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Old March 3rd, 2017, 03:53 PM   #21
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Analytic philosophers have done yeoman work clearing much dead wood away from our thinking, but they are not the last word in philosophy. They have tried hard to demonstrate that we must eschew vague, general ideas as meaningless. But, as has often been pointed out, their own views are general ideas, and they have notoriously had great difficulty in proving that their views are free from vagueness. It is a joke, but one with a sting in its tail, that the assertion that all metaphysical views are meaningless is itself a metaphysical view, and therefore meaningless.

Philosophers write endlessly trying to find truth, but if words are all we have, then it is merely a meaningless game with words; all views must be defined with words, words must be defined with other words, and we finish with words chasing their own tails endlessly through the dictionary.

If we are to get anywhere, we must go beyond the dictionary, into a wider realm; meaning in a closed system must arise from a meta-system.

"Creation is the irruption of a transcendent order of Reality into the limited realm of Being which we inhabit."

Analytic philosophers would say that we must find meaning for our theories in what we observe in the real world revealed to us by our senses. That is a major part of science.

Alas! What a slippery thing it is to understand that little word, "real". And recognition of the unreliability of the senses goes back beyond the fable of the Five Blind Men and the Elephant.

What is clear, to me, is that the creation of meaning comes from outside a system, not from inside. Whatever meaning can be deduced from my dictionary is one thing to me, another to an inhabitant of Tang dynasty China, and yet another for the multi-dimensional plasma-beings of planet Qwerty.

The meaning of a system arises from a meta-system; yet, inevitably, the meaning of the meta-system arises from a meta-meta-system, and so on, without end.

A major question of philosophy for me is whether this process goes on without end into infinity, or whether the process somehow curves in on itself, like a snake eating its tail---boundless, but finite.

Since I think there is a fair amount of evidence that nature abhors infinities, I suspect that the second view is more tenable; but, as a sceptic, I am open to opposing evidence.

Consider the Library of Babel, which I mentioned at the beginning of this thread. There can be no random string of letters which is without a meaning or translation in the Library, either in some language, natural or artificial, or in some cryptological code. The grammars of all these languages occur in the library, as do the explanations of all the cryptological codes. Following the work of Georg Cantor and Kurt Gödel, the infinity of cryptological codes is higher and greater than the infinity of messages to be deciphered.

The hyper-infinity of cryptological codes represents a meta-system of the infinite system of messages to be de-coded.

The work of Kurt Gödel has been extended in a very interesting fashion by Gregory Chaitin:

OMEGA and why maths has no TOEs (Theories of Everything)

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Old March 3rd, 2017, 03:54 PM   #22
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One of the clever things that Borges does in his "Library of Babel," and which I imagine few readers notice, is that he slips in oblique references to a world outside the Library, though the assumption of the story is that there is nothing other than the Library. Thus, he indicates that no matter how hard we try, it is impossible to postulate a totally enclosed system, devoid of any sort of opposing frame of reference.
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Old March 5th, 2017, 03:42 PM   #23
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When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,"---that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

---John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn"

Clear definition is important, but it is not the be-all and end-all of philosophy. Often, it is not necessary, desirable---or even possible!---to define.

As examples of defined words, we might take "circle," "the square root of minus one," "entropy," etc. Within a particular frame of reference, they have very clear and well-defined meanings.

Indicative words are words like "good," "art," "beauty," "God," "mind," and I would suggest words like "being" and even "matter." These words are notoriously difficult to define, and I suggest their usefulness comes precisely from their lack of clarity, their vagueness, and perhaps even from their logical incoherence.

What I call "indicative" words are like arrows pointing out a direction to travel along. Their very lack of meaning may make them suitable to be "pointers" in a large variety of frames of reference.

In ancient China, Gong-sun Long-zi understood this and came very close to the essence of Kurt Gödel's recent arguments. His influence on later Chinese thought was both profound and far-reaching. In his essay, "Discussing the Designation of Things," he showed that the meaning of a thing is not the thing itself: the terms of a system are dependent on the terms of a meta-system.

'Among things, there are none which are not designated, but "designation" is not designated.'

'"Designation" is what is not in the world. "Things" are what are in the world. It is not permissible to take what is in the world for what is not in the world.'

'If one is speaking about what is indeterminate [one is not speaking about a 'thing"], for all "things" are determinate.'

'Everything in the world can be pointed to and designated. But "designation" is not a determinate entity which can be pointed to.'


The pointing finger cannot point to itself.

