Eric Wasiolek

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Philosophical Quips

Philosophical Papers - November 27, 2004

1.  Ignorance and lying are related in the following way:  ignorance is the lack of knowledge that something is not true, lying is the knowledge that something is not true.  Truth, there are various theories, may be described as the correspondence between one's beliefs and external objects or states of affairs.  So in ignorance, something is maintained that is not the state of affairs, without the person knowing that it is not the state of affairs, and in lying something is maintained that is not the state of affairs, with the person knowing that it is not the state of affairs.

Philosophy Musn't Operate in a Vaccuum.

In other words, philosophy, being the crown of knowledge, must never operate in a vaccuum.  This is why I got irritated with philosphers of mind at Berkeley who knew nothing of the brain.  How can you do modern philosophy of mind without first having a general understanding of the current state of brain science.  Science without philosophy is useful but has no ultimate meaning.  I.e., what is the point of all of these facts, what do they MEAN?   Philosophy without science is vacuous, ungrounded, and often leads to fanciful and mistaken flights of reason.  Here I'm using science in a broad sense to include physical, biological, and social sciences (including history, anthropology, political science, etc...).  Philosophy of mind must be preceeded by a study of the brain.  Philosophical anthropogy or the philosophy of human nature must be preceeded by a study of anthropology, synchronic and diachronic, history, a comparison of cultures.  Just as philosophy of religion must be preceeded by a study of comparative religions.  Philosophy of science must be preceeded by a general knowledge of science, especially the physical sciences.  Philosophy of biology must be preceeded by a general knowledge of modern biology.  Political philosophy should be preceeded by a comparative study of political systems.  Philosophy of mathematics by a general knowledge of mathematics, some appreciation of higher mathematics and of proofs.  Philosophy of pscyhology should be preceeded by some general knowledge of the brain, or cognitive psychology, and of computers, especially artificial intelligence.  Philosophy of law can be based primarily upon ethics (an application thereof).  These are the branches of "Philosophy OF" different areas of knowledge.  Aesthetics should be preceeded by a comparative study of the arts of all cultures.  Philosophy of economics, should be preceeded by a comparative and historical  study of economic systems.  The Philosophy of Language doesn't really seem to need a study of linguistics, although some familiarity with Chompskian type deep structures or the universal language may bear some relation to the underlying concepts and logical relations discovered in the philosophy of language (I have to think about this).  The disciplines of philosophy per se:  Ethics, Logic, Epistemology can be studied in their own right.  Metaphysics, to be done properly, if it can be done at all, must ground itself in all of the preceeding disciplines to arrive at general truths.

This is why a general education is useful before pursuing serious philosophy.  Philosophy is what ties all of the subjects in the education together.  Because of the sheer volume of information required as a pre-requisite to serious philosophy, one can attain a general education in high school and college, then read some on their own.  I read scientific american primarily to keep up with the latest developments in all of the sciences (its a good thing to read once a month to keep abreast of developments).  I watch the history channel (educational television).  Its good to also read a book on world history.  Still, I lack much information.

I still hold, however, that some form of philosophy should be taught early in education, as it is such a fundamental subject.  It cannot be seriously pursued without general education, but every man and woman has their philosophy (set of opinions or way of looking at the world), and its better that such views be constrained by some training in philosophic thinking at the outset, early in education.

Philosophy of Human Nature or Philosophical Anthropology

What are the components of human culture that seem to be universal, is a good first question to ask?  These seem to be language, art, religion, political systems, food-gathering and production, housing, some form of education of the young, leisure and sport (this includes the universal attribute of children playing games),  industry (the production of tools and clothing, for example), some form of economics (may involve the simple trading of goods), story-telling (myth and pre-historiographical history) and related to biology: family and kinship and marriage (marriage may not be universal -- this includes polygamy and polyandry).  Some philosophers have looked at this list and tried to relate all aspects of universal human culture to an underlying human attribute, such as Cassirer who considers all forms of human culture symbolization.  He then has the job of substantiated his thesis by showing how each of these components:  art, religion, political systems, etc... are a form of symbolization.  Clearly language is composed of sounds and written language of marks that are symbols that represent real things in the world as well as mental states;  rituals in religion of symbolic of various deferences and propriations to deities;  art represents what it depicts or repreesents an internal mood or view of what is depicted, etc...  So, it is clear this view has some merit. 

But, what is my view of human nature, and how is it grounded in the facts of comparative anthropology? 

2.  Knowledge and Experience.  It is often said that all or most knowledge is based upon experience.  So, the pursuit of experience is the pursuit of knowledge.  But, what exactly is 'experience?'  Experience is the capturing of perceptions in memory.  Reflective experience is the cogitation of those stored memories.  Experience is knowledge in the sense that we know that we have seen or heard or otherwise perceived something (along with accompanying emotions) and that we remember that we did.  There exist a correspondence between the state of affairs in our mind that something did happen or was the case (our memory of the perception) and that actual historical state of affairs.  It is possible that we misremember, and then our 'experience' was not exactly the historical state of affairs, and we may need to compare our experiences with others to more closely approximate the state of affairs.  Mis-remembering is a type of ignorance, i.e., a lack of knowledge that something is not true.  Illusions are a case of experience something which we know are not true (we seen the bent stick but we know that it is not bent).  But, let me return to the pursuit of experience as a pursuit of knowledge.  In the more existential sense, what I mean is the conscious pursuit of new and varied experiences to widen one's knowledge of the world and the ways the world may be experienced as by associating with different types of people and seeing the world through their eyes.  Certainly one who has 'traveled' the world in the sense of having more diverse 'experiences' has greater knowledge.  Philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom or knowledge, but shouldn't it also be the pursuit of experiences, as the ground of most knowledge?  Clearly, this is one of the reasons I travel, to experience different cultures and to see the world through the eyes of different people's.  This is the same reason I am attracted to counter-cultures.  I want to see the world through the eyes of people who think differently than I do.  One could even say that the use of hallucinogenic drugs is the expanding of the mind to new experiences, with the caveat that these experiences are based upon a type of illusion, i.e., do not correspond to a real state of affairs, but do correspond to new experiences (different perceptions or altered perceptions captured in memories).  This is also the reason I try to get away from the american media that parrots eachother, and to see international perspectives on world affairs.  It is the true philosopher's job to both pursue experience and knowledge (cogitation of experience).

Volition, desire (emotion), intellect, body and the law.  Even our law recognizes the primacy of volition or intention over bodily actions.  If someone shoots someone, the question becomes, was the physical action, which is not in question, intentional?  If it wasn't, then it was an accident, and the penalty is much less severe.  What is prime in consideration of responsibility for the physical action is volition or intention.  Secondly intellect is considered.  Was the action premeditated (involving planning, i.e, the intellect), or was it merely the result of emotion.  The penalty will be more severe if it is premeditated (involves intellect).  The physical action, the bodily movement of pulling the trigger is the least related to the person's responsibility, prime is the person's volition or intention, and secondary is the person's desires (was it an act of passion) or intellect (was it premeditated)?  Note this is a slight variation of my model, which places emotion before intellect (as desires can affect what the intellectual mechanism performs, volition can control desires, but the intellect more rationalizes than controls desires).   So, there is an example of my model of volitionary primacy and bodily extraneousness (what is more or less prime to a person) in the law.  We don't claim the bodily action is prime and the intention, desire, and intellectual planning don't matter.

Physicalism and volition, desire, intellect and body.  My model still holds if one has a physicalist interpretation of the world.  Raymond says "I am my body."  But, I say "I am least my body."  Still, if all there is is body, this needs to be explained.  Desire (emotion) and intellect are part of the brain.  It is therefore maintained, under a physicalist interpretation, that the more substantial parts of ourselves are related to our brain and the less substantial to our peripheral body.  The thesis then becomes modified to:  I am most my volition, then my brain, and then my peripheral body.  Volition, as I've said elsewhere, is difficult to explain as part of the brain, as the brain follows the laws of causal necessity, whereas volition seems to cause but not to be caused, i.e., thoughts and actions seem to be able to be initiated ex nihilo.  This thesis would be a modification of the physical thesis to admit something non-physical or non-physically causal, namely volition (intention) which is the deepest part of who we are.


Ethics.  I clearly believe in the sanctity of the individual.  That individual freedoms should be preserved, individual privacy should be respected, that  relations between individuals should be based on mutual consent, and that interference should never be tolerated, where interference involves actions by one individual or a group towards another individual or group where that second individual or group doesn't give their consent. 

There is often  tension between individual freedoms and the freedoms of others.  Smoking is a good example.  One individual may want to be free to smoke, the other free from smoke.  How can both individual's desires be respected.  Probably the best that can be done here is some sort of compromise:  allow individuals who want to smoke to smoke in designated areas, and individuals who want to be smoke free to occupy other areas.  These sort of compromises seem often to be a matter of majority will; whereas, once a majority perhaps smoked, smoking in all places was generally accepted, but, as the majority swung the other direction, towards non-smokers, smoking was relegated to designated areas.

My general ethic involves one of not harming or interfering with other people.  This is a more basic principle than of helping other people, which of course is a positive, but the ethical individual is bound, minimally to try not to interfere with, or bother, or harm other people, unless their involvement is asked for (mutual consent).  This means, among other things, respecting eachother's privacy, and not violating it unless asked to.  I leave people alone, I don't bother them;  I expect the same treatment towards me.  This involves things as simple as spatial relations, e.g., if someone is swimming towards me, I will generally get out of their way, so as not to interfere with them, and I expect them to do the same.  This principle of mutual non-interference and non-harm is fundamental to having a reasonably healthy society.

Within those bounds of non-harm and non-interference, people should have a great deal of latitude in how they worship, how they have sex, how they get educated, how they vote politically, etc...

I personally don't help people so much as I just don't bother them or harm them.  For this I consider myself a minimally ethical person.

I also believe in being courteous to others (for then often courtesy is returned).  And I believe in social fairness.  E.g. if people are waiting in line, it is only fair that they be served according to the order in which they arrive.  Someone who steps in out of order is unethical.

These are a couple principles I don't just espouse, but I live by, I do.

Ethics is generally symmetrical.  I.e,. what we expect from others, we should expect to do ourselves.  I expect not to be interfered with or harmed, and therefore it is incumbant upon me not to interfere with (non-consensually) or harm.  You can ask no more from others than what you are willing to do yourself.  In this sense ethics has an underlying tone of symmetry, justice, and universality.

What about people who do interfere with other people without their consent?  They are unethical beings.  My ethical theory is based upon a theory of human nature that we are at our core (volition) free individuals, and the ability to exercise our volition freely, while not interfering with others is part of the intended order of things.

Interference is justified only to avert serious harm.  There is however a justification for interference when a serious harm is about to be done.  If someone knows of someone who plans to bomb a building, it is incumbent upon them to interfere or get the authorities to interfere to prevent the harm.  This is in keeping with the principle of not harming others.  Sometimes interference is required not to harm others.  But, the line is fine, the sanctity of the freedom of the individual to make choices, even wrong choices, and not be interfered with is great, and should be preserved as a general rule, as long as the choice isn't to do serious harm.

Generally, freedom of choice, and non-interference of that freedom is high, and people should be free to make their own choices, even if those choices are wrong, as long as that choice doesn't do serious harm.  Let me restate this, it's worse to interfere with someone's wrong choice that it is for a person to make a wrong choice (with the proviso that that choice doesn't result in serious harm).

The question then arises, should we interfere if someone is harming themselves.  My basic answer is no.  It is the decision of the individual, even if it is a wrong decision, to harm themselves, if they are of a clear and rational mind in doing so.  We may try to influence them that their decision is not good, verify they are in a rational state in making this decision, but utimately it is their decision and they are responsible for their own life and any harm that comes to it.  That is why I am not against assisted suicide, if it is a clear and rational decision on the part of the individual to take their own life.  Clearly, some loss is experienced by those who love the person who takes their life, but it is the person's own decision.  So great is the requirement for non-interference with our decisions and responsibility for our own decisions, especially decisions which affect primarily ourselves.  Note this doctorine applies to mature rational adults;  supervision of children to prevent them from harming themselves is reasonable.

What about relations that involve cooperation and much interaction between individuals, like work?  Well, these are fine as long as they are based upon mutual consent towards common goals.  Work is a contract, if someone doesn't want to perform it, they won't reap the benefits, like a paycheck, but they shouldn't be forced.

This is not a serious ethical treatise (which I should develop), but just some things I believe in.  I think that if I develop an ethical treatise, it will be at least partially grounded in my theory of human nature.  For what homo sapiens is, his relation to the universe, how he is related to and distinguished from animals and machines, what is common to all human beings and definitive of human nature, has implications on how we SHOULD behave, i.e., on ethics.  A theory of human nature must start with a synchronic and diachronic study of cultures, i.e., philosophical anthropology must start with a comparative study of cultures (cultural anthropology), with history and archeology to clarify what is common and definitive of "human" nature.  An example of philosophical anthropology is Cassirer's Philosophy of Symbolic Forms and Le Compte du Nouy's Human Destiny. 

Goverment and Politics

So I am against a facist government where a few individuals proscribe the freedoms of others.  A healthy government is one which maximizes individual freedoms while protecting individuals from undue interference, invasion of privacy, or harm, and pursues those who interfere unduly, invade privacy, and cause harm.  The sanctity of individual freedom is great, and goverments need to be formed around the preservation of individual freedoms, not their destruction.

