Epicureanism: Part 1


UnknownArguably the most denounced and misunderstood philosophy of both Ancient and Modern history, Epicureanism has nonetheless had an astounding impact on Antiquity by helping to make a name for the practical applications of philosophy as a therapy and way of life. Whether it be the austere Stoics or modern libertines, this ancient philosophy has mistakenly been connoted with sensual hedonism; consequently, the adjective Epicurean is associated with one who has a fine taste in foods and wine nowadays. Tragically, the image of the rather ascetic Epicurus has been tarnished by outlandish and exaggerated attacks used by rival schools to slander the Epicurean doctrines. In all reality, Epicurus devised an exceptional system of thought consisting of atomic theory, the absence of divine intervention, and simple pleasures. I will be breaking up the analysis of this philosophy into four parts: origin, logic, physics, and then ethics, which will be covered in the next post.

Epicurus (341-270 BCE) was born on Samos. He was precocious in his teen years having studied philosophy under the platonist and atomist Pamphilus and Nausiphanes, whom he despised. Despite his aversion to his teacher, Epicurus greatly admired Democritus–co-founder of atomic theory–and thus adopted the theory of atoms into his physics. Epicurus and his family moved a lot during his life. No sooner had he set up his own school in Mitylene was he exiled to Lampsacus. Once more he established a school. In the end, however, he finally settled in Athens in 306 BCE where he ultimately set up the Garden. Until he died in 270 BCE, Epicurus lived peacefully in his Garden-turned-school with his family and friends. It was truly the good, simple life.

Every school had a unique logic doctrine that laid down the foundations for one, how we know things, and two, how to argue and establish facts. Unlike other contemporary schools, Epicureanism did not rely on logic that much. The Epicureans were strict empiricists. According to The Canonics, Epicurus’ doctrine on logic, our source of knowledge is purely from our senses. Three criteria are required for the obtaining of knowledge: sensations, (pre-)conceptions, and feelings. First and foremost, the initial impressions we form from sensations, namely the five senses, are 100% accurate. To defend this proposition, Epicurus argued that we base our reasoning on our senses, and if our senses are wrong, so too is our rationalizing. Epicurus proceeds to introduce the theory of “concepts,” similar to Plato’s Forms. Concepts are general ideas we can recall. For example, if we hear the word ‘dog,’ we connect the concept with an image of a four-legged furry creature with a tail and categorize it as ‘dog.’ Lastly, we use feelings, which are our reactions to our senses.

The physics of the Epicureans were very exact and carefully thought out. Democritus, as we know, was a major influence on Epicurus and it is to him whom we owe much of the latter’s cosmological principles. We can also draw a parallel between Epicurus and Parmenides when the former claimed that something cannot come from nothing and nothing cannot come from something. With this reasoning he proposed that there was no empty void, for infinitesimal atoms filled every possible space. The movement of these atoms, he further posited, moved collectively downward as raindrops. You may ask yourself then, how is anything created? Epicurus managed to save his tail by adding that every now and then, some atoms would divert from their course and combine with others. Slowly, these aggregates would form every material thing from trees to humans. This also meant that there were potentially infinite universes alongside ours! Upon death, Epicurus said that our bodies dissolved into atoms and scattered randomly throughout the cosmos. We will come back to this statement when we discuss ethics. In fact, the following principle will be analyzed in ethics, too. One of the main reasons rival schools opposed Epicurus was because he dismissed the Gods. This in polytheistic Greece was madness. While he still believed in the Gods, Epicurus was leaning towards an ancient atheism. In Epicurus’ view, the Gods did not intervene in human affairs, rather they stayed in Olympus as they indulged in luxurious foods and wine. The reasoning behind this will be explained presently.

