Editorial Note: I have been asked by a small number of people over the last few years if I were going to write a book with my pithy thoughts and aphorisms. I probably won’t because books are expensive to produce and I would like what I’ve learned from my mistakes to be freely available to anyone who wants to use it or to critique my youthful and not-so-youthful stupidity. So I’ve collected some of my thoughts from the past few years for those who are interested to review them and ponder or laugh at how silly I am. Whichever. See my thoughts from 2011 and 2013 if you care to.
December 29, 2012 – It’s interesting how in modern philosophy I frequently find vapid skepticism masquerading as profound wisdom and egotistical certainty masquerading as intellectual humility.
December 18, 2012 – Marketing gets you to make bad decisions based on appealing to your desire to make good decisions.
December 18, 2012 – I regret spending too much time when I was younger worrying about how to improve the world when I would have been much better off focusing on how to improve myself.
December 17th, 2012 – Rationalizing your situation does not change it, and more importantly, it does not change you.
December 17th, 2012 – As I’ve done things and created things to help other people, I’ve realized that it’s much more fulfilling than just being an interesting person, and that being an interesting person of good will was a good starting point for a long and fulfilling life rather than being the goal of that life.
December 17th, 2012 – The time and talents and treasures we have, small or large as they may be, create big ripples when we grow strong enough to throw them into the water of life.
December 10th, 2012 – After all is said and done, what gets done usually matters far more than what gets said.
December 8th, 2012 – Contrary to our culture’s prevailing wisdom, being nice is not a moral imperative. Neither is coddling people at the expense of your honesty and their strength of character. Loving kindness would have us gently share the harsh truth with our neighbor rather than allowing them the luxury of resting in the comforting arms of pleasant falsehoods. Loving kindness would be helping them grow in virtue rather than helping them rationalize their stagnation and decadence.
December 8th, 2012 – It is not enough to merely avoid evil. You must confront it and choose good over it.
November 14th, 2012 – The difference between the quick and the dead is…well, they both end up dead.
November 12th, 2012 – The worst sins and most excellent virtues occur when we have the most freedom to choose between acts of evil or acts of virtue. This is why free societies will always run the risk of engendering the greatest evils and stand the best chance of fostering the greatest virtues.
November 12th, 2012 – I do not strive to be the person others want me to be, but I do strive to be the person others need me to be. Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo.
November 9th, 2012 – I spent many years learning to live as if in a dream and many more learning to live as if in a nightmare. Now I am learning to simply live.
November 7th, 2012 – Much of our widespread cultural failure to find happiness has to do with our strategy of changing the external conditions of our lives in order to cause the changes we desire in our internal lives rather than changing our internal lives so that we can systematically and positively impact the external conditions of our lives.
October 20th, 2012 – Most people don’t plan to fail. They fail to utilize appropriate risk management strategies for events that could disrupt their plans.
October 19th, 2012 – The strength of an emotional connection tends to be directly proportional to a person’s emotional vulnerability in that relationship.
October 9th, 2012 – It’s best to avoid engaging in catachresis during catechesis.
October 7th, 2012 – When life knocks you down, kick it in the shin and then get up and smash its face in with a brick. Peacefully, of course.
October 3rd, 2012 – The fact that most politicians lie, obfuscate, and otherwise misuse language so that they can win elections is a good indicator of their utter disdain for the democratic process. If they valued it… well it’s easy enough to just be honest and lose as they should. The fact that voters believe their lies, ignore them, and explain them away is an equally good indicator of their disdain for the democratic process. If they valued it… well it’s easy enough to just vote for somebody who isn’t bothering to lie.
October 2nd, 2012 – The lies you are most likely to believe are the platitudes that you most want to believe. Hence the effectiveness of political rhetoric.
September 29th, 2012 – Those moments when life feels empty are opportunities to fill your life with all the good that you can muster. You can create something beautiful or make something useful and thereby become more beautiful and useful.
September 27th, 2012 – Do everything in the spirit of love, but do not fall into the trap of imagining that good intentions beget optimal behaviors.
September 26th, 2012 – Ah, romance. It’s like a delicate rose blossom carried upon a gentle breeze being produced by an oncoming tornado which is bearing down upon everything you hold dear.
September 23rd, 2012 – Every land, every people finds a way to deal the inevitable problem of suffering and pain. Through the many ages of man, we have at various times ignored, rationalized, or drowned our sufferings. And while we have ever sought after that which would put an end to suffering via religions and drugs and political theories, it has remained an inexhaustible source of motivation for human progress. It has driven our medical advancements, our desire to treat each other well, and our need for progress as a society. Without suffering to prod us along, we would still be wallowing in the mud of barbarism rather than lounging in a snazzy robe of barbarism.
September 21st, 2012 – If you consider the immensity of time, you may see that all of your life is a near-death experience.
September 21st, 2012 – Somehow, the common welfare is often confused with corporate welfare or social welfare, and in both cases impairs the very thing it seeks to uphold.
September 19th, 2012 – It is difficult to imagine the number of difficulties created by the human propensity for confusing fact with fiction.
September 9th, 2012 – Practicing wu wei successfully lies in not having to practice it.
September 6th, 2012 – While it’s true that no one human being can have it all, it’s also true that you can give it your all.
August 22nd, 2012 – The right to be free of suffering does not exist. We do get to choose whether we treat suffering as an opportunity to empower personal growth and exercise our integrity or as a curse to be endured and lambasted.
August 20th, 2012 – Like a boss? Not me. I’ve played enough video games to know that bosses die just like plucky heroes. I’m content to just work at being a person of good character.
