Saturday, July 26, 2014

"nature is a streamers-and-all, non-stop, cork-popping party of death"

"nature is a streamers-and-all, non-stop, cork-popping party of death... This party of death is, of course, at the same time a cork-popping party of life. For all the tadpoles that perish, some still make it to become frogs, and have been doing so for at least 200 million years. Those that don’t are the stuff of life for countless other creatures, from the littlest insect larvae to grand old storks. Indeed, frogs are regarded as a keystone species, which means that the death of their multitudinous offspring, along with the death that they themselves deal out, is crucial to the flourishing of the community of life. In the language of ecology, life and death are obligate symbionts, each wholly dependent on the other."
Stephen Cave is an English philosopher and journalist. His latest book is Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How it Drives Civilisation (2012). He lives in Berlin.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Useful Memes vs. True Statements continued

There is a difference between useful provincial memes and universally valid statements. For instance the statement "hard work leads to success" is a good useful meme provincially but it is not universally valid. Success can come at different times for a variety of reasons but as a useful meme it is good to operate with a meme to program or trigger action. Another example "Fortune favors the brave" is a good useful meme to encourage or trigger action but again it is not universally valid because sometimes being brave is not enough for good fortune.
Benjamin Franklin who wrote many popular wisdom sayings stated "The early bird catches the worm." However when he was working successfully as an Ambassador to France for the United States government he would stay up late with his French network and sleep in. His diplomatic efforts in France required a different type of schedule and work than his particular meme about the early bird.
Self Esteem memes or motivational memes may be useful in a provincial and personal context but that does not mean they are universally valid and that it considers and encompasses every important fact and variable.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The mind is its own place

‘It would be more pardonable to believe in no god at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin.’ Thomas Jefferson
Kathryn Gin Lum: A 2013 Harris Poll found that while 74 per cent of US adults believe in God and 68 per cent believe in heaven, only 58 per cent believe in the devil and in hell, down four percentage points from 2005.Yet only 25 per cent of US adults polled actively do not believe in hell, while another 18 per cent are unsure.
"The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven." John Milton

Monday, July 7, 2014

Your Move

I had this series brought to my attention. Your Move. My initial thoughts regarding this Christian apologetics series:
I think this applies to people who are casual believers and casual unbelievers meaning people who have not really thought of why they believe or why they do not and just go on auto pilot with no real reflection. I would say sadly this is the majority because human life is so crushing with physical necessity(food and sleep) and social economic necessity(rent out your brain and time in exchange for resources) that it is rare that an individual can spend a great deal of time and resources on searching and studying in a careful and reflective manner the big questions of human existence.
I am sure many of you have heard of the following no matter your ideological point of view - You only think or believe that because ____. Fill in the blank. You have religious parents. You had a bad experience. You had a good experience. You are negative. You are optimistic. All can play this game. C.S. Lewis in his essay ""On Obstinacy in Belief" argued that wish thinking does not necessarily negate whether his faith is valid or not. On the opposite spectrum negative thinking or "sinful" thinking does not negate whether unbelief is valid or not. These pursuits of deconstruction may be good to discount the other or in the best light understand the other but if you are a sincere truth seeker you should not rest on deconstructing other mortal primates alone.
Christian apologists should remember that one of the most formidable Christians ever, the Apostle Paul, did not convert because of a mathematical equation or a rational argument but because of an emotional and physical experience on the road to Damascus.
I can speak for myself and state that whether I was a believer or a skeptic I tried to challenge (within my knowledge capacity at the time) what others thought within my group and out of it. All men can be deconstructed of course the believer and the unbeliever. You can say that one is religious because of their mate, their community, and so forth. You can also flip that and say the same thing for those that are not religious. The believer and the unbeliever are both human and prone to fragility and emotive responses. It was David Hume who stated that Reason is the slave of the passions. As one psychologist stated Man is not a rational animal but a rationalizing animal.
I could simply say they(persons who have converted due to their relationships) believe because of their relationships but again even if that is so it does not mean that therefor their religion is false. In the same way someone could deconvert from a religion for bad reasons or bad relationships but it does not mean that their conclusion of unbelief is invalid. Some people turn to faith out of convenience and some turn away from faith due to convenience but how do we find out what is true despite the inconsistent human psychology. Either way we all can be deconstructed. What matters in the end is what is true.
The intention may be good to understand where "the other" is coming from but it also can be used as a way to negate the other. To simply define them and deconstruct them as a way to ignore the actual ideas themselves. As Kierkegaard stated once you label me you negate me.
People can believe the right things for the wrong reasons. They can believe good things for bad reasons. A skeptic can be a skeptic for bad reasons and a believer can believe for bad reasons. Like it is too hard, go with the crowd, favor, community, friends, and so forth. At times religion is beneficial and at times it is not. At times unbelief is beneficial and at other times it is not. But again the question Pilate asked the Nazarene becomes paramount all else is political and tribal posturing. "What is Truth"
In the end what is true? What concepts and ideas are closer to reality?
Despite the smugness, mud slinging, ad hominem attacks and so forth that work in the political battle for ideas... when it comes to pure philosophy one should love wisdom above all else and try to seek it in humility if possible.
I appreciate all those who take these ideas serious and care to take time to engage in them.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Memo: From Nick Hanauer

