Archive for the ‘ Philosophy ’ Category

What We Can Change, and What We Have To Accept

We have to accept that one plus one equals two – and the rain falls down. We cannot change either one.

But, we will say, with complete assurance – we are God’s people – and no one can take that away from us.

Between these two extremes lie many things we can do – and things we cannot do. Most of them being things we cannot do.

For example – once a person, or a group – makes up their minds about something. Changing their minds is difficult – if not impossible. And it’s amazing how many situations are like this.

I am listening to a description of the American Civil war- that was about slavery. The slave-owners would not give up their slaves – no matter what! The lengths they went through to justify this were amazing. But, in the end – amounted to one thing – they would die before they would give them up – and many of them did!

That was a few years ago – but Americans still believe they are special people – not God’s people perhaps – but something close to it.

They will not die to defend this belief – but plenty of other people will.

What Does It Mean, To Have an Idea?

I am taking a MOOC about Cognitive Neuroscience – how our nerves let us feel and think. It refers to a book I have on my desk Metaphors We Live By – that explains how our brains use areas associated with practical matters, such as our ability navigate through space (a very complicated task!) – to think of abstract ideas, such as Love.

Plenty of smaller animals have most of these skills – the tiny flying insects, so common in the tropics, for example – can fly, walk, see, smell, and taste – and reproduce in vast numbers. But it takes a large brain (like the one we have) to use language, and be conscious.

We do have some understanding of how we feel and reason – by giving people some simple problems to solve, and watching how they solve them – in perhaps a fMRI, a functional MRI. Certain areas of the brain are used to do different things.

This is the basis of Experimental Science – one of the greatest advances in human knowledge. But one which most people today have rejected entirely.

No Science for them! They are not interested in the way things are – only in the way they should be. They are not interested in learning from the world – only in making the world learn from them.

A crazy idea if ever there was one.

Software and the Rest of the World

I sometimes wonder why I am interested in Software. Is it just an idle pastime, or is it more than that?

It is a well-paying profession, much in demand – and getting more so all the time. But here again I must ask – is that all?

Philosophers of Science – and there are a few of those around – have been asking themselves – is Science (that has given us so much) all we have? The answer, obviously is “no” – for many reasons. We are emotional beings. And the Computer can never be emotional. But it can be creative, and add to our store of knowledge.

All the Computer’s creations – and there are more of them all the time – are part of the World. What else could they be? They effect the World – and the World affects them.

Note the two words effect (a noun) and affect (a transitive verb). When we see someone talking on their phone (or to their phone) we see both of these happening.

The Computer, and its Software. have added to our World.

The Greatest Accomplishment Ever

Is the ability to not be.

How to be this way, is being demonstrated for me – over and over, by almost everyone. To my complete amazement.

If I try to explain this, I get nowhere – they are completely incapable of understanding who they are.  Which makes perfect sense, actually – no being means no understanding.

However, and this is where it gets really interesting – in their minds, knowing nothing is the same as knowing everything. And they feel vastly superior to ordinary people – who only know a little.

Society’s Attitude Toward People

I am reading The Reactionary Temptation – at the request of a friend of mine.

This does a good job of describing the political situation in much of today’s world. But I am not so impressed by its analysis of the causes of this situation – of what it calls Reactionism.We are certainly seeing a reaction – but a reaction more fundamental than the one it describes.

It says, and I quote:

What are this generation’s reactionaries reacting to? They’re reacting, as they have always done, to modernity. But their current reaction is proportional to the bewildering pace of change in the world today. They are responding, at some deep, visceral level, to the sense that they are no longer in control of their own lives. They see the relentless tides of globalization, free trade, multiculturalism, and mass immigration eroding their sense of national identity. They believe that the profound shifts in the global economy reward highly educated, multicultural enclaves and punish more racially and culturally homogeneous working-class populations. And they rebel against the entrenched power of elites who, in their view, reflexively sustain all of the above.

A sophisticated analysis, and one that is right, I am sure!

He then brings up another interesting person – Michael Anton – whom he met for dinner near the White House. Anton goes on a rant about the Party of Davos.

He then brings up Curtis Yarvin – another interesting character. These guys seem to be coming out of the woodwork.

It’s a long article – too long, for my taste. My simple mind wants something simpler. Here is my take:

Today’s global society destroys people. And the people in it are reacting to this simple fact – but in complicated (or more accurately, complex) ways.

This is not hard to understand – but people do not want to understand it.

The Closed Society

I continue to read The Open Society and Its Enemies – and I am convinced that Sir Popper is onto something. Especially his description of the Closed Society.

In my view of things, we have now returned to such a society – with some important differences – due to the advent of the Computer – that has changed everything. This change has occurred so recently, mostly in the 21st Century –  it has been ignored – but constitutes an overall threat even greater than anything Popper was concerned with.

We now live in the best of worlds and the worst of worlds. With most of the world’s inhabitants unable to tell the difference.

That I can tell the difference, it not due to my superior intelligence. The world has been beating me over the head, insisting that I pay attention to it – and eventually, I have.

I worked for twenty years in the Computer Industry, in California – a brutal experience, if ever there was one. And it changed me – it made me lose faith in its perfection. A difficult lesson to learn – believe me!

I yearn for perfection – something my father believed in – and other people of his time also. This belief failed them completely – but they never noticed.

This could be inscribed on their tombstone “They believed!”

Heraclitus and Trump

I continue to read The Open Society and Its Enemies – and marvel at what Karl Popper is saying.

He is quoting Heraclitus, who says – most people are ignorant, and Democracy cannot work. Something that most people agree with, in effect – in our time. That is why they elected Trump. Someone who is as ignorant as they are.

But Heraclitus, who lived in the 5th Century, BC – could not have anticipated life in the 21st Century AD. When people equate ignorance with wisdom. That lets them not see the horrible things that are going on.