• The Shoutbox
    Those look fucking delicious.
  • Is 'information' physical?
    Well I've diverted the point of this discussion, I'll make a different discussion some time later and we'll joust there instead.
  • Is 'information' physical?
    Do formal and material conditions or universal laws exist? How do they maintain their existence?

    So in claiming the existence of x is explained by the existence of y, you are only telling the tale of material causality. And you are making a big mistake in presuming that stability is a property simply inherited from baser levels of being rather than it being the property a hierarchical system needs to impose on its "base layers".apokrisis

    If the hierarchical system imposes stability on its base layers, it is only because the base layers are capable of being arranged in some way. The workings of the composite is done through the combined efforts of the parts, but it's still the parts doing the work.

    When I turn on a light, it is clear that the lightbulb requires a voltage source to work. The light turns on because is is connected to a live voltage source. The voltage source itself depends on many other things to act as a voltage source. These things require other things, which require other things as well. There's no such thing as a physical entity existing by itself, there is always something more that is "keeping" it in existence. So the demonstration here is that things require other things to keep them hoisted in existence and if there cannot be a physical entity that pulls itself up by its bootstraps, then there must be something non-physical that ultimately keeps everything existing. Which we presumably call God.
  • Is 'information' physical?
    It's not atomistic as I mentioned how the environment plays a role in how the body survives. The point is that the existence of x is explained by the existence of y which is explained by the existence of z, just like how a laptop rests on a table, which rests on the floor, which rests on the Earth, etc. An "Aristotelian" (not "the" Aristotelian) demonstration is that this hierarchical explanation ultimately follows back to the prime mover.
  • Is 'information' physical?
    What do you think about the Aristotelian demonstration of God's existence in which the hierarchy in the world presupposes the existence of an ultimate self-grounding substance? In particular with regards to the persistence of something: a human body persists because its parts persist, which are made of atoms, which have electrons, protons, neutrons, which are made of subatomic particles, but also because the body is in an environment that is not completely hostile, etc. The explanation of one thing's existence gets pushed onto another thing. Which forms a hierarchy.
  • Descartes, The Buddha, Emptiness and the Sorites Paradox.
    Very interesting ideas about Pyrrhonism and Buddhism, and the Husserlian epoche. That book you linked looks super interesting.
  • Is it racist to think one's own cultural values are superior?
    I doubt philosophers in China who study Chinese philosophy are similarly wracked with guilt over having failed to adequately consider Western philosophers.Thorongil

    Perhaps not guilt, but perhaps we ought to feel concerned that we are limiting our focus to a specific region of the world, and not the entire world? It seems clear to me that the "decision" to study Western philosophy (as opposed to Eastern, African, Latin American, or a synthesis) is not usually because one has experience in these other traditions but because one has been taught in the Western tradition and has no desire to move out of it. As Heidegger would have it, metaphysics is historical. Our aim for truth is at least partly influenced by our heritage.
  • The Moral Argument for the Existence of God
    (1) If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    (2) Objective moral values and duties exist.
    (3) Therefore, God exists.

    Premise (1) is doubtful. Why is the existence of God necessary for there to be objective morals and values? Why has naturalism been ignored (not saying I'm a big fan of naturalism), and why does non-naturalism require the existence of God to be coherent?
  • Is it racist to think one's own cultural values are superior?
    I agree, but as said, these sorts of values have been white-washed, made to seem like they come exclusively from Europe or North America.

    Hence why I'm curious as to why philosophy is so often associated with Western philosophy. We read Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Husserl, Heidegger, etc and are told these are the "greats", the "giants" of philosophy which everything else hinges around. It may not be "racist" but it certainly seems to be dogmatic and narrow-minded to only teach and study these thinkers and not try to learn about other traditions. Continental philosophy isn't only practiced by those on the continent of Europe, but it's name (given to it by outsiders) comes from the fact that the central thinkers all came from Europe.

    And perhaps continental thinkers just focus on different problems and don't claim to be the best tradition in philosophy. But it's interesting to wonder why it is so constrained to historical European thinkers and not on the broader world at large. The problem seems to be a paradox: if continental philosophy has its own set of problems, then there's the question as to why only continental philosophy has them; and if continental philosophy does not have its own set of issues, the question then is why it is constrained primarily to European thought. Both can have racist or ethnocentric consequences.
  • Is it racist to think one's own cultural values are superior?
    Yes, I agree that cultural differences are probably geographical, environmental, accidental. Consider how the weather patterns may influence the outcome of a critical battle in ancient history, which might have caused one warlord instead of another to rise to power, imposing a dynasty of the few over the masses of the many for countless generations, alongside region-specific values that owe their existence to the fear mongering of the few in power, etc.

    Western values assign a blank slate to everyone, and are universalizable. Yet these values came from a particular section of the global population, centered around Europe (but also nearby Mediterranean and whatnot). It's not at all difficult to see how someone might derive racist connotations from this (everyone is equal - but only the white man came up with this - so "everyone is equal" but really white men are better than everyone else for their coming up with this and other things). A lot of Westerners probably do have subconscious racist beliefs even if they think they aren't racist - at least, they probably have vestiges of colonialism (we have to raise up the "other" people to our culture).

