PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, June 29, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The power of change + Cuenca.

Dear friends,


Enrique has suggested that on the 7th July we go for a day trip to
Cuenca. So far this is the information I have about transport.


TRAIN:
Madrid – Cuenca
leaves Madrid 8.50am arrives 11.16am price Euros 10.25 one way 20.50
probably return.

Cuenca – Madrid
Last train leaves Cuenca 18:55 arrives 21:26. There is an earlier train
at 16.20pm

BUS (autores):
Madrid - Cuenca
Normal 8.00am arrives 10.30am price return ticket euros 18.10.
Express 10.00am arrives 12.00pm price return euros 24.70.

Cuenca – Madrid
Normal leaves Cuenca 18.30pm arrives 21.00pm
Normal leaves Cuenca 20.00pm arrives 22.30pm THIS is also the last bus.


Please note that I have no idea whether we have to book or anything. We
can discuss this on Sunday.


Talking about day trips, this Sunday we are discussing 'The power of
change.' I'm sure a day out to Cuenca would be a welcome change.


See you Sunday

Take care

Lawrence

IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW

**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar

Paloma; Marbella (near Elviria);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAYFLAT_Paloma_MarbellaNearElviria
*************************************


+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
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-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


[I did not have time to do a final check of the essay. Please accept my
apologies]


The power of change


From our perspective, change can come in two different forms. Change
which we initiate and change that is forced on us. What do we mean by
change? And what are the main problems with change? The context of our
discussion is change in our life from every day language to metaphysical
meaning of change.


Change has also interested and preoccupied philosophers throughout the
ages Heraclitus famously gave us the idea that the world is in constant
flux. Something which Parmenides tried to reject.


Plato's theory of forms can also be interpreted as a theory of change.
Although the forms themselves do not change their representations in
this world do change. For example the idea of a triangle is of an
unchanging and perfect 3 sided polygon, however when we draw a
representation of a triangle on apiece of paper it is not perfect, hence
the representation changes. This platonic idea of an unchanging form but
a changing representation might come useful for our debate.


In contract to the unchanging forms but changeable representation we
have the world of the second law of thermodynamics which is a changing
process from an active energy system to entropic equilibrium were
temperatures, pressures and density even out. (Wikipedia: second law of
thermodynamics). Entropy in physics is the measurement of this evening
out process. Of course, the second law officially only applies to closed
or isolated system, one with a fixed amount of energy. In practice it is
questionable whether there could ever be such an isolated system, apart
from the universe. The other side of the coin is that to stop a system
from disintegrating into pure entropy, we have to keep feeding with
"energy." thus the change takes place on two fronts, entropy and
changing a system from reaching pure entropy.


Aristotle's Ship of Theseus story is another angle on change which is
equally relevant for us; does changing the component parts of an object
also change the identity of that object? If the planks and the wood of
the ship are changed over the course of the journey, is it still the
same ship that started the journey? Are we the same person after the
some thirty or fifty years experience?


We even find change in the predetermined and fated world of a divine
universe. On the one hand we are asked to believe that a god has fated
the world to be as it is and on the other, we are told that we can bring
our own salvation by making the necessary changes in our life.


Newtonian physics explained changed around us. Newton explained why the
Earth goes around the sun and how solar systems travel in a galaxy.
Today we have reached the ultimate idea of change: the quantum idea that
the observer by the act of observation causally changes what is
observed. But this idea of the observer changing what is observed does
not only apply at the quantum level. For example, when we have our photo
taken we tend to pose for the occasion or at the very least become
conscious of the event if we are aware of this.


Since we are particularly interested in change that affects us, I would
say that the most challenging change would be that of a change of
personal identity. As a subject, personal identity is an important
debate in philosophy and psychology. John Locke suggested that personal
identity cannot reside in the body nor some metaphysical entity, but in
some special consciousness. Later on it was argued that memory is the
seat of personal identity. Today, personal since we are particularly
interested in change that affects us, I would say that the most
challenging change would be that of change to our personal identity.
Personal identity has been an important subject in philosophy especially
philosophy of mind and psychology. John Locke personal identity is
regarded to be psychological continuity. (Cambridge Dictionary of
Philosophy, second edition 1999).


Some philosophers have pointed out personal identity (Butler and Reid)
is indefinable and nothing else can be said about it. Personal identity
can also be linked to the brain and thus personal identity is linked to
physical identity.


The problem for us stems from our beliefs (knowledge) about ourselves
and that what happens to us could be caused intentionally or by external
causes. For example, we speak of "having changed," but we also accept
that we are also the same person.


On the one hand we recognize that we change over time, but also we
believe that we are the same person. We can say that one's personality
might change but maybe not one's personal identity. This would, however,
introduce a gap between philosophy and psychology. If we accept that
personality changes, which can sometimes be a good reason to seek
psychological help, we have to explain why ''personhood'' does not
change. In which case we can ask, to what does personal identity
attaches, to the person or personality?


We can accept and explain that one's personality can change, maybe due
to experience, circumstance, or disease. However, at least on a
metaphysical and epistemological level, the person does not change.
Somebody, who was once shy and is now an extrovert, hasn't morphed into
a different person. The old person certainly hasn't died, to be replaced
by the new. Nor has there been a break in space time in the person.


We are inclined to think that personal identity and personhood are more
permanent, which suggests that there is more to these characteristics
than psychological continuity. Nor does it depend on memory, because
someone who looses their memory does not lose their personhood or pi as
well.


The consequences of accepting changes to personhood and personal
identity are that we are not the same person we were this morning. Which
takes us back to the Greek philosophers; flux. Thus, an idea of a
permanent personal identity is very similar to the idea of Plato's
perfect forms; they do not change. Plus of course, it challenges
Descartes, because he won't be able to tell us 'what exists today' today
is the same as 'what existed yesterday.'


That changes in our life take place is in no doubt, even if we cannot
settle the question of personal identity. But surely, if personal
identity is not affected, then changes in our life must only be due to
physical changes. Let's take an extreme example of physical change.


Someone with a debilitating disease such as Alzheimer's disease is
affected physically. So much so that for all intents and purpose such an
unfortunate person would ceases to be the person one used to be. This is
the introduction paragraph from the Alzheimer's association web site:

Introduction
Alzheimer's (AHLZ-high-merz) disease is a progressive brain disorder
that gradually destroys a person's memory and ability to learn, reason,
make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. As
Alzheimer's progresses, individuals may also experience changes in
personality and behavior, such as anxiety, suspiciousness or agitation,
as well as delusions or hallucinations.
(http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp)


Such a person is not the same person that lived a reasonable and
rational life but today he or she is suffering from a disease, in the
same way one would still be the same person during a toothache. For
practical purpose, we stop functioning as a human being when afflicted
with one of these debilitating diseases. What can we say about personal
identity in such severe cases? Thus to suggest that the actions of
someone suffering from Alzheimer's disease is a normal person but
behaving in an unreasonable or obnoxious way is an idea based in sheer
stupidity or callous insensitivity.


What is important for us is that these extreme cases of diseases suggest
that personhood and personal identity are more linked to the physical
self than what we are prepared to admit. It makes no sense to speak of
personal identity when discussing severe cases of Alzheimer's disease
for example. It is not that maybe these unfortunate patients do not have
a personal identity but that to speak of identity is irrelevant. Helping
them and looking after their needs is relevant.


The other extreme example would be a person who, no matter what happened
to them, they would not change. This is such an extreme case that the
only person I can think of and who can fit these requirements is a god.
If god is unchangeable, then how do we explain the belief held by a good
number of people that they can influence a god through prayer? Surely,
if a god fated one to be inflicted with some disease then praying to
this god to stop this ailment would be the same as asking this god to
change their mind. If this god did change after our pleas and prayers
then surely he or she would be displaying a weakness very common in us?
Change! And change is a sign of imperfection. The only conclusion we can
draw from this is that either a god does not function this way or there
is no such perfect being.


The power of change implies causality. Change itself has a meaning of
causality. We can further define causality to be (at least for now)
something or some process that replaces x(a) at time t0 to x(b) at t1.
we can read x(a) and x(b) to mean something like x being an object or
thing with property or quality 'a' or quality 'b.' thus a can containing
beer (x(a)) would be turned/caused to be x(b) by my causal action (plus
gravity and fluid mechanics etc.) of emptying the contents in a glass.