The peculiar power of "designation" resides in the fact that it is not a "thing," in the fact that it is indeterminate. Its being unlimited by a determination is what permits it to be "that which applies to everything in the world."

If "designation" were determinate, it would be limited and circumscribed like all other "things." The clear proof that "designation" belongs to a metasystem lies in the fact that it is impossible to pair "designation" per se with any "thing" in the world. Each "thing" already has its own name. "Designation" is one name which cannot be paired with a thing.

Assuming that it could, a contradiction would arise. For one could then conceive of a "designation" which would point to all things in the world including the supposed "designation"!!
[This is basically Plato's "Third Man Argument," and has an obvious relation with the reductio ad absurdum which Gödel uses to establish the incompleteness of mathematical systems].

"Consciousness will always be one degree above comprehensibility." ----G. Ehrensvard

Since I am fond of ambiguity, my version of this is:

The mind is very adept at showing what it can't do to itself.

.
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Old March 7th, 2017, 02:17 PM   #24
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I wish to describe a half-way house for those without training in philosophy on a journey to the understanding of the thought of Plato. It is false to Plato in one supremely important aspect, yet can still be useful.

Let us make a distinction between things that "exist" and things that are "real."

Let us define "existents" as just those "facts" that are in the external world of common experience---the subject matter of science. So we will say that tables and rainbows, sights, sounds, patterns of behaviour and everything else that can be physically measured---"exist."

Let us have another class of objects which are called "real." Things like scientific laws (E=mc^2, h=energy / frequency, etc.) and the theorems of mathematics are "real" things, or "forms."

Both "existing" things and "real" things are part of the world as we know it. We cannot touch or see a circle, or anything else that is "real," yet "real" things can be causally effective (for example, the laws of optics can be used to trigger a bomb). Furthermore, "reality" and "existence" are mutually exclusive classes---things which "exist" are not "real," and things which are "real" do not "exist."

Yet "reality" and "existence" are also mutually dependent; each appears in the world supported by the other. Only insofar as a wheel approaches circularity is it said to "exist" as a wheel. On the other hand, "circularity" is dependent on sensible objects in order to be manifested.

Circularity does not "exist," , but it is manifested by things that do exist. Yet again, things which "exist" do so only through an immense concatenation of "forms." In physics, for example, when we try to understand a material object, we find that it dissolves into a warp of electric and magnetic fields on a woof of curved space-time. These, in turn, when subjected to analysis, reveal new "existences" and new "forms": elementary particles, units of "action" and quantum fields. Each time we try to tease out what is before our eyes, we find that it disappears to reveal a new content functioning through new "forms."

Temporally, "forms" are eternal and unchanging; there is no difference between a circle today and a circle a billion years ago---while things which "exist" are subject to any number of interactions which may alter or destroy them. They are never exactly the same from moment to moment. A "form," however, does not undergo interactions; it is interaction! --- or to put it better, it is a function or law of interaction. When conditions permit it to operate, a "form" or "function" springs forth fully-blown from the brow of Zeus---and then vanishes away without residue when conditions end its functioning. (This is not strictly true---first, it may leave a causal residue which affects the future history of various phenomena; second, no function or force ever ceases completely; we say that it ceases when it becomes too weak to be distinguishable from random fluctuations or is obscured by stronger forces)

For the philosophically naive, the world of experience seems unquestionably solid and enduring. Such people are liable to be suspicious of what I am calling "forms" or "reals." They seem to have a spurious quality, to be the "ghosts of departed quantities," or like the grin on the face of the Cheshire Cat. However, what is "real" is vastly more enduring and immutable than what "exists"---and this is precisely because it does not "exist"!

E=mc^2 does not "exist," it is "real;" it is an invariance in the relationship of matter and energy.

Each "form" is itself compound, but it is a compound of other forms---just as the definition of each word in the dictionary is meaningless without the definitions of all the other words. "Forms" are defined by other "forms." The "real" defines what "exists," not vice versa. What "exists" manifests what is real, but does not define it. The two are mutually dependent and ontologically equal, but what "exists" is epistemologically subordinate to what is "real."

