PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, September 28, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Authority

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are talking about Authority. This is something that
affects us all; some might be in a position to exercise authority while
most others might experience more the exercise of authority by others.

Due to work pressure and a personal commitment I was unable to finish
the essay this week, apologies. If I have ready by Sunday I'll put it up
on the blog, details below. In the meantime I'll try and correct last
week's essay which I absent mindedly sent out without correcting it.

See you 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
- 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: Authority

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Family relationships

(corrected version)

Dear Friends,

At the end I had to rush the essay.

Family relationships

Every public relations executive, every marketing manager and every sales persons knows this maxim about business: a satisfied customer will tell his neighbour, but an unsatisfied customer will tell ten other people. The same goes for families. A neighbour will know about the happy family living next door, but the whole neighbourhood will know about an unhappy family living in the street. But there is more to family relationships then unhappy families.

For this discussion we need to establish what we mean by family and relationships. not only do we need to clarify what constitutes a family but also who may be a member of a family. moreover, does membership to a family confer any privileges? Relationships itself is a rather open ended concept. How should we understand this concept? Are there duties and obligations involved? Does this imply social relationships as well?

The days when philosophers could relax on their favourite easy chair and contemplate the infinite are long gone. Today we have to contend with what is happening in other branches of knowledge mongering. To be fair it has always been like that; more or less. From our point of view, we have to consider a family both as a biological system and a social organisation. And each aspect has its own set of philosophical issues.

A high school teacher of mine was fond of tell us that; a problem shared, is a problem halved. Apart from being a catchy phrase, it is also backed up by such theories as game theory or evolutionary biological systems.

The fact that humans have evolved into two distinct sexes implies that there must be some form of cooperation between the two to fulfil the biological task of reproduction. Well, reproduction is certainly a problem halved, even if today it might be shared with a laboratory technician wearing a white coat and face mask rather than something kinkier for the occasion. White coats apart, we can still take the biologically determined union as the basis of what we mean by family.

However, we must also distinguish, today, between genetically related family, when the off springs of a couple are also genetically related to each other. Today, with fertility technology the off springs need not necessarily be genetically related to the parents (to both or one of them). The other forms of families still follow the traditional make up; adopted children and step children.

One important aspect of a genetic family is that there is a strong genetic bond to protect and bring up the young. Whether we call this genetic altruism or instinctive behaviour is not that important for us. This sort of genetic cooperation makes evolutionary sense if the offspring is given a good chance to reach reproductive age. A great deal of generic families follow this strategy.

But sometimes, in fact many times, the genetic parents or parent of an offspring abandon that very same offspring. Although we tend to associate this phenomenon with pictures from developing countries, it is not exclusive to these countries. How should we read and understand this sort of family relationship?

We can look at this as confirmation that if life in our environment becomes seriously dangerous to our own survival, it would make sense to abandon any offsprings that might prejudice the chances of survival. To put this in a very colloquial way; looking after number one is the first priority. Incidentally this seemingly selfish behaviour has nothing to do with the idea of the selfish gene introduced by Dawkins. Some might object to this idea of looking after number one first. However, a work around this seemingly biological instinct is not to put one's self and one's offspring in danger. Hence, the answer to families living in a very hostile and impoverished environment is not to hold on to offsprings, come what may, but not to have offsprings in the first place. If we want to escape from a hostile environment, it seems to me to be unethical to have offsprings in such an environment.

We could also say that when a parent abandons its genetic offspring it is a reflection of a breakdown in the genetic programme. A sort of malfunction of the genetic survival system. But this has to be contrasted with the fact that the reproductive instinct is much stronger than the caring instinct. Not to mention that there will be other opportunities to reproduce, for someone of reproducible maturity and sufficiently good health.

Another interpretation is what we might call the cuckoo phenomenon. Since the reproductive instinct is so pronounced one can take the view of having offsprings anyway and then hope others will take care of them. Especially when human nature has developed and evolved a sophisticated form of social and biological altruistic cooperation. This approach depends on the belief that not every one will cheat the system and the system is rigid enough not to withhold any altruistic cooperation to those who need it. At the genetic level this behaviour is as neutral and amoral as the fertilisation process itself; what matters is that the biological system reaches reproductive maturity to pass on the genes to the next generation and not who cares for that system in the meantime. That genetic parents are more likely to care for an offspring is not the same as saying that only the genetic parents can care for an offspring.

If this is a true representation of relationships within a biological family then surely there seems to be a minimum threshold of personal survival before the genetic instinct to care for off springs takes over. Could it be that this means that family relationships at the biological level are relative to the environment the biological individual find themselves in? Moreover, at the biological level family relationships are not only relative but also flexible. Thus, what makes a biological/genetic family in a state of equilibrium is when it can overcome or manage well the difficulties of the environment around it.