As an analogy, if not a model, we can easily argue that in a normal
human being, personal identity assumes the role of Plato's perfect form;
it is unchangeable. And if you like our personality is just a
representation of our personal identity. However, when we are affect by
disease or some other physical disability we become a ''closed'' system
which can best be explained by the second law of thermodynamics. "How
much" and "for how long" we oscillate between a state of forms and a
state of entropy is a different question from what we are concerned with
here. What is relevant is that change brings about this oscillation.


So what is happening when we change? What do we mean by change in our
context which does not imply a contradiction or a paradox?


We can therefore interpret change in our lives as being caused by some
external factor that brings about a certain given characteristic or
trait. Of course, I did say earlier that we can initiate this change but
that is just a convenient way of looking at things. In reality we are in
constant interaction with the environment around us, sometimes changing
the course of events and sometimes events changing our course. It is
unlikely that we can bring about change from within us in vacuum. In the
same way that we probably cannot create a private language in isolation.
And if we seem to be able to do these things it is probably because of
disease in one case and hallucination in the other.


The power of change itself is of course neutral, being in effect a
physical change. Even when we speak of a personality change what we mean
is a change in the way we interact with our environment, especially with
other people. probably these changes also happen or are reflected in
some way in our brain or body; of course, these changes need not be due
to disease, but other physical causes.


What do I mean by physical change is neutral? Especially when our
actions and decisions are value laden and directly affect others in many
ways. We can give many examples of non neutral cases, for example
leaving one's partner, changing jobs or making others change jobs,
moving house and so on.


Instead of interpreting value judgments or moral values as based on some
divine rule or an apriority imperative, we can interpret them as being
based on probabilistic information on how others will react to our
intended action. Thus, leaving one's /married/ partner can be
interpreted as breaking god's divine command of a united couple never to
be divided. Or, as a probability that a partner will be hurt, off
springs might suffer materially and emotionally, one might reduce one's
chances of finding a new partner and so on. Taking all these things
together we then decide to do one thing or another. But this rational
process must go on, consciously or unconsciously, when we interact with
our environment.


Thus moral values might be regarded as shorthand for our calculations
when assessing a situation based on some information we have. For those
familiar with computer programming, moral values are like sub routines a
program calls when it reaches a certain state or receives a certain type
of information. Thus, when I do a spell check of this essay, my word
processor calls up a subroutine /or sub program/ and does the checking,
prompting me at the same time to do various things or decide various
actions. Likewise, when I feel unhappy in my work I call up the
subroutine, which I call 'what shall I do with my life?' (wsidwml) and
try to resolve this painful situation. Of course, both the spell check
and my wsidwml routines are not fallible. But not being fallible does
not mean it does not work properly. What we have to distinguish is
between what are the limits of our subroutines and when our subroutines
are broken down? No laws, no imperatives, just subroutines; you might
say that we are a collection of subroutines with an attitude. Maybe!


Thus the power of change is that it sometimes has the capacity to
reorder ourselves and our environment. And this is what makes physical
change neutral; the changes follow their natural course of evolution
which is independent of our intentions. We might intend to change our
job and succeed. For all intents and purposes and for accounting needs
we can say that we wanted to change our job and we succeeded; thus on
the liabilities column we enter 'want new job' and in the asset column
we enter 'have new job.'


In reality, our desire for a new job was just a small step in the whole
process. This can be explained by following Neal Armstrong's sentiments,
and say about our desire for a new job as being; one small step for
causality, but one giant leap for us.


What this means from our value-judgment-laden point of view is that only
the right change will bring about the desired result. From a neutral
point of view, a change will have the result associated with it. thus if
we have the right qualifications and the right experience, we're the
best candidate, the process has not been rigged, and so on then that job
will most probably materialize. However, we'll certainly be up the creek
if we left our present job to apply for one which we are not qualified.


and the need to have the right change for things to happen links with
the need to establish whether we are operating a system within its
specifications, beyond it limits, or whether the system is broken. And
to do this we need information that can be converted into knowledge
about what we are concerned with. For example, if under a fair system
/to use the analogy with fair dice in probability theory/ we get the job
it would be reasonable to assume that the system worked according to
specifications. However, if our system fails to give us the desired
results then it is reasonable to assume that there is something flawed
with the system. For my purpose I am assuming that our knowledge and
beliefs about of the system are also to be part of the system and not
just some aspects of it.


In an open system, like us human beings, change can have both positive
and negative effects. Some external cause can be quite overwhelming and
impossible to control. However, there are many instances when we can
change the course of events in our favour. It should not come as a
surprise if I say that knowledge plays an important part in all this.
Apart from being aware of what is going on around us, with knowledge we
would be able to help ourselves by knowing what can be done and what is
likely to fail.


Which is probably why we have change; we know very little. If everyone
knew what they have to do and where they have to be, we'd all be in the
right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.


Take care


Lawrence
1 July 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The power of change
+ Cuenca.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fwd: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, 6PM, sunday: Selfishness and Altruis

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, "philomadrid"
<philomadrid@...> wrote:

Dear Friends,


I look forward to meeting you next Sunday as usual at 6pm.


These past few meetings have been very interesting and well attended.
It is
most gratifying to see so many people coming to the meetings. Could it be
that altruism is more common than we are given to believe. Let's talk
about
it next Sunday.


Take care,


Lawrence

SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
philomadrid@...
Subscribe yahoo group send an email to:
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk
tel 606081813
www.geocities.com/philomadrid
<<<<<<Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid 28004>>>>>
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147


Selfishness and Altruism


It is very common to associate selfishness with not sharing one's hazelnut
chocolate with one's friends. As children such an experience is
infuriating
and mortifying. As adults, we find this sort of selfishness totally
unacceptable and deplorable.


On the other hand, we associate altruism by dedicating one's life as a
missionary helping people in some of the most wretched places on Earth.
Today this sort of altruism is more accessible, usually through organise
charities, a well balanced bank account and time off from the rat race.
Incidentally, these days even chocolate is more accessible.


This way of looking at selfishness and altruism may be described as the
traditional point of view, If we accept that human beings are social
beings
then acts of selfishness go against the spirit of a society. In
theory, an
individual in a society is allowed to look after their needs, but what
matters and makes society function is the idea if sharing.


How and what form this sharing takes place has been the source of
philosophical, political, economic and religious debate. We all agree we
ought to share what belongs to us from wealth, to caring and our time but
not necessarily how. Maybe we use selfishness as a concept to
describe the
actions of someone who misapplies the concept of sharing.


Maybe we might disagree how sharing is to be applied, but we know when
it is
misapplied. Selfishness is a sort of post event concept: it is applied
after
things happen. After the act has taken place. If this is the case, can we
seriously attempt to answer such practical questions as ought I always
share
my chocolate, ought I to share my wealth with others, ought I always
consider the needs of others as well as my own?


The answer to these questions must surely be: it depends on the
circumstances. Perhaps it is not a type of behaviour that is selfish
but the
type of intention that goes with the behaviour. Not only is selfishness a
question of case by case judgment, but what can be said about someone's
intentions from their behaviour. Meanness, on the other hand would be used
to describe the general character of a person. A selfish act, but a mean
person. And therefore, a generous person and an altruistic act.


At the extreme end, greed is quite easy to establish. If anything,
greed has
the advantage that we can see it. If I don't share my bar of chocolate
that
might count as selfishness, but if I buy twenty bars of chocolate and
proceed to eat them all then the conclusion is quite obvious. It seems
that
when making a judgement about selfishness we have to be more cautious and
apply objective standards which we might not need when considering greed.


Some might be tempted to argue that occasionally selfishness might be
justifiable. Of course, if an act that is perceived to be selfish but is
nevertheless justifiable, then surely this is not selfishness.


We also have very little difficulty identifying altruism. What's not so
clear about altruism is what's in it for the altruist? On the one hand
helping people or doing things for others is part of that agreement we
have
with society. All part of the give and take in living in a society.
Moreover, there does not seem to be any form of obligation to be
altruistic,
whereas there seems to be some form of obligation not to

Fwd: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, 6PM, sunday: Creativity

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, <philomadrid@...> wrote:

Dear friends,


Next Sunday we are going to talk about creativity. From the way the
meetings have been developing I am sure that next Sunday will prove as
creative as past meetings. It's like applying a dose of our own
medicine on ourselves.


Whilst talking with one of the members of the group it occurred to me
that it is about time we went to the mountains for some fresh air; and
of course there is always Segovia to be done. May I have your ideas
please.


