On Philosophical Conversation And Debate

I struggle with understanding the utility of engaging people on philosophical topics. Sometimes it can be an enriching experince. Two minds engaging in mutual stimulation. Challenging and learning from each other. Other times it can be a huge waste. Cause unnecessary social conflict or trigger insecurities.

I have no confusion over writing articles and essays as a a good way to engage philosophically. I can write out their perceptive without interruption. I can get responses in long form. Having the time to flesh out my ideas, keeps me from misspeaking in the moment or strawmanning out of haste.

I used to just adore any debate all of the time. I’d bait friends and family into conversations. Part of this was a genuine love of ideas and a search for truth. I’m certain another part of it was out of a bit of sadism. Maybe need to feel smarter than the one I was engaging.

These days I’m a bit more careful. I’ve choosen to listen more. In fact there are some friends I refuse to enagage at all. Sometimes the chaos it can cause just isn’t worth it.

Simultaneously I find myself listening less. I’m more secure in my positions. More experienced and researched. Confident that with the right series of questions, I can get most people to reach similair conculsions to me.

Maybe there’s no objective rule to be found here. Debate can be good sometimes and bad other times. I’ve learned to be more nuanced in my evulation. Diccusion can be insanely valuable. It can also be insanely costly. As with all things, one must learn the right time and place.


Why You Should Start A Blog

Building off my previous piece, I would like to encourage you to take up blogging and consider a personal writing challenge. Blogs can be free here on WordPress, so there is simply no excuse. When I chat with friends about them starting a blog, I get a couple common pushbacks. They ask:

“What if no one likes it?”
“Who am I to write a blog?”
“What if I have nothing interesting to say?”
“What if I try and fail?”

Of course, it is these very fears that should be an insight into why you should give it a shot. If something as simple as putting a few sentences on a page is outside of your comfort zone, then it’s time to expand that bastard.

So what if no one likes it? Write just for yourself. Write for the sake of collecting your thoughts. Besides, you might be surprised how quickly a blog can grow. Your friends will certainly check it out and WordPress attracts a lot of random readers. Worst case absolutely no one reads it. Then you have no one observing your embarrassment. You fail, learn and move on. More likely case, you find yourself a few niche fans. You win, learn and move on.

So what if you don’t feel important or interesting enough to write? You think anyone comes out the womb an interesting or talented person? Your distrust in your own capability has you forming a false idea of how people succeed. Becoming interesting is a muscle you can develop. Something you work out by forcing yourself to write. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how easy ideas flow when you turn idea creation into a habit.

So what if you fail? What is failing to start a blog anyway? If you write nothing you’ve already failed. If you write something and no one reads it, you’ve actually failed even less. If you set a personal challenge to write frequently and fail that, then you just get back up and try again. You only really fail when you give up. You fail if you let your fear take over. Dive in and give it a try.

Now that I’ve dealt with the disincentives, let’s talk about the incentives for starting a blog.

Writing is a wonderful way to collect your thoughts. It has an objective therapeutic effect. A way of growing your brain and helping you sort out your mental health.

It will make you more interesting, as you work out your creative and intellectual muscles.

Conquering your fear of writing will help you grow as a person. It will springboard you into a life of courage. You can look at old blogs and see how you’ve developed. See the things you’ve conquered.

Blogging helps you build an online brand. If you want a job in an industry, there’s no better way than to have a series of blogs learning and teaching about that subject. You can position yourself as an expert. Or show to the marketplace that you’re someone deeply passionate about learning this subject.

The only good reason to not blog, is if you just genuinely don’t want to. But only reach that conclusion after you’ve considered all the evidence. The fears are unfounded and the benefits are immense. This is why you should start a blog.

The Importance Of Personal Challenges

The love of my life is in the middle of a 30 consecutive day yoga challenge. Her first attempt she got to 10 days and was derailed by a road trip. At the time of posting this, she will be on her second attempt, so far passing 16 days. Objective measurable improvement. A testimony to her virtue and character.

Right now I’m doing my own personal challenge. Today is day 2 of 10 days of writing. I’ve previously completed 30 days. My favourite from that adventure was the one I wrote on mushrooms. If you just check out my November 2016 tab you’ll find the rest of the content.

