March 8, 2021No Comments

Signaling Virtue

“Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible.” — Aristotle

Courage is under attack by the status quo. The status quo is encouraging the collective to virtue signal fear. A collective virtue signaling fear can grow only wide, not tall. How can we go back to building tall?

The Purpose of Fear

Fear does the perceiver no good past its ability to alert you to danger. Fear is the evolutionary instinct that dumps the body with adrenaline in the face of danger and helps us transition into fight or flight mode. Fear is a trigger.¹ A trigger should elicit a state change, not remain a constant state. You don't hold the trigger down on a gun after it fires.

Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Remaining in a fear state is unsustainable. It is an unwanted state that should prompt you in one of two directions.

Anxiety

If you're entering the downward spiral, then the second stage akin to being fearful is anxious.

Anxiety: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

To be anxious is to be unbalanced.³ If we are one removed from balance when we are anxious, and we continue down this path of worry towards a future state, when it arrives we will be unprepared to meet it's challenge and our net balance will be further disrupted. Anxiety is a distraction from the now. We can only prepare for an uncertain future state by preparing for it, in the now.

Caution

So what's the alternative in order to spiral upward?

Caution: care taken to avoid danger or mistake.

The actions you take in a state of caution as opposed those taken in a state of fear or anxiety are drastically different. In a way, one leads you forward and one leads you stagnant. Choosing caution is like saying, 'Hey, there's danger out there. But now I know about it, and so I can take steps to better situate myself for what initially brought me fear.' Choosing to be anxious until what we are afraid of comes and goes steals away our opportunity to endure a challenge better prepared, or maybe even prevent it.

Looping back to Courage

There will always be new things to be afraid of, and so the decisions we make in the present build habits for how we will respond when we re-enter the state of fear. Anxiety hopes for an outcome, and until one or another comes to pass, does nothing for the individual, and so you return to a new loop in a state no better than before. The incorrect response to anxiety is stagnation, whereas taking any action at all in caution is courageous. Even if it's wrong action, we learn, we adapt, and we re-enter the loop better than before.

At the end of the day, definitions are anecdotal; but, I'm about to throw down the last one. What I’m really getting at is how to choose the best path forward from fear, and that's where courage really becomes important.

Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one.

Assuming a position of courage requires taking on a certain amount of responsibility and risk. The only way to move forward requires taking risk. You can't take a single step without risking a fall. This is what triggers my fear: that we are easing into a paradigm where we stop being celebrated for doing things that frighten us. I am anxious that we are accepting this new norm with the justification that it's safer to stay still rather than have the courage to overcome our fears and move forward.

The status quo

I wanted to write these thoughts down because I'm watching it become more and more common to virtue signal fear. Virtue signaling refers to the act of expressing opinions or ideas publicly with the intention to obtain a moral high ground on an issue. Virtue signaling fear looks something like this —

Washington University, St. Louis

If I had a dollar for every email I've received from companies letting me know that "The health and safety of our customers and team members is the most important thing to us...etc, etc", I'd have enough to have bought a share of GME at its high a few weeks ago. This genre of virtue signaling serves only as a fear reminder and is hypocritical in practice.

Mike Rowe, former host of Dirty Jobs and Returning the Favor who promotes 'Safety Third' puts it succinctly —

If Safety were really first, companies would pay their employees to be safe. Of course, they don’t. They pay them to work, and to assume risk. Saying “Safety Third” reminds me of that simple fact. And that keeps my crew and me more focused, and hopefully, more safe.

So what is there to gain other than moral high ground from virtue signaling fear?

Danger Propheteering

This is profiting socially off of being a prophet of danger.

The social status of a person who warns of a danger is increased in proportion to their successful prediction when that danger arrives. This will always be the case, but when left unchecked, the cycle may become alarmingly self-fulfilling. Even now, some thought leaders are incentivized to increase their status by continuing to beckon more impending doom. It's why I think the present state of fear has been perpetuated beyond reason. It's become a calling card of social brownie points to be more afraid than our anonymous peers, and this mechanism is carried forward by danger propheteers warning of continuous imminent cause of worry.

If only we'd just do or have done {X}, {Y} would all be behind us.

It's curious how new Y's continue to appear despite broad compliance of X.

Slave Morality

Our status quo is alarmingly exemplary of Nietzsche's slave morality. Slave morality suggests a post-modern era that promotes weakness and pacifism as virtues and places victimhood on par with sainthood.⁶

In this same vein, Nietzsche goes so far as to pull the utopian ideal from its pedestal. He suggests that utopia is built by investing power in the state in exchange for protecting its citizens from death and supplying endless pleasures. The net negative arrives when the myriad ingrains this new rejection of death and struggle and succumbs to a stale future and purposeless endeavors in the present.

But who desires this state?

