PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, January 07, 2016

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The animal in us + News

Dear Friends,

Hope you had good holidays, and I am pleased to say that the meetings we
had over this period were well attended and as usual well animated. This
Sunday we are discussing: The animal in us.

In the meantime Ruel kindly sent us the link to his essay and Miguel
news about a public lecture by Gaspar Mora. I am also sending details
about the the British Cemetery visits in January, February and March.
You will find these at the end of my essay.

---Hello Lawrence,
Here is the link to the essay I wrote on Sunday''s topic:
See you on Sunday.
All the best,

-------Lawrence----The animal in us

Strictly speaking the expression "the animal in us" or more usually "the
animal within us" expresses the practically neutral idea of following
one's emotions or instinct. Most often it is used to refer to those
times when we enjoy ourselves with little caution or inhibitions maybe
even out of character. However, the extreme meaning, if you will,
expresses the idea of evil action including malice.

For an example of a historical perspective you might want to have a look
Carl Gustav Jung - The Role of the Unconscious (1918) in
Civilization in Transition, -- Section 20
"But when the animal in us is split off from consciousness by being
repressed, it may easily burst out in full force,......"

The mild meaning of the expression is used more in jest and in a sense
approval, and any excesses of "enjoyment" are usually measured by the
standards of the person involved. Indeed, in society we accept and
invoke "the animal instinct" when doing something "naughty". This is
exploited to the maximum by marketing professionals for example to sell
chocolates, lingerie or fast cars. The irony is that this interpretation
and use of the expression "the animal in us" is contrary in meaning to
the extreme negative meaning such as that described by Jung and us in
ordinary. The mild meaning is approval the extreme meaning is complete

It is the Jungian example (and I am using Jung as a reference and not to
critique Jung) that ought to concern us as philosophers. I am inclined
to think that it's not just a matter of losing conscious control of
repressed biological instinct. The key here, as I will argue later, is
intention and by intention we mean the rational person on the omnibus
and not an unfortunate person is a hospital bed.

Strictly speaking, the topic has nothing to do with animals or animal
behaviour which we attribute to human behaviour which is obnoxious and
harmful. Any evil attributes we may infer in animal behaviour, that are
reflected in human beings, are pure prejudice and ignorance about
animals from our part. Although, it makes no sense to attribute malice
and malevolence to animals, this does not mean that animals could not
take revenge nor use unnecessary force (by our standard) to protect
their territory or themselves.

And this is the key philosophical issue for us: at the biological level
we are animals and our complex society, and complex it is, has more in
common with the rest of the living creatures on this earth than any
imaginary idea of a heaven or a society of philosopher kings. There is,
however, one big difference: our form of rationality is by far more
advance and efficient than that of other animals around us. It is true
that animals in their environment can achieve amazing things which we
hardly understand let only perform ourselves. But we do solve some of
our big problem in a very imaginative way.

At face value, the expression "the animal in us" is analytical in the
sense that we are biological animals. And the fact that we use this
expression in our everyday life reflects the value we base on our
species over other species. In the context of everyday use the
expression reflects this prejudice we have against other living
creatures. At the scientific and philosophical level, however, this
expression is just an archaeological remnant from bygone times when we
had practically no understanding of the animal world and us in it. This
expression, if we had to take it at face value, reflects more our
ignorance about other creatures than our ability at judging others.

There is still one little problem: if an action is malicious or
malevolent then surely it must have been intended. For there to be moral
disapproval there must be an intention to act immorally. Yet in this
expression we use the word "animal" to mean something like "primordial"
or "instinct" and thus savage; the domain of disorder and irrationality.
Historically savage was associated with evil anyway! But if our
expression refers to malice it must also account for intention and one
thing is sure we don't usually ascribe moral responsibility to animals;
notwithstanding my neighbour's dog (not present neighbour) that I am
convinced acted with malice sometimes. But there is a way out for this
seeming intention dilemma.

For better or for worse, words in an expression in English do not carry
their individual "meanings" into the meaning of the expression. I would
argue that words do not have meaning, but rather meaning is conveyed
when we put certain visual or auditory "information vessels" into a
context. The way we use this expression in our daily life has nothing to
do with animals but rather we use it as an expression to convey an
element of censure, even in jest, or condemnation in the extreme meaning
of the expression.

At the end this expression is a language problem and not a moral one. In
the meantime malice and malevolence by people are still a serious
problem for society.



---------Message from Miguel
Estimado tertuliano:
Te anunciamos la conferencia siguiente:
Título: La contribución de Jorge Juan al problema de la forma de la Tierra
Conferenciante: Gaspar Mora (Universidad de Alicante)
Fecha: 13 de Enero de 2016, 13h.
Lugar: Facultad de Ciencias Matemáticas, UPM, Aula Miguel de Guzmán
Saludos cordiales y feliz 2016,
Tertulia de Matemáticas

--------- British Cemetery visits----

Redacto el presente mensaje tanto en español como en inglés con el
objeto de comunicarles el programa de visitas guiadas del Cementerio
Británico, todas con mi comentario en español, los sábados por la mañana
a las 11.00 horas.
El punto de encuentro es la entrada del Cementerio

sábado, día 23 de enero
sábado, día 6 de febrero
sábado, día 12 de marzo

Si prefiere hacer la visita en una fecha no programada y siempre que
formen un grupo de un mínimo de 8 personas, avíseme a <>

se pone la dirección.

I am writing this note in both Spanish and in English with the programme
of Saturday morning guided visits to the British Cemetery with my
commentary in Spanish, all of which start at 11.00 a.m. We meet at the
Cemetery entrance

Saturday, 23rd January
Saturday, 6th February
Saturday, 12th March

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 <>

for details of location.
David Butler


Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The animal in us + News

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