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Universe is Built Out of Four Natural Elements

A 15th-century illustration of Christ surrounded by the four natural elements

Empedocles introduced the theory that the universe is built out of four natural elements.

In his poem On Nature (c. 450 BCE), Greek poet Empedocles (c. 490-430 BCE) called upon a set of gods to represent the elements of his own cosmology. The notion that everything in existence is composed of earth, air, fire, and water, or a combination of these four elements, was borrowed from the ancient Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish (c. 1800 BCE), in which the universe emerges from conflicts between gods, each of whom represent some element or force of nature.

Empedocles was seeking what is now often referred to as a “unified field theory,” a theory capable of providing the groundwork for the explanation of any given natural phenomenon. The strategy he inherited from his intellectual predecessors, such as Thales and Anaximenes (who were themselves influenced by the Babylonian myth), was to attempt to identify the most basic ingredient, or ingredients, of the universe.

In the late sixth century BCE, Thales had believed that ingredient to be water. Later, Anaximenes argued that water was too fundamentally different from certain natural phenomena (like fire) for it to be the basic ingredient of the universe. Instead, he proposed that air was the basic ingredient. Empedocles, however, saw no way to explain the vast array of natural phenomena without introducing a total of four basic ingredients: earth, air, fire, and water. These elements were what Empedocles referred to as “the four roots.”

Aristotle (384-322 BCE) added a fifth element, aether. Medieval scholars learned of Empedocles’s notion of the four elements via Aristotle, and Empedocles’s cosmological theory dominated science until the seventeenth century. Although forms of atomism emerged as early as the fifth century BCE, it was not until the work of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and Robert Boyle (1627-91) gained a hold that the four elements were replaced by the atom (or something pretty close) as the foundation of the universe.

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Materialism and the Early Materialists

Materialism

Materialism is the idea that nothing exists independently of the material or physical world.

Many ancient thinkers appeal to supernatural or extranatural entities in order to account for certain features of the natural world. Materialists, however, deny the existence of any non-natural events, entities, or forces.

Early materialists include the Greek atomists, Democritus (c. 460-c. 370 BCE) and Leucippus (fl. early fifth century BCE), who argued that the world consists of nothing but atoms in empty space (even the soul was thought to be composed of atoms), and Epicurus (341-270 BCE), who postulated that the atoms move only in an up-down direction.

The significance of materialism is typically found in discussions of philosophical questions, such as how to account for the properties of objects and how to explain consciousness. For example, while Plato (c. 424-c. 348 BCE) sought to explain why, say, two blue objects look exactly the same by arguing that they participate in pre-existing (ante rem) universals, Aristotle (384-322 BCE) argued that all universals are present in existing objects (in re), and was thus a materialist about properties. However, both men seem to appeal to an immaterial divine being to explain the origin of physical reality, and to an immaterial soul to explain consciousness. Thus, it was deemed possible to be a materialist about some things and not others.

The comprehensive materialism of the sort defended by the atomists gained popularity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as advancements in science reduced the apparent need for extra-natural explanations, and pluralism in mathematics challenged the idea of a unique, Platonic reality of mathematical forms. More recently, advancements in our understanding of the brain have undermined older appeals to immaterial substances or properties to explain consciousness, but they have also served to highlight the limitations of materialism.

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Everyone is a Self-made Person, but Only the Successful Admit it

The Fundamental Desire of Life is the Desire to Exist

Desire of Life is the Desire to Exist In the orchestration of our existence, our own efforts play only a small part. We live and have our being because we have inherited from successive generations all kinds of assets of body as well as of mind. From the moment we are born, a world we did not make is at our disposal, to furnish as the tools with which we begin shaping our destiny. The inconvenience that is taken in attending to tidiness, order, and temperance, never fails to be rewarded with a healthy ship’s company, to the great gratification and individual comfort of the commander, and the dreadful vantage of the public service.

Our assets are, however, not only the gifts of man and his world. They are also the gifts of a beneficent Creator. He has enriched the fruits of heredity with all kinds of additional endowments, which make us original creations, unique personalities, capable of carrying life into new directions. In addition, it is the Creator Who performs afresh the miracle of birth from the seeds of immortality, which He has planted in all His creatures.

What we make of all these gifts is our achievement, but when we sing the saga of our lives, other voices than our own join in to create the mighty harmony. Nevertheless, before we enter into a minute representative of the style in which vision is performed, we must explain more circumstantially the nature of light itself, which thus make the eye open of seeing.

