Man Alive! Chapter 1: You’re in this all alone.

I was pretty pleased with the discussion thread in comments last week when I first posted about this: Man Alive! A Survival Manual For the Human Mind. Because of that, I thought it would be a reasonable thing to do over the next 12 weeks is to put it up chapter by chapter, every Saturday morning, and hash it out over the weekend for those interested. It could be fun and educational. Minds might even be changed, the possibility for which is really the premise of discussion—or should be—in the first place. So here we go. Most chapters are pretty short.


From: Man Alive! A survival manual for the human mind.

by Greg Swann

Chapter 1. You’re in this all alone.

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!

That speech is from Hamlet, of course. Shakespeare, dead four-hundred years, loved your mind much more than does almost anyone alive today. If you read contemporary authors – theologians or philosophers or academics or artists or journalists – they will insist that your reason is either impotent or incompetent, your faculties inept, your simplest movements clumsy and chaotic, your actions and apprehension diabolical, your every attribute a manifestation either of an ugly corruption or of meaningless chance, your very existence an insult to all of existence. You will have to dig through a lot of garbage to find someone who will come right out and say that the universe would be better if the human mind did not exist, but this is the philosophy undergirding modern claims made about humanity.

The culture at large, all over the world, is at war with the human mind – and you don’t know it.

The world you’ve always known is collapsing around you – or has it already collapsed? – and you don’t know why.

Does it occur to you now that those two observations might have something to do with each other?

If we assume that Shakespeare is correct – as Shakespeare’s corpus itself proves! – what might be the objective of all those people hurling insults at your mind? Where might they be hoping to land, as the grand edifices of Western Civilization crumble to rubble? “Cui bono?” – who benefits? The truly awful truth is that no one does. The people lecturing you about how vile you are surely hope to reign over you and to seize your wealth for themselves. But in denigrating the mind they are dismantling the very mechanisms keeping themselves – and you – alive. When we have smothered human reason with bile and invective, all of our lives will be worse – those of us who are lucky enough to stay alive.

But I am not concerned with error, no matter what its motivation. If you read this treatise carefully, I will identify for you a host of egregious philosophical errors, the elucidation of each one of which might be worthy of yet another worthless doctorate degree. But even the most complete catalog of errors will not yield a single useful truth, and an infinite list of vices will not result in even one moment of virtue in your life. I leave error and deception and perversion and spite to the people who love them best. I love the truth and the Splendor I earn only by loving the truth, and I am writing to share with you the essence of my love for the human mind – for your mind.

You’ve been told your whole life that philosophy is hard, too hard for a feeble little mind like yours to apprehend. This is false, and, as you’ll gather as we go along, virtually everything you have been told about the life of the mind is false. Philosophy can be arcane, with lots of big words being tossed around. But most of this is simply a smokescreen: The arguments being propped up by those incomprehensible terms are false – and the philosophers making them know it. They write in an unintelligible jargon in the hope that you will not discover that you are being hustled out of every value your life requires.

This is the truth of your life, concealed from you until now: Each one of us is a philosopher. Most of us, most probably including you, have just been bad at the job. You have surrendered your mind to other people – to theologians or philosophers or academics or artists or journalists – or politicians – and those people have abused your misplaced trust in them. This was villainous on their part, but the error before that one is much worse, and it is no one’s fault but yours: You were a volunteer for your own despoiling. Other people cannot think for you, no matter how much you might wish they could. Take careful note: This includes me. I plan to show you how to do a better job of thinking for yourself, but I can’t think for you, nor would I want to, nor should you want me to.

Here is the most important question in the entire discipline of philosophy, and it is one that you must confront in every moment of your life – in order that you might have a life:

“What should I do?”

That’s the subject matter of the philosophical discipline called ethics, and every professional philosopher will insist that ethics is just a puny little branch of philosophy. What matters, they will declaim, is cosmology (the structure of the universe) or metaphysics (the nature of existence) or epistemology (the theory of knowledge). All of these disciplines, plus many others, are important for building a philosophical system. But why do we build philosophical systems at all? The answer is to be found in the paragraph immediately preceding this one: “What should I do?”