This form of goverment has several implications, one is the need for extensive privacy legislation.  Individual privacies need to be protected in law, whereas legal agencies, on the other hand, need to be able to avert serious harm (e.g. terrorism) which sometimes involves a violation of particular (harm causing) individuals' privacies.  Still, the onus is on those who want to violate privacy to show they have cause to prevent serious harm, for the general rule is to protect the privacy of the average individual.  The average person should be guarranteed in law (i.,e with legal recourse if violations occur) not to have their homes, cars, computers, etc.. electronically surveyed, as well as have information about them, their medical records, school records, financial records, available to only them and the professionals they consent have view them (their doctors, schools admitting them, financiers approving a mortgage, etc...).  Records shouldn't be available to the general public and electronic surveillence needs to be done only in the case where there is substantiated evidence of averting a serious harm (e.g. terrorist bomb threat, etc..).  Also, sexual orientation, religious orientation, political orientation, is not appropriate information for public records.

I.e., the government needs to pursue rather than perpetrate those who invade privacy through electronic surveillance or publicization of records.  The government needs to be clear what side it is on, the side of preservation of privacy, or perpetration of violations of privacy.

Let's apply my principle of non-interference to a current political situation:  our involvement in Iraq.  There are two sides to this debate:  one says that non-interference indicates that we never should have gone to Iraq in the first place, i.e, we are interfering with a regime that is not causing us harm;  the other side argues that Iraq was a regime causing great harm, if not potentially to the US (and I think it was NOT a threat to the US) then to its own citizens, i.e., this side says we should intervene to prevent the harm that Saddam was inflicting on his own people.  Imperialism is a philosophy which clearly favors interference with other countries, to establish a country's own rule in other countries.  I am clearly against imperialism.   Democracy is a philosophy which celebrates the freedom of individuals in a country and non-interference where such freedom obtains (i.e,. the non-interference in other democratic states).  The question is, in the name of democracy, do we have the right to interfere in non-democratic regimes to make them democractic, or should we simply wait for such regimes to develop their own democracies, which possibly may not come about? 

Interfering in Interfering Regimes.  There is a double negative aspect of the non-interference docterine which says, in order to preserve or establish non-interfering regimes, it may be necessary to interfere with an interfering regime to convert it into a non-interfering regime.  This thinking leads to the justification for interfering with police or facists states to establish non-interfering democracies.  I.e., if a state terrorizes its citizens, prevents them from free religious worship, free sexual practices, free political practices (like free elections), interferes with their privacy (as through electronic bugging etc...), and harms them, as in torturing them, then there may be a justification for interfering in such an interfering regime to establish a non-interfering regime, i.e., a true democracy. 

Under this interpretation, the argument that Saddam Hussein was harming his own citizens and interfering in their lives, ousting him was not a bad idea.  But on the other hand Saddam Hussein clearly was not interfering with or harming the US.  It is better, in the final analysis for a country to overthrow its own dictators and to obtain non-interference with citizens lives by their own hand.  Note under this same interpretation, the US, which is largely a democracy, is not devoid of elements of facism in its own right, which might need to be interfered with to prevent the interference.  What is clear is the healhiest planet is one in which there is no facist or police states and all regimes (perhaps a world goverment) supports in law ans otherwise no restrictions on human activities except where they cause harm to others.  Now there remains the question of whether to let Iraqis freely establish their own Islamic state.  Should we interfere with any sort of government that is a product of their will.  There are again two sides to this:  one says that we should not interfere with the will of the people to establish whatever goverment they want, on the other hand, such a government would not allow the freedom of worship that a non-interfering government should.  It is best to avoid religious governments which decree one religion for all of its inhabitants.

Political relations are arrangements based upon mutual gain.  If either side feels that it will not gain from the political arrangement, it will tend to pull back or out of the arrangement.

World Government

I know that I am in support of world government, international legislation.  And I find myself a bit perturbed at the US for thumbing its nose at the world community and acting unilaterally.   We need to be a good world citizen.  We need to take in consideration other countries desires in making our plans.  Also, it seems to me we currently have a situation where there are certain things that are global, like capitalism and corporatism, which are operating in the absence of international law.  We have international economics, but no or little international law to control that economics, i.e., there is a vaccum with respect to international legislation.  And no doubt there are certain forces that like it that way, i.e, want unregulated reign of capitalism.  Capitalism which is a great system for producing goods, is not always the best at distributing them fairly, and can in fact, if completely unregulated, become rapacious, as in the years of the robber-barrons earlier in American history.  Global capitalism needs to be internationally regulated in some form.

I am also in favor of decision to use military action to have international approval before it is done, and as I have said, I am generally only in favor of it in the case where it averts serious harm being done by  a regime.  The United States is not in a position to police the world and unilaterally transform brutal dictatorships into democracies based upon true freedom, that is more properly the job of a UN backed military force where there is international agreement to do so.


In the case of Iraq, I opposed the intervention initially because Hussein represented no real danger to the US, I did not buy the arguments that he either had weapons of mass destruction that represetned immanent danger, nor that he had connections with terrorists (this had never been proven).  On the otherr hand, I supported the war against Al Quaeda in Afghanistan, as we were clearly harmed, and Al Quaeda proved that it represented an immanent threat.  There is no doubt that Hussein was a brutal dictator and so was a candidate to have his regime changed to a democracy, but it seems rather that it was the job of the UN to decide that this was to be done, and should be the job of a UN-military force to force regime change where the regime is clearly detrimental and harmful to its people.  We went it alone, and that was wrong, the reasons given were false, but now that we're there, clearly UN presence is mandated.  We also misplaced our mission, to rid the world of the threat of terrorism.  This is a job of intelligence agencies primarily and does not represent a war that can be fought conventionally (with conventional forces).  I think we in part, to show the world that we are unassailable (although clearly we are not), used our military might in the middle east as a form of bravado to show that we are a force to be reckoned with, while not placing enough emphasis and resources in fighting the true war that needs to be fought, an intelligence war against covert forms of terrorist threat.

There is the other school of thought which says that the middle east is a breeding ground for islamic militants who want to attack the united states (although the overwhelming majority of muslims are peaceful), and the only way to counteract that threat is to democractize and commercialize the middle-east, i.e., to transform them into a culture which is similar to ours,  and to start that democratization and commercialization we picked Iraq.  This argument has some merit, and perhaps represents some of the true motivations of the administration, although, they should be honest with the american people that this was their motivation in going to Iraq (not WMDs or Al Qaeda links).


Arguments for and Against SCR

It seems to me, without having really studied the right's arguements against SCR and SCNT that they generally fall into two categories:  one set of arguments is against the destruction of life,  and the other set is against the monsterous consequences of the misuse of these technologies.  The first set of arguments is generally over-generalized that ANY form of SCR or SCNT is destructive to potential life, where they overlook the fact that for example in SCNT an UNFERTILIED EGG (which has no potential for life) is used to grow stem cells (by the transplantation of the patient's DNA).  Nonetheless, the right tends to overlook this distinction and simply lump all SCR and SCNT together as harming potential life.  SCNT does NOT use a fertilized egg and does NOT produce an embryo, and hence should not be seen as harming potential life (there is no potential life where there is no fertilized egg or embryo).  SCR - embryonic and embryonic germ cells DO involve the manipulation and destruction of embryos.  But, the argument for SCR is that these embryos (ones from fertility clinics) are to be discarded anyway  --- why not use them for life-saving medical benefits?

The second set of arguments argues, among other things, of the monsterous consequences of human cloning and again the distinction between cloning and SCNT is also overlooked:  cloning involves the implantation of genetic material of a somatic cell from an embryo or adult to produce a full organism;  SCNT does not produce an embryo to be implanted in a womb, and hence does not have the potential of developing into a full organism.  This smearing of distinction between SCNT and cloning calls for a ban on all cloning, reproductive or (SCNT) therapeutic.  It would be wiser to note the distinction and call for a ban on reproductive cloning and not on therapeutic cloning (SCNT).  SCNT never leads to a cloned organism.

Both set of arguments against SCNT succeed by blurring distinctions (obfuscation), and by not noting distinctions.  It is not noted that SCNT uses an unfertilized egg (which is not true of SCR) and that SCNT doesn't produce a cloned organism (which is true of cloning).  Maybe the answer here is to EDUCATE and POINT OUT THE DIFFERENCES, to counter the obfuscation.

There is also an greater emphasis on the right on the destruction of potential life than on the life-saving and rehabilitiating results of SCR and SCNT.  I.e., the left is focused on the curative benefits and downplays the destruction of potential life and the right is focussed on the destruction of potential life and downplays the curative benefits.  I.e., they are dialectically opposed.  The answer here is to focus on the curative benefits, and to maintain that those benefits do NOT come at the destruction of life, in the case of SCNT (unfertilized eggs) and SCR using discarded embryos.


I had a frivolous discussion of age with my parents at dinner.  I don't feel old, and I don't think I look too old, not my age, 45, but my sense of age is based upon physical changes rather than numerical age.  I started feeling older when my body became fatter, i.e,. when at 40 my metabolism slowed down.  It seems to me there are stages in life and it is only appropriate to accept the stage that you are in, to embrace the current realities of your age, to enjoy what is good about your age and to not lament the inability to return to an earlier age.  Trying to act too much younger than your age can be ridiculous.  In youth one has the world before them, they are typically short on money and long on excitement and thrill.  In middle age, one typically settles down, establishes a base:  a home, often children, a marriage, life is more stable, but may be less exciting.  Rather than chasing after the exuberance of youth, one might as well accept one's position and enjoy the stability, financial security, and other rewards of middle age.  In old age, one has accomplishments, offspring, etc.. to look back upon, as well as diversions appropriate to retirement.

I guess what I am saying is enjoy what is appropriate to each age, rather than frustrating yourself with the attempt to return to an earlier time which is no longer appropriate.

Philosophy, General Agreement, and Philosophical Principles

Karen and Dad raised two interesting points.  One was that in philosophy, unlike science, there is no general agreement.  And Karen's point was that there were no general principles in life, that you had to apply different principles to different situations.  These are two attacks on traditional philosophy, which are rather existentialist.  Let's take the first point.  What sort of agreement is there in science?  Well, one could say that in science there is general agreement that the world is as described by a certain theory if that is the predominantly accepted theory in a certain domain at the time.  In some areas of science, there is NOT agreement as to what the correct explanation is, for example, on what the origin of animate matter is.  Likewise, as theories are replaced, in the midst of a paradigmatic shift, when one theory is about to replace another, there is also NOT agreement on what is the best explanation (the old theory or the new), an example of this is the Michelson-Morey experiments which caused a rift in whether the idea of an ether was true or whether a relativistic explanation was better.  So, these are some examples how in science too there is not always agreement.  But, in science there is clearly MORE agreement than in philosophy, which is notorious for espousing different and incompatible views.   So, I would modify the original statement that "in philosophy unlike science there is no agreement" to "there is more agreement in science than in philosophy" about what is the truth.    The second point, 'that there are no general or universal principles to apply in life, that each situation requires its own principles.'  To this, it seems to me, that clearly you apply different principles to different situations, but don't you apply similar principles to similar situations?  Even our legal system works by the application of similar principles to similar situations or of one principle to similar situations; it is incumbent on the lawyer to look at a particular situation and show that it is similar to a case where certain principles were applied to argue to apply those same principles.  So, what does our legal system have to do with real-life situations?  Well, our legal system deals with real life cases, and is an example of the application of similar principles or one principle to similar situations.  Once you've admitted that a single principle can apply to mutliple cases or situations, you have admitted that a principle can be abstracted to apply to multiple situations and this contradicts the idea that every situation warrants its own principle.  Legal principles are basically ethical principles that you should or should not act in a certain way, primarily that you should not act in certain ways, and if you do, you will be penalized.  So, a legal principle that applies to multiple similar situations is basically an ethical principle that applies to multiple situations.  And this is what Karen is saying can't be done.  But it is done in the ethics of the law.  Now, no two situations are exactly alike, so the principle applies to situations that are similar, not the same.  As far as universal principles are concerned, i.e, a principle which holds true in ALL situations, there may be such principles in law, there clearly are such principles in science.  The principle that an object dropped near the surface of the earth will also fall at a certain rate regardless of weight (so long as that object is heavier than air) seems universally true.  It doesn't matter the situation, where you drop it, how you drop it, what it is, as long as it is heavier than air it will drop at the same rate.  It will work for a book and a tennis ball, a refidgerator and a fan, a kitchen sink and a lamp.  (But what about a feather?).  Still, although there are universal principles in science, I think Karen was talking about universal ethical principles, i.e., universal principles which tell us how to act in different situations.  There have been attempts in philosophy to espouse universal ethical principles,  but there is no universal agreement on these attempts.  Kant's categorical imperative is an example at an attempt to formulate a universal ethical principle (act only in accordance with a maxim that you can simultaneously wish all others acted in accordance with).  But, there's not general agreement that this principle is correct.  The case for universal ethical principles that apply in ALL cases is less strong than the case that general principles can apply to multiple cases.  This is why I think that it is not the case that each situation warrants its own principles.