Take care

Lawrence

SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
philomadrid@...
Subscribe yahoo group send an email to:
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk
tel 606081813
www.geocities.com/philomadrid
<<<<<<Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid 28004>>>>>
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147


Creativity


Once upon a time intelligent and clever men busied themselves with
alchemy. The intellectual challenge and the lure of a get rich quick
scheme motivated a lot of people. And although no one managed to
convert lead into gold, we are still fascinated by an intellectual
challenge or a get rich quick scheme.


Of course we now know why the alchemists were doomed to failure, but
the alchemists themselves knew that they had to be super duper
creative to succeed. So how can we understand creativity? This should
not be mixed up with, how can we be creative? Or what does it take to
be creative? Incidentally, if you do know the real answer to these
questions, let me know.


We usually ascribe to creativity the meaning of something being new or
original. And sometimes even something that is out of the ordinary. Of
course, there are other ways of being creative, but the new and the
original are the real healing makers. For example, the personal
computer was not really a feat of creation. Computers had existed for
a very long time before PC's were invented. And binary calculations
even longer. What makes the personal computer the important invention
it is in our life is the silicon chip. The silicon chip was indeed an
act of creativity.


How common is creativity then? By definition creativity, of the
headline making type, cannot be that common, otherwise it wouldn't
have the special status it has. On the other hand it is sufficiently
common for us to see progress, change and innovation. Change is,
indeed, the first philosophical issue we encounter with creativity.


Creativity does bring with it change. We change the way we do things,
the way we see things, the way we behave, what we know and so on.
Change is so fundamental to existence that we find the first
philosophers grappling with this very problem. And change, I would
submit, is the basis of science. Without chemical reactions we
wouldn't have chemistry, without the changing of mass or energy we
wouldn't have physics. In fact without change there wouldn't be a
universe in the first place.


The universe, as a subject, introduces its own issues regarding change
and creativity. What kind of creativity is required to bring about the
creation of the universe? The nature of God argument. Can something be
created from nothing? Ex nihilo argument. Are the laws of physics
universally true? The intellectual challenges introduced by quantum
mechanics.


Can we say that change is a synonym for creativity? No; not if we
assume creativity to be always positive and change maybe positive and
negative. Is creativity always positive? We are certainly more
impressed when creativity has positive implications, but there are
enough instances in life not to be the case. We can be creative to
invent new tools to solve problems or even be creative in matters of
aesthetics. But we can equally be creative to exploit people better or
just simply to kill and maim them quicker.


It is reasonable to assume that the universe is the biggest feat of
all creativity; whoever or whatever created the universe had something
going for them. This form of creativity brings about change as opposed
to affecting change. It's not som

Fwd: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, 6PM, sunday: Human Sexuality

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, "philomadrid"
<philomadrid@...> wrote:

Dear friends,
Hope you had a good holiday last weekend.
We are meeting next Sunday as usual, at 6pm Molly Malone's.
The subject, as you know, is HUMAN SEXUALITY. Due to the hectic
holidays I
did not have time to do a write up on the subject. I will try and do
something before Sunday; however I'm that worried because I'm sure
there is
nothing I can say about the subject which you don't already know.

See you Sunday
Take care
Lawrence
SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
philomadrid@...
Subscribe yahoo group send an email to:
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk
tel 606081813
www.geocities.com/philomadrid
<<<<<<Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid 28004>>>>>
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147
--- End forwarded message ---

Fwd: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, 6PM, sunday: Selfishness and Altruis

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, "philomadrid"
<philomadrid@...> wrote:

Dear Friends,


I look forward to meeting you next Sunday as usual at 6pm.


These past few meetings have been very interesting and well attended.
It is
most gratifying to see so many people coming to the meetings. Could it be
that altruism is more common than we are given to believe. Let's talk
about
it next Sunday.


Take care,


Lawrence

SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
philomadrid@...
Subscribe yahoo group send an email to:
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk
tel 606081813
www.geocities.com/philomadrid
<<<<<<Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid 28004>>>>>
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147


Selfishness and Altruism


It is very common to associate selfishness with not sharing one's hazelnut
chocolate with one's friends. As children such an experience is
infuriating
and mortifying. As adults, we find this sort of selfishness totally
unacceptable and deplorable.


On the other hand, we associate altruism by dedicating one's life as a
missionary helping people in some of the most wretched places on Earth.
Today this sort of altruism is more accessible, usually through organise
charities, a well balanced bank account and time off from the rat race.
Incidentally, these days even chocolate is more accessible.


This way of looking at selfishness and altruism may be described as the
traditional point of view, If we accept that human beings are social
beings
then acts of selfishness go against the spirit of a society. In
theory, an
individual in a society is allowed to look after their needs, but what
matters and makes society function is the idea if sharing.


How and what form this sharing takes place has been the source of
philosophical, political, economic and religious debate. We all agree we
ought to share what belongs to us from wealth, to caring and our time but
not necessarily how. Maybe we use selfishness as a concept to
describe the
actions of someone who misapplies the concept of sharing.


Maybe we might disagree how sharing is to be applied, but we know when
it is
misapplied. Selfishness is a sort of post event concept: it is applied
after
things happen. After the act has taken place. If this is the case, can we
seriously attempt to answer such practical questions as ought I always
share
my chocolate, ought I to share my wealth with others, ought I always
consider the needs of others as well as my own?


The answer to these questions must surely be: it depends on the
circumstances. Perhaps it is not a type of behaviour that is selfish
but the
type of intention that goes with the behaviour. Not only is selfishness a
question of case by case judgment, but what can be said about someone's
intentions from their behaviour. Meanness, on the other hand would be used
to describe the general character of a person. A selfish act, but a mean
person. And therefore, a generous person and an altruistic act.


At the extreme end, greed is quite easy to establish. If anything,
greed has
the advantage that we can see it. If I don't share my bar of chocolate
that
might count as selfishness, but if I buy twenty bars of chocolate and
proceed to eat them all then the conclusion is quite obvious. It seems
that
when making a judgement about selfishness we have to be more cautious and
apply objective standards which we might not need when considering greed.


Some might be tempted to argue that occasionally selfishness might be
justifiable. Of course, if an act that is perceived to be selfish but is
nevertheless justifiable, then surely this is not selfishness.


We also have very little difficulty identifying altruism. What's not so
clear about altruism is what's in it for the altruist? On the one hand
helping people or doing things for others is part of that agreement we
have
with society. All part of the give and take in living in a society.
Moreover, there does not seem to be any form of obligation to be
altruistic,
whereas there seems to be some form of obligation not to

Fwd: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, NO MEETING next sunday:

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, "philomadrid"
<philomadrid@...> wrote:

Dear Friends,


Because of the long weekend holiday we're not having a meeting next
Sunday,
May 1st. Looking forward to our next meeting the following week.


Thanks


Take care

Lawrence


SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably
downstairs,

philomadrid@...
Subscribe yahoo group send an email to:
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk


tel 606081813


www.geocities.com/philomadrid


Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid
28004
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147

--- End forwarded message ---

Fwd: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, 6PM, sunday: Loyalty and Infidelity

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, "philomadrid"
<philomadrid@...> wrote:

Dear friends,


I hope you had a good holiday last week. We are meeting again next
Sunday at
six pm.


The subject of loyalty and infidelity will certainly give us something to
talk about now that we are fresh after the hols. Looking forward to
seeing
on Sunday,


Take care,


Lawrence


SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs,

philomadrid@...
Subscribe yahoo group send an email to:
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk


tel 606081813


www.geocities.com/philomadrid


Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid 28004
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147


-------------------------------------------


Loyalty and Infidelity


Although loyalty features in a variety of contexts and situations, I will
limit myself to the context of partnerships. In a way this is
determined for
us by infidelity. In reality, infidelity features prominently only in the
context of partnerships.


We should also really be comparing loyalty with fidelity since it
stands to
reason that one leads to the other. However, the implications of
infidelity
can be so serious that, I suppose, the concept is more engrained in our
brain.


The underlying basis of loyalty and fidelity is the moral principle of
promising. In the case of a married couple, the promise is explicit,
whereas
in other couples it is probably implicit. Whatever the circumstance, it's
much easier to spell out the conditions for infidelity. This would be
something like having a sexual liaison with someone who is not one's
partner. Implicit in this is that one's partner objects and/or
disapproves
of this behaviour. Of course, there might be social and cultural
implications whose consequences might be independent of what the parties
involved think about the matter.


