philosophical inquiry

Why do we love?

Ah, romantic love; beautiful and intoxicating, heart-breaking and soul-crushing… often all at the same time! Why do we choose to put ourselves though its emotional wringer? Does love make our lives meaningful, or is it an escape from our loneliness and suffering?  Is love a disguise for our sexual desire, or a trick of biology to make us procreate? Is it all we need? Do we need it at all?

If romantic love has a purpose, neither science nor psychology has discovered it yet – but over the course of history, some of our most respected philosophers have put forward some intriguing theories.

1. Love makes us whole, again / Plato (427—347 BCE)

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato explored the idea that we love in order to become complete. In his Symposium, he wrote about a dinner party at which Aristophanes, a comic playwright, regales the guests with the following story. Humans were once creatures with four arms, four legs, and two faces.  One day they angered the gods, and Zeus sliced them all in two. Since then, every person has been missing half of him or herself.  Love is the longing to find a soul mate who will make us feel whole again… or at least that’s what Plato believed a drunken comedian would say at a party.

2. Love tricks us into having babies / Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

Much, much later, German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer maintained that love, based in sexual desire, was a “voluptuous illusion”.  He suggested that we love because our desires lead us to believe that another person will make us happy, but we are sorely mistaken.  Nature is tricking us into procreating and the loving fusion we seek is consummated in our children.  When our sexual desires are satisfied, we are thrown back into our tormented existences, and we succeed only in maintaining the species and perpetuating the cycle of human drudgery.  Sounds like somebody needs a hug.

3. Love is escape from our loneliness / Russell (1872-1970)

According to the Nobel Prize-winning British philosopher Bertrand Russell we love in order to quench our physical and psychological desires.  Humans are designed to procreate; but, without the ecstasy of passionate love, sex is unsatisfying.  Our fear of the cold, cruel world tempts us to build hard shells to protect and isolate ourselves.  Love’s delight, intimacy, and warmth helps us overcome our fear of the world, escape our lonely shells, and engage more abundantly in life.  Love enriches our whole being, making it the best thing in life.  

4. Love is a misleading affliction / Buddha (~6th- 4thC BCE)

Siddhartha Gautama. who became known as ‘the Buddha’, or ‘the enlightened one’, probably would have had some interesting arguments with Russell. Buddha proposed that we love because we are trying to satisfy our base desires.  Yet, our passionate cravings are defects, and attachments – even romantic love – are a great source of suffering.  Luckily, Buddha discovered the eight-fold path, a sort of program for extinguishing the fires of desire so that we can reach ‘nirvana’ – an enlightened state of peace, clarity, wisdom, and compassion.  

5. Love lets us reach beyond ourselves / Beauvoir (1908-86)

Let’s end on a slightly more positive note.  The French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir proposed that love is the desire to integrate with another and that it infuses our lives with meaning.  However, she was less concerned with why we love and more interested in how we can love better.  She saw that the problem with traditional romantic love is it can be so captivating that we are tempted to make it our only reason for being.  Yet, dependence on another to justify our existence easily leads to boredom and power games.  

To avoid this trap, Beauvoir advised loving authentically, which is more like a great friendship: lovers support each other in discovering themselves, reaching beyond themselves, and enriching their lives and the world, together.

Though we might never know why we fall in love, we can be certain that it’ll be an emotional rollercoaster ride.  It’s scary and exhilarating.  It makes us suffer and makes us soar.  Maybe we lose ourselves.  Maybe we find ourselves.  It might be heartbreaking or it might just be the best thing in life.  Will you dare to find out? 

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why do we love? A philosophical inquiry - Skye C. Cleary

Animation by Avi Ofer

I’m not a fan of the end reveal because basically I’m not into last minute twists created solely to amp up an already melodramatic season.  It’s just too contrived for my taste. 