Before I explain the actual ethics of the Epicureans, I will provide a mise-en-scène of the Garden and how the Epicureans interacted socially. The Garden was an actual garden beside Epicurus’ house in Athens. Epicurus invited a small group consisting of his family and a few close friends. There is one remarkable aspect of the Garden that made it unlike any other school at its time: it allowed women and slaves. Unfortunately for both ancient and modern times, women are considered inferior, so it was unheard of to allow women, let alone slaves to participate in a school! This too attracted negative attention for the Epicureans. Although there were innumerable attacks on the Epicureans, the followers themselves were incredibly pleasant. Epicurus himself was worshiped, practically deified by his disciples. The Epicureans lived in small houses that were located next to each other. One of the most important pleasures of life was friendship in the eyes of Epicurus. For Epicurus, the ideal life–which he successfully made for himself–consisted of having meaningful conversations with friends, philosophizing in silence, and relaxing. Like a brotherhood, the Epicureans were all connected and had a close relationship. Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher, reprimands Epicurus saying, “Even Epicurus understands that we are by nature social beings […] [B]ut how, then, can we still be social beings, if affection for our own children is not a natural sentiment?” Ah yes, Epicurus renounced, too, relationships and the making of children. To him they were distractions. Another interesting part about the Garden was that it was completely apolitical. Epicurus made it clear that individuals should not participate in public matters. The school itself was funded entirely by outside donations and was relatively poor–but that did not matter.


For further reading: The Great Courses: Practical Philosophy : The Greco-Roman Moralists by Luke Timothy Johnson (2002)
The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Philosophy by David Sedley (2003)
A History of Philosophy Volume 1: Greece and Rome
by Frederick Copelston (1993)
Socrates to Sartre: A History of Philosophy by Samuel Enoch Stumpf (1982)
The Story of Philosophy by James Garvey and Jeremy Stangroom (2012)
The Oxford Companion to Philosophy edited by Ted Honderich (1995)
The History of Western Thought by Bertrand Russell (1972)
The Essentials of Philosophy by James Mannion (2006)
The Deepest Human Life by Scott Samuelson (2014)

 

 

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Κατα Φυσιν

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 10.36.54 AMOne of the most revered Stoic philosophers, Epictetus (55-135 CE) never wrote anything down, as did most philosophers. His student Arrian compiled a collection of Epictetus’ live discussions (diatribes) and recorded them in a manual, an enchiridion.

Aphorism eight of the Enchiridion reads:

“Ask not that events should happen as you will, but let your will be that events should happen as they do, and you shall have peace.”

The principle of kata physin (κατα φυσιν), which means living in accordance with nature, appears in several Hellensitic doctrines, particularly Stoicism. Epictetus exhorts us to appreciate whatever life brings our way. We must accept our fates with love and give in to the divine cycle of Nature. He says we mustn’t expect things to go our own ways, rather we should always be happy with whatever, whenever.

Stoicism post coming in the future!

Phantasmagoria: An Illusory Word

Phantasmagoria is an awfully pretentious word referring to a series of shifting–and often deceptive–illusions. In other words, a phantasmagoria is a succession of changing phantasms, which happens to be one of its roots!

The word’s entire root is the French fantasmagorie, which is assumed to be a combination of phantasm (from the Latin phantasma), an illusory image, and the Greek agora, an open marketplace or public meeting place.

What is a Philosopher?

Unknown.jpegWhat is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word philosophy or philosopher? No doubt an image of a man in robes stroking his long beard knowingly whilst deep in thought comes up. To the common eye, the philosopher is an elusive figure shrouded in an eerily esoteric, all-knowing, and intimidating obscurity. We tend to distance ourselves from the practice because of the immediate impressions and stereotypes we form and impute to the ancient philosopher. When we hear Plato, for example, we often dread his confusing and abstract dialogues that leave us scratching our heads. Our image of the Ancient Greeks is pervasive, and yet philosophy has been in use everywhere including, but not limited to, Ancient Rome, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and even religion, its nemesis! And while yes, philosophy is one of the most complex and demanding subjects, it’s usefulness cannot be debated.  

