No absolute formulas

“I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a man’s life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience.

Martin Buber

Myth and Meaning

The Universe Doesn’t Care About Your ‘Purpose’

 By JOSEPH P. CARTER, New York Times

An interesting comment by a reader:

“I wonder if the author could account for the moral difference between a child sex slave trafficker & a person who commits her or his life to fighting such brutal exploitation. is the idea that the former is immoral just an arbitrary convention & psychological crutch, & are the two perspectives (for and against such trafficking) really just biological coping devices, neither intrinsically less or more moral than the other?

Dostoevsky explored this question through Raskolnikov’s interrogation of whether an objective moral standard exists, the book for Dostoevsky a thought experiment, the act of murder a laboratory experiment for the protagonist. The compelling conclusion is there is something wrong with murder that goes deeper than the psychological discomfort (or biological maladaptation) a scientific naturalist sees as the main component of moral disapproval. 

a pure materialistic scientific rationalism must confront a moral “pascal’s wager”; the only rational position is to admit agnosticism rather than atheism (which can’t be proved), & found his moral bearings on acknowledged uncertainty. 

That reality of the human condition imposes objective moral requirements that blind nature could not supply. we’re forced to make moral distinctions & denied any scientific-naturalistic copout.”

“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own. The Igbo, always practical, put it concretely in their proverb Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya: ‘He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.'”

Chinua Achebe

“Those who wish to lull us into closing our eyes”

“Our lives are a battlefield on which is fought a continuous war between the forces that are pledged to confirm our humanity and those determined to dismantle it; those who strive to build a protective wall around it, and those who wish to pull it down; those who seek to mould it and those committed to breaking it up; those who aim to open our eyes, to make us see the light and look to tomorrow […] and those who wish to lull us into closing our eyes”

Ngugi wa Thiong’o


“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware” – Martin Buber

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – attributed to (but according to  very unlikely by – Mark Twain

Condemned to life

“In early youth, as we contemplate our coming life, we are like children in a theatre before the curtain is raised, sitting there in high spirits and eagerly waiting for the play to begin. It is a blessing that we do not know what is really going to happen. Could we foresee it, there are times when children might seem like innocent prisoners, condemned, not to death, but to life, and as yet all unconscious of what their sentence means.”