PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, November 26, 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: No is the answer +NEWS

Dear friends,


This Sunday we are discussing: No is the answer.

Being able to say "no" is quite a powerful feeling not to say
courageous. Of course, I do not mean the no dished out by angry children
to their parents, although sometimes it might be a life saver, nor the
"no" given by someone in authority just for the heck of it.

We are told (see reference below) that good managers should be able to
say no to opportunities they are presented with. Judicious management of
time is not only wise and effective but healthy as well, and the tool
for this is "no". No to useless meetings, no to inefficient policies, no
to unprofitable projects and so on.

In life, maybe the hardest no we can say and be recipients of is when
rejecting a love proposal. Saying no to amorous advancements is a
biological instinct at heart. Saying no to a meeting might be rational,
but no to advancement could very well imply survival as in avoiding a
partnership with someone who is violent.

Except here is the philosophical problem for us, whilst saying no might
be a survival instinct, saying yes might be an emotional trap. Does this
mean that emotions can actually be harmful for us?
Ref: Why saying no gets you ahead in Fortune at:
http://fortune.com/2014/08/19/why-saying-no-gets-you-ahead/

In the meantime I have some news from Gloria about her concert on Saturday:

Hola Lawrece, ,Mi grupo Schinny Black (Weird Rock) toca el próximo
sábado 28 de noviembre a las 22hrs en Alive Music Bar en el metro Sol,
al lado de San Ginés. Por si os apetece te dejo el cartel.,Gracias y un
saludo!,Gloria

Best Lawrence



tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
<http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
-----------Ignacio------------
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
<http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/>
----------------------------



from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: No is the answer +NEWS

Friday, November 20, 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: How to be a pacifist

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: How to be a pacifist.

Ceit has sent us a quote that got her thinking about the subject. On the
other hand, I approached the topic by first arguing that we should get
rid of old dogma about the topic. Whatever we say about the subject it
is certainly a very topical issue today.


An insight from Ceit:

This quote from Utah Phillips is what got me thinking about this question:

[Ammon Hennessy] said, "You got to be a pacifist." I said, "Why?" He
said, "It'll save your life." And my behavior was very violent then. I
said, "What is it?" And he said, "Well I can't give you a book by Gandhi
- you wouldn't understand it. I can't give you a list of rules that if
you sign it you're a pacifist." He said, "You look at it like booze. You
know, alcoholism will kill somebody, until they finally get the courage
to sit in a circle of people like that and put their hand up in the air
and say, 'Hi, my name's Utah, I'm an alcoholic.' And then you can begin
to deal with the behavior, you see, and have the people define it for
you whose lives you've destroyed." He said, "It's the same with
violence. You know, an alcoholic, they can be dry for twenty years;
they're never gonna sit in that circle and put their hand up and say,
'Well, I'm not alcoholic anymore' - no, they're still gonna put their
hand up and say, 'Hi, my name's Utah, I'm an alcoholic.' It's the same
with violence. You gotta be able to put your hand in the air and
acknowledge your capacity for violence, and then deal with the behavior,
and have the people whose lives you messed with define that behavior for
you, you see. And it's not gonna go away - you're gonna be dealing with
it every moment in every situation for the rest of your life." I said,
"Okay, I'll try that," and Ammon said "It's not enough!" I said: "Oh."
He said, "You were born a white man in mid-twentieth century industrial
America. You came into the world armed to the teeth with an arsenal of
weapons. The weapons of privilege, racial privilege, sexual privilege,
economic privilege. You wanna be a pacifist, it's not just giving up
guns and knives and clubs and fists and angry words, but giving up the
weapons of privilege, and going into the world completely disarmed. Try
that."
That old man has been gone now twenty years, and I'm still at it. But I
figure if there's a worthwhile struggle in my own life, that, that's
probably the one. Think about it.

How to be a pacifist by Lawrence

If we take pacifism to mean objection to wars and conflicts then we have
no choice but to say that this ideology has failed completely. And when
we consider that this ideology goes back to the foundation of Buddhism
and Christianity then the claim of failure is even more telling.

But this should not come as a surprise since it is very difficult to
buck human nature and in any case, wars and conflicts are not causes but
the effects of failed governments and states. Unfortunately, pacifists
not only propose untenable ideologies but ideologies used to address the
wrong objectives. What humanity needs are not "no" wars but more peace
and the two are not mutually exclusive but two independent phenomenon.
If we want peace we need to do things for peace and if we want war we
need to do war things. For example, the Maginot line by the French and
then the Atlantic Wall by the Germans in France were completely useless
war "things" that served for nothing. Likewise, economically bankrupting
Germany and subjugating the German people by the allies after the first
world was not conducive to peaceful coexistence.

