PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, May 29, 2014

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Controlling information to protect us

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Controlling information to protect us.

I have looked at this issue from the big arguments such as military
secrets, aliens and global warming, and a few more. Despite our
revulsion to control information my extreme example beautifully
highlight the real moral issues involved.

In the meantime this is the link to Ruel's essay

Hello Lawrence,
Below is the link to an essay I wrote on the topic for Sunday´s PhiloMadrid:
Thanks and see you on Sunday.


Controlling information to protect us

It makes sense to control military secrets, but of course not military
blunders. Although telling the enemy how incompetent your military are
might itself be revealing useful information that can help the enemy;
but then again they probably already know.

Take for example the use of iud's in Iraq, maybe telling the world about
the morale effects these weapons were having on coalition troops might
have aided the enemy by encouraging them to plant more. Never mind for a
minute that the strength and specifications of the armoured equipment is
in the public domain, and that information about the troops might easily
be found on twitter.

The problem we have is not the legitimacy of keeping military secrets
but rather control of information to hide blunders, incompetence,
arrogance and stupidity within the military and government in general.
For example why are we really getting more military insiders telling us
that the JSF F35 fighter bomber is useless or at the very least not
capable of doing what it is supposed to do? And why did the Chinese
leave out the problem parts of this aircraft in their obvious replica of
this aircraft? One might hope that the Americans would have compromised
the plans of this aircraft when they discovered that the Chinese were
accessing secret computer networks. In the same way that the British and
French compromised the plans of Concorde when they discovered that the
Russians had access to the plans of the Concorde; the Russians build the
Tu144 which most of you will remember crashed in the Paris air show soon
after its introduction into service.

There is no doubt that controlling military secrets is legitimate, but
certainly not military blunders and incompetence. Maybe not all these
blunders need to be made public, but they certainly need to be
supervised by some independent body from the state and that citizens can
trust. Unfortunately, the courts are not always the right organisations
to oversee this blunder type of information; maybe an independent
commission made up of representative members of society (not the
privileged few) headed by the head of state (not the Prime Minister).

Controlling information to protect us might be legitimate in the context
that if others had access to that information they would use it against
us. But this is not really a big issue.

There is another type of information control that might be applied by
states to protect us. Of course, by virtue of the fact that this type of
information would devastate us we do not really know whether this
actually has happened. For purely sensational reasons I would call this
the "alien argument" which is basically: if the government knew we were
going to be annihilated by the aliens tomorrow and there is nothing we
can do about it, what's the point of telling the population ahead of the
day? And when I say there is nothing we can do, there is nothing we can do!

And for those who fail to see the argument for the sensation, lets
imagine that the government have solid evidence that a deadly virus is
about to invade the country in a day or two and there are no antivirals
for this virus. And of course the consequence is that most of the people
will die. Alerting the population will only cause panic and neighbouring
countries will immediately close their boarders and introduce a shoot to
kill policy against those trying to enter their country.

Although we can find many moral dilemmas and unpleasant moral issues in
this "deadly virus" argument, the decision to control information or not
is not an easy one. We might accept the alien argument is impossible,
but the deadly virus scenario is well within human events. I personally
don't think there is a right answer to this argument but what is
valuable for us is that it raises a number of moral issues that are
clear cut and well defined; tell the people and risk a social panic,
don't tell the people and thus condemning those who might be able to
save themselves etc.

It might be argued that in the real world deadly viruses do not limit
themselves to a single country; they usually operate as a function of
location and their ability to infect enough people and keep them alive
long enough to spread the deadly infection. Thus, given such a deadly
virus we have to share information at least with the specialists of
other countries, if not the people.

Of course, a few years ago we did have the SARS (and later the bird flu)
scare and information was not always forthcoming by some governments who
had victims of this disease. But despite the control of information it
was also true that at the time no useful antivirals were available so
very little could have been done in the short term. Hence, we have a
situation where, controlling information was not the best solution even
though there was very little one could do in the short term before we
became victims of a pandemic. Maybe the precautions taken after the
sharing of information help save the day; or maybe not enough was known
about this virus at the beginning.

