The Philosophical Apprentice

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” Albert Einstein

Take Back Your Life by Cutting Back on Your Internet Usage at Home

Over the past year or so I noticed something very disturbing. Compared to my earlier self which could easily read 60- 100 books a year, I was barely reading at all. To be sure, I was reading all the time – on the computer at work and on the computer at home- but it was either work related or it was on my RSS reader. But when it came to books I wasn’ t reading very many and when I did sit down to read I found that i had a very hard time concentrating on the book at hand.

At first I blamed it on being very busy, and of course I am pretty busy. I am a husband and father. I spend three nights a week at Judo and Aikido. In the past Monday night was the one night I watched television and then Friday night I spent staying up to all hours watching Youtube videos. Saturday night I usually spent preparing for my Sunday school class the next morning. So all of this cut into the time available for reading. But I couldn’t blame it all on being busy. There were other factors.

One of those factors was linux. For the past year or so I have become absolutely obsessed with linux to the point where I was wheedling all my friends and family to allow me to install linux on all their old computers. i started using virtual machines to test various linux distros and before you knew it I was spending hours every night fiddling with linux.

All of these were factors to be sure but one I thing noticed that really scared me was the amount of time I wasted just aimlessly cruising the internet. I would sit down at the computer to check a few sites or do some quick research on a subject and the next thing you know I had spent hours on the internet with nothing to show for it. I began to feel a deep sense of disgust with myself. The culmination came one night when I caught myself up at 230 in the morning watching videos of a cat riding a damn vacuum cleaner.

The problem I have come to believe was the internet itself. While the internet can be a wonderful thing, in my case and, i suspect, many others the internet can also become an addiction. Most of my job involves staying abreast of current events and there is a certain rush you get as you follow news stories play out in the media cycle. But I realized that I was taking that same craving home with me. And I don’t like that. I want my home life to be insulated as much as possible from the affairs of the world. I want the peace and tranquillity to think about ideas and issues that matter. I want to be able to read good books. I want to get my school work done. I want to be present for my kids and to my wife. i want them to have my full attention when I with them. I want my life back.

And so for these reasons I decided to forgo the internet at home. At first I decided to try it for the remainder of Lent but I have had such good success with it that I think I will try and make it permanent.

I want to make it clear that I have not cut out the internet completely ( I am writing this on my home computer). What I have done though is to severely limit my internet consumption. I don’t turn it on in the mornings before work since my morning time is a valuable commodity. I also do my best to turn the computer off as soon as I get home from work since the very fact that it is on represents a temptation to use it. To make this possible i try and do everything I need to do on a computer at work. If I do have to use a computer I turn it on just long enough to do whatever it is that needs to be done and then I turn it off.

I can only say that it is truly one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. I have read more in the past two weeks than I have read in ages. I am happy to report that I am starting to read philosophy again and i hope that I have freed up some time to devote my schoolwork which has really suffered over the past year. Based on my experience, I wholeheartedly recommend limiting your internet usage at home I think you will be much happier and more productive if you do.

If you’d like to read how and why other people have made the same decision to drastically alter their relationship with the internet you can find more here,here, or here

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Read More This Year

One of the goals I set for myself this year was to read more. Brandon Vogt has a free, new video series on how to do just that. See here.

Edwin deLattre

I have been reading David Hicks Norms & Nobility and in the preface to the 1990 edition I came across a reference to Edwin deLattre. I had never heard of him so I decided to look him up. DeLattre, it turns out was a philosopher at Boston University. DeLattre appears to have done a lot of work in applied ethics and wrote what is considered the classic textbook on law enforcement ethics. He also wrote for a popular audience for whom he penned a powerful and moving essay for Crisis magazine called The Test of Intimacy back in 1998. The essay is a serious meditation on the challenges to true intimacy presented by our sentimentality, our mania for information and our drive for ‘closure’ which for LaMattre is nothing more than our therapeutic culture’s desire to avoid suffering at all costs. Given my recent preoccupation with the technocratic mindset, this passage caught my eye:

The fashions that have become dominant in the years since my marriage belie the assumption that we live in an information age. We live in a sentimentalist age, an age in which lust for information is a trifle compared with the lust for self-gratifying and episodic feelings, for physical pleasures and self-aggrandizing esteem. The lust for information itself signals a preoccupation with immediate and easy satisfaction, far distant from and usually inimical to the love of wisdom. The brief attention span and limited concentration required for surfing the Web cannot prepare a person for serious, let alone intimate, conversation. The techniques of information gatherers—pollsters and narrow research specialists—require little or nothing of the powers of observation, discernment, inference, and analogy essential to understanding anything of consequence. Neither can the easy acquisition of data by such means prepare a person to use the highest educational technology of our time: the demanding, well-conceived book.

