Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Courage (Kamran K): The Herding into FORCED COOL & the Courage to Remain UNcool.

(1) Increasingly, the social programming and conformity we see everywhere is forcing everyone into a very narrow range of behaviors and attitudes deemed "cool." By no means is this range of attitudes and behaviors fully rational, let alone the very best human reason could formulate. By no means is it appropriate for all persons in their varying life circumstances. By no means does it serve the GOOD or strive after human excellence. By no means does it generate individual or social maturation or development.

By and large, the forcing of all into FORCED COOL perpetuates and furthers almost endless material consumption. As such, it is deeply supported by corporations which must continue to accelerate consumption to survive and thrive. Were persons courageous enough to resist FORCED COOL, reject it as valueless and beneath their human dignity, then material consumption would plunge, causing many companies to go bankrupt or lose significant market value. Persons generally lack such courage so consumption driven by FORCED COOL is unlikely to slow down. Even the global warming of the Earth and the potential catastrophic consequences resulting from it to all known life is INsufficient in the face of the pull of FORCED COOL. With increasing knowledge of how human consumption behaviors are accelerating global warming, persons continue to consume in the service of the ideal of FORCED COOL. Earth be damned, cool will I be!

(2) This forcing of all into FORCED COOL consists of a certain set of behaviors, characteristics, and attitudes that one must dutifully comply in order to remain cool. These attitudes and behaviors include:
  • Materially well-off in terms of income, housing situation, car, and so on. Forced cool requires one to live in an expensive trendy city like LA, Miami, SF, NYC, Chicago, or DC. To live in these cities one must usually maintain a rather high income to even rent a halfway decent apartment, let alone purchase a single family home. Forced cool does not permit one to live in a small town (e.g. Vonore, TN) with a very low cost of living. It also does not permit one to drive a very old practical car that still works but has no "curb appeal." 
  • Access to and ownership of the latest fashion (including body art) and technology. Forced cool does not permit one to wear whatever one wants or possess only minimal out-dated technology. The latest coolest fashions and technologies must be purchased and then discarded as soon as next year's models are released. 
  • Relatively attractive, physically fit, and healthy eater. Forced cool requires one to work out but not excessively, just enough to avoid being "fat" which is deemed uncool. Forced cool does not permit one to regularly eat junk or fast food; rather one must seek out expensive organic fruits and vegetables, expensive bars and restaurants, and increasingly expensive gyms, spas, and excercise classes. 
  • Nonjudgmental of others except those that are religious or socially conservative or otherwise committed to "values." Forced cool requires one not to judge how others are behaving or what they think. Everyone is to be respected for their uniqueness and difference. Only the deeply religious or socially conservative may be judged as "backward" and "uncool." 
  • Relentlessly positive, agreeable, upbeat, and nice. Forced cool requires one to relentlessly pronounce the behaviors, comments, or future plans of others as either awesome, cool, neat, fun, or nice. The mantra here is responses that begin with "how awesome" "that's so cool" "how nice." Forced cool does not permit one to be negative or pessimistic or skeptical or even realistic. 
  • Willing to indulge in occasional vices without becoming addicted to them. 
  • Disinterested in politics or the news or science. 
  • Doesn't really enjoy working or one's chosen career but sticks with it to make money and do fun things with the money earned. 
  • Disinterested in knowing how things work. Willing to pay to have things repaired, even if these repairs are the simplest ones imaginable.                                                                                    
(3) Beginning in the 60s the desire of persons to be "cool" was a very simple thing with few demands or requirements. One simply needed to reject money worship, incessant work, and return to Nature, the love of music and others, and appreciate the small pleasures of life. Over time, conceptions of coolness have becoming increasingly complex and burdensome, such that to be cool now is literally a full-time job and requires constant attention and projection of a certain public image and presentation. Unless one was magically born with all of the above behaviors, characteristics, and attitudes, then one usually must become inauthentic in order to attain forced cool and stay there. Being cool now requires a constant screening of what one is eating, saying, doing, earning. It requires a very high level of material consumption funded by a very high level of income to support that consumption. For those that don't have such income, FORCED COOL does often push them into debt to afford things they should go without. Because the desire to be cool has become so strong and so persistent, many do in fact choose debt rather than giving up on the dream of being cool.

