PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, January 29, 2009

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Do we exist?

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing a simple question: do we exist?

The good news is that I have written an essay on the subject, but the bad news is that I did not have to type it. I will have to post it on the blog site sometime before Sunday. Check: < philomadrid.blogspot.com > Please let me know if you would like me to send you a copy as soon as I have the essay ready.

Take care and see you Sunday

Lawrence

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


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



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dimas Taxi service: mobile 627 219 316 email dimasobregon@hotmail.com

TINA Flat http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo/TINAFLAT

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



from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Do we exist?






Friday, January 23, 2009

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Is it possible to forgive? + News


Dear friends,


This Sunday we are discussing the theme of forgiveness: Is it possible to forgive? I am also enclosing Richard’s and my essay. We should have a lot to talk about.

In the meantime Margie has sent me details about a performing event “The Second Mad Open Mic: Captured Words” which is going to be organised in March 4th. If you want to participate or attend see the details below.

See you Sunday

Lawrence

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


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



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dimas Taxi service: mobile 627 219 316 email dimasobregon@hotmail.com

TINA Flat http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo/TINAFLAT

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









-----Margie’s Event-----

The Second Mad Open Mic: Captured Words

Café Concierto La Fídula

Calle Huertas, 57 Madrid in the Barrio de las Letras

Metro: Anton Martin, Sevilla, Banco

Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Performing will begin at 9:00 pm

 

To register and for further information, contact: margiekanter@gmail.com or www.elasunto.com/mkd.htm

Come to present your own work or just to listen in. Open to the public. No entry fee. You pay (only) for what you consume.

Guidelines for Performers:
- Your presentation must be your own creative words; spoken or read-spoken. It can be a story, poem, lyrics (but no music), creative essay...
- We will readspeak in cycles of 3-6 minutes each depending upon how many we are. Please prepare your work in combinations of 3 minutes each to allow for flexibility in scheduling. If there is time, there will be a second cycle. Please clock your readings ahead of time.
- Sign up by emailing: margiekanter@gmail.com by February 26, 2009.
- Put Open Mic in the Subject or Asunto of the email.
- Include a short sample of your work or give me an idea of what you are planning to readspeak to help in the planning.
- Late registrants will be included when possible.
- Presentations will be in English.
- For updates check: www.elasunto.com/mkd.htm

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IS IT POSSIBLE TO FORGIVE? (Richard)

In order to answer this question, I must know what “to forgive means” I am afraid I don’t know the accurate meaning of the word. But this fact does not absolve me from writing on forgiveness and sharing my reflexions with you.

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. As I am an ignorant on the matter, I had better consult some dictionaries. I will not restrict myself to the English language only. As a multilingual person, with your permission, I will delve into some other languages to confront the same meaning of the word. Is it the same?

The English dictionaries are at one as far as the intransitive usage of the word is concerned, namely it means to grant forgiveness.  We are rather interested in its transitive use to forgive sb or to forgive sth or moreover: to forgive sb sth or forgive sb for doing sth. It means to give up resentment of or claim to requital for sth (forgive an insult); to grant relief from payment (to forgive a debt), but I suppose we are all much more interested in the meaning: to cease to feel resentment against sb, who is an offender, to pardon (to forgive one’s enemies) (Merriam-Webster Online)

To forgive “is to pardon with compassion usually on a directly personal level.” (Cassell’s Modern Guide to Synonyms).

Forgiveness “is typically defined as the process of ceasing to feel resentment, indignation or anger for a perceived offence, difference or mistake and ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.” (Wiki Encyclopedia)

It is interesting to note that English follows the direct translation from Latin per don?re: per = for and don?re = give /donate. So we obtain the English “Pardon” or “For-give.” The one that directly follows from Latin is formal in this context and was reserved for God or for those in power/authority, for other mortals only to forgive is used. English, which is considered more concise language than Spanish, is richer in synonyms: to pardon, forgive, excuse, condone, overlook, remit.

It seems to me that the most reasonable definition of forgiveness is given by a psychologist Robert Enright who says that it is

“Giving up the resentment to which you are entitled, and offering to the persons who hurt you friendlier attitudes to which they are not entitled."  (…)

“Forgiving is not the same as forgetting.  One will never forget some things, but this does not mean you need to dwell on it and forgiving is not the same as excusing, because you are not excusing the behaviour or pretending that it did not hurt”.1

In DE the other way round. Only God or the authority can vergeben (for-give). All other mortals can only verzeihen (ver-zeihen, to take back pointing finger at sb, take back the accusation), in other words they can only excuse. I owe the second part of this explanation to Kevin Johnson, from a friend of mine from AllExperts.com.

But in SE förgiva / förge is not used anymore in this meaning, but in the meaning of “to poison”. The word förlåtelse (thoroughly let it go of) means giving up on all the bitter feelings and ideas on punishment that one has harboured before against sb who has done some harm.

I also like the defintion given by Birgit Peterson, MD and therapist who says that “To forgive is the same as to give oneself or sb else the chance to build up the confidence that got lost and which may be appreciated by both sides. Forgiveness may be seen as a gift from one to another”.2

In ES “perdón implica la idea de una condonación, remisión, cese de una falta, ofensa, demanda, castigo, indignación o ira, eximiendo al culpable de una obligación, discrepancia o error” (RAE, following Wiki).

In PT very similar to ES, but perdoar (perdão) is reserved for bigger, more important issues and desculpar for everyday cases.

In PL: Przebaczy? / Wybaczy? (I am afraid I don’t know the difference between the two; I even consulted the Polish Dictionary and it does not point out any difference) means ceasing to feel anger / wrath or resentment against sb because of something that has happened; it means also absolving sb from guilt.

In RU ??????? proshtchat’ = to condescend, not to blame, to pardon, to free sb from obligations.

As we can see, there is not a very clear-cut definition of forgiveness.

The matter of forgiveness embraces two parties: the forgiver and the forgiven, even if the latter is not alive. And sometimes the two parties merge in one: the person’s dilemma is whether they should forgive themselves.

Although most of us here have been educated in Christian tradition, under no circumstances will I touch upon religion, because I think that even within Christian community the opinions are divided. I had better stick to the ethical / moral grounds to which the topic fully belongs.

My personal view is that this is one of few topics where objectivity does not exist. There is no human or mathematical science that would objectively state what is right and what is wrong. Besides, it is one of few topics that does not admit generalizations, even though any generalization on any subject may be not proper or even harmful but they are often necessary to make.

I am more than convinced that each case, however similar it may be, is different. One could say that for instance in legal matters each case is a case, but in practical terms similar cases follow the same procedure, mainly for bureaucratic reasons. As forgiveness is not an institutionalized matter (excluding some sporadic cases) but only personal, there is no bureaucracy involved.

In concordance with the times we live accompanied by the thought here in Europe at least that the only thing which is worth fighting for is peace at all costs. So everything should be settled through peaceful means. I am not talking about politics only. So how to bring a permanent peace?  Any act of violence should not be retaliated because retribution leads to the chain of violence and therefore the idea of forgiving has been very much emphasized for the last 20 years. Everyone wants to live in peace.

The idea is not new. It is very old, as old as hills. A good man should forgive, should not look for vengeance. A new fashion has come. To blame, to seek vengeance even to pass judgements is considered wrong, even a crime. Why? Because the budding problem must get a nip in the bud, or else it develops and will bring violence and this should be averted.

I am not questioning the nobleness of such thinking but is it feasible to get rid of human negative feelings overnight because it has been fashionable to promote only goodness and positive thinking? We would stop being humans if we stopped hating, being jealous, being vindictive or stopped expressing anger (preserving obviously our positive characteristics as well). Is it the right way to improve the human race? Is there another theoretical Nietzsche on the horizon or a new Hitler to implement the plan?

The army of psychologists appeal to us telling us that to forgive sb does not mean absolving them from guilt. John Gray even tries to change the definition of forgiveness saying that it is not freeing the offender from guilt, because “forgiveness frees us [the forgiver] from continuing to hold on to our pain”3, because it lets us go of hurt and this opens the path to happiness, peace and love. Others, one can see on the web quite a few such sentences like these: “forgiveness: principle for health and happiness” "hate is like an acid. It destroys the vessel in which it is stored." They say that “studies show that one of the keys to longevity and good health is to develop a habit of gratitude and let go of past hurt”. So if you want to live such a life you must forgive even the unforgivable.

Another important psychologist is Larry James. He says:

“The greatest misconception about forgiveness is the belief that forgiving the offense, such as an affair, means that you condone it. Not true. In fact, we can only forgive what we know to be wrong. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to reconcile with someone who badly treated you.

Another misconception is that it depends on whether the person who did you wrong apologizes, wants you back, or changes his or her ways. If another person's poor behavior were the primary determinant for your healing then the unkind and selfish people in your life would retain power over you indefinitely. Forgiveness is the experience of finding peace inside and can neither be compelled nor stopped by another.

I believe that to withhold forgiveness is to choose to continue to remain the victim. Remember, you always have choice. When you forgive you do it for you, not for the other. The person you have never forgiven. . . owns you! How about an affair? Just because you choose to forgive, does not mean you have to stay in the relationship. That is only and always your choice. The choice to forgive is only and always yours”.4 He mentions other opinions5.

