PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, July 26, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: please read for news about this Sunday

Dear friends,

As you know, this Sunday we won't be having the tertulia because I am
away. However, it was decided that people will meet at 7pm in Molly
Malone's and then later on go for the usual drink. Have fun.

On the 5th August there WILL be a meeting as usual at six pm. The topic
is: The need for Literature. I just did not have the time this week to
write the essay and it is unlikely that I will write one next week. But
if you believe in unpredictable events I would suggest you look at the
blog just in case by some fluke of nature I will write an essay. The
blog address is:
Philomadrid.blogspot.com

Take care and see you on the 6th.

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

+++++++++++++++++VICTOR – FLAT FOR SALE+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Victor has asked me to forward you details about his brother's flat
which he is trying to sell:

Hi, My brother is selling this nice flat with a nice patio, it is just
12 min from Madrid with no traffic jams. If you contact them, tell them
that Victor sent you:
http://www.fotocasa.es/anuncio-piso-venta/mejorada-del-campo-santa-rosa-det__116936791-1-1-2-724-14-28-168-180-28084-28840.aspx?opi=1&llci=0
Observaciones del anunciante:
Patio/jardín de 35 m2. 3 dormitorios con a/e. Dormitorio principal
forrado en madera. Salón independiente con mueble de pladur y amplia
cristalera. Aparcamiento en la puerta.

Victor
Gracias!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
**********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
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: please read for
news about this Sunday

Thursday, July 19, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The Fear of Randomness + News

NO EMAIL WEEK 29th JULY – 4th AUGUST
Dear friends,
This Sunday we are discussing The Fear of Randomness. Unfortunately, I
have not been able to finish the essay which is a pity because
randomness is one of my favourite subjects. If I do manage to write an
essay I'll send on Saturday. Apologies for this.
On the 29th I will be away so I am not sure now if someone wants to
chair a meeting on this day or just meet for a drink. We'll decide on
Sunday. But THERE be a meeting on the 5th August since I'll be back by
then. If I manage to write an essay for the meeting on the 5th I'll send
it next week.
Check the Blog or the Yahoo Group for the latest email from me:
http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
I'll try and post the photos from Segovia and Cuenca over the weekend.
Please check here: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
Take care and see you Sunday
Lawrence
IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW

+++++++++++++++++VICTOR – FLAT FOR SALE+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Victor has asked me to forward you details about his brother's flat
which he is trying to sell:
Hi, My brother is selling this nice flat with a nice patio, it is just
12 min from Madrid with no traffic jams. If you contact them, tell them
that Victor sent you:
http://www.fotocasa.es/anuncio-piso-venta/mejorada-del-campo-santa-rosa-det__116936791-1-1-2-724-14-28-168-180-28084-28840.aspx?opi=1&llci=0
Observaciones del anunciante:
Patio/jardín de 35 m2. 3 dormitorios con a/e. Dormitorio principal
forrado en madera. Salón independiente con mueble de pladur y amplia
cristalera. Aparcamiento en la puerta.
Victor
Gracias!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
**********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
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The Fear of
Randomness + News

Friday, July 13, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The conflict of Civilisations + Cercedilla Saturday

3 items in this email


Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing, the conflicts of civilizations. I have
included a link in today's essay to the essay I wrote for What is
civilization? Hope you will find the time to the meeting on Sunday.

Item two
This Saturday we are going to the lakes in Cercedilla. We are meeting at
the Moncloa bus station at 9.45am in the bar at the same level as the
metro. I posted this message on Wednesday and you can find it at:
http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/2007/07/from-lawrence-philo-group-saturday-day.html


Item three
Don't forget that Laura is going to the free cinema this evening;
details from this link:
http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/2007/07/from-lawrence-philo-group-saturday-day.html

take care

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

+++++++++++++++++VICTOR – FLAT FOR SALE+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Victor has asked me to forward you details about his brother's flat
which he is trying to sell:

Hi, My brother is selling this nice flat with a nice patio, it is just
12 min from Madrid with no traffic jams. If you contact them, tell them
that Victor sent you:
http://www.fotocasa.es/anuncio-piso-venta/mejorada-del-campo-santa-rosa-det__116936791-1-1-2-724-14-28-168-180-28084-28840.aspx?opi=1&llci=0
Observaciones del anunciante:
Patio/jardín de 35 m2. 3 dormitorios con a/e. Dormitorio principal
forrado en madera. Salón independiente con mueble de pladur y amplia
cristalera. Aparcamiento en la puerta.

Victor
Gracias!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
**********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
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We discussed What is Civilization? In March of this year and you can
find the essay at:

http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/search/label/What%20is%20civilization%3F


(The present essay could do with a second revision)


The conflict of civilizations


Sometimes I am asked about the philosophy group what we do, who we are,
how it was started and many other questions. in my reply I find myself
using expressions such as "I started the group ....," "I wanted to
meet....," we discuss.....," "I enjoy ....." the use of the such words
as the adjective 'my' and 'our' suggests that somehow I owe the group or
that I have some sovereignty or some property rights over those that
come to meeting.


Of course, such language is very common in our day to day life. We use
'my' and 'our' to describe our family, a business or company, and our
friends. Of course, the meaning of possession when we use my in these
contexts is that it must, out of necessity, be a metaphorical meaning. I
have no property rights over those who come to the meeting as much as I
have any property rights over my friends or the people that might be
working for a business if I owed one. this possessive meaning is,
however, very strong because we do have real property rights and a
feeling of possession on material things such as a house, a personal
computer, a car, a pen and so on.


I want to argue that although we, today, recognise, that the use of my
in such expressions as my group and my friends implies metaphorical
possession, this metaphor is not necessarily a natural one. Or at the
very best we can argue that there are biological/evolutionary grounds
for thinking that 'my' does imply physical possession.


In my essay, What is civilization? I identified a civilization with a
living biological system. I also identified a civilization as a group
made up of individuals. The implication of all this is that it is in the
interest of individuals to cooperate in a group, for example, to take
advantage of division of labour. But on a more basic level the
individual must also adopt a strategy to survive, in evolutionary terms
this means to pass on one's genes onto the next generation. And as an
open biological system, the individual must interact with their
environment to exploit it for survival and of course to limit or
mitigate the effect of the environment has on the individual. The group
helps the individual to survive. The cost for the individual is to
cooperate with other members of the group. However, as Dawkins pointed
out (see essay for references) the idea of group survival is false; the
group does not take precedence over the individual in the evolution
scheme of things.


If we accept that the survival of the group is a myth, then how and why
should individuals congregate in groups? At the basic level individuals
with common genetic ancestry have a good reason to be together, at least
for some periods of time; for example, babies with their parents. But as
I have already pointed it also makes sense for individuals to cooperate
in a group. On the other hand, some individuals might be compelled to be
within a group either because they have been enslaved, in the same way
that some ants enslave other ants to serve them. Or because they do not
have enough economic resources to leave the group.