Philosophia literally means the love (philos) of wisdom (sophia). With this definition, we now know that the philosopher is a lover of wisdom. This brings us to another question, though: What is wisdom? The most prominent of epistemologists–those who study knowledge–have fought over the distinction between knowledge and wisdom. To save us the whole argument of knowledge, let us settle with it being the state of acquiring or learning new information. Knowledge can therefore be readily gained. Wisdom, on the other hand, is commonly defined as a sort of “life experience.” In this sense, wisdom is harder to obtain and is based on one’s ability to make good decisions by recalling prior instances. In his What is Ancient Philosophy?, Pierre Hadot examines Plato’s symposium and the parallels that are drawn between the philosopher and the essence of loving, Eros himself. Hadot claims, “The ‘philosopher’ is tortured and torn by the desire to attain this wisdom which escapes him, yet which he loves” (Hadot, 47). Love, Eros, lacks beauty because he cannot want what he already has. If Love was beautiful, there would be no need for it to want beauty, thus it is on a never-ending quest for it. Likewise, the philosopher cannot be wise, for he is always seeking the wisdom that constantly evades him. Therefore, we arrive at the conclusion that philosophy is not merely asking deep questions, rather it is a life journey with no clear end. Hadot relates philosophy to a way of life.

Now that we know what a philosopher is, we need to know what a philosopher does. Personally, I do not particularly like contemporary philosophy and the analytical course it has taken. This said, I will be discussing the general idea of the paragon philosopher primarily from the Ancients in the West. Back in the Greco-Roman times, becoming a philosopher was in many ways like an initiation; it opened up a new chapter in one’s life. As many scholars have remarked, philosophy took a considerable turn from theory to therapy in this period. I wish now to describe how the aspect of a therapeutic philosophy was taken up by the ideal philosopher. Professor Luke Johnson creatively analyzes how the philosopher likens his cause to that of a physician’s. After Rome conquered the Hellenistic empire, a sudden loss of identity and cause plagued the Greek citizens. In response to this “epidemic,” the philosophers dawned the morality of a physician. To the philosophers, they were doctors who, with philosophy, could cure the sick patients of their illnesses. This is very much like today’s world; instances of depression and anxiety are growing tremendously, partly due to a lack of purpose or, like the Greeks, a loss of identity and direction. With this analogy, we can thus conclude that philosophers today are not in fact obsolete.

Finally, having a definition of the philosopher and what his intentions are, we can now find out how a philosopher philosophizes. As I mentioned in the opening sentences, we humorously depict philosophers as old men stroking their graying beards as they contemplate the mysteries of life. This could not be farther from the truth! However, it would be a lie to say that they did not spend a majority of their time silently contemplating or meditating. Socrates was said to meditate for hours upon hours all the while standing in the snow! The philosophers of ancient times were surprisingly very active. Philosophers would have daily lectures in their schools with the goal of attracting potential students. These were known as protreptic discourses. Mentioned in the previous paragraph, choosing a school of philosophy (hairesis) was incredibly important and marked the start of a new life. Many of the philosophers taught their teachings with the utmost seriousness. For the philosopher, living according to their own teachings and principles was of paramount importance. Indeed, in order to attract more students, the philosopher would strive to live strictly within his own moral code. This, to the philosopher, was the most virtuous act. Speaking of virtue, good habits were the key to a philosopher’s doctrines. Pretty much every philosophy adhered to the following equation: virtues equal good, vices equal bad. During ancient times, an individual’s reputation was their most important driving force. Every action was done to accord to virtue and stay away from vice. Public image was thus very powerful. With the introduction of philosophy, the focus was then placed not on how one was perceived, but how they acted according to their own values. Hypocrisy was denounced, for the philosophers said that the greatest good was to act according to their word. It was thus up to the philosopher to live life in accordance with his own teachings to attract followers. To accomplish such a feat, the lover of wisdom had to cleanse himself of all vices: the love of pleasure (philedonia), the love of wealth (philargyria), and the love of honor/glory (philodoxia). Because the philosopher sought to challenge the status quo, he was often met with much opposition. During Roman times, philosophers were criticized, satirized, and even exiled by emperors! Being a philosopher meant being able to deal with hardship and endure suffering. But to the philosopher, spreading the love of wisdom was a divine cause. Many of the philosophers thought that their teachings were either as a message from the Gods or because they received some sort of inner calling; Epictetus thought himself to be a messenger of Zeus! Not only were philosophers expected to lead an exemplary life, but they should also be trained in the art of language: rhetoric. The sophists were skilled rhetoricians who, although they could hardly be considered true philosophers, offered lessons in speaking for a price. The philosophers needed to be orators for they would give numerous live speeches. During classes, the philosopher would engage in diatribes–live discussions between the teacher and the pupil.

