Tag: Philosophy

Self Deception in Politics – Two Quotes

An opposition researcher once told me that politicians who hold office at the federal level are invariably a bit delusional. In campaign mode, they’re forced to tell a story about themselves that is idealized and laundered of flaws; eventually they tell that story so many times they begin to believe it. Some slip down the slope into bigger lies.

The Very Good Reason People Like George Santos Lie About Nonsense
Elizabeth Spiers

The viewers deserved better than this election denialism—but in their MAGA hearts, it was what they really wanted. And wherever there was demand to be lied to, there was plenty of supply. “One thing I can’t comprehend,” said Al Schmidt, the Republican city commissioner of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, “is how hungry people are to consume lies and to consume information that is not true.”

Network of Lies: The Epic Saga of Fox News, Donald Trump, and the Battle for American Democracy
Brian Stelter

Desultory Notes – Week of November 17, 2023

At the 9:15 mark, in answer to a direct question posed by interviewer Woodrow Wyatt about the “practical use of your sort of philosophy to a man who wants to know how to conduct himself,” Russell replies:

I think nobody should be certain of anything. If you’re certain, you’re certainly wrong because nothing deserves certainty. So one ought to hold all one’s beliefs with a certain element of doubt, and one ought to be able to act vigorously in spite of the doubt…. One has in practical life to act upon probabilities, and what I should look to philosophy to do is to encourage people to act with vigor without complete certainty.

Bertrand Russell: The Everyday Benefit of Philosophy Is That It Helps You Live with Uncertainty

Dmitry Portnoy
Studio City
It’s only after seeing this production that I felt I understood anything about a play I’d thought about for more than three decades. Turns out when a brilliant director and cast perform it with the commitment and humility it demands, it sheds its clown nose and begins to speak.

philadelphia, pa
I was completely captivated by this production – wonderfully directed and a master class in acting by the whole cast. This is probably the best thing happening in NY theater at the moment (if not for the entire season). I feel very privileged to have seen it.

Greenville, North Carolina
My all-time favorite graffito:

“Back in a second.” — Godot

‘Waiting for Godot’ Review: Old Friends Falling in and Out of Sync
Michael Shannon and Paul Sparks star in Arin Arbus’s pandemic-delayed production at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center.
(From the comments)

“Competition happens at the bottom, people at the top are collaborating ” – via  twitter and instagram.

I think it was Faulkner who once said that when you strike a match in a dark wilderness it is not in order to see anything better lighted, but just in order to see how much more darkness there is around. I think that literature does mainly that. It is not really supposed to ‘answer’ things, not even to make them clearer, but rather to explore – often blindly – the huge areas of darkness, and show them better.

Jonathan Coe
from introduction to:
A Heart So White
Javier Marias

Tom Waits Interview

Q: What’s heaven for you?
A: Me and my wife on Rte. 66 with a pot of coffee, a cheap guitar, pawnshop tape recorder in a Motel 6, and a car that runs good parked right by the door.

Q: What’s hard for you?
A: Mostly I straddle reality and the imagination. My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket. My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane. Math is hard. Reading a map. Following orders. Carpentry. Electronics. Plumbing. Remembering things correctly. Straight lines. Sheet rock. Finding a safety pin. Patience with others. Ordering in Chinese. Stereo instructions in German.

Q: What remarkable things have you found in unexpected places?
1. Real beauty: oil stains left by cars in a parking lot.
2. Shoe shine stands that looked like thrones in Brazil made of scrap wood.
3. False teeth in pawnshop windows- Reno, NV.
4. Great acoustics: in jail.
5. Best food: Airport in Tulsa Oklahoma.
6. Most gift shops: Fatima, Portugal.
8. Most unlikely location for a Chicano crowd: A Morrissey concert.
9. Most poverty: Washington D.C.
10. A homeless man with a beautiful operatic voice singing the word “Bacteria” in an empty dumpster in Chinatown.
11. A Chinese man with a Texan accent in Scotland.
12. Best nights sleep-in a dry riverbed in Arizona.
13. Most people who wear red pants- St. Louis.
14. Most beautiful horses, N.Y.C.
15. A judge in Baltimore MD1890 presided over a trial where a man who was accused of murder and was guilty, and convicted by a jury of his peers… and was let go- when the judge said to him at the end of the trial “You are guilty sir… but I cannot put in jail an innocent man.” You see – the murderer was a Siamese twin.


