Monday, June 20

Mystery of the elusive self

 Meaning of life 

As far as the meaning of life is concerned, from my perspective it's always been aligned to the necessity to create your own, since I believe it's inextricably tied to your personal philosophy, whether you chose to formalise it or not. 

As far as our relationship is concerned (self) in my view the universe is not GOD, nor do I believe in pantheism or naturalism. Rather, surely, if we are to take modern day science seriously then, I believe, one has to accept the idea that the Universe is some sort of chance creation – and for those of religious view, one that cannot exist without GOD. Although it exists independent of GOD's it responds with encouragement from a creator in terms of the allegory of a child to its loving parents. Camus was the only existential philosopher to claim existence or life was absurd, although Sartre saw merit in his philosophy to respond positively to living a meaningful created life in accepting such a starting reference point.   

The problem of time and the contradiction of the freedom (free will) inherent in quantum theory versus the general theory of relativity and determinism.     

On the other hand, Einstein, as a deeply religious man, found himself struggling with the obvious contradiction between quantum mechanics and his general theory of relativity so he invented his discredited theory involving a cosmological constant as a solution. In effect to appease his religious beliefs and overrule his own science contained in his general theory of relativity.

In another frame we have the inconsistency of time as we experience it. As one is aware there is no such thing as time in physics- but only space time: the amalgam of time plus motion. But as Raymond Tallis points out, from our personal experience, we always experience time as a never ending series of NOW's. This aspect troubled Einstein as well as the freedom inherent in Quantum mechanics. These realities contradicted his idea of determinism as in pantheism which suggests GOD is a controlling entity in everything.

In other words his idea of a deterministic world, GOD does not play dice with the universe.     

He became desperate to invent a solution. But his idea of a smoothing effect applicable to his so called cosmological constant was what he hoped existed but has never been detected and today is widely discredited.

Modern day science has no answer to this continuing mystery with all sorts of hypotheses suggested as solutions involving string theory and other world dimensions attempting to resolve the mystery. So science is in crisis, just as analytical philosophy and epistemology tend to be discarded as authorities in themselves within postmodernity. But they remain very useful tools to support a more comprehensive narrative process about any topic and more particularly in how to find a more meaningful life in the tradition of the great philosophers.  One could argue philosophy, given a more humble approach to embrace the expanded narrative, is even more relevant today and continues to make slow progress. 

Raymond Tallis suggests human beings move in and out of nature so that we have the ability to transcend its determinism. 

Another topic for discussions: is s philosophy making any progress?


Until fairly recently western philosophy was regarded as science and the term metaphysics from the Greeks introduced for discussion on those aspects that lie outside of physics. 

So in the early period philosophy and science both played out on the same hymnal sheet to demonstrate progress much more easily than today. Herein one sees advances in science but in philosophy in many writer’s minds (such as the late Stephen Hawking) philosophy is claimed to have lost its relevance and not kept up to date with the advances in science.  

Postmodern philosophy.

To add to this perception, beginning with the likes of the late Richard Rorty ( Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature ) it has been argued that philosophy needs to cast aside its undue emphasis on epistemology (philosophy can’t claim specialised knowledge) and analytical philosophy (likewise nothing special can be claimed relating to philosophy) in favour of just the broad narrative. 

The future of philosophy  

The future progress is going to slow but it’s continuing in my view as opposed to saying it’s stagnated. 

Just as the enlightenment philosophers may have got a bit carried away with the idea they could view a human being as if looking outside of the world we inhabit, so the post modernisation may also want to dismiss some of the gems from the past. E.g. rescuing the self - I remain a Kierkegaardian and Kierkegaard’s existentialism to me continues to change the lives of some that study it - progress in rediscovered attributes relevant today. Likewise Stephen Hawking’s conceited view eventually science would discover a world view for everything inclusive of a quantum general theory of relativity that would uncover the mystery of quantum mechanics has not materialised. At least Hawking did later withdraw his claim.

