Wednesday, September 28, 2016

list of student assistants for phi 2010

MWF 10am

Patience Green
Vanessa Guillen
Andres Mendoza
 Noemi Nunez

MWF 11am

Johnathan Arce
Daniela Carballo
Gabriela Ocner
Dylan Rivers

TR 9:50am

Ashley Jean
Alejandra Herrera
Michael Dorsey
Sebastian Albisleiman

Thursday, September 22, 2016

yoga: homelessness is authenticity!

sri ramakrishna

yoga starts with the idea of alienation the division of atman/brahman (all dualities for that matter).

atman generally doesn't find itself at home. 

why is atman homeless?

that depends from how you address oneness. is yoga social, even political? according to patanjali, there's no personal emancipation without social emancipation. again, this brings up MLK's motto: "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

WE are all together. is there a better way of grab the "political" monster by the horns?

marx worked out a pretty good idea of alienation (Entfremdung) from the external point of view. the marxist critique of alienation is social: alienation is separation from one's own productivity, which contributes to the perpetuation of social suffering, which validates the acceptance of the status quo as unavoidable.

yoga on the other hand, makes alienation a basic status of existence.

alienation is now existential: suffering is essential to existence. if for marx, entfremdung points to a lack of balance: what belongs together is now separated, but this something is material, i.e., a yogi may counter that someone could be rich and live in suffering, someone could be poor and live a full life.

the effort of yoga can be described as an inward movement leading to enstasis (rather than one leading to ecstasis).

yoga presents this constant existential tension between purusha (self) and pakriti (matter). perhaps now we can understand jiva as a state of purusha bonded to pakriti through the glue of desire

the end of this bondage is the way, the long way of self-discipline moksha.

ontologically speaking, having a body means being bonded by suffering.  this is not that far from leibniz's compact masterpiece (#62 of the monadology)
although each created monad represents the whole universe, it represents more distinctly the body that is exclusively assigned to it and from which it forms, and just as that body expresses the whole universe through the interconnection of all matter in the plenum the soul also represents the entire universe by representing its particular body.  
yoga's metaphysics resembles "string theory."

let's take the gunas, which express vibrations:

each with a specific color. as rightness (or sattvas), passion (or rajas) and darkness (or tamas).

1- the rightness of sattvas is bright and joyful; the upward movement of things, belonging, bliss, etc. 2- rajas address the dynamic force in things, the restlessness within reality, the dialectic movement (from thesis, antithesis and synthesis), longing, dissatisfaction, pain. 3- tamas is the dark force, the anomic, passive, opaque aspect of reality.

doesn't this illumine our  previous discussion of punyas  and papas ?*

"reality" is determined by the dominance of one or the other of these qualities. however nothing is ever fixed, there are always inside/outside dynamics taking place. basically, being alienated means being outside the realm of the ONE (buddhi). 

what's the ONE? a plenitude within oneself, a totality of our emotional and intellectual possibilities, which we feel and obtain, but only in brief, evanescent moments.

if the release from moksha was strictly personal, then yoga wouldn't be political.

but let's problematize politics a bit: the received idea is that politics is too concerned with power (top-to-bottom normativity) instead of bottom-up (emergence). from the POV of the thing, processes starts where they start, i.e., the bottom.

how can we make societies and associations to change the status quo?

buddhi, the ONE, appears empirically in the suffering of the world, in the pain produced by the conflict between the opposites. he/she who identifies with ONE (God) does not seek to escape from the suffering of the world's conflicts, but rather gives up one's ego in a union with the ONE (God). the only way to conquer suffering is surrendering the ego, not the ideal.

what about social injustice? do we surrender to history's own karma? (food for thought).


the path: there are 8 stages of spiritual ascent.
the practice.

in yoga's sūtras, patanjali describes the practice of yoga as abhyāsa, which literally means repetition. rightness is a repetitive activity.

of course repetition becomes a ritual. all ritual is repetition. 

yoga is a ritual of repetitions.

yama (restraint): one is taken to a variety of stimuli, attractions and repulsions. if one abandons inner control, if one cannot resist the stimuli of opposites, one succumbs. yama indicates the charioteer who is in charge. in freudian terms, think of the conquering of the darkest forces of one's unconscious mind.

ahimsa: is the moral principle of yoga.

satya: veracity, which is more than truthfulness. it means a commitment to what is genuine, virtuous and honest. it takes the conscious understanding of reality.

in our alienated condition we are responsible for our egos as we are for any object of consciousness. example. "i feel pain," but what exactly? now i'm one with the pain. there is no distance between me and my pain. neither absent nor unconscious, the pain is part of that distance-less existence of positional consciousness for itself. this is ok, but there is more: what happens when i make my pain conscious? now i put distance between me and my pain, and as a result my pain is now transformed.

asteya (not taking what is not ours) take it as a form of socio-political order. in positive terms it means giving others what is due to them. it's a fight for equality  (not even you is your belonging?). 

aparigraha (non covetousness) not grasping after things, close to the apatheia of the stoics (ataraxia of the epicureans). developing the intuition of "when it's too much."

niyama: spiritual discipline with a second group of five principles:

1. asana: posture, it's the spiritual control over the body or the corporal control over the spiritual. Asana eases tensions and helps the spiritual project.

