Happy new year! Resolutions through famous people quotes

“I don’t know where I am going, but I promise it won’t be boring”. David Bowie

“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again”. Buddha

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that never been”. Rainer Maria Rilke

“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden”. Goethe

“Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account”. Oscar Wilde

“The journey is the reward”. Steve Jobs

Peculiarly inspiring quotes!

“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid”. Epictetus

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage”. Seneca

“We have art in order not to die from the truth”. F. Nietzsche

“Religion is to mysticism what popularization is to science”. H. Bergson

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live”. Marcus Aurelius

“Free election of masters does not abolish the masters of the slaves”. Herbert Marcuse

“Love is a serious mental illness”. Plato

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”. Plato

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”. Aristotle

Gilles Deleuze and his views on people

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For some, he was a complicated; for others he was an outstanding philosopher for his intertwined rich writings and his beliefs on people as individuals, capable of achieving the impossible. While other leftists prefers the social group over the individual (mostly communists do), Gilles Deleuze prevailed the importance of the individual in a world that is a web with no frontiers with endless domino and butterfly effects (Covid19 anyone?). The concept of the deleuzian space will be presented in a future post.

Consciousness is made of impressions and experiences. It is an ongoing process; one can’t achieve a set consciousness that doesn’t change. So, we go through lives affecting and being affected by the outside world and our strength is to be creators of new possibilities.

Here are some of his quotes that sum up his views on people.

A concept is a brick; it can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.

Philosophy, art and science are not the mental objects of an objectified brain but the three aspects under which the brain becomes subject.

A creator is someone who creates their own impossibilities and thereby creates possibilities.

There’s no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons.

The self is only a threshold, a door, a becoming between two possibilities.

Drunkenness as a triumphant of the plant in us.

To affirm is not to bear, carry or harness oneself to that which exists, but on the contrary to unburden, unharness and set free which lives.

To those who say escaping is not courageous, we answer: what is not escape and social investment at the same time? (With Felix Guattari).

 

 

The US riots: a mirror of the world

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What’s currently happening in the US happened in other big cities in the world in 2019. From Beirut to Tehran, to Paris and Alger,  to Catalonia and Latin America and so on, protesters screamed the same words:

All lives matter and dignity to people!

Better known as the Global Protest Wave of 2019 that continued through 2020, the US riots are a mirror of the world: same claims, same suffering, same hunger, same poverty, same injustice. Above all, governments are not trustworthy anymore. Most of world leaders are the 20th century product and mentality and we are in the 21st century, with different struggles and problems. The change needs to take place.

Economical injustice, poverty, weaken medical system (shown since the outbreak Covid19), climate change, corruption, cybernetics and the endless politicization of races and religions. Don’t expect the same leaders and traditional political parties to bring solutions. They are the ones responsible of the state of the world today.

Systems don’t last forever. Even the biggest empires in history ended up dismantled. Riots are, as the french philosopher Gilles Deleuze call it, “lines of flight” cracking the system’s wall from the inside. The reason behind it is that energy can’t be contained for too long. It will turn to anger and violence. Instead of facing the problems, most leaders are in denial, explaining these movements with interpretations and conspiracy theories showing their paranoid personality.

Despite unfortunate events in 2020 and thousands of deaths, maybe 2020 is the year to wake up and act. Maybe it is the year where we must know that we are all in this and that we need to back each others up. Maybe it is the year where we must see racial, gender and cultural differences as party outfits and deep inside we are all the same, humans. Maybe it is the year we must consider humanism and respect as the biggest values.

Fear leads to racism and fanaticism.

Fanaticism and racism lead to violence.

Violence leads to tragedy.

Maybe 2020 is the year to break this hateful cycle.

 

Philosophy in the eyes of some philosophers

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Not long ago, I wrote about the benefits of philosophy that you can read by clicking on this link:

The benefits of reading (or studying) philosophy

However what is philosophy? I tried to search for famous philosophers’ definitions of philosophy. To my surprise, not all of them gave their own definitions of it.

Anyway, let’s define philosophy.

Philosophy (love of wisdom) is a way of thinking about the world, the universe, and society. It works by asking very basic questions about the nature of human thought, the nature of the universe, and the connections between them. The ideas in philosophy are often general and abstract. The purpose of Philosophy is to seek and find the Truth by debate and Reason. It never had another goal. It has three broad divisions; Logic, Art and Ethics. Each broad division has countless subdivisions. In other words, Philosophy brings the important questions to the table and works towards an answer. It encourages us to think critically about the world; it is the foundation of all knowledge and when utilized properly, can provide us with huge benefits.

Here is how famous philosophers define philosophy:

Philosophy is the highest music, Plato

Philosophy consists in forming, inventing and fabricating concepts, Gilles Deleuze

Philosophy is at once the most sublime and the most trivial oh human pursuits,  William James

That to study philosophy is to learn  to die, Michel de Montaigne

Philosophy to the real world is like masturbation to sex, Karl Marx

The unbearably human “what if” attitude

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painting by Bertha Wegmann

The word “human” is often referred to as the conscious being and probably so far, the only one. Consciousness, as the French philosopher Henri Bergson defines it, is historicity. It is the capacity of being aware of time. Moreover, humans live consciously in the time and have a special relation to it. This is why, we invented the watch, the calendar and timetables; but also we have deadlines, memories, projections and so on.

Consciousness is memory, a link between the past, the present and the future which allows us to go back and forth and to anticipate the future while looking back at the past. in Bergson’s words:

“In reality, the past is preserved by itself automatically … the pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory”.