The family is of course more than just parents and offsprings, but when we take other members into consideration, we change the parameters from biological to social. Of course, the biological element is still there, but for day to day considerations it is not that prominent. I will call this the social family. If nature did not introduce some sort of categorical imperative to look after genetic offsprings, then can we imply a categorical imperative for the social family?

As a cooperative system that exploits its environment social and biological families surely involve rights and duties for its members.

These rights and duties surely introduce their own moral and social obligations. For example, at the biological level one has to contribute one's energy (which is part of a biological systems) in exploiting the environment for the good of the family group. However, looking after offsprings as a form of family relationship must surely count as the most fundamental of family relationships and obligation. After all, they are one's offsprings; what can be more basic than that? Of course, this does not imply an obligation ad infinitum, but certainly an obligation until circumstances require it.

Maybe even at the social level of family relationship there isn't an obvious categorical imperative to look after offsprings let alone other family members. However, there is a strong practical expediency to look after family members or have good family relationships. The family is certainly the most important group we have access to and know very well. Thus, having good family relationships makes good sense. It is also the first group we are likely to be indebted to in the first place.

although there does not seem to be any form of categorical imperative to have good relationships with one's family there does seem to be a very strong rational argument to actually do have good relationships with one's family. This changes the moral standing of the family from "have to" to "want to." And this principle seems to be taken very seriously by some families. Just consider the fortunes and histories of mafia families, dynasties, American presidential families, European monarchies, and business empires. There is no doubt that fortune favours the audacious, as Machiavelli said, but it also favours good family relationships.

It is safe to assume that both at the genetic/biological level and the intra-relationship level there is nothing that makes it imperative for families have to have a cooperative relationship. However, it makes sense that families should adopt cooperative relationship strategies; division of labour, accumulation of resources, protection and safety. The evidence does seem to point in this direction.

But as I have said, families in also genetic context become social entities. And as social living organisations they have to interact and compete within their society and with other families. Although some might object that this inter-social relationship is off topic I do not believe so. Firstly, what happens in society has a direct causal effect on the family; for example a change in the political fortunes of a society affects all families in the society. Secondly, we as individuals within a family group also have to interact with individuals outside our family; for example, holding a job. This directly or indirectly has an effect on the family. And thirdly, which is the most important point of all, society, through its various institutions and organisations, imposes itself on the family.

It is this third point that I want discuss next. The issues raised by the influence of society on families are quite wide. I therefore want to submit just a flavour of what I am thinking about. I will refer to two extreme cases of the spectrum. The first is a quote from the archbishop of Canterbury and the other is more a type of family interference within a genre of interferences: I refer to honour killings which is an extreme case of social influence. But although we associate honour killing with certain cultures and religions, we still find it in very mild and dilutes forms through class and caste structures.

The archbishop is quoted* as saying, “.....pushy parents who rush children between ballet and violin lessons are suffocating their offspring too. Children live crowded lives, we're not making their lives easy by pressurising them, whether it's the claustrophobia of gang culture or the claustrophobia of intense achievement in middle-class areas."

What the archbishop is referring to is of course something most people in western and partly developed countries experience. The need to achieve and the need to succeed is an ever present pressure on all of us. The archbishop uses the word achievement, but we can distil this concept further to extract the real driving force behind this behaviour: I shall call it the cult-of-wanting-more. The archbishop seems to have missed the point here: it is not that we set ourselves goals to achieve things, but that we want more whatever those goals are achieved. Achievement is a signal to want more. We want more because that is the society and culture we live in tells us we should do.

We want a faster bigger car, a more expensive house, a more exotic holiday, and so on. And from this we get the pressure on families and its members. Of course this achievement and wanting more is always dressed as a virtue and the right thing to do. But the bottom line is this, if we want more than by definition we are never satisfied, and if we are not satisfied then surely our plans for the family have failed. And if we or our partner fails this is seen as having failed the family.

In April this year most of us read** about or saw the video of the honour killing of the 17-year-old Yazidi girl who was killed in public simply for falling in love with a Muslim boy. Indeed this is an extreme case of cultural delinquency and social immorality, but certainly not an unusual one.

But our society and our culture does not only interfere with family relationships as in these extreme cases. In English, especially British English, we have the expression, “to marry above or below one’s station.” Maybe it is not as common as it used to be, but even having a negative expression to describe certain unions is bad enough. Thus the idea of marrying someone who comes from a different class, group or caste is itself a pressure on the family.

