PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, April 26, 2012

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Evil + NEWS

Evil + lots of news

Dear Friends,
Matilda has prepared for us a list of questions to ponder on her subject: Evil.
---------Matilda----
Dear friends,

EVIL
As a matter of fact I only have questions and no answers related to this topic.

Does Evil exist?
What is it?
Since when?
Is it natural such as The Good?
Do we need to believe in it?
Is it a theological matter?
Is it in itself?
Or, does it depend on the point of view we have?
Is Evil a mental disorder neither more nor less?
And,
Very close to fanaticism?
Such as:

Torquemada
Hitler
Stalin
Bin Laden
Breivik (recently)
Etc., etc., etc.
See you on Sunday.


The Devil's advocate.


Philosophers have to be a bit wary about Evil. Not because evil is what dictionaries describe as
"Morally bad or wrong; wicked" but precisely because it is described as morally wrong or bad. But
what is the difference between bad/wrong and evil?

Sure there is the issue of intensity, in the same way that being six months pregnant is still
pregnant as being two days pregnant.

Indeed another reason to be wary is of course theological creep, as Matilda asks us to consider. Is
evil just ordinary language wrong or bad but with a high dose of emotionalism injected into the
meaning to scare us and frighten us? Or is it some concept given to us by the gods?

But maybe here is the key to the meaning of evil. Whilst something being wrong or bad might not
necessarily lead us to action or to react, calling someone evil not only creates an urge in us to
fight it, but more important of all it justifies the actions we take.

Calling an enemy, evil, justifies us going to war with them; calling some one evil gives justifies
us in treating them badly.

So, to add another question to Matilda's list: is evil just bad and wrong with emotionalism thrown
in, is it some other form of wrong and bad? Maybe not pregnant, but say adoptive parenthood?

In the meantime we have a list of news for the next few days:

---from Diana---
I am sending you the information about my friends' play in English. It will be on stage on Saturday
5th and Sunday 6th May, 4.30 and 8.00 pm, in Instituto Cardenal Cisneros, calle de los Reyes, 4,
near plaza de España and calle San Bernardo.
Reservations: originalworkstheatre@gmail.com
More info: facebook.com/originalworkstheatre
Could you please post this information on your weekly e-mail?
Thank you for your help.
Best regards,


Diana


-------Carlos-----
LA ASOCIACIÓN EL CLUB DEL HOMBRE LIBRE LE INVITA
A la Conferencia
"Einstein y el Materialismo"
por Lawrence Barón
y al
Claustro de Poesía
Siete poetas en inglés
Textos fundamentales del siglo XX
por Jesús Urceloy y Mari Carmen Carrasco
Lunes 7 de Mayo de 2012 a las 20:00 horas
Café Comercial
Glorieta de Bilbao nº7 (Madrid)
(if you want more details please write to me to send you the full document)

-----Alfonso Art Exhibition----
La Paloma Exhibition Hall
Calle Toledo 108 - Madrid
17-30 April 2012
Monday to Friday 10.00 – 14.00 / 17.00 – 20.00
(If you want a copy of the catalogue please let me know.)

----- Cementerio Británico-----
Por el presente mensaje hago saber las fechas de las visitas comentadas programadas para mayo y
junio : si hay alguien que quiera formar un grupo, no importa que sea pequeño, en cualquier otra
fecha, sírvase avisarme para llegar a un acuerdo mutuo de hora y fecha.
This is to give you the dates of the guided visits on Saturday mornings in May and June : if anyone
wishes to make up a group, however small, independent of the dates I give below, I will be most
happy to make arrangements and take them round - all they need do is state their preferred dates and
we will work out a schedule.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Redacto el presente mensaje tanto en español como en inglés con el objeto de comunicarles que sigo
con el programa de visitas comentadas, sábados por la mañana, al Cementerio Británico.
Las visitas empiezan a las 11 horas en la entrada del Cementerio Británico, calle del Comandante
Fontanes 7, distrito de Carabanchel
*sábado, 26 de mayo, cuando daré las explicaciones en español
*sábado, 2 de junio, cuando daré las explicaciones en inglés
Lo dejo a su elección cuál día acuda y no hay necesidad de avisar.
Tomen nota de nuestra página web < www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > que contiene información de la
historia del Cementerio y el mapa de su ubicación.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am writing this in both Spanish and in English to tell you that I am continuing Saturday morning
guided visits to the British Cemetery.
We meet at 11 o'clock at the Cemetery entrance in Calle del Comandante Fontanes 7 in Carabanchel
* the visit on Saturday 26 May will be in Spanish
* the visit on Saturday 2 June will be in English
The choice of date is left to you and there is no need to inform me in advance of the visit whether
you are coming.
Do take note of our website < www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > where you will find details of the
Cemetery's history and a map with its location.
David Butler