So that, if anything, in relation to reality, science remains at the crossroads rooted in mystery. It must turn to metaphysics if we are to form philosophies that help make sense of our life.       

So I think the sense of wonder will always drive philosophical inquiry forward as I would call that progress.

But feel free to offer alternative views to my notes.   




Monday, June 13

Ballina & Byron Bay


We have just returned from staying in Ballina prior to attending Anne's nieces wedding (Charlotte) which was finally held in Byron Bay after 2 prior covid forced cancellations.

The weather for the entire time was fine and sunny and we were able to catch up for lunch in delightful venues with both Anne's brother Mark and his wife Shayne and sister Julie and partner Dianne.  

The wedding was a splendid affair for just the family of about 40 and was held at a large holiday home abutting the ocean with magnificent views that the picture below does not do justice to. 

Whilst at Ballina I visited the Maritime Museum which houses one of the 3 original rafts that in 1973 sailed from Ecuador to Ballina - a transpacific crossing of 14,000 km which is the longest journey by a raft ever completed. If you are interested in reading more about this feat, its purpose and the 12 men involved click on the links.

Saturday, June 4

Andre Rieu, "Barcarolle"

The Open Door Singers are currently learning this beautiful piece of music in tenor, soprano, alto and bass parts and with english words.     

Thursday, May 19

Popularisation in politics lacks policy

The rise of popularisation in politics underpinned the reason for the initial success of Trump in the USA is well described by the interesting writings of the so-called red neck socialist Joe Bageant who authored Deer Hunting With Jesus,    

He provides a good background to explain the unexpected rise in popularity of Trump in some states - that is the continuing creeping class divide in the USA, to ultimately rob blue collar workers of pay and job security. Trump was the first to speak to them as one who understood their position, as the new working poor. He promised to bring back the manufacturing jobs to the country which had been lost to subcontracting overseas - principally to China. 

Underpinning this phenomenon in the USA of the working poor has been the lack of a realistic basic wage, exasperated by immigrants crossing the border (maybe 20 million so called illegal immigrants currently reside in the USA who have no official status) who mostly accept substandard rates of pay. There has been a propensity to turn a blind eye to this factor which equates to immigration without any policy. I’m not against immigration but you need to have some coherent policy to ensure adequate assimilation and support to benefit society as a whole. 

Trump’s unfulfilled promise to build a wall to be funded by Mexico by way of a levy from the remittances sent home by those now working in the states did strike a chord. 

In my view the phenomenon in the USA provides plenty of food for thought in relation to political philosophy. Principally what seems to ne missing is the ethical side to economics and governance as in the concept of fairness. That entails setting minimum wages and governance based on the concept of fairness rather than leaving it up to the market and thereby avoiding difficult decisions.   

The laziness of governance in this respect combined with libertarian’s confusion to link morality only to the question of freedom further contributed to the shrinking middle class and emergent working poor. The interesting point to note is the prior ground swell of support for candidates supporting smaller government and liberty in lieu of regulation were actually underpinning a policy stance against their best interests. 

After all the fathers of western economics namely Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations) and John Maynard Keynes were moral philosophers. It’s only of recent times Keynesian economics has been utilized to counter the otherwise catastrophic effect of Coved. 

There are lots of interesting questions for political discussions assuming the aim is for fairer societal outcomes. But the salient point is you can’t legislate morality but you can aim for equal opportunities. That involves a fundamental freedom of choice but it doesn’t mean we will have equal outcomes because each of us are different. But to reiterate the question of freedom is often confused with morality, but they are not the same thing. Some curtailment of individual freedom will always be necessary if you adopt policies that benefit the whole of the community. A curtailment of an individual’s freedom is explicitly implied in the multitude of regulatory measures affecting business, our working conditions, safety and the values we expect from institutions assumed  in a society where policies are designed to give maximum benefit to the most needy or vulnerable. This is in keeping with the aims of egalitarianism.

The libertarian view of a smaller government and the idea of liberty to promote freedom and avoid freeloaders is the opposite political view.