LoveNote. . . One pardons to the degree that one loves. - Francios De La Rochefoucauld

LoveNote. . . Love is an act of endless forgiveness. - Peter Ustinov

LoveNote. . . Genuine forgiveness is participation, reunion overcoming the powers of estrangement. . . We cannot love unless we have accepted forgiveness, and the deeper our experience of forgiveness is, the greater is our love. - Paul Tillich

LoveNote. . . To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness. - Robert Muller

LoveNote. . . Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much. - Oscar Wilde

LoveNote. . . The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. - Mahatma Gandhi

LoveNote. . . Forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past. - Alexa Young

Just to contrast the above opinions, let me quote Schopenhauer: “To forgive and to forget is an equivalent of throwing out all your hard acquired experiences down the drain”.

Those people are stark raving mad! In other words, according to those “good guys” full of heart, there is no limit to forgiveness.

It is noble to forgive and most of us want to be generous and show our heart (at least theoretically). But my feeling is that most of those who get on the bandwagon of forgiveness do not understand that to forgive does not consist in pronouncing empty words. There is much more to it, because in English one says: acts speak louder than words. Everybody knows about it. Have a look at the same proverb in other languages with literal translations.

ES   Del dicho al hecho va un trecho

        ... hay /va un gran trecho / mucho trecho       

       El movimiento se muestra andando      

PT  De dizer ao fazer há muita coisa a ver.   

      "From say (inf) to-the do (inf) are many things to see"

       Do dito ao feito vai um grande eito      

       "From-the said to-the done goes (=there is) a great row-of-things"

       Dizer é uma coisa e fazer é outra.        "Say is one thing and do is another"

DE  Es ist leicht gesagt, aber langsam getan."It is easy said but slowly done"

SE  Från det sagda till det gjorda är vägen lång

       "From-the said to-the done is way-the long"

PL  ?atwo powiedzie?, ale trudno zrobi?.       "Easy to say, but difficult to do"

RU  Ne ver' slovam, a ver' delam              "Don't believe words, but believe acts"

       Ot slov da dela daleko                  "From words to act long [way]"

To forgive is to express sympathy and compassion. But this kind of forgiveness has a pure egoistic purpose. And in many cases those who “forgive” send the offenders packing. What kind of forgiveness is it? It has nothing to do what B.Peterson has said above.

Alexander Pope once said: "To err is human; to forgive, Divine."  If to forgive is Divine, let’s leave it to God then.

UK  Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's

PT   Dar a César o que é de César.             "Give to Caesar that is Ceasar's"

ES   Dad a Diós lo que es de Diós e a César lo que es de César.

DE  Dem Kaiser geben, was des Kaisers ist      "The  Ceasar (Dat) give, what Ceasar's is"

       Jedem das Seine                        "Everyone (Dat) what-belongs-to-him"

SE  Ge kejsaren vad kejsaren tillhör               "Give Ceasar-the what Ceasar-the belongs"

PL  Oddaj cesarzowi to co cesarskie, a Bogu to co boskie.

"Give-back Ceasar (Dat) that what [is] Ceasar's, and God (Dat) that what [is] God's"

RU Cezar'u - cezarevo                  "Ceasar (Dat) [what is] Ceasar's"

How easy and comfy it is to give opinions or advice especially if it does not involve the advisor. Never trouble troubles till trouble troubles you. But I think one must make an effort to empathise with the person concerned if one wants to forgive.

As the problem crosses the national borders, I dedicated some time to read stories from Sweden, Poland and Portugal this time. Obviously reporting is not precise because something will be unintentionally missing, but as there is no other way, let me mention some cases.

A woman was left by her husband when the kid was 5 years old. Ten years later she falls in love with a man. They live a deep requited love. The man is divorced and has no children. They agree to enlarge the family. She is 41 and gets pregnant. But her passed experience makes her have an abortion although her new partner tells her clearly that if she decides on abortion, he will abandon her. She is between the hammer and the anvil until the last moment she hesitates but she does what she has decided. Her partner abandons her and she is devastated. They manage to meet but just to shed tears together. She knows she has harmed him and feels pricks of conscience and begs him repeatedly for forgiveness by phoning him several times. He is not able to forgive her. She has lost not only her baby but also her future life that looked promising. Is it possible for him to forgive her?

How about complicating the context?  He dies or commits suicide. Now as the only person who might have forgiven her is dead, can she forgive herself?

Let’s see the same situation but the only difference is that she does not feel guilty at all but knows that he suffers. She is far from begging him for forgiveness. Should she be forgiven?

Can we forgive a person who abused our children? Especially when the consequences are still evident: incurable psychological problems that they will have to “bear and grin it” to carry on living.

Another story: a man in a relationship with kids felt some weakness and betrayed his wife who learnt that through insisting phone calls from his lover, who bent over backwards to make the woman divorce her husband. Even the adolescent kids learnt about the situation. She eventually forgave his husband and the story would be a trivial one if the situation did not grow more complex: the lover got pregnant by the man’s brother and became an extended family member, which in Portugal means a family member. Should the betrayed woman forgive also her husband’s sister-in-law?

And finally what about the reoccurrences of the events? I would love some of those mentors or “good guys” to step into the constantly battered women’ or maltreated or molested children’s shoes by their partners/fathers. Would they be so generous and so eloquent giving us lectures how we should respond to such malpractices? Let them have such experience (but not a single event, but an ordeal during 5 or 10 years). So once they have lived such an ordeal they will stop talking nonsense. Those advisors most probably have never been really hurt.

I would not be honest if I bit my tongue now. Seligman (2002:79) tells us a really unbelievable and breath-taking story that happened in America in the late 90s. Here it goes.

“When Dr Worthington [the psychologist] arrived in Knoxville, he found that his aged mother had been beaten to death with a crowbar and a baseball bat. She was raped with a wine bottle and her house was trashed. [her house was burgled at night when she was at home]. His successful struggle to forgive would be an inspiration coming from any quarter. Coming from a leading investigator of forgiveness, it dwells in the high country of moral teaching, and I recommend it to any of my readers who want to forgive but cannot”.

Worthington describes a long process that he calls REACH. R stands for “recall” the hurt in an objective way without thinking of the wrong-doers as evil and visualize the scene even without wallowing in self-pity. E means “empathize” seeing the situation from the transgressor’s point of view. A means “altruistic gift” of forgiveness to feel better. “But we do not give this gift out of self-interests. Rather we give it because it is for the trespasser’s own good. Tell yourself you can rise above hurt and vengeance. If you give the gift grudgingly, however, it will not set you free”. C stands for “commit” yourself to forgive publicly. H means “hold” onto forgiveness in spite of recurring memories.

We should ask: how many people like Dr.Worthington are there in this world? Isn’t he one of few exceptions? I am more inclined to the Peterson’s and Enright’s definition of forgiveness. But Worthington’s idea beat them by a mile.

All this I have written so far may suggest that I am utterly against forgiveness. On the contrary, I am for forgiveness, but to forgive should never embrace all the cases. There are decent limits for granting forgiveness, Ithink, may not be transgressed. Besides, when we decide to forgive, we must have clear signs that the offender feels that he has harmed us so that we can have some expectations that they will not replicate their act(s).  If those signs are absent, there is no point of forgiving. Apart from that I am against forgiveness if it is, as almost all psychologists agree, not for the offender but for my own sake so that I could live at ease. This is a very egoistic view that I don’t accept. Forgiveness has its sense if there is a sort of rapport between the harmed person and the offender.

Only what is lacking nowadays is to abolish courts of law. What do we need them for? A bloody murderer should be forgiven so that he can commit another crime. Any law-breaker, child molester should get away with their offences just to encourage others to step down to the world of offence and crime. Is that what those “good guys” want?

In general terms there are minor cases, serious and very serious cases. On a personal level, the most emphasized problem in human relations is a betrayal. I would have thought that even a betrayal could fall into any of these three categories, although the act of betrayal in itself is the same, the circumstances are different and must be taken into account.

On a Portuguese site I have found this anonymous, who has written this and in my translation it sounds the following:

"You can forgive the woman who you love even if she has betrayed you; the one you don’t love, you should not forgive even too salty soup”.

Let me finish with forgiveness concerning personal relations quoting a joke:

A man is complaining to his wife because she is rubbing it in again.

-Sure, I have forgiven them and also forgotten them – replied his wife – But I want to be sure that you will not forget that I have forgiven you and forgotten all about it.

To finish with, I am only going to mention the crimes against Humanity. Should they be pardoned?  Can we, who have not suffered, pardon those crimes? Whom should we pardon? Stalin or Hitler or both? If so, what would mean such a pardon?

