Narcissism and the Idolization of Technology – A reappraisal of Marshall McLuhan’s philosophic critique of technology

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

Re the Internet, McLuhan prophetically warned that modern communications networks would produce what he called “Discarnate Man”–persons set free by technology of their physical limitations to interact.

He feared that the electronic personalities of the future (our present), free to roam about the world, with no bodies to hold responsible would, like H. G. Wells’ Invisible Man, become a force for evil. Similarly Plato, in one his dialogues, maintained that an invisible, disembodied man would be unable to resist the temptation to commit rapes and other crimes he could invisibly get away with. And it is true that, on the Net, people routinely insult each other in the vilest terms who, if they were meeting in person, would be perfectly polite.


I think technology has been missused, but it has never been overused


One of McLuhan’s ideas was also about “Reversal” when one form of media is pushed to its limits, it’s function can reverse creating the opposite effect of what it had previously done. My question is how long can electronic media continue to retribalize us until it reverses into promoting radical individualism?

I find it interesting that a connection was made to Aldous Huxley’s brave new world in this article. He died before PC’s and integrated circuits really took off, so comment about electronic media is totally absent from his work. I wonder if he would feel about the current state of the world.


Many of the descriptions and explanations would also apply if you changed “social media” to “printing press” and set the scene in a different century. The individual psychology of our modern ideology has a lot more to do with the numbness and narcissism that the author observes, compared to the classic ideology of Gutenberg’s time, and the pace of technological change recommends further investigation into scale given that change via *techne* has always appeared to be rapid because, well, there’s always a noticeable change within a generation. The telegraph and the telephone, are another example, or cheap newsprint and the daily press. Notice these all share a common feature in regard to communication. This implies interdividuel effects, and we shouldn’t ignore how the relation of an individual to the society is the most profound relation we have.


As contrevational as it is is really like the views of Ted Kaczynski `industrial society and its future`


Challenge, Enhancement & Martial Arts

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

This is super interesting!

I’ve only glanced at the article admittedly so I’ll be reading more in-depth later when I get back home later today from work.

I can say personally that martial arts (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specifically) filled a major hole in my life that normal, modern life could not do. What that is, I hope learning more about philosophy will be able to reveal to me somehow.


IMO, the interesting part of the challenge is the journey, not the result. Having practiced kendo for 10 year it is very similar.
As for enhancement, I agree with the author: it will simply raise the bar, but I hope we will keep taking more pleasure in the journey than the result.
Desired skillset might also shift: if knowledge can be uploaded to our brains, we might aim for a deeper understanding and a wiser use of that knowledge.


How do we contrast the ideal with the reality? How do we reconcile that the top athletes are sometimes narcissistic assholes who reject the ideals and continue to prosper?


That was a very interesting read. I’m always glad to see other people embrassing challenge as a means for growth. I feel like the author’s ideas open up a very relevant avenue for transhumanism. I’d never thought enhancement could be applied to challenge itself, but it’s actually very likely to happen. As with just about every technological progress, some challenges will be overcome and new ones created in the process.

I’m very tempted to pick up a martial art now. Which one has the most interesting philosophy and why?


Reconciling with the struggles in life is what ultimately propels is into a superior level of consciousness. It build our character and helps us realize our unlimited potential. Great article.


What Philosophy Can Teach Us About Endurance – To train athletes to truly push their limits, it helps to draw inspiration from the French social theorist Michel Foucault.

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

Insightful article. This in particular has been a problem:
> In any training group, certain patterns emerge: the same runners tend to run at the front, others in the middle, others at the back. Over time, a pecking order crystallizes, such that each runner on the team internalizes their “correct” position. This spatial control can be helpful (“I’m hurting, but I know I should be able to keep up with Bob”), but it can also be a hindrance if you settle into your usual place rather than constantly challenging it.

I think this also happens when you keep losing to the same competitor in one-on-one games, e.g., tennis, and you settle into a position. The way I’ve found of breaking that mindset is by actively focusing on my techniques (exploring and developing them further) instead of focusing on my competitor or winning or losing a point.

> exercise of discipline—specifically the control of time, space, and movement—imposes a hierarchical burden that ultimately makes people docile

I think the less your mind spends in exploring and testing, the more it adapts to the environment through simple predictive associations leading to docility, wherein the mind thinks it “understands” the environment.

The difference between blackboxing versus first principles understanding. When you read an article, have you really read it (identified and tested the underlying points) or have you just developed associations between concepts you already think you know to evaluate the probability it’s true or false?


At first I thought this would be about how you need to train your endurance if you ever want to get through a whole Foucault book. But no, this was actually useful. Thanks!


Getting through Foucalts work is an arduous process and his ideas have a tendency to be completely co-opted and misrepresented but this was a good read.


This seems to correlate with what advanced exercise science says about training. You don’t want to constantly be pushing yourself to the max every time. You actually make better gains in muscle or endurance if you spend the majority of your training in around the 80% difficulty level.

It kind of sounds like the coach just sort of fluked into this exercise theory and it doesn’t really have to do with philosophical concepts as much as it does with exercise science.


great link – thank you


My review of Total Freedom – Jiddu Krishnamurti

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

I’ve read about Jiddu Krishnamurty as part of my syllabus in college, and he is deeply insightful about many things.
He stresses on the need to revolt against living in conformity with others, organized religions, traditions, as living blindly like this leads to disharmony.
The text I studied was really short, titled “The function of education” Where he tells the reader that the function of education should be to make us become able to think for ourselves, without formulas and “paths” And find truth for ourselves.
He says we are being educated to fit into this rotten society where everyone is fighting each other and our parents want us to fit in, others want us to fit in and we too want to fit in because of fear.

