The Ice-Cream Principal and a Hamburger With the Lot

written by: CLARKE SCOTT 

Hey friends,

​An idea occurred to me this week. I’m calling it…The Ice-Cream Principal.

The Ice-Cream Principal is, in short, the idea that intentionality follows bliss.

And this is not a good thing, for just as Joseph Campbell famously said, “follow your bliss,” and the ice-cream principle states that this happens without motivation. The problem is not the bliss per se, but the moving towards bliss unconsciously.

That is to say, our ideas of what makes life meaningful are predicated on the notion that a meaningful life is found in the direction of a “pot of gold”—however you define it—and that we often move in its direction without proper thought.

When I was a child living in the suburbs of Melbourne, each summer we would be visited by the gelato man, and as soon as I would hear the sound of his van approaching, I would crave its delicious taste pestering my mother until she’s cough up the dough to buy one!

Now ice-cream is a benign example, of course, but here lies the problem: as one becomes adult, these unconscious motivating forces that lead children to pester parents for money to buy things that are ultimately unhealthy are often left unconscious. And when left unconscious can transform, thus causing people to do all kinds of stupid things searching for a meaningful life.

For the sake of brevity, I will stop here with a question: Is there much of a difference between ice-cream, hamburgers, self-help, and cocaine in this regard?

I don’t think so. In fact, I think there is something interesting here, as it relates to self-development, to investigate.

So let me ask you again, is there much of a difference between ice-cream, hamburgers, and cocaine in this regard?

I don’t think so! What do you think?

This Weeks Reading

​Paul Ricoeur (1913–2005) is a distinguished French philosopher of the twentieth century. A major theme that runs through Ricoeur’s writings is that of a philosophical anthropology.

Ricoeur came to formulate this as the idea of the “capable human being.” This idea seeks to give an account of the fundamental capabilities and vulnerabilities that human beings display in the activities that make up their lives, and to show how these capabilities enable responsible human action and life together.

Ricoeur consistently rejects any claim that the self is immediately transparent to itself or fully master of itself. Thus self-knowledge only comes through our understanding of our relation to the world and of our life with and among others in time in the world.


​I first came across his work during my Ph.D. time. And the discussion inside the book on personal identity is interesting albeit VERY euro-centric.

​Eastern philosophy has so much to offer to both philosophers and seekers alike.

Indeed, philosophy (as in deep thinking) is coupled with meditation, and deeper insights naturally arise. Such is the power of meditation to my mind, and my reason for its interest.

For if the meaning is found in the Delphic maxim, know thy self, then meaning is found from inside the contemplative life to be sure.

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