Richard

1 http://website.lineone.net/~andrewhdknock/WhyHow.htm

1 http://website.lineone.net/~andrewhdknock/WhyHow.htm

2 http://kristerhultberg.blogg.se/2007/march/

3 J.Gray (1998:77) “Starting Over”, Vermilion, London

4 Larry James: “Forgiveness… What is it for?” http://www.celebrateintimacy.com/forgive.html

5 Copyright © 2000 - Larry James. Adapted from the book, "How to Really Love the One You're With."



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


Is it possible to forgive? (Lawrence)

Forgiveness is a very powerful emotion. And I call it an emotion because it affects our beliefs, feelings, sentiments and most important of all, our behaviour. Indeed I would argue that forgiveness is about behaviour. We  cannot be forgiven if our victims do not change his or her behaviour towards us. Mainly not to seek retribution for the wrong and harm we did them. This of course does not mean they have to be our friends nor does it affect any legal implications.

Likewise, the wrong doer is expected to show some form of contrition or remorse for his or her actions. Although contrition is not a necessary condition for forgiveness,   it is a sufficient condition to seek forgiveness. So whether one is a victim or a perpetrator of a wrong or harm one must show some outwardly demonstration of one’s feelings for their to be forgiveness. Therefore, much as we might dislike behaviourism, we have very few options but to follow the saying: actions speak louder than words.

It would be reasonable to assume that the anatomy of forgiveness involves the following parts: a wrong done and a wrong doer, harm done to a victim, an intentional action to do harm, a victim’s free intentional decision to forgive, maybe a wrong doer’s feeling of remorse (and-or guilt feelings) and finally a public manifestation of forgiveness given and maybe received. The last condition does not imply that if one is forgiven one accepts that one is, has to or ought to be forgiven. Furthermore, we can consider feeling of remorse by the wrong doer as an optional extra: nice to have but not necessary to have.

So what philosophical questions and issues can we identify from all this? I will start with the question, what are the implications of forgiveness on the nature and status of the wrong and-or harm done? We can reasonably assume that just because we forgive someone we are not saying that what they did was not harmful nor wrong. Nor are we saying that we will always forgive this type of harm or wrong done. If we accept that certain types of “wrong” or “harm” are always forgiven then we would indirectly establish that this type of harm (whatever that maybe) to be the norm. Also forgiving someone does not mean that we accept the wrong doer will do the same harm or wrong in the future. It follows, in my opinion, therefore, that forgiveness is not about wrong or harm, but rather about human relationships.

It seems to me that forgiveness becomes an issue not because of the nature of the harm or wrong done, but because one agent infringes on the accepted relationship between them and an other agent or group of agents. In other words, it is not that we seek forgiveness because we damaged our friend’s car, but because we infringed and damaged the relationship of trust and duty of care towards our friend and his property.

There are many things that people can do that causes us harm and wrong but which do not elicit a request for forgiveness nor  consideration to forgive. For example, delayed flights or lost luggage are wrongs and harm done to passengers but in many cases an apology and an explanation is all that is required and in others full compensation is necessary. The issue of forgiveness does not arise here. Compare this with a plane that crashes because of bad maintenance. At the centre of this argument is the question of intention. Most reasonable people would have no problem distinguishing between accidents and intentionally not performing the necessary maintenance on a plane.

Therefore, is it possible to forgive someone? Part of the answer depends on the intentions of the wrong doer. As rational agents we ascribe moral responsibility to others and ourselves because we assume that wrong doers are acting freely and intentionally. Until, that is, we have evidence to the contrary. And although I am using quasi legal terminology, I do not intend a  legal meaning here. A badly maintained plane is not the same as a airplane that fails because of unforeseen structural limits.

But what does it mean to forgive someone or ask for forgiveness? I am not asking what does forgive means. I am interested in the implications and functions of forgiveness.

I have already argued that forgiveness does not affect the wrong or harm done but rather the people involved. One of the clear cut implications of this is that forgiveness is an attempt to restore relationships. We seek our parent’s forgiveness because we want our parents to love us again. We seek our friend’s forgiveness because we value our relationship. But I also want to argue that whether we forgive someone or not depends on how close our relationship is with the wrong doer or group of wrong doers.

For example, if we do wrong against a relative or a friend we feel more compelled to ask for forgiveness than someone we have no  causal relationship. How many times has one of the tin pot dictators asked you for forgiveness for murdering his or her people? By causal relationship I mean that there is a link between two agents and that this link is established within a context. A relative in the context of the family, a manager in the context of work, a politician in the context of one’s country and maybe even a despot in a foreign land in the context of humanity; within a context but of course contexts are endless. Thus if there is a causal link,  the issue of forgiveness becomes more relevant than if there isn’t one.

Another big issue about forgiveness is that of subjectivity. Of course, this should not come as a surprise because I have already argued that forgiveness is an emotion and involves intentionality.

The wrong done and the harm done must first off all be perceived by the victim as a harm or a wrong done to them. If we don’t perceive someone’s actions as a wrong doing we usually don’t consider the option of forgiving them, there is nothing to forgive. For example if our boss does not visit us in hospital and we don’t expect him or her to do so we don’t see a request for forgiveness as relevant. The same applies for the wrong doer.

Of course, all this does not mean that others must have the same opinion as we do, and nor does it mean that in many cases the opinion of others does not matter. It’s just the nature of emotions, and forgiveness, which, I submit, involves an awareness of wrong and harm by all the parties involved.

But why should we bother or care to forgive someone or ask for forgiveness? I have already said that one of the reasons is that we want to mend broken relationships. But   the harm done cannot be reversed or changed, so why bother?

This issue seems to be very important in the context of religions and most religions (see Wikipedia: Forgiveness) do emphasise the element of mending relationships. I do  not wish to enter into an investigation on religions, but I do want to mention as aspect about the three religions that helped to establish western culture: (in chronological order) Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

It is curious and I won’t put it more than that, that Judaism involves forgiveness this way: (from the Wikipedia) Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, summarized: "it is not that God forgives, while human beings do not. To the contrary, we believe that just as only God can forgive sins against God, so only human beings can forgive sins against human beings." However, the two other religions clearly establish, in some form or other, God’s power to forgive independent of the human victim’s wishes. Of course this is just the gist and not the details of the position of these respective religions. What I find interesting about these religions is not their theological position, but rather the evolutionary process of their beliefs.

At least for me it is obvious that Judaism’s position on forgiveness is quite logical and reasonable, but equally obvious is that this position is not very practical. Forgiveness is a big thing and not everyone can rise to the occasion. And a society bearing grudges does not make an ideal scenario for progress and cooperation.

However, the evolutionary step of giving God the power to forgive the wrong and harm done between two human agents, as Islam and Christianity hold, is equally problematic. No doubt Islam and Christianity do solve the problem of practicality by invoking God; a solution no less astute than quantum physicists invoking the value of the square root of minus one. But it seems to me that the God solution is done at the expense of the victims of the wrong and harm done. You will remember, I argued that it was necessary for the victim to feel wronged and for the victim to intentionally forgive if there is any forgiving to be had. So how does ignoring the victims create a better and just society?

It is this evolutionary process, and not the theological meaning, that provides evidence that forgiveness is a subjective matter and a matter for human beings to deal with. This   does not solve any problems for us, but at least I have tried to pin down the problem of forgiveness to the ground, otherwise also known as the Earth.

While there are many things we can do to make forgiveness possible, we still have to establish whether we can make subjectivity impossible. In a way what I am proposing is to solve a subjective problem with an objective solution; the same way Islam and Christianity tried to do. In a way forgiveness leads us directly to three of the most important questions of classical philosophy. In true Platonic spirit, by trying to move forgiveness from a human problem to an objective solution (eg. The God solution) we are trying to discover some form of gold standard or the equivalent of Plato’s forms.

The second question is the objectivity-subjectivity problem. If we had some objective criteria to determine when and when not to forgive someone we would solve the problem of some people not forgiving others when they ought to. If we allow the subjective opinion of victims to determine whether to forgive someone or not this would equally lead to a society with its  share of injustice and impracticality, as I have argued.

Finally, even Hume’s problem of deriving an “ought to an is” raises its head with forgiveness. It is true that the emotional and subjective aspects of forgiveness makes forgiveness very difficult to resolve. But it is also true that we are pressed to resolve this problem because we value the healing and fixing powers of forgiveness. Which explains why many societies seek to find a practical solution to a difficult problem including ourselves with parents and friends. But ethical systems have to establish what is right and wrong, harm and benefit, and they have to do so in absolute terms; an ethical systems does not function on shifting sands. This does not mean, however, that right and wrong do not come in degrees, only that harm is always harm and wrong is always wrong. And here is where Hume’s problem becomes relevant: while it is possible to forgive, ought we to do so?

Take care

Lawrence




from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Is it possible to forgive? + News







from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Is it possible to forgive? + News


Dear friends,


This Sunday we are discussing the theme of forgiveness: Is it possible to forgive? I am also enclosing Richard’s and my essay. We should have a lot to talk about.

In the meantime Margie has sent me details about a performing event “The Second Mad Open Mic: Captured Words” which is going to be organised in March 4th. If you want to participate or attend see the details below.

