Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thoughts on a friend exiting the stage too early

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances."
- William Shakespeare

A friend died recently. We were not in touch the past couple of years besides the occasional social media contact. I wanted to reconnect with him but never did these last few years. He was a tough person and a compassionate person a combination that is rare and a welcome repose from the mediocre when you find it. His passing was a surprise for he was relatively young and physically a fighter and strong in body. I still do not know what took him from this life. His family faith was Islam. He liked the same movies I did in Braveheart and Gladiator and he appreciated my video "Waking From Dogmatic Slumber".
 I took notice because few people on my personal social media site appreciated that video but he did. He was the type of person that would be in the fox hole with you. Slow to judge quick to assist. I wish I would of reconnected with him.
And now his consciousness is no longer bundled together. Human life is fragile and passing. For the living it is an illusion of normalcy. Consciousness is the dream of the living. Eternal dreamless sleep awaits.
There is a quote from the movie "The Thin Red Line" that states: "If I never meet you in this life let me feel the lack."
I was glad to meet him in this life and now I feel the lack.

Rest in peace brother. A peace and rest that is beyond Dreams. Beyond Space and Time.  Not even darkness can penetrate it.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal."

"Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal." - Robert Heinlein

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”   
Robert Fulghum

"Reason is poor propaganda."- Robert Heinlein

A Manageable World

It seems in society you have to pick sides to play the game. To be non tribal is difficult for the social primate.
And if you don't pick sides in this game of life you end up with little resources and community to draw support from. We are social animals par excellence. There is a group in Washington DC trying to bridge the partisan divide and I appreciate their desire to be more pragamatic and less dogmatic however they still have to label themselves. Their label is "No Labels". So there is the irony even when you are "no labels" you are condemned to be labeled by necessity. The limits of language and the necessity of labels is part of the human drama. I think a tragic and unfortunate part at times when you consider the impact of playing the tribal game has had on our species. To move nations you must give people a uniform and a target even if it is just in the language game.

"Once you label me you negate me." - Kierkegaard
I think that happens alot with partisanship and tribalism in politics and religion. Labels are necessary but they can be used to simplify a complex reality and simplify people different from you. The narcissism of small difference.  
"man cuts out for himself a manageable world" - Ernest Becker


Are Human Beings Determined?

Daniel Dennett - "the most difficult and the most important philosophical problem confronting us
today" (Daniel Dennett, Reflections on Free Will)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nature's indifference to Human Symbolic Status

A Man kisses a statue of the Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin

Humans kiss statues, Birds defecate on them. (accumulated grime, algae and bird droppings)
Our symbols convey that we are central, paramount, and immortal but nature's message conveys that we are a part of , equal to, and mortal creatures of nature's system. When a chicken has its head cut off the world still spins and
when a man's is cut off the world still spins. It is not just the fact that a man's head was decapitated like a chicken that is the horror but that it is even possible that nature allows for such a sight, that physics allows for such an
outcome as higher consciousness on a fragile and vulnerable meat stick.

Whether it is the Adam and Eve myth or the Noah myth mankind is the central actor and God will destroy all of nature or change all of nature due to the actions of Men. Man is the center of the Cosmic drama in the Biblical message. But not only in the Biblical message does Man become the center but civilization itself is trying to free man from the decaying power of nature through its symbols of immortality and the will to technological immortality.

Nature's message paints a different picture where man is no longer the central actor but rather just another part of nature in the long evolutionary history of life on Earth.

Some Humans may deny they are a part of Nature but Nature denies Human superiority in the way it treats the Human body and the Human immortality symbols. Viruses and Bacteria will ravage Humans as they will other animals and a Human Body will provide nourishment to a Crocodile or a Big Cat just the same.

Man wants to be the central actor in the cosmos, on earth, in history. But nature's message runs something else in the ear if you pay attention. Nature may declare the glory of God...some God...but it does not declare the glory of man. Nature is indifferent to our self aggrandizing symbols whether they be secular or religious.

“Religious fundamentalists may deny that evolution exists, but in the natural world it is religion that does not exist.”
John Maisey of American Museum of Natural History

Doves which were freed by children flanked by Pope Francis are attacked by a Black Crow and a Seagull

"An animal who gets his feeling of worth openly express man's tragic destiny: he must des­perately justify himself as an object of primary value in the uni­verse; he must stand out, be a hero, make the biggest possible con­tribution to world life, show that he counts more than anything or anyone else. It doesn't matter whether the cultural hero-system is frankly magical, religious, and primitive or secular, scientific, and civilized.
It is still a mythical hero-system in which people serve in order to earn afeeling of primary value, of cosmic specialness, of ultimate usefulness to creation, of unshakable meaning."

Ernest Becker

"It's not the end of the world at all," he said. "It's only the end for us. The world will go on just the same, only we shan't be in it. I dare say it will get along all right without us.”
Nevil Shute, On the Beach

Friday, February 7, 2014

Photo of Earth from Mars

You are here! – As an Evening Star in the Martian Sky
This evening-sky view taken by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity shows the Earth and Earth’s moon as seen on Jan. 31, 2014, or Sol 529 shortly after sunset at the Dingo Gap inside Gale Crater.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/TAMU

Universe Today

Foundational Filters and Mental Maps

With most of these human debates it comes down to First Principles and Epistemology ( the study of knowledge and justified belief. As the study of knowledge, epistemology is concerned with the following questions: What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge? What are its sources?)
How do we know what we know? From what source do we put trust in to verify it? No one person is an expert in all fields and no one person has the resources and time to verify the massive amount of claims and information... we
must rely on our axioms, biases, presuppositions, a posteriori and a priori knowledge, and assumptions. We must pivot off of a foundation. We must start somewhere to arrive anywhere. The Map I think that has the most reliability and explanatory reach and power is the Scientific Map because it is a universal map. As Sir Martin Rees stated Science is the ultimate Global culture. It can be applied on a universal scale and is not limited to one region.

The foundational filter. There is no blank slate. There is always a filter or a mental map we come with to any debate or knowledge and that usually determines where our conclusions end up. Unless we agree on the premises and the epistemological method on how we obtain reliable information and what knowledge is trustworthy the conclusions will vary. Reality or Truth is not relative but the filters and mental maps that it passes through are dependent on the particular brain. The food is the same how it is digested and excreted is different. Does naturalism inform your metaphysics or does your metaphysics inform naturalism.

What I find interesting is that each person is fashioned by a variety of events, genetics and geography, experiences... and those can dictate which sources of information we trust. I am no relativist... I believe there is reality and truth but I do notice that many claims especially metaphysical are determined by geography and experience. As Hume said reason is the slave of the passions. I don't see any escape from this human dilemma. That is why conflict seems inevitable in human history. The human brain is not made of generic soil and the seeds planted may be different as well. What knowledge is coming in and how is it processed?