The past sixteen years since the publication of this essay can only, I think, confirm the accuracy of this observation.

Class Project in Epistemology

I finished up my class in logic and epistemology this semester and am posting my class project. Down below you will find an audio/video lecture as well as a power point presentation of the lecture and a script to go along with it. You will also find an annotated bibliography

Josef Pieper Epistemology Powerpoint Presentation

Script for Josef Pieper Presentation

Annontated Bibliography -Josef Pieper Presentation

 

Epic Put Down of Windows 8

This has got to be the funniest tech review ever. What was Microsoft thinking? All I can say is long live Linux!

There’s a Gene for That

The “God Gene” as explained by John Cleese

Latin Language Resources

The New Years has found me with a rekindled desire to learn Latin.

I want to make the process as painless as possible at the beginning so I am using Evan der Millner’s London Latin Course which you can find for free here.

Another free Latin course that I would like to use in the future can be found here.

You may be asking yourself why in the world would you want to be studying a dead language? Here’s one good argument.

Here’s another good argument.

There’s thousands of more resources like this on the web. It truly is a golden time for the study of Latin.

Maybe one a day I will be good enough to contribute to – what else – Vicipaedia!

Hat tip to the Produtive Catholic for the leads on the  videos.

Another Reason to Not Let Your Kids Watch Too Much Television

A Japanese study indicates that watching television alters children’s brains in an adverse way. See here.

Don’t Forget the Bard in Your New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year

Now that 2014 is upon us I’m sure everybody is busy plannin their New Year’s resolutions. But have you thought about reading Shakepeare’s complete works in your res0lutions? Matthew Franck, the Director of the Witherspoon Institute’s William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution thinks its a good idea. In fact, he created an entire reading plan to pull it of. 

In a fit of self-improvement, I decided to dedicate 2013 to reading everything by William Shakespeare. I found, however, that while the internet is thickly populated with Bible-in-a-year reading plans, apparently no one has published a Shakespeare_in_one_year. So I had to take some time to create one—plays on weekdays, poems on weekends. The plays vary enough in length that they range from five to eight days’ worth of reading apiece. I have stuck to it, and am nearly finished. The daily diet of Shakespeare has been very invigorating. I used the text of The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works (second edition), available in highly portable Kindle format but with an unfortunately high incidence of bugs and typos in the conversion from print. But there is at least one complete-Shakespeare app for free out there, with a sound text.

What a great idea. I’m going to do this myself. You should be able to download the plan from the website on the link provided. However, I have attached it here for good measure. Good luck.

Keeping a Reading Log

Lately I have had good success in spending more time reading every night instead of wasting time on the internet. One of the tools I have used to good effect in this endeavor is to  keep a reading log.

I keep it as simple as possible. I have a favorite chair where I do the majority of my reading. At the side table I keep a notepad where I write down the date and the titles of the books I am reading along with start times and end times. I ‘ve also decided to start adding the pages I read each time. And that’s it.

I’m shooting for 20 hours a week and I hope that keeping better track of what and when I read will help. So far I’m pleased. I have been doing it for about a week so far with some success. I’ve noticed that when I’m goofing off on the computer it’s on the back of my mind now to log off the e-meth machine and settle down to read for my quota.

I may adding some features like plot summaries or my reactions to the book int the future. Better yet I might one day start keeping my daily notes of my reading material on this blog  but for the time being I want to stick with what I’m doing. Right now I’m so happy that I came up with a good idea of my own.

If you’d like more information on the value of keeping a reading log  read this article by Cynthia Crossen.

You will also enjoy a great little blog Kaizen Reading. The author Dolly Garland has a very good post on 9 Reasons to Keep A Reading Journal.

I hope you enjoy  the articles and I hope you will also start your own reading log.

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