So forget all that rhetoric about how America is great because of people like you and me and Steve Jobs. You know the truth even if you won’t admit it: If any of us had been born in Somalia or the Congo, all we’d be is some guy standing barefoot next to a dirt road selling fruit. It’s not that Somalia and Congo don’t have good entrepreneurs. It’s just that the best ones are selling their wares off crates by the side of the road because that’s all their customers can afford.
Nick Hanauer

This universe without a master

"This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world."
Albert Camus

Quotes Archive

"Often Ideas are much more attractive than those who hold them."
"If you are not killed by forces outside your body you can be sure you will be killed by forces inside your body."
-Zachary Long
If the force from a car or a bullet does not end your consciousness the cells within or the complex web that holds you together will fall apart eventually.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Humans are Animals too

Yes, Humans Are Animals -- So Just Get Over Yourselves, Homo sapiens
The famous anthropologist Clifford Geertz once said that he believed "man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun." Ultimately, the only animals who buy the idea that humans aren't animals are humans themselves.
Annalee Newitz

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Quotes Archive

"The critics watch history, the realists rent history, and the radicals and idealists own history. For good or for ill."
"Cosmopolitanism and Pluralism need to be nurtured and nourished. Tribalism and solipsism can grow in famine and neglect."
-Zachary Long

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Human hubris, limits, and partialization

The individual human beings confidence and equilibrium depends on abiding in a very narrow slice of existence and blocking out for the most part the billions of other human beings and animals that operate with varied actual and virtual realities.(The Empiricists and Rationalists both have good points) The noise and experiences are deafening. For any human to claim absolute knowledge and understanding of existence with smug certainty reminds me of what Pliny stated that when it comes to mankind nothing is so frail and nothing is more arrogant. Pliny on Art and Society:
Pliny the Elder died studying Mt. Vesuvius in 70 AD.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Quote archive

"Stress is for those that think that they will live forever."
"In human language every thrust is made by a two edged sword."
- Zachary Long

Musings (Transcendent Representation and the Prideful Primate)

Humans need transcendence and identity to manage the world. Nation. Tribe. Gender. Ethnicity. Religion... and other identities give the individual a sense of greater significance than the limited mortal decaying being that they happen to be in a world and universe much larger and indifferent to their state of being. These identities are not necessarily problematic in themselves but they can be conduits of fanaticism that leads to the will to dominate others and the illusion of superiority to those who fail to fall in their identity category. Humans are fragile psychological reeds that can either bend or break with ease when faced with a world beyond their understanding and at times merciless to their well being. ***
The Chief, The King, The Priest, Royalty, Presidents, Senators and all other positions of status rest on "representation." To symbolically represent the State, the Church, the Kingdom, the Tribe, the Company. In truth these persons that represent the whole are merely decaying and defecating mortal flesh but in their representation the illusion is propagated and this transcendence of representation is given real weight in the minds of other mortals. It takes cognitive work to break this magical spell of representative transcendence and few would give it up because they too want to sit on the throne of transcendent representation or at the very least find significance in another primates position and status. Humans need something to hold on to conceptually for stability and significance. Imagine human beings in a great ocean(existence) floating around and all are headed to a gigantic waterfall(death), to keep afloat and distracted from the coming waterfall and the massive ocean one needs to grab on to something. There are lots of isms and symbols to grab hold of in the ocean to keep your head above water as you move toward the waterfall *** One can be arrogant and smart but it is harder for one to be arrogant and wise. Wisdom requires greater understanding and perspective and that greater context broadens the horizon of humility. Remember my mortal brothers and sisters that our confidence lies in a very narrow slice of human existence and experience and so much past history and future time lays beyond our reach. So much horror and wonder have been and will be beyond our reach. The best we can do is engage with as much current experience,knowledge, and personal imagination as possible to reach out to many realities and truths. Let this perspective temper the pride of the mammalian primate species homo sapiens***
A fanatic unlike water that adapts to new realities is like a stone that knocks against other substances different than itself and demands space. Fanatics have been very influential in human history (certainty is useful for political movements) because they demand space but often that demand eventually breaks them into pieces and creates unintended hybrid realities and space that they never intended ***Hitler's fanaticism unintentionally helped create a Soviet empire and a Jewish state. The apocalyptic Jewish prophet from Palestine unintentionally helped inspire a Roman Jew who spread a universal religion across the Roman empire. Imagine the shock of Jesus and Pilate if they could see the eventual changes that would come to the Jewish religion and Roman imperial religion hundreds of years later. History is full of unintended consequences and hybrid ideologies.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Colombia Bus fire Victims

Colombia bus fire victims

At least 33 children were killed when a bus caught fire in northern Colombia, trapping the young passengers aboard the burning vehicle as horrified onlookers stood by helplesslyThe bus was transporting 48 children between the ages of 2 and 13 to their homes after a Pentecostal church service when the tragedy happened Sunday in Fundacion, a sugar- and banana-growing town near the Caribbean coast.
Witnesses quoted by El Heraldo, the newspaper in nearby Barranquilla, said the bus stalled and that the driver tried to restart it by pouring gasoline over the carburetor. A spark caused an explosion, and flames quickly engulfed the vehicle, the report said. [Link in Spanish]
Residents said they heard screams for help but were unable to intervene due to the intense heat of the flames.
“I never saw anything so terrifying,” said taxi driver Alvaro del Valle.
“They came to speak with God and look what happened,” added Clara Lopez, a local resident.