Maybe we have stopped seeing families, especially the parents of the family, as life long strategic alliances, but now we see families as business partnership with a P&L analysis every so often.

Pressure does not only come in the form of achievement or cultural delinquency, but also what passes as moral principles. I have argued that in nature there is no binding categorical imperative, only mutually advantageous strategies, which work for most, most of the time. Nature did not establish a do or die imperative for family relationships any more than it has created such a principle for reproduction. But societies and most religions do try to impose such imperatives.

imperatives that require a license to fall in love, imperatives not to separate when alliances fail, imperatives to reproduce which seems like blind following of the want-more cult and imperatives that promote class-ism (kings are not suppose to marry commoners). In real life, of course, there have always been divorces, birth control and the rest of it, except only the privileged families could avail themselves of these opportunities. Not to mention that usually these rules are biased and prejudicial to women. Are men ever victims of honour killings?

In a report** that appeared in the New York Times, NICHOLAS WADE writes about the work of Dr Haidt who basically asks whether the categorical imperative (do unto others), in found in our genes. Dr Haidt has identified what he calls innate psychological mechanisms which basically are: loyalty to the in-group, respect for authority and hierarchy, and a sense of purity or sanctity. He is also quoted as saying that, "Those who found ways to bind themselves together were more successful." Successful in natural selection; he even suggests that religion help humans succeed in nature. Not everyone agrees. Dr Frans B. M. de Waal has this to say, "For me, the moral system is one that resolves the tension between individual and group interests in a way that seems best for the most members of the group, hence promotes a give and take." Of course this is a modern version of an age old problem.

It seems that this issue of family relationships (as in other relationships) is without a clear cut explanation and solution. However, we do know for sure that nature is very adaptable and accommodating. After all that is the secret of success of natural selection. I do not think that the categorical imperative applies here.

Take care

Lawrence

*'Is our society broken? Yes, I think it is'

The Daily Telegraph / The Sunday Telegraph

By Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/15/nbishop215.xml

**Is ‘Do Unto Others’ Written Into Our Genes?

The New York Times

September 18, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/18/science/18mora.html?_r=1&ref=science&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin

***************************************************

**********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

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

Family relationships

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Family relationships

Dear Friends,


At the end I had to rush the essay.


Family relationships

Every public relations executive, every marketing manager and every
sales persons knows this maxim about business: a satisfied customer will
tell his neighbour, but an unsatisfied customer will tell ten other
people. The same goes for families. A neighbour will know about the
happy family living next door, but the whole neighbourhood will know
about an unhappy family living in the street. but there is more to
family relationships then unhappy families.

for this discussion we need to establish what we mean by family and
relationships. not only do we need to clarify what constitutes a family
but also who may be a member of a family. moreover, does membership to a
family confer any privileges? Relationships itself is a rather open
ended concept. How should we understand this concept? Are there duties
and obligations involved? Does this imply social relationships as well?

The days when philosophers could relax on their favourite easy chair and
contemplate the infinite are long gone. Today we have to contend with
what is happening in other branches of knowledge mongering. To be fair
it has always been like that; more or less. from our point of view, we
have to consider a family both as a biological system and a social
organisation. and each aspect has its own set of philosophical issues.

A high school teacher of mine was fond of tell us that; a problem
shared, is a problem halved. Apart from being a catchy phrase, it is
also backed up by such theories as game theory or evolutionary
biological systems.

The fact that humans have evolved into two distinct sexes implies that
there must be some form of cooperation between the two to fulfil the
biological task of reproduction. well, reproduction is certainly a
problem halved, even if today it might be shared with a laboratory
technician wearing a white coat and face mask rather than something more
kinky for the occasion. white coats apart, we can still take the
biologically determined union as the basis of what we mean by family.

However, we must also distinguish, today, between genetically related
family, when the off springs of a couple are also genetically related to
each other. Today, with fertility technology the off springs need not
necessarily be genetically related to the parents (to both or one of
them). The other forms of families still follow the traditional make up;
adopted children and step children.

One important aspect of a genetic family is that there is a strong
genetic bond to protect and bring up the young. Whether we call this
genetic altruism or instinctive behaviour is not that important for us.
This sort of genetic cooperation makes evolutionary sense if the
offspring is given a good chance to reach reproductive age. A great deal
of generic families follow this strategy.

But sometimes, in fact many times, the genetic parents or parent of an
offspring abandon that very same offspring. Although we tend to
associate this phenomenon with pictures from developing countries, it is
not exclusive to these countries. How should we read and understand this
sort of family relationship?