(4) Here again, courage is shown to be (in modernity) much less about one's ability to fight in battle or take other physical risks and much more about resisting the pressures of herding behavior and remaining authentic to the core to the end.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Passion (Kamran K): The Passion- destroying DISEASE of Pure Form

(1) The very tiny sliver of Earth that humans inhabit has become one very large pure form factory. Wherever one looks persons are eager to engage in pure form in a manner that is infinitely repetitive and (ultimately) passion-destructive. They are eager to render (usually negative) judgments and opinions that are pure form, in which letters and words harshly judge a reality that can't be reduced in these simplistic ways. They are eager to pass laws or make contracts that are again nothing but pure form, containing provisions and clauses that no one can interpret nor understand. They are eager to live their entire lives on the basis of values and "virtues"(such as the "importance of success") that are again simply pure form. Most importantly and most detrimentally, they are eager to separate humanity into "better" and "worse" groups on the basis of judgments rooted almost entirely in pure form.

(2) Because Earth has become one very large pure form factory, Earth is not a planet in which creatures are delighting in the exhiliration that results from appreciating pure substance and abandoning pure form. Earth is not a planet where human persons arrive at some experience interested in gathering pure substance before making any judgment memorialized in pure form (judgments have no other way of being "captured") BUT ON THE BASIS OF EXPERIENCED PURE SUBSTANCE.

(3) Persons are too lazy or distracted or simply disinterested in gathering pure substance and prefer the "easy" shortcut of pure form. Persons that have never been to a "rave" somehow know that the experience is "bad" "filled with drugs" and/or "not for them." What is permitting this assessment? The always ready-to-be-used machinery of PURE FORM.

Persons that have never lived a second in either California or Los Angeles somehow know that the people within this giant city of 15 million are all "superficial" "stupid" "shallow" or "narcissistic." What is permitting this assessment? The always ready-to-be-used machinery of PURE FORM.

Woman that have never dated a man of a certain race or ethnicity (say Hispanic or Middle Eastern) or of a certain income level (say low) somehow know that such a man would not be "right" for them. What is permitting this assessment? The always ready-to-be-used machinery of PURE FORM.

(4) In almost all of these cases, the machinery of pure form is rendering some negative judgment that prevents persons from actually behaving in ways that would allow them to gather pure substance relative to the activity, person, or place being judged. In some- perhaps many of these cases- we may find that there is PURE SUBSTANCE within the experience that would give us a genuine reason to be passionate, excited, delighted. But the machinery of PURE FORM blocks this from ever happening, blocks the journey from ever beginning?

(5) Ferryman's question is unusually direct and worth reconsidering. Let us pose the question again in Ferryman's words:

To ask the question precisely:  does life exist for a consciousness which imposes on itself the perfection of pure form at the expense of experiencing any substance, including being?

Ferryman's question identifies an issue each of us should "take up" with utmost seriousness. What sort of life are we living if we have abandoned pure substance for the "protection" of pure form? What sort of experiences are we likely to have from the perspective of pure form? How likely are we to mature and develop throughout life from the perspective of a pure form that is continually blocking the access to pure substance? What ultimate "profit" does pure form deliver vis a vis pure substance?

Happiness (Kamran K): The "Jackpot" of Pleasant Consciousness

Humor: If the blog writer's lifelong pretension to being considered a "philosopher" somehow fails, he may then entertain the possibility of becoming a male leg model, if such a job even exists.

"This last genre of the art of living is aestheticist. As in the acknowledged arts, there are no rules for producing new and exciting works. As in the acknowledged arts, there is no best work- no best life- by which all others can judged. As in the acknowledged arts, that does not imply that judgment is impossible, that every work is as good as every other. As in the acknowledged arts, the aim is to produce as many new and different type of works- as many different modes of life- as possible, since the proliferation of aesthetic difference and multiplicity, even though it is not often in the service of morality, enriches and improves human life."
Nehamas, 1998

(1) Our number one lifelong task is to continually reach a state of pleasant consciousness. All the bodily functions, all our possessions, all our social connections, any technology we use, literally everything we do SHOULD be aimed at reaching this state of pleasant consciousness. Each and every one of these things serves the ultimate end of pleasant consciousness and has little human value apart from it. We don't live in order to gain or stockpile any of these secondary things (e.g. money or social connections) and somehow hope that this will produce pleasant consciousness; rather we live seeking to use and/or abandon these secondary things with the primary intent to always reach and remain in pleasant consciousness. 