The first question (and answer) that there is more disagreement in philosophy than in science implies a deeper question.  Why is this so?  Why is there more divergence in opinion as we seek higher order explanations?  Or why is there less divergence in opinion when we seek lower order explanations?  One immediate answer is that lower order explanations are more closely tied with observations or shared perceptions of which there can be no doubt  (when we all observe the same thing we all agree on what we observed, as a strict observations without assigning a particular meaning to it.  This is true in the common sense world, as in a crime case where we everyone saw Mr. Peabody walk into the candy store at 11 am, without interpreting what this means to the case, and is true in experimentation when we all observe that a certain titration results in a certain color, without refering to the underlying chemical theory).  On the sense perception per se there is complete agreement.  Now scientific theories are clearly grounded in observations, and even accepted or refuted based upon observations.  Whereas good philosophic theories also are ultimately grounded in the facts of the world and explain them, giving a more comprehensive and even ultimate explanation, but they are less removed from common sense and experimental observations and have instead as their direct objects scientific theories and also common sense explanations.  A good philosophic treatise has to explain our common sense experience as well as our knowledge gained from science.   I put this forth as one possible answer as to why philosophic treatise diverge more than scientific theories, but I'm not sure its the correct answer.  I think also in many philosophic treatise many principles are proposed ex nihilo a priori, not based upon ultimately on common sense or scientific observations.  This lack of grounding in observation (not the mark necessarily of good philosophy) yields a greater number of ways of looking at things and hence a wider divergence in opinion. 

This leads me to the question of do you need, in philosophy to base your philosophy in observations:  observations of human behavior, observations of the way the physical world works or is top-down a priori philosophy as opposed to bottom up philosophy grounded in actual experience acceptable, or does it lead to vacuous metaphysics?

The Philosophy of Literature and Drama

Today watching TV the following statements were made:  as concerns a soldier's son:  "the boy sees the uniform but doesn't see the dirt or blood," and as concerns the loss of life in war from a generals point of view:  "when enough men die, I simply remove a pin."  Both statements are poignant and convey something significant through the use of an image.  It is this use of images to convey ideas that distinguishes abstract philosophy from literature and drama.  But, sometimes an image can be the best conveyance of an idea, evoking emotion.  "The boy sees the uniform, but doesn't see the dirt or blood."  What does this convey?  That the innocent may see the glory of war but not the real tragedy.  And again "when enough men die, I simply remove a pin," probably conveys the removal and abstraction of war sometimes from those running it, not in the trenches to see the real tragedy.  The image is a kind of metaphor for the idea to be conveyed, conveyed in the images of our everyday experience.  Literature and drama is philosophic when it makes a point, when through the realities of our situations and through common images it conveys a point.  I would say the best literature and drama is philosophic, i.e., makes a point or points, through the use of images, characters, situation, etc...

Now drama is fundamental, because it can be conveyed either as literature, movies, plays, or even radio, anything that allows the subsequent presentation of situations.  I.e., a drama is a story, or a series of  select situations which unfold towards some end.  It may be imitative of actual occurences, or totally fictional.  It evokes emotions, delight, disgust, a sense of triumph, a sense of relief, fear, etc... through its characters actions.  It tells the story of an individual through a development of the individual's character as tested by various circumstances.  And it tells the story of a group of individuals and the interaction of their characters.

I should read Aristotle's Poetics, which is essentially a philosophy of drama, among other things.

Philosophy as the Development of Ideas

Philosophy is more than the mere espousal of opinions, it is the development of principles by testing opinions against contrary views and counterexamples, borderline cases, and any possible way to assail the principle set forth, to test whether it is a good one (whether it holds in most or all cases with no counterexamples).  It is the development of one's views (which start as opinions) through these various tests to yield generally valid principles which are coherently related.

Philosophy and Existentialism

This is related to Philosophy and Literature (Drama).  For existentialism concentrates on the concrete existences, our actual experiences (which can be recorded as a type of drama) rather than in an abstraction of experience.  This is why existentialists choose literature as the way to convey their philosophy as tied to their particular experience.  The existentialist's philosophy is not set forth as a series of principles, but must be evinced from the drama of their life (the life they have actively and consciously chosen to live).


Had an interesting initial discussion with Raymond on eugenics.  Eugenics, the improvement of the physical aspect of the human race through genetic manipulations has many counter arguments.  But, what if genes are manipulated to create human beings that are disease-free, or lack genes which indicate the probable expression of a gene that is deleterious.  Take for example manipulating the genetic constitution of an embryo so that it does not include the gene that gives the disposition to develop alzheimers, or parkingson's.  Isn' t this a form of eugenics that produces good?  Now, the question is how far do you take this genetic manipulation.  What about manipulating genes that affect our social behavior.  Is this too intrusive.  What about removing a gene that promotes violence (theoretically if there is such a gene).  What about removing a gene that predisposes someone to social anxiety disorder (that psychiatrists believe is physically based).  Is this therapeutic or intrusive?  What about selecting for a gene that produces larger brain size and greater complexity, i.e., higher intelligence?  This more clearly smacks of eugenics, but what should we say is the distinction?  Removal of genes which produce deleterious physical defects is okay?  It seems so.  What about removal of genes that produce deleterious mental defects?  This would seem to be okay too.  What about manipulation of genes or selection for genes that enhance physical or mental performance?  This seems more questionable.  If the answer is no, then we have made a distinction that manipulation, removal, and selection for genes to remove deleterious effects is desireable, but manipulation, removal, and selection of genes to enhance physical and mental attributes is not desireable.  But, I question even this latter formulation.  What if the manipulation of genes results in someone who is physically able to live twice the length of life.  This is clearly an enhancement, but isn't it a desireable enhancement?  If this is accepted, then the above principle is modified to include physical enhancements.  What about mental enhancements?  What about selecting for superior memory retention or some other mental attribute?  The question is a matter of a continuum, we must develop a sense of how far we want to go, from removal of deleterious physical defects to mental enhancements.  Furthermore, note that the effects of genetic manipulations, unlike the issues, cannot be so clearly isolated.  Selecting to remove the gene that causes Alzheimer's may actually enhance memory.  So, to some extent, biologically, this distinction between removing deleterious effects and enhancements may in practice be blurred (some may take this as an argument against eugenics, some for).  Maybe much of what I'm calling Eugenics is Gene Therapy.

The Revolution:  Control of our Biology

We have moved into the begining of the stage of control of our own biology.  This begs the question of who should be in control of our biology?  Should only parents decide what deleterious effects to remove and enhancements to bestow?  Doctors?  The state (although this latter sounds big brotherian). 

Some Eugenics is Inevitable

It is my basic contention that some form of eugenics (whether just the minimal form of removing deleterious physical impediments) or the more extreme form of physical and mental enhancements too is bound to eventually be the case.   We will control our biology as the technology develops (through genetic and chemical manipulations), just as we have controlled our physical world through the applications of physics.  Clearly laws and ethics will apply, but my guess is that some form of eugenics will be the case.  Just as we improved our physical universe with physics we will eventually improve our biological universe with biology.

Race and Eugenics

Race and Eugenics.  I think often a false connection is made between racism and eugenics Most eugenic manipulations have nothing to do with race, they have to do with the removal of disease, and perhaps the enhacement of physical and mental attributes which are not necessarily race related (age, example selecting for genes that prevent premature senescence and allow us to live longer have nothing to do with race)  and the selection of other attributes if it has any connection to race would be related to multiple races.  There's very little genetic difference between the races anyway.

That Eugenics will Produce Biological Monstrosities

There seems also to be the fear that eugenics will produce biological monstrosities.  But I take this more as a statement of the limitations of the current science (i.e., that all of the side effects of a genetic manipulation, i.e, the effects on the complex biochemical pathways the expression or suppression of a gene has, are not well known), than a strong argument against engaging in at least some forms of eugenics.

Social Equity and Eugenics

What about the idea that eugenics practiced for some but not all yields an unfair advantage or social inequity.  We do not for example, permit performance-enhancing drugs in atheletes to make the competition fair.  Shouldn't the same guideline apply to eugenics, that we should not permit it to maintain social equity?  It seems to me the proper way this argument should go is that eugenics, at least as removing deleterious physical defects goes 'should' be available to all, and the problem is lack of universal health care, not eugenics.  I.e., this form of eugenics, minimally, should be available to all, counteracting the problem of social inequity;  it should be practiced as standard medicine.  As a matter of the reality of economics, not all peoples receive equal medical treatment, but this should be a goal.  Certainly it's better to relieve deleterious effects of some than none.

The Philosophy of Limitations

Limitations in human knowledge is a fundamental theme that needs to be developed.  As a start, there exists limitations in many domains of knowledge.  For example, in mathematics which is based on sets, sets are defined by their boundaries, i.e, the members which are included or excluded, or the set expressed as a proposition, e.g., a < x < b, where a and b define the boundaries of x.  This is just one example, but because crisp definition is key to mathematics and mathematics is based  upon sets, boundary definitions or limitations in math are pervasive.  Similarly concepts are defined by their boundaries and domain of application.  Similarly we say a chair is something you sit on, which you may fold, but which is not necessariliy foldable, which has a seat, and which usually, but not always has a back.  Definitive of the chair then (its essence or crisp boundaries) are that it is 'something you sit on' and 'something which has a seat' but not something you lie on, in the domain of furniture, and not crisply something foldable or has a back. 

Likewise, when testing the scope of applicability of an idea, we come against the limitations of its applicability.  This is clear in law, where a legal principle applies to certain cases and not to others, still others, there is a question (these are the boundary condition cases) whether it is applicable.  Clearly we have to speak of crisp versus fuzzy boundaries or limitations of a concept (be it mathematical or common sense).  In defining the scope of proper applicability of the principle of "eugenics," what is the limit of this concept:  should it be limited to cases where there is a removal of a deleterious physical condition, improvement of a physical condition, removal of a deleterious mental condition, improvement of a mental condition, where do we draw the boundary or how do we limit the principle?

How are these three things then related: scope,  limitations, definition, and boundary conditions?

Also, how are solution related to conditions that you specify?  Remember the math problem of finding three connecting lines that pass through four points.  If you specifiy the condition that the three lines have to form a triangle, there is only one solution.  But if you only specify the condition that the three links have to connect, there are three solutions:  a triangle and a Z and U figure.  (Note the triangular solution assumes that two points are closer together than two others.)  The conditions set the boundaries for what is an acceptable solution.  Lets call these boundary conditions.  Its clear that the boudary condition limits the scope of solutions, i.e, the more conditions the smaller the scope of solutions.  This is similar to a boolean search where the number of conditions specified narrow the scope of solutions.

related:  scope of applicability of an idea  AND domains or sets in mathematics  --- related by the number of objects or cases (rela between case and object) in the world they apply to  (the world in mathematics may be an abstract universe U).

related:  crisp and fuzzy definitions in math (crisp = 1 xor 0; fuzzy = 0 < x < 1 ) AND crisp and fuzzy conceptual defintions  (e.g. traditional logic:  x is not both a and not a, and the fuzzy definition of a chair)

related:  boundary conditions in math (e.g. of condition of whether must be a triangle or just connected lines) and boundary conditions in concepts and scope, for example where n is a positive  integer and you specifiy the condition m = 3n, where n is the set of positive integers, defines the set (delimits what is included in the set) (3, 6, 9, 12 ...)  You could specify further conditions that further restrict the scope:  and where 6 < n < 18 and  where 100 < m < 200. 

Now the first two are clearly related:  scope of applicability and crispness or fuzziness, as you can have crisp or fuzzy sets in mathematics and you can have concepts whose scope is determined by a principle which neatly or strictly includes and excludes or one that includes or excludes fuzzily (e.g. whether an animal is a vertebrate or invertebrate versus whether a historical creature is a homo sapiens or a monkey (eg.  pithanthropus).   Boundary conditions can specify scope as well, as indicated in the m = 3n example.

A Real World Common-Sense Example

Take a coupon for an airport shuttle service, as a simple example showing some of the mathematical complexity in common real world examples.  Let the domain be shuttle trips.  By specifying the condition of the airport, three sets are generated:  all shuttle trips to Oakland Airport (set A), all shuttle trips to San Jose Airport (set B), and all shuttle trips to San Francisco Airport (set C).  Additionally, there is the set of all trips with 1 passenger, the set of all trips with 2 passengers, etc..., the set of all trips on a certain day. 

A specific trip may be specified (corresponding to an intersection of sets) by the condition of which airport, how many passengers, the condition of the day and time, (i.e., the intersection of the set of shuttle trips to a certain airport with the set of all shuttle trips of a certain day with the intersection of the set of all shuttle trips involving a certain number of passengers).  Conditions, here represented as intersections delimit the scope or number of trips satisfying those conditions.  If one represents such a shuttle service coupon as venn-diagrams, it is again difficult to visualize (as the number of options and conditions become more complex, visiualization of the venn-diagrammatic representation becomes more difficult).  It is reasonable to represent such a coupon in a database that allows for search on specific trips corresponding to any combination of conditions and for a single condition, e.g. all trips on a certain date, databases being, essentially, representations of sets of data accessible by conditions.  Here the conditions restrict the scope, i..e, delimit the set, and finally identify a particular member (trip), or denote the empty set.  Membership is crisp.  With each trip is associated a specific trip price.

Conceptual Limits and Epistemology

I want to additionally relate these limitations (scope of applicability which delimits the set of things or even situations in the world (or math universe) to which a concept applies, conditions which delimit solutions, and the limits or boudaries themselves, which may be crisp or fuzzy) to limits in epistemology (limits on our ability to know).  So far, I am tallking about the delimitation of concepts (be they mathematical, common-sense, or scientific).  Epistemology is concerned with the delimitation of knowledge.  So, what is the relation between concepts and knowledge?  Just musing, there are some interesting ideas here:  in mathematics we are limited in our ability to visualize (inasmuch as visualization is a form of knowing) certain concepts, like the inability to visualize hyperspaces of R^n, where n > 3.  We can manipulate the formulae to logically derive what will be the case in R^n spaces, but we cannot form a geometric representation or visualization.  This lack of visualization represent a 'limit' on conceptual knowledge (inasmuch as knowledge of a concept involves visualization of the same). 