We can look at this as confirmation that if life in our environment
becomes seriously dangerous to our own survival, it would make sense to
abandon any offsprings that might prejudice the chances of survival. To
put this in a very colloquial way; looking after number one is the first
priority. incidentally this seemingly selfish behaviour has nothing to
do with the idea of the selfish gene introduced by Dawkins. some might
object to this idea of looking after number one first. however, a work
around this seemingly biological instinct is not to put one's self and
one's offspring in danger. Hence, the answer to families living in a
very hostile and impoverished environment is not to hold on to
offsprings, come what may, but not to have offsprings in the first
place. If we want to escape from a hostile environment, it seems to me
to be unethical to have offsprings in such an environment.

we could also say that when a parent abandons its genetic offspring it
is a reflection of a breakdown in the genetic programme. A sort of
malfunction of the genetic survival system. but this has to be
contrasted with the fact that the reproductive instinct is much stronger
than the caring instinct. Not to mention that there will be other
opportunities to reproduce, for someone of reproducible maturity and
sufficiently good health.

Another interpretation is what we might call the cuckoo phenomenon.
Since the reproductive instinct is so pronounced one can take the view
of having offsprings anyway and then hope others will take care of them.
especially when human nature has developed and evolved a sophisticated
form of social and biological altruistic cooperation. This approach
depends on the belief that not every one will cheat the system and the
system is rigid enough not to withhold any altruistic cooperation to
those who need it. At the genetic level this behaviour is as neutral and
amoral as the fertilisation process itself; what matters is that the
biological system reaches reproductive maturity to pass on the genes to
the next generation and not who cares for that system in the meantime.
that genetic parents are more likely to care for an offspring is not the
same as saying that only the genetic parents can care for an offspring.

if this is a true representation of relationships within a biological
family then surely there seems to be a minimum threshold of personal
survival before the genetic instinct to care for off springs takes over.
Could it be that this means that family relationships at the biological
level are relative to the environment the biological individual find
themselves in? Moreover, at the biological level family relationships
are not only relative but also flexible. Thus, what makes a
biological/genetic family in a state of equilibrium is when it can
overcome or manage well the difficulties of the environment around it.

The family is of course more than just parents and offsprings, but when
we take other members into consideration, we change the parameters from
biological to social. Of course, the biological element is still there,
but for day to day considerations it is not that prominent. I will call
this the social family. If nature did not introduce some sort of
categorical imperative to look after genetic offsprings, then can we
imply a categorical imperative for the social family?

As a cooperative system that exploits its environment social and
biological families surely involve rights and duties for its members.

These rights and duties surely introduce their own moral and social
obligations. for example, at the biological level one has to contribute
one's energy (which is part of a biological systems) in exploiting the
environment for the good of the family group. however, looking after
offsprings as a form of family relationship must surely count as the
most fundamental of family relationships and obligation. After all, they
are one's offsprings; what can be more basic than that? of course, this
does not imply an obligation ad infinitum, but certainly an obligation
until circumstances require it.

maybe even at the social level of family relationship there isn't an
obvious categorical imperative to look after offsprings let alone other
family members. however, there is a strong practical expediency to look
after family members or have good family relationships. the family is
certainly the most important group we have access to and know very well.
thus, having good family relationships makes good sense. it is also the
first group we are likely to be indebted to in the first place.

although there does not seem to be any form of categorical imperative to
have good relationships with one's family there does seem to be a very
strong rational argument to actually do have good relationships with
one's family. This changes the moral standing of the family from "have
to" to "want to." And this principle seems to be taken very seriously by
some families. Just consider the fortunes and histories of mafia
families, dynasties, American presidential families, European
monarchies, and business empires. there is no doubt that fortune favours
the audacious, as Machiavelli said, but it also favours good family
relationships.

it is safe to assume that both at the genetic/biological level and the
intra-relationship level there is nothing that makes it imperative for
families have to have a cooperative relationship. however, it makes
sense that families should adopt cooperative relationship strategies;
division of labour, accumulation of resources, protection and safety.
The evidence does seem to point in this direction.

But as i have said, families in a also genetic context become social
entities. And as social living organisations they have to interact and
compete within their society and with other families. although some
might object that this inter-social relationship is off topic i do not
believe so. Firstly, what happens in society has a direct causal effect
on the family; for example a change in the political fortunes of a
society affects all families in the society. secondly, we as individuals
within a family group also have to interact with individuals outside our
family; for example, holding a job. this directly or indirectly has an
effect on the family. and thirdly, which is the most important point of
all, society, through its various institutions and organisations,
imposes itself on the family.

it is this third point that i want discuss next. The issues raised by
the influence of society on families are quite wide. I therefore want to
submit just a flavour of what i am thinking about. I will refer to two
extreme cases of the spectrum. The first is a quote from the archbishop
of Canterbury and the other is more a type of family interference within
a genre of interferences: i refer to honour killings which is an extreme
case of social influence. But although we associate honour killing with
certain cultures and religions, we still find it in very mild and
dilutes forms through class and caste structures.

