PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, June 28, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Owning-our-words + NEWS

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Owning-our-words.

Ruel has written an essay for us on this topic: I am also including his
link for the essay he wrote for last week's meeting. In the meantime
Miguel has sent us details about his Maths tertulia.

Hi Lawrence,
Here´s the link to the essay I wrote on Sunday´s topic.

http://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/owning-our-words/
By the way, two Filipina friends of mine are available for those in need
of the services of ¨externas¨ in their homes. My mobile phone number is:
(please write to me for the number, Lawrence).

Hasta luego.
Ruel


Hello Lawrence,

Here is the link to the essay I wrote re Sunday´s PhiloMadrid topic. I
have the feeling that it´s not quite philosophically insightful. But
this is all I could write this time. :)

http://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/do-we-get-what-we-deserve/

Thanks and hasta luego.


Estimado tertuliano,

Te invitamos a asistir a la próxima Tertulia de Matemáticas: Números por
doquier

Saludos cordiales,

Tertulia de Matemáticas



Best Lawrence

Lawrence: 606081813
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
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: Owning-our-words + NEWS

Friday, June 21, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Should we know everything? + NEWS

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: should we know everything?

The short answer is: we should know everything that is relevant or
anything that is being hidden away from us.

In the meantime Ruel has sent us an essay plus some news:
Hi Lawrence,
Here´s the link to the essay I wrote on Sunday´s topic.

http://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/owning-our-words/
By the way, two Filipina friends of mine are available for those in need
of the services of ¨externas¨ in their homes. My mobile phone number is:
(Please send me an email for the number – thanks Lawrence)
Hasta luego.
Ruel

---
Programme of Visits, British Cemetery, Madrid
Redacto el presente mensaje tanto en español como en inglés con el
objeto de comunicarles el programa de visitas guiadas al Cementerio
Británico, los sábados por la mañana a las 11.00 horas - el punto de
encuentro es la entrada del Cementerio
sábado, día 15 de junio cuando daré las explicaciones en español
sábado, día 22 de junio cuando daré las explicaciones en inglés
Si prefiere hacer la visita en una fecha no programada y siempre que
formen un grupo de un mínimo de 8 personas, avíseme a <butler_d_j@yahoo.es>
TOMEN NOTA DE NUESTRA PÁGINA WEB < www.british cemeterymadrid.com> donde
se pone la dirección.
********************************
I am writing this note in both Spanish and in English to provide the
programme of Saturday morning guided visits to the British Cemetery, all
of which take place at 11.00 a.m - we meet at the Cemetery entrance
Saturday, 15th June : the visit will be in Spanish
Saturday, 22nd June : the visit will be in English
If you would like a visit on a different date and you can form a group
of 8 persons or more, let me know at <butler_d_j@yahoo.es>
PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF OUR WEBSITE< www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > for
details of location.
***************************
DAVID J. BUTLER
***************************



Best Lawrence

Lawrence: 606081813
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
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: Should we know everything? + NEWS

Friday, June 14, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Is philosophy fiction?

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Is philosophy fiction?

Ruel has prepared an essay for us and at the end of this email I have a
few ideas about the subject I'd like to share with you.

HI Lawrence,
Am sending you the link to the essay I wrote on the topic for Sunday´s
meet-up.

http://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/is-philosophy-a-fiction/
See you. Ruel
------
Programme of Visits, British Cemetery, Madrid
Redacto el presente mensaje tanto en español como en inglés con el
objeto de comunicarles el programa de visitas guiadas al Cementerio
Británico, los sábados por la mañana a las 11.00 horas - el punto de
encuentro es la entrada del Cementerio
sábado, día 15 de junio cuando daré las explicaciones en español
sábado, día 22 de junio cuando daré las explicaciones en inglés
Si prefiere hacer la visita en una fecha no programada y siempre que
formen un grupo de un mínimo de 8 personas, avíseme a <butler_d_j@yahoo.es>
TOMEN NOTA DE NUESTRA PÁGINA WEB < www.british cemeterymadrid.com> donde
se pone la dirección.
********************************
I am writing this note in both Spanish and in English to provide the
programme of Saturday morning guided visits to the British Cemetery, all
of which take place at 11.00 a.m - we meet at the Cemetery entrance
Saturday, 15th June : the visit will be in Spanish
Saturday, 22nd June : the visit will be in English
If you would like a visit on a different date and you can form a group
of 8 persons or more, let me know at <butler_d_j@yahoo.es>
PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF OUR WEBSITE< www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > for
details of location.
***************************
DAVID J. BUTLER
***************************

