Friday, June 08, 2007

Thoughts, While Trapped Under a Barbell

SCOTT: I think it was the 11th rep that did it. Eleven was too many. Let's see if I can move this thing. ...

Nope, that's stuck. I suppose I could rock back and forth, but that'd be pretty noisy. Maybe I'll just rest for a while and try later. ... ...

Actually, kind of relaxing just lying here...

Vaughan William'ss's greatest asset is his ability to make Whitman's poetry make sense.

Weather looks nice outside. Hot though. Am I right? ...

Was Kevin Bacon in
Apollo 13? I know that guy from Forrest Gump was in it. And Bill Paxton. Paxton is Latin for "ton of peace."

Jay must never know of this.

All right, let's give this another shot. ...



Man! That sucker is stuck. On my chest. I suppose nothing else to do now but swallow my pride and call for--

SCOTT: [Aloud] Hey, buddy, can I get a little help!?

SCOTT: This is still mostly me.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What a wild trip each day is.


you are nice after all


Eh, sometimes.
After I've been drinking a little.

Works Cited

Ray: Ever heard of the Polish carpool? Every day they meet at work.

Small Time Crooks

Monday, June 04, 2007

Thank You Notes: Rough Draft

Dear Grandmother,

I wanted to send my love and thanks for your graduation gift, which I’m planning to put towards something practical, like food, or Jet-ski lessons.

I've been so fortunate to have the supporting family I've had, and I'm grateful. Thank you for giving me four hundred more reasons to be so.

Glad you're still alive,

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Odds and Ends

Today: torrents of rain, got an incredible haircut, Jacob beat me at chess--I'm out of practice and I've so few chances to get in a good match, and fervent listening to Vaughan Williams's Fifth, which is quite a piece.

Ruminations. In Which I Scare Jay Into Bathing

[2:14:05 PM] Scott says: So I've been thinking about the meaning of life.

[2:14:12 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says:
Don't do that.

[2:15:07 PM] Scott says:
Got to. Otherwise I'll be existentially paralyzed.

[2:15:42 PM] Scott says:
So some say there isn't one. Dawkins says we just evolved to look for purposes, and so we try to see them even when they're not there. But I think Dawkins is a three year old of a philosopher, so I don't put much in that.

[2:17:24 PM] Scott says:
One option is just taking all your wants and desires as givens. No need to investigate whether or not you *should* want something, but simply, when you find that want in yourself, pursue it. And somehow weigh various desires against each other, so you're always getting the most bang for your buck--fulfilling the most pressing desire.

[2:19:29 PM] Scott says:
That view is tempting, but it's obviously somewhat incomplete. We can control our desires, we can create and extinguish preferences, even if it takes a lot of effort. How do we decide which preferences we should strengthen and weaken? Is the choice arbitrary?

[2:19:41 PM] Scott says:
And of course some preferences are just nasty, and really shouldn't be fulfilled.

[2:19:50 PM] Scott says:
So that's too simple.

[2:22:02 PM] Scott says:
Now Nozick has a promising alternative: the meaning of life is to maximize the primary bulk (obscure mathematical concept) of our reality, our sense of being real. We should seek those moments that make us feel the most 'real.' That's fine, but when I try to think of how to operationalize that--how to go out and seek 'reality' I'm usually awash in vagueness.

[2:22:34 PM] Scott says:
I think creating things--art, or whatever--is a very real activity. So there's that. Sex and love, they seem very real, too. And facing a fear, actually pushing against a fear, that usually makes the moment very acute--very real.

[2:23:24 PM] Scott says:
That's all I've got so far.

[2:23:51 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says:
I have to say I'm with Dawkins.

[2:24:26 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says:
Partially because these other explanations seem too complex to be true. My gut feeling is that if there's a purpose, it's going to be a simple one.

[2:26:01 PM] Scott says:
I don't know. Most things are complex the more you look at them. Particle physics, for example--there is a beautiful simplicity to it, yes, but also deep complexity. So I can say, the purpose of life is to be real, and be perfectly simple--but once one asks what that means or how one does it, levels of complexity will build upon it.

[2:26:31 PM] Scott says:
Either way, I don't think it's important to the issue, since even if you don't believe there's a point to life, as Dawkins--well, we still make choices, eh?

[2:26:41 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says:
I think we do. I'm not sure.

[2:27:25 PM] Scott says:
I'm pretty sure we do. So, Dawkins probably says, then we should just do what we prefer to do. There is no meaning of life, but there are things we prefer to do, nonetheless, and that's how we choose.

[2:27:55 PM] Scott says:
But if that's the case, for me, that just makes me wonder how to decide what it is I prefer--which is essentially the same question as, "What should I do?"

[2:28:05 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says:
Flip a coin.

[2:28:26 PM] Scott says:
Tempting. But that kind of nihilism doesn't feel true either.

[2:28:41 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says:
Maybe there's no "truth."

[2:29:57 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says:
I don't know. I don't think it's worth thinking about.

[2:30:46 PM] Scott says:
I can't not. I will make choices today--and I'll think about them.

[2:31:05 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says:
But you don't have to. Flip a coin.

[2:31:37 PM] Scott says:
Consciousness is really such a bother.

[2:32:23 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says:
There are definitely decisions that are worth thinking about, but most decisions aren't. For example, I'm going to have to pick which of the frozen meals to heat up to eat. Will it matter to me one hour later which I choose? No. So I won't bother thinking about it much.

[2:35:33 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says:
So I guess I do need some kind of purpose to help me decide the hard cases. So my method doesn't really help, either.

[2:36:57 PM] Scott says:
I agree. And yeah, there are a billion decisions I don't think about--but I think they happen in a context of those tougher decisions. The fact I choose to eat, at say, Pentagon City, will be because I'll be close to Borders, where Jacob and I will play chess. And I've decided to play chess with Jacob because I enjoy his friendship, and that ultimately reflects my belief that friendship is a good thing to pursue, a proper means of becoming 'more real' perhaps, or some such.

[2:37:31 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says:
I don't know. I'm going to go take a shower.

Subjective Objective Irrelevance

What’s to be gained by arguing the objective existence of the normative sphere? Indeed, what’s to be gained by arguing for objectivity at all? Take, for instance, morality. Take one particular moral ought: say, I believe, for example, THOU SHALT NOT KILL. What is the ontological class of this statement?

If morality is objective then we have this:

It is objectively true that people should not kill one another.

If morality is subjective, then we have:

I prefer that people not kill each other.

There is surely a huge semantic divide between these variations: but it’s not clear why it will have any behavioral force at all. Why does a want justify an action less than an objective imperative?

Indeed we could rewrite all of knowledge in either subjective or objective format, as we wished. Take, for instance, my belief in the tree in front of me. If my senses track objective truth, then we have: it is objectively true that there’s a tree in front of me. If, to the contrary, reality’s some sort of subjective construct, then we have: I prefer to believe there’s a tree in front of me.

Now, if I believe the tree’s there, I’ll walk around it. If I simply prefer to believe a tree's there, I’ll do the exact same thing.

Where's the relevance of the ontology?

I'm not sure at the moment, but I think the fact that we do respond differently to things we deem truths and things we deem preferences lends support to Nozick's claim that truth has an inherent value--one that must be factored in to any search for the good.