PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, January 31, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Being nice to others + NEWS

Dear Friends,

This weekend we are discussing: Being nice to others.

Now, because I suggested the topic and did not write anything I must apologise for not being nice
about it.

Of course myth has it that nice people get trodden over and abused by more competitive people. That
might very well be the case with some people, but there is nothing to stop nice people from also
being smart. And smart people tend to win more times than anyone else!

In the meantime we have news from Raquel who has sent us the dates of some events she will be
singing as a soprano. I am also sending you the links to Ruel's essay on Death for last week's topic
and also links to his published works and books. And finally, we still have a lunch to organise.

Best Lawrence
News and details below

----Lunch at the Segoviano----
1) Last Sunday we discussed the possibility of organising a lunch at the centro and I asked Encarna
for details. However, we still have to organise the date so you can think about this lunch and find
a gap in your busy diary. I also have a pending appointment at the hospital and won't know the dates
until next week. What is sure is that we start lunch at 3:30pm and then start the meeting as usual.
In the meantime we can think about the menu:
-Starters (frituras variadas), Entrecot o Cochinillo con ensalada, Postre- cafe-bebida. 25 euros per
person.
-Alternative option 1: fish or vegetarian but you will have to speak to Encarna about this, I've got
her number so please ask me or her when you come to the meeting. 25 euros per person
-Alternative option 2: cochido completo (plus the extras above) 20 euros per person.
(Looking at the menu you might think this is a challenge to this week's subject, but I am assured
that the food is very good!!!)

---Ruel----
A SOBER LOOK AT "DEATH"
http://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/a-sober-look-at-death-a-repost-from-httpruelferanilpepa-blogspot-com-es201109sober-look-at-death-html/
Sophophilia: Critical Readings in Philosophy Por Ruel Pepa
http://www.lulu.com/shop/ruel-pepa/sophophilia-critical-readings-in-philosophy/ebook/product-20450917.html
MY E-BOOKS . . . .
http://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/my-e-books/

---Raquel---
Os paso la información de algunos eventos en los que os comenté que participo como soprano por si os
apetece alguno...
RÉQUIEM NEGRO
de Enrique Muñoz Molina
Ignacio Vento, narrador
Coro de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Ensemble Vocal Soli -Tutti
Denis Gautheyrie
6 de marzo-20.30 horas
Teatros Canal
Entrada: 5 euros (subvencionada)
Más información en www.madrid.org/artesacro

VOCES PARA LA PAZ
10 de marzo-
Auditorio Nacional
Entrada : 20 euros (recaudación para proyectos en países en vías de desarrollo)
Será retransmitido por TVE
Más información en http://www.vocesparalapaz.com/

VOCES POR LA JUSTICIA SOCIAL
Grupo de investigación y transformación del mundo a través de la música de la Universidad Autónoma
9 de marzo
La Universidad en la calle
Lugar y hora por confirmar
Abierto a la participación de cuantos vengan


Raquel
-----------




See you Sunday,

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 Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Being nice to others + NEWS

Thursday, January 24, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Death + Important NEWS

Dear friends,



This Sunday we are discussing: Death.



Not necessarily one's favourite subject, and certainly it does not seem to be a very productive
subject in philosophy given that the outcome is very predictable. However, this does not mean that
the subject is not of philosophical interest as Miguel and myself have tried to demonstrate in our
short essays. You can read our essays at the end of this email.



In the meantime two important news items.



1) Last Sunday we discussed the possibility of organising a lunch at the centro and I asked Encarna
for details. However, we still have to organise the date so you can think about this lunch and find
a gap in your busy diary. I also have a pending appointment at the hospital and won't know the dates
until next week. What is sure is that we start lunch at 3:30pm and then start the meeting as usual.
In the meantime we can think about the menu:



-Starters (frituras variadas), Entrecot o Cochinillo con ensalada, Postre- cafe-bebida. 25 euros per
person.



-Alternative option 1: fish or vegetarian but you will have to speak to Encarna about this, I've got
her number so please ask me or her when you come to the meeting. 25 euros per person



-Alternative option 2: cochido completo (plus the extras above) 20 euros per person.



(Looking at the menu you might think this is a challenge to this week's subject, but I am assured
that the food is very good!!!)



2) Tertulia de Matemáticas by Miguel

Las Matemáticas del siglo XX

La influencia de David Hilbert

Sábado 26 de Enero de 2013 a las 12 del mediodía La Gat

c/ Fuencarral nº 148, 28010 Madrid

https://sites.google.com/site/tertuliadematematicas/26-1-2013







See you Sunday,

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/


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




Death by Miguel



It's a curious fact: it is not easy for me to ponder over this topic without noticing the bearing of
theories proposed by open religions or by disguised forms of religion like atheism.



However, once this influence has been detected and overcome, the answer to questions like: What is
death? Why we die? What happens after death? appears to be surprisingly simple: I don't know.



At our last gathering we mentioned our inner desire to draw conclusions about everything, to "reason
our way through" in order to produce a "solution-in-a-phrase" to the issue being raised. This
impulse, like many others, has its origin in a more primordial one: survival, although expressed
this time through cognitive abilities that appeared in the course of evolution.



