Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ch3/4 Spirited Away

I was really glad to see part of Spirited Away. It was a little slow in some parts and I imagine it loses something in translation from Japanese to English. I wanted to show this movie in class to initiate a discussion about many of the concepts in our chapters: epicureanism, stoicism, the power of the name, the nature of good and evil, the presence of a supreme being. I think our film does not emphasize the dual nature of good and evil so present in Western culture. I was thinking about how good and evil were always black and white issues in the early days, but Spirited Away may be developing a different perspective.

What observations do you have about the chapters and the movie?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Holes or Trails?

Being a logical and reasonable man is a matter of considerable importance to me; there are other things I regard as being of greater value, but they are very few in number. The high esteem in which I hold logic and reason (both of which I define as means of discovering truth) rests in how I perceive a reality without them.

A world devoid of the pursuit of Truth has the potential to be disorderly and highly adverse to the innocent. Courts of law, which I consider to be a major actor in the sustenance of order in modern culture, are constructed on finding the Truth: whole, and nothing but. Psychology describes a certain societal disorder called the Social Trap, in which "a group of people act to obtain short-term individual gains, which in the long run leads to a loss for the group as a whole." ("Social Trap"). If there existed a plausible reason not to commit an action that a majority of a given population performs and no one sought to verify the truth of this claim, the people of that type of civilization are apt to continue to maintain their status quo to the point of detriment to their own society or to another's. For society's (but not necessarily for my own) and posterity's benefit, then, I deem it a personal obligation to base my actions on judgment that is as sound as possible.

What would make "going down the rabbit hole" particularly tempting for me in this case is that one of my axioms -- one of the most foundational tenets of my worldview: how I perceive reality -- is being challenged on the grounds that testable proof can be offered to demonstrate my paradigm's falsity. It has been said that “a false statement implies anything” (Bond and Keane 30). If such is the case, I would be drawn by the prospect of purging myself of the reasoning behind the fallacious choices (and surely some must exist, for a substantial amount of the decisions I would make would have been built upon these axioms) of the past.

One thing that would come close to dissuading me from following Morpheus is, ironically, the same sort of skepticism that might allow me to put what I once felt was tried-and-true behind me: How do I know I am not being conned? What if the red pill contains some sort of hallucinogen, thus giving me reason not to trust my senses for what Morpheus claims is the true reality? Ultimately, though I might still require more persuasion than Neo was given, I think my sense of curiosity would compel me to trust Morpheus enough to try out his theory and “go down the rabbit hole.”

Works Cited:
Bond, Robert J. and William J. Keane. An Introduction to Abstract Mathematics.
Long Grove: Waveland, 2007.

“Social Trap.” Wikipedia. 7 Feb. 2010. 25 Feb. 2010.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Plato, The Matrix and all that jazz

Alright, so admittedly I've avoided The Matrix like the plague since it came out.

I think that, yes, the allegory to Plato's "The Cave" shows up in the first 25-ish minutes (or however long we watched). Neo's tossed out of the cave he's been living in and is, as Manfred Mann put it, "blinded by the light." Sure, we have an interesting philosophical question accompanied by nifty visuals and a storyline, but thinking about that and the scientific research that we continue to do, it's obvious (to me, anyhow) that we have an endless curiosity about and drive to find out what reality really is because we have no idea. And we get a pretty good idea about it, and then find out there's either more to it or that we were probably wrong in our assumption.

We think we're so smart.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Plato's Cave & The Matrix

First off, I've only seen The Matrix, haven't seen the other two and have no interest in seeing them. IMO, Keanu Reeves can't act his way out of a wet paper bag, so my interest in seeing the other movies in the trilogy is less than zero.

OK, now that I got that out of the way. The Matrix clip actually did a fairly good job in explaining Plato's allegory of the cave. Neo is the person in the cave who is cut loose from his binds -- literally detached from the Matrix pods -- and has seen the "truth" of the "reality" of the world. I put truth and reality in quotes in that these are subjective terms - after all, what is to say that what Neo will experience outside of the pod isn't just another level to the Matrix? One illusion swapped for another is still an illusion.

