Finding Meaningful Jobs

A Gallup poll found that a staggering 87% of people worldwide don’t feel engaged at work, more specifically only 29% of millennials are engaged at work. It’s also important to remember that millennials have the highest rate of unemployment and underemployment in the U.S. but somehow we are still described as an idealistic generation. The poll also found that again 87% of millennials believe development is important for meaning in a job.

The first insight from this of course is that people do not simply want jobs, like so many politicians claim, but in fact they want good jobs. A good way to think of it is to think if it were possible to add millions of jobs to the economy by simply picking strawberries all day, that would be missing the point! Just imagine how much less people would be engaged at work. People want to go to work and find some kind of meaning without doing too much actual work, in many ways the paycheck is just a byproduct of this. What exactly makes people engaged at work? And more importantly, what makes any type of work more meaningful than others?Read More »

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On Mysticism and Logic

Bertrand Russell’s famous essay “Mysticism and Logic” can seem striking to readers at first glance. The first reason being that Russell actually seems to admire some mystic’s line of reasoning. Bertrand Russell, the philosopher that redefined mathematics and logic, giving praise to mystic’s wondrous and deep intuition. Despite being written in a period where Russell was redefining his own beliefs, that is especially odd for a man of his convictions. The second most striking thing is that, for being a man so adamant about logic and reason, he really doesn’t know much about mysticism.

The essay’s main focus is analyzing what Russell believes to be universal traits of mysticism. In contrast he often analyzes these traits along with their opposite beliefs in the realm of logic, these issues being:

  • Intuition
  • Unity
  • Time
  • Good and Evil

These are definitely core issues of mysticism, intuition and unity being the most common. The basic claims with these two are that mystics reach their conclusions merely through insight or intuition, as opposed to logic and reason. This is a slight generality, but works for our purpose. Even Hegel, whom Russell claims is a more mystic philosopher, can undoubtedly be attributed high functions of reason in his philosophy. The second issue, unity, is something so central to much of Eastern philosophy. Here Russell sights the sayings of Heraclitus, such as “good and ill are one,” and “the way up and the way down is one and the same.” Even someone only familiar with philosophy on a satirical level understands the commonality of these sayings.Read More »

Politics as a Feeling

A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found something that, believe it or not, surprised nobody. The conclusion of the study found that “People vote with their party, not their personal beliefs.” As YaleNews later reported:

People vote on an issue based on the facts and their ideology, or personal beliefs, but they disregard both the facts and their personal beliefs when they are aware of their political party’s position

The premise of the study is that given a situation involving the issue of welfare, people artificially voted from their beliefs. But when informed of their party’s beliefs beforehand they often switched their own opinion to fall in line with the party. Again this is not very surprising. A simple talk with a stranger reveals how little people truly care about core issues, or when they do take an interest to them how little information they get on that subject. The worst possible outcome is someone who is not just interested, but militant and uninformed.Read More »

Skepticism

In our modern age we are presented with a rapid amount of information that humanity has never been subjected too.  Just on our phones we can get news alerts as a story is unfolding, communicate with our friends from hundreds of miles away, view media sources from all over the world, just in a few seconds between T.V. commercials. This unprecedented amount of information for us to take in has a variety of consequences, namely that information we are given may easily be fabricated, or altered, or even worse, disconnects us from what is really happening.

Take the example of the news. Just using a modern smartphone I can not only check the local news, the national news (which is not a new thing thanks to the utility of newspapers) but I can check the news from any country around the world as it’s happening. There is a certain rush for news nowadays that makes one skeptical of its validity, meaning it might have been so rushed to get out there that we don’t entirely know what’s accurate. Often enough, journalists will keep a story as vague as possible early on, and then develop the story in further editions as more details come in. But even then facts may be skewed.Read More »

Notes on Enjoyment

It was sometime in the evening Thursday night, just as the noises of the toads gathering outside my window began to emerge, that I couldn’t help but shatter. On my nightstand next to me books I hadn’t even begun reading: Plato, Lucretius, Shelley, Kant, and so on. A little earlier in the month I created a chart of all the books I was going to read this year, a whole product line of philosophy from Spinoza all the way up until Wittgenstein and Zizek, only stopping along the way for some light reading of Adam Smith, Ricardo, Marx, Malthus, and Keynes, and the whole nine yards of economics to go along with it. In fact, in the moment I was reading a book on the history of economic theory, only about halfway through, when I took the bookmark out closed the book and put it back on the shelf. I don’t plan to return to it.

I shredded the reading schedule I made and trashed the bastard in the cans outside my house, I don’t think I’ll need it. There is a sudden moment people are faced with when they come to terms with their own boredom that they can’t help but laugh. I made the grave mistake of aspiring to be some kind of academic, and therefore thinking that one should only shroud himself with the most sophisticated and mind fucking texts to make himself feel smarter, so that’s exactly what I tried to do. A person can only take some much time reading about history, god, and everything inbetween before going bonkers and running through downtown nude. Read More »

Literature and Philosophy

Philosophy has always had an odd place in the novel, and vice versa. So often will philosophers refer back to great writers just to make their points clearer, and so often will great writers refer back to philosophers just to add a basis for their ideas. It is even gotten into that habit that philosophers have written novels. This has been an immensely popular phenomenon. Philosophers like Voltaire, Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre, and Kierkegaard have all written novels and the like that help to better demonstrate their philosophy. In the same realm, writers like Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Kafka, Byron, Goethe, and Proust are hailed for the influence on philosophic thought as well as literary value.

So first of all, what can be said that causes the relationship between philosophy and literature? The most obvious answer is that in literature everything down to the diction and structure of the novel can contribute to the point. Take Camus and his novel The Stranger. The main character, Meursault, narrates the story in the stream of consciousness style that was so famously popularized during the modernist period. The sentence structures vary, mostly consisting of short concise statements strung together to display the total indifference, in even towards beauty found in words. The Stranger brings us those famous opening lines: “Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.” So from the very beginning it is apparent the philosophical standpoint of the narrator. That of nihilism. The story continually displays it, the total indifference towards his mother’s death, murder, imprisonment, injustice, and sex. Every part of this novel forms a cohesive philosophy used by Camus in his philosophical essays to further make his point about the destructive effects of nihilism.Read More »

The Problem of Evil

The problem of evil has been one of the most debated, as well as one of the most popularized, issues in philosophy. It concerns the existence vs. the nonexistence of god and the necessity of evil. It can be broken down logically, but it is better displayed with an example. The problem of evil can be seen represented in the 1947 poem “Who But the Lord?” by Langston Hughes.

I looked and I saw
That man they call the Law.
He was coming
Down the street at me!
I had visions in my head
Of being laid out cold and dead,
Or else murdered
By the third degree.

I said, O, Lord, if you can,

Save me from that man!

Don’t let him make a pulp out of me!

But the Lord he was not quick.
The Law raised up his stick
And beat the living hell
Out of me!

Now, I do not understand
Why God don’t protect a man
From police brutality.
Being poor and black,
I’ve no weapon to strike back
So who but the Lord
Can protect me?

We’ll see.

Read More »