Sunday, May 1

Back To Sorrento


Whilst holidaying at Sorrento with a walking group of friends we enjoyed our stay minus the planned walks. Afterwards we caught up for dinners. 

It was a good opportunity to mull over a few questions on political philosophy, from a course I have enrolled at Darebin U3A. The tutor had provided a few question for discussions when we next meet. These are the slightly modified questions and my answers.    

Questions such as how likely today is society prepared to accept authority and abide by decisions or policy implemented by others in control? – that’s when you don’t agree?   

Is your approach intellectual (‘what I think is right’) or are you more inclined to value emotion and intuition (‘what feels right’)? If both, then what predominates? 

Here’s a few of my musings.

Any democratic political system involves a degree of responsibility to others. The old adage that you can’t delegate responsibility unless in turn you provide the power to make ethical decisions on behalf of others applies in any well-constructed democracy. Therein the acceptance of some directions from authority figures in the form of laws passed and policies implemented become integral to our existence.  

The question of taking those directions when you don’t agree or think the course of policy is morally wrong involves questions of equity in the system. The extent that legitimate avenues of protest are acceptable subjectively involves fairness. That inevitably is going to lead to conflict so that guiding descriptive principles are usually better than too many long winded laws and policies. 

My preference is for a system of both intuition and consequentialism (Utilitarianism) to ensure the best possible outcomes. In other words a pragmatic approach that is constantly revised by scientific updates and introspection that recognises updates are a necessary part of our progress as human beings.

What was considered okay in the past inevitably becomes unacceptable as new knowledge and understanding comes to light? An important element is how we feel about things but that needs to be tempered with an ongoing narrative that looks towards the fairest outcomes. Of course you can’t always determine the outcomes in which event one proceeds with a high degree of caution and preparedness to make changes. There are many decisions and policies adopted in the past that turned out to have undesirable outcomes even though they seemed to be okay at the time. The trouble is no one wants to admit to mistakes and the need for revision yet that is principally how we progress to become a fairer society.   

Another question 

Is it a realistic assumption to expect actions without selfishness underpinning decisions?

Are we free when part of a collective which tells you how you should conduct yourself? In other words, by ignoring your self-interest, are you still a free citizen?

Do we have a democratic system involving a social contract that represents a genuine model for developing a free and fair political society? Is that just idealistic?  

Here is what I think 

Herein, I think we can accept the idea of a social contact that first arose in the 18th century provided the opportunity for a genuine model for that time which assisted in the evolutionary process of the political system. But its flaw is at the time it was underpinned by idealism.

The question of freedom and morality are often confused given the idea that restraints on an individual’s freedom as in a collective are seen as being morally wrong. Rather, a democratic ideal must curtail some individual’s freedom so that overall the enjoyment of given freedoms are realised by a greater number of people. This raises the vexed question of individual rights versus societal standards enshrined in the law.


Turning to modernity such political systems gravitate to representations in practice of hybrid models of government tending more one way or the other - Right wing or Left wing or Centre-right’; ‘Centre-left’).

Then there are others who believe that any form of government (authority) is wrong. There is a significant seam of such thinking in political philosophy, from early socialist craft guilds. 

Do you think a government (especially in modernity) spoils what is essentially good in human nature? Can we rely more on this and reduce their role of government to defence and a few basic services or is the reverse true to underpin a fairer society?     

My musings.

This type of thinking in my mind reverts to a form of naivety since it fails to recognise the advancements in complexity that underpins humanity. We are naturally inquisitive and although one might argue we have no more wisdom than the sages of old there can be little doubt in the growth in population, knowledge and new scientific discoveries that mean we are more aware of the consequences of our actions. Hence, I think some form of collective becomes increasingly a necessary part of existence. Although we are inextricably connected to nature and need to show reverence to nature that also means a form of a social pragmatic narrative needs to be entertained and constantly updated if we are to advance in a sustainable manner. 


If we are fallen beings in the religious sense how can we hope to discover the best form of political governance? Is it better to look for a pragmatic option? Or should we persist in finding the perfect system?