Nevertheless, while recognising its usefulness in many cases, we see that it might not be universal.
In the same way that the need to eat is at the root of eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia,
the need to reach conclusions can be a major obstacle to certain issues, today's for example. I
remember the time when we discussed that life could be a joke, a solid hypothesis when one notices
the stark contrast between the strong desire to live and the truth of death. It involved also some
sort of conclusion though.



There is thus ground to make a couple of personal experiments. The first one has both the idea of
death and "I don't know" as a basis, and it involves a conscious and disciplined avoidance to draw
conclusions other than incontrovertible ones: "I will die some day", "The people I see every day
will die someday", "In the course of recorded history, 100,000 million humans have lost their
lives", "Life is the leading cause of death in people" and the likes.



What happens to a mind that feeds on facts about death instead of on speculation? To a mind kept
silent when confronted to non-facts?



Even if there is no response in the short term, this first experiment brings about something
surprising: a truly appreciation of the sensation of being alive. Once past the anguish caused by
the instinct of survival, the presence of death and its mystery make life more intense. Knowing that
I am going to die makes every day special and unique. By recognising the certainty of death, every
event, just by pure contrast, acquires an unheard of character. Respect for life is thus naturally
enhanced. For this alone is worth the try.



The second experiment is the generation of respect towards death. This may need some effort given
the accumulated apprehension towards the issue. One can get help from the idea that death has always
being there, that it has the quality of being immutable amidst universal change, that it partakes of
the beauty inherent to natural processes.



Respect for both life and death curbs the polarisation between the two and helps seeing more clearly
what is happening here. Then the answers to the questions arrive, not as conclusions but as sensations.



Miguel

Philomadrid January 24th 2013

http://cielosdemarzo.blogspot.com.es/2013/01/death.html

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



Death by Lawrence



Death is that part of life that does not make sense. Of course, we know why we have to die and that
we have to die. And in many cases we know how we die, but the issue is why do we have to die?



Looking at the very physical structure of biological system, we know about the decay of atoms and
the destructive forces of gravity that play a central role in the structure of the universe. But
within the same chaos we also understand that matter itself does not simply disappear into thin air,
as it were. Therefore, assuming that the universe is a closed system then the law of conservation of
energy should hold. Unfortunately we are not a closed system.



Can we be a closed system, or is the universe the only closed system that does not die? Of course,
as part of the universe our matter does not die. But this is stretching the meaning of –does not
die- a bit. The matter we are made of does not disappear, but it certainly goes through irreversible
changes that have no link with previous forms of that matter.



When I say that death does not make sense, I do not necessarily want to imply that we should live
for ever. Death is a de facto aspect of an open systems. But that death is so contrary to the logic
of life that it just does not fit in with the programme of life. We can safely assume that there are
more "dead" things in the universe than living things. And we can go further and suggest that dead
things are the norm and living things the exception.



Ironically, death is also one of the biggest challenges for modern science: challenge to evolution
in particular. There is no question here that the basic principles of evolution function well.
However, whether we use the vulgar definition of evolution, survival of the fittest, or a more
scientific one, natural selection, the end result is always the demise of the system. It seems no
matter how successful a system is in selecting the fittest, even if we exclude unlucky events, it is
not able to overcome the hurdle of death.



An interesting question we, therefore, have to ask is, what's the point of having living system, if
death is the norm?



Best Lawrence















from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Death + Important NEWS

Thursday, January 17, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: The disadvantages of being different

Dear friends,


This Sunday we are discussing: the disadvantages of being different.

Many people have the impression that philosophy is about irrelevant and non consequential issues:
maybe even idealistic romanticism. On the contrary philosophy is about issues that concern the
basics of being a human being: i.e. life and the art of living.

Who doesn't remember being bullied, of bullying, at school peers who maybe had some peculiarities or
were not as mean and aggressive as the rest of us? But one of the questions for us is whether being
different automatically causes disadvantages?

In the meantime I hope to see you Sunday,

Best Lawrence

a message from David Butler on the visits to the British cemetery in Madrid:


Redacto el presente mensaje tanto en español como en inglés con el objeto de comunicarles el
programa de visitas guiadas, los 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, día 19 de enero, cuando daré las explicaciones en español
*sábado, día 26 de enero, cuando daré las explicaciones en inglés.
*sábado, día 2 de febrero, cuando daré las expilcaciones en español

Lo dejo a su elección cuál día acuda y no hay necesidad de avisar.

Si prefiere hacer la visita en una fecha no programada por la presente lista, no hay más que avisarme.

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 provide the programme of 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 9th January will be in Spanish
* the visit on Saturday 26th January will be in English *the visit on Saturday 2nd February will be
in Spanish

The choice of date is left to you and there is no needing tell me in advance of the visit whether
you are coming.
If you would like a visit on a different date, just let me know and I will arrange it.

Do take note of our website < www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > where you will find details of the
Cemetery's history and a map of its location.
David Butler
---------

See you Sunday,

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 Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: The disadvantages of being different

Friday, January 11, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Why are religions so successful? + News

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing a topical issue: Why are religions so successful?

