Archive for the 'Philosophy' Category

Stanford Prison Experiment (What do you add to the script?)

Everyone was acting out a part and playing a role: prisoners, guards, staff … everyone was acting out a part. It’s when you start contributing to the script. That’s you, and thus you should take responsibility …

Prisoner 416, of the Stanford Prison Experiment*

From wikipedia:

The Stanford prison experiment was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. Twenty-four undergraduates were selected out of 70 to play the roles of both guards and prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

From the Professor Zimbardo’s website about the experiment:

What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? These are some of the questions we posed in this dramatic simulation of prison life conducted in the summer of 1971 at Stanford University.

* Debates on “free will” aside, I do believe in subjective free will, and always holding people accountable for their actions. Prisoner 416’s statement sums it up perfectly for me.

Hallucinations … writing … schizophrenia

I always depend on a molecular assemblage of enunciation that is not given in my conscious mind, any more than it depends solely on my apparent social determinations, which combine many heterogeneous regimes of signs. Speaking in tongues. To write is perhaps to bring this assemblage of the unconscious to the light of day, to select the whispering voices, to gather the tribes and secret idioms from which I extract something I call my Self.

Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Žižek’s Violence

I admit it: Violence is my first book by Slavoj Žižek, the cultural critic, philosopher, and Lacan expert who ironically calls himself a Marxist. Through his psychoanalytic lens, and his endless arsenal of jokes, he penetrates deep into 21st century culture with astoundingly counter-intuitive insights. He is never boring, and he hardly ever relies on the pseudo-scientific jargon that many of his fellow academics so love to use. That said, from his many online articles and interviews, he seems to me like a man who is full of contradictions. At times he vituperates the old communist regimes under which he lived, praises the achievements of post WWII western Europe, even finds a good word or two to say about neocon chearleader Fukayama; at other times he slams the disunited left — who can only agree to disagree — and he ironically praises Stalin and modern monolithic leftist movements like Chavez’s regime in Venezuela.
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The Birth of Tragedy

Having been a casual reader of Nietzsche for the last few years, I was already acquainted with the basic tenets of his philosophy when I picked up The Birth of Tragedy — and I had already unlearned everything Bertrand Russell said about him in his vastly overrated History of Western Philosophy. I started to understand Nietzsche when I started to read his philosophy as an artist’s philosophy.* And, in order to understand his polemical opinions on what is good art and what is bad art, you have to be acquainted with Arthur Schopenhauer’s aesthetics. In fact, I would recommend reading Kant and Schopenhauer before reading Nietzsche.

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Is Žižek an existentialist?

The experience that we have of our lives from within, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to account for what we are doing, is fundamentally a lie – the truth lies outside, in what we do.

From Violence

Nietzsche and Idiocracy

Idiocracy is now

Idiocracy — about a dystopia 500 years in the future where braindead fools populate the planet and everything is run by corporations — was actually presaged by Friedrich Nietzsche in his philosophical masterpiece, Thus Spake Zarathustra. In it he heralds the dawn of a new philosophical era, the threat of nihilism, and the übermensch. The übermensch — or the man who seeks to surpass himself, to reach his potential — stands diametrically opposite to what Nietzsche calls The Last Man, who is perfectly content with stagnation, whose “herd mentality” makes him most comfortable among equally unambitious people, who is unable to criticize himself, and who therefore cannot grow.

The earth hath then become small, and on it there hoppeth the last man who maketh everything small. His species is ineradicable like that of the ground-flea; the last man liveth longest.

“We have discovered happiness”–say the last men, and blink thereby.

Thus Spake Zarathustra

Idiocracy is not a great movie, but it is a trenchant critique of our society (though about as subtle as using a sledgehammer to drive in a pin).The movie obviously is directed at the United States, where underrated director Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butthead and cult movie Office Space, hails from. But anyone traveling abroad, or surfing the internet, can easily surmise the same thing: that we are already living in a budding idiocracy everywhere on the planet.

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Robert Solomon on existentialism


From the movie Waking Life

I’ve read the postmodernists with some interest, even admiration. But when I read them, I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more that you talk about a person as a social construction or as a confluence of forces or as fragmented or marginalized, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when Sartre talks about responsibility, he’s not talking about something abstract. He’s not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about. It’s something very concrete. It’s you and me talking. Making decisions. Doing things and taking the consequences.