Can human beings create a just State?

Final thoughts  

I think it is better to take a pragmatic view based on intuition and an ongoing revised evaluation of the consequences of policies and laws. Justice is an important aspect that needs to be regarded as a work in progress. Admitting mistakes and learning from prior experiences is the key, but it's too painful for many to accept.   


But let’s know what you think

Friday, April 15

Philosophy remains relevant

I attended the ‘The Biennial Conference in Philosophy Religion and Culture’ held in Sydney quite some time ago. The theme then was “Creation, Nature and the Build Environment”, which is even more relevant today.     

Keynote Address.   
The keynote address was by three New Zealand academics namely Elizabeth Aitken-Rose, Douglas Pratt and Jennifer Dixon on “Community and Incarceration: The Architecture of Alienation and the Politics of Redemption”.

According to the International Centre for Prison Studies (Kings College, London) New Zealand has the fifth highest rate of incarceration per head of population in the OECD – after the USA, Chile, Poland and Czechoslovakia – and well ahead of Australia. New Zealanders pride themselves on breaking records and perhaps the most impressive is the rate at which they lock people up and throw away ongoing responsibility. A new prison in the city of Auckland looms large over the surrounding urban landscape: it is a larger, gloomier, shadier and more embarrassingly obvious human cage than anyone had anticipated. From a Correctional perspective, the locality addresses essential needs. It is close to the courts and a perfect situation for the requisite remand centre. ‘

The presenters argued the need for a radical improvement in the design and administration of prisons to combat the world wide high degrees of recidivism. Their multi-faceted approach highlighted the physiological and religious fundamentalism perpetuated in the design roots from a medieval societal view of incarceration. Those involved were currently working with the NZ government to instigate design improvements and were of particular interest to the press in Australia. In NZ it currently costs the state $90,000 pa per prisoner.

At the conference the conclusion reached was that a cluster of smaller type housing for prisons would engender a much better outcome over the favoured current mega structures.


The environment was a popular theme with a large number of papers talking about eco-spirituality and drawing attention to environmental concerns.

(Fr) Gregory Jacobs's paper argued ‘that there needs to be a change away from the dualistic model of a mechanical worldview when we look at creation, and returning to an organic, or holistic model. Here he believed that the Temple theology (the idea of reverence for the temple to encapsulate the earth as the sacred tabernacle) of the Old Testament, and a deeper understanding of the ‘creation covenant ‘are helpful starting points for analysing the creation stories, and thereby gaining a new understanding of both our place in the environment, and our use of the resources of the earth.

Cullan Joyce’s religious thinking about the environment focused on moral issues and on spirituality. His paper approached the question as something that should be of concern to the systematic theologian. As such it asked what saving the environment might have to do with the doctrine of salvation. This entailed a consideration of the connection between the doctrines of creation and salvation. In the end, it may all be a question of how we understand and communicate an adequate understanding of the eschaton.

Personally I think the wisdom of Albert Schweitzer is to be recommended though inevitably there are flaws in his philosophy as there are in any philosophy. His insight contained within his ‘Reverence for life’ involved the ethic of love evidenced in the New Testament to be realized in one’s natural occurring gifts.

Schweitzer’s ideas were to think positively about life (life affirmation as he calls it) to share with all living things in the world in which we live. His idea came from his concern about civilization which he thought had lost its spiritual roots because of our lack of reverence for life as the post enlightenment worldview which had become totally reliant on reason. His philosophy was not a utopian ideal or quantifiable to given values, outcomes, behaviours or morality. Rather he encouraged a way of thinking which would return to our spiritual roots, whose outcome, although diverse, shared in the communal ancestry of all living things which he referred to as ethical mysticism. The aim was to think about the reality of our co – inhabitants with the world by accepting our life mystery which was to show reverence for it. His thinking is much more deep seated than a casual observation might first conclude.

