Fitness Over Goodness

I am trying to change my evaluation from “Good/Bad” to “fit/unfit”. 

“Good/Bad” implies a value judgement on an objective scale. A Christian might consider himself as Good and a non-believer as Bad. That is, he is Good without qualification according to an objective criteria of the universe. 

“Fit/unfit” implies value seen under the light of both a relative criteria and a specific circumstance. We might consider a round shape fit for a round hole and a square not fit for the same hole. That is, the round shape is only fit, ie. has value, when judged under a relative criteria …

Why Study Religion

Religion is not merely a part of culture, but a mechanism which founds culture. 

We are not a rational creature with a few religious tendencies but “Homo Religiosus” — a fundamentally religious creature with a need to believe in, amongst many things, all powerful entities, infinite beyond, and cosmic justice. 

Let me explain my newfound appreciation for studying religion and its ramifications. 

In the seminal book on religious theory, the Sacred and the Profane, Eliade argues for an innate religious drive of humans that is not merely cultural but deeply rooted in our biology: “We realize the validity of comparisons …

Ranks of Insanity

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.“ – Marcus Aurelius 

This quote has guided my adaptation into western civilization, but I’ve only recently began appreciating the wisdom contained in the latter half of the sentence.

I was born and raised in an oriental culture that is still an heir of Confucianism which emphasizes conformity, collectivism, and order. Thus, the first half of this quote in my teenage years acted as a guide to what the west seemingly valued: difference. 

I noticed that …

The Limits of Planning

I have been terrorized by my alarm.

I take 30-minute naps in the afternoon. Around the 20 minute mark, if I am not asleep, I will start bracing for the alarm thinking that my time is up. Since I do not know the exact time, I always think it will sound in the very next moment. As a result, this mental preparation for the imminent screech of the alarm keeps me up in a 10 minute long period of anxious anticipation. 

I am a pre-crastinator: completing tasks way before they warrant my attention. This excessive drive for preparation spans my …

Book Analysis: Things Hidden Since the Foundations of the World

Book 1

The Victimage Mechanism as the Basis of Religion

We must begin with anthropology. Only an investigation of the founding of religion will yield the secret of man.

People have tried to create an origin of culture before but it failed. The structuralism (idea that human behavior and culture could be captured by structural concepts) of ethnology (the cultural, social, anthropological comparison of different peoples and the relationships between them) rendered it immobile: looking for meaning in signs that were solely reflective (took on meaning only relatively to other reflective signs).

“Nothing has been more essential for ethnology than learning …

The Divinity of Instagram

We are Homo Religosus: a being that needs to worship and believe in utopian illusions, infinite beyonds, and noble lies. For evolution favors effectiveness over truth — one ought only examine the smooth visual field where the optical nerve actually obstructs vision to understand the illusory nature of existence.

But as heirs of the enlightenment we are also skeptics, skeptical of any creed that claims ultimate meaning or eternal salvation.

The curse of modernity is that our spiritual instincts latch on to any source that offers transcendence while our rationality is on a hunt to dispel all such sources.

Our …

Conservative Doubt

Conservatism is founded upon a skepticism of reason.

It is skeptical of reason, at least in the political realm, because 1. The complexity of the world alludes capture by oversimplified ideologies. Too often, calamity comes at the hand of theoretical perfections that turn out to be practical defects. 2. Even recognizing that knowledge in the political realm cannot be deduced a priori, the results from social experiments are hard to attribute and take a long time to manifest. 

Upon being asked about the consequences of the French Revolution hundreds of years later, Deng Xiao Ping replied: “It’s too early to …

Journal Analysis: Alienation, Consequentialism and the Demands of Morality

Brief

There is a dilemma in ethics: the normative directions which morality posits earn their authority by being rooted from a universal and detached view — a view which threatens strong personal affections and commitments which constitute the good life.

The goal of this article is to identify whether this alienation proves deadly for consequentialist ethical theories.

There is a cost to not treating things as ends in themselves. Consequentialism focuses on the importance of subjective states which alienates us from the inseparable objective states. Undervaluing the objective progress of bodybuilding for example would paradoxically lead the person to find …

Read this Before College – A Letter to Highschool Me

To: Young Johnathan, Incoming Freshman @ 08/30/2016

From: Old Johnathan, Rising Senior @ 01/14/2019

Dear Johnathan,

Us students in elite universities, compared to our counterparts, are like gods.

Wipe that smug grin off your face, it’s not a compliment: Greek gods, to be precise — more powerful, less wise.

Herculean in our ascent — accomplishing great deeds at the cost of our humanity — and Zeus-esque in our reign — rejecting moral limitations in our continuously corrupting pursuit of glory — we have developed our powers at the expense of or, more precisely, by ignoring wisdom. 

You pay dearly for …

Book Analysis: What is Good and Why

Why is this important?

Having been immersed in two cultures, I was shown how morality binds and blinds. Everyone thinks they are right while holding and discrediting the fact that everyone else thinks they are also right.

Most people take on their moral values and virtues implicitly through media. They take on high-level values of “equality”, “wealth” etc. without questioning why they are valuable. As a result most people can not transcend their cultural and temporal boundaries.

That is far from desirable for me: I would like to think that if I were born in 20th century Germany I wouldn’t …