Bit of a different write up this time.
I’ll be writing a list of all the philosophies I’ve paid a decent amount of attention to over the years and ones that I have been most influenced by. I’ll be stating the reasons why I think they’re interesting and worth doing some reading about, and what I don’t like about them, too. There will be no order of favourites. I’m sure this’ll come off as schizophrenic, and likely piss off a few people too with my critiques.
I don’t care.
Albert Camus’ “Myth of Sisyphus” and Absurdism
Camus’ work is something I got into only a few years ago, but it had a pretty profound effect on me, primarily because of the timing.
Prior to reading his work, I was going through my own rather shitty time and even had some suicidal ideation. A wee bit after this, I got into reading The Myth of Sisyphus, and it not only helped me overcome much of the crap I was dealing with, but it made me laugh at the absurdity of it all – which is precisely why I think Sisyphus is such a good essay to read.
His first question refers to whether one should kill themselves or not, and he considered this to be the only serious philosophical question around. That sounds…awful (and in some sense, it is), but through the question he examines the inherent meaninglessness of life and the contradiction in which we face with being conscious of the inherent meaninglessness of it while continuing to strive for “meaning”.
When faced with meaninglessness then, should one just kill themselves? His arguments are basically that no, physical suicide doesn’t solve the problem, it just bows out of the game, and reverting to religion ala Kierkegaard’s leap of faith is “philosophical suicide”, in that it obliterates your ability to reason and understand, as you are willingly giving yourself away to faith based, arbitrary meaning.
His solution, without going on about it too much, is to rebel against the absurdity of existence and our being and create our own meaning. The whole metaphor of Sisyphus moving the rock up a hill endlessly is re-interpreted as a man rebelling against his condemnation by the gods – fuck em, I’mma keep pushing this rock up and enjoy every second of it.
It’s spiteful, angry and rebellious, and it is incredibly passionate. The book helped me get over some personal demons which I have since murdered out of spite, and helped me laugh at the fate I had fallen into at the time. I’m fine nowadays, happy as hell, and much of it is thanks to Camus’ and his chad appearance. I’ve become significantly more resilient to bad circumstances, because life can often be just ridiculously absurd, and you can’t help but laugh at it, flip the bird and rebel.
I think his epistemological viewpoints are a bit fucky and the whole meaning thing is a little confusing – plus I think he was largely influenced by the grim dark life he was stuck in, which was Nazi occupation of France. That said, he’s worth reading and examining. He makes great points, sans some of the stranger stuff. Hot as fuck, too.
I did quite a bit of study regarding Buddhism in 2020, and it’s fundamentally quite straightforward, but on a metaphysical level absurdly ridiculously fucking god tier complex.
But I’m keeping it simple here: Buddhism is about accepting that desire is the cause of suffering, and the solution is to follow the eightfold path:
- right view
- right resolve
- right speech
- right conduct
- right livelihood
- right effort
- right mindfulness
- right samadhi
You can look into these on your own, but much of Buddhism is teaching you how to balance your life out. It’s also to learn to see the world as it is, and in the present moment. Buddhist teaching also talks about the fact that change is always happening and there is no such thing as the I.
…it gets rather complicated and weird the more I get into it, but Buddhism got me into mindfulness, meditation and stillness. This was incredibly helpful, and it gave me the ability to calm my thoughts and examine them thoroughly.
Buddhism teaches presence and promotes focus. You really learn how to keep cool and mindful if you truly apply meditation and some of the practices Buddhism presents.
That said, I don’t like its metaphysics or continuous push for loving kindness towards everything. Sometimes, bullies need a Judo throw, and other times, mosquitoes must die. Violence is awesome. Furthermore, movement is far more important than stillness. It’s important to learn to be still, but I go by the notion that movement is life, stillness is death. Sitting around meditating all day isn’t my thing.
It’s good to learn about though, as much of its practical wisdom is useful and applicable to your life that can provide a rather positive impact. Just move your ass and get on a treadmill.
I live in Japan. What did you expect?
In seriousness though, Bushido has a lot of interesting virtues under the hood. They are:
- Benevolence / Mercy
- Character and Self-Control
It tends to refer to these concepts in an integrated sense, too. For example, without an understanding of Justice i.e. what is right, what is wrong, one cannot be courageous – because one must know what is right to be courageous.
Conversely, politeness is antecedent to benevolence. A great warrior would both enact great justice and show tremendous courage, but be benevolent in that he can show mercy, all the while remaining polite.
Bushido is really interesting. A lot of it has to do with how one should act towards others – somewhat of an extension of the Samurai culture of the time and Japanese collectivistic culture as a whole – but much of it has to do about controlling oneself, remaining true to what is right, being brave, remaining loyal to our superiors and friends, and showcasing self-control and patience in the presence of insolence.