Related as well to the mathematical and common sense and scientific and epstemological concepts of limit is probability and statistics.  Probability is a mathematical expression of an epsitemic limitation.  In the same way, in common sense concepts we implicity assign degrees of credibility to a proposition, i.e., give it a fuzzy probability of being true.  This may be somewhat obvious.  Probability is clealry a mathematical expression of an epistemic limitation as if it is 1, then we KNOW with certainty that something is the case, and if it is 0, we KNOW with certainty that something is not the case, if 0 < p < 1 then we know only with some certainty or credbility that something is the case.  The probability quantifies the epistemic limitation. I.e., if p = 0 or p = 1 then our knowledge is unlimited, i.e. we have certainty that something is or is not the case, whereas if 0 < p < 1 then we have limited knowledge of whether it is or is not the case, if p = .5 we have no idea whether it is or is not the case.

Knowledge Limits:  The Unknown and the Unknowable

What I want to do is tie the idea of limitations, inherent in conceptualization (including mathematical concepts) to epistemological limitations, and tie this to limits in personal and collective knowledge (including both common sense and scientific knowledge).  I should probably look more closely at unknowns (in math and regular conceptualization) and problems for which there are no solutions (known to be not known).  Tri-epistemic values (know something is the case, know it is not the case, not know whether it is the case).  Know something is not known but is knowable;  know something is not known and is not knowable;  know something is not known but not know whether something is knowable or not-knowable.  Examples:  I known the vase is on the table (because I can see it);  I know that the magazine is not on the table;  I dont know whether my friend has arrived in Paris yet.  Knowing something is not known but knowable is a case of ignorance, a simple case is a mathematical problem which is solvable which I don't have the solution for.  Knowing something is not known and is not knowable, for example, whether god exists (as by the antimonies of pure reason by Kant indicate), or what happens to us after we die.    Knowing something is not known and we don't know whether it is knowable, for example, an unsolved mathematical puzzle (there is no current solution, so we know its not known, but we also don't know whether there is a solution).  Knowledge is true justified belief, but knowability is the possibility of knowledge. 

Let's look at these types of knowledge in different domains of knowledge.  In mathematics, propositions are either known (to be necessarily the case) or known (necessariliy) to be not the case.  Are there cases in mathematics where something is knowable but we don't know whether it is the case?  I have to think about this.  Does a proposition with probability .5 satisfy this?  Solving for unknowns in a system of equations, we know something (namely the unknown variables) is unknown but knowable (solvable).  Knowing something is known but not knowable, e.g., the incompleteness therom or formally undecidable propositions.  And as I cited, an unsolved mathematical puzzle, for which it is not know whether there is a solution is a case of knowledge that something is not known where it is unclear whether it is knowable.  An example may be the 4-color map problem (or was this solved?) or other paradoxes (history has shown some paradoxes have been solved, others not).  In the common sense domain, I have given most of the cases above, except something not known but knowable, e.g. whether there is a train that leaves from Calcutta to Bombay at 5pm on a certain date; and something not known and not known whether it is knowable.  Here I may notice that common sense knowledge seems to be knowledge that, that not, not knowing whether something is the case, and lack of knowledge of something that is knowable; but, not lack of knowledge of the unknowable, e.g. whether there is life after death, or lack of knowledge of something we don't know whether it is knowable.  I.e. unknowability or unknowability whether something is knowable seems to have a philosophic or mathematical flavor.  It's unclear whether not knowing whether I continue after I die falls under common sense or philosophy (which begs the question of what is the relation and distinction between the two -- another inquiry).  The line between the unknowable, and lack of knowledge whether something is knowable can also be blurry.  I claim that it is unknowable whether I continue after I die, since all of our experience is IN this lifetime (including our experience with others deaths, etc...).  But what about near death experiences, is it possible that we don't know whether  its unknowable, rather than simply claiming its unknowable.  At the limits of knowledge, unless you have a proof like Kant's antimonies on the existence of God and immortability of the soul that prove that you cannot know, if you reject these arguments, its not clear whether its unknowable.  Still its very unclear what knowability would consist of (mystic experience not being acceptable).  I personally take an agnostic stance that in terms of knowledge, i.e., true justified belief, the immortality of the soul and the existence of god are unknowable, and that if you believe in them you must recognize that you have a belief and not knowledge.  So, we can believe things that are not knowable (by the definition of knowledge).  But its always dangerous to leave the realm of knowledge, for such beliefs are untestable and possibly wrong.  Now, I've gone off in a tangent that borders on the religious, and its time to return to the application of these epistemic values (cases of knowledge) to science.  Science consists of clear cut cases of things known to be the case:  that a projectile will follow the path of a certain parabola given a certain initial force;  things known not to be the case:  that water doesn't boil at 300 degree Fahrenheit at normal atmospheric pressure; and then science at its frontiers has a less definite flavor.  It is not known whether life arose out of the primoridial soup, or exactly how it came from inorganic matter (i..e, there are no experiments that create living organisms, maybe just organic molecules from the primordial ooze that is supposed to have originally existed on earth), and besides there are competing, although more wild theories, such as intelligent design.  Cases of something not known but knowable cases of trials in science, where we don't know exactly what will happen when we insert x into y (although typically we have some idea), but we do so and find out.  There are many experiments waiting to be done which have the character of unknown results, but clearly knowable, should the experiment be performed, because a certain amount of our knowledge in science is gained a posteriori from experience by manipulation and observing the results of a manipulation.  Cases of something not known which is unknowable, may be facts about the universe which are invisible to our instrumentation (undetectable).  There may be large numbers of things in our universe which are the case but we have no knowledge of as they are undetectable by our senses or extensions of our senses through instrumentation, and unable to be implied from what we do observe.  As Shakespear put it, "there's more under the heavens than you or I could imagine, Horatio."  Again a case in science of things not known to be the case where we don't know whether we can know are perhaps (is this true?) constructs in theoretical physics which have not been born out by experiment or observation, and we don't know whether we will ever observe such a thing (for example worm holes).

Certain things need to be distinguished.  Private and public knowledge.  And practically unknowable and epistemically unknowable.  I am perhaps so far failing to clearly distinguish these.  One person can clearly lack knowledge of what is known by others or the public, but the question of knowability applies to public knowledge as well, which is more substantial, i.e., what is not known, not knowable, etc.... publically.  Also, something may not be knowable due to practical considerations, but theoretically knowable.  Science is essentially public knowledge.  An example in science is the question of whether other life exists.  We don't know, but whether this is knowable is a practical consideration of how many likely planets we explore (we may never explore enough), how far we can travel in space, etc...  This is a different question than whether something is epistemically, in principle unknowable, such as an undecideable proposition in mathematics.

Epistemology Natualized and the Relation Between Philosophy and Psychology

Related to the more general question of the relation between philosophy and psychology, which I will attempt to write about next, is the question of the relation between the philosophical characterrization of knowledge (or epistemology) and the psychological characterization of knowledge (or epistemology naturalized).  A simple case is that of the principle, "we do not know whether x where x is knowable."  I gave the example of not knowing whether my friend has yet arrived in Paris (private knowledge) or the new example of not knowing when a meteor may hit the earth (collective knowledge).  But what about the case where we don't know something because we can't quite see it, or we don't know something because we can't remember whether it is the case.  Philosophy assumes a perfectly functioning mind and sensory apparatus;  whereas, psychology does not assume this and is interested in aberrations or breakdowns in sensory, memory, and cognitive, and emotive functioning.  An example is:  I don't know whether I put water in the teapot because I can't remember, or I don't know whether that is a pond or a mirage because I've been walking through the desert for days and am delusional, or simply I don't know whether a number is a 3 or 8 because I don't have my glasses on.  What epistemology is concerned with is the fact that there is an epistemic value 'lack of knowledge of x' as opposed to 'knowledge that x' or 'knowledge that not x' and that x is knowable, etc...  What psychology is concerned with is the reason for this lack of knowledge, particularly the mental process (aberrant sensation, aberrant memory process, or aberrant cognitive process) that accounts for this 'lack of knowledge.'  Inversely, psychology is also concerned with the sensation, memory process, and cognitive process of knowledge that or knowledge that not.  Philosophy is concerned with the types of knowledge that we have and how we come to have it, how certain it is, and whether it can be grounded on certainty.  Psychology is concerned with how we come to have knowledge of the world (cognition, acquisition of language, acquisition of concepts, etc...), and cases where that knowledge is affected by aberrant psychological processes.

Number Bases and Mathematical Abstractions

We typically evaluate mathematical expressions with a decimal value system.  But, there is nothing necessary about this decimal value system, it is a matter of convention (does it have instrinsic advantages over other bases?).  Mathematical relations, like the Pythagoean theorem, that the hypoteneus of the triangle is related by the square root of the sum of the squares of the other two sides holds of course when evaluated in any based, i.e., the relation is non-decimal and non-number system specific, i.e, it is an abstract RELATION between sides of a triangle.  This is why I say mathematics is about RELATIONS and NOT NUMBERS.  I.e., mathematics is no more about numbers than language is about letters.  Letters make up words, but it is words, relations between words (grammars), and the underlying conceptual apparatus (reference, words that refer to abstract ideas etc...) that define the essence of language.  Likewise, in mathematics, it is the abstract relations and not the numbers that evaluate them that define the essence of mathematics.  This is why algebra is so basic to mathematics, as it is the step up in the latter of abstraction from the number-specific truths of arithmetic ( which are number system dependent) to the notion of a non-number specific variable based language that describes the RELATIONS between quanities.  All abstract mathematics is fundamentally based upon algebra.  If you do calculus, it reduces, in solving the expressions, to doing algebra, if you do topology, or linear algebra, or statistics, or whatever, it is the formulae expressed in algebra which is significant, i.e,. it is the abstract RELATIONS expressed by the language of algebra that is significant. 

Now, certain number bases have advantages for certain purposes.  A binary system is excellent for representing OFF and ON states, output or no output, low or high voltage, whatever takes two values.  We can imagine using a ternary numerical system to describe a computer which has three voltage states, etc...  (high, low, and resting).  Octal and hexadecimal are just higher organizations of binary (2^3, 2^4), and are hence also useful in computing.  Ternary systems might be useful in on, off, don't care systems (is this true?), or possibly in my ternary epistemic system (a digital representation thereof?) of know that, know that not, don't know whether.  What, however, is the advantage of the prevalently used decimal system?  I should know this.  Any decimal number can be written as a0 x 10^n + a1 x 10^n-1 ... an x 10^0, but this is true of any number system: e.g. base 5:  a0 x 5^n + a1 x 5^n-1 ... an x 5^0, it is this expansion that is used in my number base program (in Dec2Base()).  So what's the advantage of decimal?  If you say 10 x 10 in decimal, you get 100, a number of 1 followed by 0's; 10^n is always 1 followed by a certain number of 0's as is 10^-n, 1 preceed by a certain number of 0's.    This is not true in the other bases.  F x F is E1 in hex, and 7 x 7 is 61 in octal.  This property of decimals (and the fact that division and multiplication can be done by subtracting and adding exponents) is very useful for calculations that involve very large and small quantities, i.e., useful for scientific notation.  (1.4 x 10^3)(2.3^10^4) is just 1.4x2.3x10^7, whereas (3 x F^2)(4 x F^3) = 3x4 x F^5 = 8B0BB4, i.e, the algebra holds, i.e., the abstract relation a^m*a^n = a^(m+n) holds, but the result is not a number followed by zeros.

The Relation Between Algebra and Logic (and Set Theory)

Algebra is an abstraction from specific numerical relationships into general form of quantitative relationships.  Logic is an abstraction from natural language statements to propositions which can be represented algebraically (with predicate calculus).  So, both are abstractions from the particulars of numbers (equations) and words (sentences) into an algebraic language.  Predicate calculus is an algebraic langugage:  For all x, Px ^ Qx is an abstract representation of the universality that if you are an x, Px and Qx is true of you.  For example:  if you are a woman you have an XX chromosome and you have the apparatus to bear a child.  Like algebra, the algebraic statement becomes evaluated with particulars and is an abstraction from particulars, e.g. x = a woman, P is the predicate of 'has an XX chromosome' and Q is the predicate of 'has the apparatus to bear children.'  Hence, the predicates and variables in predicate calculus are essentially algebraic.  Algebra too is an abstraction from particular numerical sentences, called equations, and can be instatiated by values:  2^6*2^8=2^14 and so in general (the algebraic abstraction from the numerical particulars):  a^m*a^n = a^m+n, which may then be instatiated with any particular values for m,n, and a.  So, both logic and algebra are algebraic abstractions from particular numerical or word-based sentences, which can be evaluated to yield those sentences.  But what is the relation between these two algebraic abstractions?  Can one be reduced to the other?  Clearly, they typically apply to different domains, one to relations of quanitity and the other to relations between concepts.  In each case you have a symbolization of a particular number or concept (word(s)) and the logical connectives or mathematical operations and connectives representing the relations between those numbers or concepts. 

