Essay—A Way of Life (59)

Summary—This essay argues we should study philosophy and science as found in Philosophymagazine and use this knowledge as a concrete way of life in making all decisions.

On airline flights attendants tell passengers that, in the event of cabin depressurization, parents should take care of themselves first before attending to their children.  Similarly, the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80) tells us we must Be for thyself before we can Be for others.

The Method of Argument.  I have sent letters and essays to the government in Canada (including the prime minister) asking them to state their position on arguments.  They failed to respond.  I am arguing that the method of argument must become a material way of life.  I recently sat in on a philosophy session put on by a PhD in philosophic logic.  I asked him to review my Obstruction of Argument essay.  He failed to respond.  My argument is that it does not matter how good the logic is, your argument will not be accepted if the government (eg. educators, doctors and politicians) does not like it.  The government in Canada treats its citizens like children who are only required to play nice.  And the adults (ie. the government) are certainly not interested in any arguments put forth by the children—as I have repeatedly demonstrated with my correspondence to the government.

Socrates.  Socrates (470-399 BC) was a classical Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Western philosophy.  Socrates said, “I know that I know nothing.”, “I would rather die than give up philosophy.” and “We must follow the argument wherever it leads.”  Some have argued that Socrates was an existentialist.  He certainly lived the existential mantra that says there is no human nature for which we are obligated to fulfill.  His trial came about as the result of asking too many philosophical questions.  Socrates was tried on charges of corrupting the youth and for impiety against the state.  His accused acts of impiety were failing to acknowledge the deities of the state and for introducing new deities.  The majority of the Athenian jurors voted to convict Socrates and punish him to death by drinking hemlock.  On the day of his execution sympathizers of Socrates made plans for his escape.  But he said that he would not defy the laws of the state and willingly drank the hemlock.  We know about Socrates from the writing of his disciple, Plato (428-348 BC).  Both of them deployed philosophy as a way of life involved in making every decision.

Know Thyself.  Another Socratic quote is, “Know thyself” which foreshadowed the Cartesian cogito (ie. cogito, ergo sum—I think, therefore I exist) two millennia before René Descartes (1596-1650) came up with it.  In fact, the Neoplatonist, Saint Augustine (354-430), also fashioned the cogito twelve centuries before Descartes.  The cogito and “Know thyself” are saying the same thing.  In The Confessions, Augustine describes the importance of inner, subjective experience.  It is one of the most ambitious and forthright inquiries into the self ever written.  With Augustine the spiritual life begins to take shape.  Knowing thyself allows one to walk the path less traveled as a passionate way of Being.  In that the self is created in God’s image, knowing thyself is the same as knowing God.  So even if one does not believe in God, the goal is still the same—to know thyself.  A crucial part of God’s divine plan is to give man the unlimited gift of freewill.  So when Adam ate the apple from the tree, he was not sinning but was just exercising his freewill.  This act of freewill means our future depends on both God and man working together in a harmonious way of life.

Faith and Reason.  The church tells us to have faith.  The schools teach us to use reason.  I would argue that we need to be both faithful and reasonable to achieve what Sartre called a totalizer.  We must eliminate the demigods and come together in recognizing only one God.  Muhammad (570-632) stressed that the God worshiped by the Christians and the Jews is no different than the God worshiped by the Arabs.  We could bring faith and reason together in the same way Einstein (1870-1955) brought space and time together.  EF Schumacher (1911-77) said that faith is not in conflict with reason, nor is it a substitute.  Faith leads us to reason and then reason leads us back to faith.  Because society forces us to keep faith and reason separate, the demigods (eg. the church and the schools) are destabilizing the one true God.  For me, my left hand is faith and my right hand is reason.  True mathematics is a cocktail of faith and reason.  Sir James Jeans said that God is a mathematician.  Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) said the only reason he did not kill himself was because he wanted to study mathematics.  To study mathematics is to know God.  The educational system presently does a poor job of teaching us mathematics in that they overload us with complicated equations rather than teaching simple truths like the Pythagorean Form.  We should embrace both faith and reason as a passionate way of life in every simple truth we follow.

The Theory of One.  My theory of one unites the macrocosmos of relativity theory (based on lightspeed) with the microcosmos of quantum theory (based on Planck’s constant) by identifying lightspeed and Planck’s constant as the same boundary of the universal continuum.  The universe is a spherical ocean within which lies spacetime while outside the boundary lies nothingness.  My theory also proves that there is only one photon (ie. a being of light) and that one photon is God.  The Schrödinger’s cat thought problem proves that consciousness determines physical reality.  In that chaos theory shows us there is no inherent scale to the universe, the macrocosmos and microcosmos are two different ways of looking at the same thing.  So, following Schrödinger’s lead, the answer to the Einstein’s moon thought problem as to whether the moon really exists when no one is looking at it is answered with an emphatic no—which confirms that reality is an illusion.  It is like the television show Star Trek with the holodeck producing simulated realities presented to the occupants.  The holodeck tells us that nothing is real except our minds and bodies.  From this we can conclude that there exists a Supreme Being who is going to a lot of trouble to create a show that nurtures our minds to grow.  My theory of one proves the existence of this Supreme Being as a being of light.  Following the argument (or the light) then leads us to a new way of life.

Existentialism.  The Freudian cognitive model makes the ego or consciousness the decision-maker who must choose between the internal values of the inward id (or self or soul) and the external authority of the superego (or government).  Behaviorism chooses the superego while existentialism chooses the id.  Existentialism tells us that we have total freedom and total responsibility while behaviorism tells us that we have no freedom and no responsibility other than to behave normally.  Existentialism tells us to look at life’s projects in the same way an artist looks at a painting.  One cannot say a single brushstroke is correct or not, but only that the value of the painting can be judged within the coherence of the whole painting.  Normally we make decisions that capitulate to the superego, as opposed to self-aware decisions that come from reflecting on the id.  This is what the existentialist Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55) meant with his book entitled Fear and Trembling—in which the choices that lead to our salvation might have to be made in fear and trembling.  For example, I have subjectively decided to write a certain number of essays in order to achieve salvation.  Although existentialism is a difficult path to follow, we should be willing to accept it as a way of life.  As the pirate said to the princess in the timeless movie The Princess Bride—“Life is pain my dear.  Anyone who says differently is trying to sell you something.”

The Four-Day Workweek.  The four-day, 32-hour workweek was first introduced by the American union leader, Walter Reuther (1907-70).  We are erroneously programmed to believe that working long hours produces better results.  Jill Fraser wrote how the postmodern culture of white collar workers has to be available 24 hours a day.  She argues that working less may be the key to success.  The four-day workweek would allow mothers to spend more time with their children, which could keep more women working.  A four-day workweek would give people Fridays off so they could read, write, paint and study philosophy and science like that found in Philosophy-magazine.  My monthly essays serve up the simple truth that allows readers to work from a solid base and then draw their own conclusions.  A three-day weekend would give people the chance to regroup and see their work from another perspective.  In 2008 the state of Utah offered a four-day work week to its workers.  They found that it improved productivity and worker satisfaction.  Companies in the throes of economic downturn could reduce salaries by twenty percent and go to a four-day workweek as an alternative to laying off staff.

Conclusion.  Socrates and Plato lived the philosophical way of life in knowing thyself.  By embodying faith and reason, we can know both ourselves and God.  My theory of one proves reality is an illusion.  Existentialism tells us we must do the math and then make decisions in fear and trembling.  We should consider a four-day workweek as a way to become more healthy and productive.  People bringing philosophy and science together and bringing faith and reason together are doing well for thyselves.