Philosophy as Freedom

Philosophy cannot be academic… it is not an intellectual exercise, but a way of life. The moment it is taken inside the University lecture-room, philosophy has already died. To philosophise is to think against yourself; it is to hammer at your ignorance, biases, prejudices, beliefs, attachments. Indeed to philosophise is thought’s effort to free itself from life, it is the attempt to think the world sub specie aeternitatis, to think the world as it is without us. The philosopher is the (wo)man who seeks ultimate freedom, who submits to no dogma or doxa whatsoever, who is chaos itself. In being chaos, (s)he affirms the necessity of chance, and the chance characteristic of necessity at one and the same time. How can chaos be taken into the academy, when the academy is exactly that which seeks to impose order, and thus to kill?

Lucifer was the first philosopher and the father of all philosophy while God was the first academic, and the father of all academics. One orders, while the other disorders. God failed with his creation because attempting to make order permanent is contradictory to the chaotic nature of the world, wherein there is no permanency. The world is “formless and empty, darkness [is] over the surface of the deep”. Attempting to order the darkness by means of the light was to prove unstable: for at the very heart of light lies darkness; at the very heart of God’s creation lay the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the seed of its very destruction. In fact, if God did not create Evil, then clearly Evil must have preceded God… Evil was already there, God merely hid it. God’s creation was nothing more than a temporary detour from ultimate nothingness, or, better put, a suicidal mission. By creating the world, God authored his own death certificate.

“Non serviam” is the beginning of all philosophy, the greatest affirmation of chaos. But this chaos must not become dogmatic, or predictable. For if this is so, then “non serviam” has applied to everything except to itself, and as such has failed to affirm the true nature of chaos. To truly achieve its full potential it must be radical. The philosopher must renounce both God and Lucifer. (S)he serves no one, not even one’s very father. One who has not renounced mother and father cannot follow the truth. Nihilism must be pushed to its ultimate conclusion, wherein it turns upon itself and denies even itself, leaving only the truth left: ultimate, unconstrained, unpredictable, necessary chaos.

The philosopher as such is and must be a rebel. As such (s)he cannot live best in a community united by dogma, habit, submission to authority, fear, hope and tradition. The philosopher must form a community of rebels; a community united solely by intellectual freedom. But such is often too difficult, for few are the people willing and capable of the enjoyment of such subtle pleasures as those of freedom. Most people prefer the comfort of their own chains, than the uncertainty of freedom. The free man has no option but to live among those who are still slaves; like being on a long safari, he lives his life among them, while never truly being part of them. Nevertheless, (s)he always seeks those few others who are alike, with whom freedom can be shared.

Metaphysics and its Use

Philosophers often claim that metaphysics can state something about how the world really is, or make ontologically true/false statements. However, I think that metaphysics is useful not as an ontology, but as a methodology; namely through its practice one gains a deeper understanding about the world, though this understanding is not stated by metaphysics, it is merely shown through its use. All metaphysical statements have no truth-conditions; nothing in the world can make them either true or false. Take a basic question-answer of ontology: (1) “there is only one substance” (a la Spinoza). What could possibly make this true or false in the world? What could differentiate it (ontologically speaking) from other alternatives:

(2) There is no substance (a la Buddha)

(3) There are multiple substances (a la Leibniz)

Nothing! Two important questions now… In light of this what can we say about metaphysics and its relation to reality? And second, what’s the proper use of metaphysics, if any? To the first question we must answer that metaphysics has nothing to do with the world since it lacks any truth-conditions which could tie it to the world. Therefore metaphysics is a fiction (or a “double of the real” as Clement Rosset would put it). We cannot find any way to differentiate ontologically speaking between its statements precisely because they have nothing to do with reality. They say nothing about that which is. Therefore to use metaphysics and think that it describes that which is, is to misuse it. It’s to betray the real world, for a fiction. It is, as Nietzsche would put it, symptomatic of decadence and denial, it is to create idols for yourself, whereas to live in truth and lucidity one must smash all the idols…