-------end-------

Take care
Lawrence



PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao

-----------Ignacio------------
Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/

----------From Luisa---------
Please not you will have to let her know in advance if you wish to attend, thanks:
Data of language exchange,
Location: Café Comercial
Address: Glorieta de Bilbao, 7
Website location:
http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=es&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=glorieta+de+Bilbao+en+Madrid&fb=1&hq=glorieta+de+Bilbao&hnear=Madrid,+España&cid=168580715753984644



Dates: on Saturday
Time: from 12:30 to 14:45
Price: 2.50 € (exchange organizing, hiring the top of the cafeteria and coffee, tea, soda, wine or
beer are included).
Luisa - email to confirm please alvarez_luisa@hotmail.com
--------end----



from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Evil + NEWS

Thursday, April 19, 2012

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Language as a political tool + NEWS for TODAY & essay

Short Essay + News of a Play for today Friday at 7.30pm and Exhibition by Alfonso

Dear friends,
We are supposed to be all intellectual and reverent about languages, but underneath the skin of
cultural hype, we have the original beast that bites the hand that feeds it. Politicians and the
media have given us words such: Gotcha, Annus horribilis, and of course, Elephant, never mind white
elephants.
The theme of this Sunday's meeting is: Language as a political tool. And quite unexpectedly some
world leaders have kind offered us a display of real life examples of language in politics, certain
expressions come to mind: crocodile tears, teaching a grandmother how to suck eggs, and being
between a European Union, sorry, a hard rock and the deep blue politics.
All in all, language in politics can be quite an entertaining pass time, but as I point out in my
short essay the real question in language in politics is who is calling the shots (OK enough jokes!)
when it comes to meaning?
More importantly, this evening, Friday at 7:30pm, The Jesus Master's Superstars will be giving a
performance of FUNNY TRAIN STORIES (in English, Spanish and French) at the Escuela Oficial de
Idiomas. Some members of the Philosophy group act in the play. The play received raving reviews by
critics (i.e. me) and the laughing Hyenas (enough, I said!!) enjoyed all the jokes.
Best Lawrence.
----Play----
Play Friday 20 April (Today) doors open at 19:30pm
FUNNY TRAIN STORIES
By The Jesus Master's Superstars
Directed: Almudena Estelles Pantoja, Percival Orantes Morales and Matilde Fluixa
At Salon de Actos Escuela Oficial de Idiomas
c/ Jesus Maestro S/N
Metro Islas Filipinas
(For more details please call me 606081813 –leave a message if I don't answer)
-----Alfonso Art Exhibition----
La Paloma Exhibition Hall
Calle Toledo 108 - Madrid
17-30 April 2012
Monday to Friday 10.00 – 14.00 / 17.00 – 20.00
(If you want a copy of the catalogue please let me know.)

