Posts Tagged ‘ontology’

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 30, 2018

Every person you meet meets a different you.

On the one hand, that doesn’t seem right.  After all, it always feels like I am me, and the me that walks around is always there.  So, clearly, whenever we meet someone they must be meeting the “me” that I am.

On the other hand, well, we often behave differently around different people, right?  We present ourselves one way at work, or another way at home, or a third way to our church/club/team/drinking buddies.   So, ok, maybe it makes sense that there are at least a handful of “me”s out there to meet.

Turns out, there’s a quite the many more than that.

Every person that you encounter creates a version of you in their heads.  Some of it is based on your interactions.  Some of it is based on their prior experience and projection.  But it’s a distinct, individual, you.

Therefore you, I, we, are different people to each our parents, siblings, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, neighbors, and the regular clerks at our stores.  There are thousands of “you”s and “me”s out there, in thousands of minds.  Created by thousands of beings.

There’s a you that exists in each version, but it isn’t the same you, and “you” aren’t really a “someone” at all.  Which makes the idea of knowing yourself all the more interesting…

The corollary, however, is perhaps even more profound.

Every person you know is also a thousand different people.  The individual you know them as is your personal them.  They are not that exact person to another.  All their gifts and all their faults are, in many ways, particular to you.

Meet them fresh and under different circumstances, and you might create them totally different.  Let your views be fresh, and who they are may completely shift.  They may grow.  Or they may shrink.

There’s a lot that opens up in this understanding.  Empathy. Delight.  Choice.  Deepening relatedness.  Clarity.  And a realignment towards authentic selves, both for ourselves, for theirselves, and for all the “you”s that exist out there.

 

* Apologies for all the I/you/we perspective shifts up there…

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 23, 2018

There was this great ad for Ikea from years ago, directed by Spike Jonze:

Objects cannot make decisions.  Objects do not grow.  Objects do not make meanings in their lives.  Objects do not possess agency.  Objects lack emotion.  Objects cannot create and act and cavort and cry and all the things people (and other living things) can do.  Objects are fixed, predictable, unmalleable.  Objects are either working or broken.  Objects can be thrown away.

People are not objects, of course.

But we turn people into objects all the time.

Whenever we act like how we see, label, relate, or think of someone, and like the meaning they have for us is the right one, the true one, the one and only one, we’ve turned them into a thing.  An object.  An other.

We do this to our coworkers, management, professions, and the clerk at the store.  We do it to hobby groups, enthusiasts, and fans of a thing.  We do it to genders.  We do it to whole cities and whole countries just as readily as we do it to our siblings, parents, friends, neighbors, and lovers.

When we objectify, we exterminate.  The vital being entity that stands (metaphorically, perhaps) before us is snuffed out, and a thing is all that remains.

And the trouble is, we don’t treat things the same way as we treat people.

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 9, 2018

efficiency is about doing something perfectly

 

if you are 100% efficient,

but you’re not doing the right thing,

then you’re perfectly wrong

 

sometimes, focusing on improving efficiency

isn’t the right question to be asking

 

being less bad

is not the same

as being, or doing, or creating, a good

 

it is easy to be bought off

by the rush of false accomplishment

that comes from improving on a process

that comes by being more efficient

 

but the real payoff

and the real fulfillment

comes when we return to the base condition,

seed our intentions,

let our central selves free,

and create into the world

that which is a good

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 2, 2018

At the Monterrey Design Conference last year, one of the principals from OMA (Rem Koolhaas’ firm) gave a talk.  They began by noting all the famous architects and firms that had emerged from their office: BIG, MVRDV, FOA, JDS, REX, Zaha Hadid, Buro Ole Scheeren… just to name a few.  And we all cheered.  For they are some great designers (many of whose projects I’ve posted about on this very blog).  Clearly a great achievement for OMA to be such an incubator for great talent.

“And so,” they continued, I paraphrase, “we had to ask ourselves a question.  Why are so many of them leaving our firm?”

Murmurs filled the hall.

“Who are we being such that they feel their future is brighter outside of our company?  Who are we being that they feel the need to leave to fully express themselves?”

Silence.

It was not where we expected the talk to go… nor was it something most of us would have considered.  But there it was, honestly stated and expressed with vulnerability.  It was an inquiry, posed to us all.  And one that was clear OMA was taking on with vigour.

It’s a great inquiry.

Ben Zander, in his amazing TED talk, finishes off his presentation with a similar question, describing his definition of leadership and success:  shining eyes.

“So if the eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it. If the eyes are not shining, you get to ask a question. And this is the question: who am I being that my players’ eyes are not shining?”

He then ups the ante quite beautifully:

“We can do that with our children, too. Who am I being, that my children’s eyes are not shining? That’s a totally different world.”

When things keep going a certain way, be it in our lives or all around us; when we get that realization that maybe something is off; when we notice that our progress is stymied; when we grasp our strategies are bankrupt; whenever the barriers stop us flat we can ask ourselves that very great question:  “Who am I being such that it is going this way?  Who am I being such that these are the results I’m having?”

The answer often surprises us (in that “bad news” insight kind of way).

Once we get over the shock, we can complete it, clear ourselves, and begin to design who we do want to be.

And keep that stable of fabulous designers to make great things, together.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 25, 2018

If you love who you are being, you love your life.  Period.

Every state of being has a visceral aspect to it.  We feel it.  It forms the baseline for our immediate experience of life.

