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Only the educated are free

We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free. – Epictetus, Roman philosopher and former slave, Discourse

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Word of the Day

obsequious
adjective
1: attempting to win favor from influential people by flattery
synonym: bootlicking, fawning, sycophantic, toadyish
2: attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner

Etymology

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Word of the Day

Weregild
noun
1: The price of a man’s head; a compensation paid of a man killed, partly to the king for the loss of a subject, partly to the lord of a vassal, and partly to the next of kin. It was paid by the murderer.
Also written weregeld, weregelt.

Wer is apparently a man, gild is the price paid.

Wer also explains the part of werewolf, or man + wolf.

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Bertand Russell Quote

Insight, untested and unsupported, is an insufficient guarantee of truth. – Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (1929)

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Word of the day

philhellenism
noun
1: admiration for Greece and the Greeks and Greek customs

Etyomology

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Euripides Quote

The mind of man – how far will it advance?  Where will its daring impudence find limits?  If human villainy and human life shall wax in due proportion, if the son shall always grow in wickedness past his father, the gods must add another world to this that all the sinners may have space enough. – Euripides, Hyppolytus (428 B.C.)

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Charles Darwin Quote

[I]gnorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science. – Charles Darwin, Introduction, The Descent of Man (1871)

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Word of the Day: aureole

noun
1: the outermost region of the sun’s atmosphere; visible as a white halo during a solar eclipse
synonym: corona
2: an indication of radiant light drawn around the head of a saint 
synonym: aura, halo, nimbus, glory, gloriole
Etymology

Now you know what that glow around the heads of saints in stainglass windows is called.

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Purpose

I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose over the last several years.  (Forgive my ramblings, I’ve not much sleep this morning.)  I don’t believe any of us are “put” here for a reason.  While some may see this as a dreary view and render life as meaningless, I disagree.  I like (a) not having the pressure of fulfilling someone else’s purpose, (b) the fun of discovering life without a preconceived notion, (c) the ability to take a blank slate and create my own picture, and (d) the ability to choose what I want to do.  It’s not life without meaning, but the joyful, frustrating, painful search of discovery to define for myself meaning.

I often here people speak of events, then say it happened for a reason.  There is nothing wrong in learning something from a random event.  Sometimes when we are stuck, the smallest thing can happen and in some way “dislodge” our thoughts so they can flow freely again.  But understand, what happened didn’t happen for that reason.  When leaders lied to me in the Army, why were they lying?  To benefit themselves.  At no time did I assign higher meaning to these events.  It’s not to say I didn’t learn from them, I did.  What I learned was, if it’s important, they’re lying.  A rather caustic view, but one that will save me in the future.  Does that mean I disbelieve everything told to me, nope.  But when it’s important, like beliefs or when money is involved or something could impact me negatively, I proceed with caution.

Still think events happen to teach only you something?  Think of it this way, 9/11 didn’t happen so someone, or even thousands, could learn a lesson, it happened because of vehement hatred.  We all came away with new and profound thoughts and experiences that will influence us for the rest of our lives.  We all didn’t learn the same lesson.

Life is not without purpose, we give it purpose.

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How to think about weird things

There’s no such thing as objective truth. We make our own truth. There’s no such thing as objective reality. We make our own reality. There are spiritual, mystical, or inner ways of knowing that are superior to our ordinary ways of knowing. If an experience seems real, it is real. If an idea feels right to you, it is right. We are incapable of acquiring knowledge of the true nature of reality. Science itself is irrational or mystical. It’s just another faith or belief system or myth, with no more justification than any other. It doesn’t matter whether beliefs are true or not, as long as they’re meaningful to you.

a summary of New Age beliefs, from Theodore Schick, Jr. and Lewis Vaughn
How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age
(Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1995)


WTF!!!  I usually try to post quotes I agree with, but there is a lot of crazy … stuff … out there.  The mind is fully capable of fooling itself and experiencing things that are not real, i.e. hallucinations.  If I’m on a long road trip and I’ve been driving too long, let’s say 20 hours, and I start seeing mermaids swimming in the road and I swerve to avoid them and crash my car.  Can I honestly state that the experience which seemed real was real?

I had a friend drop acid in high school.  The school band was playing and he could see blue music notes coming out of the conductors wand.  I of course couldn’t.  Were they really there?  No.  I had a co-worker that people just didn’t like, when told this, his response was, “Well, in my internal reality…”   WTF!

While our perceptions of reality are different, the mind is capable of fooling itself.  What is perceived is not always reality.  Reality exists external to us and we have only our perceptions by which to interpret and interact with it.  The last sentence I can almost agree with, I can’t agree with granting carte blanche to everything we think.  “What’s the harm in crazy beliefs?” you might be saying.  Well, Jonestown, Heaven’s Gate, and numerous other doomsday cults, think of the wealth of cataclysmic prophesies (remember the Mayan calendar), just to name a few.  What if a loved one, or your child, fell for one of these and spent all their money trying to find a way to survive the coming catastrophe, or killed themselves to hitch a ride on an alien ship?  Would you mock them the way you might mock a stranger?  I think not.

Things can be meaningful to you, and that will influence you, but you cannot let them control you.

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