Great thinkers

4 min read

Eastern Philosophy

Lao Tzu

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished

3 vinegar tasters

Confucius sour, buddha bitter, lao sweet

Be content with what you have

Inspired by nature, resilience of trees, strength of mountains, cheerfulness of flowers

Of course there are times for action and ambition


Attachment is the root of suffering

don’t crave

no craving = no suffering

train the mind to experience reality as it is

pain is inevitable, suffering is optional

Sen no Rikyu

wabi sabi

Wabi, simplicity

Sabi, appreciation of the imperfect

Tea ceremony






Old pond, a frog leaps in, water’s sound


Simplest things life offers

Communal life may be great

Ancient Greek and Rome


love is education

Grow together

Complementary qualities

Strength in different aspects


Beautiful objects encourage us to be like them

Ugliness is dangerous, it pushes us to be ugly too

Courage, self-control, reasonableness, independence and calm

Art is propaganda

We need cencorship, art could lead to better but worse

we need better childhoods and better role models

How could a society be better at producing eudaimonia


two cloaks, lived on bread, olive, and cheese

3 mistakes about happiness

we don’t need money or romantic relationships to be happy

behind the dream of luxury, what we really want is calm.

we forget how rewarding friendships are


golden mean

moral goodness is a habit

Takes time and practice


a Change in fortune

a moment of dramatic revelation


Tragedy reminds terrible things can happen to us all so we shouldn’t judge people

the task of art is to make truth stick

a true friend is someone who you care as much as yourself

their joy is yours and their sorrow too


  • soothe fears

  • See the emotional side

  • make it short and funny

  • use drawings, pictures, examples


very little is needed to make a happy life


anxiety is the gap between fear and hope

when you face your fear, it vanishes

to reduce worry, assume the worst

expect everything

Dress rehersal for catastrophe


Anger is the collision of hope and reality

sad AND unexpected -> anger

if you expect anything, nothing makes you much angry


we blame ourselves but most things are so random

suspicious of success

gentle on ourselves in failure

much of what we get, we don’t deserve

astronomy is humbling and corrects the perspective

Western Philosophy


Beauty in a simple life

A virtuous ordinary life is enough


People like religion for community, music, rituals, architecture, tradition, a sense of belonging, hope, fear


Will to life

Balanced children

Even a blind mole does anything to live

To spend as much time with art and philosophy


Progress is not linear

There is wisdom in every stage

Learn from ideas you dislike

Art helps important ideas stick

We need institutions to make ideas powerful


Bitterness is hidden envy

Pleasure and pain comes together


Modern world is distracting us from nature

All being is connected

We forget to be free and live for ourselves

Thrown into the world

Spend more time in graveyards


Things are weirder than we think

We are freer than we think


There are causes worth dying for, but none worth killing for

Enjoy the moment


Adam Smith

The rich accumulate money because they need to be liked and approved



Commodity fetishism


## Tolstoy

What do I actually see?

Literature is a tool of reform

Taking pleasure in simple things

Jane Austen

Let your lover educate you

We should judge people more carefully

Replace material lens with moral lens

Dont be snobbish



Pleasure & reality balance

Childhood, Adulthood

Analysis of dreams, jokes, parapraxes

Anna Freud

Daughter of Freud

Defense mechanisms

  1. Denial
  2. Projection
  3. Turning against the self
  4. Sublimation, redirecting to sports, art, career, family..
  5. Regression, çocuklaşma
  6. Rationalisation
  7. Intellectualisation
  8. Reaction formation
  9. Displacement, redirection to someone weaker
  10. Fantasy


People are people not vending machines


Remember a child is very vulnerable

Let a child be angry

Be patient

Make sure they are not too compliant


  1. Secure
  2. Anxious
  3. Avoidant

Be slow to anger, quick to forgive and forget


Cities should be like ecosystems

City blocks should be small and dense

Mix of old & new buildings

True modesty comes from confidence


Andy Warhol

We need to mass produce beauty and distribute far and wide

High quality childcare, food, clothing, architecture, therapy, career advice



Democracy breeds materialism, envy, shame

The tyranny of majority

False hope is dangerous


Protestant ethics

Feeling guilty, glorifying work, emphasizing community

People imagine leaders as super-parents

Change is very undramatic, it comes mostly through slow changes in bureaucracy and systematic organization


Why are people unhappy?

  • Loneliness

  • False hope

  • Too much freedom

  • Atheism

  • Weaker nations and family

Rachel Carson

Silent Spring


for a better human-nature relationship, love of nature works better than guilt

Margaret Mead

Culture determines people far more than suspected

Most traits are not “human nature” but just culture

What we really need is understanding, calm, and insight. They are in painfully short supply

We crave community and connection

In truth we have the resources for a basic standard for all people

A small group of committed people can change the world

January 31, 2020