the only easy day was yesterday

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Believe You Me

while thinking about the obscure qualifications often discussed in conjunction with the concept of what belief is, i stumbled upon a uniting factor for my dismissal of traditional metaphysical and epistemological thought. it is a natural objection to have about the way the skeptical philosopher doubts the world to say "it makes sense, but i will still continue my quite possibly - in many different ways - meaningless existence as it is." (I feel that this last point may work well into my thoughts on the duality of being and meaning). My short thought, which i may expand on later or at another time, is that on the idea of belief it is often taken that it is involuntary, that belief happens to us. Such is the belief of the world which we experience, which should have a certain amount of pull over what we shall consider right in philosophy, as we are all compelled to believe in the world. As a last comment to the analytic philosopher, I would offer the question: How does one find it in himself to forgo the possibility of meaninglessness in light of the practicality of living as they always have, but still question the external world to such an extent, thereby creating many, if not all, the metaphysical and epistemological problems we continue to banter on about?

Friday, December 28, 2007

don't tell your philosophy professor you're into existentialism

first, the law of excluded middle. the cognitive functions of the mind, popularly now known as logic, which cause us to think in the nature which we do, lead aristotle to deduce this law, that something is either p or not p. someone who had a preconceived notion of what they wanted to prove came along and decided that this could be applied to the value of a statement of truth or falsity. the most prevalent analytic theory of truth would be basically that something is true if it corresponds to something in the 'real world'. of course this problem is grossly overlooked and people are lead to believe that a statement, p, can actually be true or false (but not neither or both at the same time). my logical capacities do not allow that i disagree with the excluded middle, but i do disagree that it can at all be applied to truth theories.

the application of LEM to truth theories is really sort of silly. in essence, for an analytic philosopher, this is saying that any statement can be true or it can be false, but not either or both. what they skip here is the step of asking whether a statement can indeed be either, rather they jump right in and say its one or the other but not both, it seems to be obvious but it is indeed not. upon closer examination, this leap that they take is unwarranted. they fail, or perhaps ignore because of the gaping problem that it poses, to reckognize that it must first be asked whether a statement can be said to be true or false. if indeed we see the world through an impassible gorge of sensibility, by which we form our concepts of time and space and ultimately language and philosophy, then the statements which we make using this language are built from a lousy representation in our minds of a world out there. on this token alone, we may call into doubt that we will ever be able to really judge something's truth value. 

it seems that it becomes circular. the belief that causes the study of epistemology is that the world is separate and thus that we must form a theory by which we can understand what we understand and put things in the category of known or not known to get our shit straight. so we say, okay statements are true or not true, but never both or neither; but by this very statement which must apply to the base of epistemology, we can look and see that its first tenet breaks down it's entire potential and makes it circular; becasue the world is separate, we will never be able to judge the "truth value" of any statement by this standard.

so plato sort of saw this and he said alright, well we have to come to a practical view about this because we cant actually see the 'forms' as he called the external world. so he said, alright we need to justify this shit right here, we need to have good reason, and we need to believe, and then if it's true we know it. well, i guess he realized that wed never actually get to his idea of true, so we all sort of take it as if we're justified and we believe its good enough.

not only does plato err in that he remains of the mind that it is at all a way which we can define knowledge and truth by saying truth is external and separated, thus making the rest circular and moot by its very first tenet, but also the attempt to make epistemology practical makes it laughable. it is an intrinsically impractical study, there is simply no way to see past our impassible barrier, and thus we cannot ever know if anything is true or false, we are just left with something that sounds good if we could pass the impassible. but wait, if we could pass the impassible, my dear plato, then why would we even need a theory of truth or knowledge?

this is a fairly intuitive objection, but not my whole story. what i more want to get to is the futile nature of applying the values of truth or falsity in this manner. as we have seen, it is plain silly to try to practicalize classical epistemology as plato did, we cannot pass, it is an impractical study by nature. but it is driven to it's impracticality by a flaw in it's first tenets. the thing is that we think through this whole thing that truth is a value which can be applied to something outside of ourselves, this cannot be, as i have shown; my statements have absolutely no correspondence to that world out there, especially when i have learned my language and all that i know by which i form my statements, through an impassible, and therefore inherently impaired vission of that world. furthermore, if i utter a statement, it is simply an idea which i hold, it has no necessary correspondence to the world out there. when i think that i have a book next to me, and form the beleif 'there is a book on the bed', i may indeed be on a bed, and there indeed may be what is the substance of a book in that world out there next to me on the bed where i lay, but my utterance of the proposition 'there is a book on the bed' holds no necessary connection to that external world. im having a hard time grasping the thought, it is elusive, im trying to get it under my thumb and examine it.

i suppose what im trying to get at is the lack of any connection of an idea in my mind and anything in a world which is out there. when i say something is true, it is not that i can possibly know anything from out there, but only what is in my mind, which proves all of epistemology useless because i am subject only to what is in my mind, and am not privy to the world outside.

Tips Up Hoes Down (Thats like a triple entendre, maybe)

New random idea. Cut out leaflets the size of dollar bills, with a quote or name on it like the ducks, and whenever you give a tip hide it between the bills. I left a duck with a tip once, but im running low on ducks so it is what it is. Im also thinking that chalk grafitti in the middle of streets is a cool idea.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Book It

philosophy is an attempt at the language of being, language is the communication of meanings.

>>>philosophy has long been an attempt at the most objective study we can find about everything we can think of, what it is at most is the language of what i call (for now) being, that is, our state whereby we step back and take the view of our lives and see how absurd they are, philosophy can only try to describe things as if we lived in that state, and moreover if that state was one in which we could judge the universe objectively; language in itself is the communication between what i call meanings (for now), that is, the serious nature with which we treat life and the meaning that we build from the day we are born - language comes out of this, it comes out of the predisposed meaning we have, it comes from the subjectivity of speech, but lo, it gives us that ability to express that we do step back, to communicate what hitherto may have been perceived to be an esoteric absurdity in whatever the first creatures with this ability in our line of evolution were. this is a quote (from me, by the way) that ostensively deals with the impossibility of sciences and analytic philosophies to be objective, as well as demonstrating a nuance ive yet to work out in my own philosophy about the duality of meaning and being and how they communicate and are necessarily interwoven.

 a more recent picture does the hilarity more justice, he's growing a fro. gred oden is disco mean bob. i like the poses though.

