Had an interesting article pop up on my Twitter feed this morning. It was posted by a youngish (and increasingly successful – good on him!) New York publishing agent and linked to an article titled, “Why the First Novel Created Such a Stir” Here is a quote: “…This was one of the reasons book inspired […]
I’m launching a series that’s kinda philosophical in nature. Feels a bit pompous to say that but that really is it: a feeflowing foray into methods and philosophies and what they can teach us about the world.
I’m not attempting to shed any kind of new light here. Though if that happens in an emergent way that’s swell. There are two reasons for doing philosophy or any kind of analysis in my opinion:
1) To discover some new truth
2) Maintenance – understanding why what you know is true, and sharpening your abilities to discern truth and effective philosophies/methods
I will primarily be doing the latter. I think it more important in the same way that exercising regularly is more important than trying to max out.
Generalities and Specifics
When you analyze anything – you do so in either a general or specific way – in a microcosmic or macrocosmic scope.
You either see the forest or the trees.
This well-known concept called perspective bears visiting and revisiting.
That’s the curious thing about philosophy, whenever you run its various algorithms, you come up with iterations that are either entirely new or new to yourself. Which if you’re paying attention will inevitably lead to a deeper appreciation of life and perhaps augmented faculties.
Sort of like expanding your verbal vocabulary will allow you to know more, to express more, the study of philosophy and method: will allow you to know what you don’t know which in a curious reversal will allow you to know more truly.
The hunt for veracity, the pruning of the wild garden of concept, history, and method begins with perspective. It begins with generalities and specifics.
Why come up with these words. Why not just say perspective?
Well, I think that it’s important to highlight the sketching nature of inquiry. It’s not a laserlike, precise, engineering, sort of thing; at least not most of the time. Seeing that the general can be specific and the specific can be the general – will allow the sort of flexibility which will eventually provide the strength of sinew and ligament requisite for the precise and utilitarian glory of a piston or microprocessor.
That is the thing that seems to be forgotten more and more as more and more generations are undergoing the sterile process of common core. Philosophy, you see, is the forefather of mathematics, which is the forefather of science, which is the forefather of the technique that allows for 4g streaming. We seem to have let this fact get a tad dusty.
All these disciplines are various levels of generalities and specifics and often intertwine. Philosophy and mathematics must still be applied to the theories derived from the data derived from the scientific method. Here again is evidence of the fractal nature of inquiry of generalities and specifics.
Philosophy is perhaps the most general brush. The thing that allows us to set the scene, to paint in the background.
The unfortunate thing is that it has gotten a bad name. And it has gotten a bad name because many of its practitioners forget that they are sketching. I’m not at the present talking about the various schools and professional philosophers that you will encounter in any given Philosophy 101 course.
I’m talking about conversation.
I am talking about conversation because everyone does philosophy. Conversation as long as it strays beyond the weather and favorite flavors of ice cream will eventually take a philosophical turn. In fact, one can look at the entire history of inquiry as basically one continuous conversation facilitated by the advent of the printing press, and prior to that, the traditions and practices of various conservatories both secular and religious.
I am not only talking about conversation in general but a more specific type of conversation known as public discourse.
General conversation leads to the specific conversation of public discourse which leads to various societal, technological, legal, artistic, and historic outcomes that are either glorious or tragic.
In a society of frantic actors who all believe themselves to be put upon entrepreneurs, conversation can also get a bad name – And it can get a bad practice.
Empty talk! Actions speak louder than words! Etc. ad naseum.
Well, supposing I told you that there’s a cliff you’re about to fall off, then the value of words will certainly become aparent, and quickly!
Actions are certainly more exciting than conversation and often times more efficacious. Since direct experience at times allows you to learn far more than poring over the most erudite tome, of the most illustrious thinker.
Yet when you’ve had the experience you must be able to contextualize it, in order to more effectively remember it, to be able to share it with others and to know what of the experience was real.
It is here that conversation goes awry because most people don’t contextualize their experiences, they don’t classify it into generalities and specifics very effectively, and share it in a raw sort of form.
This report of impressions while initially useful will if not expounded and improved upon with the rigorous methods of philosophy and logic, eventually lead to faulty conclusions and reinforced biases.
