Archive of posts in category “philosophy”

  • Paul Millerd reviews Bill Perkins’s fascinating book Die With Zero. Most people plan their lives on autopilot, working hard and saving as much as possible for retirement, but that’s a mistake:

    “This is a push against the default or what he calls ‘autopilot.’ Most people look at life and retirement as a money problem because, well, that is what everyone else is doing. By looking at life as a life energy allocation problem you might make different choices like giving money to your children while they are still alive, deprioritizing work and buying back time before you are ‘supposed’ to retire, and spending lavishly on experiences that might pay ‘memory dividends’ to you and people in your life.”

    Perkins emphasises the importance of making memories while you can:

    “As we get older, we spend more time reflecting on our lives. This is why Perkins argues that more people should think about old age as a combination of savings AND memories. Through this lens, having memorable experiences earlier in life, especially before retirement, can be valuable because they will pay memory dividends. And there’s good evidence that this is what makes people happy.”


  • There’s a P&O advert airing at the moment with a voiceover of Alan Watts spouting platitudes about following your dreams. The choice of Watts for a luxury cruise ad was a decision I found odd, given Watts’s reputation (in my mind) as a schlocky new-age huckster. Gus Carter agrees, in some entertaining detail:

    “Watts’s philosophy is difficult to define. He spoke in aphorisms, linguistically clear but conceptually fragmented reflections on the contradictions of human experience. He rejected the idea of the individual and spoke of the ‘European dissociation’, the feeling of oneself as an outsider in a hostile world. Instead, he argued, we are all the universe and any sense of one’s own desires or exertions are merely an expression of the singular universe unfolding.

    “In one lecture, Watts explains: ‘As you cannot conceive, possibly, of the existence of a living body with no environment, that is the clue that the two are basically one… You are both what you do and what happens to you.’ It is a strange argument: you can easily imagine an environment without humans. How is it then that nature and human experience can be described as one and the same? But his pronouncements aren’t designed to be logically analysed. It’s a philosophy of vibes.”


  • David Chapman is writing a book on the meaning of life, called Meaningness, in public on the web. This chapter, on the deceptive lure of nihilism, is particularly interesting.

    The particular attitude that Chapman takes issue with is the idea that, because death is certain, life must lack meaning:

    “In the end, everything is meaningless. Your death is certain, and final. No heaven awaits; you just cease to exist. Life is but a spark in the infinite blackness, a spark that appears, flickers, and dies forever. What meaning could that have? You will soon be forgotten, nothing you do can make any difference in the long run, none of it matters.”

    His thoughtful dismantling of this is neatly summarised towards the end:

    “Yes, nothing really matters in the end. But people forget that things often matter quite a lot in the beginning and the middle.”