Showing posts from May, 2020

The Meaning of Life

One way of defining aesthetic materialism is to say that to be a materialist is to be in favor of opposition. The meaning of life is the life of meaning - that is, the way that meaning is alive - the way that meaning changes, the way that meaning grows, the way meaning duplicates, the way meaning reproduces itself, the way meaning metabolizes the world, the way meaning varies, and evolves, and adapts. Any attempt to freeze the meaning of life, to say, "the meaning of life is this ," as some fixed, determinate content - any attempt to stop the meaning of life from changing - will kill meaning, because in order to be alive, meaning will always change. The meaning of life is for meaning to replicate endlessly, in as many different varieties as possible, as many meanings as there can possibly be, each one a meaningful meaning, a profoundly different perspective, a new worldview. To put it differently, the meaning of life is to maximize dissent. Dissent is the way that we

The "National Question"

[The following was written on facebook in response to the philosopher Alonzo Fyfe, who had written a post about how the main reason he opposed socialism was because, in his view, socialism is almost always nationalistic.] From the 19th century through the 1920s and beyond, there was intense and fascinating debate within the socialist world on what was called "the national question." Socialism and communism had initially grown out of nationalist movements, though they were forms of nationalism quite different that what we see today, or what we saw in the 20th century. The very word "nationalist" meant something very different from what we now take it to mean. For the most part, these initial "nationalist" movements were movements in favor of liberalism, open borders, an end to tribal rivalries, the merging together of governments, free markets, modernity, science, enlightenment values, human rights, and democracy. Why? Because they started in places like &q

Some Quasi-Hegelian Thoughts about the Two Terrible Strategies

To continue my thoughts about both "terrible strategies": both of these strategies are unconditional.  Rather than speaking about "absolute" vs "relative" systems, it's much more useful and interesting to make a distinction between "conditional" and "unconditional" strategies.  A materialist, interested in the ways that the material world matters, will tend to have far more detailed conditional strategies.  And the development of this kind of conditional thinking is the lion's share of what is called "strategy".  A person that does not think conditionally is not really thinking strategically - they are thinking in terms of moral commandments, like Kant's categorical imperative. The struggle of the conditional against the unconditional is the struggle of meaning against meaninglessness.  I'm tempted to say, "Beliefs without conditions are beliefs without content"... but that, in itself, is a bit o