I think these sorts of challenges can be immensely important. They are obviously a good way to learn a new skill or develop a hobby, but there’s so much more. It’s empowering to see ourselves grow in a measurable format. So often our personal development is only noticed years later in reflection. It’s a way of building up our willpower. Every attempt after a failure teaches us more discipline, adding to our inventory of virtues. It sparks our productivity, helping us have better habits. Maybe most importantly, it gives us an opportunity to fail. Often repeatedly.

Learning to fail is a necessary and unavoidable aspect of life. In the jungle, it might have meant missing our arrow and not eating for a day. In modern society, it may mean dealing with heartbreak or getting turned down from every job interview. Failure has always been an aspect of your life. These personal challenges give us a chance to fail while the stakes are low. Missing out on a blog post isn’t gonna kill ya, but it may still hurt emotionally a bit. You get more familiar with processing your failures and how to get back up. Life might not be a constant struggle for survival any more, but if you can’t get back up after missing a day of blogging you’re gonna be poorly suited for life. You’re gonna really struggle to get back up when your car breaks down, or when you butcher your sales presentation.

If you’re scared of taking up a personal challenge, maybe the very fact that you’re scared is what makes the personal challenge worth doing. Maybe your fear of failing is the exact thing that you need to confront. Dive into your fear. Embrace it. Take up a personal challenge.

Willing Into Existence My Creative Energies

Sometimes you have to say something just to make it happen. Or to quote the title of my first ever blog post, “As I speak it, it will come to be.”

I’ve been sitting on a lot of half-written essays and articles. They need to be published for a lot of reasons. To help build my brand, to keep me busy and even just for the sake of artistic creation.

Here I am, willing into existence my creative energies. Speaking out the fact that I am going to write and publish every day for the rest of the year. Speaking it, to make it a reality.

Here’s to day 1, of 10 days of publishing.

Calling Marxism Egalitarian Is a Strawman

One of the worst things that can happen to a bad idea, is to have it propped up by bad counter arguments. Marxism is one of those bad ideas that is often strengthened by misunderstandings. A particularly common strawman, is the accusation that Marxism is an egalitarian philosophy, seeking equal outcome regardless of unequal input. This assumption is popular within the libertarian community. It’s mostly put forth by fans of Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Jordan Peterson. It’s not hard to see why this misconception would arise. Marx and Engels collectively wrote well over 25 books and hundreds of letters, essays and speeches. There is so much work it would take a short lifetime to fully grasp all of their ideas. Egalitarianism is also a common trope within the general left. One could see a leftist calling for equality and falsely assume that such ideas are core of all leftist philosophy, included in that Marxism.

The truth is Marx and Engels were pretty explicitly anti-egalitarian. If you dissect what is meant by the line “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”, it is necessarily a call for an unequal outcome and distribution of wealth and social responsibility. The phrase is a recognition that everyone is different and unequal and as such they need different and unequal things. But Marx gets even more explicit in other parts of his 1875 ‘Critique of the Gotha Programme’, he offers a criticism of socialist movements that advocate for equality.

The internet anarchist and marxist AnarchoPac summarizes Marx’s criticisms far better than I could in these paragraphs:

“Firstly, Marx claims that it makes no sense to speak of equality in the abstract. This is because we can only understand what it means for x to be equal or unequal with y if we first specify the dimensions along which they are being compared. For x to be equal to y is for them to be equal in a particular concrete respect. For example, if x and y are people then they can only be judged equal relative to particular criteria such as their height, how many shoes they own, or how much cake they have eaten. Therefore, one can only be in favour of equality along specific dimensions, such as equality of cake consumption, and never equality as an abstract ideal.

Secondly, Marx claims that advocating equality along one dimension, such as everyone in a society earning the same amount of money per hour worked, will lead to inequality along other dimensions. Everyone earning an equal amount per hour of work would, for example, lead to those who work more having more money than those who work less. As a result, those unable to work a large amount (if at all) such as disabled people, old people, or women who are expected to do the majority of housework, will be unequal with those who can work more, such as the able-bodied, young people, or men. Or those doing manual labour, and so unable to work long hours due to fatigue, will be unequal to those who engage in non-manual labour and so can work more hours. If a society decides to instead ensure equality of income by paying all workers the same daily wage then there would still be inequality along other dimensions. For example, workers who don’t have to provide for a family with their wage will have more disposable income than workers with families. Therefore we can never reach full equality but merely move equality and inequality around along different dimensions.”

There is simply no room for egalitarian thought in Marxism. It’s important that critics and advocates do not make the error of grouping them together.