Posts tagged ‘Philosophy’

2014-02-03

Third Anniversary

Loki

Loki on her last day

It is hard to believe but I have reached the third anniversary for this blog. Writing-wise, this past year hasn’t exactly been prolific. In fact, I only wrote two posts and shared a former colleague’s post.

I wish I could say that I didn’t have anything to write about however life gave me too many things to write about. It was quite an overwhelming year. There were many good things, such as I got perfect on the driving test for my full motorcycle license and more importantly the woman I love proved time and again just how lucky I am to have her in my life. Three events stand out, the death of my cat, my mom’s diagnosis with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and the death of my father.

Now you are probably wondering how I can rank the death of my cat with the terminal illness of my parents so let me explain. I got Loki, aptly named after the Norse god of mischief and evil, when she was a kitten while I was living in Vancouver with my future ex-wife. She moved with me 7 times in as many years, from Vancouver to the Toronto area and to The Netherlands and back. She was there for the birth of my two children and was the only thing I insisted on during my divorce (in retrospect, there were other things I should have insisted on). But ultimately, because my father was ill, I was mourning him as much as Loki when I had to put her down. Even though my father had’t passed, the signs were there that it wouldn’t be that much longer.

I am going to post my thoughts about my fathers death and I will do the same when my mother dies. After that difficult start to 2014, I plan on creating some upbeat posts. I could be bitter and sad about the way life has been going but that would be a waste of energy. Enjoy life just in case it is the only one we get.

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2013-02-14

Second Anniversary

ContemplationSo I’ve been blogging for about two years, my first real post was February 2. In that time I have posted 35 times and I was wondering what my theme is. My most popular topics are around understanding, faith, passion and doing. My top three posts for the year were Faith, A Lesson Remembered, and Doing more by doing less. If I look at my two-year statistics, my most popular post was Causality followed by The Importance of Dialogue and Faith a close third. How odd. That is not what I thought this would be about.

My original intention was to use this blog to get input from others on things that would help me help those I worked with and develop my skills as a leader. I thought this would be a blog focused on technical matters and agile methodologies and practices. Within a few months it was less of that, more of what simply made me think. Sometimes it was work related and more often it was not and I am happy with this direction.

I think the following quote captures my thoughts well:

Each of us is it in the world for no very long time, and within the few years of his life has to acquire what ever he is to know of this strange planet and its place in the universe. To ignore our opportunities for knowledge, imperfect as they are, is like going to the theater and not listening to the play. The world is full of things that are tragic or comic, heroic or bizarre or surprising, and those who fail to be interested in the spectacle that it offers are foregoing that one of the privileges that life has to offer.

Bertrand RussellThe Conquest of Happiness.

Work is a great source of inspiration and happiness and the world holds so much more. I will continue to blog about what I am privileged in this life to see, whether it is work or some thing else.  Whether it is joy, tragedy or comic, I hope we all learn something about ourselves and the spectacle that is life. Cheers.

2012-11-03

Faith

In early January I found myself in the strange position of telling my father I had faith in his recovery and that he needed to have some too. Constantly faced with set backs due to infections that are inevitable when in the hospital for four months, he was weak in body and thus weak in mind. He would have let himself go at that point and as he told my brother, his heart was too strong to let him. So I found myself at his bedside after work telling him that I believed he would recover to the point that life would be worth living.

What is faith? Is it believing in capital g, God, or Allah, or the pantheon of the Norse? Is is choosing to believe that there is nothing beyond this life, that this mortal coil is all we have? Faith is any and all of those. Faith is believing in something and holding it as your very core. When you believe in something, it becomes your lamp post in the forest. From that place you can map out the world, and cling to it when the maelström surrounds you.

Life is chaotic. No matter how hard you try, life will always be unpredictable. You can make choices that swing the odds towards good things happening, and in the end all you have is your choices. So what do you do when bad things happen? You have to believe. That’s it, believe. You could believe that the world is out to get you, that it is never your fault and I don’t think that leads to a happy and fulfilling life. Believe in something positive and make that the foundation of your happiness.

