Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The truest vision of life

I'm always looking for a new metaphor for philosophy. Here's a good old one: Wallace Stegner's borrowed "spectator bird." It's a nice vision, less manic than Douglas Adams' whale. But philosophy is no mere spectator's sport. It's for doing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Indigo now!"

I always have fun in class with William James's experiments in psychoactive chemistry, especially the one involving nitrous oxide and Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit.
I strongly urge others to repeat the experiment, which with pure gas is short an harmless enough. The effects will of course vary with the individual, just as they vary in the same individual from time to time; but it is probable that in the former case, as in the latter, a generic resemblance will obtain. With me, as with every other person of whom I have heard, the keynote of the experience is the tremendously exciting sense of an intence metaphysical illumination. Truth lies open to the view in depth beneath depth of almost blinding evidence. The mind sees all the logical relations of being with an apparent subtlety and instantaneity to which its normal consciousness offers no parallel; only as sobriety returns, the feeling of insight fades, and one is left staring vacantly at a few disjointed words and phrases, as one stares at the cadaverous-looking snow peak from which the sunset glow has just fled, or at the black cinder left by an extinguished brand.
He was half-joking, but half not.The punchline is the "fade" at the end, and the joke's on us metaphysical seekers.

Well, looks like Oliver Sacks is carrying on in a similar vein: no nitrous or Hegel in his case, but it's fundamentally the same quest for transcendence through pharmacology. And, it seems about as likely to succeed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Walk and enjoy

Still the most useful information I've ever received at any church, on the grounds of Brook Hollow Baptist in Nashville:

Monday, August 20, 2012

David’s Journey

"...when David Oliver, a retired professor of gerontology and assistant director of MU’s Interdisciplinary Center on Aging, told his colleagues via YouTube video that he had stage 4 cancer, he led with his trademark grin. “The goal of the video was to make people comfortable so they could see that I was still David,” says Oliver, who was diagnosed with treatable but not curable nasopharyngeal (upper throat) carcinoma in October 2011. “I was not ‘David with cancer’ — even though I was David, with cancer.”" David’s Journey | MIZZOU Magazine

Amazing, inspiring story. It first caught my eye because of the phyiscal resemblance between David and my late Dad James C. Oliver, DVM (Mizzou class of '60), who passed from leukemia in 2008. I wonder if we're related? I hope so. Dad would be so impressed with David's graceful and dignified cheerfulness, and his willingness to use his own health crisis as an opportunity to educate. Good luck to you David.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Earth Days

Here's where we'll begin, in the Environmental Ethics and Activism course at MTSU this Fall.
"...abusing the environment without any thought to the consequences." 
The trailer:

The film:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

From books to banks

Felt virtuous yesterday, biking five miles to renew my auto tags (while the Corolla was in the shop). Whiled away the time in line by tweeting this:
Waiting to renew my auto tags. There once was a world-class independent bookstore here, now a bank. Sad.

And this:
Here's where philosophy was shelved at Davis-Kidd, back in the day...

Really sad.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Something human worth doing

You can avoid it, of course. Gotta choose. Give Sartre his due.
The concept of the project I find useful. Something you do in the present, and can remember doing in the past, and expect to do in the future, in order to create something. A work of art which need not be in the arts per se, but something human worth doing.
“That's existentialism, yes?” “Yes, I think that's right. I don't see how you can avoid it.” Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Solvitur ambulando

Solvitur ambulando-"It is solved by walking." Diogenes of Sinope, via Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312. Says it all. Accelerating Intelligence News