Another enthusiastic scholar was Robert Tilley who presented a paper entitled Cosmic Liturgy and Biblical Criticism: a Question of Method: ‘For some decades now there has been what many have called a crisis in biblical criticism. A crisis concerning many of the basic assumptions informing the methods used, which we can see now were little more than the prejudices of modernity. With the rise of the 'Third Quest' the task has been not only to assimilate the early Jewish and Christian material previously neglected, but to rethink our method. A good deal of this project has involved a focus upon the concept of covenant, not merely as a social factor but as a cosmological, even metaphysical, one as well. The effects of this have been both profound and exciting, but the new approach is not without its own attendant pitfalls. By reference to the works of Margaret Barker this paper identifies what is one of the major pitfalls: this is the failure to give due attention to the way in which common concepts can be differently employed, not least by reference to the use of irony and reversal. It is a mistake that not only flattens out the depth and dimensions of history and the texts under discussion, but lends itself to what one might call 'a conspiracy theory method'. A method that effectively means the assumptions of the critic can only ever be confirmed. Thus, we run the risk of repeating the same errors of earlier biblical criticism. ‘

Tilley invites us to think about the prevailing literature at the time and the propensity for the Hebrew writers to engage in different styles as evidenced in the prevailing literature and culture apparent at that time. His invitation was to review the societal nuances from an ironical perspective in contrast to previous scholars who attribute different styles of writing to different authors. Tilley asserts changes in style are a deliberate ploy in keeping with the cultural approach of that age which leads to more liberal interpretation of scripture which is best viewed through the prism of irony. The writer(s) use of myth, poetry, allegory and above all irony add to the rich composition and often confirms an understanding of the sacred nature of life's mystery unable to be articulated in rational dialogue.

Aristotle’s Most Beautiful City
Scholar Andrew Murray at the time was involved within the Australian government to bring peace and stability to the troubled Solomon Islands located close to Australia. By introducing the harmonious philosophy of Aristotle he aimed to bring peace and tranquillity to these troubled Islands.

‘In Book VII of the Politics, Aristotle notes that beauty is realized in number and magnitude, and the city which combines magnitude with good order must necessarily be the most beautiful. ‘{Politics VII, 4 (1326a33-35)}.

There is a number of interesting questions for discussions. For instance, what is Aristotle‘s understanding of beauty? How is it found in the physical features of a city as discussed in Book VII? How does it relate to the moral entity of the best possible city?

The paper is in sections to discuss Aristotle‘s understanding of beauty, the beauty of the built city and the beauty of the constituted city.

He provides some very useful insights as to how the design and architecture of a city create a welcoming, friendly, beautiful environment as opposed to the fortress mentality which only engenders mistrust as a bar to peaceful co-existence with one's neighbours.

If we want to create a trusting environment we need to pay attention to providing warmth and appeal in a welcoming design layout for a model city. Andres critiques Sydney’s architecture in the light of Aristotle’s beautiful city essay.  


Click below to read his paper.

Wednesday, March 23

Understanding Bitcoin and other crypto currencies

Bitcoin and all cryptocurrencies are forms of digital currency, using cryptography (the art of writing or solving codes) to secure and settle transactions on the internet in conjunction to a linked chain using the block chain technology. The block chain systems to support the use of crypto currencies is not subject to any government backed security or regulation.  


Crypto currencies are held in so called virtual wallets and the largest of these is Bitcoin. Subsequently one can use the coins to settle transactions just as you would for traditional cards issued by financial institutions. But the difference is that settlement is provided by the use of the block chain technology. That technology guarantees the fidelity and security of a record of data without the need for a trusted third party such as a bank or financial institution.    

How the Block chain technology works in relation to supporting the use of crypto currencies such as bitcoin is that the owners of the technology develop a secret code. One the code is cracked it provides the instructions for all of the transaction in a designated block to be settled simultaneously on the internet. As each block is settled it is linked in the chain that continues on with each new block of transactions.

Anyone can attempt to crack the code and those engaged in attempting to crack the code are called miners. Once the first miner cracks the code, access is then gained to the secured technology for all the transactions to be simultaneously settled within that block.