When we spend time being angry, upset, frustrated, vindictive, petty, or the like, we’re not having a pleasant experience of life.

Spend lots of time there, and our experience of life suffers.

Spend time being content, fulfilled, loving, vital, generous, grateful, amused, fascinated, or any of their ilk, and the experience of life can be most grand.

It’s not about good states or bad states or ways.  Only about our experience of life.

If we find that our experience ain’t being so great, we get to ask ourselves a question:  “Who am I being that my experience ain’t so great?”  Even better: “Is this way of being productive?”

Pause.  Reflect.  Choose.

And step onto the paths towards those experiences of life that we all truly want.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 18, 2018

Listening is a unique thing.

It is also very different thing than hearing.

Hearing is just hearing.  “I hear you” simply means you’ve noticed someone else trying to communicate to you.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re actually getting – or have gotten – the communication.

Listening is a deep art.  It is the ability to go beyond just the audio processing, and even more so to go beyond that little voice in your head that’s continually commenting on everything they’re saying.  Because listening more to the little voice commentary than to the actual speaker is definitively not actually listening.  Nor is that all too familiar grabbing on to that perfect little point you should say next as soon as they stop talking so there’s no point in what more they’re saying, you know what YOU want to say.

Listening goes beyond resisting.  Listening goes beyond judgement.

Listening is getting the communication, without adding or subtracting anything.

Truly deep listening gets all the communication including all the context that surrounds it.

Listening causes completion.  People who’ve been truly listened to don’t need to repeat themselves.

Listening creates dialogue.  People who’ve been truly listened to will often ask, “What do you think?”

Listening creates openings.  People who’ve been truly listened to find themselves grounded and ready to engage with “what’s next?”

When we are listened to, we feel connected.  Franticness wanes, exigency fades, and peacefulness arrives.

Once listened to, something new is possible.

Listening is a unique thing, an art that takes development and learning.

And it is an art most definitively worth attending to.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 11, 2018

I blame Descartes.

Natch, in actuality it likely involved way more dimensions and people that just Descartes, pulling on various conversations and directions of thought that had been already developing, the general thrust of the renaissance, and, given the hundreds of years its been since his death, many more people have continued it and even reinforced it… so really it’s a much more involved thing than just one person.  That statement is not entirely fair.

But it’s more fun and attention getting* to just say, “I blame Descartes.”

For what?  For “cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am”… for the idea and elevation of “rational thought” as the pinnacle, in western philosophies, of what makes a person a person.  Thought is truth.  Reason is truth.  Emotions are suspect.  Feelings are bad.  To be a great human is to be a being of pure detached thought.**

And wow, I assert, did society ever take that and run with it.

In many ways, we are taught to be Vulcans.  Since emotions aren’t “real” and can’t be “tested in the physical world” and can “lead us astray”****, we’re told to ignore them or, even more so, resist them.

Now, in no way will I be saying that rational thought is itself bad, or useless, or even that we shouldn’t engage it.  Far from it, thinking is great.

But the thing is, there’s a huge deleterious effect to all this shaming and vilification of our rich, emotional life. *****

We aren’t robots, and our emotions do influence us.  They do.  And the more we ignore our emotions, the more we discount them, the more we do not develop our emotional intelligence/health/awareness, then the more at their effect we are.

In other words, the less we integrate ourselves as a whole being of emotions, feelings, and thought, the more we’re actually controlled by our emotions, without realizing it.

We are great rationalizing (not necessarily rational) creatures – we can get pushed down a path by that invisible internal world and our “perfect” logical and thoughtful minds will come up with darn good reasons and evidence and justifications for this path we’re barreling down.

We think we’re so smart.  And that’s the problem as well as the punchline… our hubris blinds us and robs us of the very agency we’re trying to attain.

Like many things, there’s a middle path here that has gotten missed.  A wholistic embracement of all of the amazing things that constitute who we are as human beings.  It isn’t a matter of being emotional or rational, of being governed by every feeling that arises or to be the perfect android, it’s a matter of listening to all of the above:  emotions, feelings, thinking, imagination, logic, moods, deductions, and so on.

Emotions and feelings can be great indicators.  They are a signal.  And when we embrace them, we get to use those signals rather than be thrown by them or have them sneakily dictate our actions.  The signals become just that, signals, that we can merge with our active mindfulness to give us presence from which we can then choose.  Agency becomes ours and, as a bonus, we get to enjoy the glorious experience(s) of being alive and the vast catalogue of feelings and emotions.

We end up making the better choices we’re aiming for.  We gain freedom and we love our life more.

Sorry Descartes.  We think therefore we are, but we also feel, and together we do more than just exist, we blossom with relish.

 

* and truth be told in many ways it is completely irrelevant to the true exploration of this post…

** This, of course, is why women were relegated as lesser people, for they are more emotional, “governed” by their feelings, and prone to hysteria… true great humans are all men, and men are the thoughtful, reasoning type.***

*** Which, doubly of course, is all absolute caca.****

**** It gets extra silly and super double standard-y when you realize the accolades and admiration that are lauded onto a guy who “follows his gut” as some sort of honest strong paragon when, well, what is “following your gut” other than being guided by your emotions/feelings?

*****  Which come on here everyone, we’re all seeking love and pleasure and happiness and excitement and aren’t those all emotions and feelings?  Further, why are we being taught to suppress our emotions, yet love is supposed to be a first-sight-head-over-heels type thing and that we should blindly follow our emotion in that instance?