    So what? Philosophers in the West have generally been white males. Surprisingly, philosophers in China have generally been Asian males. Philosophers in India have almost always been Indian males. Odd how that worked out.Bitter Crank

    Is the difference between Western and Eastern (or African, Latin American, etc) philosophy similar to the difference between analytic and continental philosophy? The latter two study many of the same things (but also some different things), but there's a lack of communication between the two and a lot of misunderstanding. If this is the case with the former then why are we still only reading European philosophers? Especially if Western philosophy is a search for truth, what's the value of a tradition in the search for truth?

    It's not about whose values are 'better'. It's about how important my values are to me.andrewk

    I don't think I can look at things like this, seems to run into relativism. Why are these values more important to you? Are you implying there's nothing wrong with systematic oppression, death penalties, capitalism, etc?

    When I see some values I genuinely have disgust. Treating rape victims without compassion and demanding they continue to have the child (as they do in many countries across the globe and even many citizens in the U.S. wish this were so), is wrong, and a culture that does not have this is better to me.

    Edit: making the link between this post and the OP more explicit. Looking at history gives a continual process from 'non-white' values to 'white values', the idea that the distinction exists is ahistorical. This isn't to say that there aren't variations in morals and ethics with respect to countries, just that the amalgamate of Western values aren't at root, Western, and the West as an ideological construct is part of a whitewashing of history.fdrake

    (Y) Interesting, yes. It is as if all the privileged white males get all the respect and honor and attention when there was a ton of work being done by unprivileged, non-white, and non-male people in the background. It is "whitewashed". And it does seem to be racist to continue to act as though it's not this way.
  • Art vs Engineering in Business and Work
    Civil of course :DAgustino

    ECE here 8-)
  • Things We Pretend
    The problem is when you are in conflict with someone over principles. To your mind (and perhaps to many others who share your point of view), a moral situation is clearly X, Y, Z, but to someone else who you are having conflict with, the moral situation is A, B,C. No one is going back to Kant's deontology or Mill's utilitiarianism to work it out. Rather, people will go back to their own principles. Who is right? It only resolves when either one party capitulates and accepts situation in defeat, both capitulate a little and there is a compromise, or an outside mediator dictates who is correct. That is how the real world works. That is where morality lies. Much of it works on ignoring those with different values, hashing it out with them, or having a mediator of sorts. Normative ethics as a useful tool perhaps only works as a heuristic for those in the legal system. If a judge has a "rule" on how to apply a case, he may refer to an ethical theory of some kind to judge a rule (what creates the best utility in X tort situation perhaps).schopenhauer1

    Utilitarianism was never really meant for everyday decisions, people like Mill and Bentham explicitly say they mean it more for political entities that treat individuals as social atoms. It was a way of ensuring the maximum utility of a society, where people are most happy and more importantly have their rights protected (where rights are also grounded in their happiness).

    I'm even skeptical of the role principles have in everyday moral decisions. I think most people have the very same principles - don't hurt other people, don't steal, don't lie, don't break your promises, be a nice person, etc. What makes people disagree on moral issues isn't in terms of principles but in terms of empirical, sometimes metaphysical, reality. Abortion, for instance, is not a question about the principle of harming other people, since almost everyone agrees killing other people is just wrong. Rather it's often a metaphysical debate about the status of the fetus, viz: whether or not the fetus is something that can be killed, and/or if the mother's life is more important than the babies, etc. People like myself who argue that animals have rights that should not be violated are arguing an empirical hypothesis: animals are conscious, they do suffer, and the application of a principle that we all already have (harming others) makes it wrong to manipulate animals in the way we so often do.

    Despite the appearances, there is a large worldwide consensus as to what these basic moral "principles" are. Moral disagreement arises when we disagree about the application of these principles, i.e their appropriate-ness given the circumstances. Of course, there are some moral principles that do differ, often in terms of religious belief, i.e. God's will determining what is right and what is wrong, or some faux Taoism about the "way of the universe", or whatever. But this is just another form of monism and absolutism that I think corrupts a person's ability to skillfully assess a moral situation, which is of course a virtue.
  • Art vs Engineering in Business and Work
    Yeah, I'm an engineer by degree too ;)Agustino

    What kind?

    Rather I am talking about something more basic. An approach to problem-solving and intuition if you want. The engineer's approach is characterised by a conscious decision to think things through from the most basic level systematically upwards. The artist's approach is characterised by a leap to the correct answer, that lacks methodical step-by-step procedures.

    I gave the example in the post of Steve Jobs compared to Elon Musk. Steve Jobs was someone who intuited what customers wanted and valued, and then got it built. Elon Musk is someone who thinks things through from first principles. It's kind of like the Zen student's beginner's mind insight into the problem vs the step-by-step scientific approach.

    But I think this can still apply to engineers. I mean, a company an engineer works for isn't just doing to accept an employee's "intuition" - but the engineer might just have this intuitive leap, and then go back and check their work, show their "reasoning", to make sure their intuition was founded and isn't going to get someone killed, etc.