If one has reached and remains for months, years, decades at pleasant consciousness then one has "won" at Life. There is no bigger prize out "there" worth winning. While within pleasant consciousness, one still may be told that one "lacks" and should "work" to get certain things (e.g. a wife and kids, a nicer home or car, more luxurious vacations). One can shrug and laugh off everyone of these suggestions as they are rooted in ignorance of a FUNDAMENTAL nature.

(2) Pleasant consciousness is a condition of consciousness that is between the extreme poles of depression and elation. UNLIKE absolute elation, it is capable of being maintained for months, years, and decades. It is closer to elation than depression but does make certain concessions to the banality, cruelty, and stupidity of much human behavior (including one's OWN stupidities) to allow for some temporary "down days" and the like.

A person in pleasant consciousness is generally pleasantly satisfied with his or her life and everything within it. The person's conduct and behavior and even manner of speaking is totally consistent with this state of consciousness. They are generally happy to engage in and improve upon the activities they hold most dear, they look forward to quality FACE TO FACE time with the social connections they value most, they appreciate the town they live in and its distinctive characteristics, they are eager to maintain their health at a sufficiently high level to prolong their life within pleasant consciousness as much as possible under the circumstances, they look back upon most of their days and honestly evaluate this time as "good," and so on. Lacking these objective indications that one has reached pleasant consciousness, a person is likely engaging in self-deception by telling themselves they are "happy," have "no complaints" or are "satisfied with life."

(3) The journey to pleasant consciousness begins with a realistic assessment of one's resources, talents, abilities, drives, interests. Included within this assessment is an honest admission of areas of life that one is not terribly interested in, one is not terribly talented at, one has little to no drive to excel. It is absolute and total error for one to believe they should be interested in or talented in EVERYTHING, or even the things that are most popular within a given society at a specific point in time. There is a sort of peer pressure starting to develop that forces everyone to act like they are interested in quite literally everything. This is totally preposterous and absurd: "But to participate in every temperament is to participate in none, to be blank, almost to have no face at all..." (Nehamas, 1998)

Absolutely no self-deception or "lazy thinking" can infect this assessment. One must actually look at one's behavior over many months, decades, and years and locate information establishing one's talents, interests, drives, etc. One should not simply assume one is either talented or terribly interested in something just because one has done it for a very long time. Similarly, one should not make the same assumptions as to things one has never attempted before because in these very things one may locate one's highest talents and interests.

(4) Once one has conducted the assessment, then the continual lifelong task is to attempt different configurations of activities, behaviors, thoughts, social relations, possessions, jobs, etc with the goal of reaching pleasant consciousness from one or more of these configurations. The analogy to a slot machine is useful. As we all know, most "spins" of the slot machine yield a loss, no payout, no win. Usually, three or more "slots" must come up perfectly for there to be a win of some sort. Even when this happens, a significant win is rare and trivial wins are much more common.

So too are things with us. We may have all manner of expectations about how some activity, behavior, social connection, city, and all the rest may finally allow us to reach pleasant consciousness. Reality has a way of complicating everyone of these expectations by introducing one or more unexpected undesirables into everyone of these things. Sometimes- indeed often- this undesirable is not seen immediately because the "newness" of the experience, behavior, or person is blocking our view of the undesirable. Over time, the newness will fade and recede and the undesirable will come very CLEARLY into view, in fact it will often DOMINATE our view. At this point, it is up to us to introduce some change into the mix, either abandoning the chosen thing or making some change to it.

Fear of admitting error complicates this task for many. Many wish to live their whole life in a state of assumed errorlessness, believing that they are "too good" to make the same errors they see everyone else around them making. They indeed convince themselves that everyone else BUT NOT ME can and does make errors as to chosen careers, romantic partners, hobby interests, vacation destinations, financial asset allocations, choice of friends, etc. BUT, somehow, I am immune from these errors and need not identify them in my OWN life. So such persons will not admit error and will continue in the less than ideal configuration they would be better off abandoning or modifying.

(5) The seeker of GOOD will think and act very differently. He will assume that, despite his best efforts to avoid it, error of some sort has arrived on the scene. He will be anxious to locate and admit this error to himself. He or she will tell himself something of this sort: "I thought this activity or person or place or career would make me happy and be in my best interest. I was wrong. I didn't appreciate certain aspects of the activity or person or place or career that are banal, cruel, dull, burdensome, uninspiring, and all the rest. Having now appreciated it, I will seek another configuration to give my self a better chance of reaching pleasant consciousness. I will keep trying configurations until I have STABLY reached something that seems like pleasant consciousness."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happiness (Kamran K): The Happiness of Pure Form or the Happiness of Pure Substance?

