"Neoplatonism is a progressive philosophy, and does not expect to state final conditions to men whose minds are finite. Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for understanding those that lie beyond."Hypatia of Alexandria (Elbert Hubbard, Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great)
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Ecrasez l'infame -Crush the Infamous thing. The infamy being superstition and credulity. Voltaire was brought to this proclamation after the earthquake in Lisbon (1755) when the clergy responded with blaming the tragedy on the "sin" of the people. Hundreds of years later our species still wallows in this type of superstition of blaming the victims of cruel fate and natural processes.
PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: "You know, Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti and the people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We will serve you if you`ll get us free from the French." True story. And so, the devil said, OK, it`s a deal. And they kicked the French -- the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other."
REV. JOE ELLISON, JR: "I know his comments angered a lot of the so- called, in my opinion, liberals. What he said about the comments about Haitians. And from a spiritual standpoint, we believe Dr. Robertson was on target about Haiti, Haiti in the past with voodoo. And we believe in the Bible that the practice of voodoo is a sin and what caused the nation to suffer. Those who read the Bible and study history know that Dr. Robertson said was a biblical truth."
When it comes to this sort of superstition I can only nod in agreement with Voltaire. "Whatever you do, crush the infamy." - Voltaire
Friday, June 7, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
It just takes a brief view of human history and a minimal knowledge of current events to see that anyone can be impacted by tragedy no matter who they are. The fragility is universal.Some humans rush to judgment when tragedy happens and blame the very victims of tragic events instead of understanding and accepting that they are just as vulnerable as any other being to cruel fate. As Aristotle stated Luck is when the other person gets hit with an arrow. Let us try not to be so solipsistic and realize other beings are not so lucky on this blue planet.
"I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops." — Stephen Jay Gould
Friday, April 26, 2013
It seems a good in itself to acknowledge, to have enlarged, one's sense of how much suffering caused by human wickedness there is in the world we share with others. Someone who is perennially surprised that depravity exists, who continues to feel disillusioned (even incredulous) when confronted with evidence of what humans are capable of inflicting in the way of gruesome, hands-on cruelties upon other humans, has not reached moral or psychological adulthood. No one after a certain age has the right to this kind of innocence, of superficiality, to this degree of ignorance, or amnesia. ... Let the atrocious images haunt us.
Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Something that is fundamental to this existence, to this Universe, is that everything falls apart, is fragile, finite, vulnerable, and passing away. The fragility of this "glass existence" is something known to humans but it is at the same time a vague fog in our consciousness. Awareness of this comes and goes. The model of the "Bundle Theory" points to the fact that our ego our "self" is made up of a variety of connected parts in our neurology and physiology. There is no fixed you. It is an assembly of parts and connections that are in this moment coming together to be what you think you are but it is balanced on a precarious bundle of strings that can unravel by too much force, drugs, or disease. The self is a sand castle that will not last the incoming tide of time and entropy. The sand will be carried away to the sea and continue but the sand castle no longer exists as it was bundled together.
Monday, March 18, 2013
“When we are young we are often puzzled by the fact that each person we admire seems to have a different version of what life ought to be, what a good man is, how to live, and so on. If we are especially sensitive it seems more than puzzling, it is disheartening. What most people usually do is to follow one person's ideas and then another's depending on who looms largest on one's horizon at the time. The one with the deepest voice, the strongest appearance, the most authority and success, is usually the one who gets our momentary allegiance; and we try to pattern our ideals after him. But as life goes on we get a perspective on this and all these different versions of truth become a little pathetic. Each person thinks that he has the formula for triumphing over life's limitations and knows with authority what it means to be a man, and he usually tries to win a following for his particular patent. Today we know that people try so hard to win converts for their point of view because it is more than merely an outlook on life: it is an immortality formula.”
“Man cannot endure his own littleness unless he can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level.”Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death
Friday, March 15, 2013
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Late Night conversation between the late Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan. Complete thread can be seen here. Sully and Hitch After Dark
Andrew Sullivan writes "A while back – by which I mean several years ago now – I thought it would be a cool idea to do some post-prandial chats with some of my favorite people. It occurred to me that the best conversations I ever heard in Washington never happened on television or radio. They were always way off the record. But they might occur, I suspected, if we just attached microphones to ourselves, had a bottle of wine or two and just riffed. And who else to start with but Hitch"
Some of the excerpts:
A: I think that what [Oakeshott] would say, and what I would say, is that what’s sinister is the deployment of dogma as certainty. If one takes Lessing and Oakeshott’s view of Christianity, which is ultimately that God is unknowable -
H: Then don’t pretend to know.
A: Then we cannot know. Or, what we can know, we will hold with a certain humility and provisionality. I mean, one can know, for example, that the Gospels exist and that they represented a human being whose life can be either honored or dishonored.H: But the further implication of this is that if you admit or concede or even claim that it’s unknowable, then the first group to be eliminated from the argument are those who claim to know.
H: Because they must be wrong.A: Yes.
H: Well, that lets off quite a lot of people at the first floor of the argument, long before the elevator has started moving upwards, or downwards. Those who say they know, and can say they know it well enough, what God wants you to eat or whom he wants you to sleep with – they must be wrong.
A: That is proof itself that they are wrong.
H: Yes. As well as being impossibly arrogant, coming in the disguise of modesty, humility, simplicity. Ah, I’m just a humble person doing God’s work. No, excuse me, you must be either humble or doing God’s work. You can’t know what God’s work would be, don’t try your modesty on me. And once one’s made that elimination, then everything else becomes more or less simple. My problem only begins there.
Friday, March 8, 2013
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
HP Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"This makes me think of Ernest Becker's thought that modern humans have been disinherited by their own intellectual strength. For some nothing less than a transhumanistic utopia or a final solution will do. For others retreating to the illusions of our ancestors is the answer. Could there be a middle way... a path that avoids hubristic utopias and destruction.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Even if the will is free it is limited and restricted. It is as free as a prisoner in a prison cell. You can be free to some extent in your cell but only within that room. Determinism is the prison and the cage one is condemned to be "free" in. There are too many wires and cross connections between what one calls the self and the causal events that make up that self for there to be a clear free will.
Hume said reason is the slave of the passions one could say free will is the slave of determinism.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
"The role of luck in our lives appears decisive...this poses a problem"[for the way humans traditionally speak and think about social structure] -Sam Harris
Is Free Will a necessary fiction to organize human society even if it ignores the multitude of deterministic variables that many people are unaware of?
Free Will is not free from the strings of causal events outside the paradigm of the ego.