Thursday, April 27, 2017

what to do with EROS?

"I love you"

what does this proposition mean? very little if at all --methinks. the proposition comes to us reified & depleted. its normativity in shambles:

here
here
here
here,
here

let's use new words: EROS, Agape, Philia, Storge,  

forget about one thing fits-all, that's ludicrous. let's be naturalists here. LOVE is an human emotion: a visceral, conscious reaction to an external stimulus. it serves a purpose, it brings us closer to OTHERness.

only that there are different "love-notes" for different given referents:

my parents and immediate family? they elicit storge. my friends? philia. my girlfriend? eros.
my mentors and role models? agape.

the picture is rich and complex.

now, i want to address EROS (because you're in the middle of it). EROS is lust, boundless desire for the flesh, a raw emotion which Nietzsche calls Bejahung ("life affirming").

If someone penetrated the depths of EROS, it was French poet Charles Baudelaire. in fact, he redefined EROS for fin-de-siècle european culture. here's a little taste from his Flowers of Evil:

Si le viol, le poison, le poignard, l'incendie, 
N'ont pas encore brodé de leurs plaisants dessins 
Le canevas banal de nos piteux destins, 
C'est que notre âme, hélas! n'est pas assez hardie.

(If rape, poison, dagger and fire,
Have still not embroidered their pleasant designs
On the banal canvas of our pitiable destinies,
It's because our soul, alas, is not bold enough!)

Baudelaire goes against the norms of political correctness of his time. This is a force as unbounded & self-destructive akin to the Freudian Todestrieb.

the problem of love is how to bring it under control (particularly these days of self-centered banality, with social media driving the narratives).

the key is not ever to repress EROS (you'll pay dearly if you do that), but to educate it. each one of us deserves to plunge in EROS' turbulent waters, at least once. How do you educate this riptide? By transforming sexual desire into a productive force.

Give yourself time to experiment. Explore relationships and learn the lessons. See how the sex drive can -at times- drain you or, on the other hand, make you sharp and resilient. for sure, you'll make mistakes, you'll break relationships, you'll suffer, but you'll grow.

it's possible to have pleasure and still respect persons. do not trade with persons. be fair with your lovers and be as honest as you can.

don't worry, Aphrodite will protect you.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

final draft guidelines:

you're supposed to bring a hard copy of your final draft on finals date. here are the guidelines:

1- Times New Roman p. 12
2- Heading, left hand side:

John Doe,
Final Draft
Phi 2010, Honors10am

3- Title, centered, bold,
4- Double-spaced,
5- Indent each new paragraph,
6- "Works cited" or "Bibliography" on a separate page, following MLA protocols (with last day of revision for digital sources),
7- No binders, no blank page cover,
8- All drafts must be STAPLED,

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

W D Ross pluralistic formalism (with a triffean twist)

Kant is a formalist. Formalists believe that the rightness of an action is given by the action's form. what's the form? as a moral naturalist I say in the moral "facts" of the action (recall moral facts are given by moral norms accepted by moral selection). Kant doesn't need this. His categorical imperative works from the presumption that we're all inside the Sapiens club.

The problem is that Kant never allowed for exceptions to the rule. "Breaking a promise" is wrong. Always wrong. Are there exceptions to these rules? NOPE, not Kant.  This  is a serious problem. A theory must offer viable solutions in the world, and the world is a jungle.

What if I promise A something, but now, if I keep my promise to A, then B's life is in danger? Should I keep the promise? 

Kant doesn't say. But W.D. Ross, a 20th Century formalist, did. His theory is known as Pluralistic Formalism.

AIR if it falls under the highest ranked duty in a given situation.  

In our previous example, the promise to A he calls "prima facie duty" (a duty at first sight). I must perform this duty, unless... well, unless keeping my promise to A endangers the life of B.   
This second duty is clearly more important for us, so it becomes what Ross calls "actual duty." This duty doesn't say "break your promise" it says rather "do not endanger the life of a person." It's the contrasting of the two that allows me to break my promise to A. 

Ross recommends a criteria of duties that I have revised. They are:

1. justice (being fair to people)
2. fidelity (keeping one's word, contracts, written & oral),
3. reparation (compensation in kind to others for one's breaking duties in 2.),
4. benevolence (doing good to people),
5. gratitude (making up, compensating what people have done for us),
6. non-maleficence (avoiding wishing or doing evil to people: think of treating people merely as a means to an end),
7. self-improvement (taking care of oneself), 

why justice first? 

justice seems to supervene on other duties, for example, gratitude (one can be grateful and unjust not just and ungrateful). even if you take the prize of the egoist 7. self improvement, justicfe seems to supervene on 7. why? because to maximize one's BEST interest, one has to be fair to oneself. yes! no BEST interest tramples on justice to oneself, thus 1. presupposes even 7.  
 
next, why fidelity second with reparation? because fidelity and reparations are twin sisters. if one fails one's promise one is in debt and should repair the wrong doing. lastly. self-improvement should be left for last as a safeguard against relapsing into an egoist calculus.