The link between civilization and my introduction about 'my' and 'our'
is that we consciously or unconsciously think of being members of a
civilization and that other people might be members of other
civilization. We can therefore find ourselves of speaking about our
civilization or their civilization, thus bringing once again the idea of
possession in our thinking.


For example we speak of western civilization, Chinese civilization,
Islamic civilization and so on. In the Wikipedia entry on the Clash of
Civilizations by Samuel P. Huntington, there is a list of some of the
more important civilizations in the history of human kind. However, the
more we move in history towards modern times the more we see
civilizations moving away from geographical circumstance to group
identity based on epistemological factors such as religions, political
beliefs and so on. So we have for example, the Mayan civilization based
in the geographical area of Central America, or the Egyptian
civilization based around the Nile River. Today western civilization is
not really based in one geographical area since many part of the world
consider themselves as part of western civilization; Europe, Australia,
Canada, and the USA.


Huntington believes that after the end of the cold war today's conflicts
are clashes along the divisions of civilizations mostly based on
cultural or religious differences. He refers to the conflicts between
India and Pakistan, Chechnya, the ex Yugoslavia and of course the
supposed war on terror based between the west and Islam. One of his
strong positions is basically that the belief of western civilization
that it has discovered the 'universal' values is both naive and probably
leads to antagonism between the west and other civilizations. There are
many objectors to Huntington's position, but I won't be discussing these
replies.


I will focus my discussion on western civilization, and its relationship
with other civilizations. Indeed, today the most visible clash is
between the west and other civilization; sometimes by the west some
people mean the USA. Of course, I am using the word civilization in a
rather loose way since it is not clear that there are civilizations in
the classical model any more, where we find political ideology,
religion, economic policies, and geographical location all in one
package. I would say that the situation today is more groups spread
geographically than geographical location giving rise to civilization.


It is therefore not clear whether we can speak of civilizations any more
or whether we should speak of groups and ideologies. The present
situation in China is an example of a clash between groups rather than
geographical conflict. The rapid economic development in China has meant
that the old economic communist model is being replaced with a
capitalist free market. One of the implications of this transition is
that labour conditions are really bad in China; not that they were ever
rosy in the past. (This is all documented and available on the
internet.) Those who are critical of western civilization, or rather
western economic model, would point out that this system is creating a
divide between rural china, which is as impoverished as ever, and the
new middle classes in the cities.


But the clash is not between the west and Chinese civilization, but
rather between an economic ideology, that by its very nature creates a
wealth divide, and old traditional economic practises that stand no
chance against the new system. Maybe, we can understand this situation,
by looking at the model of infections by viruses and bacteria. A person
that does not have an immune system equipped with antibodies to deal
with a given virus, is more likely to be attacked by that virus than one
that does have antibodies.


No doubt, the free economy model is a very powerful one, and
irrespective of the morality and side effects, it can easily usurp an
existing model, for example the command type of economy found under the
communist system. I would argue that one of the reasons why the free
market economy model is successful is because it exploits the survival
instinct of the individual. In reality, we might even argue that the
free economic model has been the prevailing economic model throughout
civilizations and ages.


Few would disagree that the free economy model creates two groups within
a society, a groups of a few people who control large amounts of wealth
and other people who need a regular income to survive. Wealth usually
equates with power or at the very least influence of power. Thus if
wealth is linked with political or economic power I would suggest that
this is due to the fact that individuals can exploit their environment
more successfully than the rest of the group. Thus those who have
economic wealth probably also have the edge in survival. We mustn't
forget that wealth is relative to one's environment and not some
absolute standard.


What can, therefore, be regarded as conflict of civilization is none
other than members within a group adopting strategies that might be
successful and common within other groups. The china example can be
explained as either the west encroaching on the stability of Chinese
civilization (one of the civilizations identified by Huntington) or some
members of the Chinese community adopting a system that benefits them
more than the old system. Although china has adopted the free market
economy principles (where it suites them) there is no uncontrolled rush
by the same system to adopt other aspect of western civilization, such
as free speech or human rights. It is unlikely that western civilization
is in conflict with the Chinese civilization, on the contrary, the
chances are that the Chinese civilization is cherry picking aspects from
other civilizations. And incidentally, other groups are cherry picking
aspects of the Chinese civilization for their own benefit. As Huntington
points out, those countries around china are less likely to criticise
china or withdraw support because they stand to lose a great deal of
wealth if they did.


When I visited what was Czechoslovakia in the early 1990, about one year
after the Velvet Revolution, some well informed people I spoke to
couldn't help point out the rampant pilfering and stealing of the
country's infrastructure, from railway tracks to industrial cables. The
people I spoke to would say that those who were robbing the country
could not distinguish between making a profit and steal from people.
Some went on so far as to suggest that it was commonly believed that
cheating and stealing from people was indeed the meaning of to make a
profit. I have not been there since, from what people tell me now, it
seems that this mentality has not totally disappeared. This is not
surprising since under the communist system the free economy was
regarded as a method of stealing from others.


The point is that groups are very prone to misunderstand and
misinterpret ideas, ideologies and maybe even actions from outside
groups or worse still, be falsely indoctrinated. Let us take a very
present day case of the war on terror for a better name. I specifically
want to focus on one aspect to illustrate how a conflict of civilization
can easily be nothing more than a misinterpretation of some ideology or
concept. I specifically want to refer to the words jihad and crusade.


You will remember that soon after 9/11, President Bush used the word
crusade in one of his speech when refereeing the need to fight
terrorism. Not surprisingly, there was an up roar in Muslim countries
because in these societies crusade still means a Christian war again
Muslims. As Mr Bernard Lewis* says in an article in the OpinionJournal,
27 September, 2007, that this".....was unfortunate, but excusable. In
Western usage, this word has long since lost its original meaning of "a
war for the cross," but "Yet "crusade" still touches a raw nerve in the
Middle East, where the Crusades are seen and presented as early medieval
precursors of European imperialism..."


Lewis says this about the word jihad, "Some Muslims, particularly in
modern times, have interpreted the duty of jihad in a spiritual and
moral sense. The more common interpretation and that of the overwhelming
majority of the classical jurists and commentators, presents jihad as
armed struggle for Islam against infidels and apostates. Unlike
"crusade," it has retained its religious and military connotation into
modern times."


If the evidence from the relevant regions and societies are any thing to
go by, those conservative members within Islam who stick to the old
interpretation of jihad seem to address their violent wrath against
other fellow Muslims more than they do other groups or civilizations.
Even the present woes in Iraq are none other than a conflict between
disparate local groups. The point is that whatever one's cause or reason
one does not clash with those within the group. Conflict within a group,
I suggest, is evidence that groups are not the priority in biological
systems, but individuals are. Or sub groups within a bigger group, thus
the sub group falling victim of the ingroup bias which is members of a
group give preferential treatment to other members of the group that
those outside the group.