Jay Stevenson, an English professor, once remarked, “Traditional literature has been found to have been written by ‘dead white males.’” And while that may be a satisfactory overview of philosophy, philosophy has certainly not died along with its dead white writers. Philosophy has existed for over two and a half millennia and it still continues to be studied, taught, and expanded upon today! Just recently I have discovered a new concept called philosophical counseling. It is increasingly common for us to hire psychologists and therapists to help correct our lives, but moral philosophers, too, can give us guidance on how to reach wisdom. Pierre Hadot wrote a favorite book of mine titled Philosophy as a Way of Life. As philosophy continues to flourish, we can all look to the philosophy as a way of life, indeed.

 

For further information: The Great Courses: Practical Philosophy : The Greco-Roman Moralists by Luke Timothy Johnson
What is Ancient Philosophy? by Pierre Hadot (2002)

He Who is Not Satisfied With Little is Satisfied With Nothing

hewhoisnot0asatisifiedwithlittle0aissatisifiedwithnothing0a0a28house29-defaultEpicurus (341-270 BCE) was the founder of the Epicurean school of philosophy. He taught disciples in his school, the Garden. A wise man who was greatly admired by his students, Epicurus has many memorable quotes recorded in his Letters and Principal Doctrines. Despite searching tirelessly, I could not find the source of the following quote:

“He who is not satisfied with little is satisfied with nothing.”

Epicureanism is vilified as a hedonistic philosophy, but it could not be farther from the truth! Quite the reverse, actually. In this quote, Epicurus reinforces his idea of a life lived in asceticism and subsistence. Our natural desires, he urged, should be the only desires worth fulfilling. If you cannot satisfy your most necessary desires, you cannot be happy.

I will be doing a blog post on Epicureanism and its polar opposite, Stoicism, soon!

Ancient Ancient Greece

UnknownThe Ancient Greece we have all come to love is characterized by the rise of democracy, the warring of neighboring poleis, and the birth of new sciences. However, while we are most familiar with the Classical and Golden eras of Greece, the history that precedes this excellence is often veiled in obscurity. As archaeology has begun to uncover new information, we too begin to uncover the past of one of the greatest civilizations. Before the inception of city-states, warfare, and new discoveries in mathematics and natural sciences, there were the Minoans, the Mycenaeans, the Dark Ages, and Archaic Greece.

Around 7000-6500 BCE, the Neolithic Revolution from central Europe ushered in the rise of the Minoan people of Crete. A small island off the Balkan Peninsula, the idyllic island had trading at its heart. Surrounded by the Aegean and Mediterranean, these traders had access to the mainland and acquired extravagant wealth. The people of Crete were peaceful, with no intention of war. Most of what we know about the Minoans comes from their beautiful pottery that documents their daily lives. Like the Classical Greeks, the Minoans treasured their sports; the inhabitants took part in bull-leaping, which involved jumping over bulls. Unlike today, it is assumed that women were equal–if not superior–to men, as corroborated by frescos of women in very lavish clothing found in palaces. Such palaces, most notably Knossos, were commonplace, and it is suggested that the civilization was very urban because of its wealth. The Minoan writing in Linear A, as of right now, is undecipherable. It is assumed that like other contemporary civilizations, the writing was for records and government.

