When in Doubt, Philosophize
Hey beautiful people,
The Stoic Hustle is back!
The official launch of Beyond Self-Discipline (BSD) is in full swing, and the first cohort is about to enter their “heaven week.” To ready us, some of us are going to do a Stoic Hustle from 3 to 6 PM ET tomorrow and I thought we’d host it at The Stoa, free for all Stoans. If you have not attended a Stoic Hustle before it is basically a collective “get shit done” experience where we work on what is most important for 30-minute periods with 5-minute breaks. You can learn about the modality here.
You can RSVP by clicking the image below.
Also, feel free to join all the philosophical hotties getting their philosophizing on at The Stoa during Collective Journalling tomorrow. 😉
Collective Journaling. Daily @ 8:00 AM ET. Patreon event. 90 mins.
Stoic Breath. Every Sunday @ 10:00 AM ET. RSVP here. 60 mins.
Stoic Hustle: Beyond Self-Discipline Edition w/ Peter Limberg. May 8th @ 3:00 PM ET. RSVP here. 3 hours.
May 7th, 2022
I am liking the new Arcade Fire “We” album. I think they found the daemon again. Well, they probably never lost it, but I lost interest in them when they released Reflektor. Their first three albums - Funeral, Neon Bible, and The Suburbs - really landed for me. It was like the band tapped into my soul and sang through it. This album is having a similar effect.
Their two “Age of Anxiety” opening songs really bring me in, capturing the “free-floating anxiety” I sense we all feel. Yeah, this band is good at reading the cultural mood. Looking at the reviews, the album is being called things like “apocalyptic good cheer” and “cringeworthy dystopia.” Both labels feel right. Layman Pascal referred to this as the “apocalyptic mood,” and suggested we all become “apocalyptarians” now.
There is this Japanese phrase I like: kuuki wo yomu, “reading the air.” This is getting a sense of the “social field,” or “cultural field,” and intuitively knowing what’s up. The good artists are good at this. I sense I am getting better at this. Maybe it is the Scorpio in me, but I am always more interested in what is behind the share, the question, the thing the red herrings are meant to make us look away from.
The thing that is behind most things these days is doubt. Nobody believes anybody who acts as if things are obvious now. The lies are showing. The sea of bullshit has turned into a bullshit flood. Gross. But yeah, a collective “great doubt” is here. As the Zen maxim goes: Great doubt, great awakening. Little doubt, little awakening. No doubt, fast asleep. To this Stoic, this doubt sounds like a good opportunity. The first song on the new Arcade Fire album starts with these lyrics:
It's the age of doubt
And I doubt we’ll figure it out
While poetically pessimistic, there is some good Stoicism here. Yeah, let’s just fucking accept we might not figure this out and feel into the shittiness of that. Let’s process that shit, then begin from there. Let’s create from there. Let’s risk going crazy and look for that “existential eucatastrophe,” the term x-risk scholars borrowed from J. R. R. Tolkien to describe when things unexpectedly make a turn for the better.
The doubters are increasing in numbers, many are doomscrolling towards existential despair. The ersatz religions (aka “memetic tribes”) are not working for them anymore. People are looking for something new. I sense they are looking for what many of us in this emerging “wisdom commons” have been doing for years now: when in doubt, philosophize.
Something about doubt-induced philosophizing brings about an existential hope, because things start opening up. You start to doubt everything, including the intellectual foundations that brought the doubt about in the first place. Soon, an agency of mind emerges, the borrowed thoughts fade away, and an effective choice arrives. I am finding those who have this kind of choice have this “fuck it, let us philosophize towards a existential eucatastrophe” thing going on.
And this kind of philosophizing is not the alienating and hopelessly abstract kind. The professionalizers of philosophy really neutered philosophy. The kind of philosophizing I am referring to still has its sex organs. What is philosophizing without sex, thumos, eros? Dead talk, that’s what. And dead talk leads to a dead world.
The “practical” way of philosophizing - where one’s inquiry starts with what is most alive - always contains the personal. It’s all connected, so let’s stop pretending otherwise. Fuck. Let’s rewild this thing. Let’s unleash this thing already. It is going to be so fucking hot. I see it now: all the hotties at The Stoa ready for the world to explode, doubting together, philosophizing together, at the knife’s edge of what makes them come alive.
Philosophy is the love of wisdom, but we got to be lovers of wisdom first. Let’s keep the “phileo,” but philosophy is not going anywhere without the eros. This loving is not going to be esoteric or elitist. It’s going to be common. This existential eucatastrophe is going to come from the collective imaginary, from a wild “dialogos” that feels wildly true, with surprising words that emerge from depths we did not know existed.
I was thinking recently: I do not just want to be the steward of The Stoa, I want to be the steward of the wisdom commons itself. This is a co-stewarding role though. If you are reading this, you are in this, so let us bring about some wisdom. We will doubt hard, speak our truth in ways that inspire others to speak theirs, because speaking truthfully allows the old truth to be felt.
Yeah, let us philosophize as if our lives depend on it, because they do.
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