I first heard about the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber (1878–1965) and his book I and Thou (1923) from a therapist I used to see. I remember that out of nowhere and for a period of several weeks, I was feeling unusually elated and blissful, and I would have (what felt like) these very deep and meaningful experiences when with people and making eye contact. I described these experiences to my therapist, which made her mention Buber’s dialogical, I-You or I-Thou relationship. It was years later when I decided to actually read I and Thou, and while many passages feel cryptic, unclear, or ambiguous, reading this book has helped me to make sense of those unusual moments of human connection.

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on January 17, 2022.

The feeling of gaining direct knowledge of something grand or important about reality is a common aspect of mystical experiences generally and psychedelic mystical states more specifically. This is known as a noetic experience, one of the four defining qualities of a mystical experience, as propounded by the American psychologist and philosopher William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902).

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on January 10, 2022.

Animal agriculture is the second biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions (causing more emissions than all transport combined). Raising livestock is also a leading cause of deforestation, habitat loss, species extinction, water pollution, water consumption, and ocean dead zones. Many people, therefore, choose to give up animal products for environmental reasons, although ethical and health factors may play a role in the decision too.

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on December 27, 2021.

An inability to deal with imperfections can appear innocuous or even beneficial (if it helps to encourage ambition and high standards, which is known as adaptive perfectionism). However, perfectionism is often pernicious. It is closely tied to issues like harsh self-criticism, feelings of inadequacy, depression, and low levels of life satisfaction. For if perfection — an unrealistic, unattainable standard — is applied to oneself, one’s life experiences, and others, then disappointment and dissatisfaction will be the inevitable consequences.

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on December 20, 2021.

Christine Murray, editor-in-chief of The Developer, a publication about making cities worth living in, wrote a piece for Dezeen on why architects must “choose ethics over aesthetics”. It is a provocative article, and one of the most thought-provoking points that Murray makes — which I was completely unaware of — is that “construction itself is responsible for half of all global carbon emissions”. The actual figure is 39%, but the point still remains powerful. This is a monumental contribution to carbon emissions and the climate effects that follow.

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on December 13, 2021.

When looking back on the time I spent travelling solo, I can see how helpful it was for overcoming some level of social anxiety. I wouldn’t have ever called this kind of anxiety debilitating, but it’s always been there in the sense of relying on alcohol to feel relaxed socially — to have the social confidence to strike up conversations with new people and feel truly comfortable around others.

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on December 6, 2021.

To make a selective effort to seek out the most obscure ideas, theories, thinkers, and books is, on the one hand, a sign of intellectual hunger. But a kind of ego-stroking tendency can suffuse this seeking too; the more obscure the material, the more self-satisfying it can feel to find it and tell others about it. The motive may be about trying hard to stand out as the knower of what others don’t know, and to be regarded in that way by one’s peers. I think of this tendency as hipster intellectualism .

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Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on November 29, 2021.

Sam Woolfe

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

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