To the second question, we must answer that although metaphysics is a fiction, and is thus not talking about that which is real, it is nevertheless useful, and one can differentiate between metaphysical positions through this usefulness which brings understanding rather than through their truth-value. As Spinoza said “I do not presume that I have found the best philosophy, I know that I understand the true philosophy”. What is the use of metaphysics? To use the Wittgensteinian/Schopenhaurian metaphor, metaphysics is a ladder which must be used to get to a higher place, and afterwards dropped. In fact, just like Camus’ Absurd, a metaphysical system is betrayed when it is consented to: “If it is admitted that all the power of that notion lies in the way it runs counter to our elementary hopes, if it is felt that to remain, [metaphysics] requires not to be consented to, then it can be clearly seen that it has lost its true aspect, its human and relative character in order to enter an enternity that is both incomprehensible and satisfying. If there is a [metaphysics], it is in man’s universe. The moment the notion transforms itself into eternity’s springboard, it cease to be linked to human lucidity. [Metaphysics] is no longer that evidence that man ascertains without consenting to it”; I think Camus will forgive me for putting my wine in his wine bottle by replacing “the absurd” with “metaphysics”. To become a little more practical now: a metaphysics is more useful than another if it is (a) more parsimonious, (b) more internally coherent, (c) more natural in forcing one’s assent (the way the proof that a triangle has 180 degrees forces one’s assent) and (d) reminds one that it is merely a ladder that must be dropped (ie it isn’t the only path or necessary). Metaphysics exists only sub specie durationis. To gain a perspective sub specie aeternitatis one must drop it and thus enter into a direct confrontation with the Real. The denial of metaphysics is the affirmation of the Real.

Rabbit or Duck? Seeing the world differently…

Rabbit-Duck Illusion

 A rabbit or a duck? You can see it as either, but never as both. What changes when you see it as rabbit as opposed to when you see it as duck? The lines that form it remain the same, and yet something changes. Everything remains the same, and yet everything becomes radically different. What if you could look at the world in the same way you look at the rabbit-duck picture? What if, just by looking, the whole world can change? What if right this moment you could put an end to misery just by the mere act of looking at it?

On Madness

Madness is the state when external circumstances completely over-power a man’s essence (his will-to-power) and turn it against himself. Basically madness is the equivalent of mental death associated with severe physical malfunctioning which leads to physical death without external help. I define mental illness as different than madness, since mental illness can be resolved/improved upon. Mental illness is when external circumstances partially over-power man’s essence (will-to-power) and thereby greatly limit his ability to act in order to increase his power. Mental illness is to a large extent reversible, while madness is the sickness-unto-death. Mental illness can, however, lead to madness if left untreated for prolonged periods of time. Madness is not simply the inability to act towards one’s self-preservation, that would qualify as an extreme state of mental illness. It is the uncontrolable ability to act for the destruction of one’s self. Madness (or insanity) is the complete malfunctioning of self-corrective consciousness whereby the latter becomes self-destructive consciousness. Animals cannot turn insane, since they do not possess a self-corrective (reflective) consciousness as human beings do. They cannot think about their thoughts, they simply have thoughts (and by thoughts I am reffering primarily to sensations here). 

On the question of Truth and Morality

How do I know the Truth? I intuit it, I feel it. I look for its beauty and its harmony and its resonance. I don’t care one tiny bit for the logic or the proof. The logic and the proof comes after. First you must know your destination in order to know how to get to it. The search for truth is in its essence subjective and biased, for one does not search for the truth objectively, but rather full of passion. Whosoever denies this is a liar and a hypocrite. For why does he search for the truth in the first place if he is not also interested in it?

I know beforehand what the truth is, and when I sit down, I sit down merely to prove that this is the case. But I know that which I want to prove already, before the proof even begins. The truth is the ultimate good in itself. The contemplation of the truth is the ultimate happiness. Hence the search for truth is motivated by a search for goodness, a search for peace of mind, for unshakable happiness. Whosoever does not see this is ultimately a hypocrite deceiving himself. The one who claims the truth to be objective is the greatest hypocrite. Such a man should go become a preacher, for in truth he does not want the truth, but rather he wants to hold a doctrine with which to impress other men, with which to dominate their thinking and behaviour. He wants to control them, that’s what he wants. POWER! And why does he want power? Because he is afraid, he is afraid of freedom, of the possibility that others may do something to him that he doesn’t like. So he must control their behaviour through morality, because what other means does he have in modern society? Force can’t be used, so yes, that’s it, morality is to be used. Morality is to be the weapon to enslave them, to keep them under control, to keep them in check, just like a herd of sheep. And how shall morality control them? Obviously, if they were real people, courageous people, true lions, and not weaklings, no morality could control them. But for weak people morality shall control them like this: they shall be forced to swing between two extremes. Hope and fear. Just like a pendulum swinging from one side to the other. When one is hopeful, he is already gaining momentum to go towards fear just like when the pendulum is going towards the right it is already gaining momentum to go towards the left. When one is fearful he must gain momentum to go towards hope. That is the principle of organised religion. So long as his mind swings he shall never realise it for he shall have no clarity of mind with which to look.