When your faith is the foundation of your happiness, nothing can take it away from you. When you stripped naked before the world you can say, I believe, and I know I will be happy. It doesn’t mean you are always happy, it just means you know happiness is in you and you will be happy again. I think where people fail is they externalize their faith.

When you believe in a capital g God, you believe in an entity that is external to you. So you can attribute all actions, good and bad, to this external entity it leaves you foundering when things happen that make you unhappy. You can choose blind faith where you believe all their actions are good because, well, they’re God and that doesn’t tell you why so you will remain unhappy.

So what happens when you accept that you don’t know “WHY”? You are released from searching for answers that don’t exist and the unhappiness of a fruitless pursuit. And the only true why you can’t figure out is the big two, life and death. Pretty much everything else has some sort of answer and it is up to you to choose whether it is gods will, or because a butterfly flapped its wings. If you accept that life and death happen then you can stop asking why and start focusing on happiness.

I believe in me and I believe I will be happy, maybe not now but again soon if not now. I have faith. Do you?

2012-10-25

Philosophy Rules!

People come, people go, subway trains go flying by me - but I just maintain my Zen trance, and calmly read my book...Philosophy is a great choice when picking a degree and we now have the data to prove it. A friend recently shared a blog post on Facebook that I wanted to highlight. This is an addendum to my earlier post “Humanities is a Good Choice” because graphics can a great way to communicate. The blog post in question leads with a graphic based on the data found here. As I was trying to find a link to the original graphic, I discovered at least 2 other blogs that commented on this data. I get the feeling that we philosophy majors are a bit insecure because we love it when we find evidence supporting our choice. I know I love data like this.

2011-12-13

The Importance of Dialogue

From Ed Yourdon's photostream
I was recently reminded about the importance of dialogue. I had the opportunity to dine with some very smart and interesting people courtesy of VersionOne and their sponsorship of Agilepalooza Irvine 2011. At dinner I was seated by David Hussman of DevJam who is a very good speaker, and has a interest in philosophy amongst other things. As David got up to leave, he asked me who my favourite philosopher is. I answered Wittgenstein as I have for the last 20 years and even as the words left my mouth, it didn’t feel right.

Dialogue is the exchange of ideas and opinions and it isn’t very easy. Some people are so busy speaking that they don’t stop to listen and others are uncomfortable with dialogue so they send emails, or they simply say nothing. Dialogue about philosophy is even harder because those who study philosophy are few. You don’t have to have studied philosophy at school, you just need to have read it and thought about it. And thinking about it isn’t enough, you need to have a dialogue about it.

When you read something, or listen to someone talk, that is only half the process. The second half of the process is to discuss what you think you learned with others. This process helps you solidify your own understanding and (hopefully) forces you to evaluate your own opinions. When David asked me who my favourite philosopher I started to think about it and after some thought realized Wittgenstein is no longer the answer. Without the discussion, I would not have realized this, or perhaps come to this conclusion far later in life. After a fair bit of thought, I can conclusively say Bertrand Russell is my favourite philosopher. I am still fond of Wittgenstein and he is no longer my favourite.

So I have (re)learned that without dialogue you are missing half the learning and I resolve to initiate dialogue about the things I am thinking about. Without that dialogue I don’t know if I have really learned anything, and if you don’t learn anything whats the point?

And unless I figure out how to get people to start commenting, these blog posts are not helping me learn. Tell me about your experiences with the importance of dialogue.

2011-03-31

Humanities is a good choice

In my readings today, I came across this great article on the value of a humanities degree in developing innovation. In summary, the author calls out how the various humanities provide a great foundation to understanding business. This is close to my heart as my degree is a double major of computer studies and philosophy.  “Philosophy?!?” is the usual response to the description of my degree.

Wikipedia’s definition of philosophy is “the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language”. That sounds a lot like programming to me. In both philosophy and programming the plan is to examine the world and model that using some narrowly defined language.

When I started down the path of philosophy, one of my fellow students, and a philosophy major, read a study in a philosophy journal that found more philosophy majors made to to the executive level of companies than business majors. The reasoning behind this fact, if I recall correctly, was the philosophy (humanities) student had a better ability to reason about problems.

So, if you need someone to step back and look at the bigger picture and come up with an innovative solution, hire a humanities student.

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