The Miners get paid in new issues of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. You need very powerful computers to crack the codes.  Anyone can become a miner but you need huge amounts of computer power to be the first to crack the codes.     

So long as the value of the bitcoin exceeds the miners cost to crack the code the value is sustainable, but can be skewed by speculators just as can be the case for any currency. 

Sunday, March 20

Ralph Waldo Emerson – father of the transcendental movement


Following on from previous discussions where we identified the few philosophers that were of appeal and influence to Frederick Nietzsche, one that was identified was Ralph Waldo Emerson. Nietzsche had remarked he never felt more comfortable reading the work of Emerson who was known as the father figure of the transcendental movement. Like the existentialists the transcendentalists was a movement rather than a philosophy whose core beliefs, amongst other things, embraced the idea of individualism or self-reliance to rally against any form of societal pressure to conformity.

Individualism in this context posits each person has the power through introspection and one’s free will to move beyond the physical world into the spiritual realm, to determine an ethical existence or higher mode of thinking.

In this respect Emerson was in the same mould as Hegel who proposed the idea of the thinking spirit that influenced each subsequent generation in a positive manner exemplified in history. So we learn from history as each generation expands upon the thinking spirit that came before it. The problem with this philosophy of course is that society and its traditions inevitably can have corrupting influences and one might query if indeed wisdom has gained momentum over the centuries. Furthermore can we say that history can reflect the true influences as to what transpired and its accompanying reasons? The answer to these difficulties for the transcendentalists was one rejected the societal influences and religious norms to a simpler more enlightened state in tune with reverence for nature. It wasn't a question of ignoring history, quite to the contrary, but more a matter of accepting differ perspectives in a continuous process.  That type of philosophy is in common with Baruch Spinoza who saw GOD in nature which is known as pantheism. Hence there is no need for intermediaries as one reverts to see the beauty of nature in all its abundance. As such Emerson was an idealist who believed one is corrupted by the needs to conform to society and it’s evils to rally against slavery and the materialistic world. It’s easy to see why this approach was appealing to Nietzsche’s philosophy of overcoming and self-reliance.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) admirers included the poet Walt Whitman. He also collaborated with Henry David Thoreau, to establish environmental literature with Walden.

Initially he was a Unitarian Minister, after graduating from the divinity faculty at Harvard University. He only lasted a few years in this position to become a popular philosopher who gained prominence with his essays, entitled “Self-reliance” “History” “ The Over Soul” and “Fate”.


His influences were from English and German romanticism and Hinduism.

He is seen by some to be a precursor to existentialism. To reiterate he was a lifelong friend of Henry David Thoreau and inspired the likes of Herman Melville, a fellow transcendentalist, in his epic novel Moby Dick. But we might find some criticism in  Moby-Dick; or, the whale, as Herman Melville was both drawn and opposed to the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson and possibly rejected his idealism.   

On education- we learn from books, nature and actions.

According to Emerson, what you do in terms of actions to be taken determine what you continue to believe to avoid the perils of procrastination and be too trapped in the societal views of the time.

He summed up his thinking by saying that the whole of the world is needed for the education of one person. It is the approach he talks about education on the basis of seeing and examining the world from as many different perspectives as possible.  

Hence Emerson might be regarded as a process philosopher whose religious ideas are grounded in pantheism, which regards GOD as resplendent in all facets of nature but could only be experienced in an ongoing involvement in the present.

Eastern Influences

When he was at Harvard he studied many books related to Eastern and Western Philosophies including Hindu philosophies. 

The Hindu Books he studied were the Gita, Upanishads, Manu, Vedas and Vishnu. Hence many of his ideas bear a similarity to the concepts of Hinduism. In Hindu philosophy a physical universe of sense-perception existence as was proposed by David Hume is not considered reality. Rather it is the Brahman- the Infinite Being or in other possible ways of expressing it such ome might reference the idea of a Cosmic Mind, Universal Consciousness or Absolute. In other words the universe and mind are finite manifestations of a Universal Mind and our worldly interactions are linked to this Ultimate Reality which is the basis of our consciousness. Emerson got many of his ideas in his Essay entitled “The Over Soul”, from this source.

