Category Archives for: Mind and Matter

Creativity, What Society Needs, and What Society Wants

29 September 2016


  • Desire out of local creativity / consumption — moving hostel idea, herbal drinks idea, bamboo fishing rods idea, crowdsourced urban / social interventional development VS what society needs — survival, higher [? standard of living?], what society wants, and therefore is willing to pay — learning English, consumerism (commodity [food, drink, entertainment]), etc.

Work can be categorized into those categories: creativity, what society wants, and what society needs.

Let’s take my recent experience in Lanyu (蘭嶼) as an example.

Whilst living there, I had a billion of things I wanted to do. I wanted to forage local plants to make herbal drinks and vend them on the street. I wanted to research into nature-identifying mobile applications. I wanted to use local bamboo to make fishing rods for the kids to use, and tourists to rent. I wanted to use local taro leaves to make Totoro umbrellas for free local use, and for tourists to buy or rent. I wanted to fly fish with a minimal amount of gear. I wanted to have a semi-permanent camping spot for noamad-like tourists to come and experience Lanyu for free, only paying for experiences that require much information (local experiences such as catching and eating crabs and oysters, fishing, and snorkeling in the best spots), cooking catch-of-the-day. I wanted to use Taiwan crowdsourcing website to fund safety helmets for every scooter-owner. I wanted to conduct natural science endeavors — exploring the area and organizing it into information. I wanted to create a DIY repair street stand, for home and gear repairs (fishing gear, swimming gear, farming gear). That’s what I wanted. I created those ideas.

What Lanyu needs is probably a good healthcare system, home water filtration systems, and a good political entity to defend against the authority of Taiwan, a public health system, to help those being domestically abused, and a social welfare system, to take care of the stray homeless, ultra-poor, and elderly.

What Lanyu wants is probably more beer. More kinds of beer. More kinds of food. More stuff. English teachers. Better teachers. Better gear. And just to preserve its culture.

To live entirely by creating is the lifestyle of a pure artist, usually titled hippies / gypsies. It’s possible, but it’s rough, depending on people around at that moment in time, as opposed to money, to get by. Though, you get absolute freedom, and do as you wish, it’s usually hindered in time by the need of constantly seeking food and shelter. It takes some time to get better at this lifestyle. To learn to camp, use a water filter, avoid bad weather. Hippies usually acquire some skill to make money: crafting a commodity, or a service like teaching an art (play an instrument, sing, dance), teaching languages. My arts are game-making and philosophy. Neither of which are popular arts for any market.

The desire for crowdsourcing helmets overlaps with what society needs. If the hostel idea extends to accommodate space for children or homeless people, then it also overlaps with what society needs.

The desire for making herbal drinks and cooking freshly caught seafood, bamboo fishing rods, taro leaf umbrellas, and creating an experiential hostel overlaps with what society wants. People want new food and drinks. Kids want fishing rods. People want to experience another lifestyle / culture.

None of these are jobs under some employer. There are no jobs on the island. But many of these ideas can obtain wealth through the exchange of services and/or goods for currency, perhaps entitling it to an independent business.

A common insult to a hippie’s lifestyle is that it’s selfish, because it doesn’t fit a need or want for society. Wants are not needed, so all want-jobs do not count toward benefitting society. What do societies actually need? A healthcare system. A few technological goods (computers, electrical fans — taking care as they destroy culture). Good families. Good public spaces. A good culture. Goods and good, I guess.

And hippies are good people who emanate good vibes to all those around them, but receive no monetary return. They usually get stuck working in an experiential, social place, like a hostel, children’s museum, progressive children’s schools, homely restaurants, DIY spaces, experimental venues, rural areas, domestic work (babysitting), where they are free to communicate and do as they wish (creating / arting). It’s the experience that matters, and through sharing the experience, educates those around them.

Capitalism doesn’t favor hippies. Nor do many societies. They wander and find their little places in the world, until society forces them out, forcing them to repeat the process. Thus is the nomad’s life.

This may have been on my mind after reading much of Patrick’s blog, a magnificent hippie, and then reading comments on a comic tribute to Patrick on imgur, perhaps the most cancerous, insular online community I’ve ever encountered. Perhaps this is kind of my defense for Patrick’s lifestyle, and in turn, my own.

His lifestyle seems alien to most of the world, including his closest relatives, the indigenous Amazonian people, the Yanomami. In a comment by his father, he says “There are enough doctors and lawyers in the world, and a few adventurers keep us all interested. We can live vicariously through their lives if we don’t have the heart or maybe a pair of lower organs to do what they are doing.” And especially in the case of developed countries, that’s the truth. There are so many professionals, that demand decreases and competition increases. They need to move from developed to less developed. Or, people need to find another way to live, to create — oh those pitiful, boring souls!

During my time in Lanyu (and even in Taiwan), one does get that feeling though: what I am doing is useless, in the context of all societies, or in the progression of social development. Why fish (with a rod or spear-gun), when one can obtain industrially-created dry foods from the market, or even industrially-created fish (through aquaculture or large fishing vessels)? Should I be working in a job under one of those industries instead?

Similarly, why farm, when that is industrialized too (unless taro plants cannot be automated for some reason)? Why make a rather inefficient canoe out of a single tree trunk when better-designed canoes are industrially constructed? Why gather and make herbal concoctions when huge pharmaceutical companies exist? Why sell commodities locally, when it could be sold online through an online marketplace? Why sell commodities when information or patents is what sells? Why do what other have already done? Why not venture anew, creating new media, new art.



And the answer comes: experience. It’s all a new experience to me. Perhaps people have experienced, but I haven’t. The experiences can effect me. It alters me. I let it. It’s life.

And as it turns out, I loved doing all of those things.

This also may have continued to linger on my mind, as while I’m stuck in place without money, I was thinking about what I would do if I were to go back home to VA, and one of those things were to get some more training, of course!; That’s what developed countries are for. My interest was doing disaster relief better (and just being an awesome local rescuer, wherever I may be; breaking the exclusivity of professionalism), as opposed to just drifting through various useless non-profits. This led me toward emergency medical technician (EMT -> paramedic), a wilderness variant of it (WEMT), critical care nursing, and, surprisingly, firefighter, whom apparently are all-around badass emergency rescuers.

Doing good without money has its barriers, yet training usually requires money. EMT requires training for certifications, firefighter requires training at a fire academy, though, one can volunteer in one’s own country’s fire station or volunteer ambulance squads. Accelerated bachelor nurse programs require a year or more of (expensive and boring) school. Paramedics require one to two years of training, in addition to EMT.

This daydream of an idea, which extended to research, kind of makes me cringe, as my mind organizes toward something, something that would tie me down to a certain location for a certain period of time, as opposed to thinking freely and broadly, of all the possible things one can do and lifestyles one can live, whilst riding a scooter around Taiwan.

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Determinism and Free Will, Experience, Humanities, Metaphysics, Mind and Matter, Philosophy, Physicalism and Materialism

Having an Experience and Not

04 January 2016

[todo: original title and topics I desired to write about: Being Poor, Anarchy, and Creativity]

Recently I had some good conversations with a friend who grew up in rural areas in Taiwan, relied on media during her childhood, and describes her favorite time in life on a smaller island of Taiwan, Lanyu (蘭嶼).

She showed me pictures of her time there. Her face, radiant.

She taught kids at a school, usually art, sometimes reading, perhaps other things. It seemed as if the school gave her a great amount of freedom. She was able to create activities for the kids everyday, without much strain for normative education examinations. There were pictures of normative fine arts: painting, drawing, dancing. Furthermore, there were pictures of kids partaking in local cultural activities such as farming yams, fishing, cooking, swimming on the beach. Some related to the school, some not; She was fond of the fact that the kids would ask her for more activities after school. The social benefits were shared.

She was also more creative. Though she doesn’t have many outlets to show it through media, beyond the actions of the time, she did show me some pictures: a bookcase she created with found wood and string, natives performing festivals (dancing, cooking wild boar), local scenery, food she cooked, her roommates, her students.

Most of her creativity hasn’t been captured through media, lost in time and unrecorded, but it surely existed, through her actions. She taught, she had good roommates to share experiences with and talk to, she talked to local people, she had good students to help, she wandered and thought. She was having an experience. It’s the highest form of creativity: action.

Now, she describes herself as two people. The normal her, and the abnormal her. The normal her is the one from the island — the constantly acting, creative, often social, one. The abnormal her is the one seen right now as she works, restrained socially and economically, unable to act in the way she desires. She appears less creative, and unable to have an experience.

Now, at times, her normal self appears. She sleeps less, does her work while listening to music, is more social, is consuming more (through media and reality), and is more willing to go out. She maximizes time for new experiences and minimizes time for old ones. She climbs mountains with alacrity, fishes for shrimp with great concentration, cooks with whatever ingredients she has available with haste, and manically opens a wine bottle with a knife. She is having an experience.

[todo: continue]

[todo: the initial reason for the blog was to show the difference between poor creativity and instrumental creativity, how anarchy increases paths for creativity, and figuring out what makes an environment creative.]

Her experience reminds me of the first time going to a city. Every moment was an experience.

[todo: maybe can compare]

[questions to ask her: Beyond the pictures she took during her time on the island, and the bookshelf, is there any form of media to access her time there? Did she during or even after her time there?]

[cut: She also had roommates]

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Aesthetics, Art, Conversation, Experience, Experience, Humanities, Metaphysics, Mind and Matter, Personal, Philosophy

The Metropolis and Mental Life by Georg Simmel

25 December 2015

[todo: incomplete draft. Might as well complete the reading on my phone and copy the notes here later, although it doubles the work.]

