Category Archives: Season 1

Season One: The Free Prisoner’s Dilemma


Episode 1:
The Meaning of Life: Where I was
In which the two friends Me and Notme try do deal with everything being pointless. With the help of many thinkers, Me resorts to hedonism, while Notme refuses to give up on finding meaning in existence 

 

Episode 2:
The Meaning of Stuff
A description how we manufacture meaning of items and other stuff around us, and how it is all connected with feelings.

 

 

Episode 3:
What’s ‘meaningness‘? or the Wrath of God
In which Notme refuses to give up on finding meaning. She coins the term “meaningness” without really defining it. The conversation is interspersed by a science fiction story about a scientist who very well may have disproved (or proved?) God’s existence. Would that matter? 

 

Episode 4:
Understanding Understanding
In which I try to understand what it means to understand something. As it is a topic which inevitably becomes a bit meta, I try explaining it in a way which makes the points I’m trying to make. 

 

Episode 5:
Time, memory, and the pursuit of meaningness
In which Notme develops her thoughts on meaningness to a reluctantly interested Me. She relates it to memorable moments of life changing quality while dismissing happiness as something false to pursue. 

 

Episode 6:
(trans)formations part 1: On being a bit of filth.
Notme, while trying to understand meaningness stumbles upon a quote on what makes a human being. In this first part, Me argues that the sense of self is an illusion in a deterministic world.

 

 


Episode 7:
(trans)formations part 2: On being a human being.
Notme, on thinking on Me’s emails, strongly disagrees and explains why there is room for personhood, and why it is so important for us to take responsibility for our personhood and become human beings and not bits of filth.

 

 

Episode 8:
The pain in the brain game
On the pain of being ostracised. Brain research shows how social pain is equivalent to physical pain in some parts of the brain. This means that social and physical pain have similar functions: Telling us what to avoid at all cost.

 

 

 

Episode 9:
A false sense of insecurity
In which insecurity is described as a driving force for sustaining cultures and identity. Here culture savvy adults do anything to stay within their comfort zones, which essentially makes them prisoners who decide to be content, or even happy, with their circumstances. The free prisoner is not free. She is a bit of filth and not a human being.

 

 

Episode 10:
The Meaningness of Life
This is the Season Finale. Here meaningness is finally defined. It turns out that it has to do with sincere engagements–with oneself, with Eachother, and with the surrounding world. Through sincere engagements one brings into existence new aspects of oneself and Eachother, which only manifest through sincerity. Thus, one transforms the self, Eachother, and the world.

Cynicism, in many respects, is the opposite of meaningness.

Thinking of Things, Season1, Episode 10:

The Meaningness of Life
Towards a sincere being.

Immanuel Kant: Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.”

This season has been about meaning, and it has been about formations and transformations and how these are connected. And it has been about meaningness, discussed in many and roundabout ways without spelling out what it is. It is time to concretise what is meant by meaningness, as well as to summarise the season.

Thinking Of Things is a way for me to investigate ideas and to spark conversations with those who read, and those who don’t. As such it has been a succesful season, with many conversations in person, email, comments on the posts, and on social media. For the purpose of a line of thought is not its conclusion. The purpose is the line of thought itself, and that it may not end. The word conclusion is a misnomer in this sense; to conclude signifies an end, while in reality it signifies a continuation, a new beginning. A reached conclusion is boring and meaningless without the follow-up question: so what? And thus, with your help, we continue our line of thought together. This is the concluding episode of the season. Read Episode 10

Thinking Of Things, Season 1, Episode 9:

A false sense of insecurity
The free prisoner’s dilemma 

We perceive the world, and we perceive what is in the world. We separate objects from objects, and we ascribe them value. We create salient landscapes. And then we sort. We categorise, we make lists, and we understand. 

Here is an example of a taxonomy, a list which orders and sorts something: 

Three parts to understanding:
1. Definition. The ability to separate stuff from other stuff and to assign them emotional value or meaning. (See Episode 2)
2. Taxonomy. The sorting of things into categories. (See e.g. this list.)
3. Intuition. To feel as if something is understood, and thus have it become an intuition, gut feeling and “common sense”. (See Episode 4).