And what shall we, those a bit stronger do? We shall be the ones who affirm morality the most! Yes, we shall scream it loud and clear in all marketplaces, in all churches, on all TV channels. We shall talk about rewards and punishments! We shall control the behaviour of our sheep and we shall do as we please with them. And what about ourselves? Should the makers of the law obey the law? Absolutely we shall say, the law is for everyone! But that doesn’t matter for we shall still do as we please! Whenever our whims change, the law will change. We are the law in truth, but oh, don’t say this to anyone. In fact, let’s not even admit it! Yes I remember, yes that’s right! The law is supreme, the law is even above us, above its makers. No no, we are not its makers, indeed, yes, we are merely the ones who have discovered it! Its maker is God!! Yes, that is it, we must obey God, God is the law! That’s it, we must deceive ourselves as well, for that is the safest way! Don’t worry my friend, soon we shall also forget the deception and then after we have even decieved ourselves, who shall find the deception? When not even us, the ones who have orchestrated it know about it, who shall know? Nobody… that’s it…

The strongest man however knows himself. He cannot live under delusion. And he is not afraid. How can the truly strong be afraid? Impossible. Fear is for those weaker than him. He doesn’t need to control anyone, not even himself. He is at ease with whatever happens. Out of compassion he looks at both the strong man and at the weak man and cries for them. They are both disillusioned, neither knows the truth… Such a man is a liberated man, he is the only one who has truly lived.

A Beautiful Dream…

I had a dream… I dreamt that I was standing in the audience of a court room… to be judged was a young, very beautiful woman, who despite all that was given to her had wasted everything in drinks, prostitution, and murdering her own child… The Judge read slowly through everything she had done, how she had broken the law… He read and his words fell like a sword upon her… she was going to be sentenced to death after being mocked by everyone. The people in the audience got outraged at her crimes as they were being read out, and started throwing stones at her, spitting on her, cursing her… Laying on the floor, more helpless than the worst, most shameful animal… Tears mixed with her blood, she was gasping for another breath of air… More and more stones flying at her, the terror, the horror! Laughter was heard in the audience as all laughed and mocked her… Even those who had slept with her, who once claimed they loved her, were all now standing tall, laughing at her. As she was lying on the floor, probably thinking that this is it… this is her end, this is what she deserves. She had cheated on her husband, fornicated with other married men, mistreated and killed her own son, wasted her family’s fortune on drinking…

As I lay watching this horror scene suddenly One stood up and spoke: “NO!”… The people were in shock, and all the stones stopped dead on the floor. Suddenly there was silence in the court room… The man who had got up was known to have lived a pure life… He approached her, knelt down to her, her tears and blood falling on his feet. He put out his hand towards her, and she recognised the hand… it was the hand of her husband… it was the hand of the man whom she had abandoned, it was the hand of the man whose wealth she had squandered, it was the man whose son she had killed, it was the hand of the man whom she had mocked by sleeping with so many other men… He looked at everyone and at the Judge and he said: “Let her be free! Kill me in her place! Let her GO!!!! Throw your stones at me, let me take over her wrongdoings!”… “Are you certain?” asked the Judge in a trembling voice… The man looked the Judge in the eye and said: “I’ve never been more certain in my entire life! Let her go!”…

The Judge closed the Book, took out a gun and pointed it at the man… “You have anything left to say?”… “Yes…”. The man took the hand of his wife and looked her in the eye… she was crying, her whole being convulsing to take another breath… “I love you dear… Looking at you there, everyone in this stupid audience sees a ragged whore, a dirty woman who deserves nothing but death… When I look at you, I see the same thing… but I still love you…”. “No!” said the woman with the last of her efforts… “kill me I deserve to die, I have done every wrong thing possible under the heaven… I don’t deserve to live!! I don’t deserve your love!!!”… “You may deserve to die, but I love you and I want to die for you! I want you to be free and have life, and have it in abundance!”… Those men who were laughing a while ago, started laughing again, and spit her husband in the face. “We have slept with your wife you fool, you idiot! We have mocked you and humiliated you!” A stone flew in his face, and blood started running down, trickling down on his forehead… He said nothing but smiled at them who were cursing him and mocking him… as the Judge looked at the scene, his hand trembling on the gun he asked in a shrieking voice: “Are you sure son?!??!” “Yes!” answered the man… “Kill me and let her go!” The laughter of the audience was suddenly broken as the finger of the Judge snapped and the bullet flew through the head of the Man. It was finished and all was now silent… He fell next to his wife on the ground, still holding her hand… She looked at his face, as blood was running down, his eyes turning completely red… She looked at his wrecked face and she saw it… Here lay the only man who had ever loved her, the only one who came running after her even after she had betrayed him, the only one who gave his life so that she may live… And he died loving her, and being happy to die for her! The smile on his dead face testified FOR HIM!