At their acme, considered 3000-1400 BCE, the Minoans were highly successful. In the early 1600’s BCE, however, a devastating tidal wave caused by a nearby volcanic eruption brought great destruction and misfortune to the people. Weakened and without arms, the Minoans were conquered by their former trade partners from the mainland, the Mycenaeans. The Mycenaeans were the polar opposites of the Minoans: unorganized, bellicose, and not as skilled in crafts. Despite their differences, the Mycenaeans greatly admired the Minoan civilization, for they adopted much of their culture by means of cultural borrowing. Like their predecessors, the Mycenaeans built awesome palaces. The prominent city of Mycenae paralleled that of Knossos! One other thing they adapted was Minoan writing, which, fortunately, was translatable. Known as Linear B, it was not decoded until World War II. Homer’s Iliad, composed anywhere from 1200-700 BCE, details the Trojan War. While it depicts a battle aided by divine intervention, it is thought that the Trojan War was real and most likely a battle for trade. Historians are perplexed as to whether or not Homer correctly depicts his time; armor and weaponry are not accurate; however, the cities mentioned and their significance, are.

Just like the Medieval Dark Ages, the era of Greek history from 1200-800 BCE is that of disorganization and illiteracy. After the proposed happenings of the Trojan War, the sites of numerous Mycenaean cities appeared to be destroyed and inflicted by no mere accident. The Mycenaeans were annihilated. War broke out amongst the people, and historians credit the Mycenaeans themselves and the Dorians with the fall of the civilization, thus beginning the Dark Ages. The Dorian people migrated to the lands of Greece from the north. These people, though uncoordinated, eventually created small packs along the coast. Professor Thomas F.X. Noble notes the absurdity of how the once literate Greeks forgot how to write. Starting soon after, Archaic Greece saw the small groups of Greeks form bigger, more organized groups. The Greeks, now in individual sects, identified themselves as Hellenes, after the sun goddess Hellen. This sense of identification allowed for them to grow bigger, which meant conquering other cities and adopting their ideas. Take, for example, the Phoenician alphabet, which the Greeks used to write. Their own culture was invented presently and they began to identify as a greater whole. This led to the creation of city-states and new art in the shape of pottery!

And we thus arrive at the Greece we all know. After a turbulent past, the Greeks cleaned themselves up and achieved great things!

 

 

For further information:
The Great Courses: The Foundations of Western Civilization by Thomas F.X. Noble
History: The Definitive Visual Guide by Adam Hart-Davis (2007)
Atlas of World History by Alison Rattle

Awakening, Transcendence, and Every Day the Same Dream

tumblr_inline_nh9ci8dC691qgdfuf.jpgIn our generation of sedentary gamers and people generally unsatisfied with their lives, we may just find that every day is the same dream. Such is the message delivered in the flash game “Every Day the Same Dream.” Despite being a 2D scroller game, players of this game have been scratching their heads over the cryptic messages, metaphors, and symbolism hidden throughout the simplicity of the game’s mechanics. After thoroughly examining the wake-up call, I have discovered the five principles to breaking out of the same dream every day: living with nature, awakening to reality, compassion/the circle of life, nonconformity, and mindfulness/transitoriness.

First of all, let us look at the title of the game and a quick summary. The game is fairly simply and plays out accordingly: You wake up and get dressed for work, then you enter the elevator with an old lady (who is important!) before driving to your job, where you work in your cubicle until finally, you go home only to wake up to the same grind. Unfortunately, this may sound a lot like a lot of our lives. We have few goals in life, few aspirations. The only thing that drives us through our day is work, and work alone. What is the purpose? Why we do we waste our lives repeating the same thing with no real result? At some point in our lives we must question the direction of our life. And while it may be nihilistic to say the least, some of us do not know we have a true purpose. Hidden from the individual, this purpose, this value—it is buried deeper and deeper with every repetition. All this repetition, all this lack of perseverance, makes reality seem like a dream. Reality is merely a reflection of the past and what is to come, for we do the same thing over and over, yet it is futile. The old lady in the elevator mutters the same cryptic message each time: “5 more steps and you will be a new person.” For the longest time I was bewildered by this esoteric advice. What exactly was she referring to? Then, as the game progresses, we have the choice to slightly alter the course of our day, and that is when we awaken from our Groundhog Day.

