A snowy volcano smoking slightly in the orange of a sunset (or sunrise).
A snowy volcano smoking slightly in the orange of a sunset (or sunrise).
Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

There is a classic Grandpa joke that goes something like this: Back in my day, I had to walk uphill to school both ways!

Heraclitus, here, is not being a grumpy Opa. No, no, no, he is, I think, saying something very deep about our relationship to the world — and our relationship to ourselves.


A photo of a puddle with the photographer, tall buildings, and a plane reflected therein
A photo of a puddle with the photographer, tall buildings, and a plane reflected therein
Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

Try for a moment to look directly back from where your eyes are pointed. Don’t turn around — rather turn your attention backward.

What do you see?

Close your eyes and listen to the collection of sounds that surround you at this moment.

Where do these sounds come from?

When we attempt to define something, we tend to look for that thing’s essence.

What is your essence? What does this essence look like? …


A man standing on a rock under the northern lights with the sun setting (or perhaps rising)
A man standing on a rock under the northern lights with the sun setting (or perhaps rising)
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Even Flat Earthers live on a globe.

Strike out in a straight line:

and only those with the most determination

will arrive exactly where they left

All of our conceits will eventually be proven false in the court Law.

All of our vanities will eventually be ripped from our frantic, veiny hands.

Those who allow it All to flow will eventually win —

But there will be no audience.

Even Nihilists swim in the One.

Scratch a pessimist:

and you’ll find an optimist with a broken heart

waiting to come home.

Lay not your treasures where moth and dust doth…


Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Once upon a time, Socrates paid the oracle at Delphi a visit. His intent: To ask her where he could find the wisest person in Athens. Her reply shocked him down to his sandals. She proclaimed that it was, in fact, he, Socrates who was the wisest. This made absolutely no sense.

The only thing that Socrates claimed to know what that he knew nothing.

Which, as you may have guessed, was exactly the point. All others suffered under the illusion of knowledge — making them extremely unwise. They were full of false confidence and they suffered for it.

You…


A bored looking girl looking through the blinds.
A bored looking girl looking through the blinds.
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

I sit in the waiting room waiting… impatiently

I glance down at my phone, back up again, sigh, and close my eyes tight as if to wipe away my current situation.

What is the point of booking an appointment at a certain time if the appointment is never actually at that time? Why not just book it for actual time? I think in a particularly whiney, pained inner voice.

The older gentleman sitting across from me is basically snoring while awake while reading an even older copy of Time Magazine. …


Fuzzed out image of many dollar signs
Fuzzed out image of many dollar signs
Photo by Chronis Yan on Unsplash

As the Notorious B.I.G wrote, “Mo money, mo problems”. Perhaps we all grasp the wisdom of this on some level — and yet few of us give up the pursuit of more: more money, more sex more exciting experiences, more knowledge…

The trouble is, of course, that more is never enough. We keep running, breathlessly towards happiness while standing at a complete stand-still; we live life on a hedonic treadmill. The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus saw this clearly and his writings have never been more relevant and needed.

An excess of excess

If the modern, Western world is marked by anything, it is excess


Light and dark clouds
Light and dark clouds
Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

Our ideas about good and evil, about right and wrong, are often transcendent.

What is right is right.

What is wrong is wrong.

Period.

To this absolutist picture, evolution has added moral psychology — the actual machinery that underlies our moral ideas, judgments, and emotions — that is human, all too human.

Our moral philosophy is a singular, pure, crystalline structure while our moral psychology is a contradictory, parochial, mess.

They are like two ill-fitting puzzle pieces, worried at the edges of our attempts to force…


Shot of blue sky surrounded by the top of a building
Shot of blue sky surrounded by the top of a building
brainPhoto by Jan Romero on Unsplash

A few mornings ago I had my baby daughter in the carrier and was baby-dancing my way slowly about my neighbourhood while she snored softy.

In my slow, bouncy wanderings, I happened upon a women standing beneath a large pine tree staring directly up into its branches. Being a human, I couldn’t help but to try and see what she was seeing.

(Try this yourself: Stand somewhere and look intently in some direction — you’ll soon collect a group of people staring expectantly in the same direction)

All I saw were branches. Nice branches, but just branches.

Eventually, I caved…


A man row, row, rowing a boat.
A man row, row, rowing a boat.
Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

The Taoist philosopher Zhuangzi once dreamt he was a butterfly. The dream was so vivid, so life-like that upon waking he could not tell whether he was a human who dreamt he was a butterfly — or a butterfly swept away in a dream of being a human.

Rene Descartes picked up a similar thread when he wondered how you could know whether or not he was awake or dreaming using only present experience.

(Take a moment and try this for yourself…


A crying baby sits on an adult’s lap
A crying baby sits on an adult’s lap
Photo by Sergiu Vălenaș on Unsplash

Equanimity needs to be pushed to its limits, my baby daughter taught me as much.

Let me tell you how.

It was a grey overcast evening in late January; a slow drizzle nicely accentuated the overall melancholic mood. It was the type of evening that makes one’s home feel cozy by contrast; the type of evening that makes one feel grateful for having a home at all.

In instead of sitting inside on the couch with my partner appreciating the basic fact of shelter, I was outside dipping and bopping to a rhythm that I had expertly developed through extensive…

Arthur Monk, Philosophical Detective

Stuck on an idea? Existential questions? Lost the plot entirely? Perhaps I can help: das.elektrisch.monk@gmail.com

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