Now what if we have a situation, where we already have enough
information in the public domain to support legitimate scientific
arguments, we also have enough information in the public domain to
reasonably predict the consequences of certain events we already know
off. Except that the government are controlling information in order to
reach the conclusion that the scientific information is not conclusive.
The underlying argument is that there is nothing to worry too much about
and that any attempt to deal with the situation would affect the economy

Of course, I am referring to climate change/global warming and the
direct causal effect that this is going to have in increased malignant
and non-malignant skin cancers amongst other serious diseases. If one
had to search the term "skin cancer and global warming" one will find
enough information to conclude that this is a valid serious problem. If
the 80's and 90's were the decades of lung cancer due to smoking, the
2020's and 2030's will be the decades of skin cancers due to the effects
of global warming.

Despite the legitimacy and militancy of those trying to push the global
warming agenda to the fore and the disdain governments treat this lobby
the situation is not straight forward, this is an issue that is not
going away anytime soon.

Any attempt by one government to control their country's contribution to
global warming would immediately affect employment and the marketability
of goods. But the worst possible effect would be other unscrupulous
countries taking advantage of the efforts by our government. Even more,
it is not clear that it is physically possible to maintain our level of
progress without the energy resources we consume today. And furthermore,
is humanity going to advance medical science fast enough to develop
treatments for all the cancers and other diseases what are going to be
caused by global warming in ten or twenty years time?

Maybe in situations that are legitimate, controlling information is
still not a straight forward affair: we still have moral dilemmas and
moral issues without being able to identify what is right from what is
wrong. The skin cancer scenario above certainly creates a situation
where even with uncontrolled information made available to us, we still
cannot protect ourselves by virtue of the knowledge we now know from
that information.

In other words, if governments control information thinking they are
protecting us, not withstanding legitimate cases, but they are not
(Deadly Virus argument), making information available might not give us
better chances (Skin Cancer argument).

Those who don't want to do much about global warming they have always
implied that if we had to try and stop global warming we would destroy
all our economy and condemn many people to unemployment. Yet, they would
argue, we cannot be sure that everyone will cooperate.

But has anyone considered that governments are not too keen on
controlling global warming precisely to expose the population to such
things as skin cancer. Thus we have a natural way to control the
population and corporations might profit from developing medical care
for these diseases. Indeed being able to invent technologies that might
be environment friendly might be a good reason to jump on this global
warming bandwagon to sell these technologies at high profits. Not to
mention giving us an economic advantage when we insist that products
entering our country must be environment friendly.

Could it be that the issue for us is not the control of information per
se, but rather what information is being controlled? And where is the
information coming from?

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Controlling information to
protect us

Thursday, May 22, 2014

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Where does technique stop and art begins? + News

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Where does technique stop and art begins?

One thing is sure about this topic is that it is quite involving, but it
is certainly one that can generate different opinions and debate. Ruel
has sent us a link to his essay and I have written a few ideas on the
topic as. In the meantime Carlos has sent us details about a meeting of
the Asociación "El Club Del Hombre Libre".

Asociación "El Club Del Hombre Libre"
A la Conferencia de:
Manuel Noriega, titulada:
El Mercado de la Salud Mental
Lunes 26 de Mayo de 2014 a las 20:00 horas
Café Comercial
Glorieta de Bilbao nº7 (Madrid)

Hi Lawrence,
Below is the link to the essay I wrote on Sunday´s topic.
See you on Sunday.


Where does technique stop and art begins?

If you look closely with a magnifying glass at a photo of the queen of
Sheba on your daily front page what you see is a collection of coloured
dots. Even if you look at the whole image with the magnifying glass from
edge to edge you will never get a hint of what you are looking at which,
in this case, happens to be the queen of Sheba.

Even if we look at some painting that is accepted as a work of art, the
closer you get to it the less it looks like a work of art. Indeed there
will come a point, like the photo on the newspaper, that all you see are
strokes of coloured pigment with ridges in them and maybe a covering of
a varnish.

Of course, seen from the right distance both the photo and the portrait
of the queen of Sheba will look like an image of the queen. So when do
dots of ink on paper become an image of the queen of Sheba? Or even
layers of pigment on canvas become a portrait of the queen.

And to compound the issue, is a photo of a work of art itself a work of
art? Indeed, why is a fake copy of a piece of art not art but yet it was
executed with a perfect technique?

