Vertical Thinking

by Nathan Cheever

Can Science Really Answer Moral Questions?

Science cannot hold the authority to determine the philosophy for its use.

Sam Harris debunked traditional morality in favor of science in a 2010 TED talk entitled “Science can answer moral questions”. I disagree with Sam Harris that science can answer moral questions. But first a small preface. My goal is not to criticize unfairly, but attempt to tackle the core of his argument head on, not sidestep to arguments that, though they may be valid, don’t hit his main points. I also want so say that I am not personally attacking Mr.

Is that True?

Are there any authentic and absolute footholds?

“It’s all relative”. – A relative. Demolition brings a draft Five years ago, I decided it was time for spiritual and intellectual remodeling. I was more excited for the demolition than the rebuilding. My faiths and philosophies were flimsy and distorted. And they needed to go. So I picked up my proverbial wrecking bar and went to town. It was my life and I was determined to search for truth on my own.

How to get up and running with an analog Zettlekästen (slipbox)

Three months and 110+ cards in, the lessons learned the hard way

Preface There is a veritable plethora of videos and articles on how to setup a digital Zettlekästen. There are tons of blogs and forums about Niklas Luhmann’s practice, his prolific publishing record. So why add another one? Frankly most of them aren’t that helpful. I learn by seeing how something is actually done, especially an analog process. And more importantly, I want it to be true to the process Luhmann discovered.

Questions to be lived

What question will you answer with your life?

Not often, but sometimes, you stumble upon a question that is so profound to you that you would almost be sad to find the answer. It keeps you searching yourself, calling upon something deeper than rote learning or textbook memorization. Perhaps we can call these “floating questions.” They evade scientific explanation. Floating questions demand an answer from your life. They can generate enormous passion, send humans into space, and create beautiful art.

Have a good day, Have a good life

Days are the units of life

One golden afternoon last October, while taking a walk, I wrote a thought down: “Eventually, my life will just be as good as my days. So I need to enjoy my days if I am going to enjoy my life." Embedded in there is the idea that no one state or achievement will likely “make” my life. Instead of some grandiose event, life’s quality is subject to more prosaic influences like the quality of our relationships, sleep, self-talk, hobbies, and food.

Please consider rebelling

You really should

There is a terrible temptation (I know I’ve fallen into many times) to value yourself by your productivity. The meritocracy culture says monetary accumulation is the gateway to everything we desire: respect, independence, even happiness. Hearing rhetoric like: “with the internet, not being a millionaire is a choice” for people like me who’ve accomplished very little according to the rules of the game, it can feel absolutely crushing. Being ordinary is shamed as not hustling hard enough.

Article 13

Is there any value in the Past?

Article #13: Is there any value in the Past? Objection 1: It seems there is little value to the past because opportunity for action lies in the present. Since we cannot act in the past, and our purpose is to act rightly in this world, our focus should be on the present. The past holds lessons and data from which we may draw as required to meet our current needs, but the value of the past is defined only by its usefulness to the present and future.

Moderation in moderation

When it's time to go all out

There are special times in life to go all out. Last year, I went all out on a 50-mile hike alone, completing it in 19 hours. I learned some invaluable lessons like Don’t trust Google maps over mountains (I got lost) Always pack an extra almond poppyseed muffin. Stopping to rest only makes your legs hurt more. More importantly, I learned that after being alone and exhausted for hours, all the noise in your head quiets down, and you come to know yourself and your limits.

Plato, the moral revolutionary

Almost 2400 years ago, one of the greatest revolutions the western world has ever known set off. It was a relatively quiet explosion, not a famous battle or the overthrow of an empire. It was a young man watching his hero, teacher, and mentor put on trial and condemned to death. His teacher had dedicated his life to questioning others, for, as he put it, “the unexamined life is not worth living.

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