Monday, July 25, 2011

The unavoidable selfishness

[Continued from here.]

People tend to give the minimum effort always. We look for our own interests and act in the way it's most convenient. We try to brake the rules (rather than debate them in a civilized way), impose ourselves before others, let others take the blame for our actions, "streetwise-ness", etc. You feel good when you get away with it.

You must always be one step ahead. You must always protect yourself, since they wouldn't care whatever happens to you. Unfairness, bullying, crime, etc., they are all manifestations of the same thing. It's funny how people criticize politicians, and yet they act the same sneaky way in their everyday life.

Egoism is often understood to be a consequence of our finitude. Since life is short, we want to have as many things as possible while we're alive. Therefore, it can't be helped. No one is saying egoism is bad or good, it simply is. Your actions (even the altruistic ones) somehow benefit yourself, otherwise you wouldn't be doing them.
The truth is, if people don't care about something, they'll never put any effort in it. What an individual considers important can only be decided by the individual himself. So, what should you do? On one hand, you should only care for yourself. On the other hand, you can't live alone; thus, you must understand what people close to you consider important and work based on that. Or, you can just continue not giving a shit, since that's what everyone always does.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friedrich Nietzsche - The Death of God/The Last Man

With Modernism, religion had been displaced. God could no longer explain anything. Nietszche called this "The Death of God". We have killed God, no one can tell us what we should do, we can't assure what's right. What now? Do we get lost?

Nietzsche had always criticized society. He accuses us of being conformists: we no longer yearn for anything, we only search our safety. Why is longevity a virtue? Nietzsche called this "Last Man". The Last Man denies God's death and tries to hide behind new Gods, such as the State or money. He's always looking for excuses to not exert his freedom.

"One no longer becomes poor or rich; both are too burdensome. Who still wants to rule? Who still wants to obey? Both are too burdensome. (...) Every one wants the same; every one is equal: he who has other sentiments goes voluntarily into the madhouse." - From Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Nietzsche wants us to accept our weaknesses, our contradictions, and stop denying our freedom. Sure, it's easier said than done. Yet, what I take from this is the importance of taking decisions. You can think a lot of things, but you are only defined by your actions.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Replacements - Alex Chilton

If you liked this, try Can't Hardly Wait or Bastards of Young.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Karl Marx - Historical Materialism

Historians in Marx's time thought that any human civilization could be explain by the products of the Spirit/the mind; this means arts, religion, politics, philosophy, humanities, etc. Marx said that, since men are work, the only thing that explains any civilization is the material or living conditions of working men. Society consists of the base/infrastructure (this is, the work) and an ideological superstructure (the intellectual stuff).

The base consists of two parts: productive forces and relations of production. Productive forces mean workers/proletariat, technologies, sciences, tools; everything used for working. Relations appear when you have somebody owning the tools or technologies. These are the relationships built around production (for instance, owner and worker). Marx stated that productive forces evolve faster than the relations.

An example of this would be the music industry nowadays, and their position on downloading songs for free. We have the technology to be able to produce our own songs and distribute them online for almost no price, and yet record companies want to charge you for downloading, instead of thinking of other ways of making income (like concerts, merchandizing, I don't know). The thing is, relations of production evolve slowly because, if they change, it means people with power will lose it.

When the productive forces have evolved so much the relations become a burden, something called "revolution" occurs, which makes the relations change and History moves forward. This is what Marx called Historical Materialism, since it depends on the material conditions of the workers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Karl Marx - The Concept of Alienation

Marx stated that men are work. Work refers to the fact that we can produce our own means of subsistence. Men are social by nature since it's the only way we work.

What happens when men are separated from the product of their work? This was the case in Marx's time, the time when the industrial revolution had just happened. The living conditions of the working class were very bad, and the rich men exploited them. Think of Oliver Twist or Les Misérables. Men were paid the minimum amount of money so that they could continue living and keep on working.

The problem with capitalism is that it produces more wealth but for less people. The proletariat (this means, the person who owns nothing but his labor force) receives nothing from his work, despite the fact that men are work! Complement this with an involuntary division of labor and you have a very miserable life. This is what Marx called alienation.

It should be noted, to clear up some controversy, that Marx never actually proposed a solution. He died before he could explain "communism". What happened during the 20th century is far from Marx's view, since he clearly stated that there should be no State/no one superior. He just wanted us to work happily. More about Marx on my next post!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rational vs Irrational

Many have divided men into Body and Soul/Spirit, but I don't think that's accurate enough. Men can be divided into two parts: Rational and Irrational.

Our rational side comprises not only our body but our logical/rational thinking. Rational is anything that can be explained rationally (never mind the redundancy). Overall, it's our rational side which helps us to survive. To be efficient, you must be rational.

However, we have an irrational side, related to feelings. This is what makes us truly humans, and not just robots with a particular purpose. It's thanks to irrationality that we have creativity/innovation; however, that's the only good thing about it. It's due to our irrational side that we have fears, insecurities, depression, etc.

The problem is that our irrational side cannot be explained. It is part of human nature not knowing what we really are (and it's also part of human nature to want to find an answer). You can't convince your irrational side with arguments and force it to not feel sad; apparently, it just happens.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

An introduction to Efficiency

Imagine a man who has just been hired to work at an office. The first day of work he comes in motivated, ready to put in effort. However, once he gets there, he finds his co-workers are lazy, and they just do the minimum work possible; they even make fun of him for making an effort. He decides to ignore him and continue with his believes (I won't stop just because they want to, right?)