Triff's Hollandaise



(rumors have it that Hollandaise is not really French but Dutch) then, consensus indicate that Hollandaise is incorporated to sauce status when venerable Cuisiner des Roi Pierre La Verenne calls it "mother of all sauces." The truth is that Hollandaise harks back to the genius of Escoffier. He is to French cuisine what Descartes is to French philosophy (Escofier's Hollandaise uses a reduction --me neither).

I learned my Hollandaise via Abdel, a Francophile Lebanese cook I met while cooking at this Greek Diner I've talked to you about on 95 and Broadway in NY. He was a decent chef, escaping the civil war in Lebanon, but too old to take BS from a Greek ignoramus. Abdel left in less than a month and I took his place and changed the Diner into a Dominican/Haitian/Cuban/Greek/ dive (in NY the neighborhood's ethnicity dictates your cuisine). Just when the place was full of patrons, Carmen made my life miserable and I took a TA at Rutgers fleeing from the crisis (this is when sweet the spirit of philosophy appeared for the first time: Triff, it's me, Sophia. I see what you need).

Hollandaise is the story of the evolution in emulsion sauces (i.e, mayonnaise, aïoli, rémoulade, vincent and béarnaise). The old classical Hollandaise almost qualifies as mayonnaise. My version is suited for our self-conscious, fitness-obsessed times: lighter & delicate.

Ingredients

3 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon water, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 6-8 ounces of soft unsalted butter, 1 dash cayenne pèpper, salt to taste, pepper to taste.

Directions:

Hollandaise is a temperamental woman, both in beauty and unpredictability. She demands undivided attention and self-confidence. Why? Emulsified butter sauces sense our human fears and break on us -if you let them, that is. Let's start with whisking egg yolks, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan for lemony happiness. If the emulsion breaks it still gives you a pass at redemption. Whisk the broken sauce back into a clean teaspoon of water and you’ll have it back in moments (as they say: it faut avoir foi en soi).

 this should be the consistency of your Hollandaise

Back to the saucepan: keep whisking tirelessly until the emulsion gets thicker and pale. Now set the pan over moderately low heat and continue to whisk at reasonable speed, reaching all over the bottom and insides of the pan. Careful: at this stage the eggs tend to overcook. Off the burner, but don't stop whisking! Then back to low-to-moderate heat for a few seconds, and then back on. If, by chance, the eggs seem to congeal too fast, set the pan in the bowl of cold water to cool the bottom, then back on whisking. Now the eggs become frothy and increase in volume, and then thicken. When you can see the pan bottom through the streaks of the whisk and the eggs are thick and smooth, remove from the heat.


Now comes the art: By spoonfuls, add the soft butter, whisking constantly to incorporate each addition. The emulsion begins to form and you may add the butter in slightly larger amounts, always whisking until fully absorbed. Continue incorporating butter until the sauce has thickened into a consistently light texture. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding droplets of lemon juice if needed. Taste it, add some more lemon (the sauce should be distinctly lemony), and add a pinch of cayenne.  C' est ça!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Important guidelines for your final draft submission (HONORS classes) pay attention!!!

Guideline for final paper:

1- You're supposed to hand the final draft on the day of the final. 

2- The draft must be stapled, no binders, no cover page. 
3- At the top left the draft:

PHI 2010 HONORS
John Doe (your name)
MWF 10am class  

4- Your draft should be written in Times New Roman point 12
paginated on the top, right hand side.
5- Title in bold (centered). 
6- Your draft must be double spaced, with a minimum of 1,200 words.
7- MLS style of citations, (all same font, same size, including online sources). 
8- Please, properly spell check your drafts.

All of these details are worth points!! 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

draft's second revision

* THESIS & COUNTER paragraphs: a two-point thesis composed of declaration "In this paper I argue in favor of..." followed by two points argument, each followed by an explanation. the explanation must respond these questions: how? why? only one sentence. so, first paragraph should have about five sentences, no much more than that.
 
* begin each paragraph with "so-and-so" ADVOCATES or "so-and-so" CRITICS.

* internal coherence: check paragraphs 3, 5 for arguments 1& 2 of your thesis and paragraphs 4, 6 for arguments 1 and 2 of the counter. there must be a correspondence between these paragraphs. example, if you find anything in paragraph 3 or 5 that doesn't correspond to your first or second points of your thesis YOU HAVE A PROBLEM OF COHERENCE. please, pay attention to this point!

* COPY AND PASTE PROBLEMS (70% for argument, 30% for quote). here if the paragraph looks too good then it's not good. Write down C/P (copy and paste), "I need your voice." Very likely these paragraphs are copied-and-pasted. Just call it! or I'll call it! 