Moving on to loyalty, what are the meaning and implications of loyalty?
Maybe, loyalty ranges from something like giving moral support to
acting, so
to speak, as one's partner defence counsel. Does, for example, loyalty
include perjury under oath? Does it, on the other hand, involve saying
something like, ''you look great in your purple dress," when it is
obvious
that purple is the last colour your partner should be seen in? But in
these
cases, at least, an outsider can easily do the job as much as ones
partner.
One's friends and family can equally feel a strong sense of loyalty
towards
one.


In a way, infidelity itself is a form of disloyalty. If this is the case
then the strongest form of loyalty is precisely to be faithful to one's
partner. But surely there are more things in life than simply not
having any
sexual liaisons with someone else, even if this is at the top of the
list?
For example, egoism and selfishness are two other obvious cases where the
issue of loyalty arises. Sharing with and giving priority to the needs of
one's partner are certainly a sign of loyalty.


Loyalty really features in the context of love. Ought love to be
reciprocated by love? And what does it mean to be loyal to one's
partner's
love? It is unreasonable to assume that love should be reciprocated by
love;
this is only valid if both parties are disposed to such feelings and
emotions. The issue is probably how long can we expect loyalty to last.
Should loyalty last for ever or what? One simple answer would be: loyalty
lasts as long as love lasts. But this means that loyalty and fidelity are
subject to the progress and whims of love.


Of course, these questions are being asked in the context of normal life.
What about in the context, when one partner, due to some misfortune,
cannot
function sexually? Does fidelity remain an issue? And what kind of
loyalty
can we expect in these situations?


Earlier I suggested that loyalty involves a sort of promise, either
explicit
or implicit, hence, by implication, we have some sort of duty towards our
partner. Once again, what kind of duty is this? It would be strange to
suggest that we have a duty to love our partner because love i

Fwd: Re: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, 6PM, sunday: The necessity of Fa

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, "philomadrid"
<philomadrid@...> wrote:

Dear Friends,


After that unexpected break, we are meeting next Sunday as usual: 6pm
Molly
Malone's.


It was intentional that the subject we are going to discuss is connected
with religion: The necessity of Faith. It is certainly a topic of the
day;
let's hope we can say a few interesting things about it. As usual!


See you Sunday.


Take care

Lawrence


SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs,

philomadrid@...
Subscribe yahoo group send an email to:
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk


tel 606081813


www.geocities.com/philomadrid


Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid 28004
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147


--------------------------------------------------------------------

The necessity of Faith.


Faith is sometimes used as a synonym for religion. And a very special
meaning of ''belief'' is used as a synonym for Faith.


Religion and god/gods feature prominently in some people's lives, and in
turn religions affect the lives of the rest of humanity whether we
like it
or not. Moreover, religions have been around for a long time and will
certainly continue to do so.


Main stream religions can be seen as the administrators of a moral code
which is supposed to have been set out by god/gods. Some, if not all
religions, interpret their administrative duties to mean imposition of
the
moral code with consequences both in this world and beyond if the code is
not followed.


However, what should be asked is why do we need an administrative body
for
the moral code in the first pace? In the same way that we don't need an
administrative authority to make sure that we are born with two legs
and two
arms, why do we need an authority for the moral code? Why couldn't we
inherit the moral code genetically in the same way we inherit the
colour of
our eyes genetically? After all, the origin and source of both our
body and
the moral code is the same.


Central to faith and religions is the age old question, "what is the
meaning
of life?" Since the advent of genetics and the credit card, this question
has more or less fallen out of favour with philosophers. Once again,
we are
here dealing with synonyms, for ''meaning'' read ''purpose'' and for
''life'' read ''human life''.


We can easily see why this question is still central for religions. If
god/gods created us, he or she or they would not have created us just for
the fun of it or on a whim. One thing we can be sure of about god/gods
and
it is this: nothing is done without a good purpose. I mean, human beings
might abuse other creatures or do things for no apparent reason or
because
we feel like it, but not god/gods.


However, I suspect that the question about the meaning of life
reflects more
our weaknesses than god/gods's intentions. If I see my neighbour chipping
away at a stone, it would be reasonable for me to ask him why is he doing
that? And if he tells me he wants a sharper arrow-head to kill the
buffalo
quicker next time he went hunting, I might even admire him for it. One
thing
is clear in all this: my neighbour has a good purpose for his arrow head.
Could it be that in reality we are projecting our rationale and reasoning
onto god/gods? Just because we expect to find purpose in things, why
should
god/gods need to have such qualification? What's wrong with god/gods just
wanting to give us life and that's it? Why should life have a meaning? In
fact, I would go so far as to suggest that if one is a believer in
god/gods
and asks about the meaning of life, one might sound a bit ungrateful.


On the other hand, we are now faced with the very philosophical question,
how can something be justified if it does not have a purpose? Is it
possible, both metaphysically and epistemologically, for something to
exist
without a purpose? And even more important for our question, can
something
be necessary without a purpose or justification?


We are often told we need to have faith, not for what

Fwd: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, 6PM, sunday: The Individual and Tech

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, "philomadrid"
<philomadrid@...> wrote:

Dear Friends


Next Sunday we have the opportunity to talk about the very thing that
keeps
us in touch with each other: i.e. technology.


We all assume that things will work and you get the message, but
experience
tells us otherwise. So please pass the message just in case.


Thanks


Take care


Lawrence´

-----SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
philomadrid@...
Subscribe yahoo group send an email to:
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk
tel 606081813
www.geocities.com/philomadrid
<<<<<<Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid 28004>>>>>
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147


--------------------------------------------------------------------

The individual and technology


Two things happened yesterday. It was the first time in three or four
years
that I was without electricity at home due to a power cut in the
neighbourhood. The other thing was that I read a report about future
plans
to use super computers outside research laboratories and for the
benefit of
the community. For example, these super computers will be able to
identify
diseases quicker and offer treatment specific to the needs of the
individual.


In both examples the lives of individuals was and will be directly
affected
by technology.
By individual it is not meant as some unidentifiable member of a society,
but rather each of us independent of the society we live in. By
individual
we should really mean you and me. This is important because claims like
'super computers can identify diseases and find treatment for individual
needs' does not mean that everyone on Earth will benefit from all this
technology. The reality is that usually only a few people will benefit
from
such technology; in the same way that when the wealth of a country
increases
not everyone enjoys the benefits.


I make this distinction because when we speak of the individual as a
member
of a society things tend to happen in a probabilistic way. Not
everyone is
poor and not everyone is rich. However, when we speak of the individual,
such as you and me, things happen in an absolute way. I was left without
electricity for 20 minutes.


We can even now rephrase the question and ask what does technology
mean to
you and me? But let's differ this question for later. For now we can
look at
how technology bears on the individual as well as society. There are two
specific spheres where technology and the individual come together:
ethics
and economics.


What we call technology is nothing more than tools we use for
production to
survive as biological entities. The days when we could live by foraging
around the forest are long gone. In other words, technology represents
wealth because it is the primary way of producing the needs for survival.


Whether it's a sports car, a nuclear power station or potatoes someone
must
have thought that it was worth producing, manufacture or build. The fact
that what looks like a good idea today might turn out to be a dud or a
pup
is besides the point. The point is that someone somewhere made some
money
from the endeavour. It should not therefore come as a surprise that
technologically advanced societies have, at a very minimum, some
political
or economic power, not to mention that in general they are quite well
off as
well.


In fact this is an important argument put forward by governments and
other
political institutions. Governments and countries demonstrate their
wealth
or power by spending a lot of their national wealth on military
hardware or
building huge industrial plants. Others take the pragmatic view and
spend
it on their leaders.


In a way technology is neutral in the sense that on the whole technology
can be both beneficial or detrimental. Take nuclear energy, this is
certainly a very efficient way of producing sustainable energy. It can be
cheap, it can be safe and it can be plentiful. It is, however, the misuse
and abuse of safety standards and maintenan

Fwd: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, 6PM, sunday: The ethics of solidarit

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, "philomadrid"
<philomadrid@...> wrote:

Dear Friends,


Next Sunday's topic ought to take us into history as much as into
philosophy. Some of us still remember the historical events; how time
flies.

See you Sunday and take care

Lawrence


SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs, but
just in
case there is no football on go to the very back of the pub, then turn
left
and left again!


philomadrid@...