----Short essay----
Language as a political tool
One of the main issues in the philosophy of language is that of meaning. Precisely how does a
physical event such as a spoken word or written word carry the meaning associated with that word?
Another issue we find with language is what is the purpose of language? The physical-meaning issue
(above) is about information. However, we generally assume that the function of a natural language
(Spanish, Dutch, and English etc) is to communicate with others. We now know that communication does
not only mean to "inform" others but rather to influence others to do something, or to believe
something.
A very good example would be the STOP sign at the end of a road. The meaning of this single word in
more than just "do not move" it is also telling us we are approaching a dangerous location, we have
to be careful but above all else we must physically stop moving or else!
But language is important beyond the belief that it is a social phenomenon. It is certainly one of
the most efficient tools or weapons we have to protect ourselves with or manipulate our environment.
It is certainly up there at the top of the list with the teeth of sharks, the muscles of a cheetah
and the chemical signatures of bacteria or viruses. In other words in the environment of biological
materialism language is also a very efficient tool or weapon to exclude others.
Those who do not know a language are therefore excluded from the information sharing property of a
given language. We mustn't assume that just because a language is used to manipulate others this
manipulation is always for the worse. After all, nature and biology are amoral. For example,
information about the best places to hide from invaders would be advantageous to those who speak the
language the information is conveyed in.
Therefore, language as a political tool should be seen as the use of language for the purpose of
controlling power and authority. In and of itself this need not be a negative implication, since it
is possible that power and authority are used for the benefit of everyone. But as we also know from
game theory, it is more profitable for a few to cheat when the large majority play by the rules.
In the context of modern politics we can observe three, of many, features of how language is used in
politics or by politicians. First, language is associated with the political concept of nationalism.
In other words language can be used to exploit emotional weaknesses instead of appealing to people's
reason.
Secondly, given that the only criteria required by a language to reveal the information locked in
its syntax is to know the language, governments are not too enthusiastic about teaching other
languages efficiently. This might easily expose weaknesses in their policies by people understanding
what other governments are doing in similar circumstances.
Furthermore, since both language and information have always to be in a physical form this creates
the necessity of keeping information secret by securing the language in its physical form- i.e.
documents, photos etc. Thus a culture of secrecy is created to make sure information that can be
prejudicial to those in power is not leaked.
And thirdly language in politics is used or presented to create ambiguity amongst the population:
labour camps instead of concentration camps, refugee camps instead of isolation camps, national
security instead of state secrecy, markets instead of corporations or sovereign funds. One reason to
create ambiguity might be to keep hidden the intentions of government and politicians.
A very good example of political ambiguity is article 16 of the UN declaration of human rights,
Article 16. (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or
religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to
marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
The use of the terms man and women creates the ambiguity of not knowing whether this should mean men
can only marry women and vice versa. Or whether only men and women can marry. Or even men and women
as opposed to children. Or do men and women here mean male and female.
My bet is on the meaning of men only marrying women and vice versa. If the intention was to be clear
and precise they could for example have written adults and children in one case, since as far as we
know dogs and cats do not get married and male and female are the same as man and woman.
So by using the words men and women the United Nations are creating an ambiguity to discriminate
against men who want to marry men and women who want to marry women. But the ambiguity also
discriminates against children since it does not qualify what is a man and women: there is nothing
to suggest that men and women are not equivalent to males and females in this document. If no
ambiguity was intended then the use of 'individuals of a certain age (give the age)' would have been
more than sufficient. We can also safely assume that the United Nations was linguistically competent
enough to make the distinction. From empirical evidence we know that states discriminate against
homosexuals and that many states discriminate against children especially by allowing children to be
married.
Article 16 is not only an example of language used for political ambiguity but also language used
for discrimination.
Going back to the theme of governments not being enthusiastic about teaching other languages in
Czechoslovakia, under the Soviet Union people who wanted to learn English were basically ostracized
from the system. Once again this manipulation of language makes it easier for states and governments
to control not only the flow of information but the meaning of the language i.e. interpreting
information. During the Soviet regime the meaning of profit was to steal and rob; no doubt as
propaganda against the west. This became an issue after the fall of the system when people started
stealing state assets in the belief that they were making a profit; that was the polite explanation
anyway.
Given that natural languages are biological phenomena they are also subject to an evolutionary
selection process. I do not mean by this that languages are genetically inherited; the capacity to
generate an information carrying system such as a language is, but that meaning and use change and
evolve to meet the needs of the group at a given time.
Thus certain political institutions whose function are to manipulate a language, but maybe disguised
as language academies for example, are destined to fail in the long run. Partly because language
needs to change with social needs and partly because languages cannot be quarantined or immunized
against outside influence. Admittedly this process takes time maybe even over generations. However,
what is clear is that a failure of language in politics is as telling and informative as propaganda
is not.
That words and language change meaning in life and politics is not in doubt the question is who is
today playing Humpty Dumpty, (Chapter six of Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll):
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it
to mean — neither more nor less.'
Is it the people or politicians who are determining the meaning of words we are exposed to today?
Best
Lawrence
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
-----------Ignacio------------
Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
----------From Luisa---------
Please not you will have to let her know in advance if you wish to attend, thanks:
Data of language exchange,
Location: Café Comercial
Address: Glorieta de Bilbao, 7
Website location:
http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=es&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=glorieta+de+Bilbao+en+Madrid&fb=1&hq=glorieta+de+Bilbao&hnear=Madrid,+España&cid=168580715753984644

Dates: on Saturday
Time: from 12:30 to 14:45
Price: 2.50 € (exchange organizing, hiring the top of the cafeteria and coffee, tea, soda, wine or
beer are included).
Luisa - email to confirm please alvarez_luisa@hotmail.com
--------end----
from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Language as a political tool + NEWS for TODAY & essay

Thursday, April 12, 2012

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Does multiculturalism work?