What is the relation between a mathematical operation and a logical connective?  In mathematics the symbols representing numbers in the algebraic sentences are connected by symbols representing operations:  exponentiation, multiplication, equality (is equality an operation?  if you say a = 6, = represents the operation of making a the quantity 6).  In logic, the symbols representing concepts (word(s)) are connected by logical connectives (and, or, xor).  A mathematical operation specifies how to transform a value, e.g., a^b says multiply a by itself b times, a*b says generate the sum of a, b times;  a logical connective connects what is predicated of a subject, e.g. Ax ^ Bx, says that both A and B are true of (predicated of) x.  Symbols representing relations related sentences, like = which relates the sentence a^m*a^n to the sentence a^(m+n), and if...then (implication) which connects the sentences "for all x, Ax ^ Bx," "y is an x" to "Ay ^ By."  The relation here is implication, which is the most important relation in logic.  Now, how are implication and equality, for example related?  Is it not the case that equality is bidirectional implication?  If a+b=c then a+b implies c and c implies a+b.  And could we not say that algebra in mathematics is full of implications.  Certainly when you reduce equations, for example, in calculus, to simpler algebraic expressions, you do this by a series of equations, or bidirectional implications.  Likewise in a logical syllogism, each step proceeds to the next by implications (if ... then's).  And in a mathematical proof, each step proceeds to the next by equations, i.e., by implications, and proofs in logic are done by a series of implications (example, my modal logic book).  So, so far all I have said is that both algebra and formal logic proceed by if...then's i.e., by implication.  Particular logical methods are used in mathematical proof, like contrapositives (P implies Q implies not Q implies not P), show the inverse of the antecend implies a contradiction,    The answer to this question between the relation of algebra to logic is found in Russell's work Mathematica Principia (which reduces math to logic and set theory).  I should read this and see what I can get out of it.

The Present, Past, and Mistakes

My general philosophy is that you can't undo the mistakes you have made, so all that is possible is to not repeat them.  In time, there is a general healing of mistakes past made, as long as they are not repeated.

Politics and Personal Attacks

Per my discussion with Raymond today, I am in favor of seperating politics from personal life.  I am not in favor of people who attack a politicians private life, or their person.  It is appropriate however to hold up, and attack with arguments their political platform, which is part of the public domain and concern.  But their private life is their own business.  This is why I was so upset about the attacks on President Clinton's private life, which I thought was totally inappropriate, and am not really in support of flagrant Bush bashing even if I don't agree with his policies (where the attack is personal).  Still, people, according to free speech may do this, I am just not personally in favor of it.  Its more dignified in politics to attack a politician's platform rather than the politician him or herself.

Women's Position in the World

One thing that I noticed in travelling recently is that many pre-Christian cultures had as many goddesses as gods.  And the neolithic and paleolithic cultures often had fertility cults that centered around women's progenerative capabilties.  But history after those times (and even in those times to some extent) has been dominated by men.  If you read history books, its all about men, with some exceptions.  Why is this?  Women have proven themselves as capable and intelligent as men, though not physically as strong, and as a gross generality, maybe with slightly different penchants, where the physical matters much less in a world of machines.  But, throughout history, they accepted their role, a subservient one, and largely did not protest, and simply went along with what men did.  Why is this?  Part of the answer is that women had a different focus than men, one of the family and home, spurred by the fact that they bore, and then raised the children, and men were largely freed from this to pursue activities outside the home.  Now when I think about the various gynosupremacy cults (as a reaction and response to a male-dominated world)  that exist in the shadows today, one thing that I notice is that they are largely frequented by MEN.  This surprises me at first, but upon closer examination, maybe it makes some sense.  I think women see these cults as a male fantasy and not in touch with social reality.  For women, the struggle is to gain some equality with men, by getting degrees, getting better jobs, getting better pay, making inroads in key positions and in politics, and gynosupremacy cults are relegated in their minds to not any real power for women, but merely catering to  male fantasies.  For whatever reason, these cults never caught on, and never had any appeal to real women, and I think my reasons are probably close to the truth as to why.  In the final analysis, I support equality between the sexes, and allowance for men being men and doing what they like to do, and women being women and doing what they like to do, i.e., celebrating eachothers' differences.  Gynosupremacy was just a fun way of getting things out of wack back to a situation that was a healthier balance.  And it is a fanatasy for many men, and what's wrong with that, why don't a few women join them in the fun of the fantasy.  Most women are not interested in dominating men, their interested in gaining more equality with them;  that's where they're coming from.  Fantasies are different from social realities.  Sometimes in play they can compensate for social realities.

Besides, in my model, we are persons first (related to volition and our decisions), intellects second, and bodies, i.e., male or female third.  Although in dealing with people we don't know, we see the body first, judge the intellect second, and get to know the person last of all.  As a man, being very visual, I often get stuck at the looks first.  Women often seem to be a little deeper, getting attracted to the person more than the looks.  Also, as far as feminism goes, one could say that what happens to women is their personhood is belittled, and that is painful, and something to be fought against.  And being valued for playing a role in a fantasy doesn't solve the problem of personal belittlement (sometimes maybe it can provide relief).

Some feel the answer is seperatism, this is true in some parts of the lesbian community and it is true of the gynosupremacy cults.  If one is really disenchanted with the world as it is, then perhaps seperatism is the answer, but if one wants to change the world then seperatism is not the answer.

Patterns, Relations, Mathematics, Music, and Humanity

I once said that music is simply patterned sound.  What is noticeable is that animals hear, but they don't seem to apprehend music, i.e., to process patterns of sound the comprise music.  (more on this later).  It is also quite noticeable that music is fundamentally mathematical.  If you express chord patterns, you can express them in a particular key, such as C7->F6->Gdim in the key of C, or in terms of their RELATIONS algebraically in ANY key:  as X7->IV6->Vdim in the key of whatever.  I.e., the chord progression can be expressed algebraically to express the relations that hold between the chords (the 1-4-5 pattern) in ANY key.  Likewise, the chords themselves may be dissolved into mathmatical relations which remain constant across keys as a dominant 7th is always composed of 1-3-5-7b, the F6 as 1-3-5-6, and the Gdim as 1-3b-5b, these relations between notes, now, not chords, expressible as numbers and true independent of the key.  Furthermore, other relations holds, e.g. relations of isometry, such as that 1-3-5-6 an F6 in the key of F is also a Dm7 in second inversion in the key of Dm.  But this isometry is true in all keys and can be expressed algebraically as:  X6 = (-3)Xm7(2nd) or any 6th chord is also a minor seventh three steps lower.  The full gamut of these relations, for all the notes that compose chords, all of the chords that compose chord progressions, and all of the isometries due to inversions is quite impressive and is somewhat studied, although not usually at the more abstract level in musical theory. The patterns of music (or the patterns of sound that comprise music) are mathematical patterns.  The patterns of music can be expressed as invariant relations which can be instantiated by evaluating those patterns with notes of particular keys.

 Now that I've shown that music is fundamentally mathematical, this brings me to the question of mathematics and whether mathematics is about patterns or relations, and what is the relation between pattern and relation.  Is mathematics about relations, patterns, or operations?  Lets take the operations account.  This says that in mathematics you have a language that is composed of symbols:  variables, numbers, and operators, where numbers evaluate variables, and operators transform variables or numbers.  An example is x^2.  The square operator indicates that the variable x is to be multiplied by itself, i.e., it defines an operation to be performed on a variable.  2^2 indicates that 2 is to be multiplied by itself.  This simple example can be expanded to more complex expressions:  3(1-sin^2x)/2^m is a series of operations that are to be executed in a certain order (order of operations):  sinx is to be multiplied by itself, subtracted from 1, that quanity multiplied by 3 and that quanity divided by the quanity of 2 multiplied by itself m times.  But, noticeable in mathematics (especially in subjects like Calculus) is reductions or isometries:  x^2 + 2x + 1 = (x+1)(x+1), i.e., a set of operations may defined as another isometric set of operations, this is how reductions and substitutions proceed.  Proofs also involve redefining one operation in terms of another to infer an unproven sentence from sentences (a sentence between variables and/or numbers bound by operators) that are already proven.  In this way, a pretty good case can be made for mathematics as being about operations.  Now let's take the idea that mathematics is about patterns.  Then we will have to ask what is the relation between patterns and operations.  Certainly when you consider things like finite and infinite series, you are talking about patterns.  More on this ...

Let's take the idea that mathematics is about relations.  In mathematical physics, quanities, expressed by variables may relate to eachother as one varying as a certain magnitude of the other or one varying as an inverse magnitude of the other, etc... Here mathematics expresses the relation of the magnitude of the two physical things represented by variables.  You may say that the circumference of a circle is related to its radius by a certain formula, as is the area.   The third side of a triangle is related to the other two sides by a certain formula.  These relations abound in geometry, what about other areas of mathematics?  Take set theory (part of mathematics related to philosophy) and take the expression:  (A-B)UC = A-(BUC).  The equality sign indicates an isometry relation, the two are the same.  But equality is not the only such relation expressible:  (A'UB)^(B'UC) is a subset of A'UC.  Here a subset relation exists between the two sets of sets.  But note that the relation between set A' and B for example is defined by an operation, the union operation.  Likewise, in expressing the relation between sides of a triangle, operations are used to express that relation:  the third side is related to the other two sides by taking the squareroot (operation) of the sum (operatoin) of the squares (operation) of each of the other two sides.  This is an INVARIANT RELATION, which mathematics seeks, true of ANY triangle, with ANY dimensions, which is expressed in a formula which involves an equality relation and several operations.  So, maybe the truth is that mathematics is about the search for invariant (quantitative) relations which are expressed by formulae which involve a set of operations on variables (and numbers). 

Are variables, numbers, and operators merely the language in which mathematical relations are expressed?  I.e., can mathematical operationism (my term) be reduced to relationism (my term). 

Computer Hardware and Software and Mathematics, Formal Logic, and Natural Language

Computer software is enabled by the use of artificial languages.  Now, what is an artificial language?  It is (and there is theory on this in computer language and compiler theory) a set of symbols (variables that can be evaluated) and operations (reserved words) that can be performed on those variables, and control structures to control the flow of logic in which those operations are executed.  Another view is that computers (software) is about input-processing-output, and the heart of the matter, processing involves executing an algorithm which transforms data in a data structure according to a logical flow of steps.  You have to put data in the data structure, that's input, you have to manipulate the data in the data structure according to algorithms, that's processing, and you have to get data out of the data structure, that's output.  That's all software does essentially.  Creating, inputing and outputing from the data structures, and executing the algorithms is done with a computer language as I've described above. 

Computer hardware is about creating units, according to boolean logic, which enable the operations (key words at the assembler level).  You have the add instruction, it is enabled by an adder, the sub instructoin by a subtractor, the and by an ander, etc... and hardware structures that support the operands of these operations, such as registers.   In addition you have hardware that supports the input and output portions of computer software:  the memory, paths to and from memory, and disk storage, and peripherals, which support the assembler operations of mov, load, etc...  Computer hardware is strongly related to logic, particuarly boolean logic.

Computer languages are then somewhat related to mathematics, somewhat to formal logic, and somewhat to natural languages:  they define operations, like mathematics, and operate on variables which can be evaluated, like mathematics, but fundamental also are the control structures, with is related to formal logic (if ... then to implication, and and or conditions to conjunction and disjunction, etc...) but others don't have clear analogs in formal logic, like switch case, while, for (iteration, sometimes used in mathematics), these may have more relation to natural language constructs (while something is the case do x, or until its no longer the case do x, take x, in the case that it is one value do this, another value do that, do something forever or until something is fufilled, etc...). 

Social Organisms, Varied Intelligence, and Employment

Speaking of “organisms,” if we define a “social organism” to be a set of interconnected parts that function as a whole, the following may perhaps be said about employment.  Since intelligence differs not only by degree but also by kind (and primarily by kind, as most people’s degree of intelligence is in the middle of the bell curve), it may be said that people have different types of intelligence:  mechanical aptitude, a more philosophical inclination (non-practical), artistic aptitude, mathematical aptitude, linguistic aptitude, etc…  And there are clearly variances within each of these categories, such as those with linguistic aptitude that are good at natural languages versus those good with the more logical use of language such as in law.  Likewise, with mathematical aptitude, there are those who have a more theoretical bent and others with a more applied bent (are good at math problem solving).  There are people who are good at persuading others, a type of talent, that may be useful in selling, etc…  There are people who are good at designing things (engineers), making things (people in manufacturing), and fixing things (mechanical aptitude).  This is perhaps obvious, but the point is that a social organism works best “from each according to their ability,” in the utilization of the talents of people.  I.e., people should do what they do well, and inversely should not do what they don’t do well, to yield the maximum combined contribution to the society.  Clearly, if everyone did what they were poor at, the society would function poorly;  inversely, if everyone does what they’re good at, the society will function well.  This is my maxim for those who want to participate in society as producers as well as as consumers.  There is the question of course of whether the need for talents matches the supply of talents.  It seems generally so.  Some people have multiple talents but are economically incented to develop one for which there is need.  Some people, like me, lately, have few talents, but need to develop one that is needed by the workforce.  In some cases there is not the need for certain talents in the quantity in which they are supplied, like artists that often (though not always) find it difficult to make a living with their talent, and so often do something else to make a living while practicing their art as an avocation.  But, in general it seems that the supply of diverse talents in our society meets the demand for such diverse talents.  In other words, determine what you’re good at, and  do what you’re good at.  This yields the maximum contribution to the society.

Relation Between Artificial and Natural Languages

Metaphors in Biology and Computer Science.

There are three metaphors which I will consider here:  the metaphor of a circuit in biology, the metaphor of a program in biology, and the metaphor of  evolution in computer science (genetic algorithms). 