Each individual human being is his own first and best philosopher, like it or don’t, for this simple reason: You are not born knowing how to stay alive, and, absent some sort of cosmic-injustice machine like the Big Mother welfare state, if you don’t figure out what to do – and then do it – you will die. If you do nothing in your own behalf, you will die. If you pursue errors, your own errors or the kind that come with a tony religious or academic pedigree, you will die. If you attempt to exist as an animal does, trying to steal the values you need to survive, you will live in Squalor until one of your would-be victims catches up to you, and then you will die.

What is more, you cannot live the uniquely-human life – the fully-human life – unless you think in your own behalf, in pursuit of your own values. The philosophical or theological doctrine you have followed until now has been aimed, most likely, in the opposite direction: It sought to get you to supplant your own reason with someone else’s dogma, and to pursue that person’s values rather than your own.

Why is Western Civilization collapsing? Because you defaulted on your responsibility to defend it – by defending the values that make your life possible.

But, but, but… We’re all in this together, aren’t we? Wrong. That’s just another hustle, devised to get you to give up everything you have earned so that the person making the claim does not have to earn anything at all. This is the truth of your life, which perhaps no one has ever told you before today:

You’re in this all alone.

You can choose to throw in your lot with a spouse or a friend or your children, but nothing causes or sustains your community except the on-going choices – instantly reversible – of each of the members of that group. And you cannot be a member of any group without your freely-chosen, on-going consent and active participation. And beyond all that, the you that is most fundamentally you is always and necessarily isolated from all other people and all other things. This is a statement of ontology – the philosophy of the factual nature of real things, regardless of what anyone thinks about them. We’ll be coming back to this later, because your fundamental independence from all other people is the most important – and therefore the most deliberately obscured – issue in all of modern philosophy. But for now it suffices to note that other people cannot choose for you for the same reason they cannot think for you – or eat for you: Because you are in this all alone.

I used the word “Splendor” before, and this is a term of art – which means a word I made up. The coinage itself predates my appropriation of it, obviously, but when I capitalize that word, what I mean is a mental state that is possible only to human beings – and “human being” is itself a term of art for me – and only then to human beings who are fully committed to being alive as human beings. I will defend my concept of Splendor as we go along, but for now, if you want a full and fully-captivating experience of the state of mind I aspire to – for you, too, but especially for myself – give your whole mind to the Ode to Joy, the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. That is the fully-human life. I am eager to help you understand what has gone wrong in your life and in the world around you. But my full objective is to teach you what I mean by Splendor and how to identify, achieve and sustain it in your own life.

Here’s some very good news: We are not doomed. We have just been very poor philosophers until now. If you will lend me your mind for a while, I will show you how to get much better results from it, now and enduringly.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Jscott on May 19, 2012 at 15:45


    “The Self” in the Future: Will it be Extinguished, by Neuroscience?

    • marie on May 19, 2012 at 19:53

      Starts with Science and and immediately brings up the Greeks – so of course I started reading this pretty favorably predisposed…but I couldn’t sustain that.
      Maybe it’s about trust, in the end. I have a hard time trusting anyone who tells ‘us’ that our sense of self is illusory…because of the alternative – so, apparently I have an atavistic reaction to the ‘hive’ mentality (yes, it gives me the hives).
      I know the argument is that it doesn’t have to be the opposite ‘extreme’, but that presupposes that there is anything else other than two choices. I just don’t see how that can be, there is no “in-between” , it really is an Either/Or question : Self/Illusion.
      Even though I have to hand it to Merriam for a balanced view about the effects of a ‘sense of self’ on happiness and for attributing dangers to Both the associated Political extremes “all collectivism” vs. “all individualism” (NOT that I believe both are dangerous, just that he was trying to be balanced), I just don’t see how there can ever come about a mixed or a balanced view regarding the existence of self itself (kinda like being “a little” pregnant?).

