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Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down in the last three months, keeping millions of people quarantined at home to reduce the spread. The anxiety induced by uncertainty, loss of income, immobility, etc could do us long-term harm if we don’t take action to address it. Over the years, I’ve tried different meditation methods to help ease my restless mind. I discovered the one that I find most useful last year — and it’s especially helpful now during my quarantine — using a combination of topics I’ve read about and methods I have internalized in the past.

I like meditating…

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Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit,” says Aristotle. In other words, it is the accumulation of doing and becoming that manifests progress in the long run. We can say that an excellent life is made of excellent decades, of excellent years, and hence excellent days. So what is a day well lived?

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Wikimedia: Luca Casartelli — Imported from 500px (archived version) by the Archive Team. (detail page)

What job should I seek? Where should I go for vacation? What should I do to keep myself occupied? How can I be happy? How can I live a fulfilled life? These are the questions we often ask ourselves, and they range from career, entertainment, purpose, and psychology. Contrary to our work life, which tends to be structured, organized, managed, and well-incentivized, our private life tends to be a lot less so. Also contrary to work, where goals are assigned, in life we have to look to ourselves to identify goals.

Maslow’s hierarchy

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Painted garden fresco from the House of the Golden Bracelet in Pompeii. Source: Wikimedia, by Stefano Bolognini

<continuing from Part Two>

Greek philosopher Democritus was a proponent of the natural philosophy of Atomism, who asserted that all things were made of indivisible particles — which he coined atoms — and void that fills between them. It is by his observation and deduction that all things from celestial bodies to stones followed a general pattern, and that there must exist an unifying physical property that describes all.

During the transition from democracy to oligarchy (after the overthrow of thirty tyrants) in the Hellenistic Athens, in order to avoid religious conflicts with the state, which famously got Socrates killed…

←Back to Part One

Is freedom maximized with a romantic world view?

The Romanticists of the eighteenth century shared a similar but different sense of fatalism as the ancient Greeks, in the belief that the universe is deterministic, and man ought to follow the preordained order. They considered the pursuit of beautiful experiences the goal, and the ultimate aesthetic — the sublime — the supreme good. Put it to the extreme, where there is love, there is infatuation; where there is nature, there is devastating awesomeness. So they sought and depicted themes of the infinite and the vastness in paintings…

We live in a capitalistic society in which compensations are based upon how much supply we render to meet demands. And the supplies are compensated based on merit — if they meet no demand, or if the quality is subpar, they’d be poorly compensated if any at all. Such demand-driven economy dictates what we should do and how we should do what we do; it is no surprise then that some people coined capitalism forced altruism, as all our economic activities gear toward some immediate beneficiary. Even independent artists could not escape from such fate of the market and have…

Our relationship with transcendence is such that we first gain intentions, then we manifest those intentions into actions, and those actions become observable reality to the world. We are complex and multifaceted creatures so it feels hurtful when we are perceived as a pure function to the utility of the world. Jean-Paul Sartre uses a cafe waiter as an example in Being and Nothingness: insofar as he serves the patrons in the cafe, he is a waiter and his existence a manifestation thereof, whose function is to wait tables and deliver checks. In the confine of this cafe, he is

Continued from Part-1:

As we understand, our being, our existence consists of facticity — facts, attributes, past — and transcendence — capacity, aspirations, possibilities et cetera. We are pure transcendence when we’re born, constantly contemplating about the future; and pure facticity when we are about to die, thinking only of nostalgia. We bounce between the two anywhere during the course of our lives.

How much we could transcend at any point, however, is not a linear function of age, but rather of our nature and nurture. Some of us like certainty and are hence attracted to the concrete, proven…

When we love, there are persons of our affection, but do we love them such that we want to possess their beauty, or do we love the very feeling that is born out of our obsession? Besides the norm, there are also the poet, who loves himself being in love, the conqueror, who objectifies the conquered as trophies, and the Platonist, whose very being is fueled by the relentless pursuit itself. And so when we love, what kind of lover are we? The poet, places aesthetic on the pedestal, praises the beloved in the name of love, for it personifies…

If I were to use a watercolor palette to paint my impression of this hometown park, it would be expanding patches of radiant greens, misty browns, splashed with glittering yellow and whites. The chilly air has descended upon the shady trees, pressing them to shake down their leafy complexions. With a total lack of contemplations, I followed the winded gravel path — step by step — in and out of enclaves of cedar trees, and bodies of water, deflecting greenish lights off the white fuzzy surface, was always within sight. The quiet exhilaration was simmering in the atmosphere. The restful…

Vincent Chen

A Canadian in New York. Philosophy, economics, history, literature, and art.

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