Posts tagged with existentialism

As to longitude, I declare that I found so much difficulty in determining it that I was put to great pains to ascertain the east-west distance I had covered. The final result of my labours was that I found nothing better to do than to watch for and take observations at night of the conjunction of one planet with another, and especially of the conjunction of the moon with the other planets….

After I had made experiments many nights, one night, the twenty-third of August 1499, there was a conjunction of the moon with Mars, which according to the almanac was to occur at midnight or a half hour before. I found that…at midnight Mars’s position was three and a half degrees to the east.

Amerigo Vespucci

Good gosh. Can you imagine having travelled so far on the globe—without a swift means of return, of course—that you literally had no idea where you were?

And what’s more, science to save you. You can’t ask anyone around you for the answer. Many of the people around you not only have never heard of Europe, but can’t even conceive of such a thing.

Nobody knows the answer. ∄ books that purport to have the answer. ∄ communication channels back to home. You’re all alone, mentally. To figure out what’s going on all you have to go on is reason and facts. And if you get the answer right, whom are you going to tell?

(Source: Wikipedia)

To tweet or not to tweet: that is the question.

  • @isomorphisms: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
  • The @'s and RT's of outrageous spammers,
  • Or to hit /block against a sea of affiliate-marketers,
  • And by Reporting, end them? To quit; to disable one's account; no more
  • And by quitting we say to shut the laptop and end
  • The predictable op-eds and the thousand engineer'd linkbaits
  • That social media is heir to, 'tis a consummation
  • Devoutly to be wish'd. To quit; to go outside;
  • To go outside, perchance to walk, or lift a heavy object, or swing on a swing: ay, there's the rub,
  • For in the outdoors what emails may come to mind that we realise we need to write just this second but don't have a pen or paper or a blasted smartphone,
  • When we have left our b0xen in our flats,
  • Must give us pause: there's the habituation
  • That makes calamity of this 140-character media stream;
  • For who would bear the whips and scorns of fatuous trolls on internet chatboards,
  • (who are totally wrong), the successful entrepreneur's contumely,
  • The pangs of unrequited backlinks, the ISP's delay;
  • The insolence of @sacca and the spurns
  • Of blog readers who reliably bounce at an 87% rate,
  • When @isomorphisms himself might his own quietus make
  • With a bare bodkin? Who would arXiv browse,
  • To hunt and peck under a weary life,
  • But that the dread of something after logging off,
  • The undiscover'd country from whose boredom
  • No surfer ever returns, puzzles the will
  • And makes us rather bear those ills we have
  • Than fly to others we know not of?
  • Thus iPads do make addicts of us all,
  • Its native 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution
  • Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of the thought that I'm never not looking at the damn thing,
  • And that enterprises of great pith and moment
  • With an enticing reddit link their currents turn awry,
  • And lose the name of action!

Without science, explaining why there is something rather than nothing requires explaining every leaf, rock, beetle and star.

Cosmology and evolutionary theory pare the explanation requirement down … we might have to explain only a physical law or three, and everything else … can follow naturally. … [I]t might be that we don’t have to explain why there is matter and energy, perhaps not even why there is three-dimensional space and time or why physical constants have the values they have.

It is also possible, although harder to conceive, that we could explain everything down to nothing: no physical laws, only logic. Putting that another way, it might be that naive mental pictures of nothing are logically impossible.

Aaron C. Brown, reviewing Why There is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence Krauss

In the life of a man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his sense a dim rushlight, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, his fame doubtful.

In short, all that is body is as coursing waters, all that is of the soul as dreams and vapors.

Marcus Aurelius