"words by themselves are not 'being' they are not substance, ink and paper does not grant substance."

"Some form of journey away from mere being must be postulated. Being, thus, can not be anything more than the first infinitesimal step away from nothingness, being is the first perception of substance in contrast of pure form, of nothingness. How many more steps above being exist which lead all the way to pure substance? How far above mere being did Van Gogh journey?"

(1) With but rare exceptions, we are witnessing an unprecedented embrace of pure form by humanity. The only creature on the planet that can do pure form is doing it- and doing it a lot: "But this privilege is allayed by another; and that is by the privilege of absurdity, to which no living creature is subject but man only." (Hobbes, Leviathan). All other creatures can only do pure substance. But humanity is seeking refuge from reality in the form of all manner of written electronic communications and other multimedia screen-based simplifications of reality which are nothing but pure form.

(2) The first quotation above captures the issue perfectly. Words are not being, are not pure substance, and cannot become pure substance by any mental action or trick whatsoever. The best words can do is LEAD us toward the direction of pure substance by altering the mind's focus and changing its valuation of things. One can read a poem and be inspired by it to go seek love in the world; this is an example of pure form leading to pure substance. One can read of the benefits of exercise and then embrace running and cycling; pure form leads to pure substance. One can read of the beauty found in Iceland and visit the country in a few months' time; pure form leads to pure substance.

(3) The overwhelming vote of humanity today is to remain totally bogged down in pure form as opposed to pure substance. There is very rarely a jump from the pure form state to the pure substance state. It is simply more pure form and more pure form and more pure form, most of it totally incoherent, vague, cliched, childish, and just pure nonsense: "There is yet another fault in the discourses of some men which may also be numbered amongst the sorts of madness; namely that abuse of words whereof I have the name of absurdity. And that is when men speak such words, as put together, have in them no signification at all; but are fallen upon some through misunderstanding of the words they received and repeat by rote; by others from intention to deceive by obscurity." (Hobbes, Leviathan) Even when one is "outside" and able to finally start experiencing pure substance, there is a relentless turn back toward the phone, the tablet, idle gossip and yet more pure form.

What else explains the insane popularity of texting, email, social media websites, and all the rest but a vote for pure form as opposed to pure substance? Persons like doing these pure form activities because they offer the person doing it an error-less feeling of perfection. One can craft a text message and email exactly how one wishes and control the rest of the conversation pretty much as one desires: "Clever are they- they have dexterous fingers..." (Nietzsche, Zarathustra) Because one is only dealing in pure form, there is no error experienced. Everything one says or does is judged to be correct and perfect. If anyone points out any error or other deficiency, communications with such persons are terminated right away to preserve the experience of perfection and errorlessness that pure form provides.

(4) Pure substance, in contrast, does not provide a "free pass" toward perfection and errorlessness. One can ride a bike incorrectly and have a crash; one can attempt to run a marathon and be unable to complete it; one can go on a nature hike unprepared and die of starvation or a million other causes; one can play gleefully with a neighbor's dog and then have that same dog viciously bite one, causing a bacterial infection; one can have an actual face to face interaction with someone and disappoint them not only in what one says but how one acts non-verbally throughout the interaction.

(5) The happiness of pure form is in more steady and abundant supply in the world today. It is more common. We are witnessing the absurdity of a world in which persons are absolutely delighted, look forward to, become filled with glee upon learning that someone has sent them a text, email, or has "liked" one of their photos or posts! Life has been reduced to such an extent- life has been removed from the realm of pure substance so entirely- that this is now what people look forward to. A new text or email on their phone, containing some 150-200 dead letters, none of which contain any life or being. A like of a post or photo. This is what people GET OFF on these days.

But it is also based entirely on words which don't have being. The happiness of pure form is always dependent on words and those words can be deceptive, often outright lies, so this form of happiness can't be considered the highest form of human happiness.