That being said, Killian’s reactions and behavior this episode once again demonstrate his character’s evolution. Killian was once a very broken man who cared about nothing and no one. The only thing keeping him alive was his quest for revenge. He didn’t murder David’s father. He murdered a random dude on the street. That’s Captain Hook. Does that excuse his actions? Of course not. He was a straight-up villain back then.  

But the man we saw tonight, who desperately wanted his potential FIL’s approval, that’s Killian Jones. Killian Jones isn’t a man who would willingly take a life and hurt the people he cares about. And Killian does care about people. That’s the difference between Killian Jones and Captain Hook. Killian’s proved that tonight and countless times before. 

That last scene with Killian examining the engagement ring? He’s feeling guilt and remorse. He’s reconsidering proposing now that he realizes what he’s done. He can’t propose with the weight of Emma’s grandfather’s death on his conscience. Would Captain Hook do that? Would he give it a moment’s thought? HELL NO. And that right there is evidence of a changed man. 

There’s a line of philosophical inquiry that says you can’t appreciate happiness, if you never know sadness. You can’t know good, if you haven’t seen evil. If we never saw Killian at his absolute worst–as Captain Hook–we’d never be able to recognize and honor the man he’s evolved into. And that to me, that makes dealing with this nonsense infinitely more tolerable.

  1. Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock, 1960.
  2. Lorna the Exorcist by Jess Franco, 1974.
  3. Possession by Andrzej Zulawski, 1981.
  4. The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Miss Osbourne by Walerian Borowczyk, 1981.
  5. The Living Dead Girl by Jean Rollin, 1982.
  6. The Fly by David Cronenberg, 1986.
  7. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me by David Lynch, 1992.
  8. The Witch by Robert Eggers, 2015.
  9. The Neon Demon by Nicolas Winding Refn, 2016.

Films that end with a woman’s sublime or abject experience. Inspired in part by a post by batarde.

“Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.”

A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful by Edmund Burke, 1757.

“The corpse, seen without God and outside of science, is the utmost of abjection. It is death infecting life. Abject. It is something rejected from which one does not part, from which one does not protect oneself as from an object. Imaginary uncanniness and real threat, it beckons to us and ends up engulfing us.”

Powers of Horror by Julia Kristeva, 1980.


Happy Birthday to French philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir! 

“Love lets us reach beyond ourselves.”

Simone de Beauvoir proposed that love is the desire to integrate with another and that it infuses our lives with meaning.  However, she was less concerned with why we love and more interested in how we can love better.  She saw that the problem with traditional romantic love is it can be so captivating that we are tempted to make it our only reason for being.  Yet, dependence on another to justify our existence easily leads to boredom and power games.  

To avoid this trap, Beauvoir advised loving authentically, which is more like a great friendship: lovers support each other in discovering themselves, reaching beyond themselves, and enriching their lives and the world, together.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why do we love? A philosophical inquiry - Skye C. Cleary

Animation by Avi Ofer

Appropriation Art And The Web...

…“But All You Did Was Steal Someone Else’s Work.”

I’ve felt the urge, growing into more of a need, over the last several years to write specifically about my feelings and experiences regarding appropriation art, and more specifically about how appropriation is received by viewers.  More specific still, I’d perhaps focus on how appropriation art is perceived in the age of the Internet and social media, where the reception of art is simultaneously most ubiquitous and most casual; where it’s easy to say, “What’s the point?” and allow that sentiment to resonate as the final word on whatever image or post it captions… as if, since the commenter hasn’t gotten “it,” there must be nothing to get, the ignorance (the blind eye, the cold shoulder) serviced as a sort of “criticism” in its own right.