This essay, particularly the second paragraph, pieces together so much of my early philosophy that I’m going to use it as a tool to link my philosophy together. For the moment, the entirety of the essay is posted here [without copyright, though Googling quickly resulted in three copies].

Georg Simmel
‘The Metropolis and Mental Life’

The deepest problems of modern life flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence against the sovereign powers of society, against the weight of the historical heritage and the external culture and technique of life. This antagonism represents the most modern form of the conflict which primitive man must carry on with nature for his own bodily existence. The eighteenth century may have called for liberation from all the ties which grew up historically in politics, in religion, in morality and in economics in order to permit the original natural virtue of man, which is equal in everyone, to develop without inhibition; the nineteenth century may have sought to promote, in addition to man’s freedom, his individuality (which is connected with the division of labour) and his achievements which make him unique and indispensable but which at the same time make him so much the more dependent on the complementary activity of others; Nietzsche may have seen the relentless struggle of the individual as the prerequisite for his full development, while Socialism found the same thing in the suppression of all competition — but in each of these the same fundamental motive was at work, namely the resistance of the individual to being levelled, swallowed up in the social-technological mechanism. When one inquires about the products of the specifically modern aspects of contemporary life with reference to their inner meaning — when, so to speak, one examines the body of culture with reference to the soul, as I am to do concerning the metropolis today — the answer will require the investigation of the relationship which such a social structure promotes between the individual aspects of life and those which transcend the existence of single individuals. It will require the investigation of the adaptations made by the personality in its adjustment to the forces that lie outside of it.

The psychological foundation, upon which the metropolitan individuality is erected, is the intensification of emotional life due to the swift and continuous shift of external and internal stimuli [Creativity, External Stimuli, Cities, and Suburbs, Time, Social Life, and External Stimuli]. Man is a creature whose existence is dependent on differences, i.e., his mind is stimulated by the difference between present impressions and those which have preceded [Working Memory and Creativity]. Lasting impressions, the slightness in their differences, the habituated regularity of their course and contrasts between them, [Habit and Addiction] consume, so to speak, less mental energy than the rapid telescoping of changing images [Prose is Superfluous: Active Communication through Play and ArtThe Speed of IdeasInformation Organization, Mediums, Creativity, and ExperienceCity Experience and MediaForms of Consumption: Reality and Media], pronounced differences within what is grasped at a single glance, and the unexpectedness of violent stimuli [Lone Work and Depression, Hypomania, The Apex of Mania and Creativity in Taipei, Korea and the Apex of SPD, Hypomania and Creativity]. To the extent that the metropolis creates these psychological conditions — with every crossing of the street, with the tempo and multiplicity of economic, occupational and social life [Time, Social Life, and External Stimuli] — it creates in the sensory foundations of mental life, and in the degree of awareness [Awareness and Consciousness] necessitated by our organization as creatures dependent on differences, a deep contrast with the slower, more habitual, more smoothly flowing rhythm of the sensory-mental phase of small town and rural existence [Flexibility]. Thereby the essentially intellectualistic character of the mental life of the metropolis becomes intelligible as over against that of the small town which rests more on feelings and emotional relationships. These latter are rooted in the unconscious levels of the mind and develop most readily in the steady equilibrium of unbroken customs. The locus of reason, on the other hand, is in the lucid, conscious upper strata of the mind and it is the most adaptable of our inner forces [Flexibility and Learning]. In order to adjust itself to the shifts and contradictions in events, it does not require the disturbances and inner upheavals which are the only means whereby more conservative personalities are able to adapt themselves to the same rhythm of events. Thus the metropolitan type — which naturally takes on a thousand individual modifications — creates a protective organ for itself against the profound disruption with which the fluctuations and discontinuities of the external milieu threaten it [todo: I think I had a draft about creating rules in the mind, Chaos and Organization]. Instead of reacting emotionally, the metropolitan type reacts primarily in a rational manner, thus creating a mental predominance through the intensification of consciousness, which in turn is caused by it. Thus the reaction of the metropolitan person to those events is moved to a sphere of mental activity which is least sensitive and which is furthest removed from the depths of the personality.

This intellectualistic quality which is thus recognized as a protection of the inner life against the domination of the metropolis, becomes ramified into numerous specific phenomena. The metropolis has always been the seat of money economy because the many-sidedness and concentration of commercial activity have given the medium of exchange an importance which it could not have acquired in the commercial aspects of rural life [Free from Capitalism?]. But money economy and the domination of the intellect stand in the closest relationship to one another. They have in common a purely matter-of-fact attitude in the treatment of persons and things in which a formal justice is often combined with an unrelenting hardness. The purely intellectualistic person is indifferent to all things personal because, out of them, relationships and reactions develop which are not to be completely understood by purely rational methods — just as the unique element in events never enters into the principle of money. Money is concerned only with what is common to all, i.e., with the exchange value which reduces all quality and individuality to a purely quantitative level [Debt by David Graeber]. All emotional relationships between persons rest on their individuality, whereas intellectual relationships deal with persons as with numbers, that is, as with elements which, in themselves, are indifferent, but which are of interest only insofar as they offer something objectively perceivable. It is in this very manner that the inhabitant of the metropolis reckons with his merchant, his customer, and with his servant, and frequently with the persons with whom he is thrown into obligatory association. These relationships stand in distinct contrast with the nature of the smaller circle in which the inevitable knowledge of individual characteristics produces, with an equal inevitability, an emotional tone in conduct, a sphere which is beyond the mere objective weighting of tasks performed and payments made [tourism]. What is essential here as regards the economic-psychological aspect of the problem is that in less advanced cultures production was for the customer who ordered the product so that the producer and the purchaser knew one another [barter? gift economy?]. The modern city, however, is supplied almost exclusively by production for the market, that is, for entirely unknown purchasers who never appear in the actual field of vision of the producers themselves. Thereby, the interests of each party acquire a relentless matter-of- factness, and its rationally calculated economic egoism need not fear any divergence from its set path because of the imponderability of personal relationships. This is all the more the case in the money economy which dominates the metropolis in which the last remnants of domestic production and direct barter of goods have been eradicated and in which the amount of production on direct personal order is reduced daily [independent merchants vs manufactured products]. Furthermore, this psychological intellectualistic attitude and the money economy are in such close integration that no one is able to say whether it was the former that effected the latter or vice versa. What is certain is only that the form of life in the metropolis is the soil which nourishes this interaction most fruitfully, a point which I shall attempt to demonstrate only with the statement of the most outstanding English constitutional historian to the effect that through the entire course of English history London has never acted as the heart of England but often as its intellect and always as its money bag [ouch! London as past Silicon Valley and Capitalism].

In certain apparently insignificant characters or traits of the most external aspects of life are to be found a number of characteristic mental tendencies. The modern mind has become more and more a calculating one [todo: personal experience in the city, Marx-like economic eye]. The calculating exactness of practical life which has resulted from a money economy corresponds to the ideal of natural science, namely that of transforming the world into an arithmetical problem and of fixing every one of its parts in a mathematical formula [critique of old economic quantitative institutions]. It has been money economy which has thus filled the daily life of so many people with weighing, calculating, enumerating and the reduction of qualitative values to quantitative terms. Because of the character of calculability which money has there has come into the relationships of the elements of life a precision and a degree of certainty in the definition of the equalities and inequalities and an unambiguousness in agreements and arrangements, just as externally this precision has been brought about through the general diffusion of pocket watches [social time, in addition to money, is also quantitative: time is money]. It is, however, the conditions of the metropolis which are cause as well as effect for this essential characteristic. The relationships and concerns of the typical metropolitan resident are so manifold and complex that, especially as a result of the agglomeration of so many persons with such differentiated interests [diversity], their relationships and activities intertwine with one another into a many-membered organism [part of many communities]. In view of this fact, the lack of the most exact punctuality in promises and performances would cause the whole to break down into an inextricable chaos [hmmm]. If all the watches in Berlin suddenly went wrong in different ways even only as much as an hour, its entire economic and commercial life would be derailed for some time [true]. Even though this may seem more superficial in its significance, it transpires that the magnitude of distances results in making all waiting and the breaking of appointments an ill-afforded waste of time. For this reason the technique of metropolitan life in general is not conceivable without all of its activities and reciprocal relationships being organized and coordinated in the most punctual way into a firmly fixed framework of time which transcends all subjective elements. But here too there emerge those conclusions which are in general the whole task of this discussion, namely, that every event, however restricted to this superficial level it may appear, comes immediately into contact with the depths of the soul, and that the most banal externalities are, in the last analysis, bound up with the final decisions concerning the meaning and the style of life [quantitative city life affects the soul]. Punctuality, calculability, and exactness, which are required by the complications and extensiveness of metropolitan life are not only most intimately connected with its capitalistic and intellectualistic character but also colour the content of life and are conducive to the exclusion of those irrational, instinctive, sovereign human traits and impulses which originally seek to determine the form of life from within instead of receiving it from the outside in a general, schematically precise form [the city only allows overly quantitative, rational beings, no other ways in life — ascetic, aboriginal culture, anarchic societies, non-capitalist thoughts, philosophers, etc.]. Even though those lives which are autonomous and characterised by these vital impulses are not entirely impossible in the city, they are, none the less, opposed to it in abstracto [dominated by city social norm]. It is in the light of this that we can explain the passionate hatred of personalities like Ruskin and Nietzsche for the metropolis — personalities who found the value of life only in unschematized individual expressions which cannot be reduced to exact equivalents and in whom, on that account, there flowed from the same source as did that hatred, the hatred of the money economy and of the intellectualism of existence [New York and Taiwan].