Subscribe yahoo group send an email to:
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk


tel 606081813


www.geocities.com/philomadrid


Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid 28004
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147


-------------------------------------------


The ethics of solidarity


If it wasn't for a group of Polish shipyard workers the word
''solidarity''
would certainly not have become so popular in any language.


You will remember how towards the end of the 1970's and the beginning
of the
1980's Lech Walesa started the union in Gdansk shipyard to protest against
the increase in food prices. Eventually this evolved into a political
protest against the communist government. The call for solidarity with
those
Polish workers did elicit support and did bring about fundamental changes.
By the end of the decade the Soviet Union did not exist anymore.


Of course, today, we look at those events and probably think how
challenging
and exhilarating everything must have been. Those events united the
workers
of the world against an oppressive government, and eventually brought it
down. Surely these were great events in history? It is, of course, ironic
that the workers of the world were being asked to unite against a
communist
government.


Before we consider the ethics of solidarity, however, we still need some
more historical context.


Some would argue that the solidarity that made a difference came from
quarters that really mattered. I have in mind five particular events, and
three specific historical figures, that contributed towards bringing the
House of Lenin down. 1)The election of a Polish pope at the Vatican.
2) Mrs
Thatcher's stand against the coal miners' union in Britain. 3) The British
decision to fight over the Falklands. 4)The deployment of cruise
missiles in
Europe by President Regan which was fully supported by the British and
some
European governments. 5) The rest of history!


The significance of these events is that when put together they created a
critical mass that decisively contributed to bring down the communist
system. It is argued that the cruise missiles created a mini arms race
which
the Soviet Union couldn't sustain economically. The defeat of the coal
miners union gave Thatcher the courage and support to fight the Falklands
conflict. And the subsequent victory encouraged western governments, in
particular the US, to believe that they could win wars after the
spectacular
defeat in Vietnam. The Pope, as we all know, galvanised world opinion
against the communist system.


Without the concerted efforts by Western governments against the Soviet
Union, the chances of success of the Polish movement would have been
as big
as those of the French resistance in WWII.


Having established the historical context for solidarity, let's look
at the
philosophical implications. Based on the above historical context I submit
that the meaning of ''solidarity'' comes in two parts. 1) People giving
moral and active support to those who are trying to remove or fight the
oppression they are being subjected to. The word oppression is itself
negative in a moral context. 2) Given this support and a just cause,
victory
is a real possibility. If we offer solidarity to a just cause, we really
believe things will change and can change.


Distilling the above into a formula we can say:

victory against oppression = justifiable cause + self help + (influential
moral & active support from outside)


We can now consider the ethics of solidarity. A great deal of morality
centres on what is a justifiable cause, but this, in my opinion, has

Fwd: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, 6PM, sunday: Truth

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, "lawrence jc baron"
<ljcbaron@...> wrote:

Dear Friends,


I expect that some of you would have already started your Easter
holidays by Sunday. Lucky you!! Anyway, have fun and don't forget to
send us a postcard.


For the rest of us Sunday should provide us with a good discussion:
truth is so dear to us that we all have an opinion about it. We ought
to know the truth about truth next Sunday night. And if we don't we
can always try the ultimate method: vino veritas.


Have fun, see you Sunday


Lawrence


SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs, but
just in case there is no football on go to the very back of the pub,
then turn left and left again!


philomadrid@...


Subscribe yahoo group send an email to:
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk


tel 606081813


www.geocities.com/philomadrid


Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid 28004
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147


-------------------------------------------


Truth


Truth features so prominently in our lives that sometimes we take it
for granted. This does not mean that we don't care. On the contrary,
we care so much that we have elaborate systems to ensure that we all
respect its importance. I'm thinking, for example, of perjury,
disapproval when we lie, the rituals of promising and so on.


What I mean is that we normally don't question everything that is said
to us. We don't pass everything that is said to us through some truth
verification machine. If we did this life would just be impossible to
live. It is like having to reinvent the wheel every time we need to
take a bus ride to the shops. It is not surprising, therefore, that
this is a big subject in philosophy and literature. For example, the
British library and The Library of Congress have more than 18,000
books with truth in their title between them.


There are two questions this can be asked about truth: what qualities
does truth bestow on propositions? What test or tests do we have to
perform to establish the existence of truth?


If we take the claim ''water is wet'' what we are saying is that water
has the quality of wetness. And wetness is not inherent to water only,
but to liquids. We have no problem distinguishing water from wet.
Let's take another example, ''the rock is wet''. We are not saying
that this particular rock is a liquid, and therefore attribute wetness
to it. Of course, what we are saying is that ''this particular rock is
covered with a liquid and as a consequence we can feel the wetness of
the liquid.'' We usually don't have problems with these expressions in
English.

Take the propositions, "water is wet'' and "it is true that water is
wet.'' What is the difference between the first and second sentence?
One possible answer is that the first sentence is an epistemological
idea, expressed in linguistic form, and corresponds with reality. The
second sentence is confirmation of the epistemological idea expressed
in linguistic form and which corresponds with reality. We can all
agree about this.

But can we all agree about statements such as: it is true that
democracy is the best form of government? Not everyone on this planet
would agree with this. So by just adding truth to proposition it does
not make it true. Truth is not like salt or sugar, we add a tea spoon
of truth and things become true. Despite all this most people have no
problem using truth correctly.


We might fare better if we asked ourselves a different question. Does
truth matter? And if it does matter, why does it? Although there
might be a number of reasons why truth matters there are certainly
three important ones: it helps us with our decision concerning the
future. It helps us manage irrelevant or useless information (white
noise). Truth gives a certain type of meaning to our linguistic
utterances. Let's take an example of each.


If it is true that democracy is the best form government then one day
in the future we might feel obliged to change governments that are not
democratic. The truth of a statement can d

Fwd: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, next Sunday AT 6.30PM:The new female

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, "philomadrid"
<philomadrid@...> wrote:

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all your private and not so private compliments and
encouragement on the way these meeting are developing. I am very happy
that you enjoy these meetings, I certainly do.

Next Sunday we are dealing with what is by now an old subject: Male
and Female revolutions. I'm sure this will bring back memories of past
meetings and an opportunity for new ideas.

The yahoo group is up and running, the address is:
http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/philomadridgroup
or send email to the following address to subscribe.
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk


Since some people are still having problems receiving emails I should
be most grateful if you can pass the message.

FINALLY; don't forget the exhibition visit on Saturday.

Take care

Lawrence

SUNDAY 6.30pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs, but
just in case there is no football on go to the very back of the pub,
then turn left and left again!

philomadrid@... tel 606081813

www.geocities.com/philomadrid

Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid 28004
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147

The new female - male revolution.

Every generation needs to make a name for itself. When we think about
it we can see why this should be the case.

The obvious reason is that each generation lacks its own experience as
an entity in a society. Hence the need for a generation to have its
own coat of arms, so to speak, is quite important. The generation
that was conscripted to fight the second world war developed its own
identity, usually in the form of baby boomers. In the sixties we find
two distinct identities. The identity following the successes of the
Liverpool four and the protest marches against the Vietnam war. This
generation may be summed up as the come-back generation: they just
cannot stop those compilation albums from appearing at a moment's notice.

However, what is group identity? In our case we are looking at the
male and female groups. We are familiar with personal identity, even
if we cannot articulate what it exactly, but does group identity
follow the same principles? One attribute we ascribe to personal
identity is uniqueness of character. In fact uniqueness of character
is a must for personal identity.

If we are to have any revolutions for males and/or females we really
must settle this little matter of identity. But the price we pay is of
course an identity paradox. A female or male revolution presupposes a
group made up of individual males and females. But if we accept the
uniqueness principle for individual identity we either have to abuse
the meaning of uniqueness or speak of a male or a female groups are
just empty words.

Let me put it another way; are you prepared to say that as a person
there is nothing to distinguish you from the rest of your gender
population? Never mind your body, just think of the person.

So before we can have a revolution we need a movement, and before we
have a movement we need a common cause between individuals. A male
revolution and a female revolution still need to ask and answer the
questions: Who are we revolting against? And what do we hope to achieve?

We are often told that women are revolting against the chauvinism and
suppression of men against them. Of course there is always scope for
improvement, but surely `Margaret T' (as she was then) and `Monica L'
(as she still is) changed the complexion of the argument.

And what about men, what are they revolting against? In fact, do men
have anything to revolt against? Of course, I must declare a personal
interest here, so what follows might be biased; unintentional of
course. Personally I would revolt against the 'numbers game' not to
mention the high prices of weekend entertaining.

