Philosophy Discussions and Stuff

Discussion in 'Aqua Polis Square' started by Brijesha, Oct 9, 2014.

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  1. Keramory

    Keramory Guest

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    2:39 AM
    I hate saying things with half ignorance (either none or all :p) because I don't remember what part of the brain it is, but to add onto this, the portion of self preservation is right next to your belief system, hence why people are so unwilling to listen against their beliefs and hell, go to war over them. So philosophy aside, I agree with what I quoted just because to me, fighting against your brains natural desires is always something that requires more strength then just going with it.
  2. Kai

    Kai Well-Known Member Senior Member

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    5:39 AM
    Interesting thread. :D

    Aryth hit the nail on the head. Denial is just refusal to accept information presented whether it is true or false. Rebuttals are made when there is a reason (and perhaps evidence) behind it.

    And while we are on the subject of self preservation, I would like to point out that while they are close self preservation and belief systems are subject to a sort of reactionary hierarchy. Self preservation is the byproduct of self awareness. This need to survive is what drives a person's actions every second of their life, at least in my opinion.

    The reason why I state this is that in order to survive, the brain creates hundreds of mechanisms to shield itself from unwanted outside stimuli. A great majority of it is petty. For example, you don't like specific foods because the smell/taste/texture reminds you of some experience where you got a stomach bug and the unpleasantness of throwing up throughout the day signals your brain which, in turn, makes you feel bad and causes you to avoid the food. Regardless if it is pedantic, it is necessary to survive.

    Religious belief (and belief systems in general, but let's talk about religion for the sake of the discussion) is another layer of armor the mind surrounds itself in like culinary preferences. Sometimes people use it as a guide to go about their day. Others abuse it and sometimes even replace their survival mechanisms with it. Regardless of how illogical or how much it is lacking evidence, it is a way to place oneself above those around them by condemning anyone who disagrees with their beliefs. This is survival of the fittest, superego style. Having such a powerful being on your side makes you feel that you have an advantage that others don't and warning them of inciting that being's wrath. It allows some level of control over the situation while satiating survival urges.

    Going back to control vs. freedom, both of them in a pure state is bad. You need to moderate how much of each concept must be applied to what part of life you are applying it to according to the situation so that it reaches the best possible outcome. It really is up to the individual to do that, but since humanity has a knack for making their world as complex as possible there is only so much one can do.

    But if humanity at least attempted to do so every day, this world would be as amazing as it is supposed to be.
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  3. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    If you were a psychiatrist assigned by the government to make torturers feel better about their lives, what would you do? That's not a rhetorical question. Back in the 1950s, the psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon was forced to answer that question, in his own life.

    Photo: Algiers, 1960. By Nicolas Tikhomiroff

    These days Fanon is known for his groundbreaking work chronicling political resistance movements in Algeria in the 1950s and 60s. Many people first encounter him as the author of the powerful 1952 book Black Skin, White Masks, about how blacks were treated under colonialism in Africa and the Caribbean — a situation which Fanon witnessed firsthand, growing up in a black middle-class family in Martinique in the 1930s.

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    But in the 1940s, Fanon was a young, idealistic psychiatrist. He'd just finished his college education in France, and in the early 1950s he began working in a French hospital in Algeria. This was during the height of the anti-colonial resistance movement, where Algerians were trying to push out the French colonial government. Known as the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN), or National Liberation Front, these protesters were routinely attacked by French troops, as well as imprisoned and tortured.

    Fanon had already published Black Skin, White Masks, partly in response to ignorance about the black experience he'd encountered in France. But he had never been in the middle of war where white colonial troops were literally smashing the heads of brown people who wanted simply to reclaim their own country. At first, Fanon continued to do his job at the hospital. But more and more often, he found that the patients seeking his psychiatric help were suffering from traumas of war.

    Fanon has written a lot about these patients, but one story always stuck with me. A man came to him, complaining of depression, suicidal thoughts, and violent urges. The man was obviously in great distress, and was deeply afraid that his feelings were going to get so powerful that he was going to start hurting his family. In fact, that fear was what had finally driven him to seek Fanon's help. When Fanon inquired what the man did for a living, he replied that he worked for the government, interrogating members of the FLN. The man was a torturer. Fanon knew immediately what was causing the man's psychological troubles. Obviously his job was turning him from a loving father into someone violent, someone even this interrogator was afraid of becoming.

    So Fanon had a choice to make. He could use the tools of the burgeoning science of psychiatry to help this man feel better about torturing people. Or he could decide that the problem the man suffered wasn't within the purview of science to fix. It was a moral problem. This man was being evil, and his suffering could only be eased if he stopped engaging in evil
    behaviour.

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    Fanon does not record what he said to this man, nor to the other interrogators and soldiers who sought his help during those days. But we do know that shortly thereafter, he quit his fancy job at the French hospital in Algeria. He never worked for the French again. For the rest of his life, Fanon devoted himself to chronicling the psychological and philosophical experiences of people who chose to resist government oppression in Algeria and elsewhere in Africa.

    Undoubtedly, Fanon's real story begins after he left that hospital — it was the start of his career as a philosopher whose work is still extremely influential.

    But I always find myself thinking back to that moment right before Fanon quit his job. He looked into the eyes of that torturer, a man who was obviously in pain, and decided not to help. Maybe Fanon thought that this patient's depression wasn't a sign of sickness — instead, it was a healthy sign of resistance to a sickness in that man's world. Or maybe Fanon thought, as I suggested earlier, that the man's problem was related more to evil than mental illness.