2. pranayama: controlled breathing.

Pratyahara: abstraction of the senses.

3. dharana: fixation on a single object as a phase of psychic activity aimed at absolute unity.

4. dhyana: sustained attention: In Buddhism jhana (Chinese, ch'an, Japanese, zen). It means the clear mind, absorbed into the object so that it does not advert to its former modifications. How long can one stay in this "concentrated" state?

5. samadhi: the superior state of consciousness. The object appears in its pure radiant form.

*actions that bear positive results and elevate a person are called punya. actions that lead to a negative fruit and degrade a person are called papa. imagine, for example, a person who wins a lottery must have had a lot of punya accumulated due to many past positive actions. a person murdered must be experiencing the accumulated effects of past papa.

MLK's thoughts on ahimsa

1- Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.

2- Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. The only way we can really achieve freedom is to somehow conquer the fear of death.

3- Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another's flesh.

4- We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

5- The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

6- Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence in a descending spiral of destruction....
The chain reaction of evil -hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars- must be broken,
or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

7- Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.

8- In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

9- Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

10- Intelligence plus character -that is the goal of true education.

11- People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other.

12- I have decided to stick to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Philosophy Paper 2nd assignment: How to argue a point

For this 2nd assignment you produce a 2-page discussion. 

Below, I've colored two different sides of the minimum wage discussion.
The red is my thesis,
The counter is blue.
In yellow you have the data supporting each view. 

Your paper will be as good as your supporting data. Each important point must be properly documented by experts & reliable sources. 

Please, use Times New Roman p.12, double spaced, at the end cite the works as you see in the example below. Do not color your discussion. 

Phi 2010 
Philosophy paper (Discussion)
John Doe 
T,R 9:50am class

Why we need to raise the minimum wage for Americans

My thesis is that increasing the minimum wage is a good economic policy. Tying the minimum wage to inflation would allow it to rise along with the cost of living. If enacted, the measure would boost the wages of about 15 million low-income workers. The $9 minimum wage would be the highest in more than three decades, accounting for inflation, but still lower than the peaks reached in the 1960s and 1970s. (Romer, Cristina).

Conservatives disagree.  They forecast that the 11% minimum wage increase scheduled for this summer will lead to the loss of an additional 300,000 jobs among teens and young adults. According to recent data from a study by Richard Burkhauser and Joseph Sabia, 34% of minimum-wage workers were in families with incomes exceeding three times the poverty line ($22,050 for a family of four) which is roughly the top half of the income distribution. Only 17% were in poor families. they believe that companies that hire low-wage workers — both small businesses and some large businesses — have a place in the economy. They argue that raising the minimum wage increases their cost of business. Conservative economists conclude that making employees more expensive for companies to hire is detrimental to an economy like ours, with high levels of unemployment (even after the recession has ended).(Numark, David).

In spite of this conservative counter, many centrist, labor and liberal groups have pushed for higher minimum wages. For example, Christine Owens, the executive director of the National Employment Law Project, said in a statement: “A higher minimum wage is key to getting the economy back on track for working people and the middle class. There is a growing consensus on the left and right that one of the best ways to get the economy going again is to put money in the pockets of people who work.” (Smith, Alice).

Advocates of increasing the minimum wage estimate that $1.75 increase in the minimum wage would be enough to offset roughly 10 to 20 percent of the increase in income inequality since 1980. According to data compiled by the economists Thomas Piketty, at the Paris School of Economics, and Emmanuel Saez, at the University of California, Berkeley, inequality has worsened considerably during that time, and many metrics show that wages have stagnated or declined for millions of working families. The income share of the top 1 percent of earners has doubled, to 20 percent in 2011 from 10 percent in 1980. Between 1980 and 2008, according to analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, the top 10 percent of earners captured 98 percent of all income gains. (Romer, Cristina). 

