Due to the reasons laid out in my earlier post, the meaning of life, living ethically is something that’s tremendously important to me. My life, as I see it, is something to be used for improving the lives of others. That is my number one goal – everything else is (or should be) a means to that end.
I wanted to use this post to write a little about my thoughts concerning the role of techniques in aikido and to try to tackle the question: how many techniques are there in aikido?1
One observation I made a little while ago, but was discussing with some friends last night, is about the reasons why we like things, and why our favourite things are different. My view is that it’s because we each experience the world differently – that my world is different to your world.
Cogito ergo sum, or its translation, “I think, therefore I am,” is a frequently-quoted line from well-known mathematician and philosopher René Descartes. I’ve noticed that it often seems to be misunderstood; this post is a brief outline of the idea and some of my thoughts on it.
Often when considering the origins of the universe, we have to contend with the question: What caused the Big Bang? On the face of it, it’s a good question. It is, however, somewhat misleading.
I suppose that a post on free will has been a long time coming so I felt perhaps I ought to get round to finally writing it. In this essay I want to make two points: 1., that claims of free will are faith-based, being made without the burden of proof we would normally require, and 2., that choices seemingly invoking free will are in fact a product of competing desires.
I’ll begin by saying it: I don’t believe in free will. I used to – in fact I used to think it was one of the most self-evident things in the world – but a few years ago when I examined the situation, I came to the conclusion that I hold now: There appears to be no acceptable evidence to support a belief in it. None at all.
On my way to work today I was thinking about abstract things, and I came across the interesting question of whether a statement is truthful if, only by the fact of saying it, it becomes true. The example I was thinking of was the following: Imagine a person, me, and I want to go swimming with two beautiful girls (philosophy can be so enjoyable sometimes). I ask one of them, Jane, “will you go swimming with me?” She replies, “I will, but only if Sarah comes with us.” So I go to Sarah and ask her the same question, and she replies, “I will, but only if Jane is coming too.”
In this article I want to explore the idea of using time travel to affect the course of history, to right wrongs, and otherwise impose one’s own wants and wishes onto the past in order to shape the course of historical events. Righting the wrongs of the past is a common theme in time travel fiction, and it represents an attractive proposition to us: Can we save the unsavable? Supposing we had access to a classical time machine,1 could we do it? My answer is… Well, probably not.
The technical term for what the layman would consider a ‘time machine’ is a ‘Wellsian’ time machine – where a brave adventurer straps himself in, flips a switch and catapults himself forwards or backwards in time. It’s named after H.G. Wells, author of the sci-fi classic The Time Machine. ↩
This morning I was involved in a debate in which a person noted that some atheists condemned the actions of God as immoral, and so he pushed them to give him the moral standard against which they were judging his God. He argued that without objective morality, there is no set-in-stone standard to make any meaningful judgements – and I’m inclined to agree with him. As soon as one admits that morality is subjective, then any one definition of it becomes as valid as any other, and being that they are all mutually exclusive, they each become valid and invalid in equal measure, and we can go nowhere. It seems imperative to me therefore that we be able to find an objective means to determine whether a given action is ethical or not, and to this end I set about approximately two years ago to establish for myself a theory of ethics1 based on the principles of compassion and rationality.
A theory of ethics is a long project; unfortunately there are still many questions I need to find the answers to, but I stand by the conviction that I will be a better person for my pursuit of them. ↩
Like many people, I spent a long time trying to decide on what I felt was the purpose of my existence. I’ve come across so many answers to the meaning of life that it took me a long time to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and find some robust reasoning upon which to grasp what seems genuinely true.