Let no one claim then that he is a self-made man. No man can make himself, any more than a tree can. Such a claim is born of blindness, and it is the source of conceit and arrogance. A man whose eyes have been opened to the wonder of life knows that his existence is a privilege, a blessing, a gift. Moreover, he feels due humility.

It will break free of all thralldoms and present itself. You cannot suppose how much they were both ridiculed for their discernment. It does not punctuate the opposite qualities of yielding, letting go and relinquishing. The dance band had arrived, set up, and done sound checks during the later afternoon, so that when the music started it would be passable.

The Destination of Life is Not to Win

The Destination of Life is Not to Win The first rule is to retrench one-third part from the flesh eaten at dinner; of whatever kind that is. If we did not use our agency to receive and act on what others have done for us, we would not have benefited. Russell Means, the prominent activist for the rights of Native American people, wrote in For America to Live, Europe Must Die,

Humans are the weakest of all creatures, so weak that other creatures are willing to give up their flesh that we may live. Humans are able to survive only though the exercise of rationality since they lack the abilities of other creatures to gain food through the use of fang and claw.

But rationality is a curse since it can cause human beings to forget the natural order of things in ways other creatures do not. A wolf never forgets his or her place in the natural order. American Indians can. Europeans almost always do. We pray our thanks to the deer, our relations, for allowing us their flesh to eat; Europeans simply take the flesh for granted and consider the deer inferior. After all, Europeans consider themselves Godlike in their rationalism and science. God is the Supreme Being; all else must be inferior.

It is a reality we perceive to be impelled by a series of events we are caught up in, within which we live and look for happiness, but which, in truth, is a rat race to nowhere. The key difference of opinion between a list post and a how-to post is that readers do not demand to abide by the list from start to end: they can dip in and use those points that seem most applicable to their own state of affairs. Consequently, these issues are substantial. The outcome of such methods is but unappealing.

The destination of life is not to win. The intention of life is to grow and to share. When you come to look back on all that you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the joy you have brought into other people’s lives that you will from the times that you surmount and overwhelmed them.

A person of understanding will never be arrogant. He will always walk humbly with his God. His was a humble plan, and worked a little.

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Do the Best You Can and Don’t Take Life Too Serious

Do the Best You Can and Don’t Take Life Too Serious

The Wisdom of Living

The Wisdom of Living The finger on the dock of time turns inexorably. We are sometimes saddened when we realize that time moves on, that the years are slipping out of our hands, yet these thoughts need not really depress us. Evils in the journey of life are like the hills which alarm travelers on the road.

The wisdom of living consists in making the most of what we are given. We cannot weave without threads, but it is our skill with the threads that determines whether we shall fashion a beautiful tapestry or labor without producing anything of use or beauty.

God does not fashion life for us. He does not determine the shape of our dreams, or our accomplishments, but He gives us the threads… He has endowed our hands with energy, our minds with power to reason, our hearts with the power to feel, and He placed us upon the scene of nature abounding in the raw materials with which we can build to our heart’s desire. Both appear great at a distance, but when we approach them we find they are far less insurmountable than we had conceived. Both of these, when their nature is examined, are equal.

Cultivating Gratitude Makes Each Day Worth Living

Only a fortunate few experience unadulterated synchronicity of such allegiance. Given this four ways gratitude can profit us, we have some very good reasons to return thanks more than once a year. Cultivating gratitude makes each day worth living and might even give us more days. Although some students take more than four years to discharge their degrees, most juniors and seniors are comparatively young compared with students in urban communities where working masses take part-time loads and evening classes.

An artist who has spent his days fashioning a thing of beauty rejoices in his labor when it is done. He does not fret that the days, which have passed, have made him older. Only empty days, futile days, wasted days, are a tragedy. Only the passing of days such as these is depressing. Alan Garner wrote in The Voice That Thunders,

The purpose of the storyteller is to relate the truth in a manner that is simple: to integrate without reduction; for it is rarely possible to declare the truth as it is, because the universe presents itself as a Mystery. We have to find parables; we have to tell stories to unriddle the world … The job of a storyteller is to speak the truth; but what we feel most deeply cannot be spoken in words. At this level only images connect. And so the story becomes symbol; and symbol is myth

Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music—the cosmos is so rich, simply throbbing with bountiful treasures, beautiful souls and interesting citizenry. The only well-founded ground of judgment of conviction would be that with the personal tastes and self-regarding concerns of individuals the public has no business to interpose.