However, this Jihad vs. crusade arguments introduces again the idea that
lack of knowledge about other civilization plays an important part in
relationships between civilizations. Our lack of understanding and
awareness of what other peoples and groups do it would be difficult to
understand their motivation. Let's take once again the issue of child
labour in certain countries, say for example, India or china. When
western countries object to this practise most probably few people that
are directly involved with child labour know that western economies were
built with child labour during the industrial revolution. And those who
do know would use this as evidence to justify what they are doing.
Basically their argument goes something like this: if you did it, then
it is alright for us to do it as well. Those who use this argument miss
the whole point about the west's (certain groups within the west)
objections to such arguments. The point is that we have learnt from our
experience and there is no need for you to pass through the same
hardships as we did.


The conflict of civilization is unlikely to be something that really
exists as an ontological unity. It is more likely that what is really
happening is that groups within societies and nation states asserting
their interest over other groups either within their own society or
other societies. Each trying to advance their 'cause' if and when the
opportunity arises. We mustn't forget that for every successful business
person in china there are probably millions who are still living under
oppressive and abject conditions. And for every self proclaimed defender
of Islam who blows up a bomb on a bus in London there are millions of
other Muslims who are law abiding citizens within the so called western
countries. The idea that there is a clash between Islam and the west or
that the free market economy is displacing the Chinese system is of
course without any basis. Except of course that it makes senses for some
to use this language especially if they have a lot to lose.


The question that ought to concern us is whether there is an objective
test that can be used to establish if an activity or idea can be
introduced legitimately into another group or civilization. The first
thing that comes to mind about this test is what are we testing for? Are
we testing whether the new idea conflicts with the present practises or
something else? In my opinion, we should test for the individual in
other words, how does the new idea affect the individual? This is not a
question of whether the individual is better off, but whether the
individual is free to develop his or her personal identity. Of course,
such a question makes sense in a philosophy essay; an accountant would
probably want to know the state of one's bank account and not one's
personal identity. Hence, a philosophical test does not imply being
better off financially or any other way.


Another issue such a test would introduce would be that everyone who is
concerned with test would accept the legitimacy and the credentials of
the test. One test could very well be what I will call the medical test.
This is what I mean. We all accept that medical treatment is generally
aimed at the individual; although medicine makes full use of statistics,
at the end it is the individual who receives medical treatment.
Incidentally, this is also evidence in favour of considering the
individual and not the group, or rather the group ought to be considered
through the individual. The test would be this: if we had a medical
treatment B that was better than treatment A, would we be justified to
offer someone treatment A if they held radically different values than
us? to put this in a more real life context, if we had to aid a group of
patients in china, India, Iraq or whatever country that might be
regarded as members of a different civilization from our own, would we
be justified in supplying twenty or thirty year old medical technology?
(We probably do, but that does not affect the philosophical test.)


The answer is, of course, that we would never be justified to offer
anyone twenty or thirty year old medical technology that is not as
effective as present day technology. In other words, medical technology
ought to transcend civilizations or cultural norms. Why then should we
make allowances with such other things as human rights, free speech,
political representation, impartial legal system, freedom of association
and so on? To conclude, we should not mix up oppressive political
systems or bad religion with norms that form part of a civilization.


Take care


Lawrence
15 July 2007

Bernard Lewis
Jihad vs. Crusade
A historian's guide to the new war.
BY BERNARD LEWIS
Thursday, September 27, 2001 12:02 a.m. EDT
http://opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=95001224

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The conflict of
Civilisations + Cercedilla Saturday

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The conflict of Civilisations + Cercedilla Saturday

3 items in this email


Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing, the conflicts of civilizations. I have
included a link in today's essay to the essay I wrote for What is
civilization? Hope you will find the time to the meeting on Sunday.

Item two
This Saturday we are going to the lakes in Cercedilla. We are meeting at
the Moncloa bus station at 9.45am in the bar at the same level as the
metro. I posted this message on Wednesday and you can find it at:
http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/2007/07/from-lawrence-philo-group-saturday-day.html


Item three
Don't forget that Laura is going to the free cinema this evening;
details from this link:
http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/2007/07/from-lawrence-philo-group-saturday-day.html

take care

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

+++++++++++++++++VICTOR – FLAT FOR SALE+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Victor has asked me to forward you details about his brother's flat
which he is trying to sell:

Hi, My brother is selling this nice flat with a nice patio, it is just
12 min from Madrid with no traffic jams. If you contact them, tell them
that Victor sent you:
http://www.fotocasa.es/anuncio-piso-venta/mejorada-del-campo-santa-rosa-det__116936791-1-1-2-724-14-28-168-180-28084-28840.aspx?opi=1&llci=0
Observaciones del anunciante:
Patio/jardín de 35 m2. 3 dormitorios con a/e. Dormitorio principal
forrado en madera. Salón independiente con mueble de pladur y amplia
cristalera. Aparcamiento en la puerta.

Victor
Gracias!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
**********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
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We discussed What is Civilization? In March of this year and you can
find the essay at:

http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/search/label/What%20is%20civilization%3F


(The present essay could do with a second revision)


The conflict of civilizations


Sometimes I am asked about the philosophy group what we do, who we are,
how it was started and many other questions. in my reply I find myself
using expressions such as "I started the group ....," "I wanted to
meet....," we discuss.....," "I enjoy ....." the use of the such words
as the adjective 'my' and 'our' suggests that somehow I owe the group or
that I have some sovereignty or some property rights over those that
come to meeting.


Of course, such language is very common in our day to day life. We use
'my' and 'our' to describe our family, a business or company, and our
friends. Of course, the meaning of possession when we use my in these
contexts is that it must, out of necessity, be a metaphorical meaning. I
have no property rights over those who come to the meeting as much as I
have any property rights over my friends or the people that might be
working for a business if I owed one. this possessive meaning is,
however, very strong because we do have real property rights and a
feeling of possession on material things such as a house, a personal
computer, a car, a pen and so on.


I want to argue that although we, today, recognise, that the use of my
in such expressions as my group and my friends implies metaphorical
possession, this metaphor is not necessarily a natural one. Or at the
very best we can argue that there are biological/evolutionary grounds
for thinking that 'my' does imply physical possession.


In my essay, What is civilization? I identified a civilization with a
living biological system. I also identified a civilization as a group
made up of individuals. The implication of all this is that it is in the
interest of individuals to cooperate in a group, for example, to take
advantage of division of labour. But on a more basic level the
individual must also adopt a strategy to survive, in evolutionary terms
this means to pass on one's genes onto the next generation. And as an
open biological system, the individual must interact with their
environment to exploit it for survival and of course to limit or
mitigate the effect of the environment has on the individual. The group
helps the individual to survive. The cost for the individual is to
cooperate with other members of the group. However, as Dawkins pointed
out (see essay for references) the idea of group survival is false; the
group does not take precedence over the individual in the evolution
scheme of things.