If by revolution we mean changing our lot or our circumstances then
maybe we might get a better perspective on things. It is very common
to equate changing our circumstances with an issue about rights.

So, if men want to have custody of their children, it is not a
question of the modern male embarking on a new revolution, but modern
men demanding what is rightfully theirs. If women want to have a
career and lead an unattached life it is not a question of modern
women embarking on a revolution, but a question of demanding what is
rightfully theirs.

It is absurd to think that we have to organise a revolution to get our
rights or to get what is a priori ours by the very nature of our
existence. What we have to get rid of is the oppressive thinking that
comes with the law of the jungle. Surely we have moved on from the top
dog or lion king mentality of the jungle.

The new revolution must be aimed at the way we think, at how we think
and the way we see the world around us. In other words, it in no one's
favour to give us our rights. My rights are no less mine than my left
hand is mine. It is absurd to talk of women having the right to reach
the top of a Fortune 500 company. Or men having the right to stay at
home looking after the family and their wives bring home the bacon.

If rights belong to no one or nothing to dispense off then why do we
feel or have the need to fight for them? Suppression or plain bullying
is responsible for the main reason. Conservative (with a small c)
thinking is an other reason and is probably the result of suppression
in the first place. There could, however, be an other reason. Lack of
knowledge and skills. It's one thing not to be allowed to advance, but
it's something really different if one does not have the skills to
advance.

Maybe the new revolutions should not focus on giving us rights or new
rights, which we already have anyway. Maybe the new revolutions ought
to focus on opportunities. It is one thing to have the right to bring
home the bacon and another to have eggs and bacon for breakfast.

This is where the problems start; the little matter of supply and
demand have to be accounted for. Not everyone can become a mover and
shaker in a Fortune 500 company. Limited resources really limit our
opportunities.

In a way, a revolution must not address itself at giving rights, nor
at the redistribution of existing resources, but a true revolution
must deal with the creation of opportunities.

It is only when we have access to opportunities that we can really
benefit from a revolution. But equal access to limited opportunities
implies cooperation and consensus. The path to cooperation and
consensus has so far taken from brut force, as in the hunter-gatherer
eats saber tooth tiger for lunch, to suppression, i.e. the law of the
jungle, to the empowering of the common man, through the establishment
of the House of Commons, to group assertion, as in feminism.

Without any doubt the next and final revolution must be, the
cooperation and consensus between males and females, as in respect of
people as individuals and human beings.


take care

Lawrence

--- End forwarded message ---

Fwd: from Lawrence Pub Philosophy Meeting, 6PM, sunday: Mixing Cultures

--- In philomadridgroup@yahoogroups.co.uk, "philomadrid"
<philomadrid@...> wrote:


Dear friends,


A quick reminder that we now start at ******6pm****** and should be
grateful if you can pass the word around.


On the theme of reporting or somehow recording conclusions most of you
know my attitude; it takes too much time, someone has to take notes
but most serious of all it goes against the spirit of intellectual
indulgence. However, those who still feel the need to report their
opinions or ideas I will post your messages on the website and
yahoogroup website. Suggestions welcome!


Next Sunday we are talking about mixing cultures, hope you'll be able
to make it.


See you soon and take care

Lawrence


SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs, but
just in case there is no football on go to the very back of the pub,
then turn left and left again!


philomadrid@...


Subscribe yahoo group send an email to:
philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk


tel 606081813


www.geocities.com/philomadrid


Pub Molly Malone, c/ Manuela Malasaña, 11, Madrid 28004
metro: <Bilbao> : buses: 21, 149, 147


-------------------------------------------

Mixing Cultures

There are many reasons why cultures would want to be mixed. And after
the smoke screen and the white noise have ebbed away, we can account
for mixing cultures on some very basic reasons: economic and political.


In fact, I would go so far as to say that the pre-dominant need for
mixing cultures is due to economic reasons. I mean, once we've
excluded the eccentric and the adventurous, why would anyone want to
leave their place of origin to start all over again?


The political background, however, for mixing cultures is usually wars
or revolutions. These are the real causes of large movements and
displacement of people from countries. When we look at history we see
that this will eventually create the need to mix cultures.


Having identified the parameters, let's have a look at the various
ways cultures are mixed. I have identified the following models, but
you might have your own favourites:
* melting pot model,
* imposed mix,
* let's mix,
* pseudo mix,
* we're here for the fun model.


Before I say more about what I mean about these various models it
might be worth mentioning the obvious. Like most of these things we
are talking about people here. The culture we are talking about is
more or less what a group of people get up to when together.


Of course, you might think that this is obvious, even if in political
philosophy and political science the idea that real people are
involved can be a bit awkward. In any event, it might be worth keeping
in mind that the mix or clash of cultures tends to affect people with
real blood and bones.


The United Kingdom (modern version) and the United States are usually
hailed as paradigm cases of a melting pot mixing type of cultures.
These models are sufficiently successful to be an export commodity.
And the barometer of this success are the queues outside the
respective embassies waiting for visas.


The imposed mix model has a long pedigree which has evolved through
the centuries. This model can best be described by the attributed
words of Julius Caesar, ''I came, I saw, I conquered.'' Of course,
today the moral status of this method is quite questionable. However,
from a historical point of view it is without ant doubt a very
successful model.


Some might argue that the spectacular failure of the imposed mix in
1945 led directly to the "let's mix'' method. Today, the European
Union is a modern example of the "lets mix" method. It is of course
quite ironic that this method was also used by Wales, Scotland and
England to form what we call today the United Kingdom. The question
is, can twenty five countries (and counting) pull off the same feat?


A pseudo mix method is really two cultures living side by side in the
same country. There are a number of examples in Asia and Africa; some
successful some not so successful. In any event the unsuccessful
pseudo models tend to involve a lot of dead pe

Thursday, June 21, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The journey or the destination

4 items, plus essay


Dear friends,


For those who follow the fortunes of football clubs in Madrid you would
know all about journeys and destinations. This is the theme of our topic
for this Sunday's meeting. I hope you will find the time to come to the
meeting at six pm.

Item 1 - DOCUMENTS FROM ASUNCION

Asuncion has asked me to share some of her work on journeys including
her thesis. Specifically:


Part of my research involves "journey narratives". I have a couple of
articles that might be of interest to start up the discussion or for
your introduction. Please, find them attached. One of them is the last
draft for EOLSS (UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems; sorry,
corrections are still there!!). The other was a chapter of my 2002
dissertation and needs to be updated.


My whole dissertation, in Spanish, is at
http://cisne.sim.ucm.es/search*spi/aLOPEZ+VARELA/alopez+varela/1%2C2%2C2%2CB/frameset&FF=alopez+varela+azcarate+asuncion&1%2C1%2C


VIRTUAL TRIPS
Asunción López-Varela Azcárate
Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
(asuvirtual01)


TRAVELLING THROUGH NARRATIVE TIME
The EOLSS article is at: http://www.eolss.net/
But this is not a free-access encyclopedia (it is but only for third
world countries).
(asutravel02)


Asuncion has sent me Word files for the last two documents for our
private use. So if you want a copy please let me know and I forward you
these documents. However, for those who only access the internet at the
office and want to read the documents before this evening (I'm out most
of Friday) or at an internet cafe I have posted these documents on blog
I started for this purpose. Read the next item on how to access these
documents.

Item 2 - BLOG TO ACCESS PRIVATE DOCUEMTNS

For those who are familiar with IT terminology what I have done is
called a work-around. Basically, I have used the features on the blog
which are available to me to achieve similar results with ideal features
which are not available. Basically, I only want people on the mailing
list to access these documents; for those who are interested on how I
did this please write to me. In the meantime, if you want to have a look
at these documents this is what you have to do. Theoretically it work
and it has worked on my PC; please report any bug.

What to do:
Go to this blog: Phulomadridshare: http://philomadridshare.blogspot.com/
You should get the instructions page.
For the VIRTUAL TRIPS document either enter >VIRTUAL TRIPS< or
>asuvirtual01< in the search this blog box. Without arrow heads.
For the TRAVELLING THROUGH NARRATIVE TIME do the above or use this
search word > asutravel02<.

It is easier that what it seems.

If you want to share similar documents with the group in this manner
please send them over.