Life Wastes Itself While We are Preparing to Live

Life Wastes Itself While We are Preparing to Live How are we using the threads that the Lord has given us? At the New Year, we ask this question. It is a disturbing question, because on its answer depends the sum of meaning in our lives. Investing a fixed sum of money at regular intervals prevents you from buying too many shares when stock prices are over-inflated, as many market seers consider them to be right now, thereby threatening your average cost per share and increasing your return. The latter tells of a German who showed various feats of this kind at Greater London, and who performed before the king and a part of the imperial family. Anyone who is perfectly certain about a belief is likely to be wrong.

Wasted threads, badly used threads, show up in the final design, but when we weave with skill, and fashion life into a pattern of harmony and goodness, and then our existence becomes permeated with serenity and peace. We can laugh though die days pass and the years go, for then we have given only time in exchange for achievement.

During this season of the year, we often recall the Psalmist’s prayer, “O teach us to count our days that we may get us a heart of Wisdom.” No, it does not really mean to count days. Anyone can do that. It is rather a prayer to make the days count. That is indeed the supreme wisdom of living.

In short, a great and brilliant plan of Almighty administration is in part opened; and nothing is omitted that may give humanity the mystifying sense of their being all the subjects of the moral regime of God. The company of concordant friends will be the best medicine in an evening; and good broth his primed supper. The risk of taking one or a handful of circumscribed experiences and generalizing them across our aggregate life.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Rejects the Idea of a Self-Made Man

'Total Recall' by Arnold Schwarzenegger (ISBN 1849839735) Actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s story has an inspiring premise. The son of Austrian police officer who was a Nazi party member, he moved to New York in the early 1968 to further his career as a body-builder and winning six Mr. Olympia body-building tournaments. In the intervening time, he put himself through business school at the University of Wisconsin Madison, invested in real estate, and parlayed his passion with fitness into a lucrative video- and book-sales company.

Schwarzenegger may have remained a businessperson if not for the success of the documentary Pumping Iron (1977) which transformed him into a minor celebrity and planted the seeds of his Hollywood aspirations. It wasn’t he played a 74-word part in an obscure sci-fi film called Terminator (1984) that he finally became a star.

Even after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s long march from a penniless immigrant to a Hollywood star and later the Governor of California, he declares that the notion of the self-made man is a myth. He states that we must all help each other because no one can get anywhere on their own.

I came over here with absolutely nothing. I had $20 in the pocket and some sweaty clothes in a gym bag. But let me tell you, I had this one little apartment and on Thanksgiving, the bodybuilders from Gold’s Gym came to my apartment and they brought me pillows, dishes, silverware, all of the things I didn’t have. None of us can make it alone. None of us. Not even the guy that is talking to you right now, who was the greatest body builder of all times. Not even me, that has been the Terminator and went back in time to save the human race. Not even me that fought and that killed predators with his bare hands.

I always tell people that you can call me anything that you want, but don’t ever, ever call me a self-made man. It gives the wrong impression, that we can do it alone. None of us can. The whole concept of the self-made man or woman is a myth. I would have never made it in my life without the help. So this is why I don’t beileve in a self-made man. Why I want you to understand that is, because as soon as you understand that you are here because of a lot of help, then you also understand that now it’s time to help others. That’s what this is all about.

Source: Arnold Schwarzenegger—Together on the Goalcast Podcast

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The Art of Enjoying the Blessings of Life

The Gift of Life

The Art of Enjoying the Blessings of Life There is an art in enjoying the blessings of life, and unless we master it, we court disaster. It is a simple art. It consists in realizing that everything we are and everything we have is a gift, ultimately from the Creator and that every day of our lives the gift is renewed to us. This realization will deepen our joy in possession and it will lighten our grief in deprivation.

In assessing my own condition, I am often tempted to be dissatisfied. My mind wanders towards what I lack. Moreover, if I contrast my poverty with somebody else’s affluence, I am tempted to rebel against my destiny.

However, my mind is set at peace when I suddenly remember that whatever I have is not, in a final sense, of my own making. Nor is it mine by any right. For what did I bring with me into the world that is my home? I came into it utterly helpless. Moreover, the goals towards which I have grown and everything, which has been placed in my hands, to have and to cherish, is a gift given me freely, graciously. It was given in love, a love that I could not really earn and for which I can offer little in return. In addition, when I become aware of this, I find a new contentment.

