Timeless Ideas | October 17, 2020

Here’s your weekly dose of timeless ideas to sharpen your mind, make smarter decisions, and live better.

Quotes

I.

All our reasoning comes down to surrendering to feeling.

― Blaise Pascal


II.

It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.

― Marcus Aurelius


III.

What hits you affects you and wakes you up more then what pleases you.

― Michel de Montaigne

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Ideas

I.

If you view everything through the lens of fear, then you tend to stay in retreat mode. You can just as easily see a crises or problem as a challenge, an opportunity to prove your mettle, the chance to strengthen and toughen yourself, or a call to collective action. By seeing it as a challenge, you will have converted this negative into a positive purely by a mental process that will result in positive action as well.

Robert Greene in The 50th Law


II.

The best way to verify that you are alive is by checking if you like variations. Remember that food would not have a taste if it weren’t for hunger; results are meaningless without effort, joy without sadness, convictions without uncertainty, and an ethical life isn’t so when stripped of personal risks.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb in Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder


III.

What I'm sure of is that you can't be happy without money. That's all. I don't like superficiality and I don't like romanticism. I like to be conscious. And what I've noticed is that there's a kind of spiritual snobbism in certain 'superior beings' who think that money isn't necessary for happiness. Which is stupid, which is false, and to a certain degree cowardly.... For a man who is well born, being happy is never complicated. It's enough to take up the general fate, only not with the will for renunciation like so many fake great men, but with the will for happiness. Only it takes time to be happy. A lot of time. Happiness, too, is a long patience. And in almost every case, we use up our lives making money, when we should be using our money to gain time. That's the only problem that's ever interested me.... To have money is to have time. That's my main point. Time can be bought. Everything can be bought. To be or to become rich is to have time to be happy, if you deserve it.

Albert Camus

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Articles Worth Reading

I.

Why read Boethius today?

John Marenbon | Aeon

For nearly a millennium, The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius was a bestseller throughout Europe. Yet now the work is the preserve of scholarly medievalists. Unlike Plato’s dialogues, for instance, or René Descartes’s Meditations, it no longer seems to carry a broad philosophical appeal. But, if read carefully, in its historical and literary context, it should. The Consolation is a far more subtle work than it at first seems to be. While the medieval audience, for the most part, responded to its more obvious features, its hidden complexities and subtleties are what can open its appeal to readers now.


II.

Reading Thomas Jefferson’s Bible

James Parker | The Atlantic

Was Thomas Jefferson an atheist? Jefferson never identified himself as such, of course. But as news of Jefferson’s election victory spread, there were reports that pious housewives in New England were burying their family Bibles for protection, or hiding them down wells. As it turned out, Jefferson attacked only one copy of the Bible: his own. Not with fire, but with a razor. And not in an act of dizzy desecration, but with a kind of serrated—slightly crazed?—reasonableness. He cut and he pasted. He edited and he redacted. He called the resulting text—a collage of verses from the New Testament—The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. We know it as the Jefferson Bible.


III.

Does Social Media Poison Everything?

Scott Koenig | Nautilus

Is social media wreaking havoc in ways that we lab rats have only just begun to understand? At least, that’s the case Netflix’s new documentary The Social Dilemma, directed by Jeff Orlowski, makes. Websites that began as ostensibly innocent attempts to bring people closer together have since mutated into sophisticated, self-teaching attention-harvesting machines that are getting better and better at keeping us glued to our devices. The nefarious algorithms at work analyze our online activity to build a detailed model of our preferences. They then use these to spoon-feed us personalized content and cleverly timed notifications, all in service of selling valuable ad space.

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