Best Lawrence

Lawrence: 606081813
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
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/

------------Essay------------




Is philosophy fiction?


Way back around 2011 Hawking created a controversy when he argued at a
Google's Zeitgeist Conference: Unified Theory - Stephen Hawking at
European Zeitgeist 2011 (1) that "…. almost all of us must sometimes
wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are
questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophers have not
kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics."

The debate is also sometimes presented by others with the claim that
philosophy is redundant and sometime whether philosophy is fiction. We
can start by getting rid of the white noise or fuzzy thinking and say
that it is true that many philosophers have not kept up to date on
matters of physics, but I am also sure that many scientists have not
kept up to date with matters of physics. Moreover, some academic
philosophers do not help themselves when they team up with such
disciplines as the theology department or faculties of religion. You
don't get the biology department teaming up with the ballet department
so I don't see why the philosophy departments should have these Punch
and Judy shows.

Basically, the last time I checked, there was no natural law or law of
physics that states that only philosophers can do science; believe it or
not even scientists can do science. Indeed, the question whether
philosophy is redundant is quite a complex one and most important of
all, it is an empirical question which is best answered by looking at
the evidence.

Some philosophy is fiction, in the cynical meaning of fiction. As for
whether philosophy is redundant or dead I haven't seen any empirical
studies that discuss the question nor throw any light on the issue.
Basically, the question can only be answered by applying some science to
it: look at the evidence, collect the data and then analyze it.

However, what is a universal truth is that philosophy is not the
philosopher and science is not the scientist. But what makes something
philosophy and what makes something science is the methodology plus a
few other conditions.

Unfortunately, given today's culture of the superstar hero and
management by results - also known to some as the bottom line- we only
look at the result or the conclusion. Is he guilty or not, can we turn
off the life saving machine, does her plane go faster or not?

In this culture it is very easy for people to mistake results with
science and conclusions with philosophy. Today it will be difficult for
a scientist to get any funding unless they can demonstrate that their
results will produce some so called "good" to the community. And block
busting philosophy books are usually always the ones that people use to
self massage their ego! What today we call science was once called
technology, and what today passes as popular philosophy was once called
character building books.

So if the results or conclusions are not the objective, then what is?
The first, as I said, is methodology and the second is scope of the
discipline. It would be impossible to give a detailed account of the
methodology philosophy requires. Let alone an account of what science
requires. However, there are certain principles that seem to be required
by both.

The most fundamental of these principles is that any proposition,
conjecture or hypothesis has to be tested for its veracity and nothing
can be claimed to be true or false without such test. This means that
every conjecture has the potential of being verified or falsified. This
explains why conjectures based on dogma cannot be philosophy or science
because they are accepted to be true before they are tested to be true.
Therefore, since everything has to be put to the methodological test,
then it follows that even conclusions and results must be put to the
test again and again. We might not get better outcomes, and might not be
worthwhile, but the principle is still valid.

The second most important aspect of philosophy and science, and every
other discipline, is the scope of the discipline. What can qualify as
something that can be investigated philosophically, and what cannot -
what can we include in the set of valid philosophy issues and what is
not included. The same applies for science.

This is a key point for claims that philosophy is redundant. What
criteria is being used to establish what is philosophy, what methodology
is one using to verify the claim and what do you mean by fiction or
redundant?