      • Jscott on May 20, 2012 at 09:30

        I have a book in storage that pointed me to research a bit back about who this narrarator is inside of your…well, heads. I do not have enough terms or memory to google the paper or the book. I will attempt to dig it up.

        Apparently, our views of free-will and self are not essential for us to move forward in creating or cutting paths in life. I find this fascinating and encouraging. I do not need to have exact truth to move. Now, to move effectively and efficiently? Perhaps.

        I wonder if “I” will become the self of less. Much akin to a personal intervening God. As we begin to know more we needed the God of Miscellaneous less.

        “Oh, it isn’t demons? It is brain chemistry imbalance causing that crazy man to be crazy? That blue pill/therapy/whatever solves it so I don’t need to kill my first born to appease the God?”

        Weather, Fertility, good luck, etc.

        I am not sure where my self ends and yourself begins. I am not sure where free will starts and stops. However, the data is rolling down and it looks like it leads to worlds and colors never seen. (Wired’s article on the End of Science is worth a look .

        I still operate on a buddhist principle that if I want to end suffering I must start with my own and my own is caused to my clinched fist around…around everything. The view of me. My beliefs. My lover, friends, and money.

        At the same time I see myself connected to all around. Not in a woo woo type of way but in systems theory approach. On a larger scale my thoughts are close to Sean’s (comment below Though, I do not spend much time thinking about it as late because I am doing the removing of my own suffering thingy.

        This comment was scattered. To sum up: I got a girl a lil bit pregnant once. I was wrong.

      • marie on May 20, 2012 at 11:45

        That’s interesting, Jscott, thank you. I need to spend some time on this but I’m off to a festival right now (it’s sunny in upstate NY!) so please stay tuned. I mean….Wait! 🙂

      • Jscott on May 20, 2012 at 12:48

        lol @ wait. Evs!

        BTW, I LOVE upstate NY. It is where I practiced my freedom before I had it. Brockport first. (Not really upstate but close enough.)

      • marie on May 20, 2012 at 19:19

        lol @ evs – my inner valley girl is rolling her eyes 🙂
        I live 25′ from Brockport – whaddaya mean it ain’t upstate ?!? West upstate is still upstate, humph!
        O.k., now, about that scattered comment (she says, rolling up sleeves…) >
        “Apparently, our views of free-will and self are not essential for us to move forward in creating or cutting paths in life.”
        Don’t believe it! Anything I’ve seen to this effect (and of course there may be others…) seems to conflate free-will and the sense of self with conscious, constant self-awareness and control (of our motivations and our actions). Cognitive neuroscientists especially have a warped heuristic : see Scientific American, current issue (Mary/June 2012) -pg.22 in the paper version. Without realizing it, this particular scientist confuses both will-power with free-will and the ability to lie to oneself with free-will.
        “I am not sure where my self ends and yourself begins.” Hmmm, if I wasn’t so mellow after that music festival on an unexpected summer’s day-eve, I might react to this differently. It requires Imagining (eg. imagining “something larger than me”, or some mind interconnectedness not yet discovered, or…), but the physical (ontological) argument is the only one with any evidence to it, so I’ll still go with that. Myself is wholly contained by my physical body and exists as long as I live, only.
        The end of the scientific method ? Well, data processing isn’t science and certainly neither is statistics. None of these things can replace the scientific method, because at it’s basis is the ‘testable hypothesis’ paradigm. So we gotta test. The answer does not already exist within a vast amount of data that we couldn’t process before the advent of petabytes (and beyond!). So no, science can’t be reduced just to a question-answer endeavor, it isn’t just about looking and finding an answer. Why not? Because we have to Perturb the system we are studying (to test our hypothesis), that is, we have to produce new data. That there is an experiment, so, science.
        … annnnd I’ve run way too long now. Good luck with the end of suffering thingy -sounds perfectly rational, actually 🙂

      • Jscott on May 20, 2012 at 20:19

        TL;DR–you need a blog.