If we accept that the survival of the group is a myth, then how and why
should individuals congregate in groups? At the basic level individuals
with common genetic ancestry have a good reason to be together, at least
for some periods of time; for example, babies with their parents. But as
I have already pointed it also makes sense for individuals to cooperate
in a group. On the other hand, some individuals might be compelled to be
within a group either because they have been enslaved, in the same way
that some ants enslave other ants to serve them. Or because they do not
have enough economic resources to leave the group.


The link between civilization and my introduction about 'my' and 'our'
is that we consciously or unconsciously think of being members of a
civilization and that other people might be members of other
civilization. We can therefore find ourselves of speaking about our
civilization or their civilization, thus bringing once again the idea of
possession in our thinking.


For example we speak of western civilization, Chinese civilization,
Islamic civilization and so on. In the Wikipedia entry on the Clash of
Civilizations by Samuel P. Huntington, there is a list of some of the
more important civilizations in the history of human kind. However, the
more we move in history towards modern times the more we see
civilizations moving away from geographical circumstance to group
identity based on epistemological factors such as religions, political
beliefs and so on. So we have for example, the Mayan civilization based
in the geographical area of Central America, or the Egyptian
civilization based around the Nile River. Today western civilization is
not really based in one geographical area since many part of the world
consider themselves as part of western civilization; Europe, Australia,
Canada, and the USA.


Huntington believes that after the end of the cold war today's conflicts
are clashes along the divisions of civilizations mostly based on
cultural or religious differences. He refers to the conflicts between
India and Pakistan, Chechnya, the ex Yugoslavia and of course the
supposed war on terror based between the west and Islam. One of his
strong positions is basically that the belief of western civilization
that it has discovered the 'universal' values is both naive and probably
leads to antagonism between the west and other civilizations. There are
many objectors to Huntington's position, but I won't be discussing these
replies.


I will focus my discussion on western civilization, and its relationship
with other civilizations. Indeed, today the most visible clash is
between the west and other civilization; sometimes by the west some
people mean the USA. Of course, I am using the word civilization in a
rather loose way since it is not clear that there are civilizations in
the classical model any more, where we find political ideology,
religion, economic policies, and geographical location all in one
package. I would say that the situation today is more groups spread
geographically than geographical location giving rise to civilization.


It is therefore not clear whether we can speak of civilizations any more
or whether we should speak of groups and ideologies. The present
situation in China is an example of a clash between groups rather than
geographical conflict. The rapid economic development in China has meant
that the old economic communist model is being replaced with a
capitalist free market. One of the implications of this transition is
that labour conditions are really bad in China; not that they were ever
rosy in the past. (This is all documented and available on the
internet.) Those who are critical of western civilization, or rather
western economic model, would point out that this system is creating a
divide between rural china, which is as impoverished as ever, and the
new middle classes in the cities.


But the clash is not between the west and Chinese civilization, but
rather between an economic ideology, that by its very nature creates a
wealth divide, and old traditional economic practises that stand no
chance against the new system. Maybe, we can understand this situation,
by looking at the model of infections by viruses and bacteria. A person
that does not have an immune system equipped with antibodies to deal
with a given virus, is more likely to be attacked by that virus than one
that does have antibodies.


No doubt, the free economy model is a very powerful one, and
irrespective of the morality and side effects, it can easily usurp an
existing model, for example the command type of economy found under the
communist system. I would argue that one of the reasons why the free
market economy model is successful is because it exploits the survival
instinct of the individual. In reality, we might even argue that the
free economic model has been the prevailing economic model throughout
civilizations and ages.


Few would disagree that the free economy model creates two groups within
a society, a groups of a few people who control large amounts of wealth
and other people who need a regular income to survive. Wealth usually
equates with power or at the very least influence of power. Thus if
wealth is linked with political or economic power I would suggest that
this is due to the fact that individuals can exploit their environment
more successfully than the rest of the group. Thus those who have
economic wealth probably also have the edge in survival. We mustn't
forget that wealth is relative to one's environment and not some
absolute standard.


What can, therefore, be regarded as conflict of civilization is none
other than members within a group adopting strategies that might be
successful and common within other groups. The china example can be
explained as either the west encroaching on the stability of Chinese
civilization (one of the civilizations identified by Huntington) or some
members of the Chinese community adopting a system that benefits them
more than the old system. Although china has adopted the free market
economy principles (where it suites them) there is no uncontrolled rush
by the same system to adopt other aspect of western civilization, such
as free speech or human rights. It is unlikely that western civilization
is in conflict with the Chinese civilization, on the contrary, the
chances are that the Chinese civilization is cherry picking aspects from
other civilizations. And incidentally, other groups are cherry picking
aspects of the Chinese civilization for their own benefit. As Huntington
points out, those countries around china are less likely to criticise
china or withdraw support because they stand to lose a great deal of
wealth if they did.


When I visited what was Czechoslovakia in the early 1990, about one year
after the Velvet Revolution, some well informed people I spoke to
couldn't help point out the rampant pilfering and stealing of the
country's infrastructure, from railway tracks to industrial cables. The
people I spoke to would say that those who were robbing the country
could not distinguish between making a profit and steal from people.
Some went on so far as to suggest that it was commonly believed that
cheating and stealing from people was indeed the meaning of to make a
profit. I have not been there since, from what people tell me now, it
seems that this mentality has not totally disappeared. This is not
surprising since under the communist system the free economy was
regarded as a method of stealing from others.


The point is that groups are very prone to misunderstand and
misinterpret ideas, ideologies and maybe even actions from outside
groups or worse still, be falsely indoctrinated. Let us take a very
present day case of the war on terror for a better name. I specifically
want to focus on one aspect to illustrate how a conflict of civilization
can easily be nothing more than a misinterpretation of some ideology or
concept. I specifically want to refer to the words jihad and crusade.


You will remember that soon after 9/11, President Bush used the word
crusade in one of his speech when refereeing the need to fight
terrorism. Not surprisingly, there was an up roar in Muslim countries
because in these societies crusade still means a Christian war again
Muslims. As Mr Bernard Lewis* says in an article in the OpinionJournal,
27 September, 2007, that this".....was unfortunate, but excusable. In
Western usage, this word has long since lost its original meaning of "a
war for the cross," but "Yet "crusade" still touches a raw nerve in the
Middle East, where the Crusades are seen and presented as early medieval
precursors of European imperialism..."


Lewis says this about the word jihad, "Some Muslims, particularly in
modern times, have interpreted the duty of jihad in a spiritual and
moral sense. The more common interpretation and that of the overwhelming
majority of the classical jurists and commentators, presents jihad as
armed struggle for Islam against infidels and apostates. Unlike
"crusade," it has retained its religious and military connotation into
modern times."


