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Create silence

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Old Main, USU


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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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“I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.” – Pascal

“The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased.  If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I should reply, ‘Create silence’.” – Kierkegaard 

Many of my Intro to Philosophy students will be undertaking an exercise in creating silence over the next two weeks.  The exercise begins tomorrow at the end of class and runs until April 4 at the end of class.  Students are agreeing to:
  • not watch any television, movies, or other video
  • not listen to an iPod or other portable music device
  • not play any video games on any sort of device
  • not check facebook, twitter, or any other social networking site
  • not get on the internet (exceptions only for legitimate school work)
  • check email for only 15 minutes a day
  • treat their cell phone like a land line (plug it into the wall and leave it there)
  • not text message, video message, or use any other messaging/texting on a phone, computer or any other electronic device

Feel free to join us in our little experiment of cutting ourselves off from the cacophony of the modern world for a while.  When the exercise is finished, I intend to post selections from short reflections on the experience that students will write.



  1. Huenemann says:

    For those who for whatever reason can’t meet all the conditions of the exercise, I would suggest committing each day to a meaningful block of time (2 hours, at the very least), during which you are cut off from any contact with any glowing screen.


  2. Jeremy says:

    I’m having great difficulty locating the source of the Kierkegaard quotation above (which is, nevertheless, all over the Internet!).

    I’d be grateful for a pointer…


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