The Age of the Spectacle

On Black Friday, a gentle reminder that material things rarely bring lasting contentment and happiness.

A Life of Virtue: Philosophy as a Way of Life

Is this the real world or is it fantasy?

Glowing billboards. ‘Reality’ television. Instagram influencers. Golden yellow arches crowding large city centers. Fake bodies, fake personalities, fake plastic trees.

Flooded with information, memes and seductive advertisements.

McDonalds – I Am Lovin’ it.  Nike- Just Do It. Coca-Cola – Taste the Difference. Apple – Think Different.

Manufactured desires. Manufactured appearances.

Passive spectators. Passive consumers.

Welcome to the age of the spectacle. A world of carefully crafted images and illusions. Fiction becomes reality and the ‘real world’ becomes undesirable.

In modern societies do we think of ourselves as ‘humans’ or mere ‘consumers’? We see an endless stream of advertisements persuading us to buy more and more stuff Source

Even prior to the advent of the internet and social media, French theorist Guy Debord recognized modern societies obsession with appearances and images. In his seminal book The Society of the Spectacle, Debord…

View original post 831 more words

A Life of Virtue: An Introduction (with audio)

We are living in a society that has access to an abundance of knowledge, but we lack wisdom.

We have been connected to the globe online, but we feel more isolated and lonely.

We live in an age of tremendous economic prosperity and wealth, but we are never content, never satisfied.

A life of virtue is a blog about exploring questions that have concerned us since the birth of humanity. Questions that cannot be answered in a lab or solved by corporations. These are philosophical questions central to human existence:

– How can I live a good life?

– What is the purpose of my life?

– How can be we build prosperous, moral and ethical societies?

In our modern age we have been so focused on economic and technological progress that we have abandoned these philosophical pursuits. Individualism and consumerism are now the predominant ideologies in the West, and this has had immense repercussions for our society. Division and polarization have increasingly become a threat in our politics fracturing our sense of community and social cohesion.

The answers we seek to these questions have been debated throughout the centuries. They are not black and white, but require exploration – a vigorous pursuit of the truth. They require us to engage in rational dialogue with others, to view different perspectives and find areas of convergence and common ground.

This is philosophy as a way of life, come join me on this journey

A Life of Virtue: An Introduction A Life of Virtue: Philosophy as a Way of Life

The objective of A Life of Virtue Blog

Source Image: Pexels Free Photos

Indigenous Knowledge: A Roadmap to Belonging Again

What can we learn from Indigenous cultures about being better stewards to the natural world? After all, Indigenous Peoples were the original caretakers of the land thriving in complex societies long before the arrival of European settlers.

As a Canadian citizen, my country along with the rest of the world, has been slowly learning about the violence inflicted on Indigenous Peoples and the horrors of the residential school system. As we collectively come to terms with our past, I think it is important to look at the insights and lessons from Indigenous cultures. Looking at Indigenous ways of being can inform a shift towards healthier and more sustainable modern societies.

The core tenant of Indigenous knowledge systems is the need to cultivate a sense of kinship with others and the environment. Relationships are the core aspect of existence. We are shaped and molded through our connections to our family, friends and place. Humans are not viewed separate or isolated individuals but intertwined in a vast array of different living systems. Thus, we are just one component of the greater whole.  As the Indigenous academic of the Apalech clan in Australia Tyson Yunkaporta writes,

Nothing exists outside of relationships to something else. There are no isolated variables…. The relationships between the knower and the other knowers, places and senior knowledge keepers is paramount. It facilitates shared memory and sustainable knowledge systems.

Tyson Yunkaporta, Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World

Traditions serve to bind us to a collective identity and unite us to something larger than ourselves. They aim to answer the most fundamental questions of existence, namely who am I and how should I live my life? For Indigenous Peoples, as well as other cultures, the answers can be found in cultural stories.

Various Indigenous Peoples in North America carved totem poles to capture their ancestry, identity and beliefs. The duty of each generation is pass on their unique cultural knowledge and wisdom to enable those who come after us to live a good life. Our obligation is not only to respect the insights of our ancestors, but to ensure that we take care of the environment so we can offer a sustainable future. Narcissism and egocentrism is contrary to this spirit. This ethos is reflected in the ancient philosophy of the Iroquos’ seventh generation principle which states that decisions made today should take into account its impact seven generations into the future.

The aim isn’t to forego one’s individuality in service of the collective. Rather it is to value the important role each person plays in enhancing the greater good of the whole. As Tyson Yunkaporta notes,

There is a balance between self-determination and group identity. These two are not contradictory but entwined, and there are names for all the roles you occupy as an agent of complexity in Aboriginal society….Our languages are expressions of land-based networks and facilitate communication across all of these individual nodes and collectives of nodes within and between systems.

Tyson Yunkaporta, Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World

What resonates with me when I reflect on Indigenous ways of being in the world is the yearning for a sense of belonging.  I am indeed grateful for the benefits and comforts of modern society. However, the excesses of individualism and its tendency towards atomization push one to the emptiness of self-gratification.

What Indigenous cultures understood is that the importance of a developing a sense of reverence for the gifts provided by nature.  Indigenous Peoples aim to maintain a sense of balance and harmony with the natural world.  Natural resources and other species are not to be exploited but respected and carefully preserved. For instance, Indigenous hunting practices carefully observe health of other species by restricting overconsumption through setting limits on how much wild game can be caught and controlling what lands can be accessed. The goal is to establish a healthy and reciprocal relationship between us humans and the world around us.  

We are part of the environment and therefore our wellbeing is directly correlated with the health of other living systems.

The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it. If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity — then we will treat each other with greater respect. Thus is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective

David Suzuki

As I walk through the forest on a vibrant fall afternoon, I am enthralled by the kaleidoscope of bright colours of leaves gently gliding to the ground. The beauty of the world never ceases to astonish me. There is so much more to life than the narrow demands of my own selfish ego.

What matters to me now is being a good steward and preserving the gifts and beauty of the earth for others and for our future ancestors.

I continue my hike forward and earnestly try to follow the wisdom that Indigenous Peoples offer as a roadmap to a healthier more sustainable life.


Source Image Pexels Free Photos