Experimentation

So much good comes from experimentation; if you don’t set up the circumstances to approach the same old things in new ways, you’re doing yourself wrong.

Though this idea applies so readily to creating art, I think it’s applicable to so much of modern life. I’ve been meaning to read more in-depth at Nietzsche’s ideas, specifically his idea of the Ubermenschen, which, as I heard it put recently, isn’t about the inactive despair of Nihilism—nor is it actually proto-Nazism—and has more to do with living all aspects of one’s life in an artful manner. Put another way: it’s like active buddhism; taking control of your life and redefining what the middle-path can be.

I’ve also been meaning to muse on “good failure” and the importance of play.

Marx’s Theory of Historical Materialism

I’ve been going through this Yale “Foundations of Modern Social Theory” course, and this is the best lecture so far. This lecture has taught me more about Marx’s ideas & theories than I’d known up to this point. And while I don’t know nearly enough to consider myself a Marxist by any stretch, my appetite for more has been whetted and I’m glad there are two more remaining lectures in the course on Marx.

An introduction to the political views of Thomas Hobbes

Taking a break from modern day analysis for some deeper cuts. Reflecting on some Hobbes via lecturer Steven B. Smith:

“Conflict and war are primary, peace is derivative.”

And also “The will to contend” and how we’re basically always at war, even when we’re not.

Available in better quality from videolectures.net/
Lecture 12 – The Sovereign State: Hobbes, Leviathan – Steven B. Smith

(under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND))

Speciesism

Outside of an anthropocentric domain, speciesism is a wider problem than racism or sexism: it affects immensely more beings. I want to believe that fixing the former eventually will fix the latter (a top-down approach), though perhaps a bottom-up approach is more realistic: most humans are concerned with humans first, be it themselves, their friends and families, their colleagues, or their community. With practice and progress, this should extend to their fellow people everywhere.

I feel I need to revisit Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation at some point; it’s what spurred this thought.


A further adjunct for the above is the idea of “reciprocal compassion” that Tocqueville believes comes about from democracy, as discussed by Yale professor Steven B. Smith in this lecture:

Since non-human beings are unlikely to be an active part of democracy as we know it (and hence active agents if eliciting change), do modern democracies help foster compassion with animals and other living things?

Big Ideas podcast

One of my favorite sources of ideas is TVO’s Big Ideas program. Centered in Toronto, Ontario, Big Ideas hosts and provides a number of lectures, debates, and presentations by professors, scholars, and other learned people on numerous topics related to science, philosophy, literature, politics, and more. From their site:

Big Ideas is a showcase of contemporary intellectual culture. It features lectures about subjects that shape our public debates, challenge our perceptions and contribute to our understanding of an increasingly complex world. Academics, authors and other luminaries deliver thought-provoking lectures on topics ranging across all the essential fields of human endeavor.

The easiest way to access the programs is in iTunes, either in audio format or video format. Subscribe (or just get a specific episode that sounds interesting) and listen while commuting, eating a meal, instead of TV, or waiting (we’re all always waiting, right?). Expand your mind and challenge your currently-held beliefs, and be thankful that there are still many who are passionate about educating others and spreading ideas!

Below are a few of my favorites. Keep in mind that these are usually 45-55 minutes in length, so dedicate some time to digesting the whole of the content. For those that know me and consider me a friend, I will guarantee you that these are worth your time.

Christopher W. diCarlo, winner of the 2008 Best Lecturer Competition, on The New Ethics: A Synthetic Approach to Understanding Good and Evil.

[link to TVO’s page for this video in case the embedded video doesn’t load]

Big Ideas: Jordan Peterson on The Necessity of Virtue

[link to TVO’s page for this video in case the embedded video doesn’t load]

Nick Mount on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot

[TVO doesn’t seem to be hosting this video any longer, so I’ve just provided the mp3 below]