Going back to Hawking's questions, Why are we here? Where do we come
from? I would say that these two questions do not even qualify anymore
of being philosophical or scientific questions. This language (see
below) is now redundant and we'd have to ask something like: Why are
biological systems on the Earth? What evolutionary processes could end
up being a live biological system on Earth? Traditionally, we stuck to
traditions; we now ought to stick only to facts!

An equally important principle is what tools do we use to carry out our
philosophy or science?

Philosophy is done by using natural language to gather ideas from fellow
human beings and then use meaning to assess and analyze this body of
beliefs, ideas, truths and falsehoods. Finally, our conclusions and
conjectures are presented within a framework of one of the logics
available to us e.g. inductive logic, formal logic etc and at the same
time avoiding a myriad of fallacies.

Not surprising science requires observation, an array of instruments,
that are used to collect and analyze the data and finally the results
are couched in the framework of mathematics.

The tools themselves are subject to the rigors of science or philosophy.
So tools not only have to conform to the test criteria (nothing is
immune from being investigated) but also to the validity test (is it
true or false). The tools themselves do not guarantee valid philosophy,
but without the tools it wouldn't be valid philosophy.

So far I have been using philosophy and science in the same sentence
which might be stressful to some people. For those who are familiar with
both disciplines they wouldn't have any issues with the connection.

Indeed, whilst philosophy investigates our ideas about us and the world
around us, science investigates how we and the world around us function.
Both depend on our ability to learn from experience, process information
and hypothesis about our ideas and how future events will turnout. But
most important of all, science gives rise to philosophical questions and
philosophy gave rise to scientific questions; things are still done this
way.

So, before we can pass any value judgments whether philosophy is or is
not fiction or redundant we have to process the conjecture through the
science grinding mill. It is however very sad that a scientist would
claim that philosophy is fiction or redundant without applying the
scientific method to arrive at this opinion.

Who, therefore, can be a philosopher or a scientist? Of course, anyone
can try and swim with the sharks, meaning that anyone can try their hand
at philosophy or science and many have tried. Indeed the poster boy of
Science, Einstein, discovered and published his science when he was
still working at the patent office and nowhere near a professorship
chair; and he is not the only success story. But swimming with the
sharks does not make you a shark! The starting point is indeed to act
like a shark!.

For our purposes, and the purposes of science and philosophy, one of the
things that matters is peer review. Peer review is not a cabal of the
elite but a process of equals whose only purpose is to assess the works
of their peers. This does not mean that they have to agree with the
conclusions but it does mean that they, like the author of the work they
are reviewing, have enough knowledge about the subject to decide whether
the scientific method or the philosophical process has been applied and
that the science is sound or that the philosophy is valid. Peer review
is supposed to guarantee that science and philosophy are about the
message and not the messenger.

So sure some philosophy is fiction and certainly redundant and not all
philosophers follow the philosophical process. Likewise, some science is
quackery and even more science is not done by following the scientific
method. The reality is that a lot of exciting philosophy is being done
both at the academic level and the secular level (i.e. you and me). So
people who really care about these things should today look for
philosophy not only in the quiet corridors of some medieval college but
also on cancer wards of a busy hospital, the desk of a nuclear
physicist, a blog on the internet, the tent of a protest group, and
certainly at the Centro Segoviano.




Unified Theory - Stephen Hawking at European Zeitgeist 2011
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4TO1iLZmcw





from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Is philosophy fiction?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Do we get what we deserve?



Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Do we get what we deserve?
Ruel has written an essay for us on the subject and I have penned some ideas as well.
In the meantime David is organising this month visits to the British cemetery. If you haven't been there you are missing out on some of the fascinating history of Madrid.
------
Hello Lawrence,
Here is the link to the essay I wrote re Sunday´s PhiloMadrid topic. 
Thanks and hasta luego.
------
Programme of Visits, British Cemetery, Madrid
Redacto el presente mensaje tanto en español como en inglés con el objeto de comunicarles el programa de visitas guiadas al Cementerio Británico, los sábados por la mañana a las 11.00 horas - el punto de encuentro es la entrada del Cementerio
sábado, día 15 de junio cuando daré las explicaciones en español
sábado, día 22 de junio cuando daré las explicaciones en inglés
Si prefiere hacer la visita en una fecha no programada y siempre que formen un grupo de un mínimo de 8 personas, avíseme a <butler_d_j@yahoo.es>
TOMEN NOTA DE NUESTRA PÁGINA WEB < www.british cemeterymadrid.com> donde se pone la dirección.
********************************
I am writing this note in both Spanish and in English to provide the programme of Saturday morning guided visits to the British Cemetery, all of which take place at 11.00 a.m - we meet at the Cemetery entrance
Saturday, 15th June : the visit will be in Spanish
Saturday, 22nd June : the visit will be in English
If you would like a visit on a different date and you can form a group of 8 persons or more, let me know at <butler_d_j@yahoo.es
PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF OUR WEBSITE< www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > for details of location.
***************************
DAVID J. BUTLER
***************************

Best Lawrence

Lawrence: 606081813
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)

------------Essay------------

Do we get what we deserve?
Under the Christian-Judeo cultural dogma we are basically told that if we work hard, follow the rules and are good we will be rewarded; and if not in this world certainly in the hereafter.

There are two issues with this dogma; which I will also call the expected reward argument. The first is that it is dogma and dogmas are not sound philosophy, not necessarily because they are inherently false or bad, but rather because they do not follow sound philosophical methodologies. For example, an appeal to authority is not in itself a valid philosophical argument. The second issue with this particular dogma, and maybe other dogma, is that this relies on the fallacy of affirming the consequent (if P, then Q; Q, therefore P). In propositional logic, Q can be true and yet P is false. Thus we can be rewarded with (or punished for) something even though we have not done what we think is required.

What is interesting for us is not that this dogma is based on philosophical invalid arguments, which has sustained western society for many centuries, but rather this dogma, despite the intentions of the original proponents, betrays the deep seated mind set of human beings to the principles of causality. Basically, the argument is that our actions cause us to have rewards; or what we think we deserve, maybe even been told what to expect. We can even go a step further and claim that dogma even betray our deep seated instinct of short term pain (work) with long term pleasure (reward; or what we deserve). 


Thus although dogma rely heavily on the fallacy of argument from authority, they betray the human understanding of causality and human emotions.


For us there are three issues: 
1) Upon what grounds can we claim that if we do what is required, we will be get our just rewards?
2) Getting what we deserve does not only apply to rewards but also to negative effects. Hence, we also associate a causal effect with punishment; another word for pain.
3) And the third issue is the getting rewards we don't deserve and punishments we don't deserve.

The worst important aspect of dogma or the expected reward argument is to assume that only our efforts matter in getting what we deserve. However, there are many factors in the causal history of an event or outcome. At the very least, our efforts are quite limited in scope. For example, today the educational system has been changed so much from the ideals of social justice that what matters more is not our efforts to study, but rather whether we have enough financial resources to actually afford to study. Never mind the dynamics of relations between educators and pupils, health factors and access to the tools of learning, these only matter if one can afford to enter the education system. But the causal history does not stop there, we need a roof over us, we need to eat, and meet other needs. So when we get our degree at the end, who really deserves the reward, us who, admittedly, had to study, our parents who maybe provided the finances, or the financial intuition that lent us the money for the fees, etc. It is doubtful that our efforts alone can seal the deal, or any deal for which we are rewarded.

And in the professional context, success does not only depend on our efforts at work, but also on such things as the dynamics of the economy, our access to professional networks, our mentors and coaches who can show us the way to success or disaster. Or even mundane things such as the personality of our boss.