The happiness of pure substance is much rarer and involves the potential of error- even grave error- in greater degrees. The happiness of pure substance is earned by stepping out of pure form and experiencing the world "out there" in some form or another: "Where is beauty? Where I MUST WILL with my whole will; where I will love and perish, that an image remain not merely an image." (Nietzsche, Zarathustra) This is an activity involving risk and daring but, arguably, life in a robust sense does not even BEGIN until one begins risk and daring in order to reach the GOOD. In this sense, potential error is the price one pays to have even a chance at pure substance. Such potential error- though surely not wished for- is ultimately preferable to the state of errorless pure form existing amidst humanity today: "But nevertheless I walk with my thoughts ABOVE their heads; and even should I walk on mine own errors still would I be above them and their heads." (Nietzsche, Zarathustra)

Love (Kamran K): Meeting and Remaining on a Plane of Equality

(1) For anything resembling love to arise and then endure, the sexes must meet on a plane of PERPETUAL equality. What exists between two unequal persons living together is not love but some mediocre "arrangement" whereby the persons exchange certain things they don't have themselves and agree to endure the overall unsatisfactory state of the relationship to continue getting these things. The trend in the future may be for humanity to dispense with love entirely and simply handle co-habitation through contractual monetary arrangements. Modernity (i.e. the "advance" of science, the marketplace, and the law) is bringing "progress" indeed to humanity. Hip hip! This is another example of our recurrent point that most of modernity's advances are not terminating in the GOOD.

(2) We must answer only two questions in this post: are romantic couples today meeting on a plane of perpetual equality? What would it mean for romantic couples to so meet?

(3) The first question can be answered directly: No. Romantic couples today initially meet and then largely remain on a plane of perpetual inequality. The factors causing this are many but can be reduced to the most important:

  • Man's sexual longing and need for the female sexual organs. Note that we don't say here man's sexual longing and need for a female, which would imply man had some sexual longing for the whole of a woman including her spirit and personality. Instead, it is simply man's biological recurring longing and need for the use of the female sexual organs to satisfy his sexual appetites. A Pasadena comic recently joked that most men get married because they want to "own a vagina." The joke is not far removed from reality: "passions unguided are for the most part mere madness." (Hobbes, Leviathan
  • Men and women's need for the social approval generated from the public knowledge that one is "in a relationship" or "married." Although the stigma of being single into one's 30s and beyond is dropping in certain highly liberal sections of this country and a few others, the stigma exists and is a very powerful one in 99% of the globe. 
  • The desire for a woman to be financially benefited from partnering with a monetarily successful male. Studies have found the financial stability and income level of a man is the NUMBER ONE factor that sways woman's long-term romantic decisions. The current dominant global regime of money worship will only make this reality worse: "It was the strange God who perched himself side by side with the old divinities of Europe on the altar, and one day finally threw them all overboard with a shove and a kick. It proclaimed the making of profit as the ultimate and sole purpose of mankind." (Marx, Das Kapital)
  • The needs of both men and women to simply have "someone around" to avoid boredom, loneliness, and isolation. 
  • The (childish) need of both men and women to have someone that always agrees with them, always tells them they are wonderful, intelligent, and beautiful, always tells them they did the right thing, that others are wrong, that they've been mistreated and the world is unfair, and so on. 
(4) When one is in need in the above ways, one does not arrive at the potential relationship in a state of freedom, let alone equality: "For whatever is so tyed or environed as it cannot move but within a certain space, which space is determined by the opposition of some external body, we say it hath no Liberty to go further." (Hobbes, Leviathan) Someone in need really needs something from the other person; that need makes them dependant (in varying degrees) on the other person. The person is therefore not simply free to walk away from that person because then the need has not been satisfied. The person must remain attached to that person to continue satisfying the need. With respect to this need, the person is in a position of inferiority to the other person. The other person has the "goods" to satisfy the need and there is no way "around" this reality. The person either can't satisfy this need him or herself nor can the need be satisfied outside the romantic relationship.

(5) For potential romantic partners to meet on a plane of perpetual equality would mean that both persons have come to control the needs that cause them to be inferior to the other. These needs are not entirely eliminated but are seen for what they are. Importantly, the need must never be confused with "love" for another person. The need may still be there but the person is able to step out of the need long enough to evaluate the person from the perspective of a plane of equality and (for the first time) make meaningful judgments as to whether or not "love" exists or whether the "need" is causing them to "stick around." To deem oneself in love with another is perhaps the most important judgment one will ever make in one's life. This judgment should be made with utmost honesty, clarity, and precision. Precious few make this most important judgment with any degree of self-knowledge or integrity: "metaphors and senseless and ambiguous words are like Ignes Fatui; and reasoning upon them is wandering amongst innumerable absurdities; and their end, contention, and sedition, or contempt." (Hobbes, Leviathan)

