On Pure Entertainment


“People who see life as anything more than pure entertainment are missing the point.”

– George Carlin

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IKEA Effect


People attach greater value to things they have made themselves than if the very same product was produced by someone else. This cognitive bias is known as the IKEA effect.

Creating something yourself boosts people’s feelings of pride and competence, and has the added effect of showing off their competence to others. This can lead to an overly subjective view of a project.

Chandler: [Rips his jacket on the large wooden tv unit.] Wow! That ripped! That ripped real nice!
Joey: How many times I have to tell you! You, turn and slide! You know, turn and slide.
Chandler: Oh you don’t turn and slide, you throw it out! I’m tired of having to get a tetanus shot every time I get dressed!
Joey: Well, we’re not throwing it out! I built this thing with my own hands!
Friends (1997) Season 4, Episode 2; “The One with the Cat” [No. 75]

On Freedom from Pain


Chorus of Theban Elders: ‘Therefore, while our eyes wait to see the destined final day, we must call no one happy who is of mortal race, until he hath crossed life’s border, free from pain.’

– Sophocles, Oedipus Rex


Taken from Oedipus the King, lines 1529-1530; as published in The Tragedies of Sophocles (1917), translated by Richard Claverhouse Jebb.

Das Gerede


It isn’t just us who are so temporary—it is all living beings, all living things—the animals, the trees, the clouds. They, too, exist briefly against the background of nothingness. Once we are aware that we, and all living beings, share this fragile state, we might learn to identify more with them, to recognize our kinship with all living things and with the Earth itself. They are like us, briefly alive against the backdrop of nothingness.

However, Heidegger is very aware of the way in which we hide from confrontation with Being, escaping into the warm folds of daily life, of society, and of what he termed its endless chatter, Das Gerede. We can imagine Das Gerede as an enormous pancake-like dough layer that smothers our connection with Being. Chatter is everywhere—it comes in via the airwaves, the media, our social circle—and it seeks to reassure us that trivia actually matters, that our jobs count, that what we are doing and thinking has importance. It hides us from the nature of Being in a world of death. So the task of philosophy is to remove us from the doughy comfort of chatter and introduce us, systematically, to the bracing concept of Nothingness.

Heidegger wants to free us from the pull of chatter, so as to focus on the intensity of existence.

– Courtesy of brainpickings.org

Conversations: Eradicating Religion


Helena
I would argue that one of the greatest challenges facing civilization in the twenty first century is for human beings to learn to speak about their deepest personal concerns—about ethics, spiritual experience, and the inevitability of human suffering—in ways that are not flagrantly irrational.

Sappho
Absolutely. We desperately need a public discourse that encourages critical thinking and intellectual honesty! Unfortunately, it is probably true to say that nothing stands in the way of this project more than the respect we accord religious faith.

Zoe
Surely, you would be the first to admit that the prospects for eradicating religion in our time do not seem good? Continue reading

Forced to Love


Nelson: ‘I fear you’? This is what Valentine’s Day means to you?

Bart: This is what it means to everyone. How can you be forced to say ‘I love you’? People only give Valentines because they’re scared of what would happen if they didn’t.

– The Simpsons (2013) Season 25, Episode 11; “Specs and the City” [No. 541]