If the evidence from the relevant regions and societies are any thing to
go by, those conservative members within Islam who stick to the old
interpretation of jihad seem to address their violent wrath against
other fellow Muslims more than they do other groups or civilizations.
Even the present woes in Iraq are none other than a conflict between
disparate local groups. The point is that whatever one's cause or reason
one does not clash with those within the group. Conflict within a group,
I suggest, is evidence that groups are not the priority in biological
systems, but individuals are. Or sub groups within a bigger group, thus
the sub group falling victim of the ingroup bias which is members of a
group give preferential treatment to other members of the group that
those outside the group.


However, this Jihad vs. crusade arguments introduces again the idea that
lack of knowledge about other civilization plays an important part in
relationships between civilizations. Our lack of understanding and
awareness of what other peoples and groups do it would be difficult to
understand their motivation. Let's take once again the issue of child
labour in certain countries, say for example, India or china. When
western countries object to this practise most probably few people that
are directly involved with child labour know that western economies were
built with child labour during the industrial revolution. And those who
do know would use this as evidence to justify what they are doing.
Basically their argument goes something like this: if you did it, then
it is alright for us to do it as well. Those who use this argument miss
the whole point about the west's (certain groups within the west)
objections to such arguments. The point is that we have learnt from our
experience and there is no need for you to pass through the same
hardships as we did.


The conflict of civilization is unlikely to be something that really
exists as an ontological unity. It is more likely that what is really
happening is that groups within societies and nation states asserting
their interest over other groups either within their own society or
other societies. Each trying to advance their 'cause' if and when the
opportunity arises. We mustn't forget that for every successful business
person in china there are probably millions who are still living under
oppressive and abject conditions. And for every self proclaimed defender
of Islam who blows up a bomb on a bus in London there are millions of
other Muslims who are law abiding citizens within the so called western
countries. The idea that there is a clash between Islam and the west or
that the free market economy is displacing the Chinese system is of
course without any basis. Except of course that it makes senses for some
to use this language especially if they have a lot to lose.


The question that ought to concern us is whether there is an objective
test that can be used to establish if an activity or idea can be
introduced legitimately into another group or civilization. The first
thing that comes to mind about this test is what are we testing for? Are
we testing whether the new idea conflicts with the present practises or
something else? In my opinion, we should test for the individual in
other words, how does the new idea affect the individual? This is not a
question of whether the individual is better off, but whether the
individual is free to develop his or her personal identity. Of course,
such a question makes sense in a philosophy essay; an accountant would
probably want to know the state of one's bank account and not one's
personal identity. Hence, a philosophical test does not imply being
better off financially or any other way.


Another issue such a test would introduce would be that everyone who is
concerned with test would accept the legitimacy and the credentials of
the test. One test could very well be what I will call the medical test.
This is what I mean. We all accept that medical treatment is generally
aimed at the individual; although medicine makes full use of statistics,
at the end it is the individual who receives medical treatment.
Incidentally, this is also evidence in favour of considering the
individual and not the group, or rather the group ought to be considered
through the individual. The test would be this: if we had a medical
treatment B that was better than treatment A, would we be justified to
offer someone treatment A if they held radically different values than
us? to put this in a more real life context, if we had to aid a group of
patients in china, India, Iraq or whatever country that might be
regarded as members of a different civilization from our own, would we
be justified in supplying twenty or thirty year old medical technology?
(We probably do, but that does not affect the philosophical test.)


The answer is, of course, that we would never be justified to offer
anyone twenty or thirty year old medical technology that is not as
effective as present day technology. In other words, medical technology
ought to transcend civilizations or cultural norms. Why then should we
make allowances with such other things as human rights, free speech,
political representation, impartial legal system, freedom of association
and so on? To conclude, we should not mix up oppressive political
systems or bad religion with norms that form part of a civilization.


Take care


Lawrence
15 July 2007

Bernard Lewis
Jihad vs. Crusade
A historian's guide to the new war.
BY BERNARD LEWIS
Thursday, September 27, 2001 12:02 a.m. EDT
http://opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=95001224

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The conflict of
Civilisations + Cercedilla Saturday

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

from Lawrence, Philo Group: SATURDAY day-trip Lakes in Cercedilla + FRIDAY Free cinema with Laura

Two and a half items in this email
Dear friends,
This Saturday we are going to the lakes in Cercedilla for a picnic and a
swim for those who are brave enough to go in the water. The idea is to
enjoy the countryside, the cool air of the mountains and the recently
melted snow in the river and lakes. Should be a nice day. We won't be
doing any walking but there is a rather longish walk from the town
centre to the river.
This is why we agreed to meet in MONCLOA CAMBIADOR bus station at
approx. 9.45am because the bus takes us to the town centre which is half
way to the rive (compared with the train station). I don't know (and
everyone else) the bus timetable for Cercedilla but we are hoping that
there is a bus at ten.
Please bring a picnic with you but the shops should be open when we
arrive there. Swimming trunks, swimsuits, bikinis, monkinis or no kinis
at all are optional.

Item 2
Laura is going to an open air cinema this Friday which is free to the
public. Time 22.30pm location Paseo de la Castellana, 46. This is the
blurb on the event:
El próximo viernes, 13 de julio, a las 22h30, voy a ir al cine de
verano, al aire libre, gratis. ¿queréis acompañarme? Mi número es 691057957.
Es la nueva iniciativa conjunta de la Oficina del Parlamento Europeo en
España y de la Representación en España de la Comisión Europea. Se trata
de la proyección de seis películas europeas al aire libre y gratuitas,
en el Paseo de la Castellana, 46, donde se desplegará una pantalla
gigante e hinchable de 14x7 metros, con un equipo de sonido de 12.000
watios.
El objetivo de esta iniciativa, que se realiza en colaboración con el
Ayuntamiento de Madrid, es difundir el cine europeo entre los españoles,
por lo que se han seleccionado seis películas de Alemania, Francia,
Italia, Rumanía y España.
La proyección de la última película coincidirá con la celebración en
Madrid de "La noche en blanco", una propuesta cultural que se celebrará
el 22 de septiembre en varias ciudades europeas y que permitirá el
desarrollo de una extensa y variada agenda con diversas disciplinas
artísticas ligadas prioritariamente a la creación contemporánea.
A continuación se especifican las fechas y las películas que serán
proyectadas:
- Viernes 6 de julio: "La vida de los otros" (Alemania)
- Viernes 13 de julio: "Los chicos del coro" (Francia)
- Viernes 20 de julio: "Un franco, 14 pesetas" (España)
- Viernes 27 de julio: "Manuale d'amore" (Italia)
- Viernes 3 de agosto: "12:08. Al este de Bucarest" (Rumanía)
- Sábado 22 de septiembre: "Una casa de locos" (España-Francia)

Half ítem:
This Sunday's topic is: The conflicto of civilizations. Essay hopefully
by Friday.
See you Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday
Lawrence
IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW

+++++++++++++++++VICTOR – FLAT FOR SALE+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Victor has asked me to forward you details about his brother's flat
which he is trying to sell:
Hi, My brother is selling this nice flat with a nice patio, it is just
12 min from Madrid with no traffic jams. If you contact them, tell them
that Victor sent you:
http://www.fotocasa.es/anuncio-piso-venta/mejorada-del-campo-santa-rosa-det__116936791-1-1-2-724-14-28-168-180-28084-28840.aspx?opi=1&llci=0
Observaciones del anunciante:
Patio/jardín de 35 m2. 3 dormitorios con a/e. Dormitorio principal
forrado en madera. Salón independiente con mueble de pladur y amplia
cristalera. Aparcamiento en la puerta.
Victor
Gracias!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
**********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, Philo Group: SATURDAY day-trip Lakes in Cercedilla +
FRIDAY Free cinema with Laura

Thursday, July 05, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Is freedom an Illusion? + Cuenca

Dear friends,


Raquel has told me that on Wednesday evening there were many, many
(400+) trying to buy tickets from Atocha regional ticket office. It
might therefore be a good idea to get your Cuenca ticket form an other
station, the internet or an travel agency. If anyone knows which
platform the train leaves from please let me know. Thanks.


ITEM ONE
The Cuenca day trip this Saturday, 7 July, is on and we agreed to meet
at 8.30am in Atocha renfe station near the platform. Unfortunately, I
don't know which platform that will be, but it is NOT the Cercanias
part of the station, more the AVE and regional service part of the
station. I will try and find out which platform by Friday, but cannot
promise.

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

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

We also though that a picnic would be the best option since there are a
lot of things to do and see; including the PhotoEspaña Exhibitons and
the Modern art museum.


This Sunday we are talking about, is freedom an illusion? Hope you will
have time to join us.


Don't forget the various messages from our friends.

See you Saturday and Sunday


Take care

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

+++++++++++++++++VICTOR – FLAT FOR SALE+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Victor has asked me to forward you details about his brother's flat
which he is trying to sell:

Hi, My brother is selling this nice flat with a nice patio, it is just
12 min from Madrid with no traffic jams. If you contact them, tell them
that Victor sent you:
http://www.fotocasa.es/anuncio-piso-venta/mejorada-del-campo-santa-rosa-det__116936791-1-1-2-724-14-28-168-180-28084-28840.aspx?opi=1&llci=0
Observaciones del anunciante:
Patio/jardín de 35 m2. 3 dormitorios con a/e. Dormitorio principal
forrado en madera. Salón independiente con mueble de pladur y amplia
cristalera. Aparcamiento en la puerta.

Victor
Gracias!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

**********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
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Is freedom an illusion?


In everyday life we speak of freedom in many contexts. One very strong
impression we have of freedom is a sort of metaphysical freedom.


For example, we look at a tree and see that it is attached to the
ground, immobile and fixed. We look at out pet gerbil and realize how
limited and limiting its life must be. We consider our opportunities to
go shopping and buy what we want practically when we want it. Choose
from a menu our favorite dish, go on holiday to our favorite
destination, and if push comes to shove we also feel free to change jobs
if things become uncomfortable. And then there is the collective
impression that we dominate and control the world and its contents;
excluding us of course.


Needless to say that this state of affairs can give a sense of
confidence that can lead to such claims as we are free to choose or
conduct our life as we want.


This sense of freedom is different from what I shall call a sense of
psychological freedoms. That is, attitudes or mental dispositions that
are not constrained or restrained by inhibitions, emotional
restrictions, negative character traits or disruptive personality to
mention a few possibilities. Thus, suffering from a phobia might hinder
what we are able to do or having a difficult personality might limit our
social, if not professional, prospects.


In politics and social interaction we have such ideas as freedom of
speech and freedom of movement, free elections, free and independent
judiciary, freedom of association, and so on. The idea here is that
authority and those in power have no right over us other than what has
been enacted by a freely elected government following some sort of
constitutional constraints. This is probably one of the most important
freedoms we enjoy, but maybe do not appreciate as much as we ought to.
Not only do we seem to take these freedoms for granted, but we are very
reluctant to help others to obtain such freedoms.


One freedom worth mentioning and which is certainly a freedom we give a
high priority is economic freedom. by economic freedom I do not only
mean freedom to start or conduct a business, but freedom to earn a
living pursuing a career of our choice and of course freedom to spend
our money how and on what we wish. We usually associate this freedom
with the fact that our income is limited to our needs and that certain
goods and services are priced beyond our means.


I would say that one of our strongest justifications for economic
freedom is the fact that we can do some things we want. If I have the
money and want to buy a certain cereal from the shops I might feel
myself justified in thinking that I am economically free to buy that
particular brand of cereal which I want. If we can do something we want
then, surely, we are free?


To answer this question I would argue that a lot depends on what we mean
by freedom for what we want. And what we mean by illusion, about what we
can do, instead of what we perceive we can potentially do.


If we measure freedom by what we want, then surely each individual would
want different things, thus what I want might not be what you want. If
we all get what we want, does that make us collectively free? I mean,
can we extrapolate objectivity, we are free, from subjective criteria, I
am free? We usually do, but are we justified?


We might of course judge what a person wants by asking them what they
want and see what they get. Thus we could use this as evidence for the
proposition; getting what you want is evidence for freedom.
Unfortunately, there is a "but." With some people what they say they
want, and get, does not necessarily reflect what their first choice is,
but maybe what they are getting is a compromise or worse. For example,
some might want a snack or some nuts without salt, additives or fancy
flavor, but all they could find is something without the fancy flavor.
So, if they decide to buy a packet of crisps with an advertised low fat
content can we say that they got what they wanted?


And what about those who do not really know what they want but they go
ahead and buy things just because they have the money. Does this count
as evidence for freedom? Does economic freedom amount to much in a
debate on freedom?


Let me qualify this question immediately. Wanting to buy a loaf of bread
or a color TV and they are not in the shops because of some government
policy /or monopoly policy/ is of course a restriction of freedom. But
does having the money to buy something sufficient condition to have
economic freedom?


Some people would answer yes, and on purely economic ground, surely the
answer must be yes. But having money is not necessarily enough to
qualify for freedom. For some people having money might imply a life
style very similar to their peers. Thus, implying a certain peer
pressure to adopt a certain life style. For example, being a member of a
golf club, going to "exotic" holidays and so on. Barry Schwartz writing
for New York Times Magazine, points out that middle class Americans do
not like it when neighbours buy the same thing they do. This takes away
the uniqueness of their purchase. But working class people approve when
a neighbour buys the same thing because they see this as a sign that
they made the right choice. On the other hand, what Schwartz has to
consider is that big ticket items, for example top tier sports cars
worth three quarters of a million Euros, can only be afforded by a
selected few. By implication they belong to an exclusive peer group.