The archbishop is quoted* as saying, ".....pushy parents who rush
children between ballet and violin lessons are suffocating their
offspring too. Children live crowded lives, we're not making their lives
easy by pressurising them, whether it's the claustrophobia of gang
culture or the claustrophobia of intense achievement in middle-class areas."

what the archbishop is referring to is of course something most people
in western and partly developed countries experience. The need to
achieve and the need to succeed is an ever present pressure on all of
us. The archbishop uses the word achievement, but we can distill this
concept further to extract the real driving force behind this behaviour:
I shall call it the cult-of-wanting-more. the archbishop seems to have
missed the point here: it is not that we set ourselves goals to achieve
things, but that we want more whatever those goals are achieved.
achievement is a signal to want more. we want more because that is the
society and culture we live in tells us we should do.

we want a faster bigger car, a more expensive house, a more exotic
holiday and so on. and from this we get the pressure on families and its
members. Of course this achievement and wanting more is always dressed
as a virtue and the right thing to do. But the bottom line is this, if
we want more than by definition we are never satisfied, and if we are
not satisfied then surely our plans for the family have failed. And if
we or our partner fails this is seen as having failed the family.

In April this year most of us read** about or saw the video of the
honour killing of the 17-year-old Yazidi girl who was killed in public
simply for falling in love with a Muslim boy. Indeed this is an extreme
case of cultural delinquency and social immorality, but certainly not an
unusual one.

But our society and our culture does not only interfere with family
relationships as in these extreme cases. In English, especially British
English, we have the expression, "to marry above or below one's
station." Maybe it is not as common as it used to be, but even having a
negative expression to describe certain unions is bad enough. Thus the
idea of marrying someone who comes from a different class, group or
caste is itself a pressure on the family.

maybe we have stopped seeing families, especially the parents of the
family, as life long strategic alliances, but now we see families as
business partnership with an P&L analysis every so often.

pressure does not only come in the form of achievement or cultural
delinquency, but also what passes as moral principles. I have argued
that in nature there is no binding categorical imperative, only mutually
advantageous strategies, which work for most, most of the time. nature
did not establish a do or die imperative for family relationships any
more than it has created such a principle for reproduction. but
societies and most religions do try to impose such imperatives.

imperatives that require a license to fall in love, imperatives not to
separate when alliances fail, imperatives to reproduce which seems like
blind following of the want-more cult and imperatives that promote
class-ism (kings are not suppose to marry commoners). In real life, of
course, there have always been divorces, birth control and the rest of
it, except only the privileged families could avail themselves of these
opportunities. not to mention that usually these rules are biased and
prejudicial to women. Are men ever victims of honour killings?

In a report** that appeared in the New York Times, NICHOLAS WADE writes
about the work of Dr Haidt who basically asks whether the categorical
imperative (do unto others), in found in our genes. Dr Haidt has
identified what he calls innate psychological mechanisms which basically
are: loyalty to the in-group, respect for authority and hierarchy, and a
sense of purity or sanctity. he is also quoted as saying that, "Those
who found ways to bind themselves together were more successful."
Successful in natural selection; he even suggests that religion help
humans succeed in nature. Not everyone agrees. Dr Frans B. M. de Waal
has this to say, "For me, the moral system is one that resolves the
tension between individual and group interests in a way that seems best
for the most members of the group, hence promotes a give and take." Of
course this is a modern version of an age old problem.

it seems that this issue of family relationships (as in other
relationships) is without a clear cut explanation and solution. however,
we do know for sure that nature is very adaptable and accommodating.
after all that is the secret of success of natural selection. I do not
think that the categorical imperative applies here.

take care

Lawrence


*'Is our society broken? Yes, I think it is'
The Daily Telegraph / The Sunday Telegraph
By Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/15/nbishop215.xml

**Is 'Do Unto Others' Written Into Our Genes?
The New York Times
September 18, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/18/science/18mora.html?_r=1&ref=science&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin

***************************************************


**********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: Family relationships

Friday, September 21, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Family Relationships + Marian looking for English Teacher

Dear friends,

I will have to send the essay this evening, in the meantime this Sunday
we are discussing Family Relationships. This is a subject that affects
us all, for better or for worse. However, what interests me more is the
influence culture and society have on families.

