Physics Catches Up With Philosophy

Physics Catches Up With Philosophy

“With the Big Bang theory, modern scientists gave us a story about our universe’s birth. With special relativity and quantum mechanics, they elucidated the fundamental characteristics of that universe. With the multiverse and string theories, they’ve begun to pose hypotheses too massive to hang on even those frameworks. Equipped with particle accelerators to study the small stuff and enormous telescopes to study the big stuff, researchers are going back to the complicated basics, asking why and how the universe and all of its constituent parts, including humans, exists.”

#physics #quantumphysics #philosophy #socrates

Kierkegaard on the Individual vs. the Crowd

Kierkegaard on the Individual vs. the Crowd

“Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion — and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion, which then becomes that of the majority, i.e., becomes nonsense by having the whole [mass] on its side, while Truth again reverts to a new minority.” (Kierkegaard)

“The yardstick for a human being is: how long and to what degree he can bear to be alone, devoid of understanding with others. A man who can bear being alone during a whole life-time, and alone in decisions of eternal significance, is farthest removed from the infant and the society-person who represent the animal-definition of being human.” (Kierkegaard)

#philosophy #kierkegaard

Is Majoring in Philosophy a Bad Idea?

Is Majoring in Philosophy a Bad Idea?

“History, philosophy and psychology majors had employment rates below 30%, although biology majors were the least likely to be employed full-time at 28%. Lower-than-average employment rates for physical sciences and law majors as well, though, might indicate that the graduates in these fields with better prospects moved on to another institution like medical school or law school in pursuit of an advanced degree.”

#philosophy #education

Does Philosophy Have a Diversity Problem?

Does Philosophy Have a Diversity Problem?

” recently wrote an article on the problem of diversity in philosophy, and I can honestly say that I could never have anticipated how polarizing the response would be. I have received a lot of support from academic philosophers all over the world, which I truly appreciate. I have also received a lot of constructive criticisms from other academic philosophers, which I also appreciate; it is always humbling when people read your work, explain your missteps, and show you a different perspective with which you can approach the issue. There are some academic philosophers who have simply gone on the defensive and attack mode, and that will always be most unwelcome, because it does not push the conversation forward in anyway. However, I think that it is imperative that I answer to some of the comments that I have received in order to promote dialogue and move the conversation forward.”


Entrapping (Suspected) Child Molesters

Entrapping (Suspected) Child Molesters

Is it moral? Does it work?

It goes under various names (Letzgo Hunting, Scum Busters, Creep Catchers etc), but they all operate the same way. They are (well-intended) social-media mob vigilantism campaigns to entrap potential child abductors and paedophiles. The entrapment tactics are simple. Create a fake online profile posing as a young girl, then engage grown men on various dating sites until you can convince one to meet you and then video tape the encounter (and shame the individual). Your first gut instinct to such a tactic might be EEEHAA!!!! caught the (potential) creep (almost) red-handed, lets humiliate him and make him squirm!

But are these tactics actually doing what they claim/intend to do – prevent child abductions or abuse?

Yes paedophiles are bad. Yes paedophiles should be stopped/punished. Yes, our kids should be safe online. But is this growing trend for vigilante “justice” really effective? Actually this is nothing more than mob justice. Sure it makes those (mostly male) vigilantes feel good about themselves and all the public attention they seek/get for their actions certainly boosts their ego’s. But if preventing or reducing child sexual molestation is indeed the actual goal of such activities, where is the evidence that it actually works? There is none and the overwhelming majority of responses from legal, social and professional/psychological sources suggests more harm than good results from these mob justice efforts.

Some points to consider:

1: Beyond a sense of satisfaction, or ego-boost to those engaged in mob justice, what evidence exists that these methods prevent child abduction or abuse?

2: What are the moral implications of this sort of public shaming and entrapment when no crime has been committed?

3: After shaming a suspected paedophile (remember, no crime has been committed), is it not more likely the person may start using more invisible and hidden means to approach children, making him even harder to catch by law enforcement?

4: What if there is currently a legitimate investigation going on and the actions of “creep catchers” negatively impacts the investigation?

5: What if “creep catchers” are using stolen (used without permission) photo’s of young girls for these fake profiles on social media. Identity theft is also a crime.

6: If “creep catchers” shames the wrong person, are they not susceptible to a defamation suit? In fact, if no crime was committed, any public statement or video which suggests or implies the person is a pedophile, could result in a defamation suit.

7: Where do we draw the line when it comes to shaming or punishing people who have NOT committed any crimes, yet we suspect they might?

8: If the goal is sincerely to prevent a possible child abduction or abuse, then why not take these video records and text message dialog’s straight to the police rather than potentially compromising an ongoing investigation, violating any number of laws or potentially destroy someone’s life by mistake? Genuine altruism and selflessness occurs without the need for public recognition.

9: Exactly what additional benefit (determined as reducing the chances for a child being abducted/harmed) is gained by the public shaming process over and above what would/could occur by providing the same material to the police without the Facebook/peer ego boost?

10: Since research into paedophilia shows that men are more likely to offend when their self-esteem is low and stress is high, is it not possible that such an act of shaming could make it even more likely the man will carry through with a real offence?

11: Since child sexual abuse also occurs intra-familialy (someone they know or related to), are we not also reinforcing the mistaken notion that sex offenders are “dirty old men in back alleys” possibly leading to less awareness of possible abuse taking place in the home?

12: If we want to keep our kids safe from online predators, haven’t we already FAILED as parents if our underage kids can go online unsupervised and believe it is acceptable to engage in conversations with grown men?

13: What does the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have to say about these methods?