The same factors which, in the exactness and the minute precision of the form of life, have coalesced into a structure of the highest impersonality [Okinawa is Inhospitable], have, on the other hand, an influence in a highly personal direction. There is perhaps no psychic phenomenon which is so unconditionally reserved to the city as the blasé outlook. It is at first the consequence of those rapidly shifting stimulations of the nerves which are thrown together in all their contrasts and from which it seems to us the intensification of metropolitan intellectuality seems to be derived. On that account it is not likely that stupid persons who have been hitherto intellectually dead will be blasé. Just as an immoderately sensuous life makes one blasé because it stimulates the nerves to their utmost reactivity until they finally can no longer produce any reaction at all, so, less harmful stimuli, through the rapidity and the contradictoriness of their shifts, force the nerves to make such violent responses, tear them about so brutally that they exhaust their last reserves of strength and, remaining in the same milieu, do not have time for new reserves to form. This incapacity to react to new stimulations with the required amount of energy [need time for thinking] constitutes in fact that blasé attitude which every child of a large city evinces when compared with the products of the more peaceful and more stable milieu.

Combined with this physiological source of the blasé metropolitan attitude there is another which derives from a money economy. The essence of the blasé attitude is an indifference toward the distinctions between things. Not in the sense that they are not perceived, as is the case of mental dullness, but rather that the meaning and the value of the distinctions between things, and therewith of the things themselves, are experienced as meaningless. They appear to the blasé person in a homogeneous, flat and gray colour with no one of them worthy of being preferred to another [hmm, I don’t think I’ve experienced this]. This psychic mood is the correct subjective reflection of a complete money economy to the extent that money takes the place of all the manifoldness of things and expresses all qualitative distinctions between them in the distinction of how much. To the extent that money, with its colourlessness and its indifferent quality, can become a common denominator of all values it becomes the frightful leveller — it hollows out the core of things, their peculiarities, their specific values and their uniqueness and incomparability in a way which is beyond repair. They all float with the same specific gravity in the constantly moving stream of money. They all rest on the same level and are distinguished only by their amounts. In individual cases this colouring, or rather this de-colouring of things, through their equation with money, may be imperceptibly small. In the relationship, however, which the wealthy person has to objects which can be bought for money, perhaps indeed in the total character which, for this reason, public opinion now recognizes in these objects, it takes on very considerable proportions [awareness directed toward extrinsic values?]. This is why the metropolis is the seat of commerce and it is in it that the purchasability of things appears in quite a different aspect than in simpler economies. It is also the peculiar seat of the blasé attitude. In it is brought to a peak, in a certain way, that achievement in the concentration of purchasable things which stimulates the individual to the highest degree of nervous energy. Through the mere quantitative intensification of the same conditions this achievement is transformed into its opposite, into this peculiar adaptive phenomenon — the blasé attitude — in which the nerves reveal their final possibility of adjusting themselves to the content and the form of metropolitan life by renouncing the response to them [definitely never felt this]. We see that the self-preservation of certain types of personalities is obtained at the cost of devaluing the entire objective world, ending inevitably in dragging the personality downward into a feeling of its own valuelessness.

Whereas the subject of this form of existence must come to terms with it for himself, his self-preservation in the face of the great city requires of him a no less negative type of social conduct. The mental attitude of the people of the metropolis to one another may be designated formally as one of reserve. If the unceasing external contact of numbers of persons in the city should be met by the same number of inner reactions as in the small town, in which one knows almost every person he meets and to each of whom he has a positive relationship, one would be completely atomized internally and would fall into an unthinkable mental condition [hence the need of small neighborhoods]. Partly this psychological circumstance and partly the privilege of suspicion which we have in the face of the elements of metropolitan life (which are constantly touching one another in fleeting contact) necessitates in us that reserve, in consequence of which we do not know by sight neighbours of years standing and which permits us to appear to small-town folk so often as cold and uncongenial. Indeed, if I am not mistaken, the inner side of this external reserve is not only indifference but more frequently than we believe, it is a slight aversion, a mutual strangeness and repulsion which, in a close contact which has arisen any way whatever, can break out into hatred and conflict [? maybe Georg is sympathizing with small towns, and hasn’t had a good experience in the city]. The entire inner organization of such a type of extended commercial life rests on an extremely varied structure of sympathies, indifferences and aversions of the briefest as well as of the most enduring sort. This sphere of indifference is, for this reason, not as great as it seems superficially. Our minds respond, with some definite feeling, to almost every impression emanating from another person. The unconsciousness, the transitoriness and the shift of these feelings seem to raise them only into indifference. Actually this latter would be as unnatural to us as immersion into a chaos of unwished-for suggestions would be unbearable. From these two typical dangers of metropolitan life we are saved by antipathy which is the latent adumbration of actual antagonism since it brings about the sort of distantiation and deflection without which this type of life could not be carried on at all. Its extent and its mixture, the rhythm of its emergence and disappearance, the forms in which it is adequate — these constitute, with the simplified motives (in the narrower sense) an inseparable totality of the form of metropolitan life. What appears here directly as dissociation is in reality only one of the elementary forms of socialization [The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Only Yesterday].

This reserve with its overtone of concealed aversion appears once more, however, as the form or the wrappings of a much more general psychic trait of the metropolis. It assures the individual of a type and degree of personal freedom to which there is no analogy in other circumstances. It has its roots in one of the great developmental tendencies of social life as a whole; in one of the few for which an approximately exhaustive formula can be discovered. The most elementary stage of social organization which is to be found historically, as well as in the present, is this: a relatively small circle almost entirely closed against neighbouring foreign or otherwise antagonistic groups but which has however within itself such a narrow cohesion that the individual member has only a very slight area for the development of his own qualities and for free activity for which he himself is responsible. Political and familial groups began in this way as do political and religious communities; the self-preservation of very young associations requires a rigourous setting of boundaries and a centripetal unity and for that reason it cannot give room to freedom and the peculiarities of inner and external development of the individual [physical and social space defines boundaries of development]. From this stage social evolution proceeds simultaneously in two divergent but none the less corresponding directions. In the measure that the group grows numerically, spatially, and in the meaningful content of life, its immediate inner unity and the definiteness of its original demarcation against others are weakened and rendered mild by reciprocal interactions and interconnections [more density more tolerance for diversity]. And at the same time the individual gains a freedom of movement far beyond the first jealous delimitation, and gains also a peculiarity and individuality to which the division of labour in groups, which have become larger, gives both occasion and necessity. However much the particular conditions and forces of the individual situation might modify the general scheme, the state and Christianity, guilds and political parties and innumerable other groups have developed in accord with this formula. This tendency seems to me, however, to be quite clearly recognizable also in the development of individuality within the framework of city life. Small town life in antiquity as well as in the Middle Ages imposed such limits upon the movements of the individual in his relationships with the outside world and on his inner independence and differentiation that the modern person could not even breathe under such conditions. Even today the city dweller who is placed in a small town feels a type of narrowness which is very similar [city vs suburb culture]. The smaller the circle which forms our environment [environment contains limiting culture] and the more limited the relationships which have the possibility of transcending the boundaries [relationships as transcendence of culture], the more anxiously the narrow community watches over the deeds, the conduct of life and the attitudes of the individual and the more will a quantitative and qualitative individuality tend to pass beyond the boundaries of such a community.

The ancient polis seems in this regard to have had a character of a small town. The incessant threat against its existence by enemies from near and far brought about that stern cohesion in political and military matters, that supervision of the citizen by other citizens, and that jealousy of the whole toward the individual whose own private life was repressed to such an extent that he could compensate himself only by acting as a despot in his own household [nationalism]. The tremendous agitation and excitement, and the unique colourfulness of Athenian life is perhaps explained by the fact that a people of incomparably individualized personalities were in constant struggle against the incessant inner and external oppression of a de-individualizing small town [Constant Action Ethics] . This created an atmosphere of tension in which the weaker were held down and the stronger were impelled to the most passionate type of self-protection. And with this there blossomed in Athens, what, without being able to define it exactly, must be designated as ‘the general human character’ in the intellectual development of our species [first recorded time humans developed fully, independent? Heck no.]. For the correlation, the factual as well as the historical validity of which we are here maintaining, is that the broadest and the most general contents and forms of life are intimately bound up with the most individual ones. Both have a common prehistory and also common enemies in the narrow formations and groupings, whose striving for self-preservation set them in conflict with the broad and general on the outside, as well as the freely mobile and individual on the inside [priority for individualism, individuals will always exist within and out, resisting any kind of normative culture]. Just as in feudal times the ‘free’ man was he who stood under the law of the land, that is, under the law of the largest social unit, but he was unfree who derived his legal rights only from the narrow circle of a feudal community — so today in an intellectualized and refined sense the citizen of the metropolis is ‘free’ in contrast with the trivialities and prejudices which bind the small town person. The mutual reserve and indifference, and the intellectual conditions of life in large social units are never more sharply appreciated in their significance for the independence of the individual than in the dense crowds of the metropolis because the bodily closeness and lack of space make intellectual distance really perceivable for the first time. It is obviously only the obverse of this freedom that, under certain circumstances, one never feels as lonely and as deserted as in this metropolitan crush of persons [city community, Large and Small Communities]. For here, as elsewhere, it is by no means necessary that the freedom of man reflect itself in his emotional life only as a pleasant experience.