Is this ability a heavy weight? Isn’t the cause of constantly saying to ourselves “what if”?

Mainly there are two consequences of this: resentment or pro-activity.

Resentment is the sum of negative feelings like regrets, remorse, jealousy and persecution. What if I did this instead of that? What if people hate me? What if I am fundamentally stupid? What if I will never make it? All are legitimate questions which can become psychologically lethal if one is entangled in this obsessive attitude, feeding all kinds of negative feelings. We can easily desire to be constantly feeling bad.

On the other hand, these questions can become the way to a better living only if there is a desire to change and face the new. Bergson said it better:

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly”.

Søren Kierkegaard, the creator of the philosophical journal

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Søren Kierkegaard (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a “single individual”, giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment.

Kierkegaard invented philosophical journals. He wrote over 7,000 pages in his journals on events, musings, thoughts about his works and everyday remarks. Careful not to reveal too much, Kierkegaard wrote aphorisms in literary style which led to many interpretations of his writings. At that time, the philosopher figure was Hegel.

Hegel followed a big tradition of philosophical writing that can be summed as a long demonstration or thesis in an impersonal objective style. He was considered as the philosopher of the system and his writings are a fusion of abstract thinking and concepts. Being monumental himself, Hegel was the power image of the philosopher who inspired countless philosophy students and readers. So Kierkegaard stood as the anti-Hegel, anti-system philosopher which made him the father of existentialism.

 Knowing that his journals would have a big influence on people, In December 1849, he wrote:

 “Were I to die now the effect of my life would be exceptional; much of what I have simply jotted down carelessly in the Journals would become of great importance and have a great effect; for then people would have grown reconciled to me and would be able to grant me what was, and is, my right.”

The sacrificial creativity: the misconception of creativity in the modern world

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fixthephoto.com

During lockdown, there was a massive pressure on people to be creative since time is the thing we needed to kill. While this is not a bad idea and creativity is thrived in moments of silence and slowness, the whole marketed creativity was more perceived as an obligation. However, creativity is not an obligation. What is creativity then?

Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc. It is the synonym of originality, inventiveness, progressiveness, imagination.

Consequently, there are two main goals to creativity: aesthetics and necessity. For the latter, creativity is essentially an obligation and that’s how humans evolved and survived as specie. But for aesthetics and intellectual pleasure how can creativity become an obligation? It is almost a paradox. Therefore where did conception come from?

In ancient times, creativity was never an issue except for poets who were inspired by muses. There was a natural way to let creativity develop by simply letting it be. It was more like a dance with creativity whenever anyone was inspired. Nature is creativity without an issue, hence the peaceful relationship humans had with it.

In modern times, since the 17th century, a man was defined as a free conscience being in total mastery of his own thoughts and actions. Creativity started to be an issue because it had to me mastered and under the command of the ego. Then a person had to be creative. The relationship to creativity became a struggle, pushing artists to sacrifices and artificial ways to reach it. Most artists still beat themselves up to create something. How many artists did commit suicide? How many others were/are addicted?

Forced creativity and commercialization of art in general turned creativity into an obligation and a burden.  As Nietzsche said it once:

I want to know whether you are a person devoted to creating or to exchanging in some respect or other: as a creator you belong to the free, as an exchanger you are their slave and instrument.

Labour day or the modern slavery day

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photo by cute-calendar.com

Happy labour day! It is a controversial title especially for jobless people out there and for grateful workers who still have a job in spite of the lockdown. In fact, digging deeper to the concept of labour, one can tell that the alteration of labour in our understanding had led to an alteration in the concept of freedom. How did we become modern slaves?

The word freedom comes from libertas. In Ancient Rome, a liber meant a free man who is not a slave. So, back then, slavery and freedom were legal statuses. Fast forward many centuries later, with the outcome of the Industrial Revolution (19th century), labour became a social, legal, political and philosophical theme. Therefore, labour is a recent concept, born with the evolution of society. Since then, with the progressive abolition of slavery and monarchies in Europe, everybody was working. Freedom as a concept was understood as financial independence.

Alongside the new concepts of both labour and freedom, capitalism (especially in its industrial form) encouraged ambition conceived as wealth which was not a bad thing. The bad thing happened later, when capitalism turned to become consumerism and a financial capitalism. Simply put, loans and massive production turned the world population into forever indebted to banks and states. Freedom as a concept  both in its old and new understanding, became an illusion. Adding to this, the new virtual surveillance of online work.

Charles Bukowski said it better:

How in the hell, could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 am by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where you essentially made lots of money for somebody else and asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?

in Factotum, 1975

Happy labour day everybody!

 

 

How to face the planetary lockdown? Stoic philosophers answered

Scenic View Of Sea Against Clear Sky

Stoic philosophers are the best choice of coaches to help us get through our long days. Here are some inspirational quotes to get us on perspective.

On external events and the future:

Just keep in mind: the more we value things outside our control, the less control we have. Epictetus

The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately. Seneca

A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials. Seneca

On self-control and will power:

It does not matter what you bear, but how you bear it. Seneca

He has the most who is content with the least. Diogenes

If it’s endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining. Marcus Aurelius

The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are. Marcus Aurelius

The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable. Seneca

You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. Marcus Aurelius

On daily life:

Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Marcus Aurelius

When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love. Marcus Aurelius

As each day arises, welcome it as the very best day of all, and make it your own possession. We must seize what flees. Seneca