Bad Ideas, Cultural Change, Culture, Economics, Economy, Ideas, Late Night Thoughts, Music, Physics, Quality of Life, Science

Late Night Thoughts: Homogeneous Music, Millennials, Something Out of Nothing, and More (October 10, 2018)

(About a 4 minute read)

Have you ever thought pop music increasingly sounds the same?  If so, that might have something to do with the fact that most of it — the majority of chart-topping songs — are written by just two people.

Max Martin, who is Swiss, and Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, who is American, account for over half the chart-topping pop songs heard in the world today.  Or so I’ve been hearing (shameless pun intended).

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Attached Love, Awe, Bad Ideas, Education, Erotic Love, Human Nature, Ideas, Knowledge, Learning, Love, Mature Love, New Love, Parental Love, Romantic Love, Science

Do the Sciences Rob Love of Beauty and Mystery?

“It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery … It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.” — Carl Sagan

SUMMARY: I reject the notion that the sciences rob love of beauty and mystery.

(About a 4 minute read)

Love is probably the best thing most of us will ever experience in life.  This fact is made even more astonishing when you consider that life also includes blogging, and yet love amazingly edges out blogging even in the minds of otherwise sensible people when it comes to the best things in life.

But what is love?

There seem upon examination to be so many kinds of love that it would be perfectly understandable if the question, “what is love”, made us all go off into a corner, suck our thumbs, and whimper.  At least, I think it would be perfectly understandable.  But then, going off into a corner, sucking my thumb, and whimpering is what I do with about a quarter of my day, especially after reading the news headlines.

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Abuse, Bad Ideas, Cultural Traits, Culture, Human Nature, Life, Living, Oppression, Parental Love, Religion, Religious Ideologies

Rising Above Human Nature

“Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we were put in this world to rise above.” — Katherine Hepburn, African Queen.

SUMMARY:  Our cultures need to be doing more to ameliorate the effects of our negative human instincts.

(About a 4 minute read)

It’s my impression that most of us these days are at least dimly aware that human nature can be out of joint with human happiness.  That is, we can have a disposition or inclination to certain feelings and behaviors that more or less inevitably lead us into unhappy situations, and even misery.

Warfare is an example of that.  While humans apparently do not have an actual instinct to war upon each other, we do indeed have a full set of instincts that mean war is all but directly hardwired into our DNA.

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Ideas, Philosophy, Truth

What is Truth?

(About a 6 minute read)

I confess the ancient Greeks are something of a mystery to me.  Consider how they were known far and wide as an unruly crowd willing to debate any and all subjects.  Many other peoples in the ancient world seem to have been reticent to debate some of the things the Greeks took up daily.

And yet, for all their fierce individuality, every last one of the truly ancient Greeks agreed on one thing: Not a single one of them decided to live later in history than about 2,000 years ago!  Can you imagine?  Even today with all of our sophisticated science, we still don’t know why the ancient Greeks all chose the same time frame in which to live.

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Bad Ideas, Epistemology, Ideas, Ideologies, Knowledge, Science, Truth

One Truth or Many?

SUMMARY:  The notion, prevalent among some academics, that truth is not one, but many seems to be fad that cannot withstand examination.

(About a 6 minute read)

Humanity is subject to fads.  It is a curious fact that this is true — not just of things like clothing or music fashions — but of nearly everything humans do in public — and often enough in private.  I have no explanation for that other than to note we’re a social species of animal greatly concerned with what other people are up to.

While I have long known that humanity was subject to fads, I have resisted fully accepting that fact when it comes to one area in particular.  Academia.  Academia is just as subject to fads as is any other area of human endeavor, but I myself am so strongly dismayed by that fact that I often find myself in denial of its full significance.

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Belief, Consciousness, Human Nature, Knowledge, Life, Living, Religion, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Self-Knowledge, Spirituality, Transformative Experience

What is a Mystical Experience Like?

“Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”  ― Zhuangzi, 

SUMMARY: While it is nearly impossible to adequately communicate the content of a mystical experience to a non-mystic who has never had one, somethings perhaps can be said about the experience that might shed some light on it.

(About a 9 minute read)

Suppose you came across a community of people living in the Amazon rain forest who had never before seen — or even heard more than a rumor or two — of people like you or of your culture and civilization.

Further suppose, upon learning their language, you discover it is beautifully suited to expressing the interrelatedness of all things, but there is neither any word for “god” nor any words that can be used to express the concept of god.  In short, the people have no concept of metaphysics at all.

The world, to them, is not much more than what it appears to be, and the closest you can come to telling them about god more or less translates into “Big Hidden Man/Woman”, which makes them wonder whether you’re talking about a transgendered human of inordinate size who hides behind bushes and trees.

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Belief, Consciousness, Cultural Traits, Culture, Enlightenment, God, God(s), Human Nature, Ideas, Intuition, Knowledge, Mysticism, Observation, Religion, Satori, Self, Self-Integration, Self-Realization, Spirituality, Transformative Experience

What Do Mystics Mean by “God”?

“Theologians may quarrel, but the mystics of the world speak the same language.” ― Meister Eckhart

SUMMARY:  Mystics naturally speak of the experience that distinguishes them from other folks using words and terms derived from their individual cultures.  Hence, they typically speak of having experienced “god”, but upon examination, their notions of god often tend to have more in common with other mystics than they do with common cultural notions of god.  Central to virtually all theistic mysticism is the notion that god — or ultimate reality — is an all-encompassing oneness or One, despite any appearances to the contrary.

(About a 10 minute read)

I first became interested in mysticism about 40 years ago.  I was a sophomore at university and seriously concerned with finding an objective basis for values.

At the time, I believed — like many people still do — that unless an objective basis for values could be found, “anything was permissible”.  No evil, however great, could be objectively opposed.  And that frightened me.

Unfortunately, the more I learned, the less there seemed to be any possibility of an objective basis.  But then I came across the writings of various mystics.

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