Tuesday, March 30, 2010

post from eil sent to drG for posting

In response to "Plato says No Writing!":

I wholeheartedly agree ... Though we have many websites for social
interaction there is always a viscerality missing somewhere ... the
computer universe is one of only one sense (sight), maybe sound if we wire
it up right, but no smell , no touch (other than the keyboard), definitely
no shared taste experiences (I'm sure everyone's computer had a different
flavor) ... and none of the sensory deprivation even touches (no pun
intended) on the fact that all social websites have sort of a central meme
to why people choose them. This site, we're all on because of a class we
share (no random people as far as I know) ... so the pool of possible
correspondence is limited, the people you might meet here are of a
specific subset of society ... where's the fun in that ... If you're at a
coffee shop or a restaurant or a bar you have random input that can
immediately derail (or resuscitate) a conversation. That can't happen in a
blog ...

In Response to "Pleasure":
I'm of the mind, on pleasure vs hardship, that we almost always take the
easiest path ... even if it appears hard to our peers. If, as DR. G said
above, we wait until "clarity that is unmistakable and then the path is
easy " that is the easiest decision in the world to make. If we make a
decision before we can talk ourselves out of it that's the easiest way to
our goal, if we end up starving in a gutter somewhere it's because we took
the easy way out and didn't get a job, if we stay at a dead end job for
decades because we're to lazy to improve our lot in life we are again
taking the easiest way out.

I think we have a tendency to try to minimize our investment; in case
we're wrong, in case it doesn't go right, in case we get shot down by life
... so that we have a fall back position of "this happened to me" rather
than "I did this".

Those of us who go to college are avoiding lots of hardships that result
from being uneducated; getting some job we don't like, or having a dead
end job in the future, avoiding military service, or just getting away
from home.

The differences are in the people making the choices ... some people are
just wired different ... one person finds it easy to be a mechanic for 40
years, another enjoys school and stays in university until it kicks them
Our personal variability correlates to Bacon's Idols (idylls? ) Our
cultural, emotional, familial, and dialectic differences are what describe
our paths through life ... I think that when someone refers to "finding
their niche", "being in the groove" , or "answering their calling" they're
just taking the easiest path (as described by their own internal wiring)
... We just have to pretend it's hard to make the rest of the world value
our dedication.

Eli Seifert

Good vs. Evil in reality

Looking back at Neoplatonism and its definition of evil (pg 109 of our text), I noticed the statement that "..evil [is] not... a real feature of reality, but... as lack, an incompleteness" to be interesting (and odd). Why wouldn't evil be real? The definition of evil as a lack of goodness makes sense, of course, but how does that negate the reality of evil? How does a thing being a lack of another make the thing not real?

For that matter, what does "more real than..." mean? Seriously.

Another thought, this time pertaining to free will.

Does perfect knowledge of the future necessitate a complete lack of freedom? Why/why not?

Clip for Idols of the Theatre

The summary of Bacon's theory of the Idols of the Theatre found on this website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baconian_method) reminded me of the following clip. In it, it is asserted that there is no question that a machine called The General cannot answer. The counterexample provided by the show's protagonist "blows the whole works," perhaps thus revealing a reason for maintaining the blind acceptance as fact what one is told or what one would hope to be true -- a timid acquiescence known to us now by the moniker Idol of the Theatre:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Plato Says No Writing!

I admit, while I love perusing the blog and seeing what my classmates have to say about various philosophical topics, I find I have difficulty contributing to the conversations.

Part of this is my personal mild dislike of blogs in general. I find blogs to be distasteful due to their very structure. Blogs are places where one can post their own opinions and discuss amongst their peers, however they are far too sterile for true discussion to take place. Even now, I'm censoring, picking words, attempting to be eloquent, doing whatever necessary to try to get my opinion across without conveying misinformation or facilitating incorrect interpretation. In response, my classmates (you) will possibly respond to what they think I'm trying (clumsily) to convey in this post. I will skim the comments, or be disappointed at a lack of comments, and this thread will be dead.