Conservatives debate this last point. They claim this ad hoc wage increase would cause a long-term detrimental effect for job creators. For conservatives, the principal source of an individual's higher earnings are experience accumulation and specialized skills in the labor market. Increasing the minimum wage burdens job creators, especially when the economy is weak. House Speaker John A. Boehner voted against a 2006 bill letting the minimum wage rise to its current level of $7.25 from $5.15. The legislation ultimately passed with bipartisan support in 2007, though many Republicans voted against it.

and so on....

Works cited (taken from the Internet)

Romer, Cristina, "The Business of Minimum Wage," New York Times, March 2, 2013.

Numark, David , "Delay the Minimum Wage,", July, 2009.

Smith, Alice, "Getting the Economy on Track,", March, 2012.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

ahimsa & the R_E_S_P_E_C_T principle

i open with this R&B plea.

i'd like to defend an ecological view of ahimsa. jainism was "ecological" before ecology.

my argument takes this deductive form:

all jiva are sentient
we (jiva) are all ONE
himsa-ing jiva is himsa-ing ONEself, i.e., all. 
THUS, himsa-ing is wrong.

the jaina ecological approach strikes a balance between jiva (human & non-human animals) and a-jiva (plant life, fungi & protista & non cellular life and the rest). how to bring all this together? to address the idea of balance let's take a look at immanuel kant's second formulation:

treat people as ends never as means to an end 

why only (Menschheit)?  universalizability does not obtain exclusively amongst "Mensch." true universalizability must include all Jiva i.e. all sentient beings (including non-human animals of course). would kant agree? not insofar as animals cannot reason. we're all jiva insofar as jiva has vernunft (reason).

non-human animals cannot partake of this moral/political contract. but vernunft is not the best standard in the jiva kingdom, instead, we should go by sentience (here the british utilitarians had an advantage).

jainism finds kantian's ethics too anthropocentric. jainas defend a universal jiva-centered democracy!

how about a-jiva? again, jainism is naturally closer to ajiva than other systems.

a centerpiece of jaina philosophy is that we're all ONE. it's easier to extend ahimsa to ajiva (as far as jiva permits, i.e., jiva has to eat in order to survive), and to extend ahimsa via aparigraha (non-possessiveness), i.e., nature is not ours to possess.   

from ahimsa we get another interesting development: 1- vegetarianism, which according to ayurveda & yoga, lead to clarity and upeksa (equanimity) of mind, while also being beneficial to the body & 2- pacifism in politics (which does not exclude legitimate defense). ahimsa has important politico-economic implications for human interactions. imagine a 3- jaina form of economics.

what would it look like?

1- ahimsa in our business deals, 
2- minimizing jiva suffering instead of increasing human-jiva profits,
3- homo reciprocans over homo economicus (cooperation instead of needless competition, 
still a good but less than capitalism defends), 
3- long term vs. short term profit (observes the future as a stockholder), 
4- conserving instead of wasting (aparigraha),
5- more local less global, (OM), 
6- happiness vs. material gain,    

ghandi's paralogic of ahimsa

For Gandhi's ideas on ahimsa, click here.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

your turn #3 (hinduism open forum)

we're finished with the upanishads. what do you want to talk about?

go ahead.

(below is our new post on Jainism)

notes on Jainism

the soul mirrors Brahman's nature 

Jainism was founded in the 6th century BC by Vardhamana, known as Mahavira or “Great Hero” (the 24th of the Tirthankaras) Jainas or “Conquerors” (whence the name Jainism), in protest against the orthodox Vedic ritualistic cult of the period.

Jainism asserts that every soul is divine and capable of attaining perfection. The universe can be divided into
Jiva (soul) and Ajiva (non-soul). The living and the non-living, by coming into contact with each other, forge certain energies which bring about birth, death and various experiences of life.

Yet, the process could be stopped, and the energies already forged destroyed, by a course of discipline leading to

Jaina is based on the practice of (a) the right knowledge, (b) right faith and (c) right conduct. They must be cultivated at once. Right faith leads to calmness and tranquility, but right faith leads to perfection only when followed by right conduct. Knowledge without faith and conduct is futile. Right conduct is spontaneous, not a forced mechanical quality. Attainment of right conduct is a gradual process. 3- This process leads to ahimsa: (skt non-harming) the Jaina doctrine of non-violence.1

The five basic principles

1- Non-violence (Ahimsa) - to cause no harm to living beings.
2- Truth (Satya) - to always speak the truth in a harmless manner.
3- Non-stealing (Asteya) - to not take anything that is not willingly given (CAVEAT: don't mess up with people's autonomy, that's THEFT).
4- Celibacy (Brahmacarya) - to not indulge in sensual pleasures (CAVEAT: here "indulge" means making pleasures the end, remember the reversibility principle [avoiding something only to let it thru the back door] the enjoyment is more appropriate, as "means"). 
5- Non-possession (Aparigraha) - to detach from people, places, and material things (for detachment nothing better than this.