AT LEAST 4 SOURCES  IN BIBLIOGRAPHY. EVERY FACTOID IN THE DRAFT PROPERLY OUTSOURCED. 

kant's second formulation

let's start this post with the counter against kant's categorical imperative. i'm not going to use the NAZI fanatic. instead let's think of a ISIS jihadist using Kant's CI as his duty to "kill all infidels." that is to say, "kill all infidels" becomes a universal principle.

next, the jihadist puts himself in the place of the infidel and still wants all the infidels killed (this is a perverse surjective one-to-all, but it's doable). on the other hand, the jihadist applies reversibility ("I kill you while I kill myself").

is there a counter to this? YES, kant's second formulation can answers to the jihadist's counter.

known as the second formulation of the categorical imperative this is an elegant formulation:
Handle so, daß du die Menschheit sowohl in deiner Person, als in der Person eines jeden andern jederzeit zugleich als Zweck, niemals bloß als Mittel brauchst.
in english: "treat people as ENDS in themselves and not merely as means to an end" 

some words here that need attention:

1- MENSCHHEIT (humanity)  this is the Homo Sapiens club I always talk about. we're ALL in the club because we think. being inside the club gives us intrinsicality,  i.e., properties that can't be negotiated. the reason is that if you are in the club you -automatically- have them.

2- ZWECK as "end," the word in German means something like a target to aim at. thus, Kantian ENDS are goals.

3- MERELY,  as (only, as nothing else but) i.e., turning people into instruments, means to further ENDS
 
Conclusion: the jihadist uses people as a means to his ideology. NOT RIGHT.

it has been observed that the second formulation yields a modern notion of RESPECT (Kant uses the words Achtung and respekt). the opposite of respect is contemptuous disregard.
 
and therefore the following notion of DIGNITY. dignity is something one has, or better one owns, an inherent property of the self.
___________

another lesson to learn: all this vocabulary is 100% Kantian. that's why we use it. words and terms do have a provenance. be mindful where words come from.

my notes on kantian ethics

we should start with this question: Was soll ich tun? (What should I do? or what is the right thing to do? ) which kant considers takes us into ethical territory.

this territory requires several PERSON properties:

Reason (Vernunft)
Freedom (Freiheit)
The will (Der Wille)

the faculty dealing with this ethical territory is "practical reason" (praktische Vernunft). there is Reason (our thinking faculty) and the "practical" part which is the proposition we think of before we act: say, "breaking a promise is wrong"

according to Kant these propositions (which exist in the language and in the culture) express the action of the will (which is the choosing tree-model we examined in chapter 3).

this brings the idea of moral obligation. Kant says: "the will is a faculty of choosing only what reason (irrespective of inclination) as practically necessary."

in this tree-diagram reason is supervenient, freedom is there hanging, and the will is the one which acts.

you could see the diagram above including the different elements: Reason, Freedom, the will plus the subjective and objective results.  

the form that expresses this model above is the categorical imperative, what makes an action right is that everyone can act on it and you would be willing to have everyone acting on it. see that there are two aspects here. the yellow part is universalizability, the green part is reversibility. which is expressed by the categorical imperative diagram below.

the Categorical Imperative (above) expresses moral obligations, derived from the idea of DUTY (Pflicht). 

see that the action must satisfy the two branches simultaneously. there are two maxims here, left (universalizability) and right (reversibility).  "R" Reversibility: is one-to-one, and it requires "a putting in the place of b" the old Golden Rule: "do onto others as you would have them do onto you". "U" Universalizability: one imagines oneself as representing the club of Homo Sapiens, sort of saying: "my action now becomes universally required for all moral agents" (a one-to-all relationship).

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

my notes to utilitarianism

3-  traditional utilitarianism: AIR if it maximizes happiness everyone considered (the greatest majority of people) in construction....

Utilitarians are all consequentialists: AIR because of the consequences of the actions.
(we think consequentialism begins in China with Mozi, who promoted a philosophy of impartial caring. Only the Chinese could do that).

Utilitarianism is a 100% British moral theory. A side note: Karl Marx loved England's political climate because of utilitarianism. A famous utilitarian in the 19th Century is J. Stuart Mill. In the 20th century we have Richard M. Hare, and a great advocate for animal rights, professor Peter Singer. 

It's clear that utilitarianism wins over egoism as a social theory. Here we have to go to the explicit terms of the theory. One favors the individual, the other favors the group. If you vote for politicians A & B and you know A is an egoist and B an utilitarian, you'd be smart enough to vote for B.

Problems with the calculation of happiness

What is happiness? A kind of Greek eudaimonia.  Mill has a good point that happiness cannot only be defined in quantity but also in quality. Ex: what gives more happiness, to watch a bad series on TV or a good film? To spend two hours watching porno or to have a nice conversation with your girlfriend? (by the way I confess that my younger self was on the lesser side here, so I speak with propriety). How do you calculate happiness?

There are six counters against Traditional Utilitarianism, from page 351 to 355, pointing to problems utilitarianism faces with rights, duties and justice (please, revise these).

4- rule utilitarianism: AIR if it falls under a rule, which if followed would mzaximizes happiness everyone considered (this is same as above, but checked by local rules first).