In the same mould Albert Schweitzer was also attracted to the idea of an oneness which he said that the “Brahmins, taught as a great secret the mysticism of the identity of the souls of all beings and all things with the Universal Soul. According to this mysticism all that is of the nature of soul belongs to the Universal Soul. Man carries the Universal Soul within him. And because the Universal Soul dwells in all Being, it finds its own self again in all beings, in the life of plants as in the life of gods. This is the meaning of the famous Tat twam asi (That thou art thyself) of the Upanishads."

Emerson’s Over-soul was also matched up to Brahman in this Upanishad concept as explained in the Gita. Schweitzer went on to develop his concept of reverence for life.


Hence, both Emerson and Thoreau and were both influenced by the notion of selfhood found in Hindu which led Emerson to publish his essay entitled “over Soul”.

To reiterate the Upanishads shows that

the Self is the eternal person, representing the inner

Self of all things. Hence the idea in Hindu philosophy is of a constant rotation of birth and deaths so that by dignity and actions the soul eventually combines into Brahma.

Other influences came from Chinese philosophy and Persian poetry.

Emerson also was drawn to Chinese Daoism, which saw nature as a purifying force.

Lasting legacy

Although the transcendentalist’s movement was relatively short lived it did shape the philosophical underpinnings of America, more particularly in relation to the literature and philosophy of Emerson.  Chief amongst modern day adherents was John Dewy. Dewy incorporated democratic ideals into a merged ideal of liberty based on education and shared values that relied on self-reliance but we’re not tied to any strict religious ideologies but rather more inclined to a comprehensive narrative based principally on utilitarianism. The late Richard Rorty as a modern day pragmatic philosopher, who rejected the idea of analytical philosophy did see merit in the idea of intuition and the more comprehensive narrative suggested by Emerson and the transcendentalists to underpin progress.

Hence Emerson and the transcendentalists helped shape American philosophical thought which remains embedded in some aspects of the Democratic Party even today. 

Quotes on life

This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.  

Finish each day and be done with it.

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.

Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, and drink the wild air.

Without ambition one starts nothing. ...

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

Life is a journey, not a destination.


Emerson was a philosopher ahead of his time who posed interesting questions as to what it means to be human. He attempted to marry eastern contemplative philosophy with analytical western style thinking. Whether that works or not makes for an interesting discussion. I think an analysis of his philosophy hopefully sheds some light into the American libertarian way of thinking.


Friday, February 18

the grieving process goes on and on

I don’t think there is any alternative other than to go through the grieving process upon the occasion of the death of a loved one. For me much earlier on when my father died, when I was only in my early twenties, one comforting factor was the letter he wrote to me just a few months before he died.  Therein he stated it is just as well we don’t have a say when we depart this world, but as if adding a note of reassurance to me, he added don’t think son I have given up hope, because I will be trying hard to contradict the doctors prognosis. 

That same feeling over 50 years later prompted the inclusion of the biblical reference to a time for everything. But at the age 42, it does seem that a time for Rachael was far too soon. The grieving for me is naturally enough for what is the abrupt ending of the earthly relationship, to only continue in those relived memories every day. They flash in and out of my mind like the wind in my face, the crashing of waves on the beach or a gentle breeze. Over the past month  I have  felt it wash over me again whilst walking along the river bathed in sunshine. These repeated experiences occur on the way down to the river path. My first experience was an unexpected feeling of joy as if I suddenly breathed it in from the surrounding bush-land. The trees appeared to be in more detail than I had previously observed. That feeling quickly passed and I wondered if it ever would be repeated. But a few days later on that exact same spot I was overwhelmed by an aching type of feeling, except it was not unpleasant, but best described as if all prior angst was being removed in preparation to enter a new dimension. That feeling also quickly passed. The third and fourth experiences were of a feeling of merging of consciousness into a new realm which maybe is a not to be repeated finale. My wife also experienced similar welcomed spontaneous feelings whilst travelling in the car to Eltham. Whether they will continue only time will tell.    