        I did read but these nested threads make replies hard. Reply tomorrow. Meantime? Brockport rocks. I came face to face with jesus in the Saloon there. Downtown. Again at the Pitsford Pub.

        You ran long otherwise. Though your blah blah has merit. Must be answered. Tomororrow. Some of us produce for moneyz.

        I kid.

      • Jscott on May 20, 2012 at 20:32

      • Jscott on May 21, 2012 at 17:51

        My train of thought with freewill/sense of self was not to make a claim as to the “truth of the matter.” More that one can still create change/have influence as an individual without subscribing to the accurate view. Whatever that is. I have NO idea why I brought that up. I am sure it was important. Had to be.

        “I am not sure where my self ends and yourself begins.”
        -Agree in regards to self-efficacy and ontology. I think I was feeling-I am a sensitive man you know-all kumbayaish. Tribal. Maybe residue from your musical festival. I do not subscribe to the notion that we are in this all alone. I take Greg to be steering toward the adage, “If it is to be it is up to me.” Best course of action? Yes.

        As to the end of science (how the feck did I get off on that?)…
        I took it as a speed and modeling issue. Not the end of a methodology. Though, I would make an argument that some accepted ‘soft’ sciences might be put to bed. I for one welcome the day that the DSM is useful for a door stop.

      • marie on May 21, 2012 at 18:38

        “..feeling- I am a sensitive man you know- all kumbayaish.” Oh yeah, I can tell (oops, biting that tongue in cheek now…) .
        “Tribal. Maybe residue from your musical festival. ” -lol! I can relate, I actually hoola-hooped while there – it was that kinda groove, what can I say…well, that and the sun-stroke! Blazing sun and 88degrees in the shade.
        I agree about the family/tribe thing and yes, that course of action is what I got from Greg’s description of “all alone” too.
        Door-stop – you mean that heavy tome has some other use?
        BTW, I liked your Brockport -saloon tale.

      • Jscott on May 22, 2012 at 18:47

        I like your style. You refrain from making points you can make. Instead you make friends. And infuriate people. That is a good combo.

      • marie on May 22, 2012 at 19:00

        Purring….. I respond well to praise you know. 🙂

  2. Kamal Patel on May 19, 2012 at 10:46

    ~An overactive mind is bad. We all have overactive minds and create our own suffering.~

    So goes much of Eastern philosophy. I 100% believe in the most extreme form of this: there is no real “self” and thus egotistic and/or narcissistic people scare the bejeesus out of me.

    “Every time a thought is born, you are born. When the thought is gone, you are gone. But the ‘you’ does not let the thought go, and what gives continuity to this ‘you’ is the thinking. Actually there is no permanent entity in you, no totality of all your thoughts and experiences. You think that there is ‘somebody’ who is thinking your thoughts, ‘somebody’ who is feeling your feelings — that’s the illusion.”
    -UG Krishnamurti

    Love me some esoteric eastern philosophers!

  3. Kamal Patel on May 19, 2012 at 10:50


    ~A FRAGMENTED, overactive mind is bad. We all have FRAGMENTED, overactive minds and TYPICALLY create MUCH of our own suffering.~

  4. Todd on May 19, 2012 at 11:44

    It seems like this will pair nicely with The Flinch ebook you were promoting a few months ago.

    I’m looking forward to reading these chapters every weekend. It’s a good way to break it up and let the masses digest and discuss the info.

    I think one of the biggest things that philosophy has done, whether good, bad, or ugly, has been to think and bring new light/perspective to life’s questions. It doesn’t matter so much what is right or wrong, for I don’t know if you can assign that type of value to philosophical views, but it ultimately allows for an expansion in thought.