Conscientious objection is more successful as a belief; a conscientious
objector is acting on personal conviction rather than group ideology.
And many conscientious objectors are not necessarily against a war
effort but find it personally repulsive to kill someone.

The key problem with pacifism is that it does not address the question
of self defence and belligerent actions. Notwithstanding the fact that
wars are the product of failed state policies, self defence is always a
legitimate reason to go to war. The question is what us self defence ; I
will argue that the irony is that a good pacifist could help us
distinguish between war as self defence and war as an act of aggression.

One of the best ways we know how countries can avoid conflicts is to
have a stable economy with wealth distributes fairly and justly. This is
of course easy to say, but harder to implement, but not impossible.
People who can see justice protecting them and their labours ought to be
more disposed to protect the interests of others. The average person on
the Clapham omnibus has a very keen sense of justice; not everyone is a
moron.

The second necessary condition would be education; even if by education
we mean the archaic inefficient system we call education today. But by
education we don't mean being able to recite the multiplication tables,
but knowing how to learning, know where to go to learn and most
important of all, having access to knowledge and information. People who
are knowledgeable know how to make value judgements and most important
of all, know how assess the claims of others.

Hence, the third necessary condition would be access to information and
transparency of the machinery of power. But this cannot happen unless we
also have an independent media that is free to investigate, gather and
disseminate news and information. A biased media is an insidious disease
of a democracy.

Thus the short answer to our question is that: the best way to be an
"Effective" pacifist would be: get rid of past ideologies; be obsessed
with learning about facts and thirdly, be a sceptic. I would argue that
these are all necessary conditions for someone to be a pacifist. By
applying these conditions strategically in our thinking we can see the
the dangers better and take action more efficiently.

But there is an easy way for all this, and a short cut to wit, and that
is: travel, travel, travel.

Best Lawrence



tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
<http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
-----------Ignacio------------
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
<http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/>
----------------------------




from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: How to be a pacifist

Thursday, November 12, 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Embracing mistakes

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Embracing mistakes.

From my few ideas I've put together on the topic, the key issue for us
would be deciding what we mean by "embracing mistakes."




Embracing mistakes

For those who are fond of references and background reading, the
following list would be a good start:
Quotes About Mistakes
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/mistakes
TED: Playlist (7 talks): How to learn from mistakes
https://www.ted.com/playlists/303/how_to_learn_from_mistakes
Why Learning From Mistakes Is Overrated
http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemeyer/2014/08/29/why-learning-from-mistakes-is-overrated/
Learning From Mistakes
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/19/opinion/david-brooks-learning-from-mistakes.html?_r=0


The nasty thing about mistakes is that the cure comes with the downfall.
And this is the lesson we learn from the problem of induction in
philosophy. So how should we understand the topic: embracing mistakes?

Clearly the first meaning ought to be, learning from mistakes, and to
achieve this I would add "accept mistakes as an opportunity to learn
from them". This is well and good of course, but sometimes we cannot
learn from mistakes because we are dead or so damaged, both physically
and mentally, we just cannot reverse life back and start again. Hence,
there are limits to how much of a free hand we should allow mistakes.

And of course, there is another issue, we just don't know when we are
making a mistake! But luckily there are all sorts of mistakes we can
commit in our life; some we can just pass over like a small bump in the
road, others are inconvenient, and some are quite serious, even life
changing. The next level would be fatal and not much of a concern for us
here.

Mistakes can happen because of negligence, absent mindedness, arrogance,
and, of course, lack of knowledge. But in a perfect world we would
accept the consequences and move on. But we don't live in a perfect
world and we don't always learn from our mistakes.

The sad truth is that in society, especially ours, mistakes are not
always used to learn but rather to punish. And I am not referring to
crime, but for example blame management. It is well documented today
that some companies create an environment where people are more
concerned about covering their backs for any mistakes they might make,
rather than being innovative or putting the interest of the company
first. This of course should not be interpreted as a care-free attitude
towards work or life. On the contrary, this means that we should be more
positive and responsible for our actions, not because we might be fired,
but because only by being responsible can we do what we have to do to
succeed and advance.

So the idea of not making mistakes and learning from mistakes should not
be a matter of blame but a matter of being responsible. There is not
room for irresponsibility in life or society. But the blame mentality
also affects the medical profession especially in over litigious societies.