As such they offer solace as a companion in spirit, as I feel they are not to be resisted or even interpreted. One might as well try and pin a map of the earth on a sunset. Just what one experiences out of the ordinary but accepts, like the warmth of the sun, the shade of the trees, the welcome emergence of new life and the falling leaves.  The spirit of friendship and support of both shared memories and in the exchange of symbolism continues to provide  meaning for me. We watch the gift of the rose bloom, the olive tree basking in the sun, along with an assortment of plants on our small balcony. Then there are all of the cards, emails, 46 heartfelt notes in the guest book, over 470 visits to the live streaming of the funeral and the numerous interactions that remind us of her life and the impact going forward, They all provide warm feelings to help fill the void of sadness of her absence. What was most reassuring to us was to learn of the numerous added life dimensions, to learn from others as to how she provided meaning to those who now mourn her passing. What lives on is her exquisite art, particularly the symbolic artwork in the cross that she gifted, to the individualized tunes in honor of those designated - that continue to be cherished, along with her songs and prayers.  We also draw strength from both updates of past fading memories to more recent revelations with people whose lives she touched just as it now touches ours. 

Coping with the grief is made easier by the caring relationships that emerge more positively and to allow those feelings of love to flourish and help alleviate sadness. From out of the blue came relationships we weren’t aware of as some came from far away and whose tributes gave us comfort.

Many poignant and philosophical notes came from across the country and overseas were far too many to note individually as they all rank in equal significance and comfort to us. But here are examples: just by way of a subjective few:   


Every single one of us was carried with her and she will forever be carried within us.

Life does not afford you the opportunity to make truly deep connections or meet people like Rachael all too often, and I always held her so close to my heart and always will.

Rachael was such a talented, intelligent, beautiful, patient, creative, loving and gentle person. Just being in her presence could put you at ease. Every year I looked forward to my birthday card from Rachael. She always created the most amazing and creative cards. I was always amazed by the effort she put in. They would have taken her hours.

I have so many fond and beautiful memories of the time we spent together in primary school and throughout our teenage years. The awesome foursome will never be the same without her.

I hope nature and the Earth now get a chance to fully appreciate the deep love you carried for them and that together you may experience peace and tranquility that was always radiating from within during your time here. May your song now truly become an elemental force of nature itself, like we always knew it was. With pain in our hearts we acknowledge the joy, harmony and resonance you brought to so many lives around you and to many more that you will never know. Love, always.

I’m very sad to be saying goodbye to my very first friend but so privileged to be able to call her that. Rachael encouraged us all to be ourselves around her, never giving out judgment even if our singing was off. There are not many teenage girls that would play Enya to her friends to help them get to sleep. I will be calling Rachael in to visit me through nature, while I’m cradled by the gums and by the waters. I will sing for her and play Rachael’s music to have her close and to ensure her vibrant kind spirit lives on and is honoured.

Wednesday, February 2

Rachael Hope Byrnes

 The livestream link for the funeral on Tuesday 8th Feb at 11 am is:

Opening Song: For the Beauty of the Earth – John Rutter 


Family welcome: 

Acknowledgment of country: 

Lighting of Paschal Candle: 

Sprinkling with holy water

Placing of white pall

Placing of Symbols: 



Reading: Ecclesiasticus 3: 2-3     

Responsorial Psalm – As the Deer Longs- Psalm 42

Gospel & Homily: 

Song: Rachael Byrnes –Lake of Lament

Prayers of the Faithful: 

Photo Section with music: Black Hills of Dakota & Tea Party & Less is More and the Oily Rag -Rachael Byrnes.

Prayers of Commendation: 

Concluding Prayer:   

Outgoing music Rachael Byrnes – Prayer of St Francis