# Tag: Descartes

## Fun with Vectors and the Zombie Apocalypse

No, not vector in the epidemiological sense. The other, mathy kind of vector. Which, trust me, are fun. At least stick around for the zombies.

This dates back to my college days, when I took Differential Equations. Twice. I’ve always been good with math. Sure, I struggled with plenty of things along the way (percentages, trig identities, multivariable integration. Oooh, and concentrations in chemistry), but DiffEq is where I hit the wall like a coyote hits his own painted-on tunnel. Vector spaces were part of that; an abtruse concept used to justify an abstract concept used to solve some difficult equations that might, in turn, have something to do with the real world. But once I got my head wrapped around them, vector spaces turned out to be a fun and useful bit of math. Hey, it could happen.

## On Desire

Let’s talk for a moment about life, the universe and everything. I don’t know any question about life, the universe, and everything to which the answer is definitely Forty-Two (see Douglas Adams), but I can tell you what some of the best questions are: Why aren’t we as happy as we want to be? How can we become happy?

So what about the answers? Well, these questions motivated millenia of philosophy, and a good bit of religion, too. A lot of interesting answers have been given, at least as far back as Buddha and as recently as C. S. Lewis. A lot of the big philosophers (Buddhists, Stoics, Epicureans, Platonists, Christians medievals, Descartes, Bacon, Lewis) have agreed on the problem: Our desires don’t fit the world. We desire more than this world has to offer. We desire what we can’t have — or what we can have but can’t keep — and we end up losing what we love, or fearing its loss.

There are two general strategies available to fix that problem: 1) We change what we want, so that we want what we can have; or 2) We change the world, so that we can have what we want.

## Member Post

Hello, all, here’s the new podcast. My Texan friend & I have turned to a new Polish poet & a new problem: Identity & the self-portrait. We’ve got everything from first day of high-school–to Blade Runner & are robots human–to how poets sucker punch philosophers while learning from them. Everyone knows, Tocqueville said Americans are […]

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## Member Post

An earlier essay on metaphysics seems to have generated as much confusion as clarity. Here’s a point-by-point summary of the earlier post along with a bit more background information the lack of which may have made things less clear the last time around. 1. Materialism is a thesis in the area of philosophy called “metaphysics,” the study of reality and […]

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