It’s summer time, which means some of us have more time to catch up on the things we miss. For my brother and I, we chose to revisit The Complete Works of Zhuangzi (2013) and found it more enjoyable than the first time we read it (in full). Additionally, we realized that some chapters are worth a deliberate pace while others are worth a mere glance.
I came across Paul Ziff’s book titled Understanding Understanding, which was so inspiring that it expelled from me, or rather, it compelled my fingers to type two poems, both by the name “Understanding”:
Understanding Understanding by Paul Ziff.
Understanding Understanding Understanding
Understanding Understanding Understanding by Paul Ziff
By Paul ZIff.
Understanding Understranding Understanding by
By Ainsley Sebastien Sawyer and Montgomery Evelyn Bullingsworth
Stand with a string attached to your crown
And a stick up your butt
And read Ziff’s Understanding Understanding
(unwitfully put ‘Understanding An Understanding,’
But we can’t have that)– so
Understand Understanding Understanding–
And Write Understanding Understanding Understanding
Or rather title it Understanding Understanding
As to what this means, it’s inconceivable– too meta.
But at least
Understand this stand for Understanding Understanding
Understanding Understanding and so on and so forth.
Yang mentioned that Yang and I dismiss the notion that people do not change for philosophies, but the extent to which people genuinely change can be…questionable. As I was typing that last sentence, a litany of examples came to my mind.
Take for instance the many motivational videos on, say, Youtube. One video might (and one does) convey that social media and cell phones are decreasing quality time in real life, with its message receiving applaud from the nameless on the internet. My guess is that it doubtlessly succeeded in spreading awareness, but for it to change people’s views such that action is taken is dubious at best, a rare sight to be seen, if my intuition serves me correctly. This is because, as David Hume wrote, “reason is and ought only to be a slave to the passions”—a notion which I’ve seen reinforced often.
Whether David Hume is right in his “ought” judgement, it is hard to deny that an undesirable, yet not without virtue, philosophy (of the continental sort) would have any genuine impact on a susceptible person if that person’s senses are prior to her reason. I figure a genuine impact might be the case only if the stars are aligned.
Hui and I at first dismissed the notion that people do not change for philosophies (of the continental sort). Some who would discover meaningful ideas (for instance Stoicism) and attempt to adhere to them generally end up feeling unenthusiastic or forgetting the extremities of the ideas. By “some,” I know at least one.
I read an instance of a person changing for her philosophy. I read that the author was getting annoyed by her husband for the usual jokes, but she realized her petulance and changed her entire attitude. I was either incredulous or respectful to the post, but I do commend the author, if it actually happened.
But for those who find it hard to stick to a philosophy, I’ll use mine to rationalize the difficulty, the main suspect being that the philosophy is too different from the nature of people. For example, how could a hipster stop suppressing emotion for following Stoicism? However, I don’t know if anyone would be capable of straying from Zhuangzi’s philosophy.
Salve! In principio, Laudemus Tao(um).