It’s good shit. Worth reading about – the best being “Bushido: The Soul of Japan”, in my opinion. If I’m critical, it’s mainly to do with much of the real old school traditionalist stuff in it, like “boss is dead, we all commit suicide now bye” and the concept of honesty being intimately connected with avoidance of wealth, as the idea was that wealth “corrupts” ones wisdom, but overall there’s a lot of practical, interesting stuff here, especially if you need to grow a pair of balls.
Ayn Rand’s Objectivism
Ah, Objectivism. I love Objectivism. Great philosophy, and one that I’ve studied for quite a long time.
I’ve read through almost all of Rand’s work and some of Peikoff’s. I’ve also gone through most of Nathaniel Branden’s work too. Countless seminars, videos, note taking, discussions, etc. I can’t give it justice in this blog post as there’s a lot, but as a note, most of my written work is heavily inspired by Objectivist methods of thought.
Objectivism is great for a lot of reasons, but I think the primary one is because it teaches you to remember that you’re capable of achieving your values. It acts as a philosophical guide on how to live a principled life: ranging from metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and finally aesthetics. It’s interconnected, well integrated and you can get a lot from it.
The biggest thing that I took from Objectivism was epistemology – easily the most stimulating part for me. The other stuff seemed almost trivial in comparison to it, and really upon getting a decent grasp on Rand’s work in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, the rest of it clicked in place pretty smoothly. Reason is the absolute, and through understanding how one forms concepts, one can pretty much figure everything out on their own given enough time.
It’s an excellent philosophy, but for some inexplicable reason it also attracts the absolute biggest retards that won’t ever leave you alone if you even remotely express doubt or move in a bit of a different direction to the absolute perfection that is Objectivism. Do you like x art? Then YoU’rE a NiHiLisT ImPLiCiTlY. Okay, Freud. Go fuck yourself.
I’m not sure what it is – but I’ve met a whole lot of people across my lifetime that have either been some of the most life loving, wonderfully benevolent people who are also into Ayn Rand, or some of the most woefully arrogant, irritating pseudo-egotistical shit heads that constantly profess they’re right about everything. The latter are usually people who do fuck all in their lives too – so this pattern is not just with Objectivism, but just with people who don’t do anything in general. Misery begets misery.
I think it’s also just an age thing – I’ve been there and done that, the temporary asshole thing. You get a big head, you get overtly idealistic, and you think you’re the shit. Then a bus hits you, and you realize you’re not the shit, you’re just shit and you know very little – you also realize buses are very big. If you are truly introspective, you won’t just recognize the failures around you, but also the failures in yourself. Or you’re just this:
That’s not a sneer at Objectivism by the way, I’m no philosophical skeptic because I’m not a lobotomized redditor – but my point is, Objectivism is simultaneously a fantastic philosophy for people to give them the means of self-belief and drive, and also the biggest head inflation device possible for people with some demons to kill and a lack of honesty, a virtue in Objectivism.
It builds false egos, and not necessarily because of the philosophy – I think it’s because it’s just incomplete. I got into it through the Virtue of Selfishness and then Branden’s work, so I entered through a deeply psychological side and was very self-reflective. I think most people get into it through the fictional books (all worth reading, by the way), and through that they get a boner over being the main character, and then wonder why setting fire to a construction site ended up getting them charged for destruction of property after quoting the Fountainhead speech in court. B-But I’m Howard Roark!!
There’s more work to be done in philosophy, and I think much of that has to do with further understanding of human nature better and developments in neuroscience and psychology. We’re very far from knowing a lot there, but Objectivism is certainly on the right path. Psychology is the next great step.
Its epistemological content in particular is incredible work. Its foundation is Aristotelian, and Rand basically took that work and made a definitive edition with extra content. If you want to learn how to think, it’s well worth reading, because boy can it do wonders to your way of approaching things.
Just be very careful about managing your actual worth and ego. I’m serious – you ain’t shit, and that’s OK. Learn, make mistakes, grow, learn some more – and try not to be a smarmy asshole.
That’s about it for Frog’s Favourites in Philosophy. There’s quite a few things I like, but these are the main ones. I was going to add Stefan Molyneux up there as a joke, but I’m past 30 and most of my eggs aren’t worth his grace and infinite manlet wisdom. I can’t believe I used to think he was a good philosopher.
Live and learn. Peace.
2 thoughts on “Frog’s Favourites: Philosophy”
My disappointment in Molymeme being left out is immeasurable; incalculable comedic value has been lost…
For real though, great write-up. You’ve always been clear and precise in the conveyance of your thoughts, easily making it a joy to read your musings on such topics.