Self Deception – ChatGpt on

How is it possible to lie to yourself? I think Sartre considered this question. What did he say on this and what are some other thoughts on the issue?

Jean-Paul Sartre, a prominent existential philosopher, delved into the concept of self-deception and the ability to lie to oneself. He argued that self-deception is a fundamental aspect of human existence. According to Sartre, people often deceive themselves as a way to escape responsibility for their choices and actions. This self-deception allows individuals to maintain a positive self-image and avoid confronting the harsh realities of their existence.

Sartre’s perspective on self-deception is closely related to his existential philosophy, which emphasizes individual freedom and responsibility. He believed that people create their essence through their choices and actions, and self-deception can be a way to deny this freedom and evade the anxiety that comes with it. By lying to oneself, individuals can convince themselves that they are not truly free or responsible for their circumstances.

Other philosophers and psychologists have also explored the concept of self-deception from various angles. For example, Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, proposed the idea of defense mechanisms, which are unconscious psychological strategies used to protect oneself from unpleasant thoughts or feelings. Denial, one of these defense mechanisms, involves refusing to accept reality or the truth.

In addition, social psychologists have conducted extensive research on cognitive dissonance, a theory developed by Leon Festinger. Cognitive dissonance occurs when individuals experience discomfort due to holding conflicting beliefs or attitudes. To reduce this discomfort, people might engage in self-deception by changing their beliefs or justifying their actions.

Overall, the ability to lie to oneself is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, explored by various philosophers, psychologists, and scholars from different disciplines. These perspectives provide valuable insights into the human mind and the ways individuals navigate the challenges of self-awareness and personal responsibility.

Seeing God in the Everyday – Two Quotes

One of my favorite images can be found in the Book of Jeremiah, which is especially useful for those who fear God may be the evil trickster inviting them to change, only to trap them into a miserable life. Jeremiah’s God says otherwise: “‘Surely I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope’” (Jer. 29:11). God wants only the best for you, says Jeremiah.

You may also find some newer, more modern, images like the God of Surprises, who astonishes you with new and unexpected invitations to grow. Or perhaps you’ll come up with images of your own. One Jesuit friend was once on a long cross-country trip and ended up stranded in an unfamiliar airport, with all his flights canceled. A cheery travel agent patiently helped him sort everything out so he could book a new flight. It was a striking image of God, he said: someone who helps you find your way home.

The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life
James Martin

“My, how foolish I am!” my friend cries, suddenly alert, like a woman remembering too late she has biscuits in the oven. “You know what I’ve always thought?” she asks in a tone of discovery, and not smiling at me but a point beyond. “I’ve always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord. And I imagined that when He came it would be like looking at the Baptist window: pretty as colored glass with the sun pouring through, such a shine you don’t know it’s getting dark. And it’s been a comfort: to think of that shine taking away all the spooky feeling. But I’ll wager it never happens. I’ll wager at the very end a body realizes the Lord has already shown Himself. That things as they are”—her hand circles in a gesture that gathers clouds and kites and grass and Queenie pawing earth over her bone—“just what they’ve always seen, was seeing Him. As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.”

A Christmas Memory
Truman Capote

Life Is Always Beginning

If such an episodic life dooms us to inauthenticity, then I say: So be it. The self is not a story.

But a discontinuous self forces us to live in the here and now rather than in the retold past and imagined future. We might even have the feeling that the self is constantly just beginning.

Life doesn’t need a narrative arc. We don’t have to be the stories we endlessly tell and retell about ourselves. Those stories are fabulation and — if told too often — falsification. The more gusto with which we tell stories about ourselves, the further we risk slipping from the truth. One doesn’t have to control one’s sense of self by constantly tying it back to some fictional story of identity.

To live episodically is to allow for the possibility of surprise in relation to the self. Sure, sometimes those surprises are bad. But sometimes they can be rather good.

Life Doesn’t Need a Narrative Arc
The story of the self is not always a grand tale.
By Simon Critchley
Mr. Critchley is a professor of philosophy and an author.

You Can Have a Story or You Can Have Your Life – ChatGpt on

did someone say something along the lines of you can have a story or you can have your life? If so, can you elaborate on what it means

The phrase you’re referring to is likely a variation of the quote “You can have your story or you can have another life. You can’t have both,” which is often attributed to philosopher David Eagleman. The essence of this quote is to convey the idea that people often get stuck in their own narratives, their own stories about who they are, what they can do, and what they can achieve. These self-created narratives, while sometimes empowering, can also limit personal growth and prevent individuals from embracing new opportunities and experiences.

