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Semiformalishmaybe

Philosophical Tethers


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I did just have a nice conversation with a philosophy professor I sometimes bump into here at GoodKarma, first talking about the ties of Freud's philosophy/psychology to the Frankfurt School (I seriously have not thought about this enough; I also need to read more Lacan at some point), then about Samuel Beckett being a precursor of the cyberpunk genre of literature.

This philosophy prof's a good acquaintance to have; his name may not have yet stuck in my head, and I don't know if we necessarily would actually get along beyond our occasional conversations (so I don't know if he'd ever be exactly a friend), but I at least don't need to be entirely starved of good conversation (I also strongly recommended Murakami's 「1Q84」, he suggested I read Bolaño's 「2666」 and Gladman's 「Event Factory」).

Recently I've been doing reflections on likability; apart from being very shy around new people, kind of reclusive, and having little in common with most people (for philosophical, upbringing, and other reasons), I suspect my social difficulties have to do with not being that likable. One of my internal critics suggested that part of it's a lack of warmth, and I think that's on-the-mark. I care about people, but in a fairly distant way. I've modified big parts of how I relate to people and handle conversations so I am dissecting my emotional reactions to things as soon as I start to feel them, immediately evaluating them in philosophical contexts. I also almost never give people my full attention, nor do ever have the happy optimism sometimes people want to hear unless and to the extent that it's strictly justified by a reasonable interpretation of the facts. Being contrarian by nature (inherited from my father) and distrustful of mass emotion also limits emotional connectedness. I suspect that this comes across as off-putting to people even as I suspect they generally won't be able to put their finger on why. Maybe I've built myself a pretty nice mental cathedral to live in, but if nobody else can fit through the doors, that's a problem. It's also a problem that I don't know how to solve. Maybe I don't need to solve it if I can make myself be more outgoing; that's hard, but at least it's solvable in principle.

I suppose there's the other impression that people probably have of arrogance. I am inclined to dismiss much of this as an anti-intellectual vibe in American society right now; I am an intellectual, I do believe that science is the best path to truth and that most other approaches are fluff, I do believe in intellectual achievement and growth, and I do think it's a shame when people are either not given the opportunities to or are culturally inspired not to grow as much as they can. That said, these goals are not about me; I am not the best-educated person you'll ever meet on any topic, I am still working on self-improvement and probably will be for the rest of my life, and apart from some disappointment at others for some things, I don't take things much further than that. I also don't claim any universality in my perspective here; I expect in society that everyone is always judging everyone else on multiple axes, and their relations with them are based on some kind of sum of all their traits. I see anything I say as just adding another opinion to the huge pile of ideas that philosophers and others have made over the centuries, and am really not sure I'm doing anything but emphasising already existing ideas to people who have either not heard them before or not thought about them much. I think this is something pretty much everyone does, knowingly or not. I may have opinions and conclusions and talk about them a lot, but I don't feel that by reasonable notions of humility/arrogance, I'm actually all that arrogant. Others, of course, may differ.

I know I'm not really all that warm though.

Unrelated, there was a recent post in 「Law and the Multiverse」 that covered a number of interesting jurisprudential issues.

I also recently stumbled across 「myself on Researchgate」. Woot. It is validating to be reminded that yes I have contributed to science, but it also reminds me of that thirst to do more.

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