When one says that DNA is programmed to replicate or that a cell is ‘programmed’ to produce a certain antibody, etc…, what is meant?  First let’s examine the notion of a ‘program.’  A ‘program’ is essentially, an algorithm, i.e., it is a sequence of instructions, including loops and conditions, that transform data in a prescribed way.  The question is then whether biological phenomena exhibit the characteristics of an algorithm.  Do they loop, do they branch conditionally, do they follow a specific finite (demarcated ) sequence of steps which transform something in a prescribed way?  If you consider, for example, the synthesis of proteins by transfer RNA from the nucleotides of a messenger RNA strand, the production of amino acids proceeds by a clear SEQUENCE of steps, it is the nucleotide sequence that the transfer RNA uses to determine the amino acid to produce, and the SEQUENCE of amino acids that determine the protein.  The sequence has a clear beginning and a clear end, demarcated by a START and STOP codon.  The sequence does NOT however loop, as a program does, where by a ‘loop’ is meant that the end of the sequence points to the beginning of the sequence for iterative operation.  Instead, a protein coding sequence may be repeated, but since the end of the sequence doesn’t point back to the beginning, it doesn’t loop.  The next question is whether there are conditional branches in biological phenomena.  It appears there is an analog to a conditional branch in some biological processes.  For example, in gene expression, a repressor protein may prevent a gene from expression, and hence halt protein synthesis, unless lactose is present, which represses the repressor, to allow gene expression and protein synthesis.  The presence of lactose acts as a CONDITION for gene expression and protein synthesis.  What is argued here, from an inductive standpoint, i.e, I haven’t considered all biological phenomena, is that some allow the use of a programming (algorithm) metaphor, where there exists ‘biological algorithms’ in part (i.e., missing looping).    Since this analysis is not exhaustive, I allow for the possibility that some biological phenomena may loop, as with cycles (the Kreb cycle, the cycle of protein unfolding regulation between endoplastic reticula and the nucleus, etc…).    So, the programming metaphor seems to be a reasonable one for biological phenomena.

The second metaphor is the ‘circuit’ metaphor in biology.  Here we must examine the notion of a ‘circuit,’ and then see whether some biological phenomena are circuits.  There is no attempt here to claim wide use for such a metaphor, merely that it has some use.  What is a circuit?  A circuit is a series of elements (which exist in series or parallel and may contain feedback loops) that transform an input into an output in a prescribed way.    The input and output may be an analog signal, a digital signal, or mixed (as in a comparator) in traditional electronic circuits.  What about biological or biochemical  ‘circuits?’   Are biomolecules transformed in prescribed ways by biochemical ‘elements’ which exist in ‘series’ or ‘parallel?’   Consider a biochemical pathway.  In each step of the biochemical pathway an input molecule is transformed by a ‘reaction’ (which may involve catalysts) into  an output molecule in a series with possible parallel side pathways and biochemical  which describe the overall pathway.    There are clearly feedback pathways at least as concerns biochemical cycles, like the tricarbolyxic acid cycle.  Although most biochemical pathways are unidirectional some reactions are bidirectional as are some parts of  pathways.  The notion of bidirectionality is notably contrary to a circuit in the electronic world.  So again, as concerns biochemical pathways (the chemistry of biological processes), the metaphor is only partially good.

Finally, let’s consider the ‘evolution’ metaphor in computing.  The ‘evolution’ metaphor is used in genetic algorithms which are useful primarily in search optimization problems.  In a genetic algorithm, a population of strings (e.g. binary strings) are run through successive simulations of reproduction (copying ) , crossover, and mutation to yield better ‘fitness’ with a defined function with each successive ‘generation.’ 

'Genetic Programming' is a program which simulates invention by simulating the processes by which evolution brings new organisms into being.  Specifically, three evolutionary processes are simulated:  sexual recombination or cross-over, copying, and mutation.  The program's initial data are 'organisms' which may be phenomena from any domain which are candidates to solve a certain named problem.  For example, the 'organisms' may be mathematical functions which are canidates to fit a certain curve, or 'electronic circuits' which are candidates to produce a certain output, such as cutting of frequencies at a certain number of Hertz, or 'algorithms' which are candidates for identifying transmembrane segments of proteins.  These 'candidates' are then combined and either discarded or retained according to a 'fitness' algorithm for the next 'generation' of candidates.  After following this regime for many generations, only the candidates most closely fit to solve the named problem are produced, thus 'inventing' in an 'automatic' way, the solution.

'Organisms' are combined to produce the next generation in three standard ways:  cross-over, copying, and mutation. The most potent of these is cross-over (or sexual recombination) whereby the 'traits' or components of two candidate organisms are combined to result in an organism bearing the traits of both parents in the next generation. In our mathematical function example, parents '(a+1)-2' and '1+(axa)' may yield offspring '1 + ((a+1)xa).'  I.e., the 'a+1' trait of the first parent is substituted for one of the a terms in the second parent.  This new organism '1+((a+1)xa)' would then be tested for a fit to the target curve to decide whether its 'traits' are 'fit' to be combined to yield yet another generation.  In the process 'unfit' organisms are made to be 'extinct.'  Fit candidates may also simply be copied to the next generation, without modification.  Finally, candidates may evolve to the next generation by a 'random mutation,' with the hope that the mutation will provide a better fit to the target curve.  E.g. 'a+2' might evolve to '(3 x a) + 2.'  If the mutation  doesn't fit the target curve well, it will be made extinct, a type of 'artificial selection.'  An example in electronic circuits might involve two parents, one with three resistors and a capacitor, the other with two inductors, a capacitor, and a resistor, combining via cross over to produce two children:  a circuit with a capacitor and then three resistors, and a circuit with a resistor, two capacitors, and an inductor.

The evolutionary analogy in genetic programming is good.  It uses the notions of reproduction, mutation, and cross-over on ‘organisms’ (strings) and populations of ‘organisms’ which exhibits ‘traits’ (parts of strings) which have a certain degree of ‘fitness’ to ‘survive.’ 

In summary, three metaphors have been examined:  ‘programs in biology.’ ‘ circuits in biology (biochemistry)’ and ‘evolution’ in computer science.  Both ‘programs in biology’ and ‘circuits in biology’ are reasonable (largely good) metaphors.  The evolutionary metaphor in genetic programming is a good metaphor (shows a high degree of analogy to the concept of evolution).

What is Love?  Do I love?

I think there are many types of love, but love is in some way based upon the inner and outer aspects of the person.  I’ve always maintained that a person is essentially their volition (their decisions) and their accumulated experience first, their intellect second, their body third, and their possessions fourth.  As far as love is concerned, then, since love is inherently social, i.e., exists between two or more people, there are several types of love:  love of the inner-most person, e.g. love of a person for who they are, for their accumulated experiences and decisions, for their will, hopes and dreams (desires).  Secondly one may love another’s intellect, as I love Raymond’s intellect, for example.  Thirdly, one may love another’s body and looks.  Finally, one may love another’s possessions, and some relationships are based upon this.  Therefore, there are loves that are more or less substantial, i.e., more or less based upon the center or the periphery of the person.

In terms of social relations, then, love is cocentric.  In the inner circle are your wife or husband, and your children, or partner.  In the next circle are your relatives and friends.  In the outer circle is the public, as a crowd or the public in general may be loved by a leader.  In each of these circles, the four types of loves may obtain:  e.g. love of an uncle for his money (possessions), love of a wife for her character (inner volition), love of a lover for their body, or love of an intellectual friend or mentor for their intellect. 

Now, I ask myself the personal question of do I love, have I loved?  Clearly, I have been “in love” several times.  True love is based upon the inner aspect or the person, the character, their experiences, their will.  I loved Lynn for her modesty, her intelligence, and her body.  I loved Maria for the fact that she had been through so much and yet still loved life and lived it passionately, and I loved her for her looks.  I love Vilma because she is such an excellent person, who has stuck with me through thick and thin, who is kind to other people, and thinks of other people, she is interesting in being a scientist and literary, and she is adventurous, and is pretty, and (true this is PART of it) is financially secure (possessions).  I love my parents because they are excellent people, horatio alger stories, that came from nothing and made something terrific of themselves, and because they have been kind to me, and gave me a good childhood.  I love my sister because we share memories of being playmates in a special time and place (particularly Grindstone).  I feel sympathy for my brother who is in a bad condition, although I did not know him as well.  I have friends that I like (liking is a form of loving) such as Raymond due primarily to their intellects.  But, the friendship goes deeper, with a certain amount of recognition of their life, their past experiences, what has made them who they are.  Klaus, I try to invite to parties because I think he may be lonely, my affection for him is not based just on intellect.  Other friends, such as the Nacamus, I enjoyed for their character (the fact that they unabashedly pursued a sexual life in addition to a family life, with no remorse) as well as their bodies.  The travel club people I like for their sense of adventure, trekking around the world, and having interesting experiences (they put a priority, e.g. their money into pursuing experiences abroad) – which relates to their character.  I do not have many friends, but the one’s I have are based upon the more substantial types of love.  As far as the public goes, I am more variable.  I showed love at the bar I used to go to, e.g. friendship with people like Janis and Rita  and Glen (the racial epithets not a part of this here).  But with the public I am variable, not always being kind and friendly, but sometimes being so.

Now, love is essentially empathetic I think.  I.e., when you love or like someone, you empathize with their situation, you want to understand their history, i.e., where they are coming from.  Love is not the same as altruism, which is self abnegation.  It is not realistic for most people to abnegate themselves for others, more realistically attainable is just to ‘care for others as you care for yourself,’ i.e., to empathize with others, to consider their needs in tandem with your own.  To not love is in some sense to not understand, i.e., to not understand or try to understand the other person, to not understand their motivations, their history, why they do what they do and are doing what they are doing.  So love is not exactly selfless (as is altruism) but it is not selfish either, i.e., it is not only concerned with the self, but equally concerned with the self and others.

Caring too much about oneself, or being preoccupied with oneself (my problem) is not healthy and leads to psychological problems (forms of narcissism, antisocial behavior, etc…).  Caring too much about oneself, by the definition given above is not loving.  We all have needs and need to care about ourselves somewhat, but we also need to care about others.  Vilma is a good example of someone who cares equally about herself and about others (she’s always doing things for other people, e.g. writing Only Connect, which is for the delight of her friends, but also is a way to show her writing talents:  self and other).  I, on the other hand, care too much about myself.  Most people who are too altruistic tend to resent the fact that they are always giving and never receiving.

So what are my principles here:

1.      Love is not selfish, it involves thinking about others, but it is also not overly altruistic, it is based upon the middle principle of empathy.

2.      There are four types of love, from more to less substantial:  love based upon the person or character, love based upon the intellect, love based  upon the body, and love based upon possessions.

3.      Love is inherently social and cocentric, with the center being familial love, the next extended family and friends, and the final circle being the public.

4.      To love is to  understand:  it is in understanding people that we come to love them, hence the term an ‘understanding person’ which is also a loving person.

5.      Love does not denigrate or put down or lessen another person in any way.  It embraces the entire person and loves them for who they are and tries to understand why they are the way they are.


What is trust?  Prima facie, trust is an expectation that someone will act in a certain way.  If two or more persons trust eachother they each have expectations that the other, or others will act in a certain way.  If someone breaks trust they act in a way which is different from how the person who trusts them expects them to act.  To not trust someone is to expect them not to act in a way that one expects.  Trust is fundamental in human relations.  Neither familial relations nor public relations, such as business relations will work without a certain degree of trust, i.e, a certain degree of people acting in accordance with our expectations.  If people who are close to you, e.g. friends, do something to harm you, they have broken your trust, because you expect your friends not to harm you.  If you expect your friends to harm you, then you have expectations which are not normal and may border on paranoia.  In business relations, as an example of trust in the public sphere, if  you buy a product, you trust that it will be delivered, i.e., you have an expectation that the seller will act by delievering the product, and if it is not delivered, trust has been broken.  In cases like the business example, the ‘trust’ involved, or fulfillment of the expectation may actually be codified in law, so that there is legal remedy should a sell not deliver his or her goods.   But trust is fundamental to social relations, and in most cases trust is not codified in law, especially in personal relations, although there are exceptions, as in breach of promise in an engagement.  In military operations, for example, one person may ‘trust’ another with their life, as one moves his position on a battlefield while the other one covers them.  The first person has the expectation that the second will fire upon anyone who attempts to fire on the first person, if he/she does not, the trust is broken, if they do, the trust is fulfilled.  When I say that trust is fundamental to social relations and to the operation of a society, consider the inverse, a society in which there is no or little trust.  Here, people pay for products which are never delivered, people promise to be at a certain place and time and don’t show up, people promise to get married and back out;  business would grind to a halt, meetings would never occur, personal relations would be violated.  In short, society simply wouldn’t work.  Turst therefore is a fundamental condition of having a society at all.  It is not always fulfilled, as public leaders may not do what they promised to do during their election campaign once they are in office, but it is generally fulfilled, and even to some extent codified.

Sorry also is the person who can’t trust anyone, because they cannot operate in a society.  They become isolated and alientated and non-functional.  Sorry is the society in which trust does not abound, as it is also non-functional.