The quote suggests that if you cling too tightly to your current story, your predetermined notions about yourself and your life, you might miss out on the chance to live a different, perhaps more fulfilling life. It’s a reminder to be open to change, to rewrite your story, and to explore new possibilities. Sometimes, holding onto a certain identity or life story can prevent personal evolution and hinder the ability to adapt to new circumstances.

In a broader sense, the quote encourages self-reflection and prompts individuals to question the narratives they’ve constructed about themselves. It invites people to consider whether these narratives are empowering or limiting, and whether they’re willing to let go of old stories to embrace new chapters in their lives.

Camus on Handling the Meaningless of Existence, ChatGPT on

Did Camus say something to the effect that the proper response to the meaningless of life is to invent rules for it like a game such as football?

Albert Camus did not explicitly say that the proper response to the meaninglessness of life is to invent rules for it like a game such as football in his philosophical works. However, his philosophical ideas do touch on the themes of absurdity and the human search for meaning in a seemingly indifferent universe.

Camus is best known for his concept of the “absurd.” He argued that life is inherently meaningless and that humans seek meaning and purpose in a world that offers none. One of his most famous statements about the absurd comes from his essay “The Myth of Sisyphus,” in which he compares the human condition to that of Sisyphus, a figure in Greek mythology who is condemned to roll a boulder up a hill for all eternity, only to have it roll back down each time he nears the top. Camus concludes that we must imagine Sisyphus as happy because he has embraced the absurdity of his task and found meaning in the act of pushing the boulder, even though the task itself is meaningless.

While Camus did not specifically suggest inventing rules for life like a game of football, his writings often explore the idea that individuals must confront the absurdity of existence and create their own meaning and values. This can involve pursuing passions, embracing relationships, and engaging in activities that give life a sense of purpose, even if those pursuits are ultimately arbitrary in the grand scheme of things. In this sense, his philosophy encourages individuals to make choices and find meaning in a world that lacks inherent meaning or purpose.

Trainspotting – Desultory Quotes

Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: [narrating] Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?

Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: [narrates] When you’re on junk you have only one worry: scoring. When you’re off it you are suddenly obliged to worry about all sorts of other shite. Got no money: can’t get pissed. Got money: drinking too much. Can’t get a bird: no chance of a ride. Got a bird: too much hassle. You have to worry about bills, about food, about some football team that never fucking wins, about human relationships and all the things that really don’t matter when you’ve got a sincere and truthful junk habit.

Diane: You’re not getting any younger, Mark. The world’s changing. Music’s changing. Even drugs are changing. You can’t stay in here all day dreaming about heroin and Ziggy Pop.
Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: It’s Iggy Pop.
Diane: Whatever. I mean, the guy’s dead anyway.
Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: Iggy Pop’s not dead. He toured last year! Tommy went to see him.
Diane: The point is, you’ve got to find something new.


Meno’s Paradox in Real Life – ChatGPT on

can you give me some examples of meno’s paradox in real life
Certainly! Meno’s Paradox, named after the ancient Greek philosopher Meno, raises questions about the nature of knowledge and learning. It goes as follows: If you already know what you’re looking for, inquiry is unnecessary. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, inquiry is impossible. Here are a few examples that illustrate Meno’s Paradox in real-life situations:

Scientific Research: When scientists embark on research projects, they often have a specific goal in mind, such as finding a cure for a disease or understanding a particular natural phenomenon. However, if they already know the answer they seek, there would be no need for inquiry. On the other hand, if they have no idea what they’re looking for, it becomes challenging to direct their research efforts effectively.

Problem-Solving: Consider a complex problem that requires a solution. If you already know the solution, there is no need to engage in the process of problem-solving. However, if you have no prior knowledge or understanding of the problem, it becomes difficult to even start the inquiry process and find a solution.

Education and Learning: Students often face Meno’s Paradox when learning new subjects. If they already know the material being taught, there would be no need for instruction. But if they lack prior knowledge of a subject, it can be challenging to comprehend and engage in the learning process effectively.

Personal Growth
: Meno’s Paradox can also be applied to personal development. If you already possess all the knowledge and skills required to grow and improve as an individual, there would be no need for self-reflection or seeking new experiences. However, if you lack awareness of your own shortcomings or areas for improvement, it becomes difficult to engage in meaningful personal growth.

