Tag Archives: Philosophy

An interesting quote

When the world seems to be against you, and you feel like you’re drowning in a Tsunami of deception, heed these words, ringing across the millennia from the sixth century BC (No, you idiot, not British Columbia, I mean the classic date related interpretation- sheesh, some people)

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.


Wisdom allegedly spoken by Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta (Buddha)

When arguing with activists, it’s an absolute killer. Especially if they claim to have embraced Buddhism. The simple cruelty of using their own tenets of faith against them actually brings a smile to my face. But then I’m feeling particularly evil today.

A deeply philosophical question

There is a branch of 18th century philosophy that asks the question; “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Originated by Bishop George Berkeley in his “A treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge

Today I have been reminded of this question in an empirical manner. My version of this deeply meaningful question reads; “If a baking potato explodes in the oven, will anyone hear it?” To which the answer is a conditional “No”. The conditional statement being; “but only if the cook is not in the kitchen at the time.”

The rest of this philosophical monologue will be taken up with a much greater question; “If indeed a potato has exploded in the oven, how long does it take to clean up afterwards.” Investigations are ongoing.

Trust

I’ve been watching the developments south of the 49th, and all the moral panics going around with studied interest. It’s all about America’s ‘love affair with guns’ say some pundits. The violent video games. Violent movies. A sick culture some say. All sorts of reasons are advanced. Mostly the same ones as the last time. I have my own ideas, echoed by the words of Aung San Suu Kyi, some of which can be found here. Specifically in an interview found in Robert Liebermans documentary, “They call it Myanmar“.

There’s a lot wrong down south, and yet there’s not as much as you might think. On the other hand, many south of the border appear to be ‘tooling up’ with gun sales increased across the board. People are ‘prepping’, stockpiling food, water and weapons for some unspecified cataclysm, be it associated with the forthcoming ‘fiscal cliff’ or any of the other putative disasters. The paranoia seems almost endemic. Catching. Self-perpetuating. Reading various forums and web sites, I get the overwhelming sense that people, not just in the USA, but also in Europe, have lost faith with those in authority. They do not trust their governments and its institutions to look after (or rather not interfere so much) the very peoples they are supposed to serve. Nor, it seems, do various factions within those institutions have much faith in each other. See “Plebgate” and associated fallout for one example.

There’s the word – trust. As levels of perceived intrusive security and surveillance rise, so does the paranoia and distrust of the public. Because of the actions of minorities, authorities clamp down on the majority, in the process arousing mistrust. Therefore people feel obliged to protect themselves and buy another gun, another case of ammo, secure the house, stockpile more stuff, dig another hole, find refuge. They see the increase in government agency authority and in an almost Newtonian reaction, try to compensate for the powerlessness this makes them feel. In turn Government expands to address the fears, but the more government power increases, the more regulation, the less it is trusted. The bigger it gets, the more monolithic and frightening it becomes. The more resources it consumes without producing more in return. Like a dying star it becomes too massive and begins to slowly implode into an economic black hole.

North of the border, at least here on the Wet coast of BC, we are encouraged to ‘prep’ for the ‘big one’ with emergency supplies for about 72 hours. Every year there is a public earthquake drill called the ‘Shake-out’. We sometimes take part, sometimes not, but all of my friends and neighbours have a stock of supplies, just in case. At home I can rely on enough food and water for one week, and have reasonable and workable fallback options (Hunting bow, fishing gear, hand tools) should the worst ever happen. Not only that, but I would work with my neighbours to assist them in any way I could. We all know that public resources will be limited in time of emergency, and so we prepare accordingly. There is still a strong sense of community and self reliance here in the Mid Island. Particularly in the more rural areas. What’s more we are trusted, indeed expected, to be so. This appears not to be the case elsewhere.

The truth is that organisations fail when they do not trust the very people they are supposed to serve, or fail to motivate their members enough to be trusted. A classic management failure occurs when those in positions of authority do not listen to anyone outside of their own close circles. They fail when focus groups, lobbying self-interest groups and think tanks direct policy. They fail in their allotted task when they become dishonest, distant and unaccountable. When spin becomes the message. When promises are easily discarded.

Without trust and co-operation there can be no real and lasting social interaction. Without open and free speech there can be no real confidence or trust. Without that honesty, confidence or trust, nations and societies cannot stand. At least not without massive surveillance and repression. And the price for that comes high. Too high.

Unfortunately, by treating other peoples property as public and lying to cover up their own mistakes, politicians and their pet activists lose that trust. No wonder voting is down and gun sales and ‘prepping’ are on the up.

Merry Christmas.

No wonder

High tide at lunchtime today, and am going down to the waters edge to play with my little friends the Smallmouth Bass. It’s a fair bargain; I give them a free feed, one or two of them get a free ride to the surface before I let them go. None of them are big enough for the pan, so why not? I use barbless hooks. Win-win.

