Author Archives: Suraj Sood

About Suraj Sood

I'm a Ph.D. student focusing on prefiguring our relation with the environment, focusing on global climate change as a case problem. More about me can be gleaned from my other social media profiles.

Walking the middle way of acceptance

At the end of his TEDx Talk, speaker Dylan Woon presents two possibilities following acceptance. These routes are:

1. Live peacefully with the situation

2. Strive actively to change things

Might there be a third, hidden middle route to walk between these two paths? Perhaps one must shift back-and-forth between these options until the new situation solidifies. Whatever mode of existence one has decided on at this point may be the middle way of the accepted reality.

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Balancing power and potential

Potential is the possibility of success. It lies latent, letting us know that we have a chance to succeed someday. How does potential relate to power?

Power and potential can be either rivals or allies. These must be balanced in order to achieve victory and defeat evil.

At any point, potential is the precursor to success. While it does not guarantee victory, it is requisite for such. Power necessitates responsibility, which then gives way to meaning.

Perhaps potential occurs when we gain knowledge of our possibilities for becoming! Then, we must pursue power through the cultivation of skills necessary for reaching our goal. We also need strength to endure tough challenges.

Potential is born from the desire to follow our dreams!

Can we have a science of ourselves?

This question is tantamount to asking whether we can possess knowledge of ourselves. That we can to some extent is trivial, despite the endeavor’s hurdles (many of which–ironically–the human study of psychology has revealed).

We have developed such successful sciences of physics and chemistry due perhaps to our advantage over their subject matter. This is that we have at least a greater degree of consciousness than do particles, waves, and elements.

It may be argued that human scientists have a greater consciousness of people than the average person does. If this is so, then the epistemology of social science is on somewhat comparable grounds to that of physics and chemistry.

However, it is quite probable that human scientists are not so different from laypeople as all people are from physical objects. This represents an asymmetry worth pausing on in answering this post’s question.

 

SpongeBob and phenomenology

When SpongeBob tries explaining “fun” to Plankton, he finds that the only way he can is to sing a song about it.

Some experiences are so fundamental for some of us that conveying them to others linguistically can be tricky.

The trick in these cases is to “live out” the experience in question. This lets the other know what it is like, and how they can experience it.

Of course–spelling a concept out and defining it more elaborately can work, too! But the basic experience has to be felt to understand its real nature.

Keeping the magic alive

I recently watched two video game reviews on YouTube. Both videos made me circumspect about how, for some, the magic in once enjoyable immersion can flounder amidst conflicted feelings.

Keeping the magic alive is something I learned was important at the early school age of 1st grade. I have my teacher to thank for exposing our class to The Polar Express, the popular Christmas story following a boy for whom the magic of the holiday never dies.

Never let the magic in your lives wane! Let your free, childlike spirits relish in delights eternally their birthright. Fear not the condemnation of those for whom “the bell no longer rings”: keep your flame well-tended and lit.

Let the magic of family, life, and friendship grow with each passing year.

Third Noble Truth and Christ

Two insights, each respectively from Buddhism and Christianity, may combine to reveal something important.

The Third Noble Truth of Buddhism states that we can escape the suffering inherent in life (which is acknowledged by the First Truth).

For Christians, though humans are mortal, Jesus Christ’s example can be followed to lead a more virtuous life.

We can transcend life’s suffering by following the examples set by ideal beings: even though they are supernormal!

Jung and Maslow

Carl Jung is represented as having believed that we should render the unconscious conscious. This should be done to free ourselves of the former’s power in defining our beliefs and habits.

One of Abraham Maslow’s 13 self-actualizing characteristics is the superior perception of reality. Do we not achieve the latter by learning about and knowing the contents of our unconscious?

Plato’s cave and Buddhist suffering

Plato used his allegory of the cave to demonstrate man’s attachment to the ideal forms. After spending his life in a cave, coming to the surface and seeing the sun was a new kind of experience.

In Buddhism, it is said that desire is at the root of human suffering.  What if the desire for perfection–i.e., for life to take on the shape of Plato’s forms–is an example of this?

Perhaps proving the Buddha’s noble truth #4, that we can overcome suffering, consists in shedding our fantasy of becoming ideal humans. Assuming this, transhumanism and posthumanism may go too far!

Destiny and free will in anime

In anime series Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, protagonist Judai Yuki duels destiny at least three times.

The first time, he goes on a voyage to rekindle his spirit, infusing his deck with power from outer space (“Neo-Space”) to defeat Edo Phoenix.

Next, Judai defeats Sartorius, antagonist of Season 2 who plays with a deck focused on determining outcomes that favor him and put Judai at a disadvantage. Sartorius wonders beforehand whether Judai is unique in his ability to defy destiny.

In Season 4, Judai and Sartorius duel again. Judai says Sartorius of all people should know that destiny cannot be controlled. This does not stop Sartorius from attempting to determine Judai’s fate: a loss, so that Sartorius’ sister Mizuchi can be saved.

With his back against the wall, and with his destiny all but decided, Judai turns things around with the Monster “Miracle Flipper”. Miracle Flipper allows him to tip the scales and escape Sartorius’ fate-deciding combo and win the duel.

Miracle Flipper’s card art

Judai is simultaneously able to fight destiny, but recognizes the futility of trying to controlling it. Still–he shows that one can overcome seemingly-hopeless situations, ones that may be imposed on us from the outside.

Philosophically, exercising our free will in a deterministic universe consists of choosing between genuine alternative paths (even if the end is already decided). If destiny cannot be controlled, determinism’s role is set in stone.

Perhaps being able to affirm our free will and win life’s games means pulling out a miracle when losing seems inevitable?