Tagged: independence

On Becoming God

I had an interesting written exchange with an independent-minded student recently, which I record here (personal details removed) as something to chew on for anyone facing a similar situation.

Student: I need someone who listens to me and who is curious about me.

Teacher: Yes, in general it feels meaningful to know….

Random Reflections

The fact that their answer is awful does not mean your answer is correct. However, from a purely opportunistic perspective, an instance in which their answer is truly awful would be an excellent time to offer an alternative that was at least semi-rational. If you cannot do that much, then it might be better to offer no alternative at all, to abstain from...

Belonging and Hedonism

For most people, belonging to a group or tribe brings comfort. Comfort is pleasure. Therefore, if pleasure is happiness, then belonging brings happiness. If, however, pleasure is not happiness, then what does the comfort of belonging to a tribe bring you? An escape from the reality of unhappiness, perhaps? The same may be said of all other pleasures which, like belonging, entail a...

Reasons Not to Drink

Here in Korea, drinking is not merely a commonplace activity but a deeply embedded ritualistic element of social life. And I work at a university, where the social ritual aspects of the “drinking culture” are exacerbated by the universal college-age confusion of new-found debauchery with burgeoning freedom. Hence, I am often met with skeptical double-takes and wide-eyed “Why nots?” when I inform students...

Philosophic Detachment

A student who is about to move away from home to begin graduate studies in philosophy was ruminating about the value and significance of detaching oneself from relationships and sentimental entanglements which distort or limit independent thought. As a young man deeply interested in both Eastern and Western thought, he mentioned having recently heard a Buddhist monk explaining the spiritual benefits of cutting...

A Few Points of Order

The fact that I call my organization “I Love Puppies” does not prove that I love puppies, let alone that anything my organization does or advocates is actually good for puppies. Conversely, the fact that you disagree with or criticize my organization’s principles or proposals in no way proves that you hate puppies or wish to harm them. No group may be considered...

Friends and Enemies

He whose instinct is to wince when you hurt yourself, to warn you when he sees danger ahead, to shed a tear for your heartbreak, to remind you (whether gently or brusquely) of your reason when you become confused, and to offer a hand when you are frightened to face this moment alone, is…

On Being Liked

The dependent man tends to judge himself more highly to the extent that he is liked by others, and therefore feels a compelling vested interest in gaining approval, which is to say that he increasingly uses others’ acceptance of him as an emotional surrogate for the self-understanding that he lacks. This tendency naturally drives him ever farther from any considerations of the good,...

Standing Alone

The true individual is not he who speaks with the voice of his generation, including his generation’s officially sanctioned “outsiders club,” but rather he who speaks against his generation, and especially against the officially sanctioned outsiders club. To stand with one’s group requires neither courage nor thought. To stand against one’s group requires substantial quantities of both. The true visionary is not he...

Going for Broke

Theory of deficit spending.– At a certain point, irredeemable debt starts to feel irredeemable. From that point, every tether is cut. It is too late to repair the damage by correcting the trend, so psychological limits disintegrate. When one feels that one is adding quantities to infinity, what is the difference between two trillion and four trillion? Or seventy-five trillion, for that matter?...