That which is sensibly perceptible is a flux of many forms. The paradigm of the modern experimental method is to restrict the operation of forms by allowing only one variable to change in a particular experiment---while holding all other variables constant. If successful, this effort will reveal some aspect of the experimental situation to be a function of a particular variable. The theoretician then takes these results and attempts to enunciate a law that will generalize this function to a variety of experimental situations. Thus, step by step, science inches closer to what is "real"---to the revelation of a Platonic Form.
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Old March 7th, 2017, 02:23 PM   #25
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I used to love Play Dough when I was a kid!
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Old March 7th, 2017, 03:10 PM   #26
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PUN:

The difference between ANTANACLASIS and PARONOMASIA
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Old March 7th, 2017, 04:26 PM   #27
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Big Government and Big Business ... try the social and cultural unity to impose adults and children. To do this they will use all the techniques of mind-manipulation available and will not hesitate to strengthen these methods of non-rational persuasion through economic constraint and threats of physical violence. If you want to avoid this kind of tyranny, we must immediately begin and educate our children for freedom and self-government. This education for freedom must ... be the first in facts and values ​​- the facts of individual diversity and genetic uniqueness and the values ​​of freedom, tolerance and mutual love are the ethical accompaniments of these facts.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 12:56 PM   #28
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Big Government and Big Business ... try the social and cultural unity to impose adults and children. To do this they will use all the techniques of mind-manipulation available and will not hesitate to strengthen these methods of non-rational persuasion through economic constraint and threats of physical violence. If you want to avoid this kind of tyranny, we must immediately begin and educate our children for freedom and self-government. This education for freedom must ... be the first in facts and values ​​- the facts of individual diversity and genetic uniqueness and the values ​​of freedom, tolerance and mutual love are the ethical accompaniments of these facts.
No hope of that as long as Hollywood, television, advertising, the Deep State and the Military-Industrial Conspiracy exist.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 01:39 PM   #29
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No hope of that as long as......... Military-Industrial Conspiracy exist.
.
You mean "Complex". But w/o the two of them, our only hope is that we can quickly learn RUSSIAN!!!
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Old March 8th, 2017, 02:11 PM   #30
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The ordinary person thinks that he perceives an external world. This world is varied in qualities and inexhaustibly rich in detail. His mind, on the other hand, appears to him (when he thinks about it at all) to be a "little black box," a vacuity behind his eyes, out of which mysteriously pop thoughts, feelings and desires.

For the biologist, however, the world of sensation is a state of the nervous system. Damage or destroy the nervous system, and this all too solid world disintegrates and vanishes, leaving not a wrack behind.

The only things of which we are directly aware are states of sensation, states of mind.

Precisely contrary to the ideas of vulgar common people, this incredibly rich world of ours is "in here," not "out there." It is rather the external world which is, in fact, the "black box"! We can never be certain what is actually "out there," because we only know things as they appear to our minds, not as they are in themselves. Is there anything out there in the black box? Does anything exist other than our sensations?

Science is one way to find out.

Science reveals to us many interconnected series of concomitances---laws and relations---which subsist over and above our immediate sensations. What science reveals to us seems to be the substance of the external world.

But this "substance," these laws and relationships, are nothing but what I have been calling "reals" or "forms"! If there is anything behind our sensations, it must be "forms." They are "real," but they do not "exist"!

Rather a different view from that of the common man! He regards these "forms" as mere ideas, mental constructs, useful fictions. He cannot touch them; therefore they do not exist. The wise person agrees that these forms do not "exist;" they are "real"! And they are "objective" precisely because they are not prisoners of the flux of "existence."

"Reality" is objective, and "existence" is subjective. To a wise person, all ordinary people are autistic. They lie curled up in a ball, totally unaware of the external world. They nibble their fingers, stare at their navels, constantly consumed by a morbid fascination with their own sensations---existing in a state of endless mental masturbation. Aware only of their own sensations, they cannot lift their eyes to look through those sensations out at the "Real" world, the non-subjective world that is the same for all observers who approach it in the spirit of science.

Most people on this site probably regard the work of William Blake as a mass of twaddle, but he was saying, in his poetic way, exactly the same when he wrote:

For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the Tree of Life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed and appear infinite and holy, whereas it now appears finite and corrupt.

This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.

But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his soul is to be expunged; this I shall do, by printing in the infernal method, by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the infinite which was hid.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.

For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.

.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 03:20 PM   #31
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'
The ordinary person thinks that he perceives an external world. This world is varied in qualities and inexhaustibly rich in detail. His mind, on the other hand, appears to him (when he thinks about it at all) to be a "little black box," a vacuity behind his eyes, out of which mysteriously pop thoughts, feelings and desires.
Congratulations! (on your humbleness)
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Old March 8th, 2017, 04:07 PM   #32
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Congratulations! (on your humbleness)
Curses! You have discovered it !!

