Aphorisms and Approximations


What follows is a rough diary-type list of maxims aiming at an underlying truth, interspersed with questions and speculations on the structure of society and the nature of reality.


November 2017


  • One possible definition of adulthood – the moment reality becomes more frightening than fantasy.
  • An overabundance of knowledge can be damning for a person, imagining knowledge is like energy in that it can only be transferred or replaced and not created or destroyed.
  • As long as we remain slaves to our desires, not one of us can ever be called a master of their fate.
  • One effective means of motivation is to exhaust every source of pleasure until you’re forced to seek out new ones.
  • Don’t focus on what you ‘should’ do, focus on what you could do.
  • Almost any action half-considered is better than no action at all.
  • How can a person start from nothing?
  • Why people crave externals: eventually your external reality will come to represent the depth of your internal character. Aiming straight at externals is trying to cheat the character building process.
  • Is one day spent in total reflection superior to one spent in completing habitual tasks?
  • Life would be infinitely interesting and meaningful if we had the chance to experience other people’s perspectives.
  • Realising the meaningless nature of reality gives it new meaning in of itself.
  • Complexifying and systemising reality can be ruinous as we become addicted to the mental systems we create and sooner or later become ‘walking bundles of habits’ while life passes us by.
  • Especially with the advent of automation can society be designed so as to allow citizens to pursue occupations they are competent and interested in but without excessive specialisation limiting their potentialities?
  • Can equality of outcome and equality of opportunity be congruent by finding a way to incentivise workers beyond monetary rewards?
  • A difficulty in life is that it is much easier to identify paths you shouldn’t take than paths you should take.
  • Don’t choose the route of maximum freedom over responsibility, eventually your conscience will pay the price.
  • Is it better to live courageously without direction or securely with some direction?
  • A fundamental question to ask yourself: how can I best contribute to the improvement of society and/or the reduction of suffering in a sustained, concrete way?
  • Desire has no upper limit.
  • To know real triumph you have to know real hardship.
  • Theory: perhaps success is just a race against time.
  • As we advance further from the subjective to the objective through the accumulation of collective knowledge will we eventually reach the point where our personalities are so similar specialisation is no longer possible?
  • No life is without its mistakes and imperfections. Most of these are unnoticed or omitted from the record books.
  • The environment you are placed in is an inescapable factor in the formation of your character as it sets the opportunities and limitations for you to make something of yourself.
  • Nihilism = You don’t know the value of your life, assume nothing is meaningful. Existentialism = You don’t know the value of your life, assume everything is meaningful.
  • Why is practical experience more valuable than abstraction?
  • Possible answers to the above: 1. Abstraction cannot adequately account for unknown variables. 2. Abstraction deals with universals which do not invariably explain contextual differences. 3. Abstraction operates without the direct influence of other people, narrowing your scope of knowledge.
  • Theory: as an agent with infinite potential your duty as a living being is to at all times work towards realising a lifestyle you perceive as attainable and worthwhile for the commonweal. Not to do so may result in existential guilt and disappointment.

The Greatest Life Imaginable


  1. The Great Man…  is a good mixture of pragmatist and idealist but never lets one take complete precedent over the other. He doesn’t live within other people’s imaginary boundaries unless he firmly agrees they are an accurate reflection of reality. In turn, he never allows himself to force his own values onto others, no matter how true he perceives them to be.
  2. The Great Man  lives by a well-founded agenda constructed by his present ideals. If some disturbance or opportunity arises, a logical alteration to that agenda is made in accordance with his long-term values to determine the correct course of action.
  3. The Great Man  finds a way to consistently expose himself to new stimuli, namely through trial and error, and thus constantly discovers new aspects in familiar and unchanging stimuli.
  4. The Great Man  acts as an inspiration to all of those he comes into contact with. Not only is the magnanimity of his aura felt through his past achievements and depth of personality, but also because he is able to communicate the key to his success in a way which resonates and appears accessible to others.
  5. The Great Man  has an abundance of purpose underlying every thought process and resulting action, meaning he is only held back by the finitude of time available to him. He knows the universe is malleable which gives him no reason to give into the constraints others perceive in their environment.
  6. The Great Man  manages a multiplicity of responsibilities and commitments to others which he enjoys carrying out; motivated by the joy he is bringing and the burden he is alleviating from others.
  7. The Great Man  works only towards his own measure of success. He is free from the judgement of others in that he alone must perceive the inherent value in each task he chooses to complete.
  8. The Great Man…  strives to achieve “the great and the impossible” (Nietzsche) by framing goals which are likely to extend beyond just one person’s lifetime. The steps he takes towards achieving these extraordinary goals may be gradual as long as they are kept in mind at all times, through every manner of experience.
  9. The Great Man…  constantly seeks to identify existing problems with the way society is constructed, and how it functions. He attempts to rectify them through a combination of theoretical reasoning and practical challenges to the barriers separating the ways things are from the way they could be.
  10. The Great Man…  avoids procrastination by learning to perceive time as a continuous stream, rather than breaking it down into segments which would give him the opportunity to excuse himself from jobs he would prefer not to be doing.
  11. The Great Man…  appreciates the value of time and therefore experience as a defining facet of a person’s character. He spends an equal amount of time gleaning a priori and a posteriori knowledge so that he first absorbs the wisdom of inspirational figures, and then applies this wisdom to his own life.
  12. The Great Man…  is adaptable and highly skilled in a number of worthwhile pursuits. Thus, he is able to play a number of supportive roles with great proficiency. He recognises that each person is affected by the people they interact with and so he consciously adopts the most valuable traits of each person he comes across (“Every man I meet is my superior in some way, in that, I learn of him.”  —  Emerson).
  13. The Great Man…  will always be dissatisfied with his present lifestyle unless he at all times has the opportunity to contribute to the progress of society. In situations where he is not able to take immediate action he simultaneously enjoys the present moment but imagines alternative realities where he would be better able to assist others. He then strives to achieve those realities.
  14. The Great Man…  is never overburdened by the apparent meaningless and futile nature of life. Instead, he is grateful this ambiguity of objective purpose allows him the freedom to experiment with new transformative methods of increasing the happiness of other people, which in turn will contribute to his own happiness.
  15. The Great Man…  does not get caught up in externals. He refrains from tying his identity to possessions or plots of land; like him, each of these is temporary. Losing his home, the minuscule patch of the Earth most of us occupy and pretend we have permanent control over, would be of little consequence. The Universe is his home.
  16. The Great Man…  recognises his own vices and is constantly seeking to substitute these activities for ones of greater usefulness. Time misspent can never be regained.
  17. The Great Man…  always attempts to improve and align his internal and external circumstances. If internals outweigh externals he is left with false confidence. If externals outweigh internals he is left with false egoism. Thus he must keep both in check without fully committing to improving only one aspect.



I have used the masculine terms ‘man/he/him’ simply for ease of writing. These maxims are of course applicable to anybody


This is a dynamic list. You can put your ideas in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list