RU needs now to defeat all the counters against TU. The RU takes case by case, and applies a rule. If the rule works, then the rule applies. Rules like "Never cheat," "Never steal," "Never lie," work, but they are accompanied by the subsequent "if it maximized happiness for the majority." The RU claims that she can face these counters to TU better.

1- McCloskey's Informant: "Do not bear false witness" declares the action of apprehending an innocent negro wrong. The RU could argue that apprehending an innocent person doesn't solve the problem, only makes it worse. 2- In Brand't Utilitarian Heir the RU applies "Never kill innocent people." Killing your own father is parricide and makes the TU's calculation bogus. 3- In Ross Unhappy Promise, the rule is "Keep your promises," and so on.

On the other hand, the RU cannot undercut its own utilitarian bent. The definition sates: "Keep your promises, unless it maximizes happiness," so when should one break the rule? Well, a rule that would allow you to kill somebody whenever doing so would produce more happiness than unhappiness is not permitted. But a rule that allowed you to kill somebody whenever it would produce a great deal more happiness than unhappiness probably would be morally correct. This is case by case.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

happiness is a warm gun (with math included)

that's a John Lennon's lyric for a Beatles' song, but I discovered something in my discussion with you about happiness that's pretty warm.

I'm suggesting to you that happiness is not outside in the world. Happiness is INSIDE. Indeed,
Aristotle and the ancient Stoics talked about keeping an inner balance.

Let's call this balance "happiness." 

happiness is a distribution factor "soothing" adversity.

The world is in constant opposition with us. The only way to WIN the world is not by fighting back, that's stupid. Fighting the world means spending your energy for nothing (since the world is supervenient on you). The only way to WIN is to play with the world. Adversity is just a frame of mind. We should arm ourselves with a shield against adversity.

Here's the shield in 3 steps:

1- keep the world at bay (it's called ATARAXIA)
2- do as much good as you can (without loosing yourself in the effort, it's called EUNOIA  or benevolence), so the world gives you back what you sow.
3- when necessary be prepared to turn defeat into victory (it's called GRIT).

this is where math comes in,

there's a function suggested by Gauss & Laplace,  concerning probability distributions. I'm simplifying the details. The point is that you could see happiness as factor dealing with a distribution of adversity: 



to be happy you have to know how to deal with adversity.   

yeah, happiness is a warm gun.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

ethics egoism (pros and cons)

ethical egoism: AIR if it maximizes one's (my) BEST interests.

PROS

BEST = conducive to self-preservation in society (i.e., playing by the mns of society).

want to see the force of BEST? not everything I consider my interest is in my BEST interest.

ex. having sex with a person I just met vs. being faithful to my girlfriend. my BEST interest is creating behavioral dispositions of fidelity towards my girlfriend. Why? It's good to keep my relationship healthy, but even more important for the egoist, it develops behaviors of self-governance that I need for life in general.

BEST also means playing by the rules of society. a very important rule is tit-for-tat, which translates as BENEVOLENCE (doing good).* The egoist tries to maximize her relationships in the world by being benevolent (whenever permitted) to increase her chances of success in the world. Why?

The more good she does, the more good is owed to her. You reap what you sow, is her lemma.

So, an egoist ends up being altruistic. But she is not fooling herself that altruism should erase the expecting good in return, why not? because that reinforces the stereotype of the free rider. I don't care how altruistic you appear, you don't want a friend that doesn't reciprocate the good you do for her (if you do, you are a self-destructive masochist).

CONS

Egoism has a slant for instrumentalizing people, i.e., treating people as means to her ends (we'll see the problem this presents when we study Kant's deontology).

Friday, April 14, 2017

my counter to cultural relativism

CR is the view that mn are culturally bounded.

CR is a theory about inconmensurability between groups. in class i propose to refute this in two different ways, via group theory in algebra or via moral naturalism.

1. one way to go is through mathematics: here's my simplified proof for group isomorphism,


2. the second way is to through natural history: hierarchies within the findings of values within a group (we learn this through anthropology, unfortunately they generally agree with CR).

a) if there are values, this presupposes a hierarchy.
b) if there is a hierarchy, some values are harder than others (hard for naturalism are those values that ensure survival). remember those values can be considered moral values, i,e. mns.
c) harder values cannot be endogenous to groups, since groups are associations of homo sapiens. harder values make HS associations possible.

thus,
harder values are common to different groups, i.e., they are intercultural.
mns are culturally interdependent. LQQD.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

notes to 5.2 (egoism and traditional utilitarianism)


mk = mn + facts  (you already know these facts are "soft," we've explained this)

from what we've learned, it all boils down to the difference between mn and mk,

let's see how this works for the following ethical positions. we use AIR for (an action is right):

1- ethical egoism: AIR if it maximizes one's (my) BEST interests. 

there are 3 modalities: a- individual, b- personal and c- universal
in a- it's "my" interests, b- someone's interests, c- the rule applies to everybody (everyone should act in this manner).