In the meantime Marian is looking for an English teacher, maybe
conversation classes, and has asked me to pass the message to English
teachers in the group:
My e-mail is mariancif@yahoo.com and telephone number
678 45 90 83, I live in the centre underground Latina,
line green.

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
- 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: Family
Relationships + Marian looking for English Teacher

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

from Lawrence: English teaching job offer

Dear friends,

This message is about a job opportunity sent to me by Milton; might only
concern those of you in the English teaching profession. Please pass on
the message. In the meantime don't forget that there is Chris's photo
exhibition on.

Knowing we have several English teacher in the group.

Job offer:

4 hours class in a row from 16.00 till 20.00, Monday till Thursday
Start asap finish June/July
Place: San Rafael, about 57 km, on the A6 before Segovia
Pay 118 euro a day (24 per hour + mileage)
May also be split between various.

Any takers ?

Please contact Milton 628 941 502 and send CV to this mail.
miltonriveramanga@hotmail.com

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


from Lawrence: English teaching job offer

Thursday, September 13, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: : Living in big cities, pros and cons

Dear friends
This Sunday we are discussing a very interesting topic: Living in big
cities, pros and con. In a way this is an old topic in philosophy dating
back to the Greeks, Machiavelli and recent theories on social contracts.
Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the essay in time; my apologies.
In the meantime I remind you that that evening Christine is opening her
photo exhibition:
Galería Barbarín
http://galeriabarbarin.com/galeria.asp
Christine Rendina y Sonia Casero
http://galeriabarbarin.com/ficha_expo.asp
Inauguracion 13.09.07. 20.30h.
del 13.09.07 al 11.10.07
Entre el 13 de septiembre y el 11 de octubre la Galeria Barbarin (Avda.
de Manoteras, 10) inaugura su segunda temporada 2007/08 con la
exposicion conjunta de dos artistas: Christine Rendina (fotografia) y
Sonia Casero (pintura).
Información de contacto
Avda. Manoteras 10, A007
28050, Madrid
Tel/Fax: +34 913846128
Cita Previa: +34 639 602 682
Horario:
Lunes a viernes de 16h a 21h
Sábados de 11h a 14h
Accesos:
Autobus: 174 y 150 desde Plaza Castilla
Metro: Virgen del Cortijo (prolongacion Linea 1, desde Plaza Castilla)
PhiloMadrid Photo Album
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo/ChristineRendina

see you 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
- 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: : Living in big
cities, pros and cons

Friday, September 07, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The need for intellectual thinkers + News

Short essay + one news item


Dear friends,


This Sunday we are discussing "The need for intellectual thinkers."
However, if you think that this is a open and shut case for thinking
that we will always need intellectual thinkers, then I suggest you check
out the Financial Times article I refer to in my essay. The answer is
yes, we will always (until the foreseeable future) need intellectual
thinkers, but as I try to show in my short essay there is a twist to
this yes. But don't take my thinking for it.


In the meantime, Christine has asked me to bring to your attention the
opening of her art photos exhibition on the 13th September at 20.30h.
The details and relevant links to the Gallery and our photo album page
are as follows:


Galería Barbarín
http://galeriabarbarin.com/galeria.asp

Christine Rendina y Sonia Casero
http://galeriabarbarin.com/ficha_expo.asp
Inauguracion 13.09.07. 20.30h.
del 13.09.07 al 11.10.07

Entre el 13 de septiembre y el 11 de octubre la Galeria Barbarin (Avda.
de Manoteras, 10) inaugura su segunda temporada 2007/08 con la
exposicion conjunta de dos artistas: Christine Rendina (fotografia) y
Sonia Casero (pintura).

Información de contacto
Avda. Manoteras 10, A007
28050, Madrid
Tel/Fax: +34 913846128
Cita Previa: +34 639 602 682
Horario:
Lunes a viernes de 16h a 21h
Sábados de 11h a 14h
Accesos:
Autobus: 174 y 150 desde Plaza Castilla
Metro: Virgen del Cortijo (prolongacion Linea 1, desde Plaza Castilla)

PhiloMadrid Photo Album
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo/ChristineRendina

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

[could do with a second check]


The need for intellectual thinkers

Intellectual thinkers existed and maybe exist because they offer new
solutions to established problems. But they also exist because we know
about them. By definition we would not be able to call someone an
intellectual thinker unless we knew about them and maybe what they
thought. The condition of knowing about someone might seem like an
analytical truth, and therefore irrelevant. I do not think so.

The term intellectual thinker can cover a number of meanings or
synonyms; for example, great thinkers, men of letters, geniuses, great
minds, and intellectual giants. I do not propose discussing the
subtleties of each of these terms. What is important for us is that we
have a good idea of the set of people we are concerned with.