Monday, December 24, 2007

step out, show me whatchu all about

another idea. i sit and i work on my thoughts about epistemology, and as is my nature, i stop every once in a while and think, i dont really agree with any of the customs or methods around this. part of what im seeing as what i want to work on is the connection between analytic and continental philosophy, and i think i may have just hit something hard in the ground. see, when i sit there thinking and then realize there are other more socially acceptable 'goods' that i could be doing for people, i remind myself of my shallow agreement with the existentialists, in as much as i know them. the idea had been circling in my head and i think that i heard perry talking about heidegger who was real close, though i think he was too opposed to analytic philosophy, to this idea. we all know the philosophical absurdity of life, if we do not know it by that name; we step back from our serious and involved lives and reflect, and cannot find  and conclusion or meaning, and then we go back bout our business. in that we all go back to our business i think that this necessitates all our existentialism we cannot escape it, the existentialitst and their predecessors did  the job of describing what it is that we do there, there is any exception. what i heard perry saying about heidegger was that in terms of science, we hold it as a system ...(bla not important to explain)...but that it is esentially as subjective as anything else, but further more, i think that, though i havent read him yet, he maybe didnt go deep enough in that - by their constant attempts, which they undoubtedly know are subject to question, at obective truths, they are simply defining their lives and themselves as such; we are all existentialists at heart, we all give what can only ever be known as arbitrary meaning to our lives, whether it is search for objective truth through a subjective mind or playing guitar. so i propose that by virtue of the fact that we can all agree that we are able to take the step back, unsucessfuly reflect, and continue to take ourselves seriously, this is the way of the mind. we are so open to the world and so attached to in mentally from birth that we cannot come to any terms by stepping back, we wont get anywhere by living detached from our lives (so to speak), so we just naturally crawl back into our caves and live, and this is the only way for us to be, there is no other way, each way of being is as arbitrary as the next.

i think what i want to get out of this is a good distinction between the two. at what points does my "world" my existentialist nature, come to bear on how i act (maybe when i need to deal with a daunting problem, i remember that it is simply the definition that i give to my life which makes my situation so grave and that in truth i live my life the way i do and this is a result of the meaning which i willfuly give myslef) so maybe i dont freak out, and myself, my meaning while im in my cave, while im involved in the world around me instead of looking at it from afar (this world includes my own meaning, which i can step back and look at). this brings up a point of what parts of my mind are my meaning and which my being; i can step back and look at my vigor in typing my philosophical thoughts, which is a part of my meaning, but i am still being. this way i can see my meaning from outside, but cannot escape that i am still being. i suppose thats the two differences that i need to differentiate. meaning and being. 

in this light, among other things, there is a differentiation between meaning and being, philosophically that is. i wouldnt divide any schools up, but i think theres a study of being, and a study while meaning. the study of being i would say is an existential study, one that studies the nature of our being, that is, our nature to step back, find no conclusive evidence of an 'all-inclusive meaning' such as god or something else holistic. i think the state of stepping back could be connected to what the idea of a priori had been trying to get at. philosophy nearly as a whole, though, is a volition, it is capricious, it is a study of something while being that thing, the nature of being we know to be uncertain in itself because we can all reflect and remain uncertain about any holistic meaning. we are certainly not interested in any sort of ontology here, but rather how we are being, because i already am and i cant imagine knowing the entire story of how i came to be would do me any good.

i suppose this also touches on a certain kind of skeptical duality, that is, that my mind is a step back, as well as an intertwined part of my body and my world. it just can never escape my world. i think skepticism is also a naturalor rather, a part of our being (as opposed to meaning). we are skeptics by the nature of our urge to step back and find that meaning, and also by our nature to attach ourselves so sereiously to our meaning which we find in our worlds. skepticism is our beings philosophic nature, it is our tendency to question and look for meaning, but with our dogmatic tendencies to want everything to be uniform, people like descartes took skepticism too far, he failed to realize that it is a temporary part of our being, and that it does not disclose anything further anfter our inability to discover any holistic meaning or somthing that we take part in. i think a posteriori is something that we add meaning to our lives from being and meaning. since we cannot find anything objective from a subjective and uncertain existence, our a posteriori findings are simply additions to our meanings, what we experience and deduce add and augment our lives inside of our meaning. that we can step outside and discover things like our lack of ability to decisivly discover any holistic or constant meaning, we can take that, as \a philosopher does, and apply it to our meaning, my meaning is the analysis of meaning and being and life, and thus my being influences heavily on my meaning, so kant was right when he said that there are synthetic a priori discoveries, but where he put his categories of sythetic, analytic, a priori, and a posteriori, were slightly misguided. i think that they apply more easily ad readily to the states of our being. that is that most directly synthetic and a posteriori states are states in our meaning when we are involved in our world, and a priori and analytic states are states of our being and our step back nature.

what many analytic philosophers have missed is the experience thing. not only can we discover synthetically from an a priori state, but our a priori state, is a state of expereince, and thus a priori is not before experience, but rather a state of before meaning is applied; a significatio.

thats my beggining thesis on everything. 

Friday, December 21, 2007

new shits

okay first i think its probably good for my own purposes to review the justified true belief theory in proper form:

i know p (p being any given proposition) if and only if:

i. i believe p
ii. p is true
iii. i am justified in believing p

seems okay. my problem with this is only that it assumes that the world is impassibly separated from the mind, which is not an assumption im comfortable with making. it is displayed in western philosophy as the skeptical default, but im convinced that it should hold such a position. it is quite possible that we are so separated, but i am far more inclined to believe that my mind is more connected to what i experience, and as a matter of practicality it is a more useful assumption to make that the world is readily available to my mind, rather than it being disconnected, which has no practical use for me in my everyday life.

now, gettier. his problem is characterized by this example, which meets the requirements of JTB, but doesnt qualify as knowledge:

i go to a friends house and solicit his home phone number. a few months later i call this number, the same friend answers, and upon my asking him of he's home, he tells me that he is. from this, i form the belief '____ is home.' unbeknownst to me, my friend had moved in the time since id spoken to him, but it would seem that (i) i believe that he is home, (ii) he is in fact home, and (iii) i have good reason to believe that he is home, i am justified to believe this. but i dont know that he is home, because i have the home that i visited when i solicited his phone number in my mind, not his home. 

i have two problems with the gettier examples. the first one seems to be the one that he is trying to get at, rather than it being a problem with his objections; the JTB does not make any sort of practical sense, it doesnt account for temporality, things change too much. this raises the question of justification; what is it for a belief to be justified? my second problem is that this whole thing is a little overly concerned with language. my idea of home is vague, and because it is a vague idea, the objection works, my idea of 'home' is not that particular home, that idea would be 'that house which i visited when i got this phone number i am calling,' rather it is the idea of a comfortable and often used dwelling of an individual or family, which would make my belief knowledge. but, now, does knowledge account for this vagueness of concept of home? i think not, if there is an impassibly separated world from my mind, it would be common to accept that this world simply is, it is free of function predicates; thus it seems to me that any statement about 'home' cannot be true in any sense of that world beyond the understanding of the human mind because the world, if it is so far and different, does not have room for home, it is a function and a tool, if not, then we must be specific with factual words which pertain to what may actually be in that world, such as: "that house which i visited when i solicited this phone number.