defenders: Max Stirner, Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, Sidgwick, etc.

ethical egoists believe in mn, but these values are subject-centered.

with BEST interest, the ethical egoist has a check to unregulated self-destructive interests. she should seek interests that ensure her prospering in the world. guess what? she has learned by moral natural selection that the best way to succeed in the world is to be a bit altruistic (that's benevolence, doing good). she also understands that this world is rule by a tit-for-tat social dynamics. free riders don't succeed in the long run.

the altruistic counter to ethical egoism? an ethical egoist is not altruist for its own sake, but enough that she fosters some altruism. which altruist is such that she doesn't care to reap what she sows? some people have presented the counter that the ethical egoist treats people as a means to an end. and this is true. later when we study kant's deontology this may become an opening.

our textbook presents an interesting counter on page 344. the ethical egoist is walking through the woods and finds his rival bleeding and in need of help and she lets him die (she is maximizing her best interest). it seems a good counter since ethical egoism doesn't have a check against that. one could retort that even an altruist may do that, after all humans may know what's their duty and yet, fail to act on it. it's called AKRASIA (the weakness of the will).

2- psychological hedonism: we are all egoists by default.

ethical hedonist's lemma: it would be impossible to cite an action that isn't done to maximize internal good.

this argument is very popular, but the problem is that it's too general. enough to come up with actions that one has done for the sake of one's duty. yes, ethical egoists have duties (filial duties, some social duties)

3-  utilitarianism: AIR if it maximizes happiness everyone considered (the greatest majority of people) in construction....

Utilitarians are all consequentialists: AIR because of the consequences of the actions.
(we think consequentialism begins in China with Mozi, who promoted a philosophy of impartial caring. Only the Chinese could do that).

Utilitarianism is a 100% British moral theory. A social theory, see the thrust of the theory goes for the greatest majority of people (a side note: Karl Marx loved England's political climate because of utilitarianism). Utilitarianism's main advocate in the 19th century is J. Stuart Mill. In the 20th century we have Richard M. Hare and a great advocate for animal rights: professor Peter Singer. 

It's clear that utilitarianism wins over egoism as a social theory. Here we have to go to the explicit terms of the theory. One favors the individual, the other favors the group. If you vote for politicians A & B and you know A is an egoist and B an utilitarian, you'd be smart enough to vote for B --unless A a member of your family.

Problems with the calculation of happiness

What is happiness? A kind of Greek eudaimonia.  Mill has a good point that happiness cannot only be defined in quantity but also in quality. Ex: what gives more happiness, to watch a bad series on TV or a good film? To spend two hours watching porno or to have a nice conversation with your girlfriend? (by the way I confess that my younger self was on the lesser side here, so I speak with propriety). How do you calculate happiness?

Then there are five counters from page 351 to 355 pointing to problems utilitarianism faces with rights, duties and justic (please, revise these).

4- rule utilitarian: AIR if it falls under a rule, which if followed would mzaximizes happiness everyone considered (this is same as above, but checked by local rules first).

RU needs now to defeat all the counters against TU. Ca it do that? The RU takes it case by case and imposes a rule. If the rule works, then the rule applies. Rules like "Never cheat," "Never steal," "Never lie," work but only accompanied by the subsequent "if it maximized happiness for the majority." The RU claims that she can face these counters to TU better.

McCloskey's informant: "Do not bear false witness" declares the action of apprehending an innocent negro wrong. The RU could argue that apprehending an innocent person doesn't solve the problem, only makes it worse. In Brand't utilitarian heir the RU applies "Never kill innocent people." Killing your own father is parricide and makes the TU's calculation bogus. In Ross unhappy promise, the rule is "Keep your promises," and so on.

On the other hand, the RU cannot undercut its own utilitarian bent. The definition still sates: "Keep your promises, unless it maximizes happiness," so when should one break the rule? Well, a rule that would allow you to kill somebody whenever doing so would produce more happiness than unhappiness is not permitted. But a rule that allowed you to kill somebody whenever it would produce a great deal more happiness than unhappiness probably would be morally correct.    

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring Final Exams Schedule (all PHI 2010 classes)

Honors classes

MWF, 10am Honors  W April 26
MWF, 11am Honors   F April  28
MW,   1pm   Honors  W April 26

All other classes

T,R 8:25am     R, April 27
T,R 11:25am   R, April 27
M 5:40-8pm    M, April 24

here is my explanation of why #31 is not semantically obscure

We had animated discussions at the Honors, 11am and the IAC classes about question #31 while revising our test. Here are my ten cents. I want to show you that one needs time and patience to sort these things out. Here is the intro to questions #30 & #31.
Let’s come back to what we’ve learned in Parfit teleportation experiment: Parfit-the-copy comes back to earth to know that Parfit-the-original has died six months after the teleportation. Parfit-the-copy decides to visit Anne, Parfit-the-original’s wife. After the obvious surprise of seeing Parfit-the-copy the wife reluctantly listens to his long exposition about how much he loves her and his children. Then, as she’s ready to shut the door she hears: “Would you live happily knowing that our children are orphans?”
question #31 asks:
Knowing as she knows that this person in front of her is the copy of her deceased husband, is Parfit-the-copy’s claim compelling enough that Anne may “take him back?”
To answer #31 correctly you need this background knowledge:

