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Nov
2nd
Sat
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Genius is often only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it — so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success.

As the tide goes clear out, so it comes clear in. In business sometimes prospects may seem darkest when really they are on the turn. A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.
Elbert Hubbard, was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher (1856-1915), as quoted from Electrical Review (c. 1895), this was later published as part of various works by Hubbard, including FRA Magazine : A Journal of Affirmation (1915)
Jul
2nd
Tue
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David Deutsch on Fallibilism


“The fact is, there’s nothing infallible about “direct experience” (…). Indeed, experience is never direct. It is a sort of virtual reality, created by our brains using sketchy and flawed sensory clues, given substance only by fallible expectations, explanations, and interpretations. Those can easily be more mistaken than the testimony of the passing hobo. (…)

This logic of fallibility, discovered and rediscovered from time to time, has had profound salutary effects in the history of ideas. Whenever anything demands blind obedience, its ideology contains a claim of infallibility somewhere; but wherever someone believes seriously enough in that infallibility, they rediscover the need for reason to identify and correctly interpret the infallible source. (…)

[Popper]: [A]ll ‘sources’ are liable to lead us into error at times. And I propose to replace, therefore, the question of the sources of our knowledge by the entirely different question: ‘How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?’ (…)

Popper’s answer is: We can hope to detect and eliminate error if we set up traditions of criticism—substantive criticism, directed at the content of ideas, not their sources, and directed at whether they solve the problems that they purport to solve. Here is another apparent paradox, for a tradition is a set of ideas that stay the same, while criticism is an attempt to change ideas. But there is no contradiction. Our systems of checks and balances are steeped in traditions—such as freedom of speech and of the press, elections, and parliamentary procedures, the values behind concepts of contract and of tort—that survive not because they are deferred to but precisely because they are not: They themselves are continually criticized, and either survive criticism (which allows them to be adopted without deference) or are improved (for example, when the franchise is extended, or slavery abolished). Democracy, in this conception, is not a system for enforcing obedience to the authority of the majority. In the bigger picture, it is a mechanism for promoting the creation of consent, by creating objectively better ideas, by eliminating errors from existing ones.

“Our whole problem,” said the physicist John Wheeler, “is to make the mistakes as fast as possible.” (…) [T]hat only means that whenever possible we should make the mistakes in theory, or in the laboratory; we should “let our theories die in our place,” as Popper put it. (…)

[L]essons can be learned to prevent them from happening again. “We are all alike,” as Popper remarked, “in our infinite ignorance.” And this is a good and hopeful thing, for it allows for a future of unbounded improvement.

Fallibilism, correctly understood, implies the possibility, not the impossibility, of knowledge, because the very concept of error, if taken seriously, implies that truth exists and can be found. The inherent limitation on human reason, that it can never find solid foundations for ideas, does not constitute any sort of limit on the creation of objective knowledge nor, therefore, on progress. The absence of foundation, whether infallible or probable, is no loss to anyone except tyrants and charlatans, because what the rest of us want from ideas is their content, not their provenance. (…)

Indeed, infallibilism and nihilism are twins. Both fail to understand that mistakes are not only inevitable, they are correctable (fallibly). Which is why they both abhor institutions of substantive criticism and error correction, and denigrate rational thought as useless or fraudulent. They both justify the same tyrannies. They both justify each other.” “
Apr
6th
Sat
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We say release, and radiance, and roses,
and echo upon everything that’s known;
and yet, behind the world our names enclose is
the nameless: our true archetype and home.
(…)

We grow up; but the world remains a child.
Star and flower, in silence, watch us go.

And sometimes we appear to be the final
exam they must succeed on. And they do.
Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist. Rilke is “widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets,” (1875-1926), Selected Poems, translation by Stephen Mitchell
Apr
4th
Thu
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Most people aren’t trained to want to face the process of re-understanding a subject they already know. One must obtain not just literacy, but deep involvement and re-understanding.
Charles Eames, American designer, who worked in and made major contributions to modern architecture and furniture (1907–1978), cited in Charles Eames in 15 Quotes for His 105th Birthday
Nov
2nd
Fri
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People who are right a lot of the time are people who often changed their minds

“[Jeff Bezos] doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait. It’s perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.

He’s observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a well formed point of view, but it means you should consider your point of view as temporary.

What trait signified someone who was wrong a lot of the time? Someone obsessed with details that only support one point of view. If someone can’t climb out of the details, and see the bigger picture from multiple angles, they’re often wrong most of the time.” “
— Jason Fried, Some advice from Jeff Bezos, 37signals, Oct 19, 2012.
Mar
2nd
Fri
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“The most beautiful and satisfying experiences open to humankind are not derived from the outside, but are bound up with the development of the individual’s own feeling, thinking and acting. The genuine artists, investigators and thinkers have always been persons of this kind. However inconspicuously the life of these individuals runs its course, none the less the fruits of their endeavors are the most valuable contributions which one generation can make to its successors. (…)

Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. One seeks the most general ideas of operation which will bring together in simple, logical and unified form the largest possible circle of formal relationships.” “
Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics, Nobel Prize laureate (1879-1955), Professor Einstein Writes in Appreciation of a Fellow-Mathematician. To the Editor of The New York Times, Princeton University, May 1, 1935.
(Illustration: Albert Einstein sailing his boat on Saranac Lake (Courtesy: The Fantova Collection, Princeton University)
Jan
8th
Sun
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To make a face from marble means to remove from the slab everything that is not the face.
Anton Chekhov, Russian physician, dramatist and author (1860-1904), cited in Lionel Kelly, Anton Checkhov and Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Strategies of Reading, JSTOR: The Yearbook of English Studies, Vol. 26 (1996), pp. 218-231.
Sep
3rd
Sat
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Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it - memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.
Tad Williams, American writer
Aug
5th
Fri
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The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
R. D. Laing, Scottish psychiatrist (1927-1989)
Aug
4th
Thu
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Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.
Isaac Asimov, American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books (1920-1992)
Apr
21st
Thu
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The human brain is the only object in the known universe that can predict its own future and tell its own future. The fact that we can make disastrous decisions even as we foresee their consequences is the great, unsolved mystery of human behavior. When you hold your fate in your hands, why would you ever make a fist?
Dan Gilbert, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He is a social psychologist who is known for his research (with Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia) on affective forecasting, with a special emphasis on cognitive biases such as the impact bias (tnx krestinaholodov)
Mar
27th
Sun
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Sam Keen on renewing our sense of wonder - “Human beings are what I think of as “biomythic” animals: we’re controlled largely by the stories we tell”


Scott London:
“Keen believes that our lives are shaped — and occasionally misshaped — by the stories we tell about ourselves. It’s only by becoming intimately acquainted with these narratives — as they have been handed down from our families, our cultural backgrounds, our religious beliefs — that we can begin to live consciously and, as the Sufi poet Rumi said, “unfold our own myth.” Unless we understand our lives as a kind of autobiography in the making, we’re likely to take refuge in other people’s stories, in ready-made ideologies, and in unexamined systems of belief. (…) The paradox of self-knowledge is that it’s only by confronting the depths of our own ignorance that we can begin to glimpse the essential truth of who we are.

Sam Keen: “I think we’re always in the process of writing and rewriting the story of our lives, forming our experiences into a narrative that makes sense. Much of that work involves demythologizing family myths and cultural myths — getting free of what we have been told about ourselves. I think that critiquing the myths of our society and helping people find their way through them is a very important thing. (…)

Cultures that have a unifying cultural narrative are stable in some ways, but they are also resistant to change. The fact that we don’t have a unifying myth today allows us to create new stories from direct experience.

For the past several years, I’ve been leading groups into Bhutan, a country that has probably the most intact cultural myth of any place I’ve been. It’s an agricultural society where more than ninety percent of the people still own land. The government is a monarchy with a Tibetan Buddhist mythology. For the Bhutanese, reality is simply what it always has been and always will be. In that sense, they are spared the kind of self-doubt that seems part and parcel of our predicament in the West. They are brought up knowing who they are and how the world works. And there is an innocent beauty in that. But there is also a certain foreshortening of experience.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the development of Western thought has washed away more and more of the certainties of our own religious myths. Our pilgrimage has led us deep into unknown territories. We have to re-invent ourselves. That’s a very tiring process and anxious process, but it also grants us a kind of freedom that no other culture has. So for all the chaos that comes from not having an organizing myth, there is also an enormous opportunity for creativity. (…)

In a way, human beings have never been part of the natural order; we’re not biological in the normal sense. Normal biological animals stop eating when they’re not hungry and stop breeding when there is no sense in breeding. By contrast, human beings are what I think of as “biomythic” animals: we’re controlled largely by the stories we tell. When we get the story wrong, we get out of harmony with the rest of the natural order. For a long time, our unnatural beahvior didn’t threaten the natural world, but now it does. (…)

Most of us are fear-avoiders. We worship the god of security. Instead of facing our fears, we walk around with a kind of free-floating anxiety. It’s much more therapeutic to recognize that we have fears and to try to separate out the ones that are reasonable from the ones that are not. I think we have to become connoisseurs of fear. (…)

We have to get beyond our cultural mythology to find out who we are. “Writing my autobiography,” as I call it, necessarily involves demythologizing my family’s history, my culture’s history, and even my own history to get to this deeper layer. So I think it’s increasingly hard to have deep self-knowledge without entering the darkness in some way. (…)

Aristotle said that philosophy begins in wonder. I believe it also ends in wonder. The ultimate way in which we relate to the world as something sacred is by renewing our sense of wonder. That’s why I’m so opposed to the kind of miracle-mongering we find in both new-age religion and old-age religion. We’re attracted to pseudomiracles only because we’ve ceased to wonder at the world, at how amazing it is.” “
Sam Keen (American author, professor and philosopher) interviewed by Scott London, Renewing Our Sense of Wonder: An Interview with Sam Keen. Originally adapted from the public radio series “Insight & Outlook.” It was published in the October 1999 issue of The Sun magazine. It also appears in the book Saga: The Best New Writings on Mythology, (White Cloud Press, 2001). (Illustration source)
Mar
21st
Mon
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The best way to predict the future is to design it.
Buckminster Fuller, American engineer, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983)
Mar
19th
Sat
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The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created—created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.