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  • feedwordpress 09:01:46 on 2018/02/21 Permalink
    Tags: evolutionary biology, Existentialism, , , , Ronald de Souza, ,   

    “Nature, Mr Allnut, is what we were put in the world to rise above”*… 


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    Questions about what matters, and why, and what exists in the world, are quintessentially philosophical. The answers to many of these questions are informed by how we conceive of ourselves. How has what is often described as the ‘Copernican revolution’ effected by Charles Darwin changed our self-conception? One particularly surprising feature of evolutionary biology is that it lends significant support to existentialism…

    Philosopher Ronnie de Souza suggests that ethics cannot be based on human nature because, as evolutionary biology tells us, there is no such thing: “Natural-born existentialists.”

    [Photo above: “Children play on Omaha beach in Normandy, France, 1947,” by David Seymour/Magnum Photos. International Center of Photography]

    * Katherine Hepburn to Humphrey Bogart in African Queen

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    As we sidle up to Sartre, we might spare a thought for Baruch (or Benedict) de Spinoza, the Dutch philosopher whose rationalism and determinism put him in opposition to Descartes and helped lay the foundation for The Enlightenment, and whose pantheistic views led to his excommunication from the Jewish community in Amsterdam; he died on this date in 1677.

    As men’s habits of mind differ, so that some more readily embrace one form of faith, some another, for what moves one to pray may move another to scoff, I conclude … that everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits; each would then obey God freely with his whole heart, while nothing would be publicly honored save justice and charity.

    Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:49 on 2016/10/15 Permalink
    Tags: beach house, DiCaprio, Existentialism, , , , ,   

    “Oh housebuilder! Now you are seen”*… 


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    Movie star Leonardo DiCaprio’s Malibu dream house hit the market on Friday, listing for $10.95 million. Leo purchased the midcentury California bungalow (can you still call something a bungalow when it costs more than $10 mil? The jury is out!) back in 1998, and the three bed, two bath home is a beaut. It’s on star-studded Carbon Beach, the views are killer, and the interiors are gorgeous.

    But the truth is, life is probably meaningless and there is a strong chance that we all die alone. Could buying this house change any of that? Is it possible that life at 21844 Pacific Coast Highway, with your own private hot tub and large ocean front deck, could actually offer a reprieve from the agony of being a human in the world? Or, is it certain that “we cannot escape anguish, for we are anguish,” as John-Paul Sartre once put it? Great question!…

    An existentialist interview with Leonardo DiCaprio’s real estate agent: “Leo DiCaprio’s $11 Million Malibu Beach House And The Soul-Crushing Agony Of Being Human.” [via the always-illuminating Pop Loser]

    * Gautama Buddha

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    As we sigh, we might send nihilist birthday greetings to Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche; he was born on this date in 1844.  A philosopher, poet, composer, cultural critic, and classical philologist, Nietzsche is probably best remembered for his concepts of the “death of God”, the Übermensch, the eternal recurrence, the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy, and the will to power… which, among them, have had an extraordinary impact on thinkers as diverse as Martin Heidegger and Ayn Rand on the one hand, and Michel Foucault (whose birthday this also is) and Jacques Derrida on the other.

    When someone hides something behind a bush and looks for it again in the same place and finds it there as well, there is not much to praise in such seeking and finding. Yet this is how matters stand regarding seeking and finding “truth” within the realm of reason. If I make up the definition of a mammal, and then, after inspecting a camel, declare “look, a mammal’ I have indeed brought a truth to light in this way, but it is a truth of limited value.

    – Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinn (On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense), 1873

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:46 on 2015/12/11 Permalink
    Tags: Adrift on the Nile, , Existentialism, , , , , , pronouns,   

    “Human relationships are not rocket science—they are far, far more complicated”*… 


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    In the English language, the word “he” is used to refer to males and “she” to refer to females. But some people identify as neither gender, or both – which is why an increasing number of US universities are making it easier for people to choose to be referred to by other pronouns…

    More at “Beyond ‘he’ and ‘she’: The rise of non-binary pronouns.”

    * James W. Pennebaker, The Secret Life of Pronouns

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    As we revel in reference, we might send thoughtful birthday greetings to Naguib Mahfouz; he was born on this date in 1911.  A prolific writer– he published 34 novels, over 350 short stories, dozens of movie scripts, and five plays over a 70-year career– he was one of the first writers in Arabic to explore Existentialist themes (e.g., the Cairo Trilogy, Adrift on the Nile).  He was awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:16 on 2015/08/12 Permalink
    Tags: Enuigi, Existentialism, , , Luigi, Mario, Nintendo, , , Xbox   

    “I took a test in Existentialism. I left all the answers blank and got 100″*… 


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    English-speakers might say “existential despair,” among a number of different terms. Germans refer to Weltschmerz. As is often the case, the French have the perfect term to represent a somewhat intellectualized world-weariness that positively cries out for a pack of Gitanes. The term is ennui, and it’s so useful that we’ve incorporated it into our language. Using a French term gives the depression that extra bit of useless panache.

    A game designer named Josh Millard has created the perfect Nintendo-style game to match that mood—it is called Ennuigi, and in it you can “spend some time with a depressed, laconic Luigi as he chain smokes and wanders through a crumbling Mushroom Kingdom, ruminating on ontology, ethics, family, identity, and the mistakes he and his brother [Mario] have made.”

    Did I mention you can play it? Yes. You can play it.

    Here is the complete list of controls:

    left/right: walk around
    up: ruminate
    down: smoke…

    More at “‘Ennuigi’: Nintendo for pretentious Existentialists.”

     

    * Woody Allen

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    As we wait for the man, we might recall that it was on this date in 2008 that Microsoft discontinued the Xbox home video game console.  Introduced in 2002 to compete with Nintendo’s Mario-hosting Game Cube (along with Sony’s Playstation and Sega’s Dreamcast) , the Xbox had been the first U.S.- produced video game console since the Atari Jaguar disappeared in 1996, and had sold nearly 25 million units (on which, Halo and scores of other games were played) by the time it was replaced by the Xbox 360.

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