i think that comfortably dispels that the word home can be used, and dispels that sophism that gettier used to try and analytically break down JTB. the next problem, though, is that theory, which i dont buy. so say we revert only to using the non-functino words, if there are any. specific to certain things, at least. i think we still cannot escape that we are human beings and perceive and judge through the human mind, we cannot make a statement about a house even, because in the "real world" that house is simply an arbitrarily sized spot in space and time, it is not a house, nor something that could be discerned from anything else if not for my minds ability to discern such things and make them uselful to me through their functions and relations to me.

it seems that i must  change my original idea. i had it in my mind to stick to skeptical views somewhat but i cannot. i find myself being lured towards the little i know about heidegger and ready to hand and at hand and etc, which im not sure quite what he means yet. 

so i originally wanted to say no, no we need to take temporality specifically into account , but that was before i cleared up my problems with gettiers sophism, and also with justified true belief being impossible given the nature of the skeptics {world} and the nature of the human minds understanding, where do i go with this? do i stick with it. i was gonna say that we need to take into account that someone may have moved, things change in time, and relative to the subject in question we must judge what level of justificaiton is needed. its dawned upon me that maybe i can apply jtb to our minds concepts. in this case the given phone call example does present the same problem at face value, but now it comes into play that i may in fact not have been justified in believing that my friend was home because i did not take into account that he may have mooved. because the concepts are vague, i suppose that we can allow the standards of justification to be so as well. all i need to do, because it had been a while since we last spoke, is ask, 'in the same place as i last visited you at on 44th and rivera?' if we look at more rarely changing things, on the same time scale, if i go and see a mountain and in a few months recall that there is a mountain next to a lake at tahoe, i am still justified in believing this beaue mountains rarely move. conversely, if i call my friend and ask do you still have a boyfriend, after having seen her boyfreind a week ago with her, she may answer yes, and i may form the belief that she has the boyfirend i met, but i am clearly not justified, she might just be quick in and out or couldve been having an affair of sorts and decided to go to this other man, but the point is, i was not justified. thus we must take this into account temporally, we must consider the likelihood of these things we are judging to change. 

still the story does not seem to end here. what of finding out if something is true? is it true if i perceive it to be? if i see my friend after out phone conversation and she is with the man i thought she was still dating, but who she was not actually dating anymore, in my mind do i know that this is her boyfriend? i suppose not. i need greater justification, but with the unclear standards for justification i cannot be sure ill ever get to the bottom of what is. but here comes again my taking that the world is separeate. if it is separete than it can easily deceive me, but if it is not separate can i be deceived? if it is as open to me as i think it may be where inlies the possibility for it to deceieve me?

i think i leave this here and think about that question and read up more thoroughly on epistemology...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

another essay idea. im busy, so for now: temporality and the threory of justified true belief. im not a huge fan of the world as an external entity, which is really pressupposed for plato, but the gettier objections to it i think try to point out that it is not a practical theory because that world outside us would change, rather than the world that is 'open' and is where we are, is something we can know and judge only in the ways it lets us. i am not justified in calling a friend whos home i visited a few months ago and havent talked to since, and taking his word for it when i call his home number and he says hes home, he could well have moved in the months since weve spoken, but if i see mount vesuvius, and months later, i think about it, and make the statement 'mount vesuvius is beautiful' i would be jutified because mountains dont move nearly as often as people do. this is subject to the world at hand (thats a heideggerian expression which i may be using in the wrong context), that is, the world as it is disclosed to me, the world that is relevant to me, that i see and i know and i experience in; i know that real estate is a sketchy thing now and the housing market is crazy, so people are moving like crazy because they couldnt afford their mortgages, but a few hundred years ago, people stayed relatively put, nuclear familys lived mostly in the same spot, if they had phones, it wouldve been markedly more justified asking the same question because people move less. i think ill go to town on this idea a little later...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

skepticism and descartes

hume and descartes were the two major skeptics we studied. blablabla. the major claim of the skeptics is that we cannot be sure of the external world and any knowledge. the two went about this different ways, hume the more honestly skeptical in that he ended his life in doubt of even his own beliefs and did not attempt to justify this and that through god. im not advocating that being a cold skeptic is the way to go, but if youre gonna be skeptical go for it, descartes was far too effected by pretences, in the meditations he was too ready to turn to god once he had broken down his whole shit.

the skeptics objective is to break down everything to the most base axioms that we can then build off it into a solid theory of everything. the skeptics idea of the being is a thikning thing, a substance that is conscious of the self. the other idea of skepticism is building this theory is to break down all counter possibilities of theories.

yea thats some random skepticism crap

God Arguments and Such

Cosmological, from thomas aquinas. the cosmological argument rests on the concept of causality. for every event there is a cause. the chain of cause and event cannot go on forever because we are here now, so there must be a beggining cause. that first cause must be god. oh so many problems. the most obvious one is that the first premise, that everything is caused, contradicts the conclusion, that there is an uncaused cause, god. another problem is what is called the fallacy of composition, or composition fallacy, which means that aquinas tries to apply what is true for part to the whole, that is, everything that is, that is, every event has a cause in our part, but in the universe, or rather the entirety of the universe may not follow that rule of cause and effect, therefore the argument does not prove anything. hume turned to his fork of knowledge on this issue, which i wont explain now, which said that things are either known throuh relation of ideas (bachelors are unmarried) or matters of fact (it is raining). he said that causailty could not be known through either of these facets, and thus that the cosmological argument holds no ground. for now, all i will mention of immanuel kant is that he refutes hume refutation of the cosmological argument. in kants view of spatiotemporal experience causailty is a necessary for the instance of experience in the human mind, we learn a priori the concepts of space and time and then organize causality in our minds; it is true and we must know it for experience of anything. he comes more into play later.