These examples highlight the tension between the need for inquiry and the prerequisite knowledge required for effective inquiry, as posed by Meno’s Paradox.

Pears and Tanks – Kundera quote

To tell the truth, that was not an entirely new trait of hers. The difference was that at one time it had annoyed them. One night, for instance, their country was invaded by the tanks of a gigantic neighboring country. That had been such a shock and brought such terror that for a long time no one could think of anything else. It was August, and the pears in their garden were ripe. A week earlier, Mama had invited the pharmacist to come and pick them. But the pharmacist neither came nor even apologized. Mama was unable to forgive him, which infuriated Karel and Marketa. They reproached her: Everyone else is thinking about tanks, and you’re thinking about pears. Then they moved out, taking the memory of her pettiness with them.

But are tanks really more important than pears? As time went by, Karel realized that the answer to this question was not as obvious as he had always thought, and he began to feel a secret sympathy for Mama’s perspective, which had a big pear tree in the foreground and somewhere in the distance a tank no bigger than a ladybug, ready at any moment to fly away out of sight. Ah yes! In reality it’s Mama who is right: tanks are perishable, pears are eternal.

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Milan Kundera

The Authentic Feel of Unpolished Expression

Of course Bernard didn’t realise the song wasn’t in his key. None of us did. We didn’t know anything about stuff like that. We always wrote the music first, and what I’d always loved about Barney’s vocals was the unintentional strained quality as he tried to fit into the track. Like Ian, he wasn’t blessed with the world’s best singing voice, but it had emotion, passion, and to me the struggle in Bernard’s voice was a major part of the band’s appeal. (I agree with David Byrne, who said, ‘The better a singer’s voice, the harder it is to believe what they’re saying.’)

Substance: Inside New Order
Peter Hook

Waking Life – Quotes from

Waking Life

Soap Opera Woman
: Excuse me.

Wiley: Excuse me.

Soap Opera Woman: Hey. Could we do that again? I know we haven’t met, but I don’t want to be an ant. You know? I mean, it’s like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continously on ant autopilot, with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there. All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient, polite manner. “Here’s your change.” “Paper or plastic?’ “Credit or debit?” “You want ketchup with that?” I don’t want a straw. I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don’t want to give that up. I don’t want to be ant, you know?

Man on TV: A single ego is an absurdly narrow vantage from which to view this experience. And where most consider their individual relationship to the universe, I contemplate relationships of my various selves to one another.

Kim Krizan: Creation seems to come out of imperfection. It seems to come out of a striving and a frustration and this is where I think language came from. I mean, it came from our desire to transcend our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another. And it had to be easy when it was just simple survival. Like you know, “water.” We came up with a sound for that. Or saber tooth tiger right behind you. We came up with a sound for that. But when it gets really interesting I think is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate all the abstract and intangible things that we’re experiencing. What is like… frustration? Or what is anger or love? When I say love, the sound comes out of my mouth and it hits the other person’s ear, travels through this byzantine conduit in their brain through their memories of love or lack of love, and they register what I’m saying and they say yes, they understand. But how do I know they understand? Because words are inert. They’re just symbols. They’re dead, you know? And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It’s unspeakable. And yet you know, when we communicate with one another and we feel that we have connected and we think that we’re understood I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion. And that feeling might be transient, but I think it’s what we live for.

Boat Car Guy: Man this must be like… parallel universe night. You know that cat that was just in here? Just ran out the door? Well, he comes up to the counter, you know, and I say “What’s the word, turd?” And he lays down this burrito and he kind of looks at me, kind of stares at me and says, “I have but recently returned from the valley of the shadow of death. I’m rapturously breathing in all the odors and essences of life. I’ve been to the brink of total oblivion. I remember and ferment the desire to remember everything.”

Wiley: So, what did you say to that?

Boat Car Guy
: Well, I mean, what could I say? I said, “If you’re going to microwave that burrito, I want you to poke holes in the plastic wrapping because they explode. And I’m tired of cleaning up your little burrito doings. You dig me?”

I Like the Bricks More Than the Building – Nietzsche quote

Error of philosophers: The philosopher believes that the value of his philosophy lies in the whole, in the building. But posterity discovers it in the bricks that he used and which others will often make use of again for better building; in the fact, that is to say, that the building can be destroyed and nevertheless possess value as material.

— Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (1878)

Epigraph found in:
Heidegger in Ruins
Richard Wolin