What seems to be happening here is that a number of people put in the causal effort that can create enough critical mass to result in us getting a degree, i.e. the reward. This suggests that an element of cooperation is required if anything we deserve is going to come our way. But does this also apply to punishments: i.e. for something we did wrong? When we do something dastardly, is it also the product of a cooperative endeavour?

So even without making any value judgments, the idea that we can actually cause the outcome we desire in an enterprise is, at best, a matter of our efforts being just another causal factor in the process. Of course, this does not mean that the part we play is not relevant; indeed it is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. On the other hand it is characteristic of human beings and indeed, maybe even human physiology, to be able to focus on an objective, and exclude secondary issues in an enterprise. Our brain's ability to filter out noise from meaningful sound is an important function of us or interpret meaningful patterns from visual stimuli is also an important survival function. Hence, maybe it is also natural for us to filter out the contributions of others in an enterprise we are personally involved in. Thus we can decide if we truly deserve something it is because we can psychologically exclude to factor in the part played by others in our success.

Most people can live with this state of affairs and don't have to feel guilty or anything. One can argue, of course, that there are too many factors that come to play for us to succeed and get what we deserve, but life is short and we cannot spend the rest of our time doing causal balance sheets. Never mind giving credit to everyone in our life like the credit line of a movie. But I would argue that it is a philosopher's task to investigate these causal balance sheets. And this matters because work matters to human beings and rewards, especially just rewards, matter even more.

But the real problem is not really in causal book keeping, but that the reward is a sufficient effect to meet the condition of making us happy and to balance the pain/pleasure balance sheet of human beings. Thus, we are in a situation where our efforts are necessary for a rewarding outcome, always assuming that this will really happen, but sufficient for us to be happy just by receiving any rewards. You will remember that the affirming the consequent fallacy (if P ->Q, Q therefore P) means that we can still get the reward without making any valid effort to get it.

However, being rewarded for something that we don't deserve (or punished) matters to human beings because we don't live by logic only. Indeed we don't even only live with balanced pain and pleasure balance sheets. We also live with an acute sense of justice and fairness. 

At the very basis of this instinct of justice and fairness is our ability to calculate the expected returns and rewards of our efforts and compare our results with those of others. We can do a basic cost benefit analysis of the risks we take and the accruing returns. More importantly, our sense of survival is sufficiently complex to help us judge whether someone is cheating us or getting their just rewards. The weakness of this ability is that in many cases we only have face value evidence of someone receiving a just reward or the opposite. We might not know all the details of a causal process to make an objective judgment; for all we know our neighbour might have spent many hour studying to get to the top of the class. 

Can we now go a step further and argue that it is not quite clear that our sense of justice or fairness come from a sense of morality and rationality but simply an effect of jealousy or envy when we feel others are better off than us, and selfishness when we want to be better off. 

When in real life we apply the issue of whether 'we get what we deserve', the most relevant situations for us would probably be in the sphere of work and politics. This should not come as a surprise since both are, in a way, the same human activity: the distribution of earthly resources.

To sum up, while our efforts are a necessary factor in bring about the fair outcome of rewards, they are not sufficient. There are limits to how much we can influence the causal process. Getting what we deserve is all part of the pain/pleasure process biological systems we employ in the survival game. Our sense of justice and fairness can easily be based on the natural instinct of survival, and can be valid independent of any moral fundamentals. For example, a sense of justice can be based on jealousy that can easily motivate us to address the question of whether we get what we deserve. 

What, however, seems to be incomprehensible is how can we trade physical effort that is required for survival to rewards that can neither be measured by the all encompassing formula E=MC2 nor inductively valid through experience. In other words, how can physical biological systems accept rewards purely based on language memes (rewarded in the hereafter) in exchange for present physical casual effort (do the work)? And a competing version of this would be to spend your money on the latest gadget so you can become the most fashionable kid on the block. But the consequences of dogma, that are in the end the creation of human beings, are of course totally irrational. And unfortunately, there is no rational law that compels human beings to be rational. 






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