Needless in these ways but not totally needless (the lovers would continue to have a need to enjoy delightful experiences with each other), two persons are then finally able to meet on a plane of equality. How would this help deepen love? This is the most important question. Meeting on a plane of equality would allow the persons to  finally isolate something unique, compelling, admirable, and therefore loveable in the personality of the other person. This "something" would have no relationship whatsoever to the satisfaction of one of the needs highlighted above but would be simply loved for its own sake.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Friendship (Kamran K): We IZ Absurd

"For every movement (e.g. that of building) takes time and is for the sake of an end and is complete when it has made what it aims at...In their parts and during the time they occupy, all movements are incomplete and are different in kind from the whole movement and from each other. For the fitting together of the stones is different from the fitting of the column, and these are both different from the making of the temple; and the making of the temple is complete but the making of the base or of the triglyph is incomplete; for each is the making of only a part...So, to, in the case of walking and all other movements..." Aristotle, Ethics

"Arguably pure form, nothingness, is errorless and, thus, arguably, taking the first step away from nothingness is “error.”  If no consciousness takes the first step no journey is possible and, thus, error is avoided.  But, at this point, does life exist?  To ask the question precisely:  does life exist for a consciousness which imposes on itself the perfection of pure form at the expense of experiencing any substance, including being?" 

(1) Beginning initially in only the most high-profile "First World" cities with populations in excess of 5 million, social relations have taken a decided turn for the worse around the globe. Although the number of extremely loose superficial connections between persons has exploded, the number of total human friendships of substance, depth, and value is plummeting. For a friendship of depth and value to endure today it must survive many social reality headwinds. For a cyclist, a headwind is a brutal experience; it makes cycling even a very slow speed challenging, zapping your energy in the process, and filling your ears with the continual noise of howling wind. Most cyclists facing such headwinds call it quits and go home. The experience is just too unpleasant for one to continue "plugging away at it" giving it "the old college try."

Similarly, few friendships make it through these modern social reality headwinds. Man is ultimately left with a bunch of hodge-podge electronic connections on a cell-phone, tablet, or email contact directory, scrambling to fill this week and that with persons he really knows little about, enduring an endless procession of flakes, reschedules, and tentative commitments that are not simply broken but often simply forgotten as if they never existed in the first place. The gap between THIS social life and one anchored in the GOOD is so wide as to be totally inarticulable: "loving seems to be the characteristic virtue of friends, so that is only those in whom this is found in due measure that are lasting friends, and only their friendship that endures." (Aristotle, Ethics)

(2) All manner of social headwinds are making social life miserably unrewarding today. We will discuss them in their order of importance.

(3) FEAR OF MISSING OUT ("FOMO"). FOMO operates as a debilitating paralyzing influence in modern social life. Social media, the Internet, and modern advertising has made it APPEAR that other persons are always living more interesting, fascinating, cool, sexy, multi-dimensionally exciting lives than the dull boring reality you must ever endure. If this be true...or even if it's not true and you simply experience this fear of others doing better regularly...then you will regard whatever mix of social commitments and friends you now have as potentially being improved if only you are able to "get out there more" and meet and mingle with as many people as possible. Your focus becomes quantity of names within your Facebook or phone directory, making sure this electronic list of names is big enough that you don't miss out on anything they might text you about a cool party in town, a new hip restaurant, a potential compatible first date, and the like. For this quantity to be perpetually maximized and your fear of missing out to remain low, you must actually continue focusing on gathering quantity which means you simply cannot devote significant time to someone and develop a friendship of substance. 

How many people are now finding it hard, if not impossible, to "find time" to be there for even a few days (let alone weeks or months) for a very sick friend or family member? Or a friend that has just had a child? Or to attend someone's graduation and then take a week off to go somewhere with them to celebrate the earned degree? Devotion to one or a few is increasingly regarded as a poor bet because they could ultimately let you down and leave you with the double whammy that you missed out on all of the better things and people you could have been with during that time.

(4) FETISHIZATION OF FLEXIBILITY AND KEEPING OPTIONS OPEN. What started as an admirable virtue in light of the excessive rigidity, formalism, and time-consuming traditions endured by men throughout history has become an absolute nightmare, particularly when both persons are fetishizing flexible openness in scheduling.

