All Posts Tagged “Praxis”

Praxis by #’s

I finished Praxis slightly over a month ago. Since then I have been thinking back on my 9 months in the program a lot. From the time I moved to Atlanta in September, here is a short and incomplete list of some significant numbers from my experience and the things I have learned / produced.

Not included on this list, but most important to me, are the relationships that I made through my work experience at FEE and my education experience with Praxis. In both, I was able to make long-term friendships with inspiring and ambitious people who share my core values. This was the most important thing for me going into Praxis, and these friendships are the important takeaway for me as I look back on it.

Puritan Revolution

“During what we call the American Revolution, a second American revolution took place: a counterrevolution against the pleasure culture of the cities. Personal freedom and sensual pleasure came under attack during the democratic revolution not because the revolutionaries were puritans but because democracy is puritanical.” – Thaddeus Russell, A Renegade History of the United States

The American Revolution is commonly seen as a win for freedom. A nation was born. It freed itself from a far away government and monarch. Democracy and liberty won out over monarchy and paternalism. But is this only part of the story?

What if the common man actually lost freedom because of the revolution? What if people had more freedom when they were ruled by a far away King?

“The one thing that could make men forsake their own freedom and still believe they were free was self-rule”

Freedom is used to mean a lot of different things. You can want more freedom at work. You can search for a feeling of freedom. You can fight for freedom from an oppressive government.

So far in Renegade History, no distinction has been made between political freedom — what you are able to do without the threat of government repercussion– and practical freedom — what you are actually able to do.

A good example of political vs. personal freedom comes from Washington State. In 2010, if you were out at a picnic in a park in Seattle, and you wanted to eat a weed brownie you could have been arrested. Politically speaking you were not free to make and eat something with cannabis in it. Practically speaking, the chance of repercussions for doing this was zero. In 2016, you are politically free to have that brownie, as well as being practically able to buy and eat it.

The American Revolution traded rule of the British for a representative democracy. The people freed themselves of a colonial government, but did they become less free?

In the late 18th century, in the lead up to the Revolution, American cities were extremely socially liberal.

People drank heavily, blacks and whites drank together in lower-class taverns. Women were involved in all sorts of professions that would come to be seen as unfeminine. Prostitutes operated openly in taverns and on the street, with no care about the race of a customer. Same-sex and pre-marital sex were common and not looked down upon by members of the common class.

American democracy replaced rule by England with rule by American ruling elite. Since those in government depended on being elected they had more of an incentive to control public behavior. Citizens in the democracy, now realizing they would bear some responsibility for the irresponsibility of others had a greater incentive to attempt to control the behavior they didn’t like in others. And they had a route to do it through electing officials that would enforce their standards of morality on everyone.

For a democracy to function effectively it would need a hard working, rule abiding, virtuous group of citizens. It can not sustain itself if everyone is drinking, and chasing their own personal pleasure. Especially when those people chasing benefits for themselves take all the positions of power in the government.

Blogging for 33 Days in a Row

From December 8th until January 10th I wrote something for my blog every day. One night it didn’t get posted until 1 am, but still, every day before I went to sleep I wrote something and posted it.

Looking back on it now, it went by quickly. After the first week I was really just in the groove, not thinking too much about whether I wanted to post something or not just finding time to write something every day.

When I started, I was struggling with what to write. I spent hours on each post the first few days. Procrastinating. Sitting around trying to think of something great that I had some insight on. I was taking a long ass time every day, and it wasn’t going to work over the course of a month. Over time, it got easier.

Having the pressure to post something every day pushed me out of my comfort zone. The fact that I committed to posting led me to post things that I may never have posted. I posted some poems. I posted some personal stuff. I posted blogs about subjects that I didn’t feel well versed in.

Committing to blog everyday expanded the realm of what I am comfortable blogging about. I am more comfortable writing something artistic. I am more comfortable writing something philosophical. I am more comfortable writing something personal. And, I am more comfortable publishing things that aren’t perfect.

I knew that just because I hit publish on something didn’t mean I had to be certain, and an expert on it. I knew that, but I still felt it in some ways. Now I am comfortable putting something out there that I might change my mind about later. And I am more comfortable to put my thinking process out in the open.

It took a lot of time, but after 33 days, I feel great for having done it.