Teleological. its a posteriori, which means after or with experience, and it relies on empirical observations. this argument is most famously characterized in william paleys watchmaker argument. the argument pretty much says that the if you found a watch on the beach you'd be inclined to believe there mustve been an artificer because of the complexity of the design in the watch, thus, as humans and other life-forms are more complex than a watch, we must too be designed. i like to call creationists who believe in intelligent design overwhelmists, they ignore the 'atoms perspective' idea, which is that from our perspective cells and shit look overwhelmingly complex, so they must be desined, but from an atoms point of view, it is all the same, just atoms and such - overwhelmists deny that our concept of complexity is subjective. the most effective refutation of design i think is evolution, in that they both in a word transcend the common philosophic problems of knowledge and the external world and accept the sensible world as a reliable source of knowledge for argument, thus rather than being overwhelmed like paley, darwin explained it all and thats that, i think this really puts it to sleep on an empirical front. philosophically there are a few objections as well. an intuitive response to this is that, since paley thought that his argument necessitates the christian god, david hume simply says, uh no not really just because something is designed doesnt mean it was the god you have in your mind, and humans are too different from a manmade thing to make that assertion that we must be designed at all in our likeness to the comlexity of those things. the latter plays a little bit on the denial of our subjective mind. the last philosophical knock on the teleological argument is that it rests of the cosmological argument, in that it says that a complex thing needs an artificer, or something to cause it, rather than it just appearing.

the ontological argument. ive been through this so many times it gives me a headache. saint anselms version goes like this: i have the idea of a perfect thing, because i have this idea that posseses all perfections it must exist because it is the perfection, it is what everything else draws its part of perfection from, and it is greater to exist in reality that in thought thus it must exist. descartes version is this: god is perfect, god posseses all perfections, actually being is greater than just being in thought, thus god must exist.

the final death of this string of proofs for the existence of god is kant. he hates it like i hate it. well probably not. he said that existence is not a property. when i say that my computer is white it adds to the idea of it, but when i say this computer exists you still have a similarly uncertain picture in your head as when i simply say i have a computer, so arguing about god existing or not is irrelevant and inconsequential.
 

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Facticity and the Evolution of Human Consciouness

this is my idea for an open philosophy essay contest at my school. i don't want to do something to wide, and this seems like a manageable topic for a few pages. i wana brain storm and see whats up.

im not a big fan of the concern of how we came to be, that is, how i am physically here; it really is of very little consequence to me how i came to be, and darwin answered that question a century and a half ago. i want to develop this into the concern with how i came to be, that is, how it is that i am in the nature that i am. this largely concerns my consciousness, or my self-reflective ability, which i believe to be closely connected, or the same as my being "conscious" in the human sense. this does concern physical anthropology, or the study of human evolution. i will need to do some more research on neandertals, as they are the last discrete figure, as fossil evidence posits, before modern homo sapiens develops.

im a little puzzled about how exactly im going to formulate an argument, so im not sure how im gonna work this, but it intrigues me. my point about facticity is that we seek to define neandertals in terms of their facticity, our third person perspective on their cognitions, which is not how someones being is determined. the question surrounding neandertals is whether they are human in cognition and consciousness. i take people to be human, and i do so through my perception of their factual properties, yet this is not what makes them human beings. they are by virtue of their own projects and relation to the world, not by my designation and normative recognization of them as human. thus if i view far less detailed evidence than i have of actual humans, to determine if something is human, what will be my result? i cannot define whether a neandertal is human or not by its anotomical remains and the resources and tools it utilized, i just have an extraordinarily vague idea of it's facticity, and the norms governing neandertal life, and still as little clue as i can have of any other thing of it's own  being.

another thing i may want to work in is what sartre called "existential psychoanalysis." a project is the unreflective activities we involve ourselves in during our lives which give our lives meaning. sartre posited that by reconstructing choices in an individuals behavioral patterns one can discover the 'fundamental project' or basic choice of oneself that gives an individual shape to one's life. this coudl be used to shape a vague concept of neandertal project. 

another idea that could arrise from existential psychoanalysis is maybe trying to define the fundamental project that arises out of being human, as opposed to being a hominid, or any other animal, but this may be more of an undertaking for a book.

so shout me out some structural suggestions or ideas that you see, and if you dont understand some terms either ask me, which would help me to learn to explain them better which ill need to be able to do, or spend a few solid days reading about them on the SEoP...

Monday, December 17, 2007

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Facticity includes all those properties that third-person investigation can establish about me: natural properties such as weight, height, and skin color; social facts such as race, class, and nationality; psychological properties such as my web of belief, desires, and character traits; historical facts such as my past actions, my family background, and my broader historical milieu; and so on.[6] I am not originally aware of my facticity in this third-person way; rather, it is manifest in my moods as a kind of burden, the weight of "having to be." However, I can adopt a third-person or objectifying stance toward my own being, and then these aspects of my facticity may appear precisely as that which defines or determines who I am. From an existential point of view, however, this would be an error — not because these aspects of my being are not real or factual, but because the kind of being that I am cannot be defined in factual, or third-person, terms.[7] These elements of facticity cannot be said to belong to me in the way that the color of an apple belongs to the apple, for as belonging to me, as "determining" me, they have always already been interpreted by me. Though third-person observation can identify skin color, class, or ethnicity, the minute it seeks to identify them as mine it must contend with the distinctive character of the existence I possess. There is no sense in which facticity is both mine and merely a matter of fact, since my existence — the kind of being I am — is also defined by the stance I take toward my facticity. This is what existential philosophers call "transcendence."

Cash Rules Everything Around Me...



Now, from the older generation's perspective, what are we teaching the numerous youths who cannot think enough for themselves, who are not introspective enough to realize that they are manipulative and that they quit when the going gets tough? College football players are quitting in droves as it is after their senior season, and hey, selling coke pays more than some crappy job they'll get with their bachelor of arts, doesn't it? Or maybe they should go into the business they're victims of and work themselves into a tightknit group of men and then run away for money. I know every self-respecting individual know that these men are selfish and full of cowardice. Do we want this kind of person in the public eye and having such heavy influences on our children's lives?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Knicks 94, Nets 86; 49ers 20, Bengals 13

It's the apocalypse, my friends. jets win tomorrow, and then we all die...

Justified True Belief

bores me. justified true belief is the most famous epistemological theory. its plato's. epistemology is the study of knowledge, or rather what we can know. it says this:

i know P if and only if:

I believe P
P is true
I have good reason to believe P

its really a self explanatory thing. it rests on the central epistemological assumption that the word is impassibly separated from the mind, this is a main point of contention between the analytic and continental schools of philosophy...which is irrelevant

anyway so some guy comes along a few years ago ad he's like no no. he comes up with some examples which point out some errors in the theory. essentially, there are cases where the requirements are met in plato's theory, but you still dont seem to know. say i come to your house and solicit your home phone number one day. in a few months i call you on that number, and ask if youre home, and you say yes, youve called me on my home phone number. in this situation i now believe that you are home, and i have good reason to believe that youre home. little do i know, you've moved. but you are actually home, and all of the requirements are met, but i still do not know, because the object of my idea of home is different than your actual home.

so yea thats it jtb is tedious

Friday, December 14, 2007

Runnin' It up

Decision Theory

decision theory starts with a story. youre going to a party. either chicken or beef will be served. you have to bring a bottle of wine, red or white. i have no idea which one goes better with which, but its not al that important we'll go with that red goes with chicken and the converse. so if you bring red, and chicken is served everyone is ecstatic, if you bring red and beef is served everyone is sorta bummed. if you bring white and chicken is served everyone is happy, and if you bring white and beef is served everyone is really bummed. what do you choose? red.

the idea is that you clearly choose very good/sorta bad over goo/very bad.

yes, quite intuitive. now...