The Mephistophelian Mob

There are massive, irreversible forces now developing the exterior waves; who will speak for the interior development that alone will divert catastrophe? -Ken Wilbur⁷

The massive irreversible forces at work are mass-less as well. They take form in the ethereal motivations and actions of a subset of society. This reversion to collectivism works against the sovereign individual — he or she who can and has the freedom to give form to potential from their place in the world.

Collectivism with empathetic intentions turns selfish when the game turns to equality at the expense of liberty. The collective amalgamation and reduction of a set of motives creates a structure supported by common denominators.

Majority yields value {X} which inhibits value {Y} when they are mutually exclusive. Safety at the expense of liberty for example, you can't have a value above liberty as that would serve to inhibit liberty. This happens over and over until we reach gridlock freedom or none at all. I call this the action of the Mephistophelian mob because it's resembling of the motives of Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust.⁸ People who act out Mephistophelian philosophy are out against being for the crime thereof and so subconsciously take actions in the world that inhibit being itself.

The Nuclear Individual

We create heroes to match the ideals we need to move towards more broadly. This is also the case with gods. Our current religions aren't outdated, but they have lost credibility due to broader access to information and global communications. This increasingly became the case in the past as well. Deity abstraction hit a cap amongst tribes and eventually world religions began to clash rather than merge to create a new hierarchy of gods.

Sovereign nations arm themselves such that it's in each others' best interests to resolve conflict through non-violent tactics. Sovereign individuals can work towards the same. To do this, though, they have to go nuclear to move the collective towards the currently required ideals.

The nuclear individual doesn't become a raging lunatic, they instead speak their truths into the world when they are in position to do so. Currently, some truths are being nulled by popular lies that everyone has agreed on.⁹ The nuclear individual is courageous because they put forth their truths into the world.

Right now, there's a misconception that speaking what you deem to be true doesn't outweigh the cost of how you may be perceived should that truth be spoken. This is in fact currently true for the individual. Why speak up when livelihood is literally at risk in many cases? What we need to rediscover is our transcendental 'why'. The 'why' that supersedes what's best for our personal state.

My 'why' is that when I look out into the world as it stands right now, the thing that pushes me closer to anxiety than caution is that there are people taking action based on false truths. People's attention is the most valuable thing that they have.

I want to do what I can to help people discover what they deem to be true with all the information available to them so they can best act in accordance with how they are capable of making a positive impact on the world.


  1. Penn Medicine, Fight or Flight: The Science of Fear...And Why We Like Scary Movies, October 02, 2017, Accessed February 10, 2021, https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2017/october/fear.
  2. Collins, James C. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't. Collins, 2009.
  3. Jung, C. G. The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings. Princeton University Press, 1989.
  4. Mark Peters, Virtue signaling and other inane platitudes, December 24, 2015, Accessed February 11, 2021, https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2015/12/24/virtue-signaling-and-other-inane-platitudes/YrJRcvxYMofMcCfgORUcFO/story.html.
  5. Mike Rowe, OFF THE WALL: Safety Third Conversation Continues, August 11, 2014, Accessed February 11, 2021, https://mikerowe.com/2014/08/off-the-wall-safety-third-conversation-continues/.
  6. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, and Kennedy John McFarland Tr. The Genealogy of Morals; a Polemic, Translated by Horace B. Samuel, M.A. Peoples and Countries (Fragment). Macmillan Co., 1923.
  7. Wilber, Ken. One Taste: Daily Reflections on Integral Spirituality. Shambhala, 2000.
  8. Von, Goethe Johann Wolfgang, and Barker Fairley. Goeth's Faust. Toronto University Press, 1970.
  9. Schnieders, Sven. A Philosophical Walk. Self Published, 2021.

November 12, 20201 Comment

Obstructions to Truth

My Medium account has been suspended and is currently labeled as under investigation without explanation after I posted this article. No big issue, all my writing is still available on my independently hosted site which is most likely where you're reading this. However this does bring to my attention a larger concern I'm beginning to have for censoring of perspectives that are counter to the broader narrative.

I think we saw a modest version of this with Coronavirus when it rapidly became outside the Overton Window to consider the possibility that it had a synthetic origin. I feel that we'll be seeing it over the next few weeks as information continues to surface surrounding the recent election as well. To reveal the truth at scale, it's important to maintain the ability to consider all possibilities in a civil way. It's when we shut out the ability to communicate perspectives in the public forum, regardless of whether the outcome changes, that the intransigent minority I reference in my banned post are driven to radical action.

