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Absurd Being

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

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John Locke John Locke, one of the most influential thinkers of the Enlightenment and commonly called the "Father of Liberalism", was a 17th century philosopher who made valuable contributions especially in the fields of epistemology, philosophy of mind, and political theory. It is a mark of just how influential he was in the West that much of his writing now reads like commonsense - this being the case not because he was making commonsense arguments at the time, but because his ideas have since become almost universally held. Read more about about this fascinating British thinker on my Locke page.


Lectures - Heidegger Sartre was first on the radar - now I've gone through Martin Heidegger's Being and Time in another 12-part video series (which strangely enough ended up being 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.


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.

Existentialism

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MOVIES

Bladerunner 2049 Before watching this sequel, I deliberately watched the first Bladerunner from 1982 and was supremely... disappointed. The sequel, however, I found gripping. It definitely isn't a fast-paced movie, a feature which doesn't always bode well, but the frequent scenes without dialogue and slow pace only made Bladerunner 2049's fascinating and original storyline that much better.


BOOKS

Life 3.0 Max Tegmark's latest book, Life 3.0 Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, is a clear, well-written, and (most importantly) balanced look at where AI is going in the future and what this might mean for us. Written without the apocalyptic 'end of the human race', 'superintelligent AIs thinking a hundred... no, a thousand... no, a million times faster than humans' hype that authors like Nick Bostrom envision, Life 3.0 keeps its feet well on the ground while making the argument that we need to be cautious as we build better, smarter computers.


PODCASTS

Sam Harris Anti-Natalism This Sam Harris podcast from Dec 5, 2017 is a discussion Harris had with David Benatar, a philosophy professor at the University of Cape Town, who argues for anti-natalism, the idea that we having children is morally wrong. Right now, you are thinking this is rubbish and imagining a simplistic argument that human lives involve more suffering than happiness. You are right on the first count, but his argument is more nuanced on the second count. Take a listen, then have a look at my response.

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

Feb 06, 2018     Axiological Argument and Anti-Natalism

I recently listened to a podcast on Sam Harris’ website in which he discusses anti-natalism (the view that it is morally wrong to have children) with David Benatar. The core of Benatar’s argument rests on what he calls axiological asymmetry, a concept much easier to explain than the name might at first suggest. In this article, I will outline axiological asymmetry but argue that it doesn’t lead to anti-natalism...


Feb 06, 2018     What is 'World'?

In its grandest conception the world is simply the whole of the physical universe. If this sounds about right, then you have probably accepted the scientific/materialistic paradigm that saturates the modern intellectual atmosphere without realising there are any alternatives aside from crackpot religious or new age ones. This article will challenge this prevailing scientific/materialistic notion of world...


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...


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