See you Sunday

Lawrence

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-----Margie’s Event-----

The Second Mad Open Mic: Captured Words

Café Concierto La Fídula

Calle Huertas, 57 Madrid in the Barrio de las Letras

Metro: Anton Martin, Sevilla, Banco

Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Performing will begin at 9:00 pm



To register and for further information, contact: margiekanter@gmail.com or www.elasunto.com/mkd.htm

Come to present your own work or just to listen in. Open to the public. No entry fee. You pay (only) for what you consume.

Guidelines for Performers:
- Your presentation must be your own creative words; spoken or read-spoken. It can be a story, poem, lyrics (but no music), creative essay...
- We will readspeak in cycles of 3-6 minutes each depending upon how many we are. Please prepare your work in combinations of 3 minutes each to allow for flexibility in scheduling. If there is time, there will be a second cycle. Please clock your readings ahead of time.
- Sign up by emailing: margiekanter@gmail.com by February 26, 2009.
- Put Open Mic in the Subject or Asunto of the email.
- Include a short sample of your work or give me an idea of what you are planning to readspeak to help in the planning.
- Late registrants will be included when possible.
- Presentations will be in English.
- For updates check: www.elasunto.com/mkd.htm

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


IS IT POSSIBLE TO FORGIVE? (Richard)

In order to answer this question, I must know what “to forgive means” I am afraid I don’t know the accurate meaning of the word. But this fact does not absolve me from writing on forgiveness and sharing my reflexions with you.

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. As I am an ignorant on the matter, I had better consult some dictionaries. I will not restrict myself to the English language only. As a multilingual person, with your permission, I will delve into some other languages to confront the same meaning of the word. Is it the same?

The English dictionaries are at one as far as the intransitive usage of the word is concerned, namely it means to grant forgiveness. We are rather interested in its transitive use to forgive sb or to forgive sth or moreover: to forgive sb sth or forgive sb for doing sth. It means to give up resentment of or claim to requital for sth (forgive an insult); to grant relief from payment (to forgive a debt), but I suppose we are all much more interested in the meaning: to cease to feel resentment against sb, who is an offender, to pardon (to forgive one’s enemies) (Merriam-Webster Online)

To forgive “is to pardon with compassion usually on a directly personal level.” (Cassell’s Modern Guide to Synonyms).

Forgiveness “is typically defined as the process of ceasing to feel resentment, indignation or anger for a perceived offence, difference or mistake and ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.” (Wiki Encyclopedia)

It is interesting to note that English follows the direct translation from Latin per don?re: per = for and don?re = give /donate. So we obtain the English “Pardon” or “For-give.” The one that directly follows from Latin is formal in this context and was reserved for God or for those in power/authority, for other mortals only to forgive is used. English, which is considered more concise language than Spanish, is richer in synonyms: to pardon, forgive, excuse, condone, overlook, remit.

It seems to me that the most reasonable definition of forgiveness is given by a psychologist Robert Enright who says that it is

“Giving up the resentment to which you are entitled, and offering to the persons who hurt you friendlier attitudes to which they are not entitled." (…)

“Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. One will never forget some things, but this does not mean you need to dwell on it and forgiving is not the same as excusing, because you are not excusing the behaviour or pretending that it did not hurt”.1

In DE the other way round. Only God or the authority can vergeben (for-give). All other mortals can only verzeihen (ver-zeihen, to take back pointing finger at sb, take back the accusation), in other words they can only excuse. I owe the second part of this explanation to Kevin Johnson, from a friend of mine from AllExperts.com.

But in SE förgiva / förge is not used anymore in this meaning, but in the meaning of “to poison”. The word förlåtelse (thoroughly let it go of) means giving up on all the bitter feelings and ideas on punishment that one has harboured before against sb who has done some harm.

I also like the defintion given by Birgit Peterson, MD and therapist who says that “To forgive is the same as to give oneself or sb else the chance to build up the confidence that got lost and which may be appreciated by both sides. Forgiveness may be seen as a gift from one to another”.2

In ES “perdón implica la idea de una condonación, remisión, cese de una falta, ofensa, demanda, castigo, indignación o ira, eximiendo al culpable de una obligación, discrepancia o error” (RAE, following Wiki).

In PT very similar to ES, but perdoar (perdão) is reserved for bigger, more important issues and desculpar for everyday cases.

In PL: Przebaczy? / Wybaczy? (I am afraid I don’t know the difference between the two; I even consulted the Polish Dictionary and it does not point out any difference) means ceasing to feel anger / wrath or resentment against sb because of something that has happened; it means also absolving sb from guilt.

In RU ??????? proshtchat’ = to condescend, not to blame, to pardon, to free sb from obligations.

As we can see, there is not a very clear-cut definition of forgiveness.

The matter of forgiveness embraces two parties: the forgiver and the forgiven, even if the latter is not alive. And sometimes the two parties merge in one: the person’s dilemma is whether they should forgive themselves.

Although most of us here have been educated in Christian tradition, under no circumstances will I touch upon religion, because I think that even within Christian community the opinions are divided. I had better stick to the ethical / moral grounds to which the topic fully belongs.

My personal view is that this is one of few topics where objectivity does not exist. There is no human or mathematical science that would objectively state what is right and what is wrong. Besides, it is one of few topics that does not admit generalizations, even though any generalization on any subject may be not proper or even harmful but they are often necessary to make.

I am more than convinced that each case, however similar it may be, is different. One could say that for instance in legal matters each case is a case, but in practical terms similar cases follow the same procedure, mainly for bureaucratic reasons. As forgiveness is not an institutionalized matter (excluding some sporadic cases) but only personal, there is no bureaucracy involved.

In concordance with the times we live accompanied by the thought here in Europe at least that the only thing which is worth fighting for is peace at all costs. So everything should be settled through peaceful means. I am not talking about politics only. So how to bring a permanent peace? Any act of violence should not be retaliated because retribution leads to the chain of violence and therefore the idea of forgiving has been very much emphasized for the last 20 years. Everyone wants to live in peace.

The idea is not new. It is very old, as old as hills. A good man should forgive, should not look for vengeance. A new fashion has come. To blame, to seek vengeance even to pass judgements is considered wrong, even a crime. Why? Because the budding problem must get a nip in the bud, or else it develops and will bring violence and this should be averted.

I am not questioning the nobleness of such thinking but is it feasible to get rid of human negative feelings overnight because it has been fashionable to promote only goodness and positive thinking? We would stop being humans if we stopped hating, being jealous, being vindictive or stopped expressing anger (preserving obviously our positive characteristics as well). Is it the right way to improve the human race? Is there another theoretical Nietzsche on the horizon or a new Hitler to implement the plan?

The army of psychologists appeal to us telling us that to forgive sb does not mean absolving them from guilt. John Gray even tries to change the definition of forgiveness saying that it is not freeing the offender from guilt, because “forgiveness frees us [the forgiver] from continuing to hold on to our pain”3, because it lets us go of hurt and this opens the path to happiness, peace and love. Others, one can see on the web quite a few such sentences like these: “forgiveness: principle for health and happiness” "hate is like an acid. It destroys the vessel in which it is stored." They say that “studies show that one of the keys to longevity and good health is to develop a habit of gratitude and let go of past hurt”. So if you want to live such a life you must forgive even the unforgivable.

Another important psychologist is Larry James. He says:

“The greatest misconception about forgiveness is the belief that forgiving the offense, such as an affair, means that you condone it. Not true. In fact, we can only forgive what we know to be wrong. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to reconcile with someone who badly treated you.

Another misconception is that it depends on whether the person who did you wrong apologizes, wants you back, or changes his or her ways. If another person's poor behavior were the primary determinant for your healing then the unkind and selfish people in your life would retain power over you indefinitely. Forgiveness is the experience of finding peace inside and can neither be compelled nor stopped by another.

I believe that to withhold forgiveness is to choose to continue to remain the victim. Remember, you always have choice. When you forgive you do it for you, not for the other. The person you have never forgiven. . . owns you! How about an affair? Just because you choose to forgive, does not mean you have to stay in the relationship. That is only and always your choice. The choice to forgive is only and always yours”.4 He mentions other opinions5.

LoveNote. . . One pardons to the degree that one loves. - Francios De La Rochefoucauld

LoveNote. . . Love is an act of endless forgiveness. - Peter Ustinov

LoveNote. . . Genuine forgiveness is participation, reunion overcoming the powers of estrangement. . . We cannot love unless we have accepted forgiveness, and the deeper our experience of forgiveness is, the greater is our love. - Paul Tillich

LoveNote. . . To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness. - Robert Muller

LoveNote. . . Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much. - Oscar Wilde

LoveNote. . . The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. - Mahatma Gandhi

LoveNote. . . Forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past. - Alexa Young

Just to contrast the above opinions, let me quote Schopenhauer: “To forgive and to forget is an equivalent of throwing out all your hard acquired experiences down the drain”.

Those people are stark raving mad! In other words, according to those “good guys” full of heart, there is no limit to forgiveness.

It is noble to forgive and most of us want to be generous and show our heart (at least theoretically). But my feeling is that most of those who get on the bandwagon of forgiveness do not understand that to forgive does not consist in pronouncing empty words. There is much more to it, because in English one says: acts speak louder than words. Everybody knows about it. Have a look at the same proverb in other languages with literal translations.

