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#005 Friday's Findings
The Philosophy of Mourning, To philosophize is to learn how to die, Epictetus on improving and more.
It piqued my interest as I heard the notion that to philosophize is to learn how to die. Regularly, I have been told and heard that it is the activity of working out the best way to think about things—and that works great in a general sense… but to learn how to die is an interesting way of formulating it.
In a sense, it has certainly been the way many ancient philosophers have interpreted philosophy. It was a way for them to come to an understanding of how they may accept this inevitability of life.
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In ancient times, many argued that death should not be feared. As Schopenhauer said: “After your death, you will be what you were before your birth.” This demonstrates a way some people will come to accept, but a lot of other theories have also grown in the field of philosophy. For example, some ancient philosophers had a kind of belief in life after death, like the fact that the soul still exists from Plato.
If anything, it is an interesting notion, but of course—it can be defined in many such ways of looking at fundamental patterns on how to think about things.
Enjoy the weekend.
Mourning is important to every human life that gets as far as adulthood. That is because every such life is framed and inflected by the unpreventable and irretrievable loss of everything that contributes to its flourishing: love, health, meaning, happiness, accomplishment, wealth, beauty, and eventually itself. Pascal writes that the last act is bloody no matter how fine the rest of the play, and that the end is always the same: the grave. But what, exactly, is mourning, and how does doing it well contribute to a fully human life? These are good questions, addressed too rarely. In Imagining the End, Jonathan Lear takes them on with his usual learning, verve, and lucidity… (The Philosophy of Mourning)
Fortunate is the person who has reached the age of 50 without having had to grieve. To be among the grieving, the bereaved, is an experience most of us go through, excepting only those who die preternaturally young and are themselves the cause of bereavement. Socrates held that one of the key missions of philosophy was to ward off our fear of death. Upon his own death, by self-imposed hemlock, he claimed to be looking forward at long last to discovering whether there was an afterlife. Montaigne wrote an essay called “To Philosophize Is to Learn How to Die,” in which, as elsewhere in his essays, he argues that, far from putting death out of mind, we should keep it foremost in our minds, the knowledge of our inevitably forthcoming death goading us on the better to live our lives… (Good Grief)
If you learn a little psychology, you might come away thinking that people are stupid. After all, one of psychology’s main exports is cognitive biases. There’s the conjunction fallacy, the endowment effect, false consensus, false uniqueness, the curse of knowledge, the availability heuristic, the better-than-average effect, the worse-than-average effect, hyperbolic discounting, pareidolia, the hot-hand fallacy, the Turkey illusion, the Semmelweiss reflex, social cryptomnesia, reminiscence bump, and the “women are wonderful” effect. That’s just a taste, and the list gets longer every year. With all these cognitive biases, it’s amazing that people even manage to feed and bathe themselves.… (The radical idea that people aren't stupid)
When psychologist Jonathan Smallwood set out to study mind-wandering about 25 years ago, few of his peers thought that was a very good idea. How could one hope to investigate these spontaneous and unpredictable thoughts that crop up when people stop paying attention to their surroundings and the task at hand? Thoughts that couldn’t be linked to any measurable outward behavior? But Smallwood, now at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, forged ahead. He used as his tool a downright tedious computer task that was intended to reproduce the kinds of lapses of attention that cause us to pour milk into someone’s cup when they asked for black coffee. And he started out by asking study participants a few basic questions to gain insight into when and why minds tend to wander, and what subjects they tend to wander toward… (Scientists finally know why we get distracted — and how we can stay on track)
The venues in which we can make fools of ourselves (group chats, Grindr messages, Slack rooms public and private) are multiplying, and each has its own rules of conduct. And everyone’s just kind of rusty. Our social graces have atrophied. We wanted to help. So we started with the problems — not the obvious stuff, like whether it’s okay to wear a backpack on the subway or talk loudly on speakerphone in a restaurant (you know the answers there). We asked people instead what specific kinds of interactions or situations really made them anxious, afraid, uncertain, ashamed. From there, we created rigid, but not entirely inflexible, rules… (Do You Know How to Behave? Are You Sure?)
A quote I’m contemplating: "If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid." — Epictetus
Tools and Proposals
Obsidian — Brace yourselves, I have just discovered this fantastic tool. This desktop writing tool allows you to take notes easily, with a beautiful interface… the dream for creatives. I am finding myself using this for book notes, extensive ideas, plans, and writing issues!
Richard Feynman - Why (YouTube) — I recommend you to listen to Richard Feynman on the question Why. It is interesting how he explains we have to be in a shared framework of language.
Related Words — I encourage you to try this synonym website. This website allows you to find many, many synonyms and associations to a specific word or short sentence. I find that this tool is underappreciated. It is one of my favourites.
Until next time,