However, there is one thing that needs clarifying. The need for
intellectual thinkers does not mean whether past intellectual thinkers
are still important (for us today). Whether someone who was a superstar
in their time ought still to be a superstar today depends on the scope
and programme we ascribe to intellectual thinkers. All I want to say at
this point is that intellectual thinkers are victims to the paradox of
redundancy (my idea, although I'm sure some out there must have reached
the same conclusion). More about the paradox later.

Who is an intellectual thinker and what makes an intellectual thinker? I
started by saying that an intellectual thinker is someone who offers a
solution to an established problem or problems. So the 'who', must
surely depend on those people who have access to the problems of the
day, those who have access to the means of communication of the day, and
those who are by definition, prepared to challenge accepted wisdom of
the day.

I know it sounds strange to suggest that one of the conditions for being
an intellectual thinker is to have access to problems of the day. Surely
we all have access to the problem of the day. Maybe what is endearing
about Einstein and the whole marketing industry based around his name,
is that he was a mere clerk in a patent's office. Hence, we wrongly
conclude that if a clerk can come up with such genius then there is
still hope for us. Of course, there is no such hope. Einstein had genius
in him long before he applied to work at the patent office. With
hindsight we can see the relevant stepping stones that led him to theory
of relativity.

But to have access to a problem I also want to mean to have the right
approach to a problem. What Einstein, for example, was trying to solve
was no less in the public domain than the news in the morning edition of
the local newspaper. The difference is that he took a rather subjective
look at the problem in the same way that intellectual thinkers have
always done before him and since; Zeno, Descartes, Newton, Popper and
Dawkins have all took a personal perspective which was different from
the crowd. This of course does not mean that they were right but that
what they did gave us a new perspective on how we see the world around
us. This is very similar, for example, to mining. Sometimes a mine
become inefficient or impractical to extract minerals from it, until
that is new technology comes along. Intellectual thinkers give us the
opportunity to bring meaning to a problem at the relevant time.

Once again, having access to the means of communication might be obvious
to the point if being ridiculous to mention it. Be that as it may,
communication is a vital and necessary condition for us and intellectual
thinkers.

Communication is a vital means of sharing information with others.
Unless I tell you what I'm thinking you won't have access to that
information. But communication, as Dawkins pointed out, is not about
sharing information but about manipulating others. Newton's thinking
about gravity and celestial bodies was not about telling us a good
story, but about stopping us from thinking some ridiculous mumbo jumbo.

Telling the people out there is important whether we believe that
intellectual thinkers are being altruistic or whether they are trying to
change the way we think. However, there are still people in the twenty
first century who believe that we are the centre of the universe; we
just might be, but not for the reasons they think we are. Or that the
stars come out of someone's giant saltshaker to help us navigate at
night. The reason why these people believe such nonsense is probably
because they don't have access to the world's great thinkers or maybe
they are prevented from having access to the world's great thinkers.

By definition, an intellectual thinker goes against received wisdom. I
say by definition because otherwise there won't be any new knowledge or
new ideas to speak of. If everyone thought the same were would we get
new knowledge? When Wittgenstein came up with the idea that language was
at the core of philosophical problems, he was suggesting a completely
new idea. It is not that language was never an issue in philosophy, but
what makes Wittgenstein important is that he showed us how language is
central issue in philosophy like no one else before.

Which brings me to the paradox of redundancy. You will remember that we
are not really discussing whether past intellectual thinkers are
relevant today. However, this paradox is a consequence of intellectual
thinkers being different and why past thinkers ought not to be relevant
today if we accept the paradox.

The paradox is straight forward; intellectual thinkers help us solve
pressing problems and issues of the day; even if by day we can imply a
period of a few decades. Thus, once we accept the solution then that
knowledge becomes main stream and in due course the status quo. In which
case the problem has been solved, the solution adopted into use and the
intellectual thinker has become redundant. Of course, he or she might
still be an interesting subject to study from many points of view.
Einstein is a very interesting character in the history of science,
philosophy of science, and social history. But he solved the theory of
relativity; moreover, for all intents and purposes he only solved that
group of problems. And what is more, he is not going to come up with new
ideas for new problems. The most we can do is find new interpretations
and new solutions using his science.

Take for example Descartes, he solved for his contemporaries and beyond
the experience we have between us as a thinking being and us as a body.
Today we speak of the I and of my body without any hesitation. Mind and
body are common everyday words in our vocabulary. Descartes cannot keep
solving the same problem as if we were in some Groundhog Day movie.

