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Absurd Being

A place to take a moment to reflect on what it all means

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Lectures - Heidegger Sartre was first on the radar - now I am tackling Martin Heidegger's Being and Time in another 12-part video series (strangely enough destined to be more than 12 videos long) on YouTube. Not really for the faint of heart (each video is around 30-35 minutes long), I go through B&T chapter by chapter trying to bring some clarity to this important thinker's magnum opus. If you're feeling particularly bold (and perhaps a little masochistic), gird your loins and head to my Videos page where you can find links to my videos.


Heidegger If you thought Martin Heidegger's philosophy begins and ends with his daunting Being and Time, think again. Although his writing and lecturing changes pace a little post-Being and Time, he never loses sight of his prey, Being; that is, "that which determines beings as beings". Although a vast simplification, in some ways Being and Time can be seen as Heidegger explicating the unique mode of being of Dasein (human beings), while his later material investigates Being in a more general sense. I have added summaries of some of this work on my Heidegger page here.


Red or Blue Pill I just can't seem to stop writing about freewill at the moment. Two of my last three articles carry on my obsession with this subject. The first gives an argument for why physical determinism is impossible (here), involving a machine which can predict the future and a person who can't help talking about what he sees in it, and the second resists Sam Harris' claim that a person with a brain tumour reveals none of us are in control of our actions and our brains are calling all the shots (here).


Buddhism I have devoted a page on this website to Buddhism because, unlike almost every other religion, it has a number of qualities that make it an attractive way of thinking about the world; more philosophy than religion, in fact. However, Buddhism isn't without its faults (or I would be a Buddhist). My latest article is a long overdue critical discussion of Buddhist conceptions of the self and enlightenment which you can read by clicking here.


Jose Ortega y Gasset Jose Ortega y Gasset was a Spanish existentialist philosopher of the early 20th century whose thoughts developed along paths very similar to those of the German phenomenological philosophers, notably Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. His philosophy can perhaps best be described as "vital" or "lived" and sought to orient man and woman within their environment. Ortega was also very influential and outspoken in politics. Much of his published work appeared in literary magazines and newspapers but he also gave many university lectures over his lifetime. Read more about Ortega here.

Existentialism

Featured

MOVIES

Otherlife Shot in Perth, Australia over 5 weeks on an indie budget, Otherlife is easily the surprise hit of the year for me. Imagine a program that creates memories of entire days, weeks, even years, all in the space of a minute in real-time. You could spend a week snowboarding in the Alps before breakfast, go deep-sea diving for a day or two at lunch, and spend a week in Paris before bed. How would you spend your otherlife?       I really can't say enough good things about this movie. Stylish, well-acted, and with a captivating plot that keeps giving right to the end, this is the sci-fi flick to round out your 2017.


TV SERIES

Falling Water Dreaming, in particular lucid dreaming, has long been a side interest of mine. I have had a number of lucid dreams and been fascinated by the fact that I can communicate with dream characters as if 'they' are different from 'me'. Dreams are central to Falling Water and while it isn't particularly realistic, it does have a very interesting storyline that seems to be building to a good climax.


PODCASTS

Kant's Categorical Imperative This BBC 4 "In Our Time" podcast, discusses Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative. From the background milieu to the details of Kant's morality to the implications it had on philosophy afterwards, Melvyn Bragg and his guests flesh out one of the most important moral theories in philosophy.


Kierkegaard This RN Australia "Philosopher's Zone" podcast discusses what the Danish existentialist, Soren Kierkegaard, would have thought of the internet. Listen out for Hubert Dreyfus' excellent summary in the final ten minutes of Kierkegaard's three spheres; the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious.

What can you expect to find on the Absurd Being site?

Philosophy: This website is first and foremost a site about philosophy. It contains articles explaining/discussing philosophers and their philosophies. For those of you who may have already recognised something vaguely 'philosophical' in the site name, I have a strong existentialist leaning which will be reflected in the content.


Buddhism: I find myself strongly drawn to a non-religious, secular form of Buddhism emphasising meditation and reflection on how our minds work and how we can best utilise them. If you think 'secular Buddhism' is a contradiction in terms, I invite you to take a closer look at this page.


Atheism: I am a strict atheist and have written quite a bit about Christianity from this perspective. The term "new atheist" probably describes me quite accurately as I tend not to hold back any punches when it comes to religion. I can be a little... harsh at times in my writing in this area but I make it a point to only attack ideas, never the individuals who hold them.


Science: This section primarily reflects my interest in neuroscience and physics.


Novels: I have a keen interest in writing fiction that could probably best be categorised as fantasy/sci-fi. All of my novels have philosophical or religious themes and are primarily intended to stimulate thought in the reader. As I complete various writing endeavours, I will be posting excerpts to this page.


Articles: This is an archive of all the articles I have written.


Recent Articles

Dec 02, 2017     Is Buddhism True?

Robert Wright’s book, Why Buddhism is True, is the latest in a growing number of works authored by prominent Western intellectuals promoting a Buddhism stripped of supernatural trappings and recommending meditation. Although the initial premises as I have outlined them above are beneficial and ‘true’, in my opinion the central themes of Why Buddhism is True are less so...


Jun 11, 2017     The Ethics of Vegetarianism

Is killing animals for food morally indefensible? Many people think so, and not just vegetarians. Even many omnivores acknowledge their moral deficiency on this point. I recently listened to Sam Harris and a guest (on Harris’ Waking Up podcast) concede that anything other than vegetarianism is morally indefensible, while at the same time admitting they can’t, or won’t, stop eating meat. But is this the final word on this discussion?...


Feb 26, 2017     Arrival - The Short Story and the Movie

The recent movie, Arrival, is another interesting and thoughtful science fiction story for those who like to think a little outside the box. Hollywood can’t take all the credit for this one however, because it was based on a short story written in 1998 by Ted Chiang...


Feb 26, 2017     Freewill - Brain Tumours all the Way Down

This is an argument for determinism I first heard made by Sam Harris. In a conversation he had with Dan Dennett, he discussed the mass shooting in 1966 by Charles Whitman where he murdered 17 people, including his mother and wife...


Feb 26, 2017     An Argument Against Physical Determinism

Determinism is the notion that all events, including those pertaining to and initiated by conscious beings, are the necessary and inevitable consequences of prior events. This doesn’t necessarily entail materialism, the belief that matter is the fundamental substance in the universe and all phenomena, including mental phenomena...


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