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[Layer 7: Links] #001

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The Big View – A website whose mission statement reads “if life is a journey, then philosophy is like a compass.” It is about “philosophy in the widest sense,” presenting overviews of a few philosophical topics: pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, Buddhism, the consequences of space time, an introduction to the philosophy of mind, and a copy of the Tao Te Ching. Also features a “past life calculator” and several essays on various topics. This site is in an aesthetically pleasing grayscale with intuitive navigation and lovely images. It has received over a million hits since October 1999 (last updated March 2008).

Pangloss Wisdom – A quote generator for your favorite optimist or Candide fan. Example: “Journalism is merely history’s first draft,” Geoffrey C. Ward.

The Cynic’s Sanctuary – The website for the author of The Cynic’s Dictionary which offers “disgruntled definitions.” This is not for the traditional Greek cynics but for those who present negative views in order to make the world a better place. The Sanctuary includes 714 things to be cynical about, a public list and message board for visitors to contribute their own cynicism, a Cynic’s Hall of Fame (includes Aesop and Jesus), and a quiz for one to know definitively whether or not they’re a cynic. If anything the site is worth looking at for the “What is Cynicism?” page which presents the following re-tooled view of a cynic:

Cynicism, after all, springs not from cruelty or viciousness, but from … a fatal love of virtue. If we were mere realists, we’d have no need for cynicism; the world would never disappoint us because we’d expect so little of it. But the best cynics are still idealists under their scarred hides. We wanted the world to be a better place, and we can’t shrug off the disappointment when it lets us down. Our cynicism gives us the painful power to behold life shorn of its sustaining illusions. … If we were activists, we’d do something constructive about our discontentment. But we’re smart enough to know that we won’t prevail…. So we retaliate with our special brand of wounded wit. If we can’t defeat our oppressors, at least we can mock them in good fellowship. That’s about as much justice as a cynic can expect.

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