Friday, April 5, 2019


beliefs that are in the air
arguments that are not grounded
to not question and how
to not reason and out of mind
signing up for the falling
flowing into the herd
following other voices
or just one such
sleeping through the time
drugged to be happy
masked by the false
fooled by the mass
ignoring self


dare to understand

Excerpt from the book Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

In his book The Beginning of Infinity, David Deutsch argues that if we dare to understand, progress is possible in all fields, scientific, political, and moral:

Optimism (in the sense that I have advocated) is the theory that all failures - all evils - are due to insufficient knowledge... Problems are inevitable, because our knowledge will always be infinitely far from complete. Some problems are hard, but it is a mistake to confuse hard problems with problems unlikely to be solved. Problems are soluble, and each particular evil is a problem that can be solved. An optimistic civilisation is open and not afraid to innovate, and is based on traditions of criticism. Its institutions keep improving, and the most important knowledge that they embody is knowledge of how to detect and eliminate errors. 


Enlightenment's motto is "Dare to understand!" and its foundational demand is freedom of thought and speech. 


why should I live?

Excerpt from the book Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

"Why should I live?" 

In the very act of asking that question, you are seeking reasons for your convictions, and so you are committed to reason as the means to discover and justify what is important to you. And there are so many reasons to live.

As a sentient being, you have the potential to flourish. You can refine your faculty of reason itself by learning and debating. You can seek explanations of the natural world through science, and insight into the human condition through the arts and humanities. You can make the most of your capacity for pleasure and satisfaction, which allowed your ancestors to thrive and thereby allowed you to exist. you can appreciate the beauty and richness of the natural and cultural world. As the heir to billions of years of life perpetuating itself, you can perpetuate life in turn. You have been endowed with a sense of sympathy - the ability to like, love, respect, help, and show kindness - and you can enjoy the gift of mutual benevolence with friends, family, and colleagues. 

And because reason tells you that none of this is particular to you, you have the responsibility to provide to others what you expect for yourself. You can foster the welfare of other sentient beings by enhancing life, health, knowledge, freedom, abundance, safety,  beauty, and peace. History shows that when we sympathise with others and apply our ingenuity to improving the human condition, we can make progress in doing so, and you can help to continue that progress. 




Wednesday, April 3, 2019

second-order questions

Excerpt from the book The Four Horsemen

Maybe faith and belief in divinity and an afterlife, even if founded on claims for which there can be no evidence, may nonetheless be considered a force for good?

Maybe they offer moral guides and ethical codes without which the world would be a cruel and riotous place? Much of what we live by is metaphor. Why shouldn't we accept a religious narrative irrespective of its truth - as a framework in this relativist culture cursed by the disappearance of structure, hierarchy, and meaning?

And what about spiritual, the numinous immanence we all feel? Can you really deny that there is a realm which reason and numbers and microscopes cannot penetrate?


Open inquiry, free thinking and the unfettered exchange of ideas yield real and tangible fruit.