Apocalypse Now

October 21, 2012 – Harold Camping's (rescheduled) prediction of the Rapture
October 29, 1929 – Black Tuesday stock market collapse, decade-long Great Depression follows
October 31 – Hallowe'en
November 7, 2000 – No winner declared in US Presidential election, progressives threaten to move to Canada
December 21, 2012 – Final day of 5,125-year cycle in Mesoamerican Long Count calendar
December 31, 1999 – Survivalists brace themselves for breakdown of society in wake of Y2K bug
What would be the best day of the year for The Singularity to be attained?

I've been waiting for this a long time.  I mean, to have a discussion about the curious expectation of catastrophe that ushers in the End Times, Armageddon, Apocalypse, etc.  This is always the time of year that my thoughts turn unduly pessimistic (to the point of becoming a fetish, sometimes)...I think it's the change of season.

What, you might ask, has the end of the world to do with philosophy?  Well, it obviously has much to do with teleology, the belief the world has a purpose.  The term apocalypse means "revealing," and philosophers are in the business of revealing the meaning of things.  Should we worry that the Apocalypse will beat us to the punch? 

If that doesn't move you, consider it an exploration of the role of fear in philosophy and culture in general:  communism, global warming, terrorists, scary movies, FOMO (fear of missing out).  Can philosophy alleviate, or heighten, fears? 

Feel free to wear your Hallowe'en costume–think how it will shock patrons of Au Coquelet to hear ghouls spouting Plato!  How about drawing, too?  Weather permitting, I will bring a large sketch pad, as suggested in the last meeting.

A mural would be just one more way to collaborate.  The process focus this time around is on "dual-process" sensibility:  can we each share responsibility for the discussion as a whole?  The innovation introduced with Progress gives us each some power to steer the meeting, but it will take practice to be able to step in and out of the topic.  And a wide-open theme like eschatology is a great opportunity to increase our awareness of what questions we are asking!

Please give yourself 5 minutes (use a clock) to reflect on the RSVP questions.  Consider the time spent as the toll for the meeting, which is free.

Assuming Rev. Camping is wrong (again), see you the day before Hallowe'en!  That is, if you dare....


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  • Jeff G

    Rapturous! Almost a simulation of the real thing, with the televised Hurricane Sandy as a backdrop for a few Chosen ones who managed the intellectual passage from mortal fear to godlike freedom to world consciousness to stoic acceptance of the second law of thermodynamics. This was one of those meetings where I was pleasantly surprised by how multiple avenues of inquiry merged into a new understanding. I will continue to bring a large sheet of newsprint to help us "map" our ideas. Thanks to the diehards (apocalyptic humor is the bomb;-) for a great evening.

    November 2, 2012

  • Forrest

    I'm a definite maybe. I'm fascinated by the topic, but unsure I can make it.

    October 25, 2012

  • Scott J.

    Here is some light reading predicting a "finite time singularity" around 2052 which seems like a euphemism for apocalypse. http://arxiv.org/pdf/cond-mat/0002075.pdf

    October 22, 2012

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