I far prefer face-to-face discussions. I like to sit with another person and talk about philosophy, coffee, the weather, philosophy again, classes, etc. These discussions are organic, they meander, they move, they are insightful, or not. I can tell immediately if someone is understanding what I'm trying to convey or if there has been a misinterpretation, usually by the look on their face or another non-verbal clue. I can tell if they agree or disagree. Here on the blog, I simply cast out my ideas to the abyss, wondering if they are accepted, or even read. I find the impersonality of the setup disconcerting and not conductive to discussion on my part.

The conclusion, let's talk. Face-to-face over coffee, after class, meeting in the halls, all are acceptable. It would be an interesting social experiment :)

life with computers

My computer broke; therefore, I am not ...able to do much in terms of send a pdf. The extra book for the class is missing in action (along withe the student who has the book.
You should get a pdf in the morning when Ann is back.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Idols of the Marketplace

There has been a lot of debate currently regarding the newly-passed healthcare reform bill. However, the following essay by Washington Weekly's Gwen Ifill points out that most of the debate is based on the nuance of language. I thought it was an interesting read. It's politically neutral, so everyone should be able to read it in peace :p

Enjoy folks!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Dr. Griffin was saying that one of the students pondered on their midterm about why we always choose the hardest path and why pleasure gets a bad wrap. I was wondering if you guys wanted to talk about what you think about that. It's very common in a lot of philosophies especially in modern religions.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

test question (suggested by an awesome student :-)

Match the name of the philosopher with what he thought the universe was
made of:

Leucippus and Democritus

The Boundless
Earth, Air, Water and Fire

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Importance of Aristotelian Moderation

On the 78th page of the third edition of our text, author Donald Palmer presents us with a scenario in which too much or too little of something (in this case, fear) can be perilous to the individual. Here is another example of the tragedy that can result when something -- which, by itself, is classified as neither good nor bad -- is in excess:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Aristotle's Ethics

After spending some time reading and analyzing the section on Aristotle, I've come to the conclusion that Aristotle's ethics are, for the most part, virtue ethics. I find this particularly interesting because he also thought that "each substance is a self-contained teleological system." In particular, teleology has an entirely different focal point than virtue ethics, which generally seems to imply that each ethical theory would advocate different "ethical" actions. However, by making virtue the goal of human activity, the difference between the two schools of ethics becomes one of name only. Later in history, virtue ethics was broadened to focus more on determining what is virtuous rather than how virtue should affect one's actions. Despite this shift, I still find it rather interesting how Aristotle shaped virtue ethics using teleology.

Also related, the touch of ethical egoism evident in Aristotle's philosophy is somewhat amusing. Making one's materialistic well-being a condition for virtue is quite an idea considering that such conditions don't really affect any parts of his moral theory.

God and the Burrito

I have been busy this week so i havent done much thinking about philosophy but i thought you all may like this question.

Can god make a burrito so big that he him self can not eat?

Note: Most people feel the god is all powerful.

Empedocles and Spirited Away

I think something that has been ignored (or maybe not, but I've not noticed it mentioned at least) is Empedocles' idea of Love vs. Strife as seen in Spirited Away. Come to think of it, I think the subject has been ignored altogether.

So that leads me to ask- did we just get carried away with other subjects (there are a lot, so it's understandable) and the topic of Love/Strife get thrown by the wayside, or do we think it's a dumb thing to discuss? I ask this because whenever the topic of Love is brought up people seem to get the mindset that it's a fluffy, childish thing that really isn't that important.

So a following question- is it really a stupid topic? If so, why? This I ask partly because I found it interesting to see people's reactions to Spirited Away when it "suddenly turned into a fairytale"- people seemed to suddenly be confused and/or think the whole business suddenly ridiculous.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Philosophies seen in Spirited Away vs. Western philosophies

Something I've found interesting about Asian philosophy in contrast with Western philosophy is the interconnectedness of humans with the spirit world. Consider, at least, Japanese culture and its indigenous Shinto religion- here we find that the spirit world and human world interact constantly, and that spirits are very real beings that play a part in human livelihoods. In Spirited Away we saw this same thing. This contrasts sharply with much of Western philosophy, where the metaphysical/spiritual world is irrational nonsense; the majority of Western philosophy effectively says there is only a physical/touchable/study-able world while for the Japanese it is both physical and mystical and that this is not irrational at all.