Pascal's Wager

Pascal sayeth: if you believe in God, and God exists, you're good, if you believe in God and God doesn't exist, you waste your sundays. if you don't believe in God, and he exists, you are really screwed, if you don't believe in God and he doesn't exist, you got to live a life of sex, drugs, etc.

so:

i. you believe, and god exists: you go to heaven, eternal bliss, supreme excellentness
ii.you believe, and god does not exist: you waste your sundays, you lived a pious life for nothing, but you did live it believing in something and sticking to it, so it's not that bad
iii. you don't believe, and god exists; you're fucked, you're going to hell and you're gonna be miserable forever
iv. you don't believe, and god doesnt exist: you got to live a life of bodily pleasures, which really proves not to be that great in the end...

so, you have to believe in god, and you lower your chances of being really miserable, and raise your chances of being supremely happy

but we must consider something. belief. belief is an emotional state. one cannot force belief, one can go through life and say and ppray and go to chruch and still not feel that belief. what oes pascal mean by believe? does god know? does god need us to feel it for us to go to heaven? this wager rests on shaky terms, and cannot be taken too seriously.

Ethics, Now

this is a large category to be explaining in a post, and i dont know if i need to go into so much depth, because they are very simple concepts...

Rule Utilitarianism.

I will begin by assuming that everyone knows that the overall utilitarian mantra is "the greatest good for the most people in the long run." Simple enough. Now, there are two major schools of utilitarianism, each with it's practical issues. Rule utilitarianism is the sect which believes that every action should be judged under a set of rules, and that either an action falls within the rules, or is in violation of them. If an action falls clearly in violation or in compliance with the rules it is said to be a paradigm case, and can be easily judged and punished as the rules dictate. However if the case is not clear, it is called a vague case and it would have to be litigated and then be judged, but under the rules, not individually. So the gist of rule utilitarianism is that there is a hypothetical set of rules which have been determined to yield the best results for the most people over the longest period of time than any other set of rules, and that every action will be judged under those rules strictly, with no individual exceptions.

Act Utilitarianism.

Certain problems arise with Rule Utilitarianism, let me tell you a story, a real story:

There is a cop, and throughout this whole thing he does everything legally and by the book. There is a rapist on the loose, who just committed another rape. The officer saw the sketch, and recognized the man from a traffic encounter earlier in the week, and went about the proper way to get his address from the license plate number he recalled. He went to the address, and in the same car he saw evidence from this latest rape. The officer legally got warrants for the house and the car, and found "trophys" from 3 prior rapes that had never been solved, amounting to 4 rapes. As it happens, the case, in the American legal system, would combine only to one rape, and the man at most would be out of prison in seven years, and likely would rape again with greater knowledge of how to cover his tracks.

Now, with the rule utilitarians, though it makes everyone sick, the legal proceedings would go through, and the man would be free in 7 years and very likely rape again. Knowing this man's track record, and knowing the consequences of applying rule utilitarian principles to his case, the Act Utilitarians have a suggestion.

An act utilitarian would say that in this case, the officer should certainly have the discretion to kill the rapist, because he's raped many times, and will almost definitely rape multiple more times. Act utilitarians idea is that every act should be judged individually according to what is best for the most people in the long run. This seems like a good idea as well, but it, of course, has its downfalls.

Take voting for example. Educating oneself on every candidate in an election is a timely endeavor, and yields a relatively small result, seeing as you only have one vote. Now, if you donated the same amount of time to habitat for humanity, or some other charity, you would be accomplishing a much larger and noticeable thing for more people than your one vote would do. But take a step back, and though there would certainly be a lot of houses built had we all worked for habitat for humanity instead of caring about the presidential election, we would get an awful president, and likely have equally bad effects from this. Sort of like the effects we've had from our collective ignorance during the last two elections, except we all didn't build houses for the homeless and poor, we just sat with our fingers in our butts, i guess.

chuch

Might Even Be Cooler Than iTunes U

www.freerice.com

Came across this link on some random anarchist blog. You answer multiple choice vocab questions, and for every one you get right, the advertisers on the site donate 20 grains of rice through a UN food program. Pretty cool stuff, i just facilitated the donation of 520 grains.

----------------------------------
Update: Its addicting.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Three Theories of Truth

The Correspondence Theory of Truth is perhaps the most plausible theory of truth within these three theories. It states that a statement is true if and only if it corresponds to a fact in the real world. This is a seemingly intuitive theory; the statement "i have socks on" is only true if i in fact do have socks on in the "real world." sounds logical. There are a few problems with the correspondence theory, but none that entirely refute it. a major problem with the theory is that it does not account for fictional truths. Peter Parker, the fictional character is Spiderman in the comic book, but there is no Peter Parker nor a Spiderman in the "real world"; yet the statement "Peter Parker is Spiderman", as we understand it, seems to be true.

The Coherence Theory of Truth turns on the word 'coherence.' The theory states that a statement is true if it coheres with some set of beliefs. By cohere, we mean here, that it is consistent, or not inconsistent, with that certain set of beliefs; it's important to understand, before we go any further, that this is to say that it does not contradict, that it coheres to the 'rules' of a certain set of beliefs. The problem with this theory is that it boils down to relativism. What set of beliefs do these truths adhere to? Certainly if there was more than one set of beliefs we would have the same problem as we had for individual relativism: that there would be no false belief, and thus contradicting true beliefs. And if there was one set of beliefs to adhere to, we don't yet know it and this is a useless statement because if we were to know it we would not be asking what truth is. Another problem is that every set of beliefs will rest on another set of beliefs, the argument becomes circular.

The Pragmatic Theory of Truth states simply that a statement is true if it works. What this means is that a statement is true if it yields a preferable result. For who you ask? You, or someone, it doesn't really say. The very trivial point is that it is another relativistic theory, and thus useless...

Individual Relativism

this is my way of studying for my philosophy finals. im just gonna write shit on the topics i get too, for whatever class im studying for. if you read, let me know if its clear or if it needs clarification at any point. theyre pretty elementary things for the most part, so imagine you know nothing, i have a bad habit of presupposing terms and things that i easily understand...

Individual Relativism is a theory of truth characterized by the statement "if one believes something it is true" (or, less formally, "if you believe it it's true). The practical result of individual relativism leads to two relatively obvious absurdities, and then one nail-in-the-coffin objection. The first fairly obvious absurdity that results from individual relativism is that, if everyone's beliefs are all true, then there could be no false belief, that is, everyone's beliefs are true they are always right, they cannot be false. Secondly, if there can be no false belief, and no one can be wrong in their beliefs, there will necessarily be conflicting beliefs; if Shaq believes he was fouled, and Antwan Jameson believes that he did not foul Shaq, if individual relativism is true, they are both right, but how can that be (hint: it can't). The final problem with individual relativism is that if someone were to believe that the theory itself was false it would necessarily be true by virtue of the fact that it is true. Realistically, if it were true, i don't believe it is, so it isn't true. It's garbage.