1- p. id. is not a necessary cond. for survival, 2- Po & Pc are psy. connected (meaning they are the same qualitatively, meaning they feel the same way), 3- Po, age 38, died of a heart condition, while Pc has lived in Mars for 6 months, 3- Po is married with two children. 4- Pc, which survived Po (by definition) comes back to earth to claim his children. In #31 I quote "a long exposition of how much he loves his children". In addition Pc wants "his wife back" (the scare quote indicates that she is not "really" his wife, but from the inside Pc doesn't feel that. He has a real desire!) 

Some of you answered 31, choice b, which is wrong. Of many things that were said during our revision I remember these: "how do I know that wife takes Pc back?", "what if what you call 'compelling' is not enough for his wife to take him back?," what's compelling for you may not be compelling for me," and finally: "is this test fair?"

In response to the first three questions: I'm not saying Anne takes Pc back. All I ask you is to tell me whether the claim is "compelling enough" for her to take him back. Anne may take him back, but it depends of compelling reasons. As per the last point: "is the test fair," I hope that by answering the first points, I answer that one.

You realize that: it's true that it is possible that Po's wife will take Pc,(regardless of whether she finds his explanation compelling). To which you will retort: "well, it's equally possible that she won't take him back."

Precisely! This is why "compelling" becomes paramount.

To answer what's compelling, I propose to examine what's non-compelling: physically and behaviorally speaking. (a) Pc doesn't look like Po, (b) Pc doesn't act like Po, (c) when Anne cross-examines Pc about their previous history together, Pc gets it all wrong.

(a)-(c) are non-compelling reasons! On the other hand, if Pc resembles Po in all respects (except the numeric, (which Anne cannot notice, because Po's "number" disappears with Po's body), would you still say these are not compelling reasons? 

This is what I'm after because it brings us back to the title of this post: Is #31 semantically obscure? (please, click the link and check definitions).

Instead of doing semantics, I'm going to take a look at how the IAC class answered #31. I propose three types: A, B, C respectively. Here are my findings (as per question #31):

(A type) out of 12 As in the class:  9 got it right, 3 got it wrong 
(B type) out of 12 Bs in the class:  8 right, 4 wrong 
(C type) out of 4 Cs in the class: 0 right, 4 wrong

We get a total of 17 rights vs. 11 wrong, that's 60% right.

Of the 11 wrong, 4 belong in the (C type), incidentally the latter also got question #30 wrong! Of the 11 who got 31 wrong, 8 also picked 30 wrong. Why is this relevant?

(1) It shows they didn't get how Pc is psychologically connected with Po. And why is it relevant? Because #30 actually informs #31!

(2) Consensus? out of 28 students, 17 right vs 11 wrong. 
Best consensus? the (A type), which gets 31 right, by a 9 to 2 ratio!

After examining these numbers, would you still maintain that #31 is semantically obscure?
If you believe that, you have to find an argument to disprove my (1) and (2) above, that is:

60% consensus at #31, plus the (A type)'s strong agreement at #31, plus the #30-#31 connection (which only makes the (A type) stronger because their responses at 30 & 31 are more apt). In other words, getting both #30 & #31 right shows that the accuracy at #31 is the result of skills exhibited at #30.

the (A type) was not merely "guessing" #31: they knew it!

I doubt you (whoever you are) will find such argument.
Take care,

Monday, April 10, 2017

HAMLET as "best consensus"

lawrence olivier's hamlet, 1949 (one of the best hamlets in film)

i propose how to evaluate best consensus of a thing (whether literature, music, art, drama, food).

let's take Hamlet (only because it's so obvious)

1- presentations of the piece between 18th-20th century (and how it contributed to the art of drama).
2- Hamlet in the history of movies (how the play has contributed to the history of film).
3- Hamlet's influence in english literature (400 years)
4. hamlet is discussed in detail by Freud, Jung, Lacan, the existentialists, feminists, post-structuralists, etc.
5- Hamlet in asia, africa, in arab countries.

1-5 is only a sketchy approximation of what builds consensus and best consensus.