    Freethinking, trying to live your life in accordance with your values (thinking about your cousin), and putting an honest effort into each day to improve is really all you can ask, right?

    • Richard Nikoley on May 19, 2012 at 11:58

      “putting an honest effort into each day to improve is really all you can ask, right?”

      I think that’s a pretty good way to approach life

  5. Trish on May 19, 2012 at 14:38

    Trying WAY too hard, but the writing’s decent.

    /likes “Ode To Joy”
    //also likes Rammstein

  6. Tim on May 19, 2012 at 22:06

    Interesting, but remember that Shakespeare’s plays were considered the 16th Century equivalent of Desperate Housewives. Until the Canon absorbed them.

    I’m not picking a fight, but just giving you something to consider (and to refute, which will make your thesis stronger): you seem to lament the downfall of Western civilization and imply that current culture is inferior. Yet at the same time you are promoting every man to be his own philosopher.

    The two pieces of culture you reference (Shakespeare and Beethoven) in a positive light are products of an aesthetic system that privileges (and is controlled by) an intellectual elite. Contemporary “crap” culture (I don’t think of it as such-in 400 years The Simpsons and Eminem will be part of the Canon that bores the pants off of the future’s mainstream) is, in fact, the end result of the democratization and monetization of art and philosophy that you seem to be advocating.

    Just something to consider…

    • Sean on May 20, 2012 at 06:13

      Okay, Richard, you’ve finally managed to hook me in. I’ve not read the book fully but I watched the interview from last week. Greg comes across as a sharp, interesting guy on the video, and his ideas about the self and the hypocrisy of pretending selflessness are spot on.

      I agree with a lot of what he has to say, but when taken to the extreme it becomes its own dogma, in my opinion, that everything can be reduced these first principles. I have this problem with moral philosophy in general, it always seems to end up that there are no gray areas, we’ve got that shit all sorted out.

      An example:

      Recall that much of parenting consists of invoking the subjunctive – worlds not in evidence – to induce a child to identify and reflect upon the unhappy consequences of bad behavior: “Would you like it if little Sally broke your toy?
      There is nothing morally wrong with a child wanting to live his own life in his own way, and so the purpose of those kinds of treacly, smarmy appeals is not just a topical injustice – pushing you around in the immediate moment – but the inculcation of a doctrine of moral evil – selflessness.

      First of all, a kid absolutely does not have the moral right to live his own life in his own way. On the contrary, I have the moral right (whatever that means) to try and teach him to control his baser instincts (like lashing out physically, engage in wonton cruelty, or to mindlessly follow or conform with his peers).

      Secondly, when my kid does something assholish, I’m quite likely to say something to make him feel guilty for his behavior or perhaps just to encourage him to be more empathetic. Encouraging my kid to be more empathetic is not the same as teaching him hypocritical selflessness. Shame, guilt and empathy are valid emotions that help us to be the successful social animals we are today. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t have been with us for so long. You can shame a dog, but you can’t shame a cat.

      This sort of Noble Savage Youth myth reminds me of Emerson:

      The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner, and would disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one, is the healthy attitude of human nature. A boy is in the parlour what the pit is in the playhouse; independent, irresponsible, looking out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences them on their merits, in the swift, summary way of boys, as good, bad, interesting, silly, eloquent, troublesome. He cumbers himself never about consequences, about interests: he gives an independent, genuine verdict. You must court him: he does not court you. But the man is, as it were, clapped into jail by his consciousness. As soon as he has once acted or spoken with eclat, he is a committed person, watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds, whose affections must now enter into his account. There is no Lethe for this. Ah, that he could pass again into his neutrality! Who can thus avoid all pledges, and having observed, observe again from the same unaffected, unbiased, unbribable, unaffrighted innocence, must always be formidable. He would utter opinions on all passing affairs, which being seen to be not private, but necessary, would sink like darts into the ear of men, and put them in fear.