This awareness of my blessings, and of their source, prepares me also for their inevitable surrender. Either for I know that the things I cherish will not last or that if they do, I, being mortal, will not always is here to enjoy them. A final separation awaits every relationship, no matter how tender. Someday I shall have to drop every object to which my hands now cling.

Enjoy the Roses, Taste of Their Beauty, Delight in Their Fragrance

These thoughts sadden me, but I can bear them more readily when I remember that the measure of my loss is also the measure of my privilege. Shall I rebel because my roses last so brief a time? Shall I grieve when none blossom in my garden? No! I must rather give thanks for those days I was privileged to enjoy roses, to taste of their beauty and their fragrance.

Each day of my life, my blessings are given to me anew. For the gift given me and for whatever time I am privileged to keep it, I am grateful. In addition, when I am asked to surrender my gift, I shall still know that I was richly blessed. Moreover, I shall say, “Praised be Thou, O Lord my God, that Thou didst grant me the privilege to know the gift of life.” This blessing has value: it discourages surrender and fuels religious zeal.

People have to confront regrets. Becoming matured means learning to admit what you cannot change, facing dissonant sorrows, and learning to love life as it truly happens, not as you would have it happen. When somebody attaches unkindness to unfavorable judgment, she is angry. Angry people need to criticize as an outlet for their anger. That is why you must resist unkind criticism. Unkind criticism is never part of a meaningful criticism of you. Its intent is not to teach or to help, its purpose is to penalize. Life is not supposed to be an all or nothing combat between miserableness and blissfulness.

Everyone Needs Positive Role Models: A Good Reputation Inspires Others

Good Reputation Inspires Others We know that before the Bank of New England went under, a lot of business firms withdrew their money and put them in other banks. In the meantime, recollecting that nothing was ever yet done which someone was not the first to do, and that all good things that exist are the fruits of originality, let them be humble enough to believe that there is something still left for it to attain. Reassure them that they are more in need of originality, the less they are conscious of the neediness. American designer and engineer William S. Cobb writes about emptiness is not what you expect in The Game of Go,

Emptiness refers to the absence of something that, for some reason, one expects to find—as when we say a glass, normally used to hold liquids, is empty even though it is full of air. The point is not that there is nothing there at all, but rather that what is there differs from your expectations.

All who want happiness want to eradicate distress? Life is not supposed to be a conflict at all. In addition, when it comes to happiness, well, sometimes life is just all right; sometimes it is well heeled, sometimes wonderful, sometimes tedious, sometimes unpleasant. When your day is not perfect, it is not a failure or a frightening loss. It is just another day. By this system, men lie much cooler, and it is more accordant in every respect, as well as healthier.

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Warren Buffett on Time Management: “All You Need Is … Time”

Warren Buffett on Time Management: Warren Buffett once said on time management, “The rich invest in time; the poor invest in money.”

Buffett is currently the fourth richest men in the world. He can buy practically anything he wants to, and more than nearly everyone else could ever dream of.

Nevertheless there’s one thing that even Warren Buffett cannot buy, and that is time.

Here’s a brief transcript from a Charlie Rose interview:

Warren Buffett: I mean I can buy anything I want basically, but I can’t buy time.

Charlie Rose: And so to have time is the most precious thing you can have?

Warren Buffett: Yes, I better be careful with it. There is no way I will be able to buy more time.

Warren Buffett's Interview with Charlie Rose (Time Management) Charlie Rose: And living in Omaha makes that easy?

Warren Buffett: That makes it a lot easier. I, for 50 whatever, well for 54 years I spent five minutes going each way now. Just imagine that was a half an hour each way. You know. I know the words to a lot more songs and that’s about it.

Charlie Rose: It adds up. Doesn’t it?

Warren Buffett: It really adds up. Now if you’re doing an hour a day difference coming and going that’s two and a half percent of the person’s work week. That means 40 years you’re talking about a year.

An undisciplined mind will find every reason to do what should not be done and every excuse not to do what should be done. Warren Buffett once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

Ira Glass Time Management Technique

This American Life‘s Ira Glass talks with Lifehacker about how he works. When asked what his best time-saving shortcut or life hack was, he responded:

I’ve got nothing. Reading other people’s answers to this question on your website today made me realize I live my life like an ape. I eat the same breakfast and lunch everyday, both at my desk. I employ no time-saving tricks at all.