Theological and philosophical Implications of Jainism

*Every living being has a soul: divine, with innate, though typically unrealized, potentially immense knowledge, perception, power, and bliss. 

*Therefore, regard every living being as yourself, harm no one, and manifest benevolence for all living beings.
*Every soul is born as a sort of celestial, human or sub-human or hellish being according to its own karmas
*Every soul is the architect of its own life, here or hereafter. (Yes, freedom exists!)
*When a soul is freed from karmas,2 it becomes free and god-conscious, experiencing infinite knowledge, perception, power, and bliss.
*Right View, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct (triple gems of Jainism) provide the way to this realization. 
*There is no supreme divine creator, owner, preserver or destroyer: The universe is self-regulated and every soul has the potential to achieve the status of god-consciousness (siddha) through one's own efforts.
*Non-violence (Ahimsa) is the foundation of right View, the existence of right Knowledge and the kernel of right Conduct. Non-violence is compassion and forgiveness in thoughts, words and actions toward all living beings. It includes respecting views of others (Non-absolutism). Is Ahimsa not a better face-to-face?
*Limit possessions and lead a pure life that is useful to yourself and others. Owning an object by itself is not possessiveness; however attachment to an object is. Non-possessiveness is the balancing of needs and desires while staying detached from our possessions.

*Enjoy the company of the holy and better qualified, be merciful to those afflicted and tolerate the perversely inclined.
*Four things are difficult for a soul to attain: 1. human birth (the one you own), 2. true knowledge, 3. good faith, and 4. practicing the right path.
*It is important not to waste human life in evil ways. Rather, strive to rise on the ladder of spiritual evolution.
*The goal of Jainism is liberation of the soul from the negative effects of unenlightened thoughts, speech and action. This goal is achieved through clearance of karmic obstructions.
Non-violence of thought is more important than non-violence of action. It is also one of the five virtues in Raja-Yoga. 2 New development: karma that binds our soul is due not only to the actions of our body, mind, and speech but more importantly, to the intentions behind them. Äsrava (Cause of the influx of karma). A person's ignorance or wrong belief, vowlessness, spiritual-laziness, and passions like anger, self-aggrandizement, deceit and greed, are the primary causes of the influx of karma. Collectively, these causes are called Äsrava.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

what makes a "good" movie good? opinion? fact?

here is a unique wikipedia list of the best films,

see that many movies overlap different criteria, which goes to say that opinions tend to converge. could one say that the narrower the convergence, the more likely the opinion to come close to the facts?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

your turn #2 (we moved to room 8202) update today

rené magritte, 1935

UPDATE: today, tuesday. big portion of the class addressing the upanishads. this thursday we keep at it.

very good points!

we're all learning. we're all students. we're right even if we are wrong.

just as this is the best of all possible worlds (though this world may suck sometimes).

my job in this class is to problematize the issues, to listen and learn. don't worry, we have to get used to a new philosophical jargon. break the resistance.

ideas being fluttered around in class:

damah: "self governance"
the "experience unexperienced"
bhakti: the importance of joy.
"am just the unaffected ground where all consuming is consumed" 
are we god? yes. remember: the hindu way is enstasis (going inside) as opposed to extasis (christian way). they're both valid.

if i forgot something you can address it.

the metaphysics in hinduism builds around dualities: atman/brahman, kharma/dharma, maya/reality, dukkha/bhakti,

many of your comments addressed undeniable tensions.

the problem of free will vs. kharma,

the problem of dukkha,

reincarnation as literal or metaphoric,

which brings me to maya (the veil of illusions) 

1- we're here to fulfill our kharma (our cosmic debt from previous lives). so, our being here is necessary and unavoidable, and yet, we remain unaware. we don't feel as if we deserve this. the idea of cause/effect goes unnoticed. this is a result of our avidya (or ignorance).

(maya plays a part here).

while it's true that we're here to fulfill our kharma, it's no less true that simultaneously we are here to change our future's kharma.

what's the vehicle? our dharma. the reality and the duties thereof that we have to live with. "duty" is our embeddedness, what we come with here. we have to work with what we have. for example: if i have a brother with a disability i have no choice but deal with that. if i've a klineferter DNA predisposition there's nothing i can do about it, etc.

2- samsara is the wheel that keeps this universe going. we're inside it. yet, are we not all brahman? is not my atman yours and yours mine and both ours HIS? since the only thing we have in this phenomenal realm are our actions, it's through actions that we find a path to realization or more suffering. the path is moksha.

what's on your mind? you can address any topic from our last two classes. tuesday we'll read from the Upanishads.