It is not only the immediate size of the area and population which, on the basis of world-historical correlation between the increase in the size of the social unit and the degree of personal inner and outer freedom, makes the metropolis the locus of this condition. It is rather in transcending this purely tangible extensiveness that the metropolis also becomes the seat of cosmopolitanism. Comparable with the form of the development of wealth — (beyond a certain point property increases in ever more rapid progression as out of its own inner being) — the individual’s horizon is enlarged. In the same way, economic, personal and intellectual relations in the city (which are its ideal reflection), grow in a geometrical progression as soon as, for the first time, a certain limit has been passed. Every dynamic extension becomes a preparation not only for a similar extension but rather for a larger one and from every thread which is spun out of it there continue, growing as out of themselves, an endless number of others. This may be illustrated by the fact that within the city the ‘unearned increment’ of ground rent, through a mere increase in traffic, brings to the owner profits which are self-generating. At this point the quantitative aspects of life are transformed qualitatively. The sphere of life of the small town is, in the main, enclosed within itself. For the metropolis it is decisive that its inner life is extended in a wave-like motion over a broader national or international area. Weimar was no exception because its significance was dependent upon individual personalities and died with them, whereas the metropolis is characterised by its essential independence even of the most significant individual personalities; this is rather its antithesis and it is the price of independence which the individual living in it enjoys. The most significant aspect of the metropolis lies in this functional magnitude beyond its actual physical boundaries and this effectiveness reacts upon the latter and gives to it life, weight, importance and responsibility. A person does not end with limits of his physical body or with the area to which his physical activity is immediately confined but embraces, rather, the totality of meaningful effects which emanates from him temporally and spatially. In the same way the city exists only in the totality of the effects which transcend their immediate sphere. These really are the actual extent in which their existence is expressed. This is already expressed in the fact that individual freedom, which is the logical historical complement of such extension, is not only to be understood in the negative sense as mere freedom of movement and emancipation from prejudices and philistinism. Its essential characteristic is rather to be found in the fact that the particularity and incomparability which ultimately every person possesses in some way is actually expressed, giving form to life. That we follow the laws of our inner nature — and this is what freedom is — becomes perceptible and convincing to us and to others only when the expressions of this nature distinguish themselves from others; it is our irreplaceability by others which shows that our mode of existence is not imposed upon us from the outside.
Cities are above all the seat of the most advanced economic division of labour. They produce such extreme phenomena as the lucrative vocation of the quatorzieme in Paris. These are persons who may be recognized by shields on their houses and who hold themselves ready at the dinner hour in appropriate costumes so they can he called upon on short notice in case thirteen persons find themselves at the table. Exactly in the measure of its extension the city offers to an increasing degree the determining conditions for the division of labour. It is a unit which, because of its large size, is receptive to a highly diversified plurality of achievements while at the same time the agglomeration of individuals and their struggle for the customer forces the individual to a type of specialized accomplishment in which he cannot be so easily exterminated by the other. The decisive fact here is that in the life of a city, struggle with nature for the means of life is transformed into a conflict with human beings and the gain which is fought for is granted, not by nature, but by man. For here we find not only the previously mentioned source of specialization but rather the deeper one in which the seller must seek to produce in the person to whom he wishes to sell ever new and unique needs. The necessity to specialize one’s product in order to find a source of income which is not yet exhausted and also to specialize a function which cannot be easily supplanted is conducive to differentiation, refinement and enrichment of the needs of the public which obviously must lead to increasing personal variation within this public.

All this leads to the narrower type of intellectual individuation of mental qualities to which the city gives rise in proportion to its size. There is a whole series of causes for this. First of all there is the difficulty of giving one’s own personality a certain status within the framework of metropolitan life. Where quantitative increase of value and energy has reached its limits, one seizes on qualitative distinctions, so that, through taking advantage of the existing sensitivity to differences, the attention of the social world can, in some way, he won for oneself. This leads ultimately to the strangest eccentricities, to specifically metropolitan extravagances of self-distantiation, of caprice, of fastidiousness, the meaning of which is no longer to be found in the content of such activity itself but rather in its being a form of ‘being different’ — of making oneself noticeable. For many types of persons these are still the only means of saving for oneself, through the attention gained from others, some sort of self-esteem and the sense of filling a position. In the same sense there operates an apparently insignificant factor which in its effects however is perceptibly cumulative, namely, the brevity and rarity of meetings which are allotted to each individual as compared with social intercourse in a small city. For here we find the attempt to appear to-the-point, clear-cut and individual with extraordinarily greater frequency than where frequent and long association assures to each person an unambiguous conception of the other’s personality [whoa].

This appears to me to be the most profound cause of the fact that the metropolis places emphasis on striving for the most individual forms of personal existence — regardless of whether it is always correct or always successful. The development of modern culture is characterised by the predominance of what one can call the objective spirit over the subjective; that is, in language as well as in law, in the technique of production as well as in art, in science as well as in the objects of domestic environment, there is embodied a sort of spirit [Geist], the daily growth of which is followed only imperfectly and with an even greater lag by the intellectual development of the individual. If we survey for instance the vast culture which during the last century has been embodied in things and in knowledge, in institutions and comforts, and if we compare them with the cultural progress of the individual during the same period — at least in the upper classes — we would see a frightful difference in rate of growth between the two which represents, in many points, rather a regression of the culture of the individual with reference to spirituality, delicacy and idealism. This discrepancy is in essence the result of the success of the growing division of labour. For it is this which requires from the individual an ever more one-sided type of achievement which, at its highest point, often permits his personality as a whole to fall into neglect. In any case this overgrowlh of objective culture has been less and less satisfactory for the individual. Perhaps less conscious than in practical activity and in the obscure complex of feelings which flow from him, he is reduced to a negligible quantity. He becomes a single cog as over against the vast overwhelming organization of things and forces which gradually take out of his hands everything connected with progress, spirituality and value. The operation of these forces results in the transformation of the latter from a subjective form into one of purely objective existence. It need only be pointed out that the metropolis is the proper arena for this type of culture which has outgrown every personal element. Here in buildings and in educational institutions, in the wonders and comforts of space-conquering technique, in the formations of social life and in the concrete institutions of the State is to be found such a tremendous richness of crystallizing, depersonalized cultural accomplishments that the personality can, so to speak, scarcely maintain itself in the face of it. From one angle life is made infinitely more easy in the sense that stimulations, interests, and the taking up of time and attention, present themselves from all sides and carry it in a stream which scarcely requires any individual efforts for its ongoing. But from another angle, life is composed more and more of these impersonal cultural elements and existing goods and values which seek to suppress peculiar personal interests and incomparabilities. As a result, in order that this most personal element be saved, extremities and peculiarities and individualizations must be produced and they must be over- exaggerated merely to be brought into the awareness even of the individual himself. The atrophy of individual culture through the hypertrophy of objective culture lies at the root of the bitter hatred which the preachers of the most extreme individualism, in the footsteps of Nietzsche, directed against the metropolis. But it is also the explanation of why indeed they are so passionately loved in the metropolis and indeed appear to its residents as the saviours of their unsatisfied yearnings.

When both of these forms of individualism which are nourished by the quantitative relationships of the metropolis, i.e., individual independence and the elaboration of personal peculiarities, are examined with reference to their historical position, the metropolis attains an entirely new value and meaning in the world history of the spirit. The eighteenth century found the individual in the grip of powerful bonds which had become meaningless — bonds of a political, agrarian, guild and religious nature — delimitations which imposed upon the human being at the same time an unnatural form and for a long time an unjust inequality. In this situation arose the cry for freedom and equality — the belief in the full freedom of movement of the individual in all his social and intellectual relationships which would then permit the same noble essence to emerge equally from all individuals as Nature had placed it in them and as it had been distorted by social life and historical development [anarchism or liberalism?]. Alongside of this liberalistic ideal there grew up in the nineteenth century from Goethe and the Romantics, on the one hand, and from the economic division of labour on the other, the further tendency, namely, that individuals who had been liberated from their historical bonds sought now to distinguish themselves from one another [romanticism]. No longer was it the ‘general human quality’ in every individual hut rather his qualitative uniqueness and irreplaceability that now became the criteria of his value [creative economy]. In the conflict and shifting interpretations of these two ways of defining the position of the individual within the totality is to be found the external as well as the internal history of our time. It is the function of the metropolis to make a place for the conflict and for the attempts at unification of both of these in the sense that its own peculiar conditions have been revealed to us as the occasion and the stimulus for the development of both [todo: need to reread this more]. Thereby they attain a quite unique place, fruitful with an inexhaustible richness of meaning in the development of the mental life. They reveal themselves as one of those great historical structures in which conflicting life- embracing currents find themselves with equal legitimacy. Because of this, however, regardless of whether we are sympathetic or antipathetic with their individual expressions, they transcend the sphere in which a judge-like attitude on our part is appropriate. To the extent that such forces have been integrated, with the fleeting existence of a single cell, into the root as well as the crown of the totality of historical life to which we belong — it is our task not to complain or to condone but only to understand [ :) ].

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Communication, Experience, Humanities, Metaphysics, Mind and Matter, Organization, Personal, Philosophy, Psychology, Semiotics, Social Philosophy, Urban Philosophy

Awareness and Communication

05 December 2015

This is part of a series of thoughts that are thematically bounded by a criticism of capitalism, communication, and rationality.

1. The mind has a bias toward what to be aware of.

2. The mind has a bias toward which medium of communication to be aware of. If has been talking recently, then the sense of hearing speech is more aware. If one has been recently reading, then text is more apparent. If one has been watching films, then visuals are more apparent. If one has been traveling, then one is aware of everything, and must actively choose what to be aware of.

3. Because the mind has a bias toward which medium to be aware of, one’s mind may tend to organize communication into that medium. If one has been talking, one may feel like talking. If one has been reading, one may feel like writing. If one has been watching films, one may want to create more visual-oriented films. If one has been traveling, then one may choose a medium or create a medium to communicate in.