    Yeah, engineering does leave you with a sense of how terribly uncertain everything actually is.Agustino

    Yeah, definitely, I often find myself wondering how the hell anything actually works. The packaging and appearance of a product often hides the catastrophe underneath. It's completely bonkers, just random shit tossed here and there, wires and plugs and whatnot all over the place.
  • Sometimes, girls, work banter really is just harmless fun — and it’s all about common sense
    I feel like, if people are okay with "harmless" work banter, then this is an exception to a general opposition to it. Someone might be fine with sexual jokes, but just because they're fine with it doesn't mean everyone is fine with it. And to publicize this ends up contributing to the problem, as this encourages the sexual harassment of those who don't appreciate it. I don't think it's "harmless" more than it's just narrow-minded, and it portrays a lack of understanding, viz: of how sexual advances hurts many people:

    Sometimes it’s just harmless fun and, as equals, we must learn to not take it too seriously and give as good as we get. — Jane Moore, The Sun

    Don't take it too seriously! Wait...why? Because a few goofs enjoy having some fun, and by taking workplace sexual harassment seriously, we might be depriving them of this sublime and time-honored tradition? To me, that just seems to be a failure to understand why it's important to nab workplace sexual harassment.

    The same thing can be said of things like prostitution or gun ownership. Just because a person likes selling their body, or owning big ass guns, doesn't mean it's a healthy, responsible, let alone moral, thing to do. I think it's better just to say no, rather than try to publicize all these exceptions, because everyone already knows there's exceptions to the rule. If we're going to be a just society, there are some things everyone needs to just stop doing. Like, I'm sorry cracking down on sexual harassment will deprive you of a bit of fun, but the actual harassment of workers on the job is more important than your occasional banter.
  • Things We Pretend
    Moral theories are better when they accurately describe how humans actually reason morally than when they claim to have complete authority over what humans actually ought to do. Humans do not generally reason by principle, they reason by an intuitive glance at whatever the situation is, where the principles are operating discretely in the background.

    Hence why I am skeptical and also unimpressed with the grandiose claims people make about their principle-based ethics on behalf of themselves. Moral theory is unsystematic and messy, and this is indeed a problem, but it's no good trying to remedy the problem by introducing ad hoc generalizations that are imperialistic precisely because they are insufficient.
  • Art vs Engineering in Business and Work
    It's not really a dichotomy really, in my opinion. I'm an engineer (major) and what I do requires the application of lots of math and theory, but also just good intuition. Intuition comes after practice, so I don't necessarily always have to do a calculation or a model before I know what I generally need to do.

    If you can get something to work without going through all the effort of calculations or whatever, then great, but it's implausible that anyone can actually do anything substantial without the same old fashioned plug and chug. But the value people, companies, etc place on people like engineers or scientists or whatever is their creativity, not just their ability to crunch numbers (we have computers, machines, robots, etc that can do a lot of the math for us, if it's already figured out). So you need to be able to apply what you know to things that it hasn't been applied to before, or suggest alternative methods to getting something done. In that respect, engineering is really fun but it's also sort of weird once you realize how many things just barely actually work.

    So yeah basically I'd say creativity/intuition without methodology can be impractical but methodology without creativity/intuition is boring/blind/stagnant.
  • Things We Pretend
    But can we please stop pretending that the way we live our lives is actually determined by the philosophical system of morality that we just invented.fdrake

    Hear hear! (Y) Long live the anti-theory!
  • Morality based on Similarity
    I know of two moral theories viz. Deontology and Consequentialism.

    The former is ''do only those things that can be universalized''.

    The latter is ''try to make everybody happy''.

    This is not true. You have confused deontology and consequentialism with specific versions of deontology and consequentialism - re: Kantianism and classical utilitarianism.

    Similarity is the basis of ALL moral theories.TheMadFool

    haha, well, I have a somewhat idiosyncratic view on morality, but I think ethics is grounded, primordially and first-and-foremost, in the "encounter" with the Other, which is that which cannot be assimilated into the Same. It is different, alien, transcendent, unknowable, resigned, hidden, mysterious.

    There can be NO hierarchy in morality because the former depends on difference and the latter is all about similarity.TheMadFool

    On the contrary, I think the introduction of equality based on same-ness is a violence towards the Other. Effectively, you are requiring that something be sufficiently similar to yourself in order to qualify for ethical status. Rather than grounding equality in similarity, a philosophy of difference is going to argue that the Other cannot be fully possessed, and should be left alone, and as a byproduct treated equally. I acknowledge that similarity is going to help things like governments decide how to treat their citizens, but this already is a bastardization of the ethical.
  • Order and Disorder- Burdens of Existence
    More people are born.schopenhauer1

    It probably goes without saying, but for many people, having children is the life-defining project. The goal is to marry and have a stable income so you can raise your progeny. In many respects, life is seen as a creative process, the object of art being descendants. It brings many parents great joy to see their children succeed, and go on to have their own children, and on and on and on. Personally I think it's absurd and if I were in the scenario of being a grandparent I would be horrified that all "this", my children, and their children, and their children...all started from my loins. A single orgasm enabling centuries, millennia of faces. A single orgasm condemning so many souls to life, and death. Haunting.