austrian house have bore witness to him squatting in his yard and quacking, with a slew of ducklings in tow — trying to get them to follow. …

The Common Threads that Run Through Walden, and You.

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N. C. Wyeth (1882–1945) Walden Pond Revisited, 1942

A Rugged Economy

The 19th-century naturalist, poet, essayist, abolitionist, and transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau has taken criticism of late. However, most of his work, and especially that in his famous book Walden, stands independent of that criticism. We must hold off the charges that he is hypocritical, and examine his claims about the nature of the world and judge them independently.

Walden is a collection of stories of Thoreau’s time spent on Walden pond, a pond in Massachusetts that is not so remote from Concord. He built a cabin nearby in which he spent a couple years “living simply”. Walden asks the question…

Galton’s Wager

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“Three Generations of Imbeciles is Enough”

Humans will never stop clutching at tools that help us explain the world and improve our lot. The cost of genome editing very shortly will become so cheap that the extent to which we edit the genome will be determined not by cost, but by our own indecision in what is good to change. …

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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