The five principles appear symbolically within the game. My interpretations are subjective and purely based on my conjectures alone. While commuting to work, we have the option to get out and find a cow, approach a homeless man and be taken to a cemetery, go to work naked, catch a falling leaf, and finally, jump and end it all. Let us decipher them piece by piece to find out how to find meaning and faith in life.

Leaving our car to enter a meadow is our first piece of evidence. Everything is so industrialized nowadays, so much to the point that nature no longer receives our love and attention. We, the workers, intent on one goal, must stop following a pattern of modernity and turn to nature sometimes. This cow represents all things natural in life. In a little animation, the character in the game pets the solitary bovine animal. From this alone, I can infer that this man is realizing something. He shows this cow affection and sees this animal as another living being. Just think for a moment of all the animals on Earth, of how many other living beings breathe the same air as we do. It is incredible, really, just how much of an impact embracing nature can have. Unlike the cow, our protagonist has a clouded objective in life, not to mention the countless obstacles that hinder him. This cow, on the contrary, is simply living. There is no grand scheme for the creature. Nature has a way of doing things with ease. As Epicurus said, “The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity”; or in simpler words, everything we need is easy to obtain, but everything we want is purposefully made hard to obtain.

If we take a left from our apartment building, the player comes across a homeless person on the curb. This principle still confuses me a bit, as it has two parts. My first interpretation is the virtue of charity and humanism, like that of the Ancient Greek Seven Virtues. Characterized by benevolence and self-sacrifice, charity is giving to others. This is a leading virtue in living a good life. Showing kindness to others will make us a better person, thus contributing to our quest for transcendence. While we do not actually give anything to the homeless man, we take him up for conversation. Again, compassion and care for others will strengthen us and lead us to a more meaningful purpose. Human beings are social animals, and it is disturbing, frankly, that we treat those who are less fortunate than us like they are below us. An experience like this reminds us of the importance of maintaining a goal in life. We may not succeed, and at times we fail, but who does not? Imperfect and predisposed towards failure, humans must learn and accept failure as part of their journey. The old man ends up responding with an eery, “I can take you to a quiet place.” In a flash, we are transported to a cemetery–indeed, a quiet place. I got a feeling of immense gloom when I saw this scene. Lives are fragile and our time to go eventually comes. But we are all human; we are all imperfect. It should be learned that we must treat others with respect as if it were our last day. We all have a time to go, but we never know when.

My third favorite principle in the game is that of nonconformity and divergence. I can not help but stress how much this century emphasizes conformity and sticking with the status quo. Shackled to commitment, we are only slowing down our own growth. Our talents and our purposes are being chained with us. Society demands conformity, and we, like obedient sheep, follow along. We are told what to do and we do it. Sometimes there is a special type, though. If you could not tell, Nietzsche’s Superman is one of my favorite paradigms, and it helps in this situation. The third step to becoming a new person is to diverge from the accepted way of doing things. The character in the game has the ability to do his daily routine naked. That is right. He breaks a social norm—a construct, really—and does it like a boss! The man’s wife questions his sanity, and as he enters his workplace, his boss is furious and fires him. This firing may not be so bad; in fact, it is a blessing. Formerly constricted by our workplace, we now have new opportunities in life. We were strapped in our chairs and stared at our computers for hours on end. Being fired frees us, literally and figuratively. But that is all it takes. This is not to say we should all strip down for work in order to be nonconformists, no; rather it is saying we should take risks. “The unexamined life is not worth living,” after all. Judgement from others is a complete absurdity. When we break free from the “set” way of doing things, it is interpreted as wrong or inappropriate. Who are they to say what the correct or right way of doing things is? We must rise above Nietzsche’s proverbial herd and be the Clark Kent of our own world!

