Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

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Philosophy Tuesday

July 23, 2019

There is a distinction, a difference, between being skeptical, and being cynical.

And yes, it is very easy to collapse the two.  However, while the former can definitively slide to morph into the other, they are not the same.

Being skeptical is engaging our thinking muscles as we engage with life.  Indeed, the roots of the word comes from a Greek word meaning “questioning” or “thoughtful”.  It is to enter situations with trust and empathy and listening while keeping our awareness peaked and mindfulness engaged.  We seek to learn and to see clearly.*

Cynicism is to enter into situations already believing the worst of someone or something.  Rather than being open to truth and truths, the cynic knows the truth, and it is the cold, hard, truth.  And in that world there is no engagement, and no need for thinking muscles – there’s no point.  The truth is already known.

Being skeptical is to keep an open mind (for we can be, and it is very powerful to be, skeptical of our own reasons and views**).  We can balance our levels of skepticism with our levels of connection and trust.  We can be deliberate and whole (not falling into the depths of Descartes-ism) in our choices.  Skepticism walks along the middle path.

Cynicism has already shut the door, believing the worst of people or of outcomes.  It is immediate.  In the realm of cynicism there is no possibility; only, at best, survival.

 

* It likely goes without saying being skeptical takes work insofar as maintaining a practice of mindfulness takes work.  Cynicism is very easy, quick, and can even feel safe, even as it boxes one in to narrower and narrower confines, and where one’s baseline experience of life becomes most unpleasant.

** The very underpinning of a transformation is the shift to a new view that seems unfathomable and darn right unreasonable under our old view.  It is a jump to a new you.

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Wonder Wednesday

July 10, 2019

A little moment of peace

returning to the beginning, serene

new growth emerging from the old

blossoming into beauty

 

Photo by Sam Snaps

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Philosophy Tuesday

July 9, 2019

There is a distinction, a difference, between being honest, and being authentic.

And I love this one, because it is both subtle (they seem, in many ways, like they’d be the same thing, right?) and, as so many of the seemingly subtle ones are, to get it has unusual and amazing amounts of power:

Being honest is putting your inner dialogue, aka that little voice in your head, on loudspeaker.  It is broadcasting the automatic thoughts (which, to nest a distinction within a distinction, thoughting is distinct from thinking) that blurts into your mind.  When you say “Just to be honest here…” mostly that conversation is being directed by your calculating self.

Being authentic, on the other hand, is speaking from your central self.  It is sharing and acting from the core of your being.  It is the self of creativity, generosity, relatedness, connection, sharedness, vitality, bounty, and freedom.

The notions of keeping it real, or to be authentic, or “Tell it like it is…” are all over the place.  We are invited to do so all the time.  It becomes a catchphrase.  Let it out!  However, it is very unclear what is actually being invited by those notions.  Even more unclear is what is, eventually, expressed.  Is it truly authentic?  Not so much… most of the time it’s simply being honest, spewing forth nothing but first thoughts with the calculating self piling on for more.  The authentic expression is buried, if it can even emerge at all.*

And to be clear it is not, as it often is with distinctions and philosophical ontology in general, that one is good and the other is necessarily bad.  It is to know them distinctly such that you can employ them as appropriate and as you intend.  Often it is very useful to be honest, to say what is right there in order to be able to move it aside so you can hear and express your authentic self.  The deal is to not just put your little calculating self voice on loudspeaker as though it was you but instead purposefully create “hey, this is my calculating self here for a moment, it wants to speak” so that it can speak and be satisfied and then sit down to let your authentic self step up and be. **

But first you, we, have to learn and to know and hold these two things in distinction.  To tell when we’re being truly authentic, and when we’re just “being honest”.  With that we begin to gain control over our stories and we begin to better hear, and live by, our central selves.  And with that gain all the strength, joy, and peace of mind that comes from it.

 

* Which is doubly unfortunate, because the more the calculating self is expressed and even lauded the more powerful it’s view and grip on us becomes, and the more we then encourage each other to further indulge our calculating selves, leading to an unproductive cycle…

** Eventually it need not be spoken aloud.  You can hear your “honest” calculating self and say to it, inwardly, “Thank you for sharing,” and letting your authentic self come to the fore.

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Wonder Wednesday

July 3, 2019

Water, sunset, and some absolutely lovely, thoughtful, life-affirming prose…

“It’s easy to forget how breathtakingly beautiful the planet is.  Not breathtakingly beautiful actually… but breath-givingly beautiful.”

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Philosophy Tuesday

July 2, 2019

As I have created before, distinctions are crucial in the practice of the philosophical arts.  It is through distinctions that, well, things become distinguished, separated, and even visible.  We see something newly, we gain insight, and we gain access to new realms.

So let’s rapid fire our way this coming month and a bit through some powerful distinctions. And since we’re talking about new possibilities, let’s start with:

There is a distinction, a difference, between a possibility and an expectation.

When we take on and set ourselves to something, we pretty much always have a view, a vision, for how we’d like it to go.  Which is great!  We have an intent, we have a vision, we have invented a (new) possibility.

The problem, though, is that very quickly it can easily shift from how we want it to go into being how it should go.*  “I’m going to go in there, do that, and the result will be all those,” or, “We will visit here on these days and it will be amazing in this way,” or “I will say this to them, and they will say this back, and I’ll get that,” and so on.  And if – or, more likely, when – that narrow outcome doesn’t come to pass, well…

When you have an expectation, and it isn’t met, you are left with disappointment.