The paradox also arises from the simple fact that intellectual thinkers,
at best, only solve a small group of problems. Descartes did not solve
the problem of stopping pain which we feel during medical intervention.
It is unlikely that, for example, Einstein can solve for us the problems
with global warming. His science might help us understand what is
happening to the Earth's atmosphere (I speculate here, I don't know),
but will never tell us how we should deal with the big culprits for
global warning.

In reality, of course, life is not that straight forward. Euclid will
always be relevant, and so will Spinoza and Machiavelli. We can always
go back to Machiavelli and by substituting words like prince to prime
minister or president, advisors to political cronies and the populace to
lobby groups; we wouldn't see any difference between Italy of the
renaissance and a country in the European Union.

What is more serious is: why aren't certain intellectual thinkers more
positively prominent in our collective awareness? In the same way,
maybe, that Newton is not more positively prominent in certain religion
based cultures. Of course, I'm not going into list building on who
should or shouldn't be more prominent. The point is that if there are
intellectual thinkers out there and we don't know about them, then why
don't we know about them?

This leads me two issues I wish to consider. Given that we do need
intellectual thinkers (to generate new knowledge away from the herd) how
can we make the channels of communication flow with their knowledge? The
second question is, are we going to need intellectual thinkers in the
future?

Communication needs at least two fundamental things: intention to
communicate and the tools to communicate.

The intention need not only be the intention of the thinker to
communicate what he or she is thinking, but also the intention of the
authorities and the intention of the individual observer. A sort of
formula that follows this pattern; intention to communicate, intention
to allow communication and intention to receive communication.

Of course, another factor must be added to this element of communication
and that is storage of the message being communicated. This is such an
important factor that those who control the storage of messages from
intellectual thinkers, lets us call it a database, will also control the
message and hence access to the intellectual thinker. Not forgetting for
an instant that the message is not there to entertain us but to change
our ways and our thinking.

Thus, the old model of database was the library, be it the great library
of Alexandria, the British library, the Senate library or the Vatican
library. Why do I mention these libraries? Under the old model some of
them practically contained or contain all that has been published (BL
and the SL are depository libraries) Others held all that was worth
knowing at the time (Alexandria library), and some hold documents that
can explain the course of modern history (VL). However, accesses to
these libraries has always been a matter of privilege, exclusive
conditions or strictly out of bounds.

Furthermore, the medium that held these messages was not exactly that
very convenient. True, the printing press revolutionized communication,
but it still took a lot of hassle to replicate a book or a document.
Then there are the artificial, as in man made, restrictions such as
property rights, membership fees and academic qualifications before
being allowed access to these databases.

Today the library model is being replaced by the digital transfer model.
The message is now written and transferred in digital form. Making it
very easy, quickly, effective and efficiently to transfer a message
between two or two billion people. It is no wonder that there are
governments who want to control, if not ban, access to the internet.

So in order to have messages of intellectual thinkers flowing through
the channels of communication there must be free access to the databases
and to the tools that access these databases. If we need intellectual
thinkers then we also need to access their thinking.

So, far we have assumed that when we speak of intellectual thinkers we
seem to imply some solitary individual, locked away for months thinking
and contemplating the universe or the nearest cobweb, which ever came
first. We can just about imagine Einstein scribbling away at the theory
of relative between sandwiches during his lunch hour; I have no idea
what he did during his lunch hour.

Fortunately, the individual will still be their; which is quite
reassuring to know that. And we now that from an article that was
published in the Financial Times* on the 31st August 2007. This article
tries to tell us how future decisions will be made and arrived at. And
by implication how we are going to think in the future. For those who
cannot wait to read the article the answer is the statistical algorithm.

I will not describe this article, it is too long for that, however I
will leave you with these two quotations:

"But evidence is mounting in favour of a different and much more
dehumanising mechanism for combining human and super-crunching
expertise. Several studies have shown that the most accurate way to
exploit traditional expertise is merely to add the expert evaluation as
an additional factor in the statistical algorithm."

"The most important thing left to humans is to use our minds and our
intuition to guess at what variables should and should not be included
in statistical analysis."

The impression I got from reading this article was that in the future
there will be literally more "intellectual thinkers" contributing to
solve a problem instead of the solitary eccentric doing the thinking in
a quiet room. Of course, the article, as the last quote shows, tries to
leave us on a positive and optimistic note. But in the meantime it seems
that the intellectual thinker is dead, long live the intellectual thinkers.

Take care

Lawrence


*How computers routed the experts
By Ian Ayres
Published: August 31 2007
Financial Times
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f68ba784-56b8-11dc-9a3a-0000779fd2ac.html


from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The need for
intellectual thinkers + News

Credits

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™ of the respective owners,
® of the respective registered owners.



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