      Emerson is a national treasure, and I must’ve read Self-Reliance a hundred times in hich school, but these days I don’t buy into the Noble Savage Youth myth from either Emerson or Mr Swann.

      I was going to offer more examples but this comment is already indecently long.

      I believe in natural (or negative) rights–the right not to be fucked with, but I know that even these are artificial constructs, unlike (as far as we know) general relativity or quantum mechanics. This is probably at the root of my problems with sweeping moral philosophy, even if it is much more aligned with my thinking than utilitarian socialism.

      tl;dr Greg has some great things to say but I’m still sticking to minarchism.

      • Sean on May 20, 2012 at 06:15

        Oops, sorry Tim, didn’t mean to post this as a reply to you.

      • marie on May 20, 2012 at 19:55

        “…unlike (as far as we know) general relativity or quantum mechanics.” O.k. Phaedrus, that’s because your Rational side is overtaking the Romantic. But no, Please don’t adjust your oxygen-fuel mix, the heady air you’re riding through is clean and fresh, imo.
        (Crossing fingers about assumption here -but what’s life without risk… 🙂 )

    • marie on May 20, 2012 at 06:51

      I’m waiting to see the answer to this, but could you in the meantime clarify something? Why do you think the current ‘crap’ culture is the end result of the democratization of art and philosophy? Are you assuming it’s popular and therefore representative of people’s preferences?
      Did you consider that, like politics, a very large percentage don’t participate in the trumpeted ‘popular’ culture ? Less than 10% of consumers buy mass-market CDs, for example. Yes, most watch tv, but there’s a bazillion channels and the network’s Nielsen ratings (the source of fantastic claims that X% of households watch this or that show) are deceptive because the boxes go to low income households exactly because they generally don’t have cable (or satellite).
      These are only two examples of the non-representative nature of ‘popular’ culture – it’s not that popular, actually. Our perception of it is strongly manipulated by the financial interests behind it. They figured out some time ago that marketing to smaller but dedicated demographics makes them a lot of money.
      All of which is to ask, don’t you think it could be argued that the current culture is actually the result of the centralization of control which produced the entertainment ‘industry’, not the result of it’s democratization ? (yes, the original urban poetry/social commentary/protest of rap was ‘real’, -but has since been co-opted).

      • marie on May 20, 2012 at 06:52

        Tim, I meant this as a reply/question to you 🙂

      • Sean on May 20, 2012 at 07:26

        I’ve absolutely no respect for people who can’t figure out how to reply correctly.

      • Jscott on May 20, 2012 at 08:39

        For whatever reason, I find dismissive short sentences humorous. I have tried this on Significant Others. They do not find it humorous.

      • marie on May 20, 2012 at 09:28

        Jscott, try dismissive single words. Own the Spartan approach! In-between things rarely work.

      • Jscott on May 20, 2012 at 09:42


      • marie on May 20, 2012 at 11:33


  7. marie on May 20, 2012 at 08:19

    Oh, I feel so guilty and shamed now. I expected more empathy from you…sniff.

    • Jscott on May 20, 2012 at 09:10

      I just missed Sean’s comment goof up. Now I get the inside joke. I am an insider, you know.

      • marie on May 20, 2012 at 11:34

        Uh huh. Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more,!

    • Kate Ground on May 20, 2012 at 19:57

      I mean, really….

  8. Sean on May 20, 2012 at 08:50

    I see what you did there.

  9. Sean on May 20, 2012 at 08:52

    Heh, I wasn’t trying to be ironic by not replying on-thread Marie.

    • Sean on May 20, 2012 at 08:54

      Wow, third times a charm, I hope.

      • marie on May 20, 2012 at 09:18


      • Sean on May 20, 2012 at 11:39

        Please stop groaning with a Canadian accent, Marie, it’s giving me wood.

      • marie on May 20, 2012 at 11:55

        Oh no! You been spending too much time in freaking cold baths like Richard? You’re being very bad again Sir Galahad, very very bad….

