Hi, my name is Mitch Olson and this website is a working hybrid between a personal notebook and a public document that outlines my thinking on a theory of life; a philosophy I call Meaningful Participation. The story of this website has 2 ends; a beginning, and a before-the-beginning.
The beginning is about 1500 notes in a digital notebook that I have written over a series of years. Around 2020 they seemed to be starting to coalesce into some form of order that was somewhat pleasing to me. didn't have a particular end in mind when I wrote my first note but as my occasional thought doodles became more frequent I was increasingly drawn back back to them. A shape seemed to be emerging and I started to think about wanting to talk to other people about the underlying ideas.
The problem was that the notes were written for an audience of one; just me. And since I know myself pretty well I could write in a kind of shorthand, but unfortunately no one else would be able to make them out. But remembering what they say about done being better than perfect, I started this website in June 2021. I initially copied about 100 notes across and quickly edited a dozen of them to be slightly more readable. My thinking was that if I could invest regular time into the site I would eventually end up with something that might be able to kickstart that conversation I was looking for.
Before the beginning
For as long as I can remember in my adult life I have always imagined (intuited, thought) that life had an underlying intelligent order. That if you could distill life down to its purest essence you would find something simple and beautiful and profound. That life was based on a set of simple principles and these were fractal in nature; I later coined the term the Fractal Principle Principle to describe this idea. I have spent my whole adult life (I'm 57 as I write this in 2021) wondering what that would look like, and this website is my notes about that journey and what I have "found". I put this in quote marks because the process of discovery is not just about looking, but as much about questioning how you look, and what you look for, and the realisation that creation is also a part of that process too. So Meaningful Participation, the subject of this website, is something that exists in the space between me and capital "L" Life, but maybe, just maybe, some of it also exists between you and your Life. I think it does which is why I created this website.
The value of philosophy
There are numerous definitions of "philosophy" but the one that suits my purpose for here is that it is “the general principles or laws of a field of knowledge”. This notion of philosophy then resonates particularly well with Meaningful Participation. First of all the "field of knowledge" is life itself. Secondly, the idea that the principles are so general they are fractal in nature. You don't get more general than an iterative, self similar and self referential set of principles!
"But so what" I imagine you saying. Philosophy is for stuffy old white men with beards pontificating about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. And that's much of my sense too of a lot of philosophy. But what if philosophy had practical value? What if knowing these general principles could make a material difference to the quality of your life?
Imagine life is game; I'm not suggesting it is, but bear with me for a moment whilst I play this metaphor out. A game has a number of fundamental questions; what is the goal of the game, what are the rules, and what is our role. If we don't know the answer to these questions then we probably won't have a satisfying game. I think the same questions apply to life. The value then in philosophy is that it has the potential to help us have a satisfying life by helping us find our own personal answers to these questions. That's my purpose.
In the meantime...
This website is a working construction site; please keep your hard hat on at all times and my advance apologies for the unfinished work and general debris.
In the meantime the articles below in “You might also like” are a good place to start.
The beginning of Self Authorship starts with becoming conscious of how we are not that. This what I call the state of Rusty autopilot. In Rusty autopilot one is a kind of automation living out yesterdays habits, and others expectations.