Possibly related older post: Working Memory and Creativity.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Communication, Epistemology, Experience, Humanities, Media, Mind and Matter, Philosophy

Why Did I Read?

02 December 2015

This is part of a series of thoughts that are thematically bounded by a criticism of capitalism, communication, and rationality.

[todo: old title: why I read, and how and when to read]

[todo: needs work]

The reason I began reading is because I wanted to talk about things that I experience in the world, from epistemology to the culture I’ve lived in and back. I’m not sure if describing it adds to understanding or merely transforming ideas into language, and therefore quite a waste of time as one could be experiencing and learning and acting instead, or even transforming ideas into a more potent medium.

In the process of describing the world, I use Wikipedia and other forms of modern media to gather ideas. Because of this, books of my interest tend to be theoretical. They provide words, ideas, and frameworks to help me continue to talk to myself in order to continue thinking about the world. It’s not a matter of truth. These things just serve as tool for organizing the big picture. Though, this too may be a waste of time, as it’s much more efficient to simply make up words for ideas that one thinks of. And the existence of common words create a bias of what one thinks about, as the mind focuses on the language, instead of reality and the infinite amount of ideas behind reality. And again, I run into the limits of language. Isn’t it better to skip language formation and simply act? But then one often needs to communicate to others for socio-political reasons. Hrmm… I miss playing games. [todo: should continue this thought]

To to get the most out of media one must match it to one’s current desire of knowledge and/or current experiences, as to aid one’s own understand and creation of theories. In my case: Jane Jacobs would be helpful in trying to improve a neighborhood, and would be good to read while living in a city. David Harvey would be helpful in trying to understand capital in modern times, and would be good to read while living in a capitalistic society. Anthropology is helpful to look at many societies at all levels of development to see what works and where society screwed up, and would be best to read while traveling, or living in another society. Daniel Kahneman is helpful in understand the decisions people make, and should be read when is trying to influence behavior. Practical handbooks is helpful for things one may want to do very soon, and should be read close in time. And so on.

The desire for socio-political change may take creative forms, which simply depends on the past and current things in the mind. In the case of design, city experience — visual, traveling, talking, living — is far more useful than books.

Another reason to read is for the subjective experience of others. I usually don’t enjoy getting experience this way and prefer simply talking to others, or watching a film, but that may be a fault of mine, as anything could be in another’s mind. It is however interesting in the form of factual biographies, so that I can try to rationalize the subject’s actions, especially a more romantic, nomadic person’s life.

Yet another reason is to read is to gain knowledge (does it count as experience?) in the form of facts from newspapers, or better, primary sources, to understand the world through the medium of language i.e. the life of Noam Chomsky. I never read newspapers, for the same reason, I prefer city, travel, and creative experiences: they provide infinitely more data and hopefully knowledge.

Just another thought on this: A reason not to read is that it puts human language into working memory, as opposed to the infinite data of the working memory of experiences. One can experience a city in a day and have a better understanding of it than an infinite amount of books could provide. Focusing on language limits creativity to language. Instead of thinking in terms of space, time, material, and social life, one is reduced to thinking about language, and not thinking about the infinite data behind the language. One must continually experience as much life as possible to understand another’s communication to a greater extent in order to reap the benefits.

from thoughts:

to theorize reality, use Limits to Capital, Jane Jacobs, Christopher Alexander. – a thought from that time I was in Taipei for three months

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Communication, Epistemology, Humanities, Literature, Media, Mind and Matter, Philosophy, Philosophy of Literature

Working Memory and Creativity

08 September 2015

[todo: just published some old drafts, this is very important for creative work]

[I didn’t write anything, but I believe I was getting at how creativity depends on the things in working memory, and how that interacts with long-term memory. For example, say you watched neorealism film in the recent past, then you have some intense travel experience, you may want to try to make a neorealist film.

I think I was also thinking about how design jams work. If one has knowledge of sensors in the mind, then has some experience, then forces oneself to try to design something with the experience in the working memory.]


to read:

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Art, Design, Mind and Matter, Philosophy, Social Philosophy

The Affects of Audio

08 September 2015

Just writing a little bit about an ancient thought that I re-discovered:

The affects of audio are really important. I think the only way I was able to spend so much time on the computer in the past, as opposed to taking in all of sensory experience nature offers, is because of music. It has the ability to dull the mind into doing rote tasks. Music should almost always be avoided, except for times when the mind is thinking too much, too manic, and need to just calm down.

While outside:
focused on reality
alert of reality

one ear:
alert of reality
listening intently on audio content, if it fits current interests

two ears isolated:
reality becomes film

While in front of a computer:
alert of reality nearby
alert of outside world
question why I am on the computer as opposed to making an impact in the world
question why I am not thinking fast

one ear (maybe two ears non-isolated):
alert of reality nearby
alert of outside world

two ears isolated.
focused on things displayed on the computer

Leave a comment | Categories: Humanities, Mind and Matter, Philosophy, Thoughts

Is Continental Philosophy a Dead End?

04 September 2015

Just finishing an old draft, likely written during Early Philosophy II.

From a dispute between Chomsky and Zizek:

“There’s no ‘theory’ in any of this stuff,” Chomsky says to an interviewer who had asked him about the three continental thinkers, “not in the sense of theory that anyone is familiar with in the sciences or any other serious field. Try to find in all of the work you mentioned some principles from which you can deduce conclusions, empirically testable propositions where it all goes beyond the level of something you can explain in five minutes to a twelve-year-old. See if you can find that when the fancy words are decoded. I can’t. So I’m not interested in that kind of posturing. Žižek is an extreme example of it.”

The problem with Continental Philosophy is indeed the use of extra vocabulary to describe certain phenomenon, and it increases linearly as individuals read the canon, making it inaccessible.

The other problem is that, these people actually do have important ideas on describing social reality, psychology, and cognition.

But if no one else (especially scientists) talks about these things, who does one turn to? To past Continental Philosophers, and so they internalize past concepts (and words), continue to describe reality, creating more concepts. It seems to be a never ending dead end.

But who does one talk to about these things?

First, Wikipedia, then Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy, then more modern media — an article on Google, a contemporary book that covers a broader range of things, etc. No one reads science articles to relate experiences to.

Let’s compare talking to Daniel Kahneman and Zizek, using their two most recent books, Thinking, Fast and Slow and Parallax View.

Although Daniel Kahneman’s book provides a good framework, it was just released recently, otherwise, one would have to look through scholarly articles. Zizek is old, and perhaps his only available non-human sources, or his own education, were these old Continental Philosophers, beginning with Freud.

Though I haven’t read Kahneman’s book entirely, I found Zizek’s material (films and Parallax View) far more engaging, as it is uses film, history, and reality as examples, as opposed to the the dry studies of Kahneman.

So, where Kahneman builds a rational formal system for decision-making, Zizek observes decision-making and ideology in the real world, using the old internalized words from psychoanalysis and Continental Philosophy, especially related to the mind, to describe it.

If one were trying to figure out the world, especially the social world, would one turn toward a mathematician of the mind or Marx with hyper-awareness of the mind’s problems?

Clearly hyper-Marx. It also just shows Zizek is consistently engaged with the world, cares, and is part of the civil society.

Kahneman’s stuff may be applied to economics, but Zizek derives decision-making problems from reality: of homelessness, of the space between cultures, of the impossibility of assimilating to a culture, of impossibility of fully understanding another, of the impossibility of politics or any non-human centered design for that matter. These are all experiences I’ve had, and therefore, it becomes possible for me to reflect and learn something from it, putting words to my experiences, and progressing.

Continental Philosophy won’t die because there will always be people questioning the world during their time in it. But is it going somewhere, the way science is?

Yes. I believe as people become more intelligent, more aware, more open, more will be understood of social problems, more words will be created to describe them, and these conversations, especially of critical theory, can be useful in describing reality and social reality, and gauging the direction of human development.

It’s not a dead end. It’s the never-ending critique of society, and the will to improve it.

Another quick thought is of realism films, especially those that are critical of their society, usually labeled under New Wave. They were a huge part of my high school and college education.

I haven’t seen one in a long time because I’ve been so focused on reality, and often feel like using human language, but now it’s clear that my past love for these films was the critique of and care for society.

It’s life, and there’s a problem with it. It’s fascinating. It alters the way we think. We respond with want of social action and distribute the idea. It alters the way society thinks.

The problem isn’t the content, it’s the form. Few people are able to read a huge book, and really engage with it. The speed of the transmission of ideas are too slow. For it to be useful, creating a real impact, the idea must be transmitted quickly, into the working memory [todo: link to working memory and creativity], so then the person can take action with these ideas in it.

Continental Philosophy may not be dead, but writing sure is.

The Wikipedia article on Sociology outlines the central theoretical problems: subjectivity and objectivity, structure and agency, and synchrony and diachrony. At least one of these, I feel is important, and make up the core concepts of Continental Philosophy.

Parallax view, uses subjectivity and objectivity, and the void between, then goes on using this structure to critique epistemology and politics.

I haven’t read about the other two, but it seems synchrony and diachrony is not in the same league of importance.

All of the wordy theories on sociology are bullshit because the underlying theories on epistemology, especially philosophy of the mind, are bullshit. These are the dead ends.

It is worth having dialog about the how these central problems affect reality, especially politics and society, but there is no use of describing the structure of the mind. For that, one can now simply skip to neuroscience, save their worries, and resume pragmatically.