A mere twenty years ago you made a "date" with a person to do something: have dinner, go to a baseball game, attend a concert, go to a bar. You picked a date and time (usually within 7 days) and you both agreed to be there. Mentally, that date was "taken" and you would not book anything else for that date or time nor would you allow other commitments to get too close to it, preventing you from getting to the date on time or having enough time when there to meaningfully enjoy the experience. You showed up at that date and time, did whatever you were supposed to do, and called it a night. End of story. This was a simple, honest, integrity-enhancing, and direct way of doing things: "Just and brave acts and other virtuous acts we do in relation to each other, observing our respective duties with regard to...all manner of actions and with regard to passions; and all of these seem to be typically human." (Aristotle, Ethics) Comparing it to golf, one could liken it to a simple putt. You quickly survey the shot speed and direction, take the putt, and the ball drops in the hole. You are done.

Ohh how things have changed! Today, you must "fight" to get on someone's social calendar meaning they may be able to squeeze you in several weeks if not a month from now. What you then receive is not a firm commitment but a "lets TRY to meet at so and so time to do so and so thing." You agree to so "try" and leave it at that. The only problem is both persons haven't really committed to anything. You can try to run a marathon and give up after a quarter of a mile. That's it. You tried. Or you can go to sleep the night before and just decide you don't have the energy. Again, you tried. End of story.

As the date approaches, one or the other person inevitably has to reschedule. Something unexpected has come up which should not be surprising because life itself presents an endless procession of "unexpected somethings." Importantly, this unexpected something has now made the keeping of the social commitment more burdensome, more difficult, more annoying but NOT PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. What is fetishized today are social relations that don't in any way interfere with everything else one is doing. This fetish is totally unrealistic to say the least! The second there is the smallest interference then the social relations must give way and the rescheduling party begins and rebegins and rebegins. Comparing it to golf, one could like it to watching the most inept putter, who is constantly hitting errant shots across the green and never able to get the ball actually in the hole.

(5) FAILURE TO MAINTAIN EXCITEMENT FOR ANY MEANINGFUL PERIOD OF TIME. This cycle of "trying for certain dates" and rescheduling because of inconveniences can easily take place over several weeks, if not months. By then, one or both persons may not be terribly excited or motivated to actually see the person. In an age of distracted attention spans and fad chasing (today), persons get excited very quickly to do something or another but then inevitably find it difficult to maintain that excitement when something else grabs their attention and excites them even more. Inevitably, then, during this rescheduling shuffle one or both persons will simply decide they just aren't terribly interested in going through with the original social commitment, causing the rescheduling to never happen and/or be so terribly delayed that one or both parties simply forgets about it entirely.

In the absurd permutation, one goes through one's entire life terribly excited by this thing or that but never that excited long enough to actually do the things one is supposedly so excited about. One simply floats from one excited thought to the next, always in the mind, never in reality. Is this not insanity? (a) ("If it is senseless creatures that desire the things in question there might be something in what they say; but if intelligent creatures do so as well, what sense can there be in this view?" Aristotle, Ethics) & (b) ("For as to have no desire is to be Dead; so to have weak passions is dullness; and to have passions indifferently for every thing giddiness") (Hobbes, Levithian)

(6) THE DESIRE FOR SOCIAL POPULARITY WITHOUT INCURRING ANY OF THE ACCOMPANYING BURDENS. Persons today increasingly wish to appear "fun" "cool" "exciting" "sociable" "down for whatever" a "party and people" person and all similar descriptions. The first step of this process is making plans with other people to do things. By simply making the plan one does start to regard one self as many of these things and others may see things this way as well. Someone that makes no plans with other persons- or continually turns down plans to do things- will quickly be branded as unsociable and not a "people" "fun" person. Persons today are amazingly competent at this first step of "teeing up" an image of being socially gregarious and people-oriented.