Does wanting something because of peer pressure qualify as evidence of
freedom? Of course peer pressure need not only be for goods and service
but could be for anything. There is always the example of someone who
buys a sports car because their colleagues at work bought a sports car.
But what about academic peer pressure to support one theory or writer
and not another. Or a political party because others are supporting the
party.


The relevance of peer pressure cannot be dismissed that easily. Two
informal fallacies given in the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy
(1999) are the argument from the consensus of the nations and appeal to
popular sentiment. I am of course assuming that these two fallacies can
be interpreted as valid for peer pressure. The consensus of nations
argument appeals to mankind as a justification for an argument. If we
all think that we are free then surely we are free. In real life,
surveys are only done amongst a few dozen people. Even Schwartz accepts
that he only has real access to white Americans when carrying out his
research (New York Magazine). Appeal to popular sentiment has also been
described as 'mob appeal.' In a way nations are peers as much as mob
members are peers amongst themselves. Of course, I am not suggesting
that mobs and nations are the same.


But peer influence also seems to be included in a list of cognitive
biases /wikipedia;list of cognitive biases/. This list identifies an
ingroup bias which is a bias to give preferential treatment to others
who are perceived to be members of one's own group. I interpret this to
mean that if our group thinks that we are free then we must be free.


I want to use peer pressure as an important factor in this discussion on
freedom mainly to move away from the traditional argument of determinism
and randomness. And also to introduce the idea that we are as
determining causes as any other agent. Thus to further show how
important peer pressure can be consider this quotation by Max Plank, "a
new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and
making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually
die, and new generation grows up that is familiar with it." (Max Plank,
Scientific Autobiography and other papers, 1949: see Thomas Kuhn below).
In other words, it is difficult to change the mind set of an ingroup.


I would say that peer pressure, as another limiting factor for freedom
can be applied to any social grouping. Of course the influence and
effect of peer pressure does not affect everyone the same. As I have
tried to show, this is an anomaly between the individual sense of
freedom and extrapolating group freedom from that. Intuitively we can
see this deterministic link, but maybe it will be hard to measure it.


We also have to consider freedom from the epistemological point of view;
illusion refers to our state of knowledge. Of course, the
epistemological factor might even be more important than the metaphysics
of freedom.


The ingroup bias might have as its basis the belief that members of my
group are much better than outsiders. We can read as much in Plank's
quote. Of course, why our group should be better than others need not be
based on objective criteria or facts but simply bias. For example, we
might have invested a lot of time and effort in the group and would hate
to discover it was all a waste of time.


So why should freedom be an illusion and how do we arrive at thinking
freedom is just what we commonly think it is? We must first distinguish
between our belief in freedom as a working hypothesis and our belief in
freedom as a matter of fact.


Our belief in freedom as a working hypothesis is of course more
interesting. When you consider this strategy it is quite an ingenious
thing to do. There are many times in our life when we assume that
something might be the case so that we can take a certain course of
action. One example that comes immediately to mind is approaching a
prospective partner. Some people have to assume that their prospective
future partner would be interested in them before introducing
themselves. And most probably behaved as if they were interested in
them. An independent confirmation of interest before the first meeting
might never be received.


Christopher Columbus assumed that the world was round which was very
much contrary to received wisdom at the time. And Achilles assumed that
he could reach the other side of the stadium despite Zeno's convincing
argument to the contrary. Maybe we adopt this strategy more often than
we care to admit or we're intentionally aware of?


In fact isn't this what we do when we talk about the future? When we fix
a day trip to the countryside during the weekend, we do this on the
assumption that we're still going to be alive, that the weather would be
fine, that the trains will work and so on. Of course, in reality there
is no future.


Illusion and our future have this in common; both are epistemological
states which do not represent reality. In the one case there is no
reality and in the other, our perception is very much different from the
facts on the ground.


There are many ways we can arrive to the false belief that we are free.
Freedom as an illusion can be the result of many different processes.


Sense perception in particular and perception in general have always
been a source of philosophical problems. consider what Russell has to
say,'' ....Here we have already the beginning of one of the distinctions
that cause most trouble in philosophy--the distinction between
'appearance' and 'reality', between what things seem to be and what they
are. '' /the problems of philosophy; Guttenberg project/


One of the simplest forms of illusion, is what I will call, for a better
expression, being caught day dreaming. This is a sort of state were we
lack any sense of self-awareness and what is happening around us. It's
like receiving sense perception without analyzing what we are
perceiving. At the very best we might be victims, for example, of "the
availability heuristic bias." a tendency to predict something by
focusing on the salient or emotionally charged outcome. Or, at the very
worst scenario, we behave like a billiard ball which preoccupied
philosophers for many centuries. In the one case we react to emotions
and on the other we allow ourselves to be pushed around.


We call follow this by referring to sense perceptions or perceptions but
maybe we are unable to convert this data into meaningful information.
For example, we might have a pain in a part of our body associated with
certain symptoms but we cannot convert this data into a medical
diagnoses. We might even go a long to way to convert this data into
meaningful information but draw the wrong conclusion. Instead of
visiting our GP we consult our astrologer.


The availability heuristic bias can be interpreted, up to a point, as
taking things at face value. Either reacting to emotions or taking into
consideration what is obvious can mean that we might exclude factors
that are relevant to our debate but not immediately obvious. Earlier I
pointed out the discrepancy between the individual having a sense of
freedom and collectively being free. Taking things at face value can
have a bearing on this issue.


If we feel free because we can afford something there is the chance of
failing to consider factors that might give us a different opinion. For
example, never mind slave labour, but how many people had to endure a
nasty boss or horrible working conditions who were involved in the
process of bring us what we bought? Or maybe, had to work unsocial hours
or take pay restraints or damage the eco system and so forth. The point
is that the product we purchase is only the front end of a very long and
complex process. Some where along that process some people might have
had to give up their freedom more than they ought to have done or just
exploited.


Barry Schwartz is the authority on choice. His paradox of choice can
help us explain my earlier question whether having money to buy
something equated to freedom? Plus many more things about freedom and
illusion in general.


Schwartz's idea is simple."Although some choice is undoubtedly better
than none, more is not always better than less.'' (in Scientific
American see below) The belief is that the more choice we have the freer
we are. The paradox of choice challenges and rejects this myth.


So, having one hundred different cereal options at the supermarket does
not mean that we have more freedom. But the problem is more serious than
that. There is the epistemological aspect as well.


Schwartz introduces the two types of freedoms which Roosevelt and Berlin
made; freedom to and freedom from. In a nut shell /you have to read the
papers to understand the scientific reasoning behind this/ the
conclusion is that middle and upper class people /in America/ equate
freedom with more choice; i.e. freedom to do. While the lower classes
equate freedom from fear and instability. And as Schwartz points out the
upper and middle classes in America can easily be equated with people
who have a college background /university degree/. Of course, I am not
going to discus class issues or university culture in America. For
example, I remember reading reports that having a fist degree in America
today is not enough to guarantee an average income. But that is not of
interest for us here. Nor am I interested in the fact that the upper
classes are depressed and unhappy.