Consider that nearly every outlet you use to consume information is a private entity subject to influence by outside motivators. It's worth a beat of extra effort to validate what you see as fact on the onset and come to conclusions independent of any one outlet. It's safe to say that the major social platforms can no longer be trusted as unbiased information filters on behalf of the public. Internal activists and trolls have already been shown to make tweaks to the platforms without supervision. Hop on Twitter and give 'loser' a search —

Or maybe you caught the furor surrounding Winston Churchill back in June of this year. Around the same time, the former British Prime Minister's profile photo and a critical information block was temporarily missing from google search —

If you haven't listened to the recent testimony with the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google about whether their technology enables bad behavior and how they filter truth, it's worth pushing back the block of time where you'd usually listen to Joe Rogan and lend an ear. You can check it out here:

Take stock in assessing how you come to conclusions. It's worth expanding the net with which you usually take in information. If it's being based off of what comes up in a digital feed, it's highly mutable and especially subject to internal bias. Rugged Montana social observer Lyle Benjamin points out a more zoomed out concern in this line of thinking —

I have predicted that our current age will be the least documented of the last five hundred years. Our digital archives will be fragmented, corrupted and censored in ways both accidental and malicious. By turns there will be more bits of data, and less usable information than anytime since the Bronze Age.

— Lyle Benjamin | June 14th, 2020

In short, we have access to more noise than ever but it's becoming increasingly the responsibility of the individual to find signal. The scarcity of individuals taking up this responsibility to read deeper than the surface is equally a factor in the nation's current divide. The issues we are discussing as parts of the whole are more complex than the binary tags we're giving them and need to be exchanged as such. It takes effort to pursue the truth. The broad inclination to avoid this effort is being massively taken advantage of as a means of serving up easy to find, false truths.

We're identifying too much as members of a party and too little as individuals in a society. A greater emphasis on the latter would promote the breadth of empathy that we are pretending to encourage through depth.

I promote no partisan perspective. I only encourage you to take the effort to seek the truth and I'm confident you'll find it worthy of your attention. My pull to be a cairn to others on this path is what excites me most about being a part of the Articulate Ventures Network. We are a patchwork of thinkers that want to articulate ideas in a forum where they can be respectfully challenged, improved and celebrated so that we can explore complex subjects, learn from those we disagree with and achieve our personal & professional goals.

For more ideas like this or to stay up to date, Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to Conscious Repository —

October 27, 2020No Comments

How > What | Why

It's not uncommon for me that I enter into a stall in action because I focus too deeply on the latter 2 words in the title rather than the first. Whether it's 30 minutes or multiple hours, often carrying into my evening or until I go to sleep, there have been moments where I'm unable to choose a definitive course of action because I'm too distracted by the loop in my internal dialog asking myself what I am doing and why I am doing it. Instead, as I've been learning to condition myself over time, the question to prompt yourself to action should be questions that begin instead with how.

A series of content I've consumed over the last few weeks prompted me to think deeper on this concept that I read originally in The Bhagavad Gita. There, Krsna originally expresses the idea to Arjuna that one can more quickly find the path to doing His work by asking questions that begin with how rather than what or why. This theme is carried heavy throughout the book and eventually evolves into the Trichotomy of Nature, The Enjoyer and Consciousness which is the title of chapter 13.

Hovering for a moment here on what is meant by 'His work', this is something I think we read in many places under different words of choice depending on the medium. The Bible might call this 'God's work or following in his footsteps', I interpret it as what Cal Newport calls 'Deep Work' or even what Steven Pressfield refers to in The War of Art as 'Listening to his muse'. In the Articulate Ventures Network, we commonly refer to this as something along the lines of 'Following the path of our Daemon', a layering of Pattern Language on what Plato originally called the 'daemonic'.

Back to Krsna's instruction, again he suggests the asking of a how question as a means of hearing this call to one's path. Pursuing a how question is similar to engaging in a novelty search. Put briefly, this means not to plan where you are going(what), but to instead follow what you find interesting. What you find interesting as the how in this example may be easy to confuse with framing a why, but the easy way to make that distinction is to properly identify the why trap as 'why do you find it interesting?'

Having your what or why in mind is never a bad thing, but unless you engage the how, your pursuit as a whole will remain stagnant, regardless of the validity of the what or why. Alternatively put in The Bhagavad Gita is this idea as Knower, Knowledge < The process of knowing. Say you are a knower who has knowledge, if you don't continue your pursuit for what's unknown, even that unknown just to you, you will remain in a constant state for the rest of your life which is arguably equivalent to not being there at all. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the way Persig describes quality as the knife's edge of experience is not unlike the view I'm proposing of how as a means of transcending what is an what ought and choosing the path to increased the whole.

What made me want to write this today was a No Country for Old Men Explained video from YouTube. In it, the narrator points out that the characters who rejected a coin flip put forth by the antagonist, whether it be on the premise of why they should answer or what they'd stand to gain if they did, were killed by default rather than having any chance at all.