Leave a comment | Categories: Critical Theory, Experience, Mind and Matter, Philosophy, Social Philosophy

The Revolution Will Not Be in the Bedroom

03 September 2015

[todo: incomplete, also, don’t feel like philosophizing — the weather is getting warm again! :) Though, in retrospect, this is a really good thought]

Sparked by an old thought which reoccured, in which through the process of writing, other associated old thoughts were found:

For a white collar worker in a developed country during the Information Age, the commodity one creates may be digital, or a service, either way, immaterial.

In Taiwan, a lot of the commodities, perhaps even a majority of the economy, still seem to be material. – [link ideology of Taiwan, materials science, crafting, food].

One may first think that is a sign of lack of progress of honing the rational, but it isn’t.

Material commodity is dealt with as with any other manual labor work, but with the prevalence of smartphones, people are able to simultaneously consume, think, socialize of specific interests (including people).

So, although the material commodity is valued, people are still able to gain much non-valued information, through experience and media.

Because much of the commodities are material, it forces people to have more experience with material, reality, as opposed to information, media.

Consistent time with material reality creates experiences, maintains social and land relationships within locality, and fosters a sense of community, for people and the material.

[todo: to be continued?]

Some people comment negatively on how people use their smartphones while in the public, with friends, with a loved one. I see it positive, one is able to have both: the social and personal interest.

I absolutely loved the times I picnicked in Asia with friends, doing our individual work in the same physical space.

It fosters a sense of community.

San Francisco kept this sense by taking their laptops into the parks, as did the more communal parts of New York.

Nature is necessary as a free public space. Cafes are a commodity, and should be avoided, as they often add no value (unless the time of being with the people leads to additional human capital. No, cafes are exclusive places, not everyone can afford to be there! Hmm, maybe it’s a problem with property.).

Isolation via Desktop Computer

The problem occurs when people use their digital devices in solitude. This destroys community, harks modern urban planning dystopias.

Perhaps it was the fact that desktop computers were invented first, became prevalent in the homes of those that could afford to, and then, much later, affordable, usable, laptops became available. During this gap in time, a good amount of society may have been clicking away toward their interests, in their isolated bedrooms.

It’s natural to be attracted to knowledge, but not at the cost of eyes on the community.

This period of time was a dark one. Luckily, it didn’t take long to change to laptops. Yet, much of America is still stuck in their rooms due to habit, or suburban sprawl (suburban accumulation of capital, lack of public spaces, etc.), a different problem.

It’s exemplary to see certain blue collar workers integrate smartphones into their lives and adapt so well, while certain people are still stuck in habit, organizing digital information in their rooms. I often categorize these people in my mind as human and inhuman.

Perhaps if one experienced the simultaneous life, working toward self-interest and being social, one would then try to avoid doing one or the other exclusively from then on.

…Or, perhaps, this is all just a problem of my inability to control my own time.

Leave a comment | Categories: Community, Mind and Matter, Philosophy, Social Philosophy

A Curriculum of Experience

14 August 2015

In the recent past, I read pretty widely, it was an experience itself — learning English again, learning about a history of knowledge (philosophy), traveling through books, comparing reality, arguing — not so much passive reading. Now that I’m a bit more focused, my readings have become focused too, chosen based on past experiences and interests, before I began reading.

Though it does seem quite useless, impractical, lacking good use of working memory, and surely doing this out of current poor habit, over-organizing because I’m not in an active city, space, or social area, I’ve found that in the past, during downtime or simultaneously with work I end up consuming what media I do have most conveniently available — my smartphone — and so having some interesting media, is sometimes worth the trouble.

After writing down a few books of interest, it seems the theme of my interest is experience. If one is not experiencing, perhaps in a situation where creating experience is difficult, or one is simply in a lazy mode, perhaps books about experience will make one want to experience again, or remind oneself of one’s past experiences. Contrarily, if one is experiencing, then the books can be read simultaneously, and actually learn something from a book.

Hahahaha jk, books suck. If you must, let it be a practical handbooks and Wikipedia articles.

Update 17/9/15

It seems that this post, like the organized things I’ve written, is ever evolving. It started with creating a library related to experience, but as I used Wikipedia to attach words to ideas I’ve previously thought of, I’ve created an endless library of things I’ll never read. Though paradoxical, again, like the organized things I’ve written post, it turns out to be seemingly useful. Useful in the organization of ideas, but, as I often previously fought against during more active times in life, organization of ideas is not useful, it only seems so. 1) There is no need. The ideas exist, and always have since their inception. Instead of using time reading Wikipedia to map ideas to words as I just did here, I could be having experiences, creating new ideas, affecting the world, being a part of society. 2) It is uncreative. I could be creating my own words, which is an experience itself. 3) The use of vocabulary is limited to academics, making it inaccessible to the public. 4) The use of vocabulary influences others to conform to it, leading to the creation of a singular language… It’s circular logic, and it wastes real social time. It’s passive learning. One doesn’t need to know the political term or history of autonomism to understand it; If one can imagine an autonomous society, for example, most towns in Japanese role-playing video games, it is enough. Furthermore, along with the mapping of words to ideas, a useless history of philosophy often comes about. Only the mapping is what was seemingly important, nothing else. One should spend no further time on it. A google search of the description of an idea and appending “Wikipedia” to it usually suffices. If not, make a word up for it.

Update 27/11/15

It seems much of readings have shifted from experience toward critical theory, probably first as a result of wanting to describe the world, then later from being lazy and not experiencing and over-organizing.

Update 23/12/15

The People, Place, and Space Reader may be the closest description of the world and mind to my mind. Just a look at Simmel’s “Metropolis and the Mental Life” harks my early philosophy, which I wrote after much city experience. Previously, I thought David Harvey came closest, and before that, more classical critical theorists, but a glance at Harvey’s books one quickly learns that he relies on past human geographers and critical theorists and quotes them a lot to build a philosophy of human geography, and a glance at classical critical theorists one gets lost in the critiques of everything, failing to synthesize it with the contemporaneous world, especially the modern city. Forget classic philosophy canons (epistemology [maybe even pragmatism!] and political philosophy); Forget written language (save these essays). In the search of talking to someone about somethings, I’ve been distracted and misled by philosophy, distracted during the search for subjects that I wanted to talk about, misled by people who use past philosophers to help them write in a kind of infinite regression, and to larger forms of writings, which are more frequently mentioned in Wikipedia and sometimes even more easier to download (problem with digitization of essays and journals?), as opposed to contemporary concise essays and journal articles. God damn it. What a waste of time. Perhaps reading one essay from this book per week is enough. So glad the weather is warm now.

Still, this is only a small portion of my mind; It’s merely only the passive side. It’s missing the entire creative, active portion: creating public spaces, new media political city art, tools for society, urban material ideas, and so on, for that political end of increasing the freedom for others. I’m happy that such a book exists, but such an academic organization is quite useless compared to an active social organization that continuously deals with society, and the things that come out of the process — the realization of ideas with the aforementioned political ends.

writings on reading

Why Did I Read?
The Kinds of Literature and the Extraction of Ideas

currently interested in

From my ebook playlist:

towards social change via geography:
Society in Time and Space: A Geographical Perspective on Change by Robert Dodgshon
– provides a good overview of the social change debate. The last chapter is the main social change reading, though, the history chapter looks fun too. Other chapters include how culture (and symbolization), built environment, and organization affect social change.

environmental social science:
1.***** The People, Place, and Space Reader
– see this recent thought which was a reaction to the discovery of this selection of essays, which notes the like-mindedness and importance of these essays to my mind
further recommended readings, though there are enough in the introductions to each section of the book
possibly affiliated programs, journals, and organizations
– possible further readings from a school department affiliated with the editors: student and faculty favorites of recommended readings by CUNY environmental psychology program, seems like a great selection, including things like Harvey’s The Condition of Postmodernism, Life a User’s Manual, “The Child in the City”, “The Power of Maps”, Illuminations by Walter Benjamin, and “Nature’s Metropolis”!
– Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture by one of the editors of this book, is another collection

cultural theory readings:
2.*** culture and society: contemporary debates edited by Alexander and Seidman
– seems like a canonical set of essays on culture from sociology, anthropology, critical theorists, Frankfurt School, etc. Easy reads. Should be able to read completely as the essays are quite popular.

natural societies:

towards an ideal society using cases of real societies:
1. anarchism
– Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber
– contains possible contemporary political directions in a straightforward way
— leads to other books by Graeber
— synthesizes autonomous societies and anthropology
?. The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange by Kojin Karatani
– whoa

1. existing autonomous societies / anarchist anthropology
– Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity and Meaningful Work and Play by James C. Scott
– The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia by James C. Scott
– Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology by Pierre Clastres
– Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey
– not really autonomous, maybe even dependent, but super interesting

1. The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
1. essays that involve “spontaneous order” by Michael Polanyi

classic anthropology cannon:
1. anthropology
– especially The Protestant Ethic, The Gift, and Debt

1. anything by Dewey

1. fun in critical theory
– especially The Society of the Spectacle

1. aesthetics in critical theory
– especially Walter Benjamin, Marshal McLuhan

1. core critical theory

1. critical theory list mostly influenced by my desire to understand cities and the world from my experience, most of which happened to capitalistic
?. Figures of Dissent by Terry Eagleton
– cannot find :(
1. Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Stephen Bronner
1. “Traditional and Critical Theory” from Critical Theory: Selected Essays by Max Horkheimer
2. “The Right to the City” by David Harvey (2008, Henri Lefebvre’s in in 1968)
3. The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs (1961)
4. the political portion of Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
– the rest of his work is limited to spoken and written language
4. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere by Jurgen Habermas (1962)
5. Social Justice and the City by David Harvey (1973)
– almost requires Marx
5. State, Space, World: Selected Essays by Henri Lefebvre
6. Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey
7. Marx: A Very Short Introduction by Peter Singer
7. The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx by Alex Callinicos
8. The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
9. Place: A Short Introduction
10. How Nonviolent Struggle Works by Gene Sharp

practical handbooks

WARNING: stop, think, do, repeat.