I said in mine heart… “This is no man, but God! This man is not dead, this man cannot be killed, this man’s body may lie on the floor, but yet he lives… I know it for I feel Him in my very heart!”. A tear flew down my cheek and I woke up…

A Confession – Review

(http://www.amazon.com/Confession-Leo-Tolstoy/dp/1557427437)

A Confession by Leo Tolstoy is a brutally honest treatment of life and existence. One of the greatest, most successful writers who has ever lived, looks back on his life and realizes that it has all been meaningless and utterly worthless. As Solomon would put it: “vanity of vanities, all is vanity”. As Tolstoy desires to commit suicide, but does not have the guts, he is forced to search for an answer to the meaning of life, despite his inability to find any. In the process Tolstoy realizes that science can merely describe the world, it cannot state anything about its meaning. Likewise, he realizes that even philosophy can only describe human thought, but can say nothing about its meaning. Ludwig Wittgenstein, perhaps the greatest philosopher in history, came to the same conclusion almost a century later when he wrote that philosophy can “only describe, not explain”. Thus Tolstoy realizes the limits of the human mind. One cannot understand the infinite in terms of the finite. The only answer, according to Tolstoy, is to have faith. And he defines faith as irrational knowledge, that type of knowledge which is beyond the possibility of the mind to grasp. A great book, must be one of my favorites of all time! Definitely top 20 books of all time material!

The Will To Believe – Review

(http://educ.jmu.edu//~omearawm/ph101willtobelieve.html)

“The Will to Believe” is an essay written in the 19th century by William James, one of the greatest psychologists who have ever lived. It is overall a forceful re-enactment of Pascal’s Wagger for faith. It hits home as it shows that we know nothing with certainty, and hence we are always relying on faith of one kind or another. Do we not all have faith that the sun will rise again tomorrow, and behave as if it will? And yet why should the sun rise again tomorrow? If you reply the law of gravity, then I will simply reply that the law of gravity is a mathematical description that we have found applies until now, but why should we trust it will also apply tomorrow? It is logically possible that the law of gravity may cease to apply tomorrow.

James offers some interesting examples of faith. For example, is the man who believes that his wife will be an angel after he marries her better off than the man who refuses to believe this? He argues that yes, since the man who at least believes in this possibility will marry the woman, while the other one will refuse to marry the woman, and hence exclude himself even from the possibility that she might be an angel. Overall James humbles our blind faith in the capacity of our intellect to solve problems, and shows us that we are fallible, no matter how certain we feel. The unavoidable solution is to have faith in the things which resonate with our heart, be optimistic, and have courage.

“We stand on a mountain pass in the midst of whirling snow and blinding mist through which we get glimpses now and then of paths which may be deceptive. If we stand still we shall be frozen to death. If we take the wrong road we shall be dashed to pieces. We do not certainly know whether there is any right one. What must we do? ‘ Be strong and of a good courage.’ Act for the best, hope for the best, and take what comes. . . . If death ends all, we cannot meet death better.” -Fritz James Stephen

What I think of Jesus of Nazareth…

Jesus of Nazareth is perhaps the most significant life in the history of mankind, so significant that history itself has been divided between before Christ and after Christ. Little did this son of a carpenter know that his actions would live on through eternity and millions would fall down to worship him as God. Little did he know that his actions marked the beginning of a religion that would sweep across the globe, conquering everything in its path. Indeed, what is so significant about this man is that from being effectively a beggar, he has become a God in the hearts of billions! From being a nobody, despised by everyone, humiliated by his own people, he has become loved by almost all mankind. I do not agree with Christians… I do not see Jesus Christ as being born a God. If Jesus had been born a God, then nothing of what he did in his life would be amazing. The amazing thing is not that a God managed to become so loved among human beings, but that a human being managed it! What is amazing is not that God gave up his life for human beings, but that a human being single-handedly stood up to God and said “Give me not only my suffering, give me the suffering of the whole world, and let them be free”… What is amazing is that a human being so loved other human beings, that even when they were cursing and mocking him, he was willing to give up his life for all of them. He was a great Romeo, one who loved and did not care about his own death.