We can find truth for ourselves only when our minds are without fear, or conforming to what others are doing (perhaps to gain acceptance) and removing fear too is a function of education.


> By controller he means the observer

Not necessarily. The observer need not have any preference. However, for control, you will need a control objective and that requires a (subjectively chosen) metric. The metric implies a preference. However, it’s possible to apply a control law as an observer conducting an experiment. So, in that sense, a controller could be an observer.

I find it interesting that many of these people speak in terms of control theory without necessarily have the technical language, yet often times they have captured the gist of it. They typically attack subjective beliefs that lead to preferences, which underlies a Bayesian mindset.

In contrast, a control-oriented, observer mind could understand the world not as correlations but as a dynamical system where subjective beliefs could lead to actions resulting in unintended consequences. The Bayesian mind could still be control-oriented (in the sense of optimizing reward/punishment) but the emphasis is on the preferred control objectives rather than on observation.

Not sure if this made any sense, but the article triggered some thoughts.


I agree with your take on Krishnamurti. Although, I haven’t read him personally, I believe the essential disconnect between the observer and the observed is to be aspired.

One can’t aspire to be a bodhisattva being attached to what they see. Sight can be deceptive, and so is perception. Our perceptions lead to prejudice, as is the case with different religions inspiring ignorance and intolerance. Understanding of the self is what compliments understanding our environment, all accomplished with meditation, training our breath and breaking regressive thought patterns. It requires focus and enjoyment will follow.

Similar to the story of the professor who’s cup was “overflowing”, one can’t be overwhelmed with the worldly to grasp these deep, meditative truths. It takes practice to tune out the noise, and addictive nature of social media and today’s social problems. We are suffering but we don’t know why we are suffering, unless we look deep within and then outward.

I’ve been reading the works of Thich Nhat Hanh where he talks about the cessation of suffering, the wheel of Dharma, eternal truths, and noise.
He discusses 5 different types of noise.

Reading Krishnamurthi is fine but if you’re looking for basics, almost any book by Thich Nhat Hanh (depending on which subject you wish to peruse) would be a better starting point.


The ethics of eating meat

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

There are a number of questions here which have to be pulled apart.

We can start with the top line question. What are the moral implications of eating animal flesh? In a vacuum, there don’t seem to be any compelling moral issues here. Even vegans dont tend to argue this point.

The next question is what are the moral implications of killing or an animal to eat its flesh? (We can include here any practice of taking flesh for an otherwise living animal) Here we have some of the issues and questions OP has highlighted.

This is, by far, the spikiest category and involves the most discussion.

The next question is what are the moral implications of mass producing animal meat as a commodity? To me, this is the category with the clearest moral issues.

There are environmental issues in meat production. There are public health issues which economic equity issues.. The torture of intelligent animals raises issues, as does forces separation.

All of this means, to me, that there are substantial and serious moral concerns associated with the mass production of meat

There MAY be issues around killing for the purposes of eating flesh. Particularly in a non-human philosophical approach.

There dont seem to be any issues directly from eating flesh alone and in a vacuum.


I’m not sure ethical hunting is feasible in a world with 7 billion+ people.


Whole lot of non-philosophy in this thread. I’m going to bed and don’t have time to type a thesis, but if you want to know what real animal rights philosophers say, read Gary Francione’s *Animals, Property, and the Law* or Tom Regan’s *The Case for Animal Rights*. Peter Singer wrote groundbreaking work with *Animal Liberation* but his approach (utilitarianism) is less highly regarded these days than the rights-based approaches of the preceding two authors.

I’ll just leave by saying that because it’s true that we can live healthy lives without eating animal products (this is not disputed, it is a fact, there are millions of vegans to prove it) the only reason that a person who has access to plant-based foods (which is basically everyone in the developed world who isn’t homeless or living in a food desert) would have for eating animal products is palate preference. I contend that this is a shameful reason for killing a conscious being, whatever dressing is put on the idea (like hunting).


How can you ethically and humanely kill something that doesn’t want to die? For no other reason than pleasure.


I was born into a Hindu family so I was also born a vegetarian. I’ve tried meat before and it does taste good, but I have an issue with designating which animals we deem are fit for slaughter. Why is it it taboo to eat dogs and cats? It’s literally the same principle of eating a cow or a chicken. In my eyes it’s like playing God, for that reason I choose not to eat meat but to each his own, chicken is fucking delicious

The question about why we don’t eat cats and dogs IS PURELY RHETORICAL. I understand their value


Planning, Time, and Self-Governance: Essays in Practical Rationality

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

For a second I thought Batman wrote this. Will read later lol


[I’m being kicked out of library, will b back.]

From the link:
>As our beginnings of a list indicate, the demands that planning makes on us are more elaborate than what I’ll call the *bare requirement* of means–end consistency: that if you’re committed to attaining an objective, if some particular means is clearly necessary for doing so, and if you both refuse to adopt it and to give up on the goal, it counts as a lapse.
This is the kind of thing one might discuss with a psychotherapist.


What’s wrong with using concise, lucid, North-American English?