It might be argued that a key component of art is the artist. This might
be relevant but not to the extent of establishing the artiness of a
piece of art. Many works have been attributed to an artist but then
discovered they were not; and vice versa.

Thus the artist is not a necessary condition for a painting - or any
other form of art such as literature, music etc- to be perceived as art.

Earlier I suggested that looking at a painting of the queen of Sheba
from the right distance will give us the right perception of the work of

This might suggest that the viewer is equally important in establishing
that something is a work of art. Thus a work of art = technique +
viewer, where technique becomes key when applied by a certain artist.

There is however a serious implication here. Basically, if we accept the
technique+viewer argument, then the whole collection of impressionist
paintings has hardly been viewed as art. Firstly, the technique used for
these paintings requires natural light in situ which will never be
achieved in the sterile setting of a museum or a sitting room of a
house. And secondly, the viewer has to be at the right distance from the
painting to achieve the right perspective to really appreciate the
painting. It is therefore very likely that only a hand full of people in
history have ever seen the artiness of an impressionist painting.

Hence, although the viewer is an important variable in what is art, in
many cases the viewer is excluded from the artiness of the work. In the
example of the impressionist painting there is no doubt that the
painting is finished and no doubt the artist was a master, he or she
knew when to stop; this is the difference between master and artist, the
master knows when to stop. (Not my original idea but it not clear who
said it).

Of course, we can say that it is both necessary and sufficient condition
for a viewer to see a work of art (we can compromise and include an
image) to decide whether they like it, but liking something does not
establish artiness. Or at least we think it doesn't.

This leads us to the idea that works of art cannot be art because we are
physically hindered from accessing the same sense perception of the
artist. And to compound the issue we are certainly excluded from being
in the same brain state of the artist no matter how much an fMRI image
of both the artist and the viewer look alike when looking at the queen
of Sheba: two cars doing 120km on the motorway cannot be reduced to one
car doing 120km.

An equally interesting issue is this: what exactly are we supposed to
see and look at in a piece of art? What was inside the brain of the
artist, a representation of such internal imaging, the face value of the
technique? At least in the private language argument we know that
meaning comes from public use of words, where is the artiness in a
private image of the artist?

We clearly speak of art, and we clearly distinguish some things as
possessing artiness and others not. Maybe there is a hint for us here
and maybe art is first and foremost a language game clearly based on
social norms. Hence a painting hanging in a museum must be art because
that's what we decided to do socially with art. But I am sure we all
feel that we need something more than this.

One thing we also seem to agree is that art stirs the emotions. We might
feel ecstatic at a piece of music or engulfed by a painting.

Indeed emotions seem to be a common denominator between the artist and
the viewer. But it is unlikely that both the artist and the viewer are
in the same mental state; never mind that there is no logical reason to
suppose that there is an emotional factor, it is certainly neither a
necessary nor sufficient condition. One of the reasons why the artist
and viewer cannot be in the same mental state is because of the added
emotions experienced by the artist in doing the work of art including
pleasure, frustration, relief etc.

It seems that the artiness of a piece of art is very elusive; we seem to
want some exclusive thing that distinguishes art from other things,
similar to distinguishing good from bad.

In a desperate bid to understand the issue we might say that a perfect
technique will transform itself into a work of art. But technique itself
is not enough in the same way that correct grammar does not
automatically make a romantic novel. Technique does help but there seems
to be a transitional point where technique enters into a diminishing
curve and replaced by artiness which might be argued is not subject to
the diminishing returns law. The artiness of a piece of art does not
diminish the more people look at it; but adding more paint will.

The best analogy is maybe a toast or a hardboiled egg. At one point a
fresh piece of bread ceases to be bread and turns into a toast; the same
with a fresh egg. Of course, with bread and eggs we can set a
mathematical model to predict the transition from freshness to
toastiness in bread. This is the domain of catastrophe theory
established by René Thom and made popular by Christopher Zeeman
(Wikipedia). Chemistry and physics can also explain the molecular and
atomic changes in the bread. Hence toastiness can easily be a new
property of a fresh piece of bread or rather we can identify physical
changes in the bread to describe the state of the bread as toast. At a
pinch we can even do the same with good and see how many people are
benefiting or the nature of the benefit. For example, a good health
policy will depend on various positive effects such as the number of
care recipients, death rate, life expectancy etc.