This is why today as always it is painfully apparent that most people, even cautious people, myself included, more often than not simply exchange talking points, and return quickly to the comforting arms of prosaics like: which beer?
One shouldn’t try to force deeper conversations. One should not make it a chore. The thing I am calling for is to be aware of where on the ‘generalities and specifics’ spectrum you find yourself during conversation. This is a call for being better aware of when exactly you are engaging in pundit style banter and smalltalk and when you’ve hit upon something profound.
This ability hinges on the capactiy for philsophy something that arises from a combination of knowledge and practice.
Philosophy is really method, or rather philosophy is the ur-method which allows you to form new methods with structural integrity.
What I am calling for is some reading, is some thinking, is some attention. All thigns which should provide you with the realization that most of your conclusions are lacking. That conversations, ideas, and actions dervied from lacking conclusions will compound into an obfuscating cloud that may compromise your ability to enjoy life and see truth.
It is a difficult thing, that begins with a more careful examination of generalities and specifics of who, what, where, and how? Of words like any, many, some, always, never, etc.
It is a difficult thing that I myself don’t always live up.
Here is an admitedly dry and somewhat impenetrable little volume that may, given some patience, give you a start.
In this TFJ Vlog, you will find a discussion of the need to develop physical and metaphysical stamina. Public discourse and effective inquiry require strength and character. Both of these are inextricably tied and I give some quirky examples of how to attain them.
Mortality and the prosaic nature of megadeath are mentioned as a call to greater vigor and reverence for the potential lost.
There is also some discussion of the environment, especially water, and agriculture and how profoundly it affects our lives.
Due diligence must be given to such weighty issues and I just don’t see it being done on a large enough scale. So I raise the need for a more public engagement.
Don’t forget how great it feels to create. To have a finished product, or to be working towards a finished product.
People are often miserable. There are a billion things to be miserable about, many with good cause. But, there is balm, there is hope.
One way to allay misery is to create. This option is often forgotten through disuse.
Just like the person who doesn’t know how bad off they really were, how abnormal their state was, until they start exercising, folks who don’t create regularly forget that it is an option.
They forget that it is profoundly satisfying to assemble memories and ideas into coherency, to hone the turn of a wrist, or the flick of a brush, to near perfection.
Most of all, it seems that they forget that is possible. That it is an option open to everyone and not just folks inhabiting rarified heights fortified by talent and divine favor. How would you even be able to enjoy such things if you didn’t contain the seed of their genesis?
When one ceases that most natural of human activities, or allows it to dwindle to occasional outbursts, let’s that mighty river become a trickle… Satisfaction becomes damnably difficult. Everything seems spartan, prosaic, and utilitarian. And even the spartan, prosaic, and utilitarian things, don’t hold the stoic magic that they should.
Computer screens seem crisper, the neatly arranged icons carry intent, the white broken stripes of a roadway are very nearly a poem, the feel of a key beneath the forefinger entices toward a greater dance. Then there is the electric hum. You are turned on. Why would you ever want to be turned off?
The most effective solution to a discipline problem is to not make things too much of a chore. Don’t strain the neck, don’t grit the teeth, you don’t have to do it.
It would be better if you do it but it’s fine if you don’t.
This view, the view that you can either have a high grav or a yeungling will leave you with the flexibility and energy necessary to actually get things done.
Being locked in, that way definitely doesn’t help you get things done.
It robs you of energy as you try to find excuses or switch to other activities that are slightly less taxing but almost equally productive.
The reason for procrastination is that you view activities as taxing.
The reason that you view them as taxing is you grit your teeth and you anticipate an outcome. Don’t grit, don’t anticipate, flow.
A rhythm can’t be established if you’re trying to establish a rhythm. You have to let one beat lead to another. The rest will take care of itself.
A fit analogy for this would be tying your shoes. Do you strain or worry about the burdensome responsibility of the skilled labor of shoe-tying? No, the shoes very nearly tie themselves because one twist of strand, leads to another, one knot to another, one loop, to another, and the thing is done. It insists on itself through the intrinsic subtlety of a pair of strings.
Every activity has some subtle intrinsic aspect. Listen for it. Sound it out. And once you have a way to lock into the groove ride it like a gentle wave to a warm and sandy shore. This is the right way to get locked in.