“NCMEC does not condone investigations by citizens because according to the NCMEC, those actions do not deter predators and can push the predators to move to other locations and become more effective at hiding their identities”. (NCMEC Wikipedia)

Note: Before any accuses me of coming to the defence of grown men (creeps) that go as far as agreeing to meet privately with a young child, I worked with adolescent sexual offenders and sexually abused kids for years. I want solutions that actually work, without breaking the law or jeapardizing the work of the professionals who can actually put them away,

#childabuse #paedophiles #creepcatchers

Can We Rise to the Challenge?

Can We Rise to the Challenge?

How can we respond to the things we see in the world which appear to be so wrong, so evil, so cruel and exploitive to other’s, in a manner which actually has an impact? Psychologically it is completely natural for us to respond strongly and emotionally to those things which we find offensive. This is afterall, part of how we define our own sense of self, our moral identities. By calling out those persons or activities we find so offensive we are not only expressing to the world our values, but we are also reinforcing our own beleif/intention of being a “good person”.

How can we think of ourselves as a “good person” if we dont passionately, angrily or judgementally call out or speak up about the evils in he world? Maybe the Eastern traditions can give us one possibility – cool heroism.

“By taking these three steps—finding one’s relation to all beings, acknowledging the evil potential in oneself, feeling sympathy for the evil person—one gets the strength and energy to be an activist and to try, by voting and organizing, to stop harm caused by others. This is cool heroism: developing a tolerant, deliberate, and wise energy.” (Robert Thurman)

Robert Thurman is one of North America’s greatest scholars of Tibetan Buddhism as well as the first American to be ordained in the Tibetan Tradition (studied alongside the 14th Dalai Lama). Also the co-founder and president of Tibet House and father of the actress Uma Thurman!

#robertthurman #buddhism #morality #philosophy

Why Do Humans Get ‘High’?

Why Do Humans Get ‘High’?

Altering consciousness has been part of the human-experience since early man ingested his first hallucinogenic plant, or bumped his head hard enough to make himself dizzy. Ultimately the world looked and seemed different afterwards. Why have we humans been drawn to altering our consciousness? Is there an evolutionary advantage?

“By simulating the effects of religious transcendence, they mimic states of mind that played an evolutionarily valuable role in making human cooperation possible – and with it, greater numbers of surviving descendants. This does not mean that humans evolved to take psychedelic drugs. But it does mean that psychedelic drug use can be explained in evolutionary terms as a “hack” that enables transcendent states to be reached quickly.”

#psychology #philosophy #hallucinogens

Immortality & The Philosophy of Death (Book Review)

Immortality & The Philosophy of Death (Book Review)

“In recent years there have been a renaissance of interest in the philosophy of death. Several important monographs, edited collections, and journal Special Issues have been published addressing such questions as whether death is a harm to the person who dies, whether persons can be harmed or benefitted by events that occur after their deaths, and whether or not immortality is desirable. Michael Cholbi’s edited collection is an exceptionally welcome addition to this burgeoning conversation.”

#philosophy #death #immortality

From ‘Having’ to ‘Being’

From ‘Having’ to ‘Being’

Taoism (The “Way”, “Principle” – loosely translated) is to do without doing, act without action (Wu-Wei), be your true nature without forcing it. Allow yourself to “be crooked” and lean towards, intend towards, your own potentiality, your True Nature.

“The full humanization of man requires the breakthrough from the possession-centered to the activity-centered orientation, from selfishness and egotism to solidarity and altruism.”

“This is indeed well understood by any gardener. The aim of the life of a rosebush is to be all that is inherent as potentiality in the rosebush: that its leaves are well developed and that its flower is the most perfect rose that can grow out of this seed. The gardener knows, then, in order to reach this aim he must follow certain norms that have been empirically found. The rosebush needs a specific kind of soil, of moisture, of temperature, of sun and shade. It is up to the gardener to provide these things if he wants to have beautiful roses. But even without his help the rosebush tries to provide itself with the optimum of needs. It can do nothing about moisture and soil, but it can do something about sun and temperature by growing “crooked,” in the direction of the sun, provided there is such an opportunity. Why would not the same hold true for the human species?”

#philosophy #being #authenticity #erichfromm

Have You Ever Wondered ‘What it’s Like to be a Bat?’

Have You Ever Wondered ‘What it’s Like to be a Bat?’

Thomas Nagel has, and anyone reading posts in this philosophy Collection is likely familiar with his paper on the topic of qualia, the subjective experience of consciousness. In his new book “Mind and Cosmos” Nagel argues that material-science simply cant answer these types of questions – a view I tend to agree with. Although I am not sure I can go along with his alternative – ‘natural teleoogy’.

“The failure of scientific analysis to enable the analyst to reproduce the first-person point of view is, for Nagel, the proof that a naturalistic (materialist, physicalist) account cannot possibly serve as a theory of everything. But this, Flanagan counters, is to misunderstand the ambitions of naturalism. Naturalism does not aspire to say everything that can be said (to “exhaust the analysis,” in Nagel’s terms) of mental phenomena; that would indeed require experiencing them.”

“Nagel proposes not merely a new explanation for the origin of life and consciousness, but a new type of explanation: “natural teleology.” If psychophysical reduction is implausible, as Nagel has always insisted, then no materialist neo-Darwinian explanation will ever be satisfactory. The apparent alternative, a theistic-intentional account (i.e., intelligent design by a divinity), does not appeal to Nagel. He simply lacks, he explains, any sense of the divine. His interest is in the territory between the two: a secular account that allows for the emergence of mind as mind.”

#philosophy #consciousness #thomasnagel