Incidentally, I started a philomadrid blog at

http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/ but do not have time to prettify it. At
the moment there are most of the emails I send out in very raw form and
format. If you want to add comments to any posts please let me know and
I'll include them.

Item 3 – TANGO WITH BLANCA THIS SUNDAY

Blanca has asked me to remind you about her tango exhibition:

Hi! Law,

I'm giving you the details of the tango exhibitions for the two couples
of dancers, in case somebody wants to attend:
Centro Gallego
C/ Carretas, 14 3ª
Metro Sol

The exhibition begins at 20.00, but is advisable to be there at 19.30 h

Apart from that, our teacher asked us to dance "milonga with traspie",
which is very very difficult and we have a quick lesson before, but we
will do our best.

Happy evening,
Blanca

Item 4 – PHOTOS FROM SEGOVIA

The photos which Olga sent me from Segovia are now on the album. Group
photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
Please send me your photos if you want to add any of yours. Thanks


See you Sunday and take care

Lawrence
IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW


**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar

Paloma; Marbella (near Elviria);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAYFLAT_Paloma_MarbellaNearElviria
*************************************


+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

------------------------------------------------

What's better, the process or the result?
The journey or the destination

[note: The question what the subject that was voted during the meeting.
However, we agreed to adopt the standard expression for this theme. In
my essay I write about journeys and destinations, but this does not
materially change my ideas on the subject.]

It depends. There is a tendency to suppose that in some cases the
journey is more important than the destination. Why we choose to give
the journey such a high priority might imply some sort of psychological
dysfunction and best dealt with by psychology. Unless, that is, there is
something more fundamental going on.

I mean, why bother to fix a date to the cinema, when the bus ride is
more exciting? However, if you were to suggest to someone to take a bus
ride to the bus station, they'll think you're off your rocker. This
paradox is similar to the paradox, that if we talk to god, we are
praying, but if god talks to us we are crazy. Apart from misplaced
logic, what is going on here?

Of course, in real life there are many journeys that are a hindrance,
inconvenient or disturbing. For example, if one is meeting one's
partner, surely what matters is to be with one's partner /divorce courts
and empty dog houses excepted/. Or maybe being ill; surely, feeling
better is more important than convalescing in bed.

But this idea that destination comes first is not totally new. Most
religions, who profess to an afterlife, prioritize the destination over
the journey. Take for example the quotation which I found at random on a
Buddhist website: "Those who cannot find their own way may find it
easier to follow the path of others, but the final destination is the
same for all: the ultimate truth. When Lord Krishna, Jesus or Muhammad
says, "Follow me," they are asking us to follow the path that leads to
the ultimate reality. They are trying to lead those who are lost out of
the darkness. They do not want chaos to prevail in the world."*

Of course, the reasons why being healthy or meeting our partner are more
desirable than getting there are different from being in heaven or
experiencing the ultimate truth. Unfortunately, not having been to
heaven, I do not feel I am qualified enough to write about heaven. But I
have been sick and I do enjoy being with my partner.

Feeling better means that one is not in pain or discomfort,
inconvenienced or simply unable to do the things we want to do. I do not
think that it is reasonable to suppose that being sick is better than
being healthy. And what is the point of having a partner, if not to be
with them.

Hence, one factor that determines whether the destination is much better
is when the destination is a pleasurable or desirable activity or state
of affairs. Once we can establish whether a destination is desirable
then we can ask ourselves whether the journey is equally desirable. In
this case, some journeys might be desirable, others might not and some
might be indifferent. A car journey through marvellous landscape on the
way to an idyllic spot on the mountains might very well be desirable. I
doubt, however, whether pregnancy would be desirable /unless it is your
partner who is pregnant/ and I'm sure a bus journey to your local cinema
is indifferent /unless the cinema is on an idyllic spot in the mountains
and you are not pregnant/.

However, we cannot just dismiss the sentiment, if not the feeling, that
there are cases where the journey does seem more important than the
destination. I suspect that we do this from a sense of denial more than
good judgement. Moreover, we usually apply these feelings to
metaphysical challenges rather than a geographical destination or an
artefact.

Sometimes we opt for the journey to protect ourselves from
disappointment; we don't raise our hopes or expectations too high. And
being true blue utilitarians we try and get satisfaction from our minor
accomplishments than wait for the big one at the end, which might not
materialise anyway. Of course, nothing gives us more pleasure than
accomplishing something. The bigger or more challenging the
accomplishment the more satisfaction we derive.

And in a society which on the one hand benefits from cooperation and on
the other applies rigorous competition as a means of survival, the idea
of success can be employed with impressive efficacy.

Of course, accomplishing an objective or a desire is a very natural and
human thing to do. Physically, we have to interact with our environment
in a space-time continuum. Furthermore, being a finite living system we
can only cope with a finite number of interactions one at a time: going
to the cinema, meeting our partner and so on. These interactions within
our environment also help us survive in this environment.

Success and accomplishment also bring with them a feeling of pleasure
and feeling good about ourselves. This is nature's way, as we know, of
telling us that what we've done is desirable and we should repeat it, if
and when the opportunity arises. Of course, sometimes, the system goes
haywire, and instead of doing good to our selves we do more harm. Eating
chocolate might be good, but eating ten bars of chocolate a day is a
sign of a system gone haywire.

Thus when society rewards success and accomplishment it is tapping into
a natural resource which we are all prepared to get involved with. Of
course, there need not be any malice in all this, nor a conscious and
intentional strategy. We just do this. However, success and
accomplishment can and are sometimes used to take advantage over others.
There are no limits to who tries to use these strategies to their
advantages; be it individuals, groups, governments and society in general.

And this is the paradox of competition. It has been shown many times
that competition is one of the most effective and efficient strategies
for advancement and progress. Yet competition can also be one of the
most exploitative and demeaning strategies that can be used against
others. How is this done?

If something is made difficult to achieve, then by implication, those
that do achieve such difficult objectives would have subscribed to the
cause, so to speak. Those who subscribe to the cause are also ostensibly
loyal to the cause. Thus, if we accept, for example, that having a
structured career trajectory as a sign of success then surely, we will
also feel loyal bound to such systems that do offer structured career
trajectories. If we buy into the programme, then we have accepted,
implicitly or explicitly, the way the programme works.

This is where the journey might become more important than the
destination. In pursuing our ambitions to succeed/ which is a very
natural thing to do/ we also subscribe to the fact that we might not
succeed. Thus, the journey becomes relevant when there is an element of
possible failure involved. The utilitarian principle applies, enjoy the
minor pleasures, because the destination is far from certain. My bus
journey to meet my partner is irrelevant in my life, but someone's bus
journey to meet their partner in a war torn and terrorist infested city,
would be an achievement of a lifetime.

There is another interpretation we can give to our subject matter.
Earlier I suggested that this theme of journey or destination might be
best dealt with by psychology. My next interpretation of the issue will,
however, certainly put our discussion on a philosophical footing.

When we divide an activity into a component concept of journey and
another into a concept of destination, we are mentally extrapolating two
meanings or understandings from a single causal event. If I'm at home
and I want to meet my partner who is going to be outside the cinema
doors in forty five minutes, I have no choice but to go to bus stop /or
metro station or the car or taxi rank/ and wait for the bus. The bus,
will of course, have to do what buses have to do before I am taken
outside the cinema doors. The choices are very limited to go from home
to the cinema; and there are no worm holes, Scotties, nor flying carpets
to help out. In other words, the journey is causally linked to the front
end of a destination.

It makes no sense, therefore, to speak of journey or destination. It's
either both or nothing. We cannot escape the causal link between our
desire to achieve something and the causal journey that will take us
there over a space-time continuum. The question is whether the journey
and the destination are also causally determined.

Determinism is a big subject including the two opposing arguments of
determined causality and randomness. Earlier I suggested that a system
might be manipulated to achieve a high degree of loyalty by making an
objective in that system difficult to achieve. In fact, this difficulty
might even be part of the system itself without the element of
manipulation.

What this also means and is relevant for us is that a destination might
itself determine the journey we embark on. If I want to qualify as a
lawyer, no amount of specialisation in random walk theory would help me
qualify. Thus, the destination to practice law means that I have to
study law and most probably, until I qualify, have to follow the journey
that others have seen fit I should follow before qualifying.