The problem arises with step two. Already having received some of the benefits to self-image and reputation from accepting all these invitations, then one has to actually show up to the events and make an appearance. Much harder than making plans. One has to get dressed, drive somewhere far, park, endure rain or snow and other environmental hazards, sit through social events that stretch for several hours, listen to conversations that one has no interest in, and all the rest. The thought of all this causes many to cancel or "reschedule" commitments when the actual date approaches: (a) "It is difficult sometimes to determine what should be chosen at what cost, and what should be endured in return for what gain, and yet more difficult to abide by our decisions." & (b) "while others again, through cowardice and laziness, shrink from doing what they think best for themselves." (both from Aristotle, Ethics)

(7) All of the above points in the direction of persons preferring the "perfection" of pure form social popularity, connection, and reputation gathering OVER the pure substance reality of two persons actually experiencing the marvel of human friendship, by, for example, cycling in nature, getting through the troubles of flat tires and unexpected rain storms, sharing stories for hours about how their lives are going, sharing a burger and Mexican Coke afterwards with more stories about how things are going, and calling it a night after a good 8-10 hours spent in each other's company. People are choosing a lifeless PURE FORM perfection over a Pure substance messy (but still ultimately beautiful) human life reality.

(8) We are now HERE. But what is the path forward from here? For someone interested- genuinely interested- in a pure substance NATURAL flourishing social life and reality, for someone who wishes to be surrounded by friends that he regularly sees and cares about on a non-formality non-routine level, what is he or she to do, for what reasons, and why:

They assume the end and consider how and by what means it is to be attained; and if it seems to be produced by several means they consider by which it is most easily and best produced, while if it is achieved by one only they consider how it will be achieved by this and by what means this will be achieved...
(Aristotle, Ethics)

Justice: On the "Right" to Happiness?

"Whatever facts exist they can not vanish into thin air. All facts retain their existence no matter what..."

(1) Does every human person have a natural right or entitlement to exist in a state of continual non-interrupted happiness? Should happiness be free for all and everyone everywhere do whatever one can to make everyone else happy? From the perspective of happiness entitlement, does it matter not at all how one behaved and treated self and others over decades of life? Had Hitler lived to age 90 would we say he had the right to happiness? How about non-criminals that continuously use, insult, deceive, ignore, and degrade others as a matter of common custom? Should they, too, be happy?

(2) Stating the more explicitly: do certain person DESERVE to be miserable (psychologically and spiritually) on account of how they've treated self and others throughout their lives? Should it be more or less "just" that they be generally depressed, generally unhappy, generally bitter, generally miserable, generally socially isolated, and generally poor in spirit as an everyday reality?

(3) Religious teachings have certainly not agreed that all deserve to be happy. To the contrary, religious orthodoxy teaches that bad behavior (as defined by traditional religious vices and prohibitions) throughout life eliminates one's right to happiness and earns one eternal hell and damnation.

(4) One does not need to accept religious retribution to see that some persons have absolutely no right to be happy (all retain the right at all times to attempt to pursue happiness by reforming their behavior and thoughts). The example of Hitler is only the most extreme one imaginable but a very wide range of human behavior divests one of any right to happiness.

(5) If you can't be honest with yourself or others for even a few moments of a single day, why would it be JUST for you to be happy? If you show zero concern for the well-being and feelings of other persons that have demonstrated such concern for you, why would it be JUST for you to be happy? If you never listen to anyone else and use conversation simply as a means of expressing your views, why would it be JUST for you to be happy?

(6) Human persons thus can be divided into two groups. (1) The first and best group (JUSTLY HAPPY) acted in ways throughout life that gives them the continual right to be happy. They made good decisions about what was of most value in life and their behavior reflected it. They caused little to zero harm to other persons. They developed most aspects of their selves (intellectual, emotional, physical, aesthetic, interpersonal) to a state of personal relative perfection. They were not without their vices, mistakes, and errors but owned up to them when made, didn't cowardly blame others for them, and did what they could to minimize their continued effect on their lives.  (2) The second group acted in ways throughout life that gives them no continual right to be happy. Some within this group deserve to be and are actually miserable; some within this group deserve to be neither terribly happy nor unhappy but always in a state of perpetual neutrality. Such neutral persons are simply content to get through one week and then the next in one piece, never terribly excited about life, never really happy with what life brings, fearing death only as a matter of custom and routine and raw emotion.

The only strategy available for those members of the second group that deserve to be unhappy are the TRIVIAL pleasures. Because the marketplace absolutely excels in providing persons with these pleasures (for a steep $), these persons will be able to purchase away some of their misery with a continual procession of vacations, restaurants, nights on the town drinking, sexual debauchery, and such like activities: "whereas there is no other felicity of beasts, but the enjoying of their quotidian Food, Ease, and Lusts." (Hobbes, Leviathan) To be clear, this will not generate continual happiness for such persons but only the briefest momentary breaks from their generally unhappiness.