The main idea here is that how is the only path forward. If you have a problem and you focus on what it is and why it is, then it won't go anywhere. If you have a goal, and you know what that goal is and why you want to achieve it but don't engage your how, you will never achieve it either.

I encourage you to look at a problem or a goal in your life right now & ask yourself —

How will I solve it or How will I achieve it?

June 18, 2020No Comments

Happening or Happened

Causal loops are a sequence of events in which an action with a cause creates an effect and that effect is subsequently the root cause of the initial action. Often after a longer sequence of Cause:Effect pairings.

Popular fiction refers to this sequence as the Bootstrap ParadoxSee also an information paradox, or an ontological paradox.

The problem with the BP is that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is suggested to interfere with the system.

The second law of thermodynamics states that the total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time, and is constant if and only if all processes are reversible.

In layman’s terms, in our perception of linear time, we envision the loop to continue forever in a straight line. However, entropy will interfere with this perceived loop.

Simply — picture a rock tumbling infinitely from one portal to another; One at the top and one at the bottom of a slope. The portal at the bottom transports the rock to the top, the exact length of time it takes to reach the bottom. Eventually, in a loop model, entropy will wear this system and the rock will cease to exist, but where did the rock originate? Thus, the paradox.

Recall our post ‘On Speed’, where we suggest that everything is happening all at once and that time a constant. Rather, ‘A Flat Circle’ to use Rustin Cohle’s terminology.

In this model, the loop as we would envision it in our linear model is not ‘happening’ repeatedly; It has simply ‘happened’, and the loop system we keep referring to is only a constant event in an isolated system, negating the break from The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

What will you make happen?

May 26, 2020No Comments

On Speed

The speed of light is measured to have the same value of c = 3x108 m/s no matter who measures it, where they measure it or how fast they are moving through spacetime when they do so.

Reality is a break from stillness. 1 → Many

Speed, as we measure it in our locale, is a metric contingent on comparison. If you are moving at 10 meters per second, you are doing so in comparison to something that is at rest relative to you. However, that something is also moving with earth at approximately 460 m/s. Earth additionally, is moving with our solar system at 230 km/s and so on. The more we zoom out, the more we regress to the mean, the constant state of our ‘being’:

“Time is a flat circle” — Matthew Mcconaughey as Rustin Cohle in True Detective.

Everything is happening all at once and has happened in every fashion possible from infinity to epsilon. The speed of light is a constant perhaps because in our building blocks, we too follow the same wave-particle duality. We are only constant fixtures in our perception of reality in the flat circle that is our brief segment of time.

The way to break the stillness was, is and always has been for the 1 to become the many, introducing duality and subsequently the myriad. This therein opens the door for metrics of comparison, hierarchy in experience, and everything that makes our segment of the circle an exciting journey and not the emptiness it is by default.

Speed with no point of reference might as well be still.

How fast are you moving?

May 20, 2020No Comments

Is vs Ought

When new information is discovered, first, we divulge the is — the fact, the raw truth that is the fruit of effort. Subsequently, those in the conversation begin to frame the ought — the ‘what to do’ or the actionable responsibility of the is.

As ease of access to information has increased, the closed doors that once surrounded new paradigms have been unlocked and public conversation is now open to forum that was once exclusive to the ivory tower.

The decentralization of framing the ought has ushered in the opportunity for the myriad to promote a more progressive future. This starts by many individuals choosing a conversation and raising their voice.

Engage in constructive dialog and listen to opposition, the yin needs the yang to pull to center.

Don’t speak with volume, speak with accuracy.

What do you have to say?

May 12, 2020No Comments

Replications

We make things, that look like things, but they are not those things. They are copies of an original and always themselves, another original should they serve that purpose.

Often, parts of a whole —

People in a universe.

Symbols that are meant to convey a message, perform a function, serve a purpose.

Nothing that is 2nd is ever equivalent to the 1st, each is unique. With the exception of massed produced tools, which too, are simply replications of an original, the act of replication in an individual should be viewed as a sin. Functioning as an independent individual among the myriad is crucial to expanding the limits of the whole.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

— Charles Caleb Colton

To self actualize is to enable one’s self for peak original output. Original creative output is arrogance of the highest order because you are suggesting you have the capacity to produce something in a new and better fashion than has ever been done. The craziest part — you do.

Are you imitating or are you flattered?

May 5, 2020No Comments

Resurrecting God

“God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us?”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

We must wipe it off ourselves.

A spirit without a faith has 2 options:

  1. Succumb to Nihilism
  2. Will your own will

Nietzsche’s biggest fear in a world torn from God was that we would wallow in our ‘will for nothingness’.

Nietzsche saw this coming however, and he offered us a way out. The creation of our own values as self actualized individuals:

"For the game of creation, my brothers, a sacred yes is needed: the spirit now wills his own will."

What is your will?