Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

My Three Words for 2010

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

My intent for this blog is to post something once a week. But when I saw this topic on another blog it fit so well with the time of year and my blog subheading that I had to go ahead and slide one in early. Look for “Disintermediation” next. Props to Brian Russell for the topic.

1.)  Think.  It seems that many of us go through life on auto-pilot. We live our daily lives with little consideration of the bigger issues affecting our existence. The Christmas season can be hectic. Sometimes we are overwhelmed and we do not have the time or energy to contemplate bigger ideas or abstract thoughts. That is the very time when we should take a few moments and muster the effort to really think about things.

“Why?”, is a question familiar to all of us with children. But why do our kids use it all the time? It is because they are trying to understand their world. They need a framework in which to integrate their new experiences. Maybe we should ask the same question of ourselves. We might find that it helps us to put what is going around us in perspective.

This year I am going to think. I am going to think about quantum physics. I am going to think about philosophy. I am going to think about topics related to my vocation. I am going to think about biotechnology. I hope I am going to think about things I do not even know I do not know today. And this time next year I will understand my world, and my place in it, a little better.

2.)  Do.  Thinking is wonderful, but if you do not do anything with it the effort is not wasted, but certainly could be more beneficial. It is kind of like eating a steak flavored puffed rice cake.

This is not a resolution. I am going to try to use what I am learning in a constructive manner. I have already started a blog. I am spending 15 minutes a day doing laundry every day. My life is less cluttered and more organized and less stressful after only two weeks of that. If you do not do anything there is zero chance you can succeed at it.

3.)  Be better.  And finally, in the midst of doing I am going to make sure that my doing is focused in the right direction. I am not going to mindlessly do for the sake of doing. I am not going to be better for the sake of more money, or a better job, or a nicer car. I am going to be better because the older I get the more I realize that I am who I am because I choose to be that way. And I want to be better.

My three words for 2010. I will think, do, and be better. And hopefully I will drag some of you along with me.

The Search for Significance

Friday, January 1st, 2010

I am about to begin reading, “The Search for Significance“. Before I began I wanted to quantify my thinking on the subject and try to provide a structured framework into which I could integrate the material. It works out well that this is the inaugural post for my blog since it is, in some respects, an attempt to validate my worth.

Am I significant? Do I have significance? I can answer those questions affirmatively. But only anecdotally, I am not sure that I have a philosophical framework to justify that belief. However, I am a subset of the superset of everyone. If everyone is significant then it follows that I must be. That I think I can justify easily in a couple of ways.

From the perspective of personal belief as a Christian I accept that “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son“. God thought that the whole world, every person, was valuable enough to redeem. Everyone is significant to God. Therefore everyone is significant. Therefore I am significant.

From a sociological perspective I assert that there is universal altruism. Whether altruism is truly selfless, based on universal egoism, or a biological evolutionary imperative makes little difference. In any case helping someone else is “good” or has value.

But is the act of helping valuable? I do not think so. Any act of helping another requires the expenditure of resources. There is a cost associated with an action and hence a value somewhere. Rational beings do not exchange something for worthlessness. If the action has no intrinsic value then it follows that the object of the action must have value else we would not perform a costly action. Altruism is universal. Therefore everyone has value, i.e. is significant. Therefore I am significant.

So, already I intellectually accept that I have significance. What can I expect to learn from the book? Perhaps other justifications for this belief. Maybe ways to internalize that belief or practical applications that can help me to change the way I act. But just this initial exercise has led me to the conclusion that not only I, but all others are significant.

This has some far reaching implications for my personal life. By this reasoning if I accept that I am significant, then I must accept that everyone is significant. Creed, color, or socioeconomic status does not change that. Are you significant? How will that change how you deal with others today?