Sam Woolfe

Negative visualisation might sound like an oxymoron at first. How could something negative be helpful? Well, in short, negative visualisation is a philosophical mindset and a coping mechanism developed by famous philosophers like Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. It’s a Stoic principle, and it can help you cultivate gratitude in your life. (The method actually originated with the Cyreanic philosophers, but was later adopted by the Stoics.) The practice has also been referred to as premeditatio malorum (“premeditation of evils”). Seneca discussed it in his Moral Letters to Lucilius.

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on May 25, 2022.

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Within the field of psychiatry, the decision to provide a mental health diagnosis to someone experiencing emotional distress — a range of troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviours — often presents a moral dilemma. Of course, there may be an assumption among psychiatrists that diagnoses are, generally speaking, in a patient’s best interest, since it is intended to pinpoint what condition it is exactly that needs treating, allowing the most effective recommendations for treatment to be made.

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on May 23, 2022.

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In my first post on asemic writing, I briefly touch on the origins of this art form, noting that the artists Tim Gaze and Jim Leftwich applied the term to their quasi-calligraphic works in 1997. (See my review of Gaze’s latest book, Glyphs of Uncertain Meaning, which also includes some more information about the artist.) Peter Schwenger — the author of Asemic: The Art of Writing — considers this the point at which this international artistic movement was launched, which now encompasses a wide range of publications, exhibitions, and online activity.

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on May 16, 2022.

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Emptiness is a core aspect of Buddhist philosophy. This applies to both the Theravada tradition (the oldest existing school of Buddhism) and the Mahayana tradition (the later branch of Buddhism that accepts the teachings of early Buddhism but adds new texts and doctrines, such as the Mahayana Sutras and the emphasis on the bodhisattva path: the path to becoming a Buddha — an enlightened being — in order to liberate all sentient beings from suffering).

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on May 9, 2022.

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Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (1973) poses an interesting and thorny moral conundrum. In this story, the narrator describes the utopian city of Omelas, whose very utopianism, prosperity, and unspoiled happiness depend on the perpetual misery of a single child, hidden and locked away in a filthy, dark basement.

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on May 2, 2022.

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Many antinatalists (perhaps most) embrace veganism, finding both lifestyle decisions ethically consonant with each other. But whether one entails the other depends on the particular ethic at play: If it’s preventing and minimising suffering, then does this not entail antinatalism? This negative utilitarianism is what many vegan activists like Ed Winters (Earthling Ed) say undergird their veganism, yet when Alex O’Connor (Cosmic Skeptic) brought this up to Winters in a recent podcast episode, the latter said he does not support antinatalism.

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on April 25, 2022.

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It can be difficult to strike a balance between search engine optimisation (SEO) and writing authentically. On the one hand, writing with SEO in mind increases the likelihood that what you write will generate organic traffic — views that you might otherwise miss out without paying attention to SEO. But these views aren’t just validating and dopamine-inducing; they translate into people who might be the perfect audience for your content, who would appreciate it and benefit from it the most.

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on April 4, 2022.

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Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe

I'm a freelance writer interested in philosophy, ethics, psychology, and mental health. Website: www.samwoolfe.com