Dear friends,
I hope you had a good Easter holiday.
Quite by chance this Sunday we are discussing: Does multiculturalism work?
We are also lucky that Edwin wrote us a few comments on the subject. In the meantime I apologise for
writing a few disjointed paragraphs on the theme; I just ran out of time.
In the meantime don't forget the regular messages from friends at the end of the email.
----Edwin-----
My tuppenth for what it's worth.
============
Does multiculturalism work? It can do but it depends on all sides being willing to accommodate the
main parts of the others cultures and not pushing too hard at the boundaries of the others practices
and belief.
The college I went to in Central London had probably more than 20 Nationalities and all got on very
well, maybe it was the sheer mix of nationalities that helped but it was during the Biafra war and
Ibo and Yoruba students were still friends as were Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Maybe growing up in
London I have a different view of those from other cultures than those who are raised in a
"monoculture" (does that only apply to plants?).
As said it depends on all parties agreeing to come together, it is not possible if the "outsiders"
refuse to move from their own culture and keep to the ghetto. A friend's Spanish cousin was dating a
Gitano but it fell apart because his family put pressure on him to keep to his own kind.
May be one of the most telling indicators of a community mentality and expectation is that in the UK
some 53% of minority communities marry outside there own communities where as in the US only 4% of
the African Americans marry outside their own community.
----Edwin-End----
----Lawrence----
There are some inalienable rights that people as individuals enjoy and that neither the state, the
government, religion, society nor even culture have the power and authority to deny the individual
or tamper with these rights.
And there are two main reasons why these inalienable rights cannot be prohibited or tampered with.
The first, and the most relevant for our subject, is that these institutions I have just mentioned
are by their very nature discriminatory and racist. Their sole function is to protect and promote
the interests of those members within these institutions even at the expense or cost to those not
belonging to these institutions.
The second reason is that all humans enjoy these inalienable rights beyond their circumstances; or
the institution they belong to. In effect these inalienable rights are inalienable not because of
some sovereign power or authority that has established things this way, but rather because it is the
human race that is the final sovereign and authority. There no other authority beyond the authority
of belonging to the human race.
These inalienable rights are numerous and so fundamental that, constitutions and human rights
charters might even overlook them; let me list some of them:
The right to think freely and the right to express one's opinion without fear and prejudice.
The right to be treated as an individual and identified as an individual and not to be treated nor
identified on some arbitrary criteria for example my group of friends, the location of my birth, the
colour of my eyes etc etc.
The right to learn and the right to have information to help the individual make rational decisions
about their future.
The right to choose one's partner and the right of two individuals to choose each other as partners.
The list, as I say, is endless and for our purposes it is not necessary to go into more details.
How can we understand these inalienable rights? One way is to use an example and suggest we should
understand these rights the way understand our legs and walking. Our biological make up includes two
legs which we use for mobility. It would be unimaginable and preposterous for governments, states or
other institutions to prevent us from walking, even walking from the bedroom to the loo. On the
contrary we go out of our way (at least in theory) to help those who don't have mobility.
This example of mobility and legs, incidentally, also has practical implication. I am thinking in
the use and deployment of anti personnel mines that are designed to maim rather than kill the enemy.
But in effect they maim civilian after the war. Indeed, the use of these mines should not only be
prohibited but those who use them and manufacture ought to be indicted for crimes against humanity
since their only purpose is apriori to deny individuals the right to one functions. This is like the
concept and crime of attempted murder; we do not need to wait for the commission of the murder since
an attempted murder is apriori solely aimed at killing someone.
My position so far is that we have some inalienable rights that emanate from the virtue of behind
human. And that the ultimate authority over these rights is humanity itself. Thus these rights and
duties over ride all the pseudo authorities and powers that are associated with discriminating
institutions.
Indeed the concept of crimes against humanity is evidence that we do recognise the existence of
inalienable rights. Or at least rights that transcend local institutions. The fact that some courts
and states apply this concept in the same way that a chef in a restaurant might decides to include
broccoli on the menu (i.e. pick and choose at will) is beside the point.
Of course, with rights go duties, and whilst I'm not going to discuss what are the relevant duties
go with a specific right, I wish to establish a self evident truth about duties. Whilst rights are
chosen and exercised at will, duties are mandatory and non negotiable. This is why it is important
that rights are exercised freely, because the duties that go with them are not optional.
For example, to right to have children is a right we have to choose freely and willing to have
children. But the incumbent duty of giving every child a stable and safe home is absolute and non
negotiable. Those who deny or prevent this natural sequence of causality are of course acting beyond
their authority if not criminally irresponsible.
To come to our theme, what matters is whether cultures do respect these inalienable rights? And
although the question stems from a philosophical argument, the answer is of empirical.
However, multiculturalism can only work if the cultures in question (an empirical issue) do
themselves protect these inalienable rights. Indeed, those cultures that are blind to these
inalienable rights are not cultures but as I said institutions that are based on prejudice and racism.
However, cultures that do promote these inalienable rights are not only real cultures but cultures
that can easily be adopted by different groups. For example, cultures that help with people who are
not mobile with facilities to be mobile for those who want to be mobile are a culture that focuses
on the principle of exclusion and not inclusion. A culture that makes a wheelchair as expensive as a
car is probably not cultures at all.
Best
----Lawrence----

Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
PS:
In the mean time:
Lawrence si puedes difundirlo entre tu grupo te lo agradezco
Hola amigos y perdón por el atrevimiento pero como las cosas no están muy bien pues por si podéis
ayudar a difundir este link de un apartamento que se me queda vació a fin de mes. Lo único que no
pone el anuncio es el precio son 770 eur aquí en mi barrio Chamartin.
Asun
http://harmonya.blogspot.com.es/2012/03/barrio-chamartin-alquiler-apartamento-1.html
regular messages from friends below

-----------Ignacio------------

Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
----------From Luisa---------
Please not you will have to let her know in advance if you wish to attend, thanks:
Data of language exchange,
Location: Café Comercial
Address: Glorieta de Bilbao, 7
Website location:
http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=es&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=glorieta+de+Bilbao+en+Madrid&fb=1&hq=glorieta+de+Bilbao&hnear=Madrid,+España&cid=168580715753984644

Dates: on Saturday
Time: from 12:30 to 14:45
Price: 2.50 € (exchange organizing, hiring the top of the cafeteria and coffee, tea, soda, wine or
beer are included).
Luisa - email to confirm please alvarez_luisa@hotmail.com

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Does multiculturalism work?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: next meeting 15 April

Dear friends,
I hope you are having a good holiday; the rain, of course, is optional!
Our next meeting will now be on the 15 April since the Centro is closed for holidays. And our topic
will be: Does multiculturalism work?
If you would like to write something on the topic, as always, please send it to me before next
week's email.
Best
Lawrence
PS:
In the mean time:
Lawrence si puedes difundirlo entre tu grupo te lo agradezco
Hola amigos y perdón por el atrevimiento pero como las cosas no están muy bien pues por si podéis
ayudar a difundir este link de un apartamento que se me queda vació a fin de mes. Lo único que no
pone el anuncio es el precio son 770 eur aquí en mi barrio Chamartin.
Asun
http://harmonya.blogspot.com.es/2012/03/barrio-chamartin-alquiler-apartamento-1.html
regular messages from friends below
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
-----------Ignacio------------

Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
----------From Luisa---------
Please not you will have to let her know in advance if you wish to attend, thanks:
Data of language exchange,
Location: Café Comercial
Address: Glorieta de Bilbao, 7
Website location:
http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=es&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=glorieta+de+Bilbao+en+Madrid&fb=1&hq=glorieta+de+Bilbao&hnear=Madrid,+España&cid=168580715753984644

Dates: on Saturday
Time: from 12:30 to 14:45
Price: 2.50 € (exchange organizing, hiring the top of the cafeteria and coffee, tea, soda, wine or
beer are included).
Luisa - email to confirm please alvarez_luisa@hotmail.com

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: next meeting 15 April

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