In praise of not working like a fool.

Of all the ideologies that pervade the present moment, the ideology of “hard work” — the “grind” — is among the most pathological. Not because it’s the most perverse, on its face, but because it’s so pernicious. It takes what is, on some level, a bona fide virtue — that is, doing what needs to be done — and twists into something psychotic: doing as much of anything — for it really doesn’t matter so long as it’s something, so long as you can tell people you did it and how hard it was — as humanly possible. It’s a…


The existential pains and pleasures.

There will come a day in some of your lives, I hope, when you believe in yourself and others don’t. At least not to the same extent. I say this not because I wish for you the second bit — to be sure, I wish you all the belief — but rather because it means that you will, some day (if not already), believe in yourself. And that’s a most beautiful thing. But it will also hurt; that’s what I’m here to tell you about.

First I should define what I mean by self-belief. When I refer to self-belief, I’m…


On the subtle radicalism of materialism.

As sophisticated, modern homo sapiens, we take it for granted that things are made of stuff — physical stuff, to be precise. In fact, we largely take it for granted that all stuff — including the stuff that makes us, us — is physical stuff. As in, there is no other stuffs, only physical stuffs! And all this physical stuff obeys, of course, the laws of physics — which are themselves physical, of course, because, well, again, that’s all there is! It’s physical stuffs all the way down.

This view of the world — and its stuffs — is known…


Getting meta for better.

Got cave?

Philosophy has conventionally been framed in terms of the ‘pursuit of Knowledge’ (or just knowledge, depending on one’s epistemology). Plato — the ancient Greek dude — had a story about a cave that captures this view of things. You might’ve even heard of it. Something about how ignorance is akin to living chained in the darkness of the underground, taking shadows for ultimate Reality, whereas Knowledge is the light of the world above — Reality for real. It’s, like, an allegory, right. And the moral of it is that the philosopher — should they have their business straight — ought…


The conjectured existential pleasures of being a tile. As in, like, metaphorically.

How would our lives differ, if at all, if instead of viewing them, as we tend to, in the most grandiose, conceited terms imaginable — as great journeys, heroic adventures, singularly ultimate missions— we viewed them in context, pictured them for what they really are: single tiles of civilisation. What if instead of conceiving of our lives as an attempt to build, from scratch, the ultimate building — replete with all the finest finish — we thought of them in single-tile terms, so to speak. A single life as a single tile, with single tile type business. Against such framing…


On what things could maybe possibly be

Imagine a world wherein all needless human suffering had been eradicated. Not that silver-lining-there-were-lessons-learned-the-glass-is-half-full-I’m-ultimately-glad-I-went-through-it kinda suffering but rather the well-that-just-sucked-and-for-no-reason-now-I-have-herpes sort. A world wherein nature and technology had been harmonised, brought into accordance with the Tao of things. A world wherein health was the default state, not some elusive mirage beyond the horizon of sickness. A world wherein creativity and intelligence reigned supreme, wherein love and compassion prevailed always. A world wherein the mystery of existence was embraced, suffused through all things. A world wherein we all got along, wherein we’d learnt to collaborate, to amplify one another’s unique potentiality…


The philosopher’s stoned.

There are experiences, and then there are experiences. Psychedelics induce the latter — with almost perfect reliability. By tickling the brain’s serotonergic system, these compounds open up vistas of mind, dimensions of experience, landscapes of Reality, entirely unfathomable to the uninitiated. They’re even good for you. But what, if anything, do they tell us about the ‘ultimate nature of Reality’? How, if at all, do they affect our implicit/explicit philosophical theory of everything? Are they really, as it’s been supposed, windows onto a different — and even much more fundamental — Reality? And do they truly reveal — as anyone…


On the need for an applied philosophy.

Knowledge is a mysterious thing. So mysterious, in fact, that after thousands of years of inquiry into its nature, we remain uncertain as to whether or not it’s even a thing. In fairness, though, skepticism — of the epistemological variety — is a largely academic view. Most who pay the matter little mind take knowledge for granted — of course it exists. How else do we tie our shoes, or factor a quadratic? Knowledge is, at least it seems, self-evident — an intuitive fact of our existence. Our intuitions here are, I believe, well-founded. Not only is knowledge a seeming


Why organisations matter.

We become what we put our resources to. This is true at the level of our individual lives, as at the level of civilisation. The first question, in both cases, is what do we actually want to become? Once we’re agreed on what we want to become, we can then turn our minds to how we ought to get there — how to actualise the becoming. In the individual case, the process then becomes one of cultivating ever greater control over our capacity to coordinate our behaviour towards this particular end — or set thereof. …


On picturing possible futures.

We live in the present, we’re surrounded by the past, but the future’s forever a mystery — and yet we’re headed straight for it, we’re building it everyday. A central question, then, it seems, is how do we build something — something we care to live in — which we cannot see? Something that, by its very nature, cannot be seen — cannot be known.

How one comes down on this question reveals a lot about one’s implicit metaphysic. If one thinks we shouldn’t sweat this apparent dilemma, and insists instead that we ought to just let things unfold as…

Nathan McNiece

@fair

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