Phil 375 Assignment 2

Note: This was a work in rush, thereby not of good quality.

Ultimate philosophy — cope with suffering. – Do not worry, there will be a day when all people are dead and everything will be equally unimportant.

On knowledge. – All knowledge seekers are essentially information collectors, and vice versa.[1]

The power of music. – The power of music to emotional arousal is unparalleled: It is not merely that music has the most intensive effect on emotional arousal, but also that only music can easily change one’s mood into the desired one as one wishes.

Philosopher’s pity. – The pity of a philosopher is that he cannot debate with philosophers before his birth or listen to the critiques from philosophers after his death.

Loneliness. – If no live person can understand you, then turn to the dead!

Immortality. – If time is infinite and a man can be immortal, then for any of his past decisions and actions if he does not completely forget them, he is bound to regret them.[2] If he is a homo economicus, he should not believe in anything other than absolute truths unless he can guarantee that he will forget what he believes before regret. He will have a day when he starts to love what he used to resent most and resent what he used to love most. His memory will be infinitely thin such that it is almost unmeasurable, just as rational numbers sporadically spread on the number line. He will gradually forget who he is, unless he records everything that happens on him, until his forgetfulness surpasses his recording speed. He lives forever and dies ceaselessly. Essentially, he no longer owns his memory, and he is no longer a human being. If all this is the case, the heaven that the devout believers long for will become an existence that is infinitely more terrifying than the hell, and I would rather the universe be short-lived so that all nightmares will end in the inevitable destruction.[3]

An Immortal man. – An immortal man is destined to commit suicide.

Do not be worldly. -Being worldly, including, but not limited to,  focusing on or paying attention to politics, society, news, money, fame, and career, makes one stupid, unsettled, shortsighted and mediocre. Beware that it does not mean one will become noble if one does not do so, but what one should do instead is focusing on his internal spiritual world.[4]

Suspicious Amor fati. Amor fati is such a good and enchanting faith; it is just such a pity that I cannot see the logical reasoning behind it — why should I believe, why should I believe, why should I believe, and what if I just do not believe?

Complaint from a writer. – Writing philosophical works in one’s second language destroys one’s ability to elaborate his thoughts and convey the exact meaning, which is especially a disaster for someone who is very picky about word choices and must always differ the nuances between words before writing.

On thinking. – Recalling oneself’s thinking process is an annoying thing, for not only is it not as entertained and thrilled as thinking per se, but also that one has to worry about whether any inspiration is missed.

On beauty. – Everyone likes beauty. It is a pity, however, that instead of beauty, what most people pursue are beautiful things. I used to think that I was more foresightful than most people in that I did not pursue beautiful things but beauty itself. Nevertheless, I gradually found that the action of pursuing beauty per se is suspicious, and even beauty itself is also suspicious[5]. Hence after consideration I decided to no longer pursue beauty.

On misfortune. – Life is filled with misfortune, while there are always some misfortunate people who like being mean to those who are more misfortunate.

Knowledge and gold. – From knowledge seekers’ perspective, knowledge is like gold. Just as some people can find happiness without using gold, but only by occupying gold, some others can feel content without using knowledge, but only by having knowledge.

The farsighted and the shortsighted I. – The farsighted tend to be pessimistic, while the shortsighted tend to be misfortunate, for the former are able to see all the possible hardship in the future and realize their incompetence, while the later tend to make shortsighted decisions which bring them misfortune.

The farsighted and the shortsighted II. – The farsighted tend to be fortunate, while the shortsighted tend to be happy — they are all adorable.

Final thoughts. -Very soon, the day will come, when all of us will be dead, with our skeletons buried under earth and scary skulls never unmoved as if being lost forever in thoughts. The grades of this course will no longer matter, and what I have written here will be lost to the world. Nobody will know we ever existed; not even in the most humble way can someone tell our stories, the great debates that took placed in class, the small talks I had with classmates…… Very soon, the day will come, when human beings will extinguish, and there, in the whole universe, will not even have a tiny trace that can show there was an intelligence called human that has flourished somewhere in the cosmos, along with their grand stories……