"Hamlet" as consensus, is a process that happens in time. consensus is NEVER static. it's a dynamic process where each Hamlet read, discussed and presented is different than the previous one. numerically speaking there is only one Hamlet, qualitatively there are many. this is how the work becomes canonical (or part of the canon of a civilization).

remember that BC is not what makes Hamlet good. Hamlet is good because of "facts" in Hamlet. what consensus and BC do is flesh out these "facts." 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

is there moral knowledge?

 picasso's DA, 1907

is there moral knowledge? this is an epistemological question of great importance.

without moral knowledge it becomes difficult to evaluate human actions. for example, in jurisprudence (criminology) we have degrees of culpability: 1- homicide (of which first degree murder and felony murder are the most serious) followed by, 2- second degree murder, followed by 3- voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter which are less serious, and finally with 3- justifiable homicide.

how do we adjudicate these differences? we ascribe responsibility given different criteria for the carrying the action, the intention, etc. problem is how to define these facts. so, back again at the top: are there moral facts? the answer seems affirmative. but these are not "hard" facts like "two points make a line" or "the sum of two internal angles in a triangle = 180º."

let's propose the following formula:

mj = f + mn (f are facts, mn are moral norms)

mn are the generally accepted rules of most societies. we made a case for evolutionary moral norms  since late homo erectus and homo sapiens. we could not have survived in groups without some degree of norms. this shows that mn presupposes human society.

how about mf, moral facts?

by "fact" i don't mean your "2+2=4" or "H2O is water"-facts. we're talking about softer facts. here are some examples: "democracy is better than tyranny" or "Demoiselles d'Avignon by Picasso is a masterpiece of Cubism" or "Charlie Parker is the best alto sax player of the bebop era" or
"Veuve Cliquot is a very good champagne" facts.

"fact" means it's soft. next, what or who makes the "facts"?  

mf = best consensus! + the inter-subjective notes of the matter. here is a diagram.



process of consensus: see that the info is negotiated via cause/effect inter-subjectively from the outside into consensus and from consensus into BC. BC's main property is that it's more reliable, more resistant to to and fro from the outside

take picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon (DA, hereon). we'd examine the painting's formal qualities, the new style it spurred (Cubism), as well as the painting's reception (pro and against among critics, artists, curators, gallerists of early 20th century) and its influence in subsequent 20th century art. this intersubjective notes explain the consensus, which takes time to build. consensus and best consensus cannot be produced overnight.

or take shakespeare's Hamlet. the reception of Hamlet is not a hallucinogenic experience going on for 400 years! (click here for how Hamlet build consensus). if you ask a critic, a stage director, or a writer why Hamlet is a masterpiece, she'd point to specific properties IN Hamlet: formal structure, plot development, dramatic power, universal themes, relevance for the history theater, influence in other cultural forms such as philosophy, film, etc.

the best consensus provides the best explanation for these "notes." this slow layer-upon-layer of reasons through the centuries become a formidable value accumulation. the term "masterpiece" simply describes the process.    

this is when i made a distinction between saying: 1. I hate Hamlet and 2. Hamlet is not a good play. 
there are ostensible differences here to note:

1. is a personal opinion, which one is entitled to; 2. is a statement of "fact" that goes against the best consensus.

 2. is actually insurmountable. to prove 2. one would have to produce an argument to defeat 400 years of consensus. 

here Emily and Anthony and Evan felt that was too much. 

all i'm saying is that from 1. to 2. there is an enormous value/gap, which the counter would have to defeat. is "Hamlet is a masterpiece" defeasible? yes, but very unlikely. why? the approval layers during of all these years are way stronger than one person's counter.

Emily brought the idea of the CANON and a professor's defense of the CANON that she didn't agree with. me neither, and i said that it's incorrect to claim that Hamlet's good because of the CANON. Hamlet's good because of the "facts" pertaining Hamlet, which is why it is in the CANON not the other way around.

consensus is a process that happens in time. 

consensus is NEVER static. it's a dynamic process where each hamlet read, discussed, and presented is different than the previous one. numerically speaking there is only one hamlet, qualitatively there are many. this is how the work becomes canonic (or part of the canon of a civilization).

consensus lends itself to best consensus. BC is just the best of the previous consensus. "best" is important because it's more reliable. less subject to negotiation with plain info.

BC is not what makes Hamlet good. Hamlet is good because of "facts" in Hamlet. what consensus and BC do is flesh out these "facts." 

Monday, April 3, 2017

making death "optional"

News on aging and staying young this week. NASA, leaning in to a new treatment that could keep astronauts from aging out on the long trip to Mars. Space travel accelerates aging. On Earth, we're talking about "super-longevity," even immortality. Silicon Valley billionaires want it all, and are investing big brains and bucks to get it. Listen how the drive to make death "optional."
the podcast here. 

men's infidelity (it's nature and nurture togheter)

 who are you?

men are unfaithful @ twice the rate of women in the USA.
The evolutionary benefit of promiscuity for men is pretty straightforward: The more sexual partners you have, the greater your potential reproductive success. But women’s reproductive capacity is more limited by biology. So what’s in it for women? There may be no clear evolutionary advantage to female infidelity, but sex has never just been about procreation.
women get less of a rational basis.

it all harks back to homo erectus -and early sapiens. go here for homo erectus' sexuality (a suggestion is that they sublimated sex through art, but also engaged in hallucinogenic sexual orgies, called "festivals"). "orgy" or "drug" is not a proper term: wear the proper glasses here. this is not our frantic pleasure-seeking postmodern version without a proper theist-animistic components. in our PC ignorance, we keep ignoring these societal drives.    