At the end of the month, the checks come in. This guy was payed the same amount as his lazy co-workers. As the months go by he just gives up and stops caring. Despite the fact that if all workers made an effort, the company would sell more, have higher incomes, and everyone's salary would increase. In theory we should all be as efficient as possible.

This whole "efficiency" thing is a sort of theory I've been developing. It's nothing new or revolutionary; in fact, it is based on and influenced by many different points of view. I just like to express it in my own words.

Why aren't humans efficient all the time and what can we do about it? Well, this will we discussed in my following posts.

EDIT: Bear in mind the work environment is just a metaphor (though it can indeed be applied for work too). After receiving some comments I guess I didn't make it clear. The office is a metaphor for life.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


They started in 1966, and while their career was short (3 years), their influence was huge. Eric Clapton (guitar), Ginger Baker (drums) and Jack Bruce (bass/vocals) were already famous when they decided to join together. They were considered the "cream of the crop" in the British scene, thus the name. Their style, while primary blues-influenced, had some touches of psychedelia, plus great musicianship.

While in their first album they hadn't truly reached their potential, their second album, Disraeli Gears, is one of the best rock albums ever. Sunshine of Your Love, which everyone knows even without being aware of it, is in here. However, they were constantly competing with each other, and they broke up the following year.

My Top 5:

5. White Room
4. Outside Woman Blues
3. I Feel Free
2. Strange Brew
1. Bagde

Friday, July 8, 2011


A brief explanation of Socrates' importance, in case you don't already know him. Many consider him the godfather of philosophy.

Socrates went around asking things we consider as common sense. He asked a General "What is courage?". The General told him it was when a soldier remained firm in battle. Socrates would reply: "No, you're just giving me an example. I asked you what is it?!" And so, talking to Socrates made you realize you knew nothing. Also, he didn't teach you, because he didn't know either.

His famous phrase was: I know that I know nothing. What he meant with this was the fact that you only can learn something if you realize beforehand that you know nothing about the topic. Otherwise, you wouldn't need to learn, right? He also taught us that The unexamined life is not worth living, because you must constantly review you actions in a rational way.
However, Socrates wasn't much appreciated by the masses. Not only did he made them look stupid, but the young people were beginning to question everything, and the men holding the power could lose it. At his trial, Socrates could have been freed if he payed the fine, his friends wanted to pay his fine, but he decided not to because that would be cowardly saving himself at the expense of others. He remained true to what he believed.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Doors

Do I need to say more? One of my favorite bands and one of rock's best groups ever. They emerged in the mid 60's, in the LA psychedelic scene. They experimental style combined blues, psychedelia and rock to create a unique experience. Their vocalist/lyricist, Jim Morrison, was a great frontman.

My favorite albums have to be the first two, the self-titled and Strange Days; somehow later they either abused the formula or did a lot of experimentation (this doesn't mean that it was bad, though). Finally, in 1971, Jim Morrison died mysteriously.

My Top 5:

5. Roadhouse Blues
4. We Could Be So Good Together
3. Peace Frog
2. People Are Strange
1. Break on Through (To the Other Side)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rene Descartes - Cogito Ergo Sum

"I think, therefore I am". The famous phrase by Rene Descartes. Today I'll make a brief explanation of how he came to that absolute axiom and what can be derived from it.

If you want to discover a principle, doubt of anything that isn't 100% true all the time. The sensible world isn't certain, thus my senses aren't trustworthy. Anything I consider logic and true now can just be an illusion, a deceive. But, if it is indeed an illusion, there's necessarily someone who is being deceived. If the world is imaginary, there's somebody conducting cerebral processes and imagining the whole thing. Thus, If I think, I must exist.

Many things can be interpreted from this affirmation. What I take from this is that the most important thing is perception. What an individual thinks about something is more important than the object itself. (Of course this can't be applied all the time, or we wouldn't agree on anything.) The only thing other people know about you is what you appear to be.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Kinks

One of the top British Invasion bands from the 60's. Their early songs cemented the way for hard rock with their powerful riffs. Eventually they matured and refined their sound.

I've heard the phrase "they're more British than the Kinks!". This is because they were one of the first bands to do sketches and portraits of everyday life, though mostly in a satirical way. Village Green and Arthur, their greatest albums, are the best examples of this. In the 70's they had moderate success and a few hits (Lola comes to mind), till they faded away.

My Top 5:
5. All Day and All of the Night
4. Picture Book
3. A Well Respected Man
2. You Really Got Me
1. Sunny Afternoon

Monday, July 4, 2011

Thomas Hobbes - Leviathan

Men are asocial by nature. They only move towards what they desire and away from what they fear. Their two greatest fears are death and the loss of possessions. The three main factors of discord among men are egoism, mistrust and the desire of glory.

Imagine there were no laws acting on us, no State to impose fear and force us to obey (aka State of Nature). Everyone would fight each other to death for their possessions. Under such conditions, we can't acquire wealth. We can't even assure our own safety!

But we aren't idiots. We give away our power to stomp on others in order to live in community, to guarantee our safety (Social Contract). The sum of all those powers, given away by all the people in a nation, is called State. The State must impose fear onto us so we all follow the rules. However, since this is a contract, the State must also respect the citizens.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I'm Back!

I finally have free time, so I'll be posting on the blog again. For those of you who are already following, you know what to expect. For any new followers, please be welcome. In this blog I mostly talk about rock music, but I'm considering widening my horizons.

Feel free to read any previous post you haven't already.

In the meantime, here's a relatively obscure song, Fonz by Eugene McGuinness. Enjoy