ES Del dicho al hecho va un trecho

... hay /va un gran trecho / mucho trecho

El movimiento se muestra andando

PT De dizer ao fazer há muita coisa a ver.

"From say (inf) to-the do (inf) are many things to see"

Do dito ao feito vai um grande eito

"From-the said to-the done goes (=there is) a great row-of-things"

Dizer é uma coisa e fazer é outra. "Say is one thing and do is another"

DE Es ist leicht gesagt, aber langsam getan."It is easy said but slowly done"

SE Från det sagda till det gjorda är vägen lång

"From-the said to-the done is way-the long"

PL ?atwo powiedzie?, ale trudno zrobi?. "Easy to say, but difficult to do"

RU Ne ver' slovam, a ver' delam "Don't believe words, but believe acts"

Ot slov da dela daleko "From words to act long [way]"

To forgive is to express sympathy and compassion. But this kind of forgiveness has a pure egoistic purpose. And in many cases those who “forgive” send the offenders packing. What kind of forgiveness is it? It has nothing to do what B.Peterson has said above.

Alexander Pope once said: "To err is human; to forgive, Divine." If to forgive is Divine, let’s leave it to God then.

UK Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's

PT Dar a César o que é de César. "Give to Caesar that is Ceasar's"

ES Dad a Diós lo que es de Diós e a César lo que es de César.

DE Dem Kaiser geben, was des Kaisers ist "The Ceasar (Dat) give, what Ceasar's is"

Jedem das Seine "Everyone (Dat) what-belongs-to-him"

SE Ge kejsaren vad kejsaren tillhör "Give Ceasar-the what Ceasar-the belongs"

PL Oddaj cesarzowi to co cesarskie, a Bogu to co boskie.

"Give-back Ceasar (Dat) that what [is] Ceasar's, and God (Dat) that what [is] God's"

RU Cezar'u - cezarevo "Ceasar (Dat) [what is] Ceasar's"

How easy and comfy it is to give opinions or advice especially if it does not involve the advisor. Never trouble troubles till trouble troubles you. But I think one must make an effort to empathise with the person concerned if one wants to forgive.

As the problem crosses the national borders, I dedicated some time to read stories from Sweden, Poland and Portugal this time. Obviously reporting is not precise because something will be unintentionally missing, but as there is no other way, let me mention some cases.

A woman was left by her husband when the kid was 5 years old. Ten years later she falls in love with a man. They live a deep requited love. The man is divorced and has no children. They agree to enlarge the family. She is 41 and gets pregnant. But her passed experience makes her have an abortion although her new partner tells her clearly that if she decides on abortion, he will abandon her. She is between the hammer and the anvil until the last moment she hesitates but she does what she has decided. Her partner abandons her and she is devastated. They manage to meet but just to shed tears together. She knows she has harmed him and feels pricks of conscience and begs him repeatedly for forgiveness by phoning him several times. He is not able to forgive her. She has lost not only her baby but also her future life that looked promising. Is it possible for him to forgive her?

How about complicating the context? He dies or commits suicide. Now as the only person who might have forgiven her is dead, can she forgive herself?

Let’s see the same situation but the only difference is that she does not feel guilty at all but knows that he suffers. She is far from begging him for forgiveness. Should she be forgiven?

Can we forgive a person who abused our children? Especially when the consequences are still evident: incurable psychological problems that they will have to “bear and grin it” to carry on living.

Another story: a man in a relationship with kids felt some weakness and betrayed his wife who learnt that through insisting phone calls from his lover, who bent over backwards to make the woman divorce her husband. Even the adolescent kids learnt about the situation. She eventually forgave his husband and the story would be a trivial one if the situation did not grow more complex: the lover got pregnant by the man’s brother and became an extended family member, which in Portugal means a family member. Should the betrayed woman forgive also her husband’s sister-in-law?

And finally what about the reoccurrences of the events? I would love some of those mentors or “good guys” to step into the constantly battered women’ or maltreated or molested children’s shoes by their partners/fathers. Would they be so generous and so eloquent giving us lectures how we should respond to such malpractices? Let them have such experience (but not a single event, but an ordeal during 5 or 10 years). So once they have lived such an ordeal they will stop talking nonsense. Those advisors most probably have never been really hurt.

I would not be honest if I bit my tongue now. Seligman (2002:79) tells us a really unbelievable and breath-taking story that happened in America in the late 90s. Here it goes.

“When Dr Worthington [the psychologist] arrived in Knoxville, he found that his aged mother had been beaten to death with a crowbar and a baseball bat. She was raped with a wine bottle and her house was trashed. [her house was burgled at night when she was at home]. His successful struggle to forgive would be an inspiration coming from any quarter. Coming from a leading investigator of forgiveness, it dwells in the high country of moral teaching, and I recommend it to any of my readers who want to forgive but cannot”.

Worthington describes a long process that he calls REACH. R stands for “recall” the hurt in an objective way without thinking of the wrong-doers as evil and visualize the scene even without wallowing in self-pity. E means “empathize” seeing the situation from the transgressor’s point of view. A means “altruistic gift” of forgiveness to feel better. “But we do not give this gift out of self-interests. Rather we give it because it is for the trespasser’s own good. Tell yourself you can rise above hurt and vengeance. If you give the gift grudgingly, however, it will not set you free”. C stands for “commit” yourself to forgive publicly. H means “hold” onto forgiveness in spite of recurring memories.

We should ask: how many people like Dr.Worthington are there in this world? Isn’t he one of few exceptions? I am more inclined to the Peterson’s and Enright’s definition of forgiveness. But Worthington’s idea beat them by a mile.

All this I have written so far may suggest that I am utterly against forgiveness. On the contrary, I am for forgiveness, but to forgive should never embrace all the cases. There are decent limits for granting forgiveness, Ithink, may not be transgressed. Besides, when we decide to forgive, we must have clear signs that the offender feels that he has harmed us so that we can have some expectations that they will not replicate their act(s). If those signs are absent, there is no point of forgiving. Apart from that I am against forgiveness if it is, as almost all psychologists agree, not for the offender but for my own sake so that I could live at ease. This is a very egoistic view that I don’t accept. Forgiveness has its sense if there is a sort of rapport between the harmed person and the offender.

Only what is lacking nowadays is to abolish courts of law. What do we need them for? A bloody murderer should be forgiven so that he can commit another crime. Any law-breaker, child molester should get away with their offences just to encourage others to step down to the world of offence and crime. Is that what those “good guys” want?

In general terms there are minor cases, serious and very serious cases. On a personal level, the most emphasized problem in human relations is a betrayal. I would have thought that even a betrayal could fall into any of these three categories, although the act of betrayal in itself is the same, the circumstances are different and must be taken into account.

On a Portuguese site I have found this anonymous, who has written this and in my translation it sounds the following:

"You can forgive the woman who you love even if she has betrayed you; the one you don’t love, you should not forgive even too salty soup”.

Let me finish with forgiveness concerning personal relations quoting a joke:

A man is complaining to his wife because she is rubbing it in again.

-Sure, I have forgiven them and also forgotten them – replied his wife – But I want to be sure that you will not forget that I have forgiven you and forgotten all about it.

To finish with, I am only going to mention the crimes against Humanity. Should they be pardoned? Can we, who have not suffered, pardon those crimes? Whom should we pardon? Stalin or Hitler or both? If so, what would mean such a pardon?

Richard

1 http://website.lineone.net/~andrewhdknock/WhyHow.htm

1 http://website.lineone.net/~andrewhdknock/WhyHow.htm

2 http://kristerhultberg.blogg.se/2007/march/

3 J.Gray (1998:77) “Starting Over”, Vermilion, London

4 Larry James: “Forgiveness… What is it for?” http://www.celebrateintimacy.com/forgive.html

5 Copyright © 2000 - Larry James. Adapted from the book, "How to Really Love the One You're With."



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


Is it possible to forgive? (Lawrence)

Forgiveness is a very powerful emotion. And I call it an emotion because it affects our beliefs, feelings, sentiments and most important of all, our behaviour. Indeed I would argue that forgiveness is about behaviour. We cannot be forgiven if our victims do not change his or her behaviour towards us. Mainly not to seek retribution for the wrong and harm we did them. This of course does not mean they have to be our friends nor does it affect any legal implications.

Likewise, the wrong doer is expected to show some form of contrition or remorse for his or her actions. Although contrition is not a necessary condition for forgiveness, it is a sufficient condition to seek forgiveness. So whether one is a victim or a perpetrator of a wrong or harm one must show some outwardly demonstration of one’s feelings for their to be forgiveness. Therefore, much as we might dislike behaviourism, we have very few options but to follow the saying: actions speak louder than words.

It would be reasonable to assume that the anatomy of forgiveness involves the following parts: a wrong done and a wrong doer, harm done to a victim, an intentional action to do harm, a victim’s free intentional decision to forgive, maybe a wrong doer’s feeling of remorse (and-or guilt feelings) and finally a public manifestation of forgiveness given and maybe received. The last condition does not imply that if one is forgiven one accepts that one is, has to or ought to be forgiven. Furthermore, we can consider feeling of remorse by the wrong doer as an optional extra: nice to have but not necessary to have.