It is to be understood that this definition is generally meant in the positive sense.  I.e., that trust is an expectation that someone will act in a positive way.  But the definition does allow for a negative interpretation.  I.e., if we expect someone to act in a negative way, and they do so, under this definition, then they did what we ‘trusted’ them to do.  But, this doesn’t seem quite right.  Trust involves the notion of a positive act.  We trust someone to act in a positive way, if they don’t, they have broken our trust; on the other hand, if we expect someone to act in a negative way, and they do, then they have fulfilled our expectation but not our trust.  If we expect them to act in a negative way and they don’t, then they surprise us, but they don’t break our trust.  So, I modify my definition, ‘trust’ is an expectation that someone will act in some positive manner (towards us or towards others).    If some doesn’t act in the positive way we expect, then they break our trust, if someone acts in a positive way that we didn’t expect, then they gain our trust (or certainly if they repeatedly do so they gain our trust). 

Inner Aspect

Vilma asked me tonight what I wanted for Christmas.  And I told her that my material needs are basically met.  The things I need are immaterial:  like more friends, meaningful work, a normal mind, my intelligence back.  The things I am missing in life are intangibles.  I have some intangibles, like companionship with Vilma, but these others I largely (although not completely) lack.  I have psychological problems, partly, because my spirit is poor because I lack some basic intangibles which are required for a healthy and happy psyche.  I do not lack materially, but I have an impoverished spirit.

So, what one gives and what one receives may not necessarily be tangible.  We obviously have both material and immaterial needs.  An example of an immaterial or intangible gift is a compliment.  Other examples include lending moral support, … think about the list.  Some people clearly don’t have their material needs met, others have mainly their immaterial needs met but lack material well-being, still others have either neither or both.  The two are not unconnected, too little (and perhaps too much sometimes) material wealth can lead to impoverishment of the spirit (for example too little material wealth can lead to worry and an uneasy state of mind).  It’s no fun to be poor.  Still, even among the poor there is a variance in how happy or unhappy people are, due to immaterial factors like friendship, companionship, etc…  And material well-being doesn’t always lead to immaterial well-being:  some people who have much are perennially dissatisfied and always want more.  What they have is never enough.  Also, too much material well being can cause some lack of peace of mind, if people are always after one’s money, if one has to always protect their money, etc…  The happiest state of being, therefore, is one where the material needs (not an overabundance, but the needs) are fulfilled and the immaterial needs are fulfilled.  If one has decent living accommodations, food, transportation, electricity and water and heat, and one has friends, companionship (as in a marriage or relationship), and say meaningful work, that would tend to be a very happy life.  That is a successful person.

If I look at different lives, I can make a judgement about their approximate overall “wealth” (immaterial and material).   Vilma is clearly a fairly successful person with a nice house, a car that works well, as much food as she wants, and friends (which I largely lack), work associates, work that she enjoys, and companionship (although I’m not the best husband).  The material and the immaterial are well in tact.  I, on the other had, as I have said, have my material needs largely met but lack certain immaterial well-being such as friendship (more), meaningful work and work associates, and I lack a fantasy-life, a completely normal mind.    My parents are successful in having built a decent material life and having had a loving family life and work that they loved.  My sister has less material well-being, but enough, and has Alex for companionship and more friends than I do.  She seems, however, not to enjoy her work anymore.  My brother has poor material well-being due to the state of his atrophying body, and his financial situation is ruined, and his environment is not particularly good, although he has food everyday, and a warm place to sleep.  His immaterial state is not particularly good either, having few friends, and associating with people who are not always in their right mind.  My brother is by far in the worst shape of all of us. 

Shouldn’t we give most to the people who need most?  I.e., shouldn’t we give most materially to the people who have greatest material need (charity does this in part), and give most immaterially to those who have the greatest immaterial need?  My brother has the most need in both departments and I hardly remember him on Christmas.  Those who have the most need the least (materially or immaterially) and those who have the least need the most (materially and immaterially).  

What does Vilma need from me?  She wants a loving husband who doesn’t suspect her or put her down.  She gives a lot and doesn’t ask for much.  She wants a normal husband, a traveling companion, and companion in adventure and on social occaisions.  She doesn’t need material things.  If I can give her these things, that’s my gift to her.

What do my parents want from me?  I think they want a son who’s well adjusted, has a happy marriage, and better yet, who is a productive member of society who can make them proud.  The latter I have been unable to give them for many years.  All most parents want from their children is for them to have happy successful lives (personal and worklife). 

What does my sister want from me?  I don’t think she wants much from me, or that I can do much to make her life better.  So, I tend to give her artwork, showing a respect for her chosen avocation. 

My brother has the greatest need; but, most of what he needs we cannot give him.  We cannot fix his body.  My parents are not in a financial situation to take care of him, i.e., we are not really able to remove him from institutionalized care.  So, about all I can do is send things to him at Christmas and maybe call him and make him feel a part of the family.

And what I need I’ve stated.

To my friends and acquaintances, I can just give them recognition that I remember them with a card, and share something of our lives.  To people in general, I can give holiday cheer, try to be reasonably nice, and give to the charity I always give to.

There are a set of practical actions that follow from these maxims:

1.      Consider what people need (whether it be material or immaterial) and try to give that to them.  As for example, being a normal loving husband is what I can give to my wife.

2.      Give the most to those who have the least.  This means I should concentrate on my brother who needs the most, and will give, as always to a charity.

3.      Give appropriately. To those with material need, you give material things, to those with immaterial need you give immaterial things.  To those who need both, you give both, who those who need neither, you give neither.  But we all seem to have some deficit.  (related to 1).

Kids and Psychological Well-Being

Clearly one of my problems is that I am too self-preoccupied.  It seems people with kids are forced NOT to be self-preoccupied because their kids take so much of their attention.  I.e., you learn, through kids, to be attentive to others.  I don’t have kids, so I didn’t learn this.  I experience it a little bit with my cat that needs much attention.  In other words, in that natural order of things, maybe one of the reasons small human beings come from big human beings and are dependent upon them for some time is that we need to learn the lesson of ‘attending to others,’ or ‘getting out of our own psychology.’  My parents, for example, are not self-preoccupied people, because they had to spend so much of their life attending to the needs of their children.  I experienced this a little bit with Jason, Maria’s son, not really taking care of his needs, but attending to him somewhat.

Inner Aspect in General

In general, when I talk about the ‘inner aspect’ I am talking about all of the intangibles or immaterial aspects of a person, prior to but implying action.  Here I have spoken of the immaterial needs of a person:  friendship, meaningful work, meaningful companionship, etc… as well as the immaterial deeds of a person:  being trustworthy, having empathy for another, trusting others (i.e. having expectations that they will act in some positive way), showing imagination, as well as understanding others etc…  In general, I mean the non-intellectual aspects of mind, but not passions (emotions), rather the aspect of mind that is spirit or psyche or whatever you want to call it.  Emotions to me imply almost an intersection with the physical, not being in control of ourselves, but this aspect is very calm and intentional.  I certainly have not exhausted the intangibles, but only named a few.  Our language is rich with words that describe these intangibles, such as empathy, and compassion, and sympathy, trustworthiness, reliability, etc…

All of these intangibles imply certain actions but are clearly not themselves acts:  trustworthiness implies that one will act in a positive way that others respect;  empathy implies that one would be willing to help or comfort the one they empathize with;  friendship implies many things but among them, like empathy, that one is willing to listen to and help and comfort the friend, meaningful work implies that in performing certain tasks one ascribes meaning to the tasks that is positive and is more than the tasks themselves.  Imagination is intangible but is ideational and more related to the intellect.  What I am considering here is non-intellectual. 

These underlying intangibles (not ideas) imply moral maxims which imply actions.  But, they are not themselves moral maxims nor actions.

I’m confused here, I need to work this out.

Organization of Ethics In General

1.      The non-intellectual ‘ideas’ of morality – that our needs are immaterial as well as material, that you can give immaterially as well as materially

2.      imply the maxims or general principles – e.g. give the most to those who have least

3.      imply general principled action – always act to give those who have least the most and those who have most the least, always act to give appropriately (immaterially or materially where needed).

4.      imply particular actions (or what I should do in a certain circumstance, etc…)  e.g. concentrate on giving something to my brother

Action without Thought or Cogitation

Clearly in some situations, we act without thinking.  We react, or we act spontaneously.  What is it that drives our actions in these circumstances?  Is it conditioning, it is some deep inner moral sense?  What is it that determines what different people do in circumstances that require non-pensive action?

Responsibility and Our Actions

I am generally of the mind that we are responsible for our actions.  We are not however responsible for what happens to us, inasmuch as what happens to us is not a result of our actions.  We are responsible to what happens to us as a result of our actions.  A poor child is not responsible for being born poor, i..e., they are not responsible for what happened to them.  They are installed in a historic situation which they did not choose.  But they are responsible for their actions;  whether they are kind in such circumstances, etc…

In general, we are to be credited for the positive things we do;  we are to take responsibility for the negative things we do;  we should not take credit for positive things we didn’t do, and we should never be blamed for negative things we didn’t do.

If you take the opposite, being credited for something positive that you didn’t do.  This sort of credit cannot truly be enjoyed, as the person knows that they are not really to be credited.  If we do something positive and are credited for it, it feels good;  if we do something positive and are not credited for it, we feel slighted and indignant.  If we do something negative and take responsibility for  it, we can process it (not repeat it, feel remorseful etc…).  If we are blamed for something negative we didn’t do, we can’t even process it, as we can’t take responsibility for it, as we didn’t do it.  The best of all worlds is one where we get credit for the good things we do, take responsibility for the bad things we have done, don’t take credit for positive things we didn’t do, and god forbid, don’t get blamed for negative things we didn’t do.  That’s a healthy world.

My religion

I spoke to my brother yesterday, and when he asked me whether I believed in salvation, I said no.  He then said, I don’t know what you believe then.  My answer is as follows.  First of all, all that I know, after years of searching for the truth, is that we do not and in this world cannot know the ultimate truth.  We do not know what happens to us after death.  We do not know whether this world is an accident or has an intelligent creator.  We do not know, ultimately, if our good or bad deeds make a difference if there is no justice in this life.  Such is the human condition, that the ultimate truth is hidden from us.  I am therefore epistemologically an agnostic:  I don’t know whether god exists or doesn’t.  That is the most honest answer I can give.  I find both atheism, the presumption that god doesn’t exist, and theisms, presumptious, they presuppose knowledge that they don’t have.  Now, if you know that you do not know the ultimate truth you may wonder what it is, and even have beliefs about what it may be, as long as you understand that those beliefs are not knowledge and may be wrong. 

I think that it would be sad  and that the universe would not be very intelligently designed if consciousness ceases to exist upon disintegration of the body.  But, I  admit, it may be the case.  There is a strong case to be made for materialism, and yet materialism seems to have problems with it, such as the problem of volition (free will), which leave open the POSSIBILITY that it is wrong.  Some of the things which I think are POSSIBLE is that consciousness is not strictly a part of the physical universe, or may be some form of energy that is transportable beyond its physical encasement.  I liked for example the movie “Contact” where human civilization makes contact with an alien civilization which introduces it to a system interconnecting planets (there could be a system interconnecting universes --- we don’t know), where the interconnection is a physical wormhole, but has a spiritual component to it, e.g. Jodie Foster meets here deceased father in the planet to which she travels.  I know that we DON’T KNOW how the universe ultimately works, so the possibilities are open.  As I said, it would be sad if all there is is this lifetime, if there isn’t a greater spiritual journey, but that may be the case.

So, I am left in my worldview with two things:  the stark realities of this world:  materialism, poverty, disease, etc… and wonder at the possibilities of a greater universe that is not intelligible to us from this world (but to which there are some hints, such as volition).  Because of the condition of this world, I know, whether you are an agnostic, atheist, or believer in a religion that the conditions of this world need attention, and I believe we are given moral notions (and the source of them is unclear, partly due to enculturation, but not completely I would contend) that we are to tend to this world, to try to allieviate its suffering and misery and to try to make it a better world.  That minimally should be our mission in this world, whether there is another one or not.

I think that a very real POSSIBILITY ( which may be wrong, materialism MAY be the truth) is that there is a sort of spiritual (I call it psychosocial) evolution going on in the world.  The universe evolves physically (evolution of the cosmos), biologically, and psychosocially (history).  We are part of that psychosocial evolution towards greater understanding, greater compassion, towards moral and ideational realization.  This is undeniable if you look at history, whether you are agnostic, atheist, or religious.  Among other things this means taking control of our physical environment (as we have done with machines) and of our biology (which we are beginning to do), and of history (of our own psychosocial development, or our individual consciousness and group consciousness).

Academic “Departmentalism”

Something which is clear to me about modern academia is the extent to which members of various departments communicate only with their own kind:  physicists publish for physicists, philosophers speak to philosophers, theologians to theologians, etc…  What is required for a real dialogue among different departments of knowledge.  Physicists need to learn some philosophy (especially philosophy of science), philosophers some science, theologians some science, etc…  It is by crossing these boundaries that the most serious academic (which end up to be philosophical) questions can be answered, such as reconciling religious doctrine with the modern results of science, of, for example reconciling philosophy of mind with neuroscience, of considering the philosophical problems inherent in scientific discovery, etc…  Too often members of particular departments don’t seem to have the courage to venture outside of their own departments.  The biggest academic questions are cross-departmental.  Philosophers, which is in some sense inherently a cross-disciplinary study, too often haven’t reviewed the latest developments in science.  This applies to myself as well.