I am only interested in one aspect of Schwartz's study; the link between
knowledge, university degree, and perception of freedom. Those who have
more knowledge /information/ equate their freedom to do things. Buy more
goods, buy better goods, buy goads with features they want and so on.
Doesn't this remind us of the model put forward by biological systems
theorists who suggest that we are an open system which requires
information to function? I have repeated myself many times in these
essays that as an open system we have to interact with our environment
to survive. (try Google; biological open systems).


In the end Schwartz does not see great advantage in having more choices
than what is necessary even for those with above average knowledge. In
fact, when you read Schwartz one idea that keeps coming to mind is
'information overload' except that I have not seen this word used in the
articles. Thus, we might go for freedom, because it is an easy option,
but overlook many other complex issues.


Schwartz mainly applies his theory to consumer goods. But I am sure that
some of his ideas can apply to other aspects of society. Maybe in
politics when politicians and parties overburden themselves and us with
all sorts of policies; from fighting terrorism to making jam sandwiches.
Maybe the choice of partner.


I have tried to show that it is very possible that freedom is an
illusion. But since illusion is part of our epistemological capacity the
question we now have to ask ourselves are; can this illusion be used to
take advantage of us? Who is taking advantage of this illusion? And how
are they doing it?

Take care

Lawrence


Bernard Russell
The Problems of Philosophy
http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/5827

Thomss Kuhn
The Structure of Scientific Revolution
3rd Edition
(Plank's quote on page 151)

Is freedom just another word for many things to buy?
New York Times Magazine, February 26, 2006.
(Barry Schwartz With Hazel Rose Markus and Alana Conner Snibbe).
http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/Schwartz,%20Markus,%20Snibbe.pdf

The tyranny of choice.
Scientific American, April, 2004, 71-75.
Barry Schwartz
http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/Sci.Amer.pdf

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Is freedom an
Illusion? + Cuenca

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, this SATURDAY: Cuenca day trip + Victor’s bros. Flat for sale

Two and a half items in this email

Dear friends,
ITEM ONE
The Cuenca day trip this Saturday, 7 July, is on and we agreed to meet
at 8.30am in Atocha renfe station near the platform. Unfortunately, I
don't know which platform that will be, but it is NOT the Cercanias
part of the station, more the AVE and regional service part of the
station. I will try and find out which platform by Friday, but cannot
promise.
TRAIN:
Madrid – Cuenca
leaves Madrid 8.50am arrives 11.16am price Euros 10.25 one way Euros
20.50, probably return.
Cuenca – Madrid
Last train leaves Cuenca 18:55 arrives 21:26. There is an earlier train
at 16.20pm
We also though that a picnic would be the best option since there are a
lot of things to do and see; including the PhotoEspaña Exhibitons and
the Modern art museum.

ITEM TWO:
Victor has asked me to forward you details about his brother's flat
which he is trying to sell:
Hi, My brother is selling this nice flat with a nice patio, it is just
12 min from Madrid with no traffic jams. If you contact them, tell them
that Victor sent you:
http://www.fotocasa.es/anuncio-piso-venta/mejorada-del-campo-santa-rosa-det__116936791-1-1-2-724-14-28-168-180-28084-28840.aspx?opi=1&llci=0
Observaciones del anunciante:
Patio/jardín de 35 m2. 3 dormitorios con a/e. Dormitorio principal
forrado en madera. Salón independiente con mueble de pladur y amplia
cristalera. Aparcamiento en la puerta.
Victor
Gracias!

THE HALF ITEM
This Sunday topic: Is freedom an illusion? I hope to have the essay
ready by Friday.
See you Saturday or Sunday
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
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, this SATURDAY: Cuenca day trip +
Victor's bros. Flat for sale

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, this SATURDAY: Cuenca day trip + Victor’s bros. Flat for sale

Two and a half items in this email


Dear friends,

ITEM ONE
The Cuenca day trip this Saturday, 7 July, is on and we agreed to meet
at 8.30am in Atocha renfe station near the platform. Unfortunately, I
don't know which platform that will be, but it is NOT the Cercanias
part of the station, more the AVE and regional service part of the
station. I will try and find out which platform by Friday, but cannot
promise.

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

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

We also though that a picnic would be the best option since there are a
lot of things to do and see; including the PhotoEspaña Exhibitons and
the Modern art museum.


ITEM TWO:
Victor has asked me to forward you details about his brother's flat
which he is trying to sell:

Hi, My brother is selling this nice flat with a nice patio, it is just
12 min from Madrid with no traffic jams. If you contact them, tell them
that Victor sent you:
http://www.fotocasa.es/anuncio-piso-venta/mejorada-del-campo-santa-rosa-det__116936791-1-1-2-724-14-28-168-180-28084-28840.aspx?opi=1&llci=0
Observaciones del anunciante:
Patio/jardín de 35 m2. 3 dormitorios con a/e. Dormitorio principal
forrado en madera. Salón independiente con mueble de pladur y amplia
cristalera. Aparcamiento en la puerta.

Victor
Gracias!


THE HALF ITEM
This Sunday topic: Is freedom an illusion? I hope to have the essay
ready by Friday.

See you Saturday or Sunday

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
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, this SATURDAY: Cuenca day trip +
Victor's bros. Flat for sale

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, this SATURDAY: Cuenca day trip + Victor’s bros. Flat for sale

Two and a half items in this email


Dear friends,

ITEM ONE
The Cuenca day trip this Saturday, 7 July, is on and we agreed to meet
at 8.30am in Atocha renfe station near the platform. Unfortunately, I
don't know which platform that will be, but it is NOT the Cercanias
part of the station, more the AVE and regional service part of the
station. I will try and find out which platform by Friday, but cannot
promise.

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

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

We also though that a picnic would be the best option since there are a
lot of things to do and see; including the PhotoEspaña Exhibitons and
the Modern art museum.


ITEM TWO:
Victor has asked me to forward you details about his brother's flat
which he is trying to sell:

Hi, My brother is selling this nice flat with a nice patio, it is just
12 min from Madrid with no traffic jams. If you contact them, tell them
that Victor sent you:
http://www.fotocasa.es/anuncio-piso-venta/mejorada-del-campo-santa-rosa-det__116936791-1-1-2-724-14-28-168-180-28084-28840.aspx?opi=1&llci=0
Observaciones del anunciante:
Patio/jardín de 35 m2. 3 dormitorios con a/e. Dormitorio principal
forrado en madera. Salón independiente con mueble de pladur y amplia
cristalera. Aparcamiento en la puerta.

Victor
Gracias!


THE HALF ITEM
This Sunday topic: Is freedom an illusion? I hope to have the essay
ready by Friday.

See you Saturday or Sunday

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
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, this SATURDAY: Cuenca day trip +
Victor's bros. Flat for sale

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