Our fourth and penultimate step is foretold by a leaf. Before we enter our office, we come across a small, lonely tree out front. It has but one leaf dangling from its poor, wretched branches. In the previous run-throughs, the player most likely paid little attention to this tree, but alas! how metaphorical it truly is. On this second-to-last level, that one seemingly inconsequential leaf manages to fall from its perch. Powerless, it is guided by the air into the character’s hand. Mind you that this is not some sort of epiphany or ultimate enlightenment, it is a reminder to be mindful. Once more we are brought back to nature and to being in the moment. Nature is the easiest place to practice mindfulness. It is in nature that we find our breath and awaken our senses to the world. Noticing the leaf all those previous encounters is an example of this. Taking in our environment and noticing details is easier said than done. Our filled schedules make it near impossible to take into account details as meticulous as a simple leaf. More than that, this leaf not only represents awareness, it also represents the transitoriness of life. Like the seasons, our lives change, and like that leaf, we will eventually wither, too. The leaf goes through immense changes throughout its life. We can learn a thing or two from that leaf: in the spring, it retains its beautiful color and becomes healthy; in the autumn, it changes colors, yet it does not complain about the wind; in the winter, it gets cold, but it does not yield; in the summer, it gets hot, but it does not care about the tan it receives; and at the end of its life, it does not worry about what is to come. We undergo so many changes and overcome so many challenges because we were built to. Fearing death is useless, it will come in time. This is not to say living is without purpose, but we should not be knocked down by the obstacles that encumber us.

Finally, we find transcendence and awaken from our dream to find reality. When all is said and done, when we have attained our touch with nature, our charity, our individualism, and our awareness of life—only then can we awaken from this dream we call life. So far, everything we have seen is a dream. All that time working and achieving nothing has been a waste, truly. We must—we have to—face reality. Waking up is hard; waking up is not splashing water on your face or simply meditating; waking up is like Kierkegaard’s leap of faith. We fear waking up. We have lacked the comfort of nature, we lacked charity in mankind, we lacked faith in ourselves, and we lacked awareness of reality. Standing over that cliff with no idea of what lies ahead, you must make a choice: to jump or not to jump. It is a gamble. It is the most dangerous gamble possible. Are you willing to find your meaning without guidance or will you stay in the comforts of your dream? This is no longer, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you too?” This has now turned into, “If no one has jumped off a cliff, would you do it?” Would you be willing to defy all that is expected to transcend reality and find your true meaning? Doing this means letting go of control. You must have faith to jump off that cliff and find what you have been searching for. There is no return, for this is it. This is reality. In the final level, our 2D friend stands on a railing outside his office and makes this leap. No, it is not suicide. It is waking up. And that is exactly what happens. The final level consists of you walking through your empty apartment, into the deserted elevator, through the car-less traffic, and into the office building devoid of life. True, objective reality awaits you. You have officially transcended life and completed the spiritual journey.

However, the ending is a bit disconcerting for some. Upon awakening from the same dream every day, and after exiting your old workplace, you come across the same railing you jumped from just moments ago. Standing on that railing is a figure that appears to be… you. I will admit, this got me mixed up a bit, and it took some thinking to figure it out. With the help of my friend (his review is the first link down below), I have come up with a solution. Our incarnate doppelganger standing on the railing is in fact us, but from the past. We have transcended this corporeal world and entered a whole new intellectual plane, and we are viewing our transformation–our transcendence from an objective standpoint. After all these dreams we have been dreaming, we have found the dreamer. As per Descartes’ cogito ergo sum, we have established a spiritual awakening and grounded ourselves as the viewer of reality in its whole.

Every day, the same dream occurs. Held in check by a lack of ambitions, an obscure idea of the future, and a predetermined course, we must all transcend this dream and awaken to reality.

Watch my friend’s playthrough of the game
Play Every Day the Same Dream yourself

The Charity of Eleemosynary

images.jpegEleemosynary is quite daunting with its rather peculiar pronunciation and long string of letters. However, once you get to know eleemosynary, it is pretty nice–in fact, it loves to donate. This is because the adjective denotes something charitable or inclined to donation.

The first form of this word comes from the Greek eleemosune, compassion, and then the Latin eleemosyna. Some people thought eleemosynary was too long (for whatever reason), so it was anglicized to the shorter and more common alms.