  10. Kate Ground on May 20, 2012 at 12:00

    “If you read contemporary authors – theologians or philosophers or academics or artists or journalists – they will insist that your reason is either impotent or incompetent, your faculties inept, your simplest movements clumsy and chaotic, your actions and apprehension diabolical, your every attribute a manifestation either of an ugly corruption or of meaningless chance, your very existence an insult to all of existence. You will have to dig through a lot of garbage to find someone who will come right out and say that the universe would be better if the human mind did not exist, but this is the philosophy undergirding modern claims made about humanity”

    Something really bothers me about this. Granted in our culture today there is an emphasis to dumb us down, in our education system, our media, our politicians, etc, but to be blatantly insulted, I, for one was not raised that way, and neither were my children and it is not true in my large circle of acquaintances. Maybe because we are global, I don’t know. Theologians and the philosophers I read Including the Bible hve
    uplifted the human existence. Have I missed something? If so, maybe I don’t want to know the negative Greg is referring to.

    I agree that we, as individuals, are responsible for ourselves and how we relate to the world, but we are a group, and, I think, do better when in a tribe of like minded thinkers. Even if the tribe consists of our mates and close family. I don’t live a loner’s existence out here in the desert of Arizona….it’s right out the window…I live with people and interact with them, influence them, teach them, and they, in turn, do the same for me. I didn’t form “me” , my genes, and influences did. My 2 yo granddaughter already has a strong positive sense of “self”. But she didn’t create it…her influences did. Positively.

    • rob on May 21, 2012 at 04:54

      Seems to me the story of the bible is that humans are so worthless that god has to be repeatedly talked out of killing us all.

      Start with the Garden of Eden, where god just kicks the humans out of the garden, then the story of Sodom where god sends two angels to search for honest men, and the people of Sodom try to gangrape the angles, so god says “Fuck it I’m going to kill them all,” then the story of Noah, where god decides to destroy all of humanity but Noah is a good chap so instead god just destroys 99.9999% of humanity, then later humans have to bargain with god in the form of a covenant to keep god from destroying us all again, then in Jesus’ time humans are so utterly worthless that to even have a CHANCE at redemption Jesus has to be tortured to death.

      I don’t see how you get anything other than “Humans suck” out of that story.

      • Kate Ground on May 21, 2012 at 06:04

        Esther, Ruth, Job, Moses, Naomi, Paul, John, Simeon, All positive. Jesus came back

  11. Jscott on May 20, 2012 at 14:39

    Yes to what bothered you. I want to chaulk it up to ignorance of contemporaries that speak different than that. Perhaps I am reaching.

    There have been times when I have written sweeping generalities to make a point. Those are mistakes. Mistakes I have been and need to be called out on.

    I dig on Mr G’s thread of ridding oneself of self-hate and guilt. The sweeping into corners of “enemies” is something I think inaccurate.

  12. marie on May 20, 2012 at 17:37

    Yes to both of you Kate and Jscott on the enemies of the mind bit, it struck me too, especially given that I actually was referred to Greg’s new blog post just a couple of week’s before Richard’s pointer by a close cousin who is, drum-roll please, a philosophy professor. Oh, and he specializes in ethics. Of course, he’s Canadian – no, I’m not joking, but even I think that is funny…

  13. Kate Ground on May 20, 2012 at 18:37

    A Canuck philosopher. I bet he is really a nice guy, eh?

  14. marie on May 20, 2012 at 20:54

    Right. Or he wouldn’t have referred me, I guess.
    And did I mention he’s also Fair and Aware and Polite and, and….. 🙂

  15. Kate Ground on May 20, 2012 at 21:06

    Aren’t most Canadians?

    • marie on May 20, 2012 at 21:14

      Yup, you noticed that too, huh?