Individual Relativism

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Neat-O


two germans and a scott

were gonna do some philosophy. i want to get the ideas sorted out and then discuss my intuitions about it and get to what my real concerns with it are. conversation is important in getting ideas out and worked out.

the names i will mention are somewhat arbitrary, and based on their relevance in my mind to the issue. if any other ideas strongly relate, feel free to mention them, i use names because the people behind them had systems of thought beyond my depth of understanding of their words on certain subjects...

ethics is the subject to a certain extent, but i suppose an appropriate label would be 'how we go bout our business.'

in an attempt to make everyone miserably unhappy with everything, david hume decided to take on the task of morality. what he has to say is that in the western tradition, we all like to break things down into axioms and littler and littler things. in physical sciences and philosophy alike. it end up, sayeth hume, that no matter how small we break down these axioms, they are still based on assumptions. we dont need to question this particular part of this, suffice it to say that hume was a smart guy, and has justification for this claim beyond what we need for now. the end of what hume says is that we cant be sure of anything because all our arguments are circular, hes annoyingly skeptical, even to me...

next comes this dude herbert feigl. he sort of says that humes right but wrong as well. feigl has three qualifications of the ways in which we can argue, validation, vindication, and (i dont think he uses this term persay, the third category is less defined) effectiveness.

validation. validation is the legality of something. the question of validation is whether something can be done within a certain system. given our broad scope i want to consider, i will use general social interaction. but first, to make the concept clear, consider playing a game of chess, if i try to move my king seven spaces horizontally and jump your castle, you will say 'no thats not allowed,' my move is not valid within the rules of chess. so step back, to say, shaking hands. in general sociality, shaking hands is a quite accepted concept, it is within the 'rules' of western sociality. but if i met a woman and immediatly began to kiss her neck, this would absolutely not be acceptable. it is not validated within the social rules.

vindication. vindication is another step back. vindication is the question of whether the system itself makes sense. is chess the best way to stimulate whatever kind of mental activity it does? would a three-dimensional board heighten the experience, a pyramid? kings that can jump and roam? would neck-kissing perhaps be a better way to greet new aquaintances? is the system legitimate, does it move us towards our goal of this or that or the other thing? in a broad look, vindication is asking whether our way of doing is the best way of doing, in so many words.

effectiveness. is the move a good move? is it the best way to bring about the results i wish to bring about? if an argument is valid, that is, if it is allowed, then i must consider whether it is a good thing to do.

the way this relates to hume is that feigl attempts to show that in certain cases, like validative cases, we are working with all the relevant information that we need, and that nothing further is needed and no smaller or more specific or more certain axioms are needed. vindication is more where humes position remains strong. it would seem that any vindication which we offer for anything is arbitrary and subjective.

now it gets to where i know a lot less.

ive been listening to these lectures from a professor of my brother's named hubert dreyfus, who is one of the foremost heidegger scholars in the english speaking world. in a particular lecture, he mentioned artificial intelligence. a problem with a.i. is that it largely has tried to define things in terms of millions of descriptions and inter relations, but came upon the frame issue, which is something to the effect of that a computer cant judge usefulness, and doesnt know, by virtue of a bunch of descriptions, what is going to happen when one thing in the world changes. he used to teach at MIT, and he tells a story about how one of his colleagues (who he was in a school-politic war with about this new a.i. prgram) that wrote a program that is meant to read stories, and when it encounters a man who falls into a lake and drowns, it interprets it that gravity drowns as well. anyway. this whole problem is that artificial intelligence cannot be mimiced, the actions of the human mind cannot be duplicated by feeding smaller and smaller and interwoven details about the environtment and such.

so my question now sparks in my mind. why is it that in the western tradition we seek to break things down into such small axioms, when this is clearly, as a.i. failings have discovered, not the way the mind itself works? heidegger himself does come in, but hes very complicated, and i know to little about him to mention him a lot. he has a lot right about how the mind works, though, apparently. theres stuff about phenomenology that i dont yet know and things to that effect, but i want to get the ideas straightened out and discussed before i travel to much further, and while i research this. theres stuff in heidegger about the use of things as tools at hand and a whole bunch of crap, i get overwhelmed thinking about it; he sees the mind as very intertwined, opened to, and attached to the world, the world being where the mind is... so help to get my mind right....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

shut up



i was watching during this. apparently theres a controversy about fried chicken. how stupid are people? theyre so readily searching for a fight theyre taking shots at arthur blank. arthur blank is willing to take vick back if he cleans up. that was the leg all the people who were supporting vick had to stand on. now everyones ready to forgive if he can clean his ass up, and they look for someone else to bother. i actually laughed when they played the clip on nfl live. if its worth being talked about, i think its worth saying that its funny; stereotypes like black people liking fried chicken are comically below adults, and especially a clearly not racist guy in arthr blank. i mean the guy is imbeded in atlanta in tons of different kinds of charities including inner city education; any racism that kind of man exudes is probably deserved. huh, such as dog fighting. dog fighting is stereotypical of stupid southern people. often stupid black southern people. if it was a racist comment, blank had every right in saying it because vick out himself in a position where he is reduced to an idiot, because he made idiotic decisions. when you kill dogs, you open yourself up to as many immature insults anyone can think of. with that said, blank is so above this, and expects the public to be as well, that he can say things like that without worrying about it. fried chicken racist jokes are for 7th graders. not affluent adults. he knows this. the idiots who are making a deal of this apparently didnt get what they needed to out of the rest of their school. maybe if we stop worrying about people who are doing more than we could ever dream of for our communities and their possibly racist comments, and do something ourselves, our kids who grow up to be nfl superstars will know better because they grew up in a better environtment.

and a last thing. given that blank is a generous philanthropist in the city of atlanta, mainy in the poor and inner city; who cares if he hates everyone besides himself because they dont look exactly like him. because theyre black or red or yellow or blonde or whatever. hes done so much more for society than the self righteous idiots who complain about his possible racism he can do whatever the hell he wants. if he is a racist, thats his own shit, he doesnt show it whatsoever in his actions.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Die

Die is a strange one. "You don't die enough to cry." i think die is really liberal. die could be the verb-form of beat or something. you arent miserable enough to cry. that statement is aimed at dean, whos really the epitome of the beat guy whos crazy and loves life. saying he does die enough to cry is yet another significant reference to how people werent interacting enough because he was making a judgement on emotions of another from external displays.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

To Those About to Bop, We Salute You

beat-speak is coming back, but its gonna be ours. unfortunatly i have a refined hatred for the trendy language of our time, that is, 'brrrat,' so i must borrow for lack of creativity.