Can we do the same with art? For example, is it the case that the more
people like a painting the more it possess artiness? But there is
problem with this thinking.

A toast and a good health service stand on their own feet. A toast is a
toast irrespective of who is looking at it. In this respect maybe Kant
was right to suggest that art is independent of context. If a painting
has to be described as a portrait of the queen of Sheba then that would
probably be photojournalism. But most art doesn't need a caption to be

Maybe we need to revisit the technique+viewer model, but this time we
have a closer look at the viewer factor. Sure liking something does not
make it art, but we are not trying to discover what is art but when the
technique becomes art.

One final thing I haven't mentioned is that art is closely associated
with our two primordial senses: sight (for visual arts) and hearing (for
literature/theatre) although in reality there is always a mixture of
both to some degree. Despite the fact that a chaotic field of view
carries more information it would have been our ancestors' ability to
identify meaningful patterns that helped them survive by identifying
food or avoid dangers. Hence pattern recognition (visual or auditory)
becomes an ingrained ability in us; and what is art but pattern
recognition: images of flowers, beautiful people, harmonic music,
captivating tales, flowing prose?

The context is therefore always relevant for art and even for artiness
to sprout from technique. The context is not related to the content of
the painting but to our ability to recognise and indentify patterns. For
example, the modern art movements such as cubism were historical
reactions to the conservative and conformist society at the time. But
their radical departure of what was called art at the time resulted into
a lot of opposition before these works were accepted as art. Of course,
we might like some art and not others but art is judged by our ability
to see form and pattern in our field of vision.

Hence, art, it might be argued, happens when we can recognise and
experience something as a meaningful pattern. We also recognise that it
is harmless. For example, an image of a nude female or male body hanging
in a museum is regarded as art but a similar image with similar pose
found on an adult website would be regarded as pornography by many
because it might corrupt our morals. And then the final test is whether
what we see gives us pleasure or revulsion. So, maybe, the technique
stops at the point where what we see is clearly not a threat to us. Now
surely that's a material change in our brain!

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Where does technique stop and
art begins? + News

El Mercado de la Salud Mental.


Estimados amigos:
Este mes va a ser un la conferencia de Manuel Noriega, cuyo título es: El Mercado de la Salud Mental. Su currículum lo podéis ver a continuación.
Como siempre la conferencia es gratuita (aunque es obligatoria una consumición). Este año el programa de actividades de la Asociación, está muy completo, con actos culturales y sociales. No somos solo una asociación que organiza conferencias, conciertos y recitales. También hacemos programas de Ayuda Social.
Entendemos que de todas estas formas nos hacemos más libres. Y por ello necesitamos voluntarios y socios que nos ayuden a continuar con nuestro proyecto.  Para la votación sirve cualquier persona u organización, no hay requisitos adicionales para merecer el premio. 
Saludos afectuosos, hasta pronto.

Santiago Samaniego, Presidente


           A la Conferencia de:
     Manuel Noriega, titulada:

           El Mercado de la Salud Mental

Introducción: Eduardo Junquera Cubiles, escritor


Lunes 26 de Mayo de 2014 a las 20:00 horas
Café Comercial
Glorieta de Bilbao nº7 (Madrid)

Currículum  Vitae de:

Actualmente estudiando cuarto curso, compatibilizándolo con el trabajo, de la Licenciatura de Psicología en la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED).
Máster en Psicoanálisis por la escuela española de psicoterapia y psicoanálisis de Madrid.
Formación Profesional Primer Grado, Auxiliar de clínica. Estudios realizados en el Centro Cultural Gredos en Madrid y Prácticas en la Plaza del conde del valle súchil, Madrid.
Curso de Acceso a Formación Profesional de Segundo Grado, en el Centro Cultural Gredos.
Título de Bachillerato, estudios cursados en el Centro Cultural Gredos.
Curso de Orientación Universitaria (COU), estudios cursados en el Centro Cultural Gredos.
Coautor del libro "Sistema Avance"(Tratado de Psicología) junto a Eduardo Luis Junquera Cubiles