“Mind Your Own Business” Philosophy

I have a basic “mind your own business” philosophy.  What other people do with their own lives is none of my business and what I do with my life is none of their business, so long as they do not harm my person (volition-intellect-body-possessions) in any way.  If they break the law then they are the business of the people they harmed, or possibly the public if they break a law affecting the public.  But, for the average person, who does not break the laws, and I am breaking no laws, I would extend to them the same courtesy I expect to be extended to me:  for them not to poke their noses in my business or vice-versa.  I do not care whether my neighbor works, or if he works where he works, or what he does with his free time, as long as he doesn’t harm me (e.g. cut down a tree on my property), what he does with his time is HIS OWN BUSINESS.  As all of us in a society have the SAME RIGHTS, I expect the same courtesy to be extended to me.  You can’t maintain that we all have the same rights and maintain that you have the right to poke your nose in a particular person’s business unless you maintain the same can be done to you.  That’s part of my ethics, that basically, peoples’ lives are their OWN BUSINESS, and perhaps the business of a few family and friends that are close to them, to some extent.  So, what I do with my time, what I do or don’t do, is no-one’s business except mine, and to some extent my wife’s, a little bit my immediate family’s, and to even a lesser extent, my immediate friends.  But, what I do with my time is NOT the business of the society at large.  That’s my ethical answer.

Now, I will defend my answer, which upon cursory examination is a simple unthought out position, but upon closer examination is a good general principle to guide behavior which underlies human freedom.  I do not contend that minding your own business is lawlike, i.e., admits of no exceptions, but is rather a good general guiding rule for behavior with all sorts of real world implications.  It has implications in for example sexual behavior, where I do not think it is other people’s business with whom or how we have sex, other than those immediately related to us, and those we have sex with.  I therefore come down on the side of freedom as concerns our sexual behavior and against an officious state that attempts to define what is proper, again, within the limits of no-one being harmed.

Minding your own business is fundamental to maintaining individual liberties, i.e., preserving freedom.  For the opposite, poking your nose into other’s business is potentially a restriction on their actions if you interfere with them, i.e., a restriction on their freedoms.   It is moreover a restriction on their right to make decisions regarding their own well being.   I say ‘mind your own business (attendir a votre proper jardin – Voltaire) as long as you’re not being harmed (your volition-intellect-body-possessions) and no-one is breaking the law.’  We have laws that govern person’s actions in the public sphere that violate us (harm our volition-intellect-body-possessions).

Opposed to ‘minding your own business’ and individual liberties is a sometimes officious state which presumes to make “your life and your private life their business” with the actual objective of social control.  This objective of social control is often opposed to individual freedoms and reaches it most opprobrious state in dictatorships and militaristic regimes. 

So, I come down heavily on the side of freedom, neither should individuals make other people’s lives their business (except those closely related to them) nor should the state make people’s personal lives their business, so long as they observe laws, which should be there to protect our individual freedoms, not forbid them.  An example in case, I am against France’s move to require people to remove religious symbols in schools:  the state has no business telling a muslim that they can’t wear a headscarf, there is no real issue of separation of church and state in education involved here as the headscarf is not part of the curriculum, i.e., does not imply that islam will be taught in the school.  And the main objective of separating church and state with respect to education is to insure that an educational system doesn’t endorse and teach a particular religion at the exclusion of others, which would violate freedom of religion, but this is not being done.  This principle, by the way, implies that teaching such courses as comparative religion in schools should be perfectly acceptable (as no particular religion is endorsed by the curriculum and the principle of religious freedom or the freedom to be unreligious, i.e., atheism should be covered, is not violated).   I consider France’s move a case of an officious state attempting to preclude the freedom (freedom of what clothing you wear and what religion you observe) of individuals and is patently wrong.

The Political Landscape of 2004

On to more important issues of the political situation of 2004.  I called gay marriage the most devisive issue facing us, but it is not the one foremost in american’s minds, and I understand that.  And perhaps the democrats are right in that Bush is trying to use gay marriage as a wedge issue which he hopes democrats will concentrate on and take a liberal stance on to lose the conservative democratic and independent vote.  Polls indicate the foremost issue for Americans is the economy and jobs, second is health care, and third is Iraq.  So, I will take these in order.  As I’ve always said, Americans always vote according to their pocket book, i.e, by economic issues like jobs, unless there is a major war and draft.  And both the current economy and job creation as well as health care are pocket-book issues.  As concerns jobs and the economic outlook I have a few things to say.  One is that economies operate largely independently of presidential decisions, operating on their own capitalist cycles of expansion and contraction, so no president is properly to be blamed for a bad economy or to be credited with a good economy, although they always are.  But, second,  there are real issues with the economy that can be solved by social policy (i.e., congressional and presidential decisions).  The primary one facing us now is outsourcing of American jobs.  Corporations will always do what is most profitable to them, profit being defined as maximizing revenues and minimizing costs.  Since outsourcing American jobs minimizes cost, corporations are apt to do it.  The issue is whether outsourcing is a good thing or a bad thing:  whether we should engage in protectionism, which will result in more American jobs in the short run, but will also result in higher prices to the American consumer (and remember quality of life or standard of living is the RATIO of pay to price), or whether we should let free international market capitalism reign, and jobs and prices go to the lowest bidder.  I have said repeatedly that I am for socially responsible capitalism;  this means that I believe in free market forces, but capitalism left to its own devices can become rapacious, and has to be tempered with socialism.  A good example is healthcare.  Left to its own devices, corporations would not offer health care, because it is not profitable, and this is what is happening in the erosion of health care benefits.  As far as protectionism versus free markets, the problem is an INTERNATIONAL problem, and the problem here is that there is NO INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS LAW (merely hardly enforceable treaties).  What is needed in the long run is, as I’ve always said, INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENT, with the UN as a beginning, that among its many other responsibilities, REGULATES CORPORATE BEHAVIOR IN THE INTERNATIONAL SPHERE.  It is because of this lacuna that international corporations are able to mistreat and underpay workers worldwide, able to ignore environmental laws by moving to countries which don’t enforce them (and of course the environment is inherently social, consider something like air pollution, it doesn’t obey national boundaries), and create differentials in the prices that different countries pay and in the jobs that different countries have.  I.e., the problem in America of jobs being outsourced, the environment being ravaged, of workers being underpaid and having poor working conditions (not such a problem in America) is a microcosm of the true global issue of the lack of international law governing corporate behavior.  To have an ultimate solution, the problem has to be fixed in international law (or the lack thereof) governing international business activity.    The short term fix in America may swing towards protectionism which will add jobs in the short run but create higher prices, a mixed blessing for standard of living, or may swing towards free markets, allowing jobs to continue to go overseas, with lower prices staying in tact, but the final solution to this problem awaits enforceable regulation of business activity in the international sphere, where international corporations now have free reign.  The answer in America, by administrations of late:  both democratic (Clinton) and republican (Bush) has been to let free markets reign, protecting corporations’ profits, low prices, and costing American jobs.  What I have to say doesn’t solve the problem in America, it just makes it clear that the real problem here is an international one that has to be solved at the international level.   As I’ve said, the government has taken the stance of free markets and corporate profits, pulling out of treaties like the Kyoto treaty for international environmental protections because it harmed international corporations’ profits. 

On the second issue:  healthcare, as I’ve said before, simply, I am for universal health care.  The question is how to pay for it.  We guarantee life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the constitution, but without health from health care you can’t pursue happiness and perhaps have no guarantee of life.  We are the only major industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t have universal health care.  The arguments that there would be a significant degradation in our health care system if it went public are exaggerated to protect the profits of doctors who make too much money as it is.  One shouldn’t go into medicine because they want to be rich, it should be a dignified profession of helping people who are sick, compensated with a reasonable salary for the significant degree of education and maintenance of education that it demands.  Medicine should also be entered into as a profession with excitement at the prospects of regenerative medicine (the revolution that stem cells will enable) that are on the horizon.  The question for me is not whether we should have universal health care, we should, but how do we pay for it.  It may involve an increase in taxes, or there may be other ways to finance it.  But, what exists today is NOT working, as insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry is reaping huge profits, millions of Americans can’t afford health insurance.  I am interested in hearing how those who are for universal health care intend to finance it and to transition America in to it.  Hilliary Clinton, who talked about it, did nothing about it;  nothing has come from either administration to support universal health care (Bush’s medicare reform to cover the cost of prescriptions only offers a reduction of about 35% to the average senior --- something, but too little, and NOT universal health care, and what about all of the non-seniors who need health care?).  Both administrations are too beholden to pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, malpractice litigation firms, and the AMA to do anything significant for the American people on this issue.  I wait with baited breath to see if anything changes in the next administration.

Thirdly, on the Iraq war; first, I was against it, I protested against it, and unlike the democrats, who I generally like but who were completely spineless when the Iraq war initiative came up for a vote in Congress (but who were partly mislead), I opposed it for several reasons.  First, not knowing yet that there were no WMDs, I did not see Saddam Hussein as an immanent threat to America.  Korea is more of an immanent threat, actually in possession of nuclear weapons or building materials and highly militaristic, and with missiles that could reach San Francisco.  And secondly, I say NO connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Quaeda or 911, i.e., the proposed war on Hussein was not only not a war on terror, it was a distraction from the real war on terror.  So, I opposed, by going to San Francisco and protesting, the war with Iraq.  Bush, who listened to no-one, not the Americans protesting, no the UN, and not the world protesting, formed a sham alliance and went in essentially alone to war.  Now, we are there, and it is a mess.  It is a complete quagmire, and we are making little headway.  The rebuilding effort is constantly sabotaged by ever growing recruits from Al Quaeda, bathists, disenchanted Iraqis, and sympathetic Syrians and other middle easterners.  Ever attempt to bring in the international community has been sabotaged, as for example by the bombing of UN outposts in Iraq.  We took a situation where we had a single country in the middle east that had a madman who murdered his own people running the country as a police state (who in my view should have been deposed by an internal coup, or by the international community), to inflaming an entire region with anti-american sentiment at our occupation.  We are there, and now we have to find a way to transform the country into a democracy in short order, with the aid of the international community, and then exit from the country, all of which I am not sure is possible.  Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, but we cannot police the world, we do not have the resources, and he should have been policed and deposed by the UN and international community.  Now, because of Bush’s actions, we are in a quagmire that we cannot easily get out of, all of which is detracting from the war on terror, which I’ve said repeatedly, is essentially a world-wide intelligence and interception war, which requires significant cooperation between the CIA (their real job) and foreign intelligence agencies.  If they stop bugging the UN, feeding us bogus information about WMDs,  and concentrate on intercepting terrorist plots and nuclear arms sales, they would be doing their job.

Volition, Relationships, and Sex.  I feel impelled to write about this.  I am at odds with the society that I live in that places so much emphasis (primacy) on exclusivity in sexual relations.  Society has it backwards.  I believe relationships should be exclusive but sexual relations should not.  I believe this because of the natural order of the inner-most part of a person is their will, their intentions, followed by their desires (these are not the same because we can will to ignor our desires), then their intellect, then their body, and finally their possessions.  The body is therefore less ourselves than for example our will (consider disabled persons, who maintain a will to do things, but don't have the bodily ability, i.e., their will and desire is not diminished by their physical inability, although enacting their will is).  Relationships that are based upon the body, i.e., sexual relationships are less deep or substantial than relationships based upon the intellect, mutual interests (desires) or mutual intentions.  It is these latter that constitute the true worth of a relationship and are to be preserved and to be gaurded as somewhat exclusive to maintain the relationship.  The intercourse between bodies is less essential to a relationship than these other things and in my view, therefore, needn't be exclusive to maintain the essential relationship.  This is where America has it wrong in my view, placing so much emphasis on the outer, the exclusivity of bodily relations to maintain a relationship.  Bodily relations, like their outer counterpart possessions, can be exchanged more readily than mutual intentions, mutual desires (interests), or shared intellect, which constitute the real basis of a relationship.

Now, I have to say that good sex involves mutual desire, but this is mutual bodily desire, which is less substantial than, for example intellectual desire, or mutual interests, and involves imagination which is a part of the intellect. (I believe more intelligent people tend to be attracted to more imaginary sexual exploits, such as those in the B&D community).  Still, raw physical sex devoid of much emotional content (eros) can be satisfying.  So, my position is somewhat mitigated.

I do have to say, that if one or two persons in a relationship are going to have sex with other partners, its best that this sexual arrangement is consensual (mutual intention), as in swing couples (a world I was part of).  I think of the happily married Bob and Ginny Nacamu, who swung for many years, but cemented their exclusive relationship on something much deeper than bodily relations.  My problem, therefore, is not that it is bad that I want to perform cunnilingus ... for giving pleasure to others is good, but rather that I am willing (volition) to be deceitful in order to achieve this goal (and that is not good).  Here I have to say a good desire outweighs and causes me to do something that is not altogether good, and there is no way around this.  It would be better if I didn't have to be deceitful, and had consent.  It is because of the essentialness and exclusiveness of mutual intention, mutual desires and interests, and mutual intellectual activity that I am unwilling to have an affair with another person, for this violates the exclusivity of the inner aspects of the relationship.

Prostitution.  I recently saw a news reel on the question of legalization of prostitution.  I am not personally a big fan of prostitution, as I am not interested in paying for or being payed for sex.  I prefer mutual consensual adult relations where the primary interest is in sex and not in money.  For prostitutes, the primary interest is in money and secondary in sex, except where its the reverse for the paying partner.  Still, this exchange of money for sex makes sense for some people who want sex and have the money and others who need money and are willing to offer sex.  Note the close relation between possessions, money, and bodily relations, sex, as an outward exchange between persons, as fits my model.  I see no reason why prostitution, however, should be criminalized, it's a natural outward exchange of possessions and bodily pleasure.

Copyright Eric Wasiolek November 27, 2004

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