January PDP

This month, for my personal development project, I will be completing a short book about traveling places and learning things. The goal for the month is to learn about self-publishing, and marketing a book, while also working on my writing by going through the process of editing and completing this thing.

My deliverables at the end of the month will be a ready to publish version of the book, along with some fancy cover art.

The actual publish of said book won’t be too far behind the end of the month.

If you have self-published a book, and have any tips, I would love to hear about them in the comments!

What’s Your Code

I don’t know if it’s human nature.

Or if it’s something we were taught.

Or if it’s just me.

I don’t know why I always find myself running away from reality when I’m not acting in line with my principles. When I’m not doing what I think is right, I try to escape.

I go on Facebook and scroll my newsfeed like I’m looking for my salvation.

I eat chocolate and pizza; I buy lattes. Things I know are unhealthy for me in the long-term. I know they aren’t going to make me feel better, but I’m trying to hide from what I know. I hope they will save me from the guilt.

They don’t.

I keep looking for ways to escape. I try to avoid the pangs of emotion that come when I think about the things that are bothering me. I try to run away from myself. I get caught in a self-esteem death spiral.

I don’t live up to a commitment I make to have something done by a certain time at work. Instead of accepting it, understanding it, and acting to fix it, I try to hide from the uncomfortable feelings.

I leave work and stop to get something for dinner. I make a choice to look for short-term gratification. I eat something that I feel guilty about eating, so I feel worse about life. I’m feeling even worse. I’m looking to escape even more. When I eventually get home, I dive into my computer to dry and hide from the guilt that is tormenting me.

Instead of working on a creative project I want to work on, I am on youtube for two hours.

I stay up later than I want to because I’m trying to escape into my computer.

When I wake up the next day, I snooze three times because I’m tired. I don’t want to get up. I want to go back to sleep. I want to hide from life.

Instead of feeling bad about one thing I feel bad about four things.

The Experience Machine

 

Day 16 out of 30 days of blogs about philosophy.


From Robert Nozick:

“Suppose there was an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Super-duper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel yu were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain. Should you plug into this machine for life, preprogramming your life experiences? […] Of course while in the tank you won’t know that you’re there; you’ll think that it’s all actually happening […] Would you plug in?”

Would I choose to live a life that I had pre-programmed for myself?

Nope.

I might be the going who is taking the hypothetical a little to serious, but the idea that you could pre-program an enjoyable life for yourself is crazy.

Think about how you would have programmed your life when you were 15… it’s not the life you want to live now.

Ignoring my semantics, the real question is says something about how you think of reality. Is there something about being alive here that you value more than having “simulated” experiences, even though you won’t know that they are simulated.

Of course, you don’t know that you’re not already in a simulation machine. You don’t know that you aren’t going to achieve everything you want because you have previously programmed it for yourself.

So I say, no, don’t plug in. Not because I think there is something more real about now than this hypothetical simulation. But because you already live in an amazing experience machine and there is a possibility that you programmed it better the first time.

 

 

The Philosophy of Christmas

This is day # 15 of 30 days of blogs on philosophy. This month, as part of the Praxis philosophy module I am blogging every day about something that I am in the process of learning. If you are between 17-25 and interested in becoming awesome at life find out more at discoverpraxis.com


No one really knows why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th. But one popular theory is that the Catholic church moved the date from the 6th of January to take over a popular festival on the 25th of December in which the “heathen” celebrated the birth of the Sun.

Now, thousands of years later, a largely non-religious culture celebrates the supposed birth of Christ on a day that was actually the day for another holiday until the Catholics took it over.

To celebrate this somewhat arbitrary day, adults lie to children about a mythological obese man with supernatural animals and spend their money and time buying presents in an attempt to communicate affection for many people that they may not actually like very much.

I’m all for getting together and celebrating with people you care about, demonstrating that you care about them, and then celebrating something. But, for many people December 25th is about getting together with people you dislike, buying presents out of a feeling of guilt, and celebrating something that doesn’t make sense simply because that is the thing people have “always” done

The first point in my “beef” with Christmas is Santa. Most parents don’t think twice about trolling their kids by pretending that Santa exists.