Would I go down the rabbit hole? I'd have taken both pills just to see what would have happened. Someone named after the demigod of sleep offering you pills? Yeah, right.

Aristotle. As Monty Python said in the Philosopher's Drinking Song, he was a "bugger for the bottle." Because I think being drunk is the only way to really understand what he was saying. I like how Aristotle said that the goal of humans is happiness, and happiness is achieved by following the means between the extremes for yourself; happiness is subjective -- what might make me happy (my mean) might be an extreme for someone else. I also recall what a favorite author of mine said about means and extremes: everything in excess, to enjoy life you need to take big bites -- moderation is for monks.

Consumer culture. You know what? I like my creature comforts. Our technology and advancements have made it so that I, who have chronic medical issues, can have a pretty damn good quality of life. It seems that both Jean Baudrillard and the guy who made the movie Baraka (spelling) think that returning to our "native" roots to live in harmony with the land will solve most or all of our ills. Well, we certainly would have a reduction in population. I find it ironic that those people who complain about our technology use that self-same technology to complain about it! The guy who made Baraka couldn't have made it without technological advancements in film, editing, and distribution.

Don't get me wrong -- if YOU want to "tune out and drop out" (paraphrasing Mr. Leary) -- be my guest. Go live with the Aborigines in the Outback. Drop off the grid. Do the zero carbon footprint thing. You have my blessing. You'll probably make a better world for your children, and I hope that you do. Since I'm not going to have kids, I could care less what happens after I shuffle off this mortal toil.

But you know what? I'm going to keep my Dish Network (cheaper than Comca$t). I'm going to keep my multiple computers (all Macs). I'm going to drive my multiple cars (we need two cars simply because of our work schedules). If I'm being blinded by a consumer reality that is separating me from "reality" (whatever that is), then so be it. At least I'm alive.

Or maybe not, since one person has calculated that there is a 20% chance that we're living in the Matrix right now. Just think, we could all be nothing but a collection of bits in someone's computer simulation that is a cross between Civilization and the Sims. Maybe the Pythagoreans are right and we're really nothing but numbers. Just remember, there are only 10 types of people who understand binary...

Plato's Cave and the Matrix

Hope you enjoyed the clip from the Matrix. Plato explores the idea that the real world is an illusion in the allegory of the cave in The Republic. Plato imagines a cave in which people have been kept prisoner since birth. To what extent did the Matrix clip explain Plato's allegory of the cave? Would you go down the rabbit hole (or leave the cave)? What do you think of Aristotle's solution to the problem of finding the ultimate truth?

FYI: Neo hides his illegal software inside a book by Jean Baudrillard entitled Simulacra and Simulation. Originally published in 1981, Baudrillard’s book argues that late-twentieth-century consumer culture is a world in which simulations or imitations of reality have become more real than reality itself, a condition he describes as the “hyper-real.”

Morpheus introduces Neo to the real world by welcoming him to “the desert of the real,” a phrase taken from the first page of Simulacra and Simulation. With this notion in mind, the Matrix films can be interpreted as a criticism of the unreal consumer culture we live in, a culture that may be distracting us from the reality that we are being exploited by someone or something, just as the machines exploit the humans in the Matrix for bioelectricity.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Words that rhyme with nine

For all you potential rappers out there to create a rhyme with 389.

From Yahoo! Answers "words that rhyme with nine"

Pretty long, so it's after the jump.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

NMT Tautology Club!

I get to be president of NMT's Tautology Club & Dr. G is faculty advisor (Eli will be the enforcer...)

Tautology Club comic from xkcd.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Entry for our blog

What topic, issue, or idea has been interesting to you during class this week? Or what is your primary interest in philosophy? Ontology? Epistemology? Ethics?

welcome to the philsophy and film blog

Hi and welcome I tried to find a font like the one in our book :-) but this is the best one I could come up with.