Archive for the ‘ Philosophy ’ Category

The Rejection of Reason

During the 18th Century, as a result of the Enlightenment, people became very impressed by Reason – and thought all their beliefs and actions could be based on it alone.

This was the reasoning behind the French Revolution – that made it obvious, that this mode of reasoning had serious defects.

I am reading The Prelude where Wordsworth, as an idealistic young man – grappled with these problems, unsuccessfully. He formed a romantic attachment with a French woman, who bore him a daughter. That he abandoned when he returned to England.

His poetry there was Romantic – a reaction to the Enlightenment. That emphasized the Passions. Although it is more accurate, to describe his work as a struggle between the two.

In Neurological Biology, which I am taking a MOOC on, it is clear that our nervous systems support both of them – and we have to have both.

The Importance of Medea in the Theatre, Psychology, and Philosophy

I am listening to The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition

Medea (Play) in Wikipedia

Professor Robinson spends a whole lesson on the Greek Tragic Theatre, which he knows very well. He has added a new word  to my vocabulary – chthonic. A world very difficult to pronounce – because the ch sound is followed by the th sound. Understanding what means is difficult also – but after listing to him twice, I almost understand what is means – at a gut level.

Medea is an example of the primitive female (capable of great good and great harm) in literature, including Shakespeare.

The Decision to Not Decide

The Great Society was a conscious decision by LBJ, and his allies, to build a better society. But this failed miserably.

Americans took note of this and decided on a better plan – to not have a plan at all, but to let things work out on their own. And let powerful people be the strongest force in their society. There would still be programs to help the rest of the people, but their funding would be limited.

The result was that America became much less powerful! This was hardly surprising, since these powerful people were only interested in themselves – and they were only a small percentage of the population. But Americans in general did not understand this – and they decided the solution was more of the same!

Their logic was simple, but defective – and was allowed to stand, because it was never put into words, and examined. Instead, Americans decided that – no thinking would be allowed at all – and they enforced this decision vigorously. The worst decision possible.

And the rest of the world followed its example – giving power to a few, and leaving the rest to fend for themselves. The rest, however, demanded strong men to rule over them – making the situation even worse.

There were a few (like me) who pointed out these fallacies – but we were ignored, and still are ignored. They have decided only power is important – and their decision to not decide for themselves, was not important at all!

The Importance of the Mind

I am reading Mind and Cosmos and Thomas Nagel has clarified what I already believed – that Mind is built into the Universe, and exists everywhere.

Even in the people who have become dominant in our time, who have no minds, and are proud of that. They have minds, all right – but minds in reverse – a position that gives them great power.

The Human Mind has grave defects that most people do their very best to ignore. And they consider this ignorance their greatest virtue.

Confused? You should be, because everyone is doing their best to confuse you. And the most important confusion is about who you are.

For the longest time (most of my life) I felt who I was, was something awful – so awful I could not begin to think about it. I had to get away from the people, I could not identify with – and into Nature, I could identify with.

In one case, I had backpacked into a remote area, and was listening to a tape about the effects our Fathers had on us. The next morning, I could not get out of my sleeping bag – I was suffering from a vertigo so intense, I could not stand up.

After I moved to Costa Rica – I gradually realized there wasn’t much wrong with me. There were plenty of small things – but no big thing.

I wasn’t that important, after all.

The Headquarters of Neo-Marxism

NY Review

Recent developments suggest, however, that the Frankfurt School’s critique may have a new timeliness. The recent presidential election used authoritarian tactics of misrepresentation and manipulation of belief addressed to people who were particularly susceptible to such methods; it resulted in the near-complete victory of a political party that now combines a libertarian program of the privatization (if not elimination) of many public functions and dominance by concentrated capitalist wealth; and it put into office a president who is deliberately divisive and has authoritarian inclinations, no apparent respect for truth or for democratic institutions, and little comprehension of or concern for the public good. However distant the Frankfurt School’s indictment of capitalism’s alliance with authoritarianism once seemed, its criticisms are not irrelevant now as we face increasing nativism, unthinking trust in a demagogue and in economic power, as well as antipathy to science and reasoned argument, and eagerness to embrace a regime of disinformation and manipulation.

This is a long, serious article – something the Review is good at, and I enjoy, personally.

The quote above (the final paragraph) will let you see if it appeals to you.

How Could My Parents be Such Awful People?

This was the most important question of my childhood, and it was replaced when I went to work, with the question “How could these people be such awful people?” Their behavior seemed perfectly natural to them – and they never questioned it.

I questioned it, and continue to question it. And have come up with a simple answer:

The human mind can consider opposites to be identical.

My parents thought they were wonderful people, when they were just the opposite. And no one tried to tell them otherwise – because they were backed up by many, many people – who felt as they did.

They still feel they are right – half a century later, because there are so many people like them. All linked together by the Net.

I now want to switch the subject a bit – to the Computer. And consider how it has affected our minds. The Computer, for most people, is the Smartphone, Facebook, and Twitter.

These continue to make them feel they are wonderful – when they are just the opposite.

I am as guilty of this as anyone. The progress in Software Design has been so amazing, I cannot resist thinking it is superhuman. It keeps getting better, while people keep getting worse.

It takes a big effort for me, to back off and take the larger view. And see people and the computer as separate entities, interacting with each other.

People are getting worse, no question about that – but the Computer is not helping them to get better. Instead, people use it to get a highly distorted view of reality.

Trump grabs his phone and twits all the time.

The Difference Between Life and Machines

This is a crucial difference we have not given enough thought to.

What we now refer to as Industrialization – resulted in the explosive growth of the Railroads and Manufacturing. We ended up serving these industries, and killing millions of people – in the Civil War, WWI, the Depression, and WWII ( with its Holocaust).

We now live in the Information Economy – where the killing is different, but even more devastating – everything (and not just people) is being destroyed.

The reason for this is simple – Information is part of everything, and when information is exploited, the world goes straight to Hell – a Hell Dante could not have imagined.