And a feeling of understanding emerges.

Read Episode 9

Thinking Of Things, Season 1, Episode 8:

The pain in the brain game
on how deeply the tossing of balls affects our brains 

A fascinating and increasingly famous psychology experiment has to do with the tossing of a ball.

The psychologist Kipling Williams and his colleagues brought in test-subjects for a general survey. The test-subjects were asked in-depth questions about their psychological well being; about their sense of belonging, their sense of being in control, their self-esteem, how meaningful they find their existence, how unique they find themselves and others and so on. But unbeknownst to the test-subjects, they were participating in an experiment with a somewhat cruel twist.

Read Episode 8

Thinking Of Things, Season 1, Episode 7:

(trans)formations part 2
On being human beings

At a masquerade one puts on a mask in order to demask for each other. (Credit: Aniwa Watts, Wikimedia Commons)

From: Notme                                            4 February
To: me                                                      12.06 a.m.

 I refuse to believe that free will is just an illusion!

I was still groggy early in the morning when I opened my email and was met by this sentence. It would appear the email discussion we had had, Notme and I, concerning whether a human being is anything beyond her “Human Nature” or just a bit of filth, was far from over. And that I had not yet won the argument. Read Episode 7

Thinking Of Things, Season 1, Episode 6:

(trans)formations part 1
On being a bit of filth  

From: Notme                                                               23 January
To: me                                                                         11.34 p.m. 

Hey! I’ve had a quote on my mind lately. It’s from Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren, where at one point she says “There are things you have to do, even if you don’t dare to, because otherwise you are not a human being but just a bit of filth.” Being a human being and not just a bit of filth seems essential for finding meaningness to me. But what does it mean to be a human being? Isn’t everyone a human being anyway? Any thoughts? Read Episode 6

Thinking Of Things, Season 1, Episode 5:

Time, memory, and the pursuit of meaningness.
Wherein, during a conversation in the park, things melt

We were out for a walk, as so many times before, Notme and I, and a long time had passed since the last time we did. It was just the kind of a splendid summer’s day I enjoy so much, not a cloud in the sky. We were surrounded by an ever changing flock of joggers as we arrived at the meadow with the pond I had visited so often before. Somehow I did not enjoy it as much as I thought that I would, nor as much as I remember enjoying the exact same conditions in the past. Somehow it felt like a repetition.
Me: “When we age, time appears to go faster and faster as things lose their novelty. In the end we have experienced so much that we die from boredom. Dying of old age is a myth.”
Notme: “That is why people have children, to see the world anew through the eyes of the little ones.”
Me: “Sure. And then grandchildren. After a while even that is not enough to add novelty to the world. All you have left is nostalgia, nothing tastes good any more. And then you are bored and die.” 

Nostalgia /näˈstaljə/
Noun: A longing for enjoying things once found enjoyable. E.g. Music. 

Read Episode 5

Season 1: Intermission

My Vantage Point

When I close one eye I see my nose.
I wait for the train on the elevated platform.
Early morning tracks go to the horizon.
Sunlight break through thin clouds,
reflecting on the moon.
With tracks behind me, sun to the left, moon to the right:
I close one eye.

The sun, the nose, the moon

 TT, Thinking of Things, 2014.

Thinking Of Things, Season 1, Episode 3:

What’s ‘meaningness’? or The Wrath of God
In which, over hot spiced tea, a friend coins a new term and things starts to shift.

I had declared God dead, and patted myself on the shoulder. “Well done, me!” I told myself, as if it was an achievment. I thought myself a rational person, a Scientist, and that there could be no truth outside the rigors of science. I was done. I saw our place in the universe, I saw the insignificance of us and universe both, and I thought people living their lives as if it meant something were blind and naive, with their faux traditions and priorities. I knew an obvious truth and it was a lonesome burden. So I cynically distracted myself with pleasure, entertainment and people. I no longer agree with me then. Am I still patting myself on the shoulder, as if this is an achievement?

Read Episode 3