Somos un grupo humanista y ecléctico que busca mejorar las capacidades del hombre actual para de esta forma mejor contribuir a la sociedad, ello mediante el análisis, el ajuste y la adaptación a los grandes cambios sufridos en la sociedad en los últimos años respecto al ser humano, sus responsabilidades grupales y su imagen como individuo. 
1. Alcanzar el verdadero y profundo conocimiento personal y profesional del hombre y la mujer
2. Promover el liderazgo e integridad personal
3. La igualdad total de sexos y el respeto mutuo
4. La preparación para que tanto el hombre como la mujer asuman un papel activo y emprendedor en la sociedad a todos los niveles.

Estamos a tu disposición, cualquier aclaración que necesites contacta con nosotros en el teléfono 615268045 o en
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Friday, May 16, 2014

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Colonialism

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Colonialism.

Quite a trending topic I would say given the elections for the European
parliament in a few days time. Not forgetting that the EU is the direct
product of the last big adventure by an European power to colonise its
neighbours. I say the last because today colonialism does not involve
land grab as I argue in my few ideas on the subject below.

In the meantime Ruel wants to share an essay with us he wrote some time
ago about the case of colonialism and the Philippines:

Hello Lawrence,

I decided not to write an essay this time on Sunday´s topic
"Colonialism" since I remembered I wrote a related article, "Feudalism
and Colonialism: The Case of the Philippines," which was published on
News Junkie Post sometime last year (August 8, 2013). I hope our
PhiloMadrid colleagues will find some relevant thoughts on the issue of
colonialism in my article. The said article may be accessed through the
following link:
See you on Sunday.


--Lawrence –Colonialism

I intend to argue that colonialism is not the product of political
adventurism but mainly the result of the follies and mismanagement of
the economy.

There are three key issues in classical economics that concern us
directly: resources are scarce, diminishing marginal returns and demand
supply equilibrium. Usually the very basics are also the most important.
Given that there isn't an endless supply of resources the implication is
that it is not always possible to meet demand. And even if there are
enough resources it still takes time to make these available. Economic
issues are not metaphysical ideals but empirical events in the lives of

The principle of diminishing returns basically reflects the idea that if
you have a system of "production" but leave its mechanism the same
without adapting it to reflect its use, sooner or later the system will
come to a stop. A very basic example is a car, unless one adds petrol to
a car it will soon come to a stop.

Human beings have tended to get on the wrong side of these two
principles on a regular basis although this is not the exclusive domain
of human beings. The difference is that other biological creatures
always function within the raw parameters of nature and evolution. We
are also captive of biological parameters but we have also been able to
extend those parameters through our understanding of nature and ability
to make tools.

Thus when wildebeest run out of grass they migrate to other parts of the
African continents. On the other hand, humans have invented tools,
manipulated water ways, germinated seeds and husbanded animals to meet
most of our survival needs. The natural mechanism to keep the supply of
grass for wildebeest (or any other creature) and the number of
wildebeest is based on the number of predators and sometimes diseases
that decimate herds (or creatures). However, with better diets, tools
and medical science we are more likely to be the victims of successful
over population for example with mass migration to cities,
slash-and-burn policies that destroys the fertility of the land, wars,
and of course colonialism.

Colonialism can therefore be seen as an extension of the management or
mismanagement of these three principles: diminishing returns, scarce
resources and demand and supply. The British Empire for example, was a
quest for bigger markets, the Spanish empire was a quest for gold, the
Roman empire a quest for more land and so.

Maybe today we do not build empires by land acquisition but by the
ownership of the assets of other countries or their financial control.
We mustn't forget that the lubricating force of classical economics is
money. Indeed modern colonialism is sustained by a very clever language
game: in particular changing the referential object of the
economic/political term "capitalism." Capitalism used to mean the
ownership of the means of production to use for profit in a free market.
Today, we still call it capitalism, we still call it profit, and we
still call it a free market, but what we owe today are the means of
financing. Today financial institutions not only the control investments
through financing the means of production, but also the financing of
consumption. We can describe capitalism today as an endless loop of
money movement sucking in every non financial wealth. A car becomes a
financial instrument when the bank lends the buyer money to buy it.