Keep reading

Academic AUs

- you wrote an article and I didn’t agree with it so I wrote one in response. But then you wrote one in response to my response. So I wrote another one. And now we’ve both been invited to a conference to have a debate and oh no, you actually are as good looking as the photo on your university profile
- I’m new to the university and you’re this fabled lecturer in a different faculty who does weird stuff (like never wear shoes) and I’ve been trying to just SEE you to find out if my students have been lying and I get too excited when I see you
- We met at a conference when I have a standing ovation to your presentation when everyone else just politely clapped
- We’re enemies for funding in the department
- You’re in the chemical engineering faculty and I’m the in the school of historical and philosophical inquiry. We only met when you tried to take the last donut at the pop up donut shop on campus

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a 'more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: 'All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.’ Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

—  Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”

Deductive and Inductive Reasoning (Bacon vs Aristotle - Scientific Revolution)

In order to understand the Scientific Revolution, it is essential for students to understand the new ways of scientific thinking that surfaced during the 17th century. Deductive reasoning, which uses general premises to arrive at a certain conclusion, has been around since Aristotle. In his book Novum Organum, Sir Francis Bacon advanced a new way of philosophical inquiry known as inductive reasoning, in which the inquirer comes to a probable conclusion based on several specific observations.

While inductive reasoning is typically most closely associated with the scientific method, inductive reasoning has not lost its value. Rene Descartes famous phrase, “Cogito Ergo Sum,” is in itself a process of induction.

I present several examples of deductive and inductive reasoning, including Aristotle’s classic, “All men are mortal… Socrates is a man… Socrates is mortal.” I also explore the so-called “problem of induction” noted by critics such as David Hume. Although induction cannot lead to certain truth, it was never meant to lead to certain truth.

Although I designed this lecture for my AP European History students, it can also be useful for those studying philosophy, communication, logic, and the scientific method.

By: Tom Richey.

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

Vinny Tagle on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)

In celebration of Pelikula Tumblr’s fifth anniversary, we asked some of our favorite writers to talk about films that they personally relate to

The first time I saw Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was after a breakup.

I was in my junior year of college, and I saw it with a friend who recommended it after she found out that I had split with my girlfriend of two years. She seemed to be pleased with herself when she saw the response the movie elicited from me: bucketloads of snot and tears, a running commentary in the form of my unsolicited sharing of random memories with my new ex, and a sudden desire to go ice skating even though it was the height of summer. By the time the screen faded to white as the last glimmers of Joel and Clementine playing in the snow led to the end credits, I was a mess. I was still hurting then, and watching the movie felt like someone grabbed my heart and dashed it against the wall.

I have since lost touch with my ex and even that friend who introduced me to it, but, like a crazy ex-girlfriend, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind still firmly, almost insistently, continues to stay with me.

The film’s premise borrows from science fiction. Joel (Jim Carrey) finds out that soon after his breakup with his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet), she had undergone a procedure that wiped out every memory of him from her mind. Out of resentment and feelings of betrayal, he decides to go through the same process as well. The movie largely takes place in his subconscious as his doctors probe his brain and try to erase all traces of Clem. With a nostalgic filter accented by Jon Brion’s poignant score, he revisits old memories and rediscovers the reasons why he loved her.  He relives the first time they met in a bookshop. Their first night under the stars. Their playful roughhousing under the sheets. But also, their quarrels. Their awkward dinners. And eventually, their breakup. He goes through these memories and belatedly realizes that he wants to keep them, and that the entirety of his memories of Clem is greater than the sum of its parts.

It isn’t hard to see why someone who had just gone through a breakup would have had such an emotional response to the film. It naturally invites us to reassess our current and past relationships and dwell on all the what-could-have-beens. Are we already, as Clem so precisely describes, the “dining dead”? Have I been appropriating blame correctly? Which painful events should I slowly forget and which experiences should stay and continue to define me? The movie is a reflection on our tendency to edit our amorphous memories and reshape our pasts to make living in the present more bearable. But the film also distinguishes between our memories, which are inherently fragile and subject to forgetting, and our feelings that lurk underneath those memories, which are less malleable and are more ingrained in our characters. In the end, as Joel and Clem meet each other again in Montauk, they are granted another chance to fall in love and share a future even though they might very well make the same mistakes.