So what philosophical questions and issues can we identify from all this? I will start with the question, what are the implications of forgiveness on the nature and status of the wrong and-or harm done? We can reasonably assume that just because we forgive someone we are not saying that what they did was not harmful nor wrong. Nor are we saying that we will always forgive this type of harm or wrong done. If we accept that certain types of “wrong” or “harm” are always forgiven then we would indirectly establish that this type of harm (whatever that maybe) to be the norm. Also forgiving someone does not mean that we accept the wrong doer will do the same harm or wrong in the future. It follows, in my opinion, therefore, that forgiveness is not about wrong or harm, but rather about human relationships.

It seems to me that forgiveness becomes an issue not because of the nature of the harm or wrong done, but because one agent infringes on the accepted relationship between them and an other agent or group of agents. In other words, it is not that we seek forgiveness because we damaged our friend’s car, but because we infringed and damaged the relationship of trust and duty of care towards our friend and his property.

There are many things that people can do that causes us harm and wrong but which do not elicit a request for forgiveness nor consideration to forgive. For example, delayed flights or lost luggage are wrongs and harm done to passengers but in many cases an apology and an explanation is all that is required and in others full compensation is necessary. The issue of forgiveness does not arise here. Compare this with a plane that crashes because of bad maintenance. At the centre of this argument is the question of intention. Most reasonable people would have no problem distinguishing between accidents and intentionally not performing the necessary maintenance on a plane.

Therefore, is it possible to forgive someone? Part of the answer depends on the intentions of the wrong doer. As rational agents we ascribe moral responsibility to others and ourselves because we assume that wrong doers are acting freely and intentionally. Until, that is, we have evidence to the contrary. And although I am using quasi legal terminology, I do not intend a legal meaning here. A badly maintained plane is not the same as a airplane that fails because of unforeseen structural limits.

But what does it mean to forgive someone or ask for forgiveness? I am not asking what does forgive means. I am interested in the implications and functions of forgiveness.

I have already argued that forgiveness does not affect the wrong or harm done but rather the people involved. One of the clear cut implications of this is that forgiveness is an attempt to restore relationships. We seek our parent’s forgiveness because we want our parents to love us again. We seek our friend’s forgiveness because we value our relationship. But I also want to argue that whether we forgive someone or not depends on how close our relationship is with the wrong doer or group of wrong doers.

For example, if we do wrong against a relative or a friend we feel more compelled to ask for forgiveness than someone we have no causal relationship. How many times has one of the tin pot dictators asked you for forgiveness for murdering his or her people? By causal relationship I mean that there is a link between two agents and that this link is established within a context. A relative in the context of the family, a manager in the context of work, a politician in the context of one’s country and maybe even a despot in a foreign land in the context of humanity; within a context but of course contexts are endless. Thus if there is a causal link, the issue of forgiveness becomes more relevant than if there isn’t one.

Another big issue about forgiveness is that of subjectivity. Of course, this should not come as a surprise because I have already argued that forgiveness is an emotion and involves intentionality.

The wrong done and the harm done must first off all be perceived by the victim as a harm or a wrong done to them. If we don’t perceive someone’s actions as a wrong doing we usually don’t consider the option of forgiving them, there is nothing to forgive. For example if our boss does not visit us in hospital and we don’t expect him or her to do so we don’t see a request for forgiveness as relevant. The same applies for the wrong doer.

Of course, all this does not mean that others must have the same opinion as we do, and nor does it mean that in many cases the opinion of others does not matter. It’s just the nature of emotions, and forgiveness, which, I submit, involves an awareness of wrong and harm by all the parties involved.

But why should we bother or care to forgive someone or ask for forgiveness? I have already said that one of the reasons is that we want to mend broken relationships. But the harm done cannot be reversed or changed, so why bother?

This issue seems to be very important in the context of religions and most religions (see Wikipedia: Forgiveness) do emphasise the element of mending relationships. I do not wish to enter into an investigation on religions, but I do want to mention as aspect about the three religions that helped to establish western culture: (in chronological order) Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

It is curious and I won’t put it more than that, that Judaism involves forgiveness this way: (from the Wikipedia) Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, summarized: "it is not that God forgives, while human beings do not. To the contrary, we believe that just as only God can forgive sins against God, so only human beings can forgive sins against human beings." However, the two other religions clearly establish, in some form or other, God’s power to forgive independent of the human victim’s wishes. Of course this is just the gist and not the details of the position of these respective religions. What I find interesting about these religions is not their theological position, but rather the evolutionary process of their beliefs.

At least for me it is obvious that Judaism’s position on forgiveness is quite logical and reasonable, but equally obvious is that this position is not very practical. Forgiveness is a big thing and not everyone can rise to the occasion. And a society bearing grudges does not make an ideal scenario for progress and cooperation.

However, the evolutionary step of giving God the power to forgive the wrong and harm done between two human agents, as Islam and Christianity hold, is equally problematic. No doubt Islam and Christianity do solve the problem of practicality by invoking God; a solution no less astute than quantum physicists invoking the value of the square root of minus one. But it seems to me that the God solution is done at the expense of the victims of the wrong and harm done. You will remember, I argued that it was necessary for the victim to feel wronged and for the victim to intentionally forgive if there is any forgiving to be had. So how does ignoring the victims create a better and just society?

It is this evolutionary process, and not the theological meaning, that provides evidence that forgiveness is a subjective matter and a matter for human beings to deal with. This does not solve any problems for us, but at least I have tried to pin down the problem of forgiveness to the ground, otherwise also known as the Earth.

While there are many things we can do to make forgiveness possible, we still have to establish whether we can make subjectivity impossible. In a way what I am proposing is to solve a subjective problem with an objective solution; the same way Islam and Christianity tried to do. In a way forgiveness leads us directly to three of the most important questions of classical philosophy. In true Platonic spirit, by trying to move forgiveness from a human problem to an objective solution (eg. The God solution) we are trying to discover some form of gold standard or the equivalent of Plato’s forms.

The second question is the objectivity-subjectivity problem. If we had some objective criteria to determine when and when not to forgive someone we would solve the problem of some people not forgiving others when they ought to. If we allow the subjective opinion of victims to determine whether to forgive someone or not this would equally lead to a society with its share of injustice and impracticality, as I have argued.

Finally, even Hume’s problem of deriving an “ought to an is” raises its head with forgiveness. It is true that the emotional and subjective aspects of forgiveness makes forgiveness very difficult to resolve. But it is also true that we are pressed to resolve this problem because we value the healing and fixing powers of forgiveness. Which explains why many societies seek to find a practical solution to a difficult problem including ourselves with parents and friends. But ethical systems have to establish what is right and wrong, harm and benefit, and they have to do so in absolute terms; an ethical systems does not function on shifting sands. This does not mean, however, that right and wrong do not come in degrees, only that harm is always harm and wrong is always wrong. And here is where Hume’s problem becomes relevant: while it is possible to forgive, ought we to do so?

Take care

Lawrence




from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Is it possible to forgive? + News







Tuesday, January 20, 2009

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Peter’s Birthday Party Thursday

Dear friends,

Peter has asked me to tell you that this coming Thursday, the 22, he will be organising his birthday party in Café Madrid, Opera. You are all invited for a glass of Cava at 9.00pm until 9.30pm.

In the meantime, this Sunday we will be discussing: is it possible to forgive? Richard is thinking of writing an essay, but I am not sure will be able to.

Happy birthday Peter,

Lawrence


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Friday, January 16, 2009

Is the institution of the family possible today? (By Richard)


Is the institution of the family possible today?


By Richard


Before we make an attempt to answer this question, we must first define what family means.


We are not going to dwell on different scientific definitions of a family seen from the point of view of various disciplines. But we must ask ourselves what we mean by a family. Do we have in mind a nuclear family (two parents and their child / children) or an extended family including the host of relatives from cousins, uncles to in-laws? And the children could be biological or adopted. There are also many combinations of these patterns. Instead of parents, there could be a one-parent family or the guardians could be in charge of the child(ren).


Checking the meaning of the family in seven European languages, all of them are at one, which we stated above. One interesting thing is that the meaning of the word familia in Russian has passed onto the family surname and a new word "sem'yá" appeared. It is curious because the word "sem'" means the enigmatic number "seven" and the meaning of "ya" is "I". We haven't checked if they are pure coincidences. In Polish rodzina comes from ród which means lineage, kin, stock, estirpe / parentesco (ES/PT). Russian preserved the word "rod" in the same sense but "rodina" evolved to mean "fatherland" much more emotionally charged than the English word suggests, so it is better better to use "patria" in ES or pátria in PT to preserve its real meaning.


In Spanish or Portuguese tradition nobody really ads "extended" when they speak about their families so to dispel any doubts one should not understand it as a nuclear family.


In Polish or Russian tradition either a ground-mother or a ground -father is usually included in the nuclear family (and nuclear is implied without being mentioned) if they belong to the same household. I said "either…or", because if they both are still alive, they do not belong to the same household, but have their own unless we think of rich families having big houses / flats.