  16. Lesley on May 21, 2012 at 08:41

    This is just a big thanks for the heads-up about this book. I went ahead & read it in its entirety. The part about how the US Constitution was merely a rent-seeking coup d’etat by 3 guilty parties – (1) merchants seeking to tax imported goods to force the locals to buy their crap; (2) the planters in the South protecting their use of slaves; and (3), the rest of us wanting Costco-priced land with the US Army doing the dirty work of stealing it from Native Americans – and how the Federalist papers was the vehicle justifying these lies, like most of what passes for higher education, made me chuckle. Why? Because I’ve always thought that probably the most useful course I ever took in my many years spent being “educated” was actually a two-week summer course in High School where I learned to touch-type. Enabling me now to earn my keep as a professional writer – ie. being able to communicate more fluidly (by which I mean type really fast & effortlessly) in Fathertongue.

    Anyway, great find on the book – much appreciated.

    • Trish on May 21, 2012 at 15:44

      I took two years of typing in high school, but I learned to touch-type at a data-entry job–before I’d always had to look down at my hands. In fact, the job I have today is essentially high-tech data entry. I write for my own entertainment, and that otherwise soul-sucking job in eastern Kentucky allows me to get my thoughts down as fast as my brain can move. Everything is a learning experience.

  17. Danielle on May 21, 2012 at 09:26

    ‘Love this post Richard and couldn’t agree with you more. I would like to share two perspectives, if you don’t mind. I have no formal training in philosophy, but have been drawn to it throughout my life and am somewhat self-read, but an expert by no means.
    First, while I also have a very high regard for the human mind, I believe that it can be ‘detrimental’ when a person has not learned how to control it. If we can choose to reason and logic through things when and where it is useful then the mind is a magnificent thing. If, however, we allow our minds to be in complete control at all times, it can lead to depression and other forms 0f relational and emotional suffering. Just to use as an example, I would mention my children’s gut health issues. I have used my own mind in order to figure out exactly how to heal their gut issues (each one being uniquely challenged from the rest) wading through not just conventional wisdom, but all of the contradictory info that exists in the alternative, holistic world as well. However, if I were to allow my mind to just travel where it may, uncontrolled, I would have spent quite a bit of useless time worrying and adding to the stress on both myself and them in wallowing in the emotions that manifest from this type of uncontrolled mental track. So using the mind for reason and for research is good; allowing it to travel down the path of ‘what ifs’ is not so much.

    My other thought is in response to your headline statement about being in this alone. Not in disagreement, but in addition, I would say that only when we realize this do we have satisfactory relationships with the people in our lives that we choose to “throw in our lot with”. It is in recognizing their equal individual right to reason through things and come to different conclusions than ours without the need to agree that enables us to co-exist happily together. It is a giving up of control and being able to be assured of a mutual future that makes the ‘now’ relationships so rich. My husband and I learned this a few years ago and we rarely argue, always discuss and continue to view each other with an enormous amount of respect, even when our views differ on certain things. We have let go of trying to change each others’ minds.
    Likewise, with our four, going-on five, children, we are trying to demonstrate the importance of keeping an open mind and figuring things out for themselves. It is definitely more difficult, as it is a natural tendency for a parent to ‘teach them how it is’. But it is the wording that is difficult. As you can imagine, this leads to many philosophical conversations with them (not always when we feel like having these conversations, haha) where we try to use the phrases, “This is what I think about that” and “other people think these things” and “you need to decide what you think, and that will probably change many times over the course of your life as it should”. It requires a trust in each of their minds that (to my initial point) can be a scary thing for a parent, but only if you allow your unchecked mind to let it be so. 🙂

    Keep ’em coming Richard. I love to read your thoughts, as always.

    • Danielle on May 21, 2012 at 10:02

      Okay, just realized that this is an excerpt from a book that you posted, not your own thoughts. ‘Not sure why I didn’t catch that on my first read- through via iphone. ‘Must not have read the header completely. Regardless, thanks for posting. I very much enjoyed reading it, look forward to more chapters and my comments still stand. 🙂

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