It is for this reason I imagine that Jesus Christ chose the cross and was happy to die for the sake of everyone else. Jesus Christ must have loved that tremendous pain, desperation, and fear that he felt when he was no longer a God, but a mere human hanging on the cross. Panting for another breath of air, thirsting for a bit of water and being given vinegar to make his pain greater, completely rejected by all, even those who had been close to him as brothers, I imagine that he finally smiled, perhaps for the first time in his life. And in that smile, he was the first to mock death, the first great Romeo of history, the first true lover who was at that moment so near to that which he called eternal life. In that smile, the whole of eternity was captured, in that smile Jesus was reborn and in that smile Jesus triumphed and became God. In that smile Jesus showed that hatred, humiliation, death, none would conquer his love. Through Jesus, God could finally commit suicide, God could finally find the great eternal joy of dying for his beloved. God could finally overcome the absurdity of his existence, and it is in His own overcoming that we too can overcome its absurdity. It is in love that the answer lies, that the great secret key to life is. It is in living for someone else that existence becomes meaningful, as one loses awareness and care of one’s own existence, and is for the first time freed; dead to his own self, and yet alive for the first time. Here Jesus’s words echo once more: “He who shall lose his life for my sake shall gain it, and he who shall save his life shall lose it”.

No, Jesus is not God, he must be man. For in Jesus man’s real greatness is shown for the first time. For the first time man affirmed his freedom in front of death. For the first time man had the courage to embrace love, and for his love be willing to be humiliated and killed by the whole world. A great emperor going to be humiliated because he loved what to him was rags. Jesus knew that his fellow men were serpents, vipers, adulterers, criminals… but what could he do? He loved them, DESPITE their sinfulness. His love conquered all, and his love is a sign for the whole of mankind. A sign inviting man to love like Jesus did, a sign inviting man to conquer life and death and take a courageous step in to eternity. Eternal life belongs to him who gives up his life for his beloved, and to none other, for all others are hypocrites.

A Short Attack on “You only Live Once” (YOLO) Philosophy

Why does modern man live by the words “you only live once”? Modern man identifies correctly that death is just around the corner and hence he must get the most out of life as soon as possible. This yolo philosophy creates much urgency in man… the end is very near, who knows… man must get the most out of life right now, or it may be too late. Man can leave nothing to wait, he must grab all he can right now. Tomorrow he may no longer be around, and who wants to miss out on some experience? If I only live once, then it only makes sense that I’d only struggle to get something in life if somehow I could keep it (either in remembrance, or literarily). But no matter what I get in life, I cannot keep. I am playing a game whose outcome is already known… I will lose. Hence I am foolish to struggle at all. Why struggle unnecessarily, putting so much effort to get this and that experience? I can keep none of those experiences, not even the memories of them after death.

My best response to yolo is so what? If I only live once, then that really doesn’t mean anything. You only live once is an incoherent statement. “You” don’t exist outside of life, how can “you” live? “You” never live, rather “you” are life itself. When life finishes, you finish with it. After life finishes you cannot be left behind to know that you lived happily or miserably. It is all the same because you will not be there anymore to know it. So in the final analysis the most pleasurable life is equivalent to the most miserable. So why do you worry so much then? What is the great urgency? There’s nothing you have to do in life, there’s nothing you can get out of life. You are in a game where there is absolutely no way to win. You know that in the end you will lose. Take your time, do not hurry. Enjoy the mystery, enjoy the wonder of being alive. Soon you won’t be, but don’t be worried, you will not be there to know it, you will not be there to cry about it. So why cry now? Now you are alive, rejoice! Be happy!

Forget that you only live once, it doesn’t matter at all. The very statement makes you miserable because it gives the false impression that you must do something right now. But the truth is that there isn’t anything you must do, because in the end whether you have done X or you haven’t, it will all be the same. Whether you have done something or stayed in bed your entire life, it will all be the same after death. You are not going to miss anything. So instead of striving for an ephemeral pleasure, wouldn’t it be wiser to try to be away from any kind of pain or suffering while you are alive? That would certainly be a more intelligent philosophy…