Hence, the traditional meaning of colonialism has also changed by
stealth of hand. Today, the historical powers in Europe have no
expansion designs on their neighbours land, but more on their
neighbour's banking system and supply of capital investments. As recent
adventurism by the USA has demonstrated, it is not necessary to occupy
and control the land of a country for successful expansionism. It's
enough to create mayhem and stop the flow of resources to make it
possible for an outsider to benefit from the situation. The occupation
of Afghanistan and Iraq resulted in a state of mayhem and flow of oil.
But the benefit was that world oil prices have reached a level high
enough to make oil reserves in most (Western) countries profitable. Fear
and terror have always subdued societies; and these can today be
projected through proxy groups, long distance weapon systems and drones
that can linger over a country for hours on end.

At the philosophical/political philosophy level some argue that there is
a difference between imperialism and colonialism. Colonialism need not
involve occupying someone else's land; the original settlers who moved
from Britain to what is now the USA were colonialists; they did not know
the land was already occupied. Imperialism is basically expansionism by
a strong country over other countries. Whichever way we look at it,
colonialism has a negative meaning and as a political strategy it is
certainly unacceptable. We might call this occupation of land as
"classical colonialism." The "new colonialism" as I explained involves
controlling or owning the assets of a country and the financial markets
of that country. On our continent, obvious examples today of "new
colonialism" would be Ireland, Spain, Greece, and most most of Central

We can look at colonialism as something inevitable given our human
nature; we might even accept that it is just a matter of time (even if
it is counted in millennia) before we literally drive ourselves to the
ground and disappear.

But at the micro level, biological systems do not necessarily colonise
other biological system with negative and devastating repercussions. Gut
flora that lives in the digestive tracts have a beneficial effect on the
host creature. Is it possible for human beings to be involved in
beneficial colonialism? Or are we more like a deadly virus?

If, hopefully, we have put classical colonialism behind us and moved on
to the "new colonialism", what beholds us for the long term? Benevolent
colonialism? Or universal enslavement?

And talking about enslavement, given that it is now practically official
policy of the Vatican that aliens can also be baptised, what are the
chances that there will be aliens to be baptised?

Whether human beings will ever meet aliens is a matter of speculation
and dinner party talk to while away the boredom of such meetings. And
the idea that the aliens will help us find a cure for cancer or give us
entertaining TV is just bonkers. But there is a more serious question
behind this mental exercise: why should the aliens help us with
anything? What if they just wanting to colonise us? After all, how many
countries we colonised did we help cure their cancer victims? Indeed,
how many countries have we colonised in order to cure their cancer

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Colonialism

Friday, May 09, 2014

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Shallowness + News

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Shallowness.

We usually experience this negative trait in people when we find
ourselves socialising in some function or meeting. And the effect is
usually boredom just when we are supposed to interact with fellow human

Ruel has prepared an essay for us and I wrote a few idea on the topic.
In the meantime Miguel has sent us details about his Maths tertulia.

Estimado tertuliano,

Te invitamos a asistir a la próxima Tertulia de Matemáticas: Bitcoin

Saludos cordiales,
Tertulia de Matemáticas

Hello Lawrence,
Here is the link to the essay I wrote on Sunday´s PhiloMadrid topic:
Thank you.


Building long standing ties and long term relationships can be both a
matter of necessity or a character trait. A lot might even depend on the
kind of opportunities we have or come across. If we are presented with
regular opportunities with hardly any consequences when we break
previous relationships then maybe we don't feel the need to have a
meaningful and in depth relationship with everyone.

Shallowness is not only a characteristic when a person does not
establish meaningful relationships but also exhibits superficial
interests, knowledge and maybe even abilities. Thus some people instead
of developing a meaningful relationship when we are in the context of
expecting meaningful relationships, we find ourselves bored and maybe
even feel in a vacuum.

Maybe it is also true that in today's big societies we do not have many
opportunities to get to know people very well. It might also be argued
that we do not necessarily always open up with everyone. Thus we might
give people the wrong impression.

It might however also be argued that some people are shallow because
they are inundated with opportunities. They might be spoilt or even have
excess of everything. Thus they might be shallow when dealing with
people because they are victims of the "busy" syndrome or simply because
they are inundated with people paying them attention.