And I try so hard not to let people see it ! ---
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Old March 9th, 2017, 03:35 PM   #33
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I am not a "materialist" in the crude fashion of so many people. One of the reasons is that "matter" has never been defined as a clear concept. The way that it imposes on our senses disappears in a few short orders of magnitude down into the micro world.

When we try to understand a material object, we find that it dissolves into a warp of electromagnetic fields on a woof of curved space. These, in turn, when subjected to analysis, reveal new "existences" and new Forms: elementary particles, conservation laws, units of "action" and quantum fields. Each time we try to tease out what is before our eyes, we find that it disappears to reveal a new content functioning through new Forms.

What physics reveals to us is not the "matter" of naive intuition, but an immense concatenation of Forms---in the Platonic sense. Few prejudiced people ever stop to consider what an immense predictive triumph this is of Platonic theory---stretching over twenty-five hundred years, during which, to most people, there was precious little "evidence" that the Theory of Forms was true.
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Old March 10th, 2017, 02:51 PM   #34
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From above:

Quote:
I wish to describe a half-way house for those without training in philosophy on a journey to the understanding of the thought of Plato. It is false to Plato in one supremely important aspect, yet can still be useful.
What was supremely false in what I wrote? I treated the Forms as if they were abstractions from experience. THIS IS NOT PLATO'S VIEW.

Many philosophers have treated the Forms as if they were abstractions from experience, AND THEY SHOULD KNOW BETTER!

THE FORMS ARE NOT UNIVERSALS; THEY ARE NOT ABSTRACTIONS FROM EXPERIENCE!

Plato says this over and over; he says it ever so clearly in the Allegory of the Cave!

Wikipedia: Plato's Allegory of the Cave

TRANSLATION OF THE TEXT OF THE ALLEGORY

There is even a clay animation of the Allegory, for heaven's sake!

ANIMATION OF PLATO'S ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE

The fact that even professors of philosophy can't get this simple fact right says much about the distorted, stereotypical delusions of our time!

For Plato, the Forms were not less concrete than the physical world of experience, BUT MORE CONCRETE!

This can not be stressed too much!!!

The physical world of our experience is a dim, wavering image, a shadow, of the solid, enduring REAL world of the Forms! This is very, very clear from the Allegory of the Cave!

C. S. Lewis is a writer whom I like, but who exasperates me no end. The secret is that almost everything in his timid, theistic worldview that is good and attractive comes from Plato!

He wrote an amusing little book called, The Great Divorce, that gives his slant on the Forms of Plato.

Ghosts from Hell are given a holiday in which they are brought to the borderlands of Heaven, which is a kind of twilight before dawn. There, everything is much, much more solid than the phantasmal substance of the ghosts: plant stems and leaves are immovable; blades of grass are unbendable crystal needles to their feet; every drop of rain, every flying insect, is like a bullet that tears through the bodies of the ghosts; the surface of a stream is a solid, flowing, rippling floor to their feet; and when the Sun rises, its beams are solid blocks, moving at an incredible velocity, smashing and crushing the ghosts!
.

Last edited by numan; March 10th, 2017 at 02:56 PM.
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Old March 12th, 2017, 02:16 PM   #35
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furu ike ya / kawazu tobikomu / mizu no oto

"Old pond : frog jumps in, water's sound"

Ah, the Old Pond ! (the syllable "ya" roughly represents the "Ah" or the exclamation mark, or both)

I am sure that I would be soundly thwacked on the head by any Zen master worth his salt for being far too explicit and obvious, but, being a bumptious Westerner, I will mention that the Old Pond is clearly the Ultimate: Primordial Enlightenment, out of which all things arise and into which all things return.

This is very much a poem about perception and knowledge. The most striking rhetorical feature is the hysteron proteron in awareness -- one first perceives the water's sound and only then does one realize that a frog has jumped into the water -- though the order is reversed in the poem.
Of course, no one in their right mind has the initial thought, "Oh, there is a water-sound." Instead, one's instantaneous reaction is, "Oh, a frog has jumped in."

So which comes first, the frog or the water-sound? Or is it a chicken-and-the-egg problem? Does the phenomenological concrete world produce a mind and mental awareness? Or must mental awareness be an initial condition before any sort of phenomenology is possible? [Ow!! I feel the thwacks from the Zen master coming down fast and furious on my head!]