beat - to be beat is to be fed up. to be so sick and tired of living an uncertain and undefined life and having no real companionship. beat is loving the world and people and being tired of the world an people. beat is being mystic and capricious, and very holistic. beat is whatever the hell you see in this description. were all beat who have the time to look at a blog. were sick of the boring and priveleged lives we lead. we spend our time on lofty pursuits such as philosophy. we live in a society which weve grown to vehemently hate, though in truth its nearing the simplest and most basic preservative system of human rights, safety, and justice; the most basic things a government should be responsible for doing. we have everything figure out for us and were living the sure-and-beat life of people who are literally living the what's next. and what do we do? worry about what's next! beat is worrying about whats going to be and why and how and always being unsatisfyed with the answers you get adn the people who give them to you.

kicks - kicks are anything fun

bop - bop was wild jazz music. it can be any music you like, as long as its emotional and beat and loud and can be described by blowing. but drummers can blow too. not like the reference to suck, more like a reference to trumpet extended to singing and to any other instrument. its gotta have rhythm, bands arent bop. moments in music are bop. transient seconds of glorious blowing on all acounts that makes you want to blow with it and dig those people blowing.

blow - passionately play music, or perform any sort of artistic act or expression. further, even. a girl crying could be blowing. an ourpour of emotion, lets say.

gone - the first thing that comes to mind is sexy, but its far more. 'gone sweet gal,' for context. gone is the sexy cousin of beat, but that replaces sexy because i dont like that word to begin with. gone is the female form of beat, which is distinguished because a gone gal is purposefully flaunting her sexiness, shes very indecisive, a key part of gone seems to be that you cant get to know a gone gal, shes distant and beautful and you cant ever expect to know her. i suspect in kerouac a gone girl was more of a projection of the female way, whorish, dishonest, greed, passionate, and impossible to get to, gone is a girl without humanity. modern gone, to me, is a girl whos humanity youve tried desperatly to acess, but who has other ideas about everything, mostly because shes sick of everything, laregly men, and shes just gonna get what shes gonna get.

and the most important:

dig - to dig is to enjoy the humanity of another person, to enjoy the whole of life. everything. to love all emotion, good or bad, to look at things, to feel things, to know things, to experience things, to love things. you can dig a painting or you can dig sex. most importantly dig is a largely expansive term such as is seen in older languages which can be used for so many things. the way i use dig is mostly as to love holistically, i like to dig people in that they are what i am and they are part of me and the world and my experience and i wana get to know what theyre thinking without social or sexual barriers.  

so make them your own, use them sparingly, dont make them a gimmick. and use them with passion. beat-speak is a language of passionate dissenchantment with everything and uncontrollable love for it all at the same time. none of us know what to do with ourselves really, were just follwing whats available for us to do. so let it go and dig it all and know how and why you are acting with futility if you arent.

Monday, December 3, 2007

21

its rare that i accept anything in modern sports to be morally judged, but in that they can be, the redskins did an entirely appropriate thing on sunday. on the first play of the game they lined up with 10 defensive players. and rightfully so the bills ran a play. it went for 26 yards. and everybody was fine with it. and the game went on. that it was a big gain on the play made it a much more poignant statement. and then back to business. fine with me. but what i do want to point out is that he was still a figure of especially violent tackling, and that built into the fabric of violence in a american culture is sprts violence and particularly football. in a very small way sean taylor contributed to the violent and dishonest culture which made the instance of robbing a known persons house thought to be vacant a cool and desirable thing to do. he did nothing consciously, and as i understand it he had legal problems in the past but once his daughter was born he really started to grow up. i just sugggest that it needs to be taken with a grain of salt, he was no saint.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

For the sake of not having to text message the whole damn thing to Jasper

A VERY VERY ROUGH DRAFT/HALF OF THE ESSAY

Abstract

The following essay is an attempt to explore the issue of morals in relation to governing bodies. This writer will attempt to discover whether or not governments are capable of be held to the same moral limits of individuals. However, before such a notion could be entertained, the very nature of the state apparatus must be discovered. Using the definitions of good by the philosophers Mill, Kant, and Aristotle it will first be determined whether or not governments have the capacity for moral behavior and from there conclusions will be drawn back to the question: Should governments be under the same moral limits as individuals.
Morality for the purpose of this exploration will be the capacity for something to be good. If governments can be proved to have that capacity, then it will follow that they have the capacity to be moral. It will then be analyzed whether or not governments should be held to the same moral limits as individuals. Moral limits, for this exploration’s sake, will be the distance a moral entity can stray from its capacity for the good before the bad it is capable of outweighs the good; rendering the entity a/immoral.

Capacity For The Good

MILL
Philosopher John Stuart Mill described the greatest good as the promotion of happiness and the minimization of unhappiness. Mill called this the “greatest happiness principle”(p. 7). By happiness Mill makes it clear that he means the existence of “pleasure and the absence of pain”, whereas unhappiness is “pain and privation of pleasure”.
In regards to Utilitarian theory, a government has the capacity for morals as far as it has the capacity to promote happiness. Surely one could say that by allowing for the legal consumption of alcohol, many governments provide for pleasure with the absence of pain for many people. However, it could not be argued that this is a proper Utilitarian justification for the moral capacity of governments, for even Mill has a graded scale for lower and higher forms of happiness. Mill explains in his treatise, that people who have the capacity for enjoying both high and low pleasures will “give a most marked preference to the manner of existence which employs their higher facilities.”(P.9). It would then follow that governments’ capacities to provide for lesser levels of happiness is not a sufficient qualification to prove their capacity for morals. From a utilitarian standpoint it would appear that that something’s capacity for morals can not mean just its capacity to be good, but its capacity to be and provide for the greatest good. For when it is Utilitarianism we speak of, something cannot just provide pleasure to be good (there are too many pleasures), it must provide for the greatest pleasure, because for the Utilitarian there is not one supreme good; there is simply a hierarchy of pleasures that extend upward to infinity without ever reaching a the Platonic good.
With this realization, it then becomes the duty of those trying to determine the moral capacity of governing bodies, where the line must be drawn to determine that capacity. At stated above, the legalization of alcohol consumption is an example of a pleasure too low on the hierarchy to prove governments’ capacity for morals from a Utilitarian perspective. It would seem to then follow that for a government to have a moral capacity from a Utilitarian point of view; it would have to provide for those pleasures that “employ the higher faculties”, while minimizing unhappiness.
The question of what pleasures constitute the beginning of those which “employ the higher faculties” on the Utilitarian happiness hierarchy is subject to debate and possibly unanswerable. What presents this writer with difficulty is the absence of an ultimate good in Utilitarian philosophy. Without that good, the moral capacity of non-human entities (from a Utilitarian standpoint) is highly subjective*. One man’s pleasure which employs the higher faculties, could be another man’s mentally lesser pleasure. While it is impossible to know if a government is preventing a person from his/her most mentally stimulating pleasure, if it were, it would prove that governments don’t possess a moral capacity. This, of course, is an assumption based on the probability that among the billions of people living under governmental systems, there is at least one person that is being denied access to a pleasure which requires the employment of a higher faculty.
It must too be remembered that Utilitarian theory does not associate good only with the pleasure, but also with the minimization of unhappiness. In a paradoxical situation, it could be that the existence of lesser happiness’s is in reality an affront to the possibility of greater happiness and is thus an example of pain. For when one gets addicted these lesser forms of happiness, “they have already become incapable of the other.”(10) If a state apparatus allows for conditions in which these lower forms of happiness are allowed to thrive, and therefore choke out truer forms of pleasure, could it not be said that the state is promoting unhappiness? The connection between the state and the infectious and addictive lower forms of pleasure does not stray too far from Mill’s orginial thoughts. Mill discusses the way in which people fall from the pursuit of higher pleasure saying that “capacity for other nobler feelings is in most natures a very tender plant, easily killed, not only be hostile influence, but by mere want of sustenance; and in the majority of young persons it speedily dies away if the occupations to which their position in life has devoted them, and the society into which it has thrown them, are no favorable to keeping that higher capacity in exercise.”(P.10). It could be said that a line could be drawn between Mill’s “society” and the governments that this paper is analyzing. If the government provides for a society by which the higher pleasures are not stressed, then that apparatus is in fact working to destroy the “capacity for nobler feelings”. Being that nobler feelings are certainty not forms of unhappiness, the government therefore is minimizing happiness, which definitely is not in accord with the greatest happiness principle. And if governments are promoting these lesser forms of pleasure, they are really promoting a form of pain, and thus are incapable of morals from a Utilitarian standpoint.