August 19th, 2012 – The problem with our culture isn’t that it promotes malice so much as that it promotes the deification of one’s own convenience. It’s a corruption stemming from good intentions towards the self and a gentle apathy toward everything else.
August 16th, 2012 – Life is full of challenges and suffering. That’s part of why life is so good, but it’s deeply counterintuitive in a culture of hedonism and ego worship.
August 14th, 2012 – Sometimes I get the impression that my existence is in its most raw form a symbiotic and tempestuous relationship between the control of my will and the chaos of my mind.
August 7th, 2012 – If you feel the need to ignore and revise reality to fit your ideology, you may want to pause for a moment and consider why it is that you want an ideology that may not be worth having.
July 29th, 2012 – My life is an exercise in trying to cultivate virtue in the dead gardens left after greed and lust have conquered the land.
July 13th, 2012 – True strength lies not in having armor, weapons, or explosives. True strength lies in having the courage to love those who hate you, forgive those who hurt you, and face your own evil before you tackle the evils of others.
May 29th, 2012 – Awakening your passion is as dangerous as it is wonderful. The unfettered human spirit is capable of such terrible and beautiful things. Perhaps that is why so many of us are afraid to be truly free. Who would want to meet the real me?
May 18th, 2012 – Fascism wins every time fear is chosen over freedom.
May 11th, 2012 – Both happiness and food are always grown, and it’s best if you grow them yourself.
May 7th, 2012 – Ah, glorious pain. There’s nothing quite like it, and there’s nothing quite like the lack thereof.
May 7th, 2012 – Many people are so busy defining and categorizing reality via ideology that they neglect to truly experience it and learn from it.
April 29th, 2012 – Once a government has decided what you are allowed to believe, it’s time for you to dismantle it and begin anew.
April 22nd, 2012 – I want so badly for this to be over, for the craziness to end and life to be normal again. And yet reaching my goals requires this sacrifice, and so I will fight to the pain.
April 19th, 2012 – Having an optimal thought process is of very little use until you employ it to optimize your decision-making process.
April 18th, 2012 – It’s unfortunate that many in our society seem to think that being an effective intellectual causes one to be a good decision-maker.
April 13th, 2012 – Life is full of precisely the kinds of things upon which I thrive: beauty, love, challenges, and danger.
April 12, 2012 – The closer I get to my goals, the more I realize how far from them I was before and how far I must go in order to get to them.
April 12th, 2012 – Life is the gradual death of the ego, and the death of the ego is the route to happiness.
April 6th, 2012 – Sane is the new crazy.
April 6th, 2012 – Ironically, it’s often our fear of the past which prevents us from moving on into the future.
April 4th, 2012 – I’d rather be an honest rogue than pretend to sanctity.
March 28th, 2012 – I like learning from the mistakes of others. It has saved me lots of time in which to make my own mistakes and learn from them.
March 26th, 2012 – Stagnation is a living death. It crushes the soaring soul and stamps out worthwhile passions.
March 23rd, 2012 – It is time to let the flames of our passion for love and justice burn down the walls of hatred and the fences of fear.
March 23rd, 2012 – The price of dishonesty may be high, and yet the price of honesty is even higher. It’s a price I gladly pay for what is priceless.
March 15th, 2012 – Fight until you drop. Then take the opportunity to hit your opponent in the groin.
March 15th, 2012 – Rational argument done well does not produce an end to rational argument and a settling of belief. Rational argument should unsettle, challenge, and provoke those who are most self-assured in their beliefs.
March 4th, 2012 – A necessary condition of meaningful rights is a sober willingness to accept the risks and responsibilities associated with them.
March 3rd, 2012 – Diplomacy is least useful with those who are most in need of it, and most useful with those who are in least need of it.
February 29th, 2012 – The consequences of being right are often no less dire than the consequences of being wrong.
February 21st, 2012 – It may be worth considering that our political leaders may be the symptoms of our failures as a culture rather than the causes of it.
February 15th, 2012 – I’ve been learning to meet people where they are. It turns out that it works a lot better than trying to meet people where you would like them to be.
February 2nd, 2012 – Some people seem to be in a competition to see how many prejudices they can form based on as little evidence as possible. Unfortunately, many of these people are in positions of significant political or social influence.
January 31st, 2012 – It’s so nice to be able to have the woman of your dreams. The only thing better is successfully utilizing genetic engineering so that she becomes a reality.
January 28th, 2012 – Life is more fulfilling when you are concerned with waking up for someone special rather than simply waking up with someone.
January 23rd, 2012 – When you reach for the stars, you can accomplish great things or die a horrible death. Maybe even both.
January 23rd, 2012 – So many of us spend so much effort on finding someone to spend time with that we have no time left to spend on the right one when we meet them.
January 21st, 2012 – If people were to spend as much time and effort on improving their behavior as they spend on rationalizing their behavior, the world would be a much better place. Also, I wouldn’t have to hear so much whining.
January 17th, 2012 – I feel for you. Which is what makes it all the more strange that I can so rarely feel for myself.
January 16th, 2012 – When life gets too interesting, I start to crave boredom. When life gets too boring, I go find something interesting to do. When life is a perfect balance between the two, I get suspicious.
January 4th, 2012 – There’s nothing like flying on the wings of music, high above the dusty roads and the shadowed skies of our world.
January 2nd, 2012 – The world is not enough to fulfill my needs, but it has a lot of things with which to pleasantly distract me from that fact.
January 1, 2012 – We can’t return to the past, but we can learn enough from it that we get a good return on it.