And despite our standing rule that we don't discuss local politics or religion I think that the
question is broad enough to withstand the rigours of a discussion. In my short essay, I do propose
an argument that makes our understanding of religions more realistic.

But first a message from David Butler on the visits to the British cemetery in Madrid:


Redacto el presente mensaje tanto en español como en inglés con el objeto de comunicarles el
programa de visitas guiadas, los 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, día 19 de enero, cuando daré las explicaciones en español
*sábado, día 26 de enero, cuando daré las explicaciones en inglés.
*sábado, día 2 de febrero, cuando daré las expilcaciones en español

Lo dejo a su elección cuál día acuda y no hay necesidad de avisar.

Si prefiere hacer la visita en una fecha no programada por la presente lista, no hay más que avisarme.

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 provide the programme of 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 9th January will be in Spanish
* the visit on Saturday 26th January will be in English *the visit on Saturday 2nd February will be
in Spanish

The choice of date is left to you and there is no needing tell me in advance of the visit whether
you are coming.
If you would like a visit on a different date, just let me know and I will arrange it.

Do take note of our website < www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > where you will find details of the
Cemetery's history and a map of its location.
David Butler
---------

See you Sunday,

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/







Why are religions so successful?

The very short answer is that many of them do work and function well, and that some select people do
benefit from religions.

However, our most serious misconception is that just because something functions well, i.e.
successful, we assume it must be good or it must be true.

For example, the placebo effect of religion on certain type of people has been well documented with
the scientific method. The other success of many religions is that they are logistically well
organised usually across borders and of course religions are, if anything, a very well organised
networking group. In this respect people can easily benefit from these well placed organisations.

The issue for us is not what justifies the existence of religions, that 's another story, but what
makes religions successful or how are they successful?

The way that religions are presented today just doesn't make sense; many different gods, conflicting
beliefs, antiquated ides and so on. In other words they come across as an incongruity of logic. But
this is because they have nothing to do with any deity matters; no self respecting god would allow
such a shambles in our thinking. And secondly there is nothing ethical about religions.

The fact that there are so many religions suggests that a religion is a very local phenomenon. Each
with its own form of god or gods and rules of faith. But these are at odds with the way human beings
report universal phenomena. For example no one would deny that the moon over the Sahara desert is
the same moon we see over Yorkshire or Paris- not so with god or gods.

And of course, the reason why religions, contrary to common belief, are not ethical or moral
institutions is because they discriminate against minorities, their own members and of course other
religions. And one of the necessary conditions for an ethical or moral principle is that it is
universal and universalizable. In other words we cannot on the one hand proclaim charity and
forgiveness as moral principles and on the other discriminate and condemn people because they are
different from us.

Indeed, I would argue that religions are successful because they are not ethical and universal
institutions. So because religions are neither ethical nor universal their influence is established
on an ad hoc basis. There are no established principles when some dogma becomes invalid. Dogma
allows religions to pick and choose who benefits from religion; subscription to the relevant
religion is usually one of favourable criteria.

Ironically, on the other hand, it is because of its universal and universalizable characteristics
that makes the scientific method ethical and moral. Under this method if something is beneficial for
one person under a given set of circumstances then it is beneficial for all people who meet the
conditions of those circumstances.


Of course some might object that dogma is changed when god illuminates the chosen representatives.
There is one single objection to this argument - this is incompatible with the idea of
infallibility. And as far as we are concerned there is nothing we can do about infallibility as
human beings. The only way the infallibility principle holds is if the representatives are also
infallible but for this to happen they must be gods. And although many have assumed they were
infallible as representatives of god none that are of any consequence have claimed to be the god,
for monotheism, or gods for the others. In effect, whatever involves human beings must follow human
rules: a principle we have known about for a good two thousand years.

So what are religions and what makes them successful if they are not what they claim to be? To make
sense of religions we have to consider them more as political parties than ethical or institutions
pertaining to a god. Both deal with distribution of power (who do we obey?), scarce resources
(wealth distribution fair labour contracts or charity) and management of life (pray for a miracle or
establish a health care system).

The fact that religions discriminate against other religions makes them partisan. And the fact that
religions discriminate against people makes them predatory. Except of course that modern political
parties are not as predatory as they used to be or as religions are. Today nepotism and favouritism
are more or less condemned every where even though not every country tries to stop these predatory
behaviours.

In effect religions are more akin to political movements than some earthly representation of
supernatural forces. Their main issue is how we live on this Earth, the rest is just spin, pr and
marketing.

Best Lawrence







from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Why are religions are so successful? + News

Thursday, January 03, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: The need to have good (amicable) enemies

Dear Friends,


Hope you are setting down comfortably into the New Year.

Now here is a subject proposed by Carlos for Sunday that we've never contemplated before: The need
to have good (amicable) enemies.

At face value the title seems to be an oxymoron, especially when we consider such expressions in
English as, in Love and War everything goes. But think again, what are we to make of such
institutions as the Geneva Convention and the court of human right, especially the crimes against
humanity.

It seems that not all oxymorons are created equal,

See you Sunday,

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 Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: The need to have good (amicable) enemies

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