But here’s the cool thing.  When you have a possibility, and it isn’t met, you are left with a possibility.

In those moments of ‘not it’ we are left with our vision and intent intact.  Rather than demand a limited outcome we are instead ready to dance with what comes, be like water, and flow towards our vision.

Because the doubly irony of holding tight to an expectation is that we become so fixated on it looking a certain way that we lose out not only on the flexibility to make it happen, but also on all the other opportunities for something equally grand or maybe even grander than we had imagined in the first place.  Locked into an expectation, we’ve reduced the myriad of options and outcomes to only one we will call success and creating a thousand and one ways to lose.

An expectation is a possibility with a built-in disappointment.  When we keep our possibilities from collapsing into expectation we remain free, peaceful, and full of possibilities that grow and grow and beget ever more possibilities.

 

* Which can also just as quickly become more extreme and turn into how it will go…

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Philosophy Tuesday

June 25, 2019

Every philosophical tradition begins with learning to be present.  Learning to be mindful of the current moment.

Even for the Jedi.  As Yoda said of Luke in The Empire Strikes Back:  “All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing.”

Being present is learning to be with the way things are.  Truly are.  Learning to distinguish our thoughts and feelings and emotions about events, both now and past, from how the events actually are or were.  Without adding interpretation or story.  And this can be toughVery tough.  Because we are so accustomed to, so familiar with, so entrenched in our automatic assessments that we don’t even realize we are making assessments.  We instantly collapse our conclusions with that which is accurately in front of us in physical reality, and we so with such intensity that we then go through life relating to the conclusion as though it was reality.

We let those instant and automatic conclusions rule us.

Being present is learning to differentiate between what’s so (what’s brutally, actually so) and all our judgement, assessments, stories, and interpretations about what’s so.

Once we can stand there, we gain peace of mind.   Once we can stand there, we can then act from a place of choice and creation that arises from deep within our authentic selves.  Rather than being hemmed in and restricted by the frame of our views we explode the frame to open new realms of possibilities.  Transformation is now in reach.

Every philosophical tradition begins with learning to be present.

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Everything Thursday: The Aesthetics of Genre

June 20, 2019

“I think it is very important to be able to read media with a critical eye. To parse it in terms of what it is saying, both on its face, and in how it uses the language of its medium (film, TTRPG, whatever) to deliver its ideas. To make its statement.

Genre is not simply a set of aesthetics, full stop. It is aesthetics with a direction, an impetus.

Lots of folks like to forget the reason behind the aesthetic choices, and just sort of, eat and regurgitate them unthinkingly.”

Commuting Crow [Emphasis Mine]

I came across this and I like it a lot, and want to pass it forward for it is very important in storytelling, in gaming, and even in architecture.

The look and feel (ie aesthetics) of any genre is born from a philosophical place.  It was through the examination and exploration of certain ideas, theses, and ideologies, whether that be in support of them (we are interested in this  and think this is a good way to go, let’s explore and invent down that road), in question of them (we see this as a possible way things could go, let’s explore and see what the outcome(s) might be), or in opposition or critique of them (this is something we see happening, and think it is not productive, let’s explore and illustrate the harm).  Genre is more than the style of the world, it is about world building, and all of the aspects of world building.  The way society operates (or doesn’t), the way people think (or don’t), the prevailing truths (or untruths), the direction and inflections of humanity.  It is from there, from that baseline world building from which the aesthetics emerge and are developed into their final form.

So when you use the imagery and aesthetics of the genre as just a stylistic choice, you aren’t operating in the genre.  Your work is not of the genre.  It’s something else in different clothing.*

The same holds true in architecture.  The organization of the Beaux-Arts building, the hyper-detailed nature of the Baroque period, the classical orders, the bold planes of modernism, they all emerged out of philosophies about living (in all senses of that word).  There were values and convictions and ideas and ideologies beneath it all, and it was the exploration into form of all of those that informed and created the style, including how the building is laid out, how one approaches the building, how one travels from room to room, how the façade is proportioned, how and where ornamentation, etc.

So when you use the architectural pieces and aesthetics (the architectural language) of a ‘style’ (or genre) as just a stylistic choice, you aren’t operating in the true nature of the style.  Your work is not of the style.  It is something else in different clothing.

In this way, Using the words  “architectural style” to describe how a building looks turns out to be a misnomer.**

To reiterate, genres (and architectural ‘styles’***) are born of a specific context, in time and space and thought and vision.  From there emerges a look.  If you want your story, your game, or your work to be truthfully of that genre, it needs to engage with that context (again, whether it is to follow, to re-examine, to tweak, to refute, whatever, but it must engage with it), not just the look of it.

It is from there that richness arises and that great works emerge.

 

* Which BTW is fine… there’s some fun in playing around only with style.  Just be honest about it.

** It is also where many more recent buildings fall flat or feel terrible, because they’re importing architectural languages in a copy/paste mode without any thought or understanding of all the ideology and knowledge that underpinned the ‘style’ and so having little design sense poured into them.  Confusing architecture as just the “fancy looking bits” leaves behind the most important aspects that make up what architecture actually is.

*** We really need a better word.  Ok.  This is my game now, to find or come up with a new word for this.