And what about the Old Pond? Although the haiku does not say so, I feel certain that the scene is set at night. The Old Pond is not seen. Which raises the question: is this an Old Pond which is known and familiar to us, or have we never come across it before? -- perhaps we are walking at night in an unfamiliar neighborhood when, out of the darkness, we hear the splash and think, "Oh, there must be a pond there!" This is initial enlightenment; the sequence of awareness is, "oh, there's a pond, a frog has jumped in, that explains the water-sound."

But that is not our case. We are old, experienced Enlightened Beings. :LOL: The Old Pond is very familiar to us, and we are comfortable playing, at our ease, with the antinomies of perception and awareness!! · ·

GRAMMATICAL NOTE: In Japanese grammar, a relative clause is formed without a relative pronoun. Rather, a verb or clause is placed immediately before the noun which it modifies. Therefore, everything after "the Old Pond" can be read as a single phrase : the sound of the water into which the frog jumps -- which I, at least, find a pleasing ontological synthesis to the dialectical complexities of the phenomenological and epistemological questions raised by the poem. · · · ·

The Japanese expression is rather more fused and unified that the somewhat wordy and indirect English construction :

frog-jumps-in's-water's sound.
.
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Old March 12th, 2017, 02:37 PM   #36
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Though I and all who view your verbiage are rightfully impressed as you intend, Might I recommend you ease up somewhat on the exemplary effort in order to allow those of us far more intellectually limited to comprehend what is written with effortless joy.
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Old March 12th, 2017, 05:16 PM   #37
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Though I and all who view your verbiage are rightfully impressed as you intend, Might I recommend you ease up somewhat on the exemplary effort in order to allow those of us far more intellectually limited to comprehend what is written with effortless joy.
Surely the spirit of the American Way of Life is that you must work for anything that is worthwhile ! ---
.
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Old March 12th, 2017, 11:45 PM   #38
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Surely the spirit of the American Way of Life is that you must work for anything that is worthwhile ! ---
.
Yet sadly, the abilities of the American way of life tend to lessen intellectual curiosity and motivation to the point of losing interest when overly complex opportunities present difficulty in comprehension.
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Old March 13th, 2017, 05:20 AM   #39
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Surely the spirit of the American Way of Life is that you must work for anything that is worthwhile ! ---
.
There is no GUARANTEE in America that you will be highly successful should you try hard to be, but your chances are much greater here than anywhere else that you will be. Especially now, with superfluous regulations being reduced.

Furthermore, should you not try at all, you are pretty well guaranteed you will not be.
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Old March 13th, 2017, 10:28 AM   #40
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OPEN THREAD: A "discussion about everything from politics to daily living to ethics and moral."

Aufgeblassen, numan, et al,

Well, --- Ayn Rand would love where this is going.

• Yes, The correct answer to these issues is:

"Who is John Galt?"

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Posted by [B
numan[/B]] Surely the spirit of the American Way of Life is that you must work for anything that is worthwhile ! ---
There is no GUARANTEE in America that you will be highly successful should you try hard to be, but your chances are much greater here than anywhere else that you will be. Especially now, with superfluous regulations being reduced.

Furthermore, should you not try at all, you are pretty well guaranteed you will not be.
(COMMENT)

Part of this is understanding whether you situation is getting better, or getting worse.

Testing improvement:
• When I had my first job (1969), a gas station attendant, I think I was making about a $1.25 an hour (plus tips).

• When I retired, I was making about $9.50 an hour.
In 1969, a gallon of gas was less than 50˘ a gallon. (I remember during the gas station wars, the cost some time dropped to 26˘/gallon.) At 50˘/ gallon, for 1 hours work, I could by (before taxes) 2.5 gallons.

At age 64, when I officially retired, I could buy (before taxed income) with gas prices at ≈ $2,49/gallon, in one hours time I could buy 3.8 gallons of gas, for one hours work. That's about a 46% improvement in the ability to purchase (before taxes).
Purchasing power is the value of a currency expressed in terms of the amount of goods or services that one unit of money can buy.

Read more: Purchasing Power Purchasing Power Definition | Investopedia

It is just a little harder to evaluate "success." It is correct that it is not accurate to say that "trying harder" will achieve greater success. No! that is not correct. You might work yourself as hard as you can, and still not achieve the level of performance expected by the employer.

"The average hourly wage Earnings in the US increased by 6˘ or .2% to $26.09 in February 2017."

How many gallons of gas can you buy for one hours work (after local, state and federal taxes)?

Most Respectfully,
R
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