In reality, maybe, there is no distinction between what we call a
journey and the destination; it's a package deal and we take it or leave
it. On the other hand, we still have to explain why we think we can
choose or want a particular destination? Why do we make this distinction
between journey and destination at all? One way of addressing these
doubts is to refer to what Dawkins pointed out: in the middle world we
live in this is what the world looks like. For a neutrino the world
looks very different. Thus for us, the world looks like there are
journeys and destinations.

However, what we might forget is that although the world around us is
causally determined at our level of existence, we are as much agents of
determined causes as objects of causal determinism. We change the
environment and our environment changes us. Plus of course, the fact
that our future is unknowable.

By definition (metaphor apart) a journey is always towards the future.
Our destination is, so to speak, in the future. If my partner is going
to be outside the cinema doors in forty five minutes time, then that's
an event in the future for our common sense way of thinking.

But there are other types of futures that might be more relevant for us.
The first one is the information domain future. We do not know anything
about the future because we do not have information about it; what
astronomers call the light cone of information. If an event takes place
now, and I do not know anything about it then for me that event is in
the future. And it will stay there until information about the event
reaches me. However, the future is more or less already determined when
it reaches me. It is called a light cone because it was assumed that
information cannot travel faster than the speed of light; today some
people are beginning to doubt that information cannot travel faster than
the speed of light.

How does this apply to us? Take the following example. A company puts an
advert looking for a qualified person in widgets. For someone who is
qualified in widgets this might be a good opportunity. Unfortunately,
the person in charge of employing people in the widgets department has
no intention of employing anyone other than candidates who qualified
from the same institution as they did. Our job seeker did not qualify
from this institution.

In effect, what we might conclude to be as "not knowing" what the future
is like, might be something that has already been determined. Except
that we do not know about it; the light cone has not reached us yet. And
instead of questioning the process of finding a job, we assume that life
is unpredictable or difficult, which it is anyway. We then put a brave
face on the situation, and assume that the journey is more important
than the destination.

There is another type of future that might affect our journey. Earlier I
suggested that getting from a desire to the destination there is a
causal chain of events. A causal chain has to follow a sequence of
events before it reaches the end of the chain. In effect the next
sequence in the chain would be the future. In the process of becoming a
lawyer, the learning process would have to follow a sequence of stages
with each stage leading to the next one. Thus, if one of these links
fails to materialise the chances are that the whole project will
collapse. Most probably the more complex a causal chain is the more
fragile its integrity becomes. Hence, not only are the journey and
destination linked together, but the success of the journey very much
determines the destination.

Which leaves us with a final question; do all journeys have a
destination? We do of course speak of life's journey. Which is usually
linked to such questions as, what is the meaning of life? And why are we
on this Earth? Of course, we now know the answer to these question;
genetic reproduction. These questions are much different from: does our
life have a meaning? Or, how did life start on this Earth?

How did life start is a question many scientists are working on already.
And does our life have a meaning depends very much on what we're doing
with our life. But I agree with you that "what is the meaning of life?"
rolls off the tongue much better than, "does our life have a meaning?"
Which lends credence to Wittgenstein's idea that philosophical problems
are a matter of language. We might not want to go so far, but we also
get Wittgenstein's point.

Maybe all journeys have a destination and by implication the priority is
on the destination. The question then becomes whether a particular
destination is desirable or not or whether a destination is indeed a
real destination and not a puff of smoke. The alternative to a journey
without a destination would just be a nomadic existence. Could it be
that our instinct to prioritize the journey is something left over in us
from when we were actually nomads?

Take care

Lawrence


* http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=70,3517,0,0,1,0
Is Religion a Barrier to Truth?
by Smita Poudel (smita), Ohmynews, Dec 11, 2006


from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The journey or the
destination

Thursday, June 14, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group: PICNIC this Sunday + important news

4 items
Dear friends,
SUNDAY MEETING
This Sunday there won't be a meeting because of the football. We,
therefore, agreeing to organise a sort of evening picnic in Lago meeting
at six pm. These are the details:
Meet at Lago metro 6pm.
Bring drinks and snacks to share.
Enjoy ourselves.
JAMES JOYCE
In the meantime, don't forget the James Joyce event on Saturday at
SHAMROCKS PUB, Paseo Pintor Rosales, no 6, at 5pm.
BEGOÑA
Begoña is looking for someone in LONDON who can offer her daughter (19)
and four other university friends (19-21) accommodation between 26th
June and 6 August. They are going to London on their summer hols. For
more details contact me by phone/email or Begoña at bquintana@sgae.es
BLANCA
Has asked me to forward you this message:
there will be a tango show (three couples) next Sunday 24th of June at
8.00 p.m. Entry will cost 8€ drink included. I can guaranty dancers are
very good as I have seen them many other times, two of them are my
teachers and are from Argetina. For more details contact Blanca
WEISSELUNA@telefonica.net
OLGA
Olga has sent me the photos from Segovia, I'll put them up on the group
album ASAICAN. The url of the album is
http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo. If you have any photos you
would like to share please send them to me. Thanks
See you Saturday
Lawrence
**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar);
http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar
Paloma; Marbella (near Elviria);
http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAYFLAT_Paloma_MarbellaNearElviria
*************************************

+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group: PICNIC this Sunday + important news

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

from Lawrence, Philosophy Group: this SATURDAY commemoration of JAMES JOYCE, Ulysses: MUST go

URGENT – INTERESTING Event
Dear friends,
Ray has invited us to join the Irish ex-pat community this Saturday to
Bloomsday, the official commemoration of James Joyce's Ulysses. He has
also given us a spot of five minutes in the official programme, details
below, to discuss a philosophical aspect of the book.
Laura has already volunteered to participate in the debate, so we need
one more person to form a team; although I think it will be a good idea
to have a few more volunteers as a back-up team. You don't have to be an
expert on the book, but I'm including enough links from the internet
that will make you one by Saturday should you wish to become an expert.
So, if you think you can participate Ray and I should be most grateful
for your efforts. Apart from representing the Philosophy group, this
could be your break in the entertainment biz.
These are the necessary of the event:
DAY: JUNE, 16th SATURDAY.
TIME: from 5pm to 7.30pm
LOCATION: SHAMROCKS PUB, Paseo Pintor Rosales, no 6, Madrid
METRO: Plaza España, Ventura Rodriguez
BUS: 21
The programme and event will be opened by the IRISH Ambassador to Spain.
Apart from the introduction, there will be readings from Ulysses, a
short play, some activities still to be specified, and of course the
philosophy debate. Most of the programme will be in English, but there
are also some items in Spanish. We are assured of an interesting and
entertaining evening and it is worth making the effort to come.
Ray suggested we debate either one of the following sentences, one from
Ulysses and one from a biography on Joyce:
Ulysses: Bosh! Stephen said rudely. A man of genius makes no mistakes.
His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.
From: James Joyce biography by Edna Obrien: The Holy Ghost was in the
ink of his bottle, but the perverse devil was in the hump of his pen.
If you can think of another sentence or theme from the book we can
suggest it to Ray.
Contact details:
My number: 606081813
Ray Smyth, who is organising the event and who will be able to give you
more details about the event and programme: 659 359 388
Shamrocks Pub, who has the spirit necessary for such an occasion, plus
other peripherals and props, e.g. glasses: 91 3393188
Some useful LINKS:
Ulysses (novel): From Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_(novel)
Project Gutenberg: Joyce, James, 1882-1941: Ulysses: This eBook is based
on the pre-1923 print editions. http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/4300 (Not
copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws
of your country before downloading this ebook.)
Cheat's guide to Joyce's Ulysses: By Neil Smith; BBC News Online:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3810193.stm
The Internet Ulysses by James Joyce:
http://www.robotwisdom.com/jaj/ulysses/index.html
James Joyce: From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Joyce
James Joyce by Edna O'Brien: Review by Allen B. Ruch:
http://www.themodernword.com/Joyce/review_obrien.html
See you Saturday,
Lawrence
NB: there is no philosophy meeting this Sunday because of the football.
We are, however, organising an evening bring your own snacks-drinks
picnic at the Casa de Campo, meet 6pm Lago metro. Details later in the week.
**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar);
http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar
Paloma; Marbella (near Elviria);
http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAYFLAT_Paloma_MarbellaNearElviria
*************************************

+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

from Lawrence, Philosophy Group: this SATURDAY commemoration of JAMES
JOYCE, Ulysses: MUST go

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Philosophy, Social Issues, Classical Philosophy, Citizen Philosophy, Applied Philosophy, Non-Political Meeting, Non-Religious Meeting,