– in what public spaces do people participate for this in Taiwan?
*. Cypherpunks by Julian Assange
1. How Nonviolent Struggle Works by Gene Sharp
– leads to The Politics of Nonviolent Action series by Gene Sharp
Swarmwise by Rick Falkvinge

design and technology:
– probably better to regular hackerspaces and workshops in the city
Make series by Charles Platt
Practical Electronics for Inventors by Paul Scherz
The Art of Electronics by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill
MIT Press’s Essential Knowledge series
– Wikipedia is probably better than this

values and ideals

WARNING: perhaps you’re just unable to do things. No, that’s paradoxical. How about comparing your values and ideals with Wikipedia, in hopes of practically doing things to achieve them?

Wikipedia articles:
values and ideals:






—- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_innovation










WARNING: remind yourself not to read before reading.

1. Having an Experience [essay] by John Dewey, the philosopher-king of experience
– leads to pragmatism
2. Art as Experience by John Dewey
– can continue to aesthetics in critical theory
3. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by Hume
– can try other British empericists

urban experience (also urban semiotics):
0. these essays
– also The People, Place, and Space Reader, though probably impossible to find, table of contents is available online and seems amazing, covering many urban topics
1. Image and the City by Kevin Lynch
2. Walkable City by Jeff Speck
?. Baudelaire’s Media Aesthetics: The Gaze of the Flâneur and 19th-Century Media

urban experience and early marxist geography?:
1. Urban Experience (combines Consciousness and the Urban Experience, and The Urbanization of Capital) by David Harvey
– leads to marxist geography?

marxist geography (aka David Harvey):
-1. watch his lectures first!
0. “Right to the City” by David Harvey
1. Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey
– most recent overview, containing many old ideas
1. State, Space, World: Selected Essays by Henri Lefebvre
2. Social Justice and the City by David Harvey
Antipode journal
[The Condition of Post-Modernity is elsewhere]
[Limits to Capital and Companion to Marx’s Capital is elsewhere]

human geography:
1. Place: A Short Introduction
For Space by Doreen Massey

urban experience and urban planning:
1. The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
– leads to The Economy of Cities
?. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces by William H. Whyte


WARNING: okay, so you’re not feeling so practical. Perhaps you’re just unable to create an experience at the moment, out of creative energy, and just need media to push you to be more active. Well, for that, it’s better to just watch a film. Don’t you dare go further!

fun in critical theory

contemporary fun:
game philosophy and design:
0. Babycastles Zine Reading Lounge
1. Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
2. Rules of Play by Katie Sellen and Eric Zimmerman
Art of Game Design by Jessie Schell
MIT Press’s Playful Thinking series
– Play Matters by Miguel Sicart
MIT Press’s Game Histories series

magical realism fiction:
*. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
*. Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman
1. Collected Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borjes
1. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino?

travel books:
current travel books, especially for the country I am in
Book of the Marvels of the World by Marco Polo
?/Italian Journey by Goethe
The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson

*. The Essays by Francis Bacon
1. The Complete Essays by Montaigne and translated by Donald A. Frame
2. Essays and Letters by Seneca
– leads to Montaigne
3. Essays by Emerson
4. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell
?. The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
?. Consequences Of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980 by Richard Rorty
– leads to Philosophy and Social Hope by Richard Rorty

formal system (to help express ideas within a formal system):
1. Euclid’s Elements (might as well learn some geometry too?)
2. Spinoza’s Ethics (just to glance at an application)

vocabulary / glossaries:
Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society by Raymond Williams
A Glossary of Cultural Theory by Peter Brooker
– saw at NTU’s library, seems like a great way to gain ideas through words which should help express ideas in a human language
– mentions influence of Keywords in the beginning

games and math:
On Numbers and Games by John Conway


WARNING: maybe you just traveled a bunch via scooter and have visions of utopia. Emblazon them onto a medium quickly! Etch out those crazy ideas. Don’t you dare compare your visions with other’s. You will lose the memory of it soon.

city history:
The City in History by Lewis Mumford

Design and Planning:
urban design (especially ideal designs):
1. A Pattern Language and Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander (read together)
– leads to SimCity 2000
2. Design with Nature – Ian McHarg
– “ecological design” that may go well with A Pattern Language
?/3. City as Landscape – Tom Turner
– “post-postmodern” design

urban design and public spaces:
1. Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space by Jan Gehl
– leads to many well-received books of his, culminating in Cities for People

“land ethic”:
A Sand Country Almanac by Aldo Leopold (referenced in A Pattern Language, listed under Columbia’s 2015 syllabus, and fits Taiwan’s ideology)
post-scarcity economy and other utopias

contemporary philosophy

WARNING: if the thought of reading one of these occurs, you must either be suffering from sensory deprivation, or, nearly completely lost all sensational experience and social connections from the real world.

Dialectic (the opposite of experience?):
1. The Great Conversation: The Substance Of A Liberal Education by Mortimer J. Adler
– leads to The Great Ideas: A Lexicon of Western Thought
2. Dialectic by Mortimer J. Adler
3. Dialogues by Plato
– particularly those involving Socrates
4. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea by Arthur O. Lovejoy

*. Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky
– alternative: The Essential Chomsky

philosophy of mind / cognition / cognitive science:
1. Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman
Metaphors We Live By George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

media theory:
aesthetics in critical theory

contemporary anthropology:
*. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
1. Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber
– leads to Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire
– leads to Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination
– leads to Debt
– leads to important things to think about related to anarchism
4. Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber
5. The Western Illusion of Human Nature by Marshall Sahlins
6. The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange by Kojin Karatani
?. Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti

classic anthropology:
1. The Gift by Marcel Mauss
– leads to Debt
1. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber
– part of Columbia Curriculum
2. The Interpretation Of Cultures by Geertz
3. Tristes Tropiques by Claude Levi-Strauss
Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
– also listed under game philosophy
The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

“political economy”, “comparative politics”:
x. classic ecnomists (Smith, Malthus, Mill, etc.)
– eh
?. Montesquieu
1. Tocqueville
2. Marx

contemporary sociology:
Sociology: A Very Short Introduction by Steve Bruce
Central Problems in Social Theory by Anthony Giddens

critique of technology:
The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul
Technics and Civilization by Lewis Mumford

critical theory

1. A Very Short Introduction to Critical Theory
Introducing Critical Theory
2. Culture and Materialism by Raymond Williams
– intro to Verso Books Radical Thinkers series
Critical Theory Today by Lois Tyson
Left Hemisphere: Mapping Contemporary Theory by Verso Books
*. ideas of Marx, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Lacan, and more?

s/1. Marx: A Very Short Introduction by Peter Singer
– skipped
s/1. Engels: A Very Short Introduction by Tarrell Carver
– skipped
s/2. The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx by Alex Callinicos
– skipped
3. Marx-Engels Reader
– use this beginner list from the Marxists Internet Archive for ordered and selected readings, and furthermore a selection from the people who created that website
— started here with the beginner list
4. Capital, Volume 1 by Karl Marx
– can read with A Companion to Marx’s Capital by David Harvey
– leads to Marxist autonomism
– leads to The Limits to Capital by David Harvey
– leads to Deciphering Capital: Marx’s Capital and Its Destiny by Alex Callinicos
– required for most of critical theory
5. Deciphering Capital: Marx’s Capital and Its Destiny by Alex Callinicos
– includes David Harvey and other contemporaries
6. The Limits to Capital by David Harvey
?. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy by Joseph Schumpeter
– “creative destruction”
?. Prison Notebooks by Antonio Gramsci
?. History and Class Consciousness by Lukacs

core critical theory:
*. an interview with Rick Roderick
*. The Self Under Siege: Philosophy In The Twentieth Century by Rick Roderick (also available through The Great Courses)
1. Critical Theory: Selected Essays by Max Horkheimer
– especially “Traditional and Critical Theory”
2. Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
3. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere by Jurgen Habermas
4?. Eclipse of Reason by Max Horkheimer
– leads to Dialectic of Enlightenment, but maybe not needed
4. Dialectic of Enlightenment by Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer
– leads to Habermas
5. Critique of Instrumental Reason: Lectures and Essays Since the End of World War II (Verso Books Radical Thinkers) by Max Horkheimer
– more simple material
5. One-Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse
6. The Culture Industry [essays] by Theodore Adorno
– maybe should read Tocqueville: A Very Short Introduction first
?. Minima Moralia by Theodore Adorno
New Left Review journal
?. On the Logic of the Social Sciences by Jurgen Habermas
?. MIT Press’s Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought series
– seems to continue elaborating around Habermas’s subjects: some combination of critical theory, pragmatism, communication, and public life

Responses to Dialectic of Enlightenment, One-Dimensional Man, instrumental rationality and whatever that opposes it (nature? individual self-organization?):
Rick Roderick’s’ lectures on Marcuse and Habermas
Alan Watts: The Discipline of Zen
Alan Watts: Buddhism and Science

Freudo-Marxism in critical theory:
1. The Art of Being by Erich Fromm
– out of interest, and out of order
2. Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm
3. Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud by Herbert Marcuse
4. The Sane Society by Erich Fromm