In Banto and other African tribal tradition, the dead family ancestors make part of the present family. It does sound strange to us but this is what it is considered as normal in those cultures.


As we see, there is a big variety of our understanding of the term "famil"y depending on the respective culture. If we limit our observations to the European tradition only, the word familia comes from Latin, but a few people know that originally the word implied all the domestic animals the people had, because they lived under the same roof. Although the separation between animals and people took place, the meaning of the word was transferred to people only. There must be something to it, because even nowadays some people jocularly add their pets as the members of their nuclear family.


An extraordinary change is noticeable in all definitions in the languages I checked. In neither of them a condition of the parent's being married is not stated. It is not a laughing matter if we remember the fact that a child born out-of-wedlock was not considered as a member of the family. It was scorned upon and in the word "bastard" in English still carries a heavy weight of a derogatory meaning and it is an insulting word.

Obviously, there are exceptions that only prove the rule. Everyone knows Leonardo da Vinci who even though had a very nasty childhood and adolescence, became known as the world's best artist. The Portuguese are still proud of their King D. João I, who was out-of-wedlock, but the lowest stratum of the population, contrary to the nobles, proclaimed him the first king of the new Avis dynasty at the end of the 14th century and saved the country from the Spanish invasion.


Having defined a family, and as we live here in Spain and most people coming to these encounters are Spaniards, we consider it is incumbent on us to understand the word family as it is understood in Spanish, i.e. an extended family.


First of all we think that everybody agrees (even those who feel they have very rich and rewarding family lives) that we witness a huge family crisis in the Western world..


Roughly speaking, we are of the opinion that in most European counties (especially in Northern Europe and Germany) the family in the Spanish sense is dead, meaning it does not convey the same feelings as it does in Spain even in big cities. In Eastern Europe if we think of big cities (there's still a big difference between big towns and villages), the family is dying out (we insist: the extended family). In the provinces family bonds are getting weaker and weaker.


The tendency is not very inspiring. A good example is Sweden where almost 50% of the population live on their own. And almost 60% of the inhabitants of Stockholm live alone. The Swedes say: Bra karl reder sig själv (A good fellow deals with everything by himself) or Ensam är stark (Alone means being strong). Aren't we following the same trend? The word familj although still means the same (but only in its nuclear sense), the emotional connotations are far from being the Spanish ones. The family bonds are much looser.


In the UK only some 25% of the population live in a traditional nuclear family sense: two parents and two kids.


Spain and Portugal have undergone profound social changes in the last 30 years. And we must see the problem in a wider context, because the family problem is not suspended in a vacuum. We must not separate it from human matters which are dictated whether we want it or not, by economy. Business wants more profits. Nothing other matters. Jobs are scarcer and not secure. People in general work longer hours. The steep rising in housing prices does not invite much to pursuing family orientation. Women have also joined the rat race, chasing their careers. There is no time for family life. No wonder that some 30 years ago the expression "quality time" refers to the time spent with the family.


The other day I read that according to today's prices, raising a child in Spain till they become a grown-up person costs 100,000 euros. Considering very low salaries and lack of substantial support from the State, people prefer having pets instead.


We are on the slippery slope. Some even express fears that this crisis is a threat to the Western civilization. We are not able to regenerate the population that is getting older (specialists in the matter say that in order to do that statistically every woman should give birth to 2 children). A human life prolongation, according to some estimates, gives rise to an army of the elderly that new generations will have to support. In 30 years' time 3 people will have to work to maintain one pensioner (in Switzerland or Germany, there will have to be 2 working people for one pensioner). So the future looks really bleak.


We don't think that the picture is painted so black, because as in nature homeostasis reigns, we don't consider that the human race is dying out. The number of us is still on an increase. But one thing seems certain: a traditional form of a family is dying out and it must find its way to adapt itself to the changing world. But this is nothing new. A patriarchal family type is gone. A woman from a sexual object assumed the role of a sexual subject and is not relegated to the role of a mother any more. A dethroned man must find his place in the new situation. The problem being that a woman has already paid a very high price for her independence, because as I argued in one of my previous essays, she is not biologically prepared to face on her own the difficulties of living in the world constructed to the man's convenience. So the rules of the game are masculine. To change all that will take many generations. Nobody is so patient to wait for such a long time. Life must continue. So I presume a man and a woman will have to, sooner or later, come to terms with the new situation. Many of us have already done it. But it is not enough. A new arrangement must be found. A sort of compromise must be reached because as Castells and Sabirats say "ni contigo ni sin ti" talking about the human relations.


In order that this new form of living might be found, we should be more understanding towards the opposite gender. But first we must learn those differences between genders and respect them and not rely only on our gender instincts. Only through knowledge and putting it into practice can we surpass the difficulties and be back on track again whatever the new temptations or challenges the world offers us.


If this arrangement is not maintained, a form of a family will be a child surrounded by some grown-ups, not necessarily parents, but one parent and the parent's friends or acquaintances. Will it be healthier for the child? Who knows? Its environment will be richer, but it must be also "more stable" and this is the principle question of the proper development of future generations.


We have been talking only about heterosexual families so far. Adding gay and lesbian families, we will complicate the matter even further. A few days ago I attended a conference at Caixa Forum given by Jeffrey Weeks, a renowned Irish figure working in England, author of several books on gender matters. Obviously we should not forget about homosexual families. They also make part of society.


We are not living in easy times. The technological acceleration has been bringing about far-reaching consequences, many of which we were unable to fathom. And more consequences are still to come. The main cell of society - the family - has been affected tremendously.


Is the institution of the family possible today? It is possible and it still exists, but the form of it is in the process of a profound change. The strength of the old form that was so widely popular 30 years ago is on the wane. Nobody knows the future but if the human race is to survive, the family crisis must not be downplayed.

Richard

Thursday, January 15, 2009

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Is the institution of the family possible today?

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing the question: Is the institution of the family possible today?

Since I have already written two essays (links below) on the topic I decided not write another essay this time. However, Richard tells me that he is finishing an essay for us and should have it ready by twelve noon tomorrow morning. If you want me to send you a copy please let me know, but I will post the essay on the blog and yahoo.group (links below) as soon I receive it.

In the meantime look forward to seeing on Sunday and keep warm.

All the best Lawrence



Family relationships
http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/2007/09/family-relationships.html

FAMILY……
http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/2008/02/family.html

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Friday, January 09, 2009

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Are we apes in a technological jungle? + News

Essay + news

Dear friends,

If it wasn’t for the PC in front of you, you wouldn’t be able to read this essay. Or maybe because of the PC in front of you that you cannot read this essay. The question we will be discussing this Sunday is indeed: are we apes in a technological jungle?

And because we are lucky to have access to technology I am able to convey the following news items which were brought to my attention.

- Present Conflict between Israel and the Palestinians-
Kim tells me that there is a demonstration this Sunday, at twelve noon, Puerta del Sol, in support of the Palestinians. And from Richard and Asu

From Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace: http://www.ffipp.org/news_blog
On the bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza

December 30, 2008
The present Israeli devastation of Gaza is the culmination of years of
a suffocating siege: together they sow death and suffering to an
appalling, insufferable extent. Israeli policy, having already provoked
a vicious cycle of attacks, retaliation, and counter-attacks by Hamas,
now has escalated. Current military action includes the direct shelling
of the Islamic University in Gaza. Israeli bombers have destroyed the
main laboratory buildings and damaged six other buildings, including
the library, lecture halls and the student cafeteria.
As academics, students, and intellectuals, we condemn the Israeli
attack on the Islamic University and call for an immediate cessation of
all military and violent actions by both sides. We demand an end to the
siege on the Gaza strip and full protection and guarantee of the
freedom of education.

Please spread wide and far.
Sign Petition http://www.ffipp.org/civicrm/profile/create?reset=1&gid=4



- The Hakani video -www.hakani.org
Edwin kindly tracked down the original version and web site of the video I mentioned last Sunday which shows the burial of live children in the Amazon by members of their tribe. They do this for many reasons, to keep the population down or simply because nobody wants to care for these children. The video is quite disturbing, but personally I don’t feel that parts of the video were made to objective journalistic standards. I am of course not saying that the plight of these children is not real nor that the video is fake or not; technically/journalistically I feel it leaves a lot to be desired. See for yourselves and decide. The site itself is very interesting.


Take care and see you Sunday

Lawrence


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Are we apes in a technological jungle?

How should we understand this question that is clearly steeped in metaphor? Today’s conventional use of jungle means that we are more likely to interpret this question in the negative sense than in a positive way. But if philosophy is about questioning and clarifying the meaning of propositions, and questions, than this question needs some further clarification.

The metaphorical meaning/interpretation of jungle is that of struggle, disorder, lawlessness and maybe even chaos. But we probably we owe this meaning to the fertile imagination of philosophers and social commentators of centuries gone by. We certainly did not come across this idea or meaning of jungle by making an objective analysis of jungles and life systems that inhabit jungles.