    Either way, Fanon did not believe that a person who tortured other people should feel better about himself. Fanon's choice allows us to think about something that people in the sciences and healthcare often confront at some point in their lives. Where will they draw the line between what science can do, and what it should do?

    Sure, Fanon could have treated that guy. Maybe he could have taught him to compartmentalize his feelings, focus on positive imagery — or, hell, maybe over years he could have even convinced the guy to finally quit his job torturing Algerians. But Fanon didn't want to use his education and skills to help a man whose problem, after all, stemmed from the fact that he was paid to injure and kill people who didn't obey the government. Regardless of whether this man was treatable, Fanon decided not to treat him.

    Not everyone faces such a stark decision. Maybe an engineer is given the opportunity to build an amazing device that could be used to hurt people. Maybe a doctor is told to give preferential treatment to people who pay out of pocket rather than using health insurance. Maybe a new graduate is offered a job using her Ph.D. in geology to find oil deep beneath a sea habitat.

    Or maybe they're in a situation very much like Fanon's, where they're told to help people feel better psychologically about a world where white police officers can kill black people under extremely suspicious circumstances, and yet never even stand trial for it. Let's dispense with the subtleties, shall we, and just stare that fact in the face.

    All of us have those moments when we have to draw a line. We can use our knowledge to help people feel better about doing bad things. Or we can admit there is a moral realm that stands outside rationality, outside science, and outside our quest for perfect understanding. In that moral realm, we judge our own actions not by numbers of patents filed or Nobel Prizes won. Instead, we judge based on what we think will make the world a better place. And that's hard.
    You can't quantify it.

    You can only decide.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
  4. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    5:39 PM
    In this RSA Animate, Professor Renata Salecl explores the paralysing anxiety and dissatisfaction surrounding limitless choice. Does the freedom to be the architects of our own lives actually hinder rather than help us? Does our preoccupation with choosing and consuming actually obstruct social change?



    View the full lecture here: http://www.thersa.org/events/video/ar...
  5. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

    Local Time:
    5:39 PM
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    This philosophical imponderable (The Heap Paradox, Heraclitus' River, Thesus' Ship, Swampman, Pattern Identity, etc. etc. etc.) has been discussed many, many, many, many,many, many times on io9, either in the articles cited or in the comments below them. In fact it was this site that lead me to this cute animated film about the subject:



    Me?

    I'd just bypass it all by saying I'd have my neurons slowly replaced by synthetic ones until all my brain tissue is artificial. Thus my mind is moved to a better substrate ("uploaded" although I hate that term.) without ever having to lose my train of thought. Once my mind is running in a prothesthetic brain, I'd hook that new brain up to a better, artificial body (and dance myself up a mountain).
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
    Cerberuspaw likes this.
  6. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

    Local Time:
    5:39 PM
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    Episode 01

    Part 1 – The Moral Side of Murder
    If you had to choose between (1) killing one person to save the lives of five others and (2) doing nothing, even though you knew that five people would die right before your eyes if you did nothing—what would you do? What would be the right thing to do? That’s the hypothetical scenario Professor Michael Sandel uses to launch his course on moral reasoning.

    Part 2 – The Case for Cannibalism
    Sandel introduces the principles of utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, with a famous nineteenth century law case involving a shipwrecked crew of four. After nineteen days lost at sea, the captain decides to kill the cabin boy, the weakest amongst them, so they can feed on his blood and body to survive.
  7. Lunex

    Lunex Bloody Lunatic... Senior Member Indiegogo Backer

    Local Time:
    5:39 AM
    Little lighter than the rest of what went on here back in the day, but I just had a sort of lightbulb moment.

    It occurred to me that the end is not opposite to the beginning, but rather to stagnation. While both the beginning and the end have different roles, they both present a change in the status quo, but stagnation is the lack of change, and so, a stagnate thing must always be, while an ending must be something that always changes what was before.
  8. calmchaos

    calmchaos Moderator Staff Member Senior Member

    Local Time:
    4:39 AM
    Endings and beginnings are the same concept from different perspectives. The end of an era is always the beginning of another. I like how you juxtapose them with stagnation, but I wouldn't say they have different roles so much as different views. It's much like how creation requires destruction given finite resources; how a light illuminates one part of an object but casts a shadow on the other side. Depending on what part of the event you're looking at, you'll either see an ending or a beginning.

    I agree that they aren't opposites to each other but not because they're separate things, because they're the same thing: change. In that line of thinking, it makes sense that they would be the opposites of stagnation.

    Another alternative way of thinking about it is that change only exists between endings and beginnings, but stagnation only exists between beginnings and endings. Consider having a bunch of bottles with holes on both the top and bottom. Now connect all of those bottles such that the holes are aligned. Feel free to imagine unique identifiers on each bottle. Then flow water through this series of bottles. Every time the water goes through a hole into a new bottle, it changes; it takes on a new unique identifier that it previously lacked. However, until the water reaches the next hole it's stagnating in that identifier. Its properties are not changing although it's in motion. Then once it reaches the next hole, it changes identifiers.

    In this alternative line of thinking, change only exists for the brief moment that the change itself is actually taking place. At any other time, there is only stagnation. In-between those two concepts are merely beginnings and endings. The reason this line of thinking is different than the one previously mentioned is because in this idea beginnings and endings are properties of both change and stagnation. The beginning of stagnation is the end of change; the end of stagnation is the beginning of change.

    Just some food for thought.

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