Indeed the blame and punish mentality can have serious effects on
patients and maybe doctors themselves. See for example this report from
Reuters in 2011: Blame-free system increases medical error reports
(http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/21/us-blame-free-idUSTRE7AK1XS20111121).


But if the medical profession is afraid of law suits, what excuse does
the scientific community have for not publishing negative results? Why
aren't negative results published widely, at the very least other
scientists won't make the same mistakes and maybe errors can be
corrected and useful knowledge can be put to good use rather than wait
for the next discovery.

The blame-punishment culture starts very early in our life: the
education system does not lend itself to learning from mistakes despite
any lip service or half hearted efforts to the contrary. When mistakes
are used to exclude people rather than to teach or learn from not much
good can come out of such a system.

Best Lawrence



tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
<http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
-----------Ignacio------------
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
<http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/>
----------------------------




from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Embracing mistakes

Friday, November 06, 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The definition of being happy + NEWS for today Friday

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: The definition of being happy.

I have written a few provoking ideas (I hope they are) that establish
beyond doubt that this is not an easy task we are faced with. Ruel has
also sent us the link to his essay but first news about a book
presentation at the Centro Segoviano:
Book Presentation at Centro Segoviano - Author Ricardo A Fernandez title
Segovia para Curiosos
http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/2015/11/book-presentation-at-centro-segoviano.html


From Ruel:
Hello Lawrence,
Here is the link to the very short essay I wrote on Sunday's topic:
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/the-definition-of-being-happy/
Thanks and see you on Sunday.
All the best,
Ruel

From Lawrence
The definition of being happy
The first issue we have to address ourselves here is whether different
causes give rise to the same effect? Furthermore, is "being happy" a
direct cause of one of these possible causes that might make people
happy or is the state of happiness an indirect effect of the original
cause? Is there an intervening, middle cause that mediates between the
world of causes out there and our psychological/mental state of being
happy? Even if "being happy" is itself an effect of a cause.

The second issue that stems from the first issue, and is key to our
topic, 1) is whether our internal mental state of being happy is so
subjective and so internal that an independent observer will never have
access to our mental/brain state to determine if our state of happiness
is really cause by the chain of cause and effect we claim to have
reasons to be happy or 2) whether what we think is causing us to be
happy might itself not be the direct cause or related to our happiness.
This is important for the simple reason that if we are to give a
definition of "being happy" we need to meet two conditions.

The first condition is that we are justified to be happy under the
conditions we claim to be happy under. If this was not the case then we
would not be able to give a real definition of "being happy" in a public
and understandable language. The alternative, (what we think is making
us happy) would just be a March Hare effect (Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland), any meaning of happiness and being happy, are purely a
subjective meaning and therefore not capable of arriving at a precise
meaning. Or I say what I mean and I mean what I say! Pure subjectivism
does not lend itself very easily to a public definition and language.

We can however, arrive at a probabilistic meaning of what it is to be
happy but I am sure that the purists and connoisseurs of happiness won't
accept a "maybe" definition." A probabilistic meaning would involve
having an objectively verifiable cause, say an ice cream or a piece of
cake, then asking an array of people if the object or cause in question
makes them happy. We might not know how we get from ice cream to "I am
happy" but we have a good scattering of opinions from not happy to super
duper happy!

The second condition is that we need to arrive at the necessary and
sufficient conditions that will lead to happiness should we come
"across" any causal chain of happiness. Given that many different causes
lead to this same mental state we call "happiness" we need to know what
exactly triggers this so called happiness in us. But before we get there
we also need to establish whether what we call happiness is one and the
same thing in all of us: there is no point of a definition if each and
every one's experience is different despite everyone calling it
happiness. We need something more certain; we need some universal
criteria, for example something like the universal criteria of being
dead. Once again we can hardly come up with a definition of what it
means to be happy if we are reporting that we feel something but in fact
we are all feeling different independent things.

So before we can even being to define "being happy" we need to overcome
the issue of whether all causes that can lead to happiness are leading
to the same effect in all of us. Something, for example, as the
universal effect as being dead. Except of course, being dead only
applies to dead people, but being happy must apply to living people.
Secondly, we can really establish an objective meaning of "being happy"
that forms part of our language where the cause is present in the public
domain but the effect is only to be found in the subjective, private,
domain?

Best Lawrence



tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
<http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
-----------Ignacio------------
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
<http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/>
----------------------------




from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The definition of
being happy + NEWS for today Friday

Book Presentation at Centro Segoviano - Author Ricardo A Fernandez title Segovia para Curiosos

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