Apart from this rather subjective meaning of jungle we have inherited, we are also at a disadvantage because very few of us have any real experience of what it like to live and function in a jungle. Packaged tours to some six star holiday complex in the periphery of the Amazon or Borneo does not count as life in a jungle. Moreover, very few people will have the opportunity to experience life in a jungle because homo-sapiens and not apes nor primates are fast destroying these important parts of the world.

What is important for us is that meaning and interpretation of words, concepts and metaphor can be biased if not misleading. I hope to show later on how and why meaning and interpretation can lead to bias.

Given today’s meaning of this question we would be compelled, but maybe not obliged, to, interpret the question to something like this: we are inundated with technological devices and gadgets today that many of us seem primitive and unsophisticated creatures when having to use this technology. We may even go on and add that there is so much technology around us that we seem to be helpless and beholden to the whims of this technology. Maybe some are, but are we really primitive and helpless creatures the same way apes seem to be helpless and primitive in their jungle?

We can also agree that today technology influences and affects every aspect of our lives especially in western countries and modern cities. In fact, there has been a consistent effort these past few decades to replace humans with some sort of machine. In the past we had ticket collectors to check our tickets at underground (metro) stations. Today, in some cities, we have ticket barriers to check our tickets and let us through. Many times they work but they have an incredible knack of breaking down during rush hour. Some societies just trust their travelling public to take responsibility and buy a ticket.

It is also true that we seem to require some sort of complex knowledge and psychological skills to use certain technologies to perform day to day basic functions. Print a document, wash clothes, get to our money and make a telephone call. It is not enough to make a telephone call, but we can include a picture, send an sms or an email and even hold a conference call with all out friends and colleagues wherever that may happen to be. Assuming of course we can get our finger on the right button given that these things seem to have been designed to be used by sparrows and not descendents of apes and primates.

It is not enough that technology seems to fail during the wrong moment, just when we’re late to get to the appointment or office, but failing technology can have very serious consequences. Never mind, nuclear power stations blowing up and radiating half a continent for centuries, think of what happens when batteries give up the ghost just when you are about to conclude the deal of your life, or at least charm the love of your life. In my case, when the battery of my PDA gave up the ghost my writing production went down enormously. Using old technology with new technology can also be inefficient, inconvenient and even incompatible; I mean, I like writing using a fountain pen and paper but this also means double effort and not very practical in certain situations such as a crowded train carriage.

Technology does seem to have its down side and certainly its limitations as the question seems to imply. But surely failure is part of the system in the same way that we fail sometimes. Of course, none of this makes us feel better or safer, in fact it just makes us more stressed and probably angry as well. Just because things happen it does not mean that we don’t have to be cheesed off. I strongly believe that the more sophisticated (and expensive) the system is, the more we are entitled to be cheesed off if it fails.

But even given what I have written so far, I am still drawn to ask the question: is this a question about technology or is it a question about the limitations of metaphor and language? I promised I will consider bias in metaphor. In fact I will try and go one step further and show how metaphor, at least in our question, is limiting if not misleading.

By using the word ape are we suggesting that we are primitive unintelligent creatures, maybe even aggressive and barbaric? Of course, to begin with apes don’t have the same moral systems we seem to have developed. And in any case, apes have evolved to survive in their environment as we have done in ours. Apes in their environment are of course quite intelligent.

And if we accept that apes (primates) and us have common ancestors, then surely you must also agree that this side of the family is not doing very badly. Of course, apes do not go to our extremes of spending huge amounts of money on sports cars simply to attract a possible mate. But then again, buying a sports car to influence the heart of your love is much better than having to beat up her (or his) boyfriend (girlfriend) to make the point. Apes do it there way, we do it our way.

But where this metaphor fails is in the assumption that an ape’s jungle and our technological jungle have the same status or rather are qualitatively the same. Both today’s apes and our ancestors found their jungle ready made and took from it what they could and what they wanted. And when the jungle stopped meeting the needs of the these apes, some of them moved on and evolved into presidents, prime ministers, monarchs, managers and philosophers. The rest started creating the tools and inventing the technology to make some of these people powerful and or influential. “Plus ca change, plus ce la meme chose.” OK, maybe not philosophers although some never lost the knack to hang on to things.

However, our technological jungle is the product of our own inventions and creations. Our technology is there because we, as humans, built it and developed it and not because we found it there. Or as the tycoon would say to his accountant, “I built this empire from nothing.” The big difference between apes and us is that apes take things from their jungle whereas we have created a technological jungle to exploit the environment around us. Including the apes and their jungle.

I have already hinted at some of the shortcomings of technology, but what are the philosophical implications in our context?

The first philosophical issue is surely one of epistemology. Technology is the product of our epistemological development. Our ability to learn and apply our knowledge, and to build tools to solve problems we encounter in our environment, is testament of how important epistemology is for us.

Despite the flaws and weaknesses of technology, technology is still a marvel of human ability to be able to consistently and reliably exploit our environment to meet our needs. But what are the consequences of being able to invent and build this technology?

Although apes in a jungle may, with some effort, destroy a complete troop of competing apes what they cannot do is wipe out a whole species of other creatures or animals. They might destroy and damage trees in their path, what they cannot do is spray defoliant or pesticides in their jungle or denude their neighbourhood of all virgin jungle. However, human beings are doing this at this very moment as I write and you read this essay. And we’re doing this as a consequence of our efficient and effective technology. It seems that the imperative that necessity is the mother of invention, has turned into invention is the grandmother of all destruction.

I therefore propose that technology has introduced some sort of obligation on us on how we use this technology. Furthermore, this obligation also means that we have to choose what technology to build and develop. But even if we choose the technology that creates the most good for society this strategy is not free from controversy. I only draw your attention to the academic debate in economics of whether Britain should have chosen guns instead of ploughs on the eve of the second world war.

A third philosophical issue I would consider is having access and opportunity to use and owe this technology. If technology gives us an edge in the survival game, it also makes us more dependent on it for our survival. Hence, if we need technology to survive as a species and as individuals, what are the implications regarding the owning and access to technology?

We can start with the original philosophical issue of ownership and property rights to the more complex modern issues of what is the most equitable patent system we can devise. We are all familiar with the problems here so I won’t go into any details. But to illustrate my point let me try and give this example. I would say that today anyone living in a western country fully depends on technology simply to go to work. And those who say they walk to work or cycle to work it still involves technology. Bicycle tyres are still the product of technology, shoes are still the product of technology.

And having access to technology either from choice or necessity involves us into some complex ethical issues. When we import from developing countries technology which our lives depend on does this represent shared economic opportunities or the use of cheap labour? Are we paying a fair market price when we buy hi-tech items from China or Vietnam and are the Chinese and Vietnamese selling us ethical goods when they under cut everyone else by simply paying cheap wages. It is ironic that when we demand goods from these countries we demand the highest quality standards we are accustomed to but when it comes to paying labour costs we are happy with the local mediocre standards. And to confound the issue some of the technology we do import from these countries does create good and utility to those who can afford it. And if it wasn’t for the enterprise of some individuals amongst us we wouldn’t have these incredible conveniences in the first place, one of which is of course the PC you and I are using.

However, access to technology brings us back to epistemology. Used properly, technology can be quite useful, but it also means that we have a constant learning curve. Every time new technology is introduced it also means that we have to learn how to use this new technology. Without revealing my age and yours we have progressed from ball pens and pencils, to type writers, the Sinclair Spectrum, Amstrad, DOS, Windows 3, McIntosh System 7, Windows XT, PDA, Vista, the Blackberry and so on. While most of these technologies did not deliver nirvana, they certainly delivered enough learning curves.

Finally, irrespective of what I have said so far, the metaphor of technological jungle is quite apt. After all we did evolve from ancestors that were once dependent on a jungle. Bill Bryson, in his book A Short History of Nearly Everything, refers to studies which seem to indicate that it was not so much as the apes coming down from the trees to conquer the world, but that the trees were taken away from underneath them when weather patterns changes the eco system in Africa.

Not only did our ancestors have to face the first epistemological shock, necessity is the mother of invention, but it seems they had no real choice in the matter. The fact that most of us have to get up at seven in the morning to go to work suggests that our ancestors had no alternative either.

Even if we put aside the metaphor, it seems that we have to surround ourselves with a jungle or be surrounded by a jungle. So we have created the technology jungle. But could there be more to technology than simply a tool to achieve a goal?

Could there be a more one-to-one relationship between our evolution, which suggests adaptation to our environment, and the progress of our technological development? In my essay “The impact of technology on us” I argued that technology is a physical extension of us, that is a physical extension of our physical body. Snakes developed fangs and venom, we developed arrows and pesticides. Elephants developed strong trucks we developed the bulldozer. What is the difference as far adaptation to our environment is concerned? Don’t forget our epistemological heritage is much more powerful than what the snake and elephant can muster.

However, it seems to me that what really makes apes and us different is that apes seem to be happy with only a jungle whereas we seem to be partial to both a jungle and technology. As I said earlier a sports car certainly gives us the edge in style. Personally I am not that much bothered whether we live in a tree jungle or a technology jungle, that is as long as I have access to the internet to communicate with you.

Take care

Lawrence




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