Eternal Sunshine is a cerebral film, and its nice when directors treat our most untamed organ —our hearts—with some intelligence. Annie Hall, Blue Valentine, Her, these are some of the movies that try to do this as well. But for me, nothing can top the emotional catharsis and philosophical inquiries of Eternal Sunshine. It isn’t a perfect movie: the subplot involving the doctors played by Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, and Elijah Wood (what a fun group of actors) bored me. But it’s the best treatise on modern relationships that I have seen on screen. And as Joel and Clem’s romance ebbs and flows and comes full circle, it leaves us with the hope that when we find someone new (or even someone not so new), we won’t let history repeat itself and we continue to work on being better versions of ourselves.

I’ve always hated the “Who are you?“ question. This is a philosophical inquiry. Answering that question is why we’re on earth. You can’t answer it in thirty seconds or in an elevator.
—  ― Sandy Nathan, Numenon

Tomorrow night, tune in for the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson!

Are we living in the universe as we think about it, or a digital simulation of that universe so advanced that it even simulates our own consciousness? What would be the difference between the two, and how could we tell? First posed more than a decade ago, these questions may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but they’re generating increasingly serious inquiry from philosophers and physicists alike.

At the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate, five distinguished panelists will join host Neil deGrasse Tyson to discuss whether the world we live in is a software simulation—and if it is, what that means for everything from the laws of physics to whether you still have to pay your rent (which, probably yes).

Learn more about this topic & tune in to the live stream on April 5 at 7 pm EDT!

anonymous asked:

I saw something where you said child zombies wouldn't be set the right tone for your game... So what is that tone, then? I'd think that sparing children would perceivably detract from the maturity and realism of the game, because come on, the fifties were all about having kids and starting families (so that would mean either zombie kids, or just plain old dead kids, and personally the latter seems even more grim) ... But seriously; what is the tone you are trying to set?

And off we go into the deep waters. (Caution: Contains Binary Language)

The main angle in this story is a society that operates under the threat of violence. People fear violence from other governments. People fear violence for their own governments. And women fear violence from men. That’s a big part of how the ‘50s got to be the way it was. Everything was bright and modern, and yet people were more afraid than ever. We were primates with nuclear bombs. We could fly and cure polio, and yet it was still okay for man a to “discipline” a woman if she burned his dinner. It was a weird, contradictory time, and it was held together by people being afraid. 

Questions loomed over peoples heads: What if the Soviets just cut loose one day and attack us? What if our government decides I’m a spy and takes me away? What happens if my husband loses his temper at me? These are all fears on different levels, but they boil back down to that most basic fear that someone will use violence against you.

In Aberford, we let some of those fears out their boxes using zombies. We asked ourselves “What happens if some men suddenly lost control and started trying to kill everyone?” How would women respond? What would happen to the men who tried to stop it? What do you do when the threat of violence suddenly turns into the reality of violence?

So child zombies don’t really fit into this line of philosophical inquiry because, generally, people don’t live in fear of violence from young children. Sure, we live in fear of noise and stickiness, but that’s not really the same. What does fit into “the threat of violence” extremely well is non-zombie children who are suddenly at risk of being horribly murdered. Trust me, there is plenty of horror to go around in this story.

Another major theme for this game is empowerment. People finding a strength and a will they didn’t know they had. Women taking back their identities from a society that tries to make them all the same and powerless. So instead of mowing down flimsy, shambling corpses, you’re fighting strong, large, dangerous enemies. Enemies worth beating. You are not beating small children to death.

vagabondaesthetics  asked:

what are your thoughts on how people have began to equate being without emotion as being (more) logical? Does this have any bearing in real life philosophy outside of maybe vaguely Star Trek with Vulcans?

I have a lot of thoughts about this trend, but before I get to them, I need to lay out a particular structure that underlies your question.

