Undaimonia has been neglected of late. The numbers next to the months in the Archives bar show a steady decline in posts from the dizzying highs of early last year to an immediate drop in October/November, coincidentally enough, when the new semester of university began.
This final year of my degree in philosophy has been far more demanding than previous years and my writing (for both this blog and short stories for publication) has taken the toll. Instead of observations on modern life or heroic fantasy/science fiction stories, my mind has been focused on philosophical matters. My dissertation on meta-philosophy occupies a considerable portion of my thoughts and will continue to do so until it’s out of my hands: my self-appointed task is to describe how philosophy lost its way in the 20th Century (blame falls squarely on Bertrand Russell and subsequent trends in Anglo-American philosophy) and prescribe how philosophy might be improved/made relevant again. When I’m not churning out paragraphs of that paper, I’m considering (in no particular order) how music can be profound, how sentences are unified but lists of words aren’t, what musical works are, which dichotomy best describes the essential nature of the universe (at the moment, I’m thinking ‘the one and the many’: a sentiment expressed wonderfully in a section of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities), why possible-world logic is invalid due to philosophers’ general lack of imagination, and how disturbingly true this progression is (although in my case I seem to have gone Kierkegaard > Nietzsche > Sartre > Schopenhauer). On top of that I’ve been helping to organise Manchester Philosophy Society events including an upcoming discussion of free will between the esteemed philosophers Ted Honderich and Kevin Magill (full details will be up here http://www.philsoc.manchester.ac.uk/: feel free to come – 25th Feburary.) Ahhh, the joys of life as a philosopher.
Still I’ve carved out time now before a seminar on meta-ontology to jot down some thoughts about ‘recent’ news.
- The Manchester congestion charge was voted down with almost 75% of people against it. It was apparent to me that during the last few months, the council almost certainly artificially engineered congestion as Ken Livingstone did in London. Traffic light timings were changed, buses were later, and there were more roadworks. Nonetheless I voted for the charge because I wanted to see improved public transportation and less cars on the road.
- The Israel/Gaza conflict is a disgrace. How the US can sanction the Israeli attacks is beyond me. Israel has steadily been expanding into Palestinian territory for years. Obviously the whole conflict is God’s fault for promising the land to two religious groups but right now there needs to be an immediate ceasefire and laying down of arms.
- This was not the work of UFOs.
- A humanist slogan appearing on London buses has drawn complaints. Stephen Green of Christian Voice claims that “There is plenty of evidence for God, from people's personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world.” There are counter-claims to all those arguments but I would love to see such a case go to trial - to legally settle once and for all God’s existence or non-existence. Still, not enough people realise that there are meaningful ways to live without religion or blind faith and if this campaign can raise awareness of that, then I’m all for it. The mysteries of existence are not the exclusive province of religion.
- F. Paul Wilson claims to have invented the character of the Joker used in The Dark Knight. Reading the short story reveals that Wilson is delusional. His character bears marked differences to Heath Ledger’s portrayal: Wilson’s character has more of an emphasis on the clown aspect of the Joker (the gags, the tricks, the laugh) whereas Nolan’s Joker was more an anarchist sociopath representing the chaos to Batman’s order.
This has been a ridiculously self-indulgent post (Is all writing inherently self-indulgent? Discuss.). I will return to writing my meandering thoughts either when I get more free time or when I graduate.