These are circumstances that contribute at making us shallow or
superficial to certain levels and degrees of social interaction. Some
might even be shallow because of their social circumstance, born into a
rich family, they are extremely attractive, have the right social
background etc.

There is however a different type of shallowness; one that is the result
of indifference or lack of interest. This is very prevalent regarding
politics and social issues.

Many people give the impression that they are oblivious to political
issues, abuse of power or social unrest. They want to give the
impression that they are above politics although many who are well
heeled wouldn't mind playing the system to make even more money. And
those who might be tempted to care about politics they only care enough
to accept what the establishment says or to maintain the status quo.
Indeed, are these people shallow or simply victims of political

Although shallowness in people might be annoying, it is no doubt part of
the hierarchal and social posturing of a competitive biological system.
We can easily interpret shallowness as self preservation, a strategy to
select the best, or protect one's resources, but can it also be
interpreted as aggression? That is, being aggressive with people we
don't want to associate with instead of just politely walking away.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Shallowness + News

Friday, May 02, 2014

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Dogmatism + News


Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Dogmatism.

Miguel, Ruel and I have written an essay on the topic, although mine is
quite short. From my part there are two key issues for us: 1) how what
is the nature of dogmatic beliefs and 2) how can we protect ourselves
against dogmatism? But first some news:

--from Miguel
Tertulia de Matemáticas: Politopos Latinos

Estimado tertuliano,

Te invitamos a asistir a la próxima Tertulia de Matemáticas: Politopos
( ).

Saludos cordiales,
Tertulia de Matemáticas

--Centro Seoviano
Public lectures at the Centro Segoviano on El Greco by Prof Fanjul: 7,
15 and 21 May

And finally the links to the essays:

--from Miguel
Hi Law,

This is my essay on dogmatism:


--from Ruel
Hello Lawrence,
Below is the link to the essay I wrote for PhiloMadrid on Sunday.
Thank you and see you on Sunday.

---from Lawrence


There is a very good chance that the idea many people have of democracy,
especially politicians, might be all wrong. Some seem to have the
impression that democracy is about having some sort of an election every
four or five years and then the winning group of politicians have a
carte blanche to do what they want, discriminate how much they want,
favour who they want and basically do not hold themselves accountable to

Of course, they are held accountable if they pilfer a thousand Euros
here and there, but nothing is done when the economy is destroyed, real
incomes fall close to poverty levels, allow themselves to be at the beck
and call of some economic sectors and on and on.

This is important for our discussion on two counts: the first is that
this scenario is the natural habitat for the various forms of dogmatism
we can associate with the state and the exercise of power. And,
secondly, dogmatism affects the real lives of people.

Today we accept that our actions have causal effects and that they have
the potential to affect ourselves and others. Some of our actions are
based on innate beliefs we have accumulated over the years. For example,
the fancier the restaurant the less likely they are going to give value
for money. We might even have more complex beliefs that affect our
attitude towards the state or the government. For example, education
should be free.

Our beliefs may or may not be right and although we might defend our
beliefs we generally do not impose our beliefs on others. However,
beliefs based on dogma are intended to be imposed on others. But
someone's belief that people's property should be expropriated or that
people that do not join our religious order should be murdered, are a
different type of beliefs. These types of beliefs, which we call dogmas,
are usually immune to investigation or confirmation. My beliefs might
always be wrong and proved to be wrong, but dogmatism negates the option
of a dogma being investigated let alone proved wrong.

Thus the problem with dogma and dogmatism is not that they are based on
a body of right or wrong beliefs, but rather that irrespective of
whether such beliefs are right or wrong the objective is to impose those
beliefs. The second issue with dogmatism is that they inevitably tend to
favour one group at the expense of others.

This is why our thinking about what is the purpose of democracy is so
vital. Democracy is not a mandate for a selected few to do what they
want, it is not a limitless carte blanche, but more like an agreement to
protect against whims, excesses and disregard for others. Especially
when preachers of dogmas intentionally do harm to others or are
negligent as to whether they do harm to others.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Dogmatism + News

Public lectures at the Centro Segoviano on El Greco


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