It is not simply that people are equating being without emotion as being more “logical:” it is that people are equating being more “logical” with being more “rational,” and being more “rational” is taken as a marker of intelligence. Logic, as the underlying structure of a rational mind, is taken as superior to emotion by virtue of the assumption that logic can reach objective truths unclouded by emotional bias. Thus, it is not simply that people equate being more “logical” as being less emotional, but being less emotional as being more “rational.” It is worth pointing out that this articulation of rationality is what western culture appeals to when its members say “you’re acting irrational,” or “let’s be rational about this,” or “there must be some rational explanation for this.” It is also worth pointing out that this structure is what is often used to devalue critiques by Feminists, scholars of Race and Queer Theory, and any other tradition that does not use a variation of western formal logic as its ground.

It is this kind of thinking that I see most often in students of philosophy (usually straight white males) who have little experience outside the western canon. They take up the thesis that rationality, as predicated upon logic, is superior to emotion or lived experience, and thus any system of thought that does not appeal to this notion is invalid. Upon this basis, they reject anything that does not parallel traditional western philosophical systems (everything from Aristotle through Kant, Quine to Russel), and barely accept thinkers like Dewey and the Pragmatists. Further, this form of philosophical inquiry maps neatly onto the way they perceive the world: logically, everyone has the same capacities (barring some biological difference) so there is no reason that people should be unable to attain the same level of achievement. Here, we begin to see the problem with this form of philosophical inquiry: it ignores the social realities of inequality in favor of an objective reality predicated upon a culturally situated way of structuring the world.

The bearing that this has on real life is the perpetuation of systems of inequality in the whole of the social world: libertarianism, for example, has shades of this that it tries to cloak in pretty rhetoric; every time someone demands “evidence” of implicit bias in social structures, they are appealing to this structure; even the arguments for women being more emotional, or men being more logical have its roots in this kind of structure. Even the presumption that atheism is more “rational” than religious faith, supernatural belief, and other faith systems is predicated in this structure as these things cannot be demonstrated “logically.” The logic/emotion divide is what allows critics of philosophical systems concerned with social justice to make their critiques on the basis of objectivity and rationality where the objective world can be perceived by the rational mind only through logical systems: because these systems are rooted in lived experience, they are subject to emotional bias, and thus are not “objective.”

The bearing that this logic/emotion divide has on “real life” philosophy is the structuring of the world in service to particular ideologies, systems of thought, and ways of perceiving the world.

My thoughts on this matter are that separating emotion from logic, and privileging logic, tends towards the promotion of a particular culturally situated way of perceiving the world. Thinkers participating in this project often presume that this structure is an a priori structure of, or a structure that exists prior to, the world. To generate this perspective they perform a process of inquiry that reveals to them a structure of the world that emerges from within their culturally situated perspective. They then read the results of this process of inquiry back into the world around them and assume that this structure was present all along, rather than the result of a process of inquiry. Any other way of viewing the world that does not share these same structures is taken as invalid, or inappropriate to the world around them.

The assumption that there is a “logical” structure to the world, that can be discerned through deduction that excludes emotion, is the end result of the above process. That this process corresponds to what we take to be the “scientific method,” which is taken to be the “most accurate” way of reaching an “objective” reality is the result of a particular cultural bias, not a “truth” about the world. Our failure to realize this fact is what enables individuals grounded in a “scientific” perspective to dismiss methods of inquiry that do not correspond to the scientific method or a formal logical approach to describing the world (and that’s all they’re really doing: describing the world) as “irrational,” or “Illogical,” or “unscientific.” For the most part, they’re referring to pretty much the same structure of critique applied in different areas. This, to me, is the real bearing that this has on “real life” philosophy: the pervasiveness of a “logical” standard that is used to structure the world according to particular ideologies.

Also, the Vulcans use some combination of utilitarianism and formal logic derived from pop-culture images of that these things are “supposed” to look like.