Post-Marxism and contemporary critical theorists:
it includes Althusser, David Harvey, Slavoj Zizek, Jameson, Derrida, Baudrillard, Badiou, Hardt and Negri, some of whom are elsewhere on this page, and if it is too large thrown under contemporary totalities, also the wiki for Post-Marxism for a longer list of Post-Marxists
Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses by Louis Althusser
– leads to Sublime Object of Ideology, though the idea of ideology is probably enough
1. The Sublime Object of Ideology Slavoj Zizek
– leads to Parallax View by Slavoj Zizek
– which then leads to MIT Press’s Short Circuits series
1. “Culture” by Fredric Jameson

fun in critical theory:
1. The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord
x/2. Critique of Everyday Life by Henri Lefebvre
– 900 pages, no thanks
3. Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem

aesthetics in critical theory:
1. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin
– leads to Understanding Media by Herbert Marshall McLuhan
– which in turn leads to The System of Objects, The Ecstasy of Communication, Simulations by Jean Baudrillard
2. Aesthetics and Politics (Verso Books Radical Thinkers series) by people from the The Frankfurt School
3. Walter Benjamin’s Archive: Images, Texts, Signs (Verso Books) by Walter Benjamin
4. Aesthetic Theory by Theodor Adorno

other critical things:
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
– part of the Columbia Curriculum
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Friere
Dialogues by Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet

philosophy of social science:
?. On the Logic of the Social Sciences by Jurgen Habermas
?. The New Science by Giambattista Vico
– the following three are from Googling the above two books:
?. Prospects for a Theory of Radical History chapter of Interpretation Radical but Not Unruly by Joseph Margolis
?. Interpretive Social Science: A Second Look by Paul Rabinow
?. Surviving the Twentieth Century: Social Philosophy from the Frankfurt School to the Columbia Faculty Seminars by Judith Marcus
?. [Rorty fits here too]

————- (end of critical theory)

selected contemporary political philosophy


an anti-state communism curriculum
Semiotext(e) / Interventions series

1. AK Press Working Classics series
2. Reddit’s anarchy101 canon
3. a goodreads list
– On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky
– Anarchism by Emma Goldman
– Direct Action: An Ethnography by David Graeber
?. Wikipedia list of books about anarchism
– What is Property? by Proudhon
– Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
– The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy
– etc.

1. Autonomia: Post-Political Politics by Sylvère Lotringer
Empire by Negri and Hardt
– leads to two more books in the series
1. The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy by Franco Bifo Berardi
– seems especially interesting

anarchist anthropology and cases of autonomous societies, especially in Asia-Pacific:
1. The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia by James C. Scott
– also Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance
– also Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts
– also Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity and Meaningful Work and Play
1. Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology by Pierre Clastres
2. Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians by Pierre Clastres

self-organization (the philosophy of organization?):
1. The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander
– leads to A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
– leads to The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
1. essays that involve “spontaneous order” by Michael Polanyi

post-scarcity economy and other utopias

1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth
2. The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein
– leads to Sacred Economics, lived in Taiwan
3. The Zeitgeist Movement Defined: Realizing a New Train of Thought
4. The Best That Money Can’t Buy: Beyond Politics, Poverty & War
Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein

contemporary totalities

WARNING: for use in prison only
0. The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt
– looks great, but can probably skip to Harvey
1. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change by David Harvey
2. Architecture as Metaphor by Kojin Karatini
3. Parallax View by Slavoj Zizek
4. Transcritique: On Kant and Marx by Kojin Karatini

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro

classic philosophy

WARNING: aside from Hume, Kant, Dewey, and maybe an intro to Roy Bhasker, these may be useless

classic (and some contemporary):
history of philosophy:
*The Great Ideas of Philosophy by Daniel N. Robinson a la The Great Courses
A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
*A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
*A New History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny
A Short History of Chinese Philosophy by Feng YouLan
– use as a guide to his larger History of Chinese Philosophy

Philosophy: The Classics published by Nigel Warburton (Routledge)
– good to skim over ideas from classics and choose the pertinent ones

The epistemological readings from Contemporary Civilization class syllabus (a part of Columbia’s Core Curriculum) and the epistemology section of reddit’s philosophy reading list
*. The Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
– introduction up to analytic epistomology
– from Descartes to Hume, possibly stopping before Kant, and ignoring analytic logic, especially Scottish Enlightenment (Reid and Hume)
– leads to pragmatism
a possible source: MIT Press’s Readers in Contemporary Philosophy

1. On the Nature of Things by Lucretius

rationalism, [British] empiricism, direct realism, and Kant:
*. Discourse on the Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy by Descartes [rationalism]
?. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by Locke [empiricism]
?. Berkeley [empiricism]
1. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume empiricism]
– maybe need to read Locke’s essay first, but try this first anyway
?. Inquiry into the Human Mind by Thomas Reid [direct realism]
2. The Critique of Pure Reason by Kant
– the Wikipedia article seems to suffice: the historical bits, Transcendental Aesthetic, and Transcendental Analytic
?. Mill

1. Having an Experience [essay] by John Dewey
– leads to Experience and Nature, Art as Experience, Experience and Education, Democracy and Education (though, these are super obvious ideas)
– personal choice
2. Art as Experience by John Dewey
– personal choice
3. “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” by Charles Pierce
– foundation of canon, maybe from some essay collection
4. Pragmatism by William James
– concise lecture on the main concept
5. this excellent Wikipedia article on Instrumentalism contains Dewey and Popper debate
6. Pragmatism: An Introduction by Michael Bacon
– surveys pragmatism and the future of it (neo-pragmatism, etc.)
– can’t find
6. American Philosophy before Pragmatism by Russell B. Goodman
– possible alternative?
?. The Social Psychology of George Herbert Mead edited by Anselm Strauss
?. Mind, Self, and Society by George Herbert Mead
?. Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness
– precursor to process philosophy
?. An Introduction to Metaphysics by Henri Bergson
?. Matter and Memory by Henri Bergson
– Bergson’s best, doubles as film theory

1. Consequences Of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980 by Richard Rorty
– leads to Philosophy and Social Hope (essays) by Richard Rorty

critical realism:
1. Critical Realism: An Introduction to Roy Bhaskar’s Philosophy by Andrew Collier
2. Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation by Margaret Scotford Archer
– could not find

1. Meaning by Michael Polanyi
2. Personal Knowledge by Michael Polanyi
3. Tacit Dimension by Michael Polanyi

political philosophy:
The political readings from Contemporary Civilization class syllabus (a part of Columbia’s Core Curriculum) and the political section of reddit’s philosophy reading list
– from Plato to Nozick, especially those related to idealism, anarchism, and autonomy for the development of an autonomous state. Or simply skip to contemporary political philosophy. Or just skip to Marx, [because] the rest of this is ideal bullshit. Or skip entirely and rely on personal experience.
*. Marx and Engels
1. Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel
– covers most of things things below, except Habermas
1. The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas by Lawrence Cahoone a la The Great Courses
– covers all and beyond Habermas
2. political theory sections of Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
?. The Republic by Plato
?. Politics by Aristotle
?. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
– only read summary of ideas
?. the second treatise of Two Treatises of Government by John Locke
– for property and slavery related things
?. Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract by Rousseau
?. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
*. “Answering the Question: What Is Enlightenment?” by Kant
*. “Perpetual Peace” by Kant
?. Theory of Justice by John Rawls
– use Wikipedia instead. “Justice as Fairness” is listed under recommended readings in the Columbia Curriculum
?. Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Robert Nozick

moral philosophy (aka [normative] ethics):
– from Aristotle to Scanlon, especially Kant’s idealism for public space ethics. May be better to ignore it all and rely on my own ideals.
*. Philosophy and Human Values lecture by Rick Roderick (also available through The Great Courses)
1. Quest for Meaning: Values, Ethics, and the Modern Experience by Robert H. Kane a la The Great Courses
– covers most, not including Habermas
1. “discourse ethics” section of Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
2. Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
3. Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals by Kant

Philosophy of Life, Existentialism, etc.:
– “Inspired by the critique of rationalism in the works of Arthur Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche, it emerged in 19th-century Germany as a reaction to the rise of positivism and the theoretical focus prominent in much of post-Kantian philosophy”
– Probably should avoid and stick to pragmatism.
x. Friedrich Nietzsche
– On the Genealogy of Morals, 200 pages, includes ascetism, but seems very simple
x. Arthur Schopenhauer
– The World as Will and Representation is huge, only read Wikipedia article or some kind of summary of ideas
x. Søren Kierkegaard
– The World as Will and Representation is huge, only read Wikipedia article or some kind of summary of ideas
?. Henri Bergson
?. The Philosophy of Life and Death: Ludwig Klages and the Rise of a Nazi Biopolitics by Nitzan Lebovic
1. Simmel on Culture: Selected Writings by George Simmel
– “Simmel was a precursor of urban sociology, symbolic interactionism and social network analysis.”
?. Wilhelm Dilthey

resources for general contemporary Left politics:
a very good goodreads list

resources for urban planning:

resources for critical theory:
1. a goodreads list
– great list, unorganized

reddit reading list for critical theory
– great list to go along Wikipedia article

The Verso Undergraduate Reading List
goodreads list

list of radical left publications
Verso Books Radical Thinkers series

Critical Theory for beginners reading list
– Very Short Introduction series by Oxford University Press
– Routledge Critical Thinkers series
Introducing… series
– Left Hemisphere: Mapping Contemporary Theory by Verso Books

The School of Life
– youtube videos
– book of life

5 critical theory lecture series blog post
– EGS youtube including Manuel De Landa, Wes Cecil, Paul Fry, Rick Roderick, David Harvey

MIT book series

goodreads list to frame thinking

1000 little hammers, contains some ebooks on critical theory, especially Situationist International

resources for art and aesthetics:

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