on the other hand, women's promiscuity has increased in western societies (caveat: the poorer you are the less promiscuous you're permitted to be).

here are 13 reasons from psychology today. let's read some of them through our knowledge of
chapter 4. 

immaturity: that refers to character, not your present person and predetermined by your Np. a pretty vague concept, it means you don't act your age, and who does? :)
insecurity: same as above. "insecurity" cannot be a "willing" thing. nobody wants to be insecure, more so if you are a man. this is an unconscious mechanism. the more insecure you are, the more you're likely to show yourself as secure, which brings forth the stereotype, "men are spartans."
lack of male social support: indeed, your males friends are as detached as you are. men don't know how to give support to each other regarding romantic issues, they are supposed to be kept within masculinity boundaries, i.e., you don't show your friend you're suffering. again: "men are spartans."
child abuse: that's a complex one which can go in any direction. from infidelity to self-mutilation to abuse to murder.
selfishness: at the beginning of the relationship, during mating time, you do want to be with your significant other. it's later, when the sexual urges wane that you get restless. this is not selfishness, this is the EROS mechanism (studies reveal that polygamous men live longer). 
anger, revenge: yes, there's always anger. and anger only means repression  of a symptom. but we're not that aware of that either. if a man is angry he will deny it (i surmise women can sin of this too).  

__________________

this paper takes a deeper look at evolutionary biology theories. the finding is that males are more dismissive of romantic relationship (thus more unfaithful and promiscuous) than women in most cultures, except in africa (& the reason is not cultural, it's rather the "stressor" of their particular environments).
___________________

now, how do you approach these data as a male?

it's a fact that a man can be unfaithful and still love a woman. my father is a case in point. he loved my mother to her death with devotion and perseverance. being in love is always easy at first. then we fall out of love. we wonder, was it really love? why did we let it go? did we fight enough for it? some say "why fight over the other's freedom to move on?" a fight is worth it if there's hope (more about love later, let's stay on course).

i want to make a comment about male behavior around the "received" social norms of adultery. why does it happen? biology vs. cultural norms! supervening society makes for familial natural selection. in this version of the traditional family, if men aren't faithful at least they keep the contract going for the sake of family and social cohesion.

the man keeps his urges at a minimum, following a prudent check with the proviso that the wife is assured love, financial and familial stability. this "victorian" arrangement worked until modernity. don't think that women are unaware of their husbands' escapades. they are not stupid. the reason 19th literature gave us Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, Tolstoi, Chekhov, etc, was precisely this traditional arrangement. that women learned to live under this traditional norms doesn't mean that there was a "patriarchy" of male conspiracy against women. this is not wearing proper lenses. these men loved their wives and their views loved them back. presentism myopically judges the past. if these masters of literature critiqued their 19th-present it was because they were already moderns! 

after modernity everything changes. i, a twenty first-century person, tell my female students to finish college, become independent, and play it equally at home. but remember, as each epoch fixes the past it becomes outdated with its mounting problems. modernity brought its own problems with it, which we're dealing with now (this is a different topic we cannot pursue here).

let's come back to love. even with this tension in our biology, us men can do something about fidelity (this why i said fidelity is commendable -though gabrielle felt it was not the right word).

we men can fight our biology with better ideals of love.

real love is a difficult negotiation between passion and generosity. passion, to work, has to be selfish, otherwise it dies on arrival. generosity checks against our disparate sexual desires. through generosity we learn that this love deserves better. it means bringing forth trust by channeling our drives in the direction of our love. this doesn't mean one would stop incidentally having desires (you know that not all these desires are even "really" ours). only that we'll in a better position to redirect and color our desires with our best ideals. by the way, don't blame yourself if you fail. what's important is to keep trying. hopefully we'll succeed.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

sartre's lemma

this is sartre's lemma: l'être est ce qu'il n'est pas et n'est pas ce qu'il es,
self is not what it is, it is what it is not.

recall that the self (l'être) IS in time. as such, there are two moments: past to present and present to future. the yellow stress in the lemma indicate past-to-present.

1- past-to-present. what are the characteristics of this "cut"?

this is what one "has been", the accumulation of memories and desires and beliefs in the past. the self's own film to itself. a unique, first-person-report film. a self-film all inside
this film is what we call NARRATIVE. whatever you say about yourself, however you describe yourself is yours. you own it (with all the emotional coloring of your-self). you lie? your narrative lies. you hold back? your narrative is doing it.

NARRATIVE always supervenes on your actual person.  

2- present-to-future. 

this is the projection of the self into the future. it hasn't happened, but it's contained in the PROJECT. all selves are capable of having projects (some more than others). we've done this in class. you "see yourself as..." the future self is different that the present self in the execution of the project. in fact, the self "as-projected" is already different than the present self. it's different in a potential sense, not in an actual sense.

one can see that 1 and 2 obviously negate one another, which is sartre's point in the lemma.
LQQD