KANT

Kantian theory holds that it is not happiness which is the highest good, but rather good will (free intentions). Kant believes that we would not have been endowed with the capacity for reason if happiness was our end, for reason allows us to constantly doubt our happiness. It must follow that the motive for human possession of reason, is to make sure humanity can have good and free intentions for our actions. The capacity for morals, in relation to Kantian theory, it follows is the capacity for an entity to have good and free intentions.
With Kantian theory we are faced with more of a conundrum in relating a moral capacity to a non-human entity. The role of governments in respect to intentions is free and good only to the extent by which man (who has a moral capacity) has endowed it with that capacity. An absolute monarchy in which the king possesses good and free intentions couple be an example of a government which can have a moral capacity, being that the government is in fact man. However constitutional democratic republics like the United States have bound themselves to work within the confines of constitutional law, limiting the freedom of intension the apparatus possesses. Forced to act within a confining set of legislation, the United States’ government does not possess the capacity for morals, in that it does not have the capacity to have good and free intensions (assuming there is the possibility that such intentions could require the state to work outside of the boundaries dictated by legislation and bureaucracy). When Louis XIV exclaimed, “L'√Čtat, c'est moi” he affirmed that in fact the government of France at that precise moment had the capacity for morals (whether it actually was moral is another essay).

ARISTOTLE

Aristotle held that good was, “an activity of the soul in accord with [the best and most complete] virtue.” (P.9) Virtue, as he understood it, is the qualities which “enable something to fulfill its function”(email). Therefore good, is then the ability for something to fulfill its function, as premised by its virtue.
When this concept is related to our question of governments’ capacity for morality it presents interesting problems for exploration. Most obvious of all these is, what is the function of government? It is imperative to answer this question, as on its solution hinges the moral capacity of governments.
Before applying Aristotle’s thoughts to governing bodies, it is important to look at his logic within the human context it was written. When searching for the function of man, he makes clear the distinction between a human and a human with an occupation asking, “The do the carpenter and the leather worker have their functions and actions, but has a human being no function?”(8) The presentation of the dichotomy is purposeful and important to take into consideration when seeking out the moral capacity of governments. In his search for a human function, Aristotle finds that there is no one “function” that we physically serve, but rather “the human function is activity of the soul in accord with reason or requiring reason.”
It then follows that in order to prove the moral capacity of the state apparatus by Aristotelian methods; we would have to attribute its function not to one of its many physical activities, but some inherent non-physical virtue. For man this non-physical virtue is reason, but unless a governing body is a single man, it would be strange to say that it possesses reason.
It thus follows that is impossible to bestow unto government a moral capacity specifically designed by Aristotle only for man; unless, as stated above, man is the sole entity making up the state.
This realization does not completely deny moral capacity to government; it only proves that the state is very much unlike a human in its very nature. Using only Aristotle’s outline, it appears possible to prove a moral capacity for governments. Just like a flautist, whose good is measured by his or her capacity to play flute well, a government’s good can similarly be measured by its capacity to govern well. While the purpose of governing can be debated, for our sake we will agree that it is to protect the security of those it rules. As long as the government has the capacity to perform this function well, it has the capacity for morals. Unfortunately, when one begins to apply this formula outside of humanity all kinds of inanimate objects start to possess moral capacity (making this writer wonder the validity of attributing Aristotelian morality outside of man). For example, a paperclip has the function of clipping paper together. This function is provided for by whatever virtue it is that gives “clippiness” to paperclips. Following the above logic, a paperclip, like government, has the capacity for morality. Should we then have to debate the question if paperclips be under the same moral limits as individuals? Clearly this would be ridiculous. The fact that all inanimate objects could then have a moral capacity, almost, if not completely, discredits the belief reached by Aristotelian methods that government could have such a capacity.
CONCLUSIONS
We have thus far determined that according to Utilitarian theory it has been determined that governments are incapable of a true moral capacity. According to Kantian theory, it has been demonstrated only absolute monarchies possess the capacity for morality. According to Aristotelian theory, it has been determined that while governments possess a capacity for morality, so does ever other inanimate object with a function, therefore the logic by which government morality is determined is inherently flawed and readers government’s truly incapable of morality.
From here we can now move on and answer the question: “Should governments be held to the same moral limits as individuals?” from a Kantian perspective on morality.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Story for the Grandkids

for a paper i was writing, my brother suggested that i listen to a few of his heidegger professors lectures. on a side note, his professor is the foremost heidegger expert in the english speaking world, and in one of these lectures he shares that he's had an epiphany about heidegger that hed never seen before, and it turns out that in office hours my brother had helped him with whatever this epiphany was, or was present. you get what im saying. anyway theres an ill thing where you get these things that i wasnt aware of that id like to share for any of the ignoramus like myself. its called 'itunes U'. its a section of the itunes store where you can download lectures on anything and everything from a bunch of different universities for free. its really excellent, they have lectures by semester so you can listen to full classes. so check it out.
"could it be said that mortality is the capacity for something to be good" - from warner, and awaiting explanation