Fishing is a more a contemplative than physical exercise anyway. It’s why people do it. The luxury of time to think without distraction. It was a zen thing before zen and all that complicated yoga twisting and bending came along.  In male terms at least, fishing is to zen what yoga is to the garden shed.  Both are designed to fulfill the same purpose, to free the mind for contemplation. Something which is in short supply nowadays.

There are far too many strident voices with agendas spouting falsehoods. From Politicians in hock to every vested interest and lobbyist under the sun to big Eco, with its original wide eyed idealism bought and sold by those with major financial interests in the currently flatlining ‘Carbon trading’ markets. Everybody is shouting, but oh so few are actually sitting back and doing some serious critical listening.   Apart from a few ‘lunatic’ bloggers.  Then again, we’re all ‘conspiracy nuts’ aren’t we? Tinfoil hats on permanent and prominent display. Candidates for the rubber room to a man. Yeah, right.

I haven’t quite got to the point where I need to fact check everything everybody else says, but it is very tempting.  Honesty and integrity have been devalued to the point where ordinary day to day folk might be active practitioners, but the higher* you go, the less these qualities seem in evidence.  An appeal to authority as a means of proof can therefore be seen to be less than adequate.  White lies were once seen as a necessary means of smoothing social intercourse, (and also as a very necessary means of smoothing the path to sexual intercourse) but now the falsehoods are so common, it’s easy to become overtly cynical in record time**.  Search engines may be the discerning readers friend here, but remember, just because it’s written down doesn’t make it true. Trust only the evidence. Which so many fail to look for.

No wonder the world’s in a mess. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Hi ho, it’s a gorgeous BC day and I’m off to enjoy it. TTFN

* Some, including myself, might posit that the adjective ‘higher’ when applied to human hierarchies should have the caveat; “The higher you seek to climb, the lower you have to sink.” firmly attached, like those interminable warning labels on half the hardware in the shops.
**Just as an aside; I wonder whether there is a ‘speed of cynicism’ like in ‘speed of light’?  Some form of self limiting factor?

Intellectual Pron?

Excuse the deliberate title typo, but in this post I want to explore a specific subject, specifically ‘pornography’ without flagging up on multiple ‘block’ lists. The ‘stimulus’ for this post came from this little article about noted thinker, Alain De Botton, deciding to produce more intellectually satisfying matter of this nature. Presumably this means his performers will be exploring deep philosophical questions whilst probing each others pink bits to appear on the ‘better porn’ website he is proposing.

Here he is, exploring values after religion.

Don’t entirely agree with him, but that’s just me. My personal view is that people should be free to explore personal extinction through ‘drugs’, should they have the will and the means to do so. It is not for me to dictate their behaviour.

Likewise with those mini treatises on copulation and comparative anatomy. Done well they are high art, done poorly, cheap brutishness. In some respects it’s more a matter of quality control than morality. The cheap and tawdry stuff De Botton presumably wishes to offer an improvement on is kind of the Supermarket low price own brand end of the marketplace. Junky, unsatisfying, full of cornstarch filler and additives, but contains enough calories and suchlike to support life – although add enough chocolate and you’ve got an ‘obesity epidemic’.

In sex, as in food, there is a wide variety; from a good steak dinner to junk food and all stations in between. What is satisfying for one leaves another feeling hollow and craving something better.

So it is with matters erotic. There is such a thing as a ‘healthy’ level of stimulation – although I would steer clear of De Bottons idea of making such materiel available to children. Childhood is tricky enough without having to learn too early why little John and Janet have different bits to piss from, and what purposes said bits are used for when you grow up. Even more so when said bits seem to develop a life and will of their own shortly before puberty. So porn for children – no. It opens too many dark and disturbing little avenues. Why should they be forced into growing up too soon just to satisfy others? It narrows their mental horizons. There are more things to explore in this world than sex. Everything to its own time and season.

As to whether pornography can be turned into something ‘moral’ or ‘noble’, well, there’s a moral dichotomy right there. Carnality noble? The immoral, moral? If Mr De Botton wants to try, he’s welcome, but I feel that biology will be the final arbiter. Psychology, with a small spicing of philosophy, may be able to conjour habits from a rat, but humanity is hardwired for sex.

In a medical text I once studied there was a diagram of the human brain with representations of which area governed which organs and senses. In the male, the second biggest area was the hands. No prizes for guessing what the largest area was. If you see one of those cute little male homunculi models representing the amount of brain use as outsize hands, feet etc, you will notice that these public models are relatively sexless. Which is a lie. If these homunculi were truly representational of brain function, they would be dragging massive willies about. Bigger than the hands in fact.

If that aspect of human behaviour is what De Botton is trying to give nobility and morality to, he’s got an uphill battle ahead of him.