Though come to think of it, I guess my biggest life hack—and this is the very first time I’ve attempted to use the phrase “life hack” in a sentence—is that my wife and I decided to live just a few blocks from where I work. We did this because of our dog. Since I spend at least an hour every night walking the dog, I didn’t want to spend another 60 or 90 minutes a day commuting. I don’t have the time. Like lots of people, I work long hours.

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According to Daoism, Everything Contains Some Proportion of Yin and Yang

An illustration (c. 1700) of the three sages of T'ai Chi, a martial art derived from Daoism.

Daoism refers to the attainment of tranquility by living in harmony with the natural world.

Daoism is a Chinese philosophical and religious tradition that originated with Laozi (fl. sixth century BCE) and was later expanded on by Zhuangzi (c. 369-286 BCE). It is a type of naturalism that encourages human beings to live in harmony with the Dao, the natural world that is the basis of all existence. The Dao manifests itself as de, the particular things that we see in the world, which contain within them certain proportions of yin (negative or destructive forces) and yang (positive or creative forces). Everything contains some proportion of yin and yang: for example, we can see things only when there is both light and shadow, and music exists as a combination of notes and rests.

According to Daoism, everything contains some proportion of yin and yang If there is an overabundance of yin or yang, the Dao has a tendency to balance itself by reverting to the opposite extreme. Daoists therefore practice wu wei, or “non-interference”: rather than acting against nature, a person should instead follow the natural flow of events and turn them to their own advantage (like a surfer moving in harmony with a wave). Politically, this results in a minimalistic approach to government: a good ruler should educate the people so that harsh laws are unnecessary.

Daoism has had an enormous influence upon East Asia, particularly China and Taiwan. Like Confucianism, its core philosophical tenets are deeply ingrained in the culture. Daoist metaphysics influenced Mahayana Buddhism, which led to the creation of Chan (Zen) Buddhism. Core principles of Daoism have been a cornerstone of the martial arts (for example, Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do).

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The Influence of Confucius

The Influence of Confucius

Confucianism in general is borne out by the regression that took place over the centuries. It may be characterized as follows:

  1. The idea of the unknowable One is transformed into metaphysical indifference. When Confucius declines to think about the absolute or to pray for help, it is because a certainty rooted in the Encompassing enjoins him to turn to mankind in the actual world. By living in serene acceptance of death, not asking to know what we cannot know, he leaves everything open. But once Confucius’ certainty is lacking, skepticism runs rampant and with it an uncontrolled superstition. Agnosticism becomes a vacuum, which Confucianism seeks to fill with material magic and illusionary expectations.
  2. Confucius’ simple but passionate drive toward humanity is transformed into utilitarian thinking. The result is a pedantic pragmatism shorn of any feeling for man’s independent worth.
  3. The free ethos, implied by the polarity between the li and the power that guides them, is transformed into a dogmatization of the li. Without their ground in the jen and in the One, the li become mere rules of external behavior.
  4. Openness of thought degenerates into dogmatic theory. For example, a controversy arises as to whether man is good or evil by nature, whether training in the li makes man good or only restores him to his true nature.
  5. The knowledge that was inner action degenerates into rote learning. There arose the class of scribes who distinguished themselves not by personality but by formal learning and maintained their prestige by a system of examinations. For Confucius antiquity was a norm which each man must acquire for himself. As transformed in Confucianism, this came to mean the study of ancient works, the pre-eminence of the scholar; instead of making antiquity his own, the student learned to imitate it. School learning produced an orthodoxy which lost its bond with life as a whole.
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Confucius on Renewing Disastrous Circumstances

Confucius on Renewing Disastrous Circumstances

Confucius was once asked, “What is the first thing to be done in order to promote a renewal in disastrous circumstances?”

Confucius gave a remarkable answer: Words must be set aright.

'Confucius And the World He Created' by Michael Schuman (ISBN 046502551X) What inheres in words should be brought out. The prince should be a prince, the father a father, the man a man. But language is constantly misused, words are employed for meanings that do not befit them. A seperation arises between being and language. “He who has the inner being also has the words; he who has words does not always have the inner being.”

If the language is in disorder, everything goes wrong. “If words (designations, concepts) are not right, judgments are not clear; works do not prosper; punishments do not strike the right man, and the people do not know where to set hand and foot.

“Therefore the superior man chooses words that can be employed without doubt, and forms judgments that can be converted into actions without fear of doubt. The superior man tolerates no imprecision in his speech.”

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