[1] I am too lazy to lay out a detailed and well-defended argument, but let me give a concise one. For knowledge seekers (or we can define knowledge seekers as the followings, if you disagree), their sole ultimate mission is having all knowledge about this world, including both priori and posterior knowledge, which is essentially a sort of information (or at least, belongs to information). When time is limited, instead of trying to get all knowledge about the world, he should try to gain knowledge as much and as quick as possible before his death (deducted from the definition of knowledge seekers). Since some knowledge are more informative (i.e., the knowledge from which you can deduct new knowledge) than the others, for a rational knowledge seeker, he should try to gain those knowledge (instead of the others) if possible, since gaining as much knowledge as possible before his death is his mission. When the most valuable knowledge is gain, he should turn to the second most valuable knowledge, which by the definition, is less informative, i.e., contains less information. When the second most valuable knowledge is gained, he should turn to the third…… The process keeps going, which from the information collection’s perspective, is a process of collecting the biggest part of information out of all information at the first stage, followed by the second biggest one at the second stage…… Here, an isomorphic relation is built between knowledge and information, as they both goes from the “most” stage monotonically to the “least” stage. Finally, to obtain all knowledge about this world, the knowledge seeker must collect all information about this world, regardless of how trivial it might sound, for as long as there is some information can be collected but remains unknown, the knowledge seeker has not yet finished his mission, since he has not known about that part (i.e., the missing information) about the world.

The same argument can also be applied to the reversed direction: All information collectors are essentially knowledge seekers. (Hints: To collect as much information as possible before an information collector’s death, he must become a knowledge seeker and start with the most valuable knowledge if possible, since the most valuable knowledge contains most information.

[2] If he “revises”, “corrects” or “improves” his past decisions or actions, it means he regrets what he has done in the past — no matter how light his regret is.

[3] Memory belongs to information. Within a limited space, the information can be stored is limited, otherwise the materials storing the information will collapse to a blackhole and thereby lose all information. For a being to be smart enough at least at human’s level, the materials constructing it must have some not small mass density, which limits the space the being can occupy, otherwise the being will also collapse to a blackhole. Hence, both the space that a being occupies and the information that can be store in that space is limited, which results in the memory a being can have is limited.

[4] Yes, even people like Confucius, Alexander, Shakespeare, Ben Franklin, Gandhi,…, are stupid, unsettled, shortsighted and mediocre to some extent by my standard as discussed in the aphorism — it is not necessarily a shame. Or for a better word if you want, they are not wise, settled, foresightful, and good enough.

[5] We need to assume beauty is a subjective feeling/assessment rather than an objective existence, which is too big a topic to discuss or prove here (though I can prove it) — let’s just assume it as true for now. Since beauty is a subjective feelings/assessment, it totally depends on the aesthete’s aesthetic system. This means beauty is changeable over space and time — the beauty you “obtain” now is not necessarily still beauty in the future, and if time is long enough, it must be not, since given infinite amount of time anything possible to happen will happen by math. If the beauty your pursue is no longer beauty in the future, your effort is wasted during the process — or in a more precise word, your effort has a low return. Hence I no longer pursue beauty, a short-lived illusionary thing.

3 thoughts on “Phil 375 Assignment 2

  1. I see that you seem to have defined the value of knowledge (or put in other words, the order of being valuable on the space of knowledge) as the amount of information it contains. How would you define the amount of information? Do you think that this definition conforms to our intuitive judgment? I suspect not, since I feel that there could be some knowledge that is valuable for its being profound rather than its being informative.

  2. A question that has been haunting me for a while is: Does knowledge have intrinsic value apart from its instrumental value? If we define the intrinsic value as the value that we subjectively perceive, then I feel yes, because many, including me, have the experience of joy and delight of gaining knowledge. But all subjective, perceived values are from our instincts. We see things such as wealth, power, achievement, respect, etc. as intrinsically valuable, because our evolutionarily adapted to doing so. In this sense, intrinsic value could just be evolutionarily adapted instrumental value that is pre-programmed into our instincts. If we admit this, how can one claim that the intrinsic value (specifically, the delight of gaining knowledge) that he/she perceives is more noble than the intrinsic value of gaining wealth and power?

    • So objectively, the so-called intrinsic value is just another manifestation of the instrumental value.We say the knowledge have intrinsic value just because we are affected by our own genes, culture, society ,etc.

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