Right vs. Wrong

This is day # 14 of 30 days of blogs on philosophy. This month, as part of the Praxis philosophy module I am blogging every day about something that I am in the process of learning. If you are between 17-25 and interested in becoming awesome at life find out more at discoverpraxis.com


In this series of questions I am answering, the original last question was, What is Good? 

I sat down to answer it and I realized that a better question is what is right, and what is wrong. So to answer it I wrote an allegory.

AHHHHHHH allegory.

There are three people in the middle of a swampy area. All around them as far as they can see it is swap. They need to build some shelter for themselves, and they have the tools and materials they need to do so, but there is a problem.

There is no solid ground around. It’s not just mud, but it doesn’t seem substantial enough to build a structure that will last a long time.

One person decides that he will invest his time and effort into creating a big ass fancy house. He has faith that it will hold up in the long run, even though there is no reason to have that faith.

The second realizes that he can’t be sure of how long his house will last, and he also realizes that his life will be much better off for having a house. So he makes a fairly simple house. So that one day, when the foundation gives out, he will not be bothered. He knew it would happen and he built accordingly.

The third doesn’t make anything at all. He can’t be sure that a house will stand, so he doesn’t build anything. He just sits there, while the others build their houses, mocking them. How dumb are they to build houses when they know they won’t last.

Who is right? Who is wrong?

What is Evil Part Two

This is day #13 of 30 days of blogs on philosophy. I will continue to attempt to provide answers to some big life questions as a learning exercise.


Yesterday, I started to write an answer to the question, “What is Evil?” and I found myself holding back. Worrying about if I actually knew what I was talking about. I felt the urge to read more instead of writing out my thoughts; to go and collect some other opinions. Then armed with the answers of others I could feel safer about my opinion. I could avoid thinking for myself in some ways, and avoid the risk of putting out an opinion that I would later look back on as “not well thought out”. I wrote my post, but I didn’t feel satisfied.

Yesterday, while I was thinking over the question I drew out to spectrums, to try and help myself think about the difference between good and evil, and the difference between evil and just simply wrong.

Good Vs. Evil

I looked and them and thought, to myself that’s not right. Are shades the only difference between good and evil? Is it subjective, or is it more black and white?

Something more like this:

What is Evil?

This is day #12 of 30 days of blogs on philosophy. I will continue to attempt to provide answers to some big life questions as a learning exercise.


“The path to hell is paved with good intentions.” – Saint Bernard 

Often, the most heinous and evil acts are done by the most righteous of people. People who think that the world needs saving and that they are the ones to do it.

Looking back into the past at Mao in China, Stalin in Russia, or Pol Pot in Cambodia, we can see power-hungry leaders with a lust for power and no respect for human life. It is clear, simple, and easy to identify them as evil. But at the time, they and their supporters thought of themselves as saviors. They were the people who were coming to save the proletariat, the workers, the farmers, the oppressed classes in society. The were the heroes fighting evil.

Looking backward, they become the real life versions of the caricatures of evil we see in books and movies. They become like Sauron, Voldemort, or Emperor Palpatine. Pure evil. Killing and destroying because they are completely corrupt. Government schooling almost teaches you in a way that makes you think they must have known they were evil. Like they had gone out and chosen the dark side.

Going through the educational system, you don’t dive deep into the philosophies that lead to these horrible acts. Events become stories, with good vs. evil. Where it is easy to know good and easy to know evil. You avoid talking about principles that were initially abandoned early on the road to evil.

It leads to the idea that evil people are evil for evil’s sake. They want to kill others, hurt others, and derive enjoyment from the suffering they cause. We don’t spend time thinking about how often the people committing the evil view themselves as the righteous ones fighting evil. Or at least, they often do initially.

I have no idea what was going through Hitler’s mind or anyone who has done horrible things, but it seems like the people who commit the worst actions have the most rationalizations. That it appears to be a human need to view ourselves as good. No matter how much self-deception that involves.

It is the self-righteous who abandon their principles in the pursuit of destroying “evil” that often end up creating more human suffering.

“More harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil.” – FA Hayek

I set out trying to come up with an answer for what is evil, and I didn’t get to an answer.  I will continue with the idea in my blog post tomorrow.


 

I’m going through these questions to clarify my thinking on them, and hopefully, provide value to others who are reading. If you agree or disagree with me, I would love to hear from you in the comments! Let me know how you would answer this question, or what you think my answer is missing!