Sunday, December 7, 2014

My philosophy club is discussing a book by Alain de Botton: The Consolations of Philosophy

Definition of consolation:  Comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment

6 chapters:
1.Unpopularity
2.Not having enough money
3.Frustration
4.Inadequacy
5.Broken Heart
6.Difficulties

I would like to discuss the following quotes from each chapter

chapter 1.
 page 6 of 244  In conversations, my priority was to be liked, rather to speak the truth
page 7 Philosophy had supplied Socrates with convictions in which he had been able to have rational confidence when faced with disapproval
page 13  But it is not only the hostility of others that may prevent us from questioning the status quo.
....It is for help in overcoming our meekness that we may turn to Socrates
page 16 The sandal-less philosopher raised a plethora of questions to determine whether what was popular happened to make any sense.
page 23 Socrates encourages us not to be unnerved by the confidence of people who fail to .... formulate their views...with rigor..
page 24 The Socratic method of thinking ... step 3. If an exception is found, the definition must be false or at least imprecise
page 29 What should worry us is not the number of peole who oppose us, but how good their reasons are for doing so
page 36 We should not look to Socrates for advice on escaping the death sentence
page 42 The validity of an idea or action is determined not by whether it is widely believed...but by whether it obeys the rules of logic


Chapter 2
page 53 At the heart of Epicurean-ism is the thought that we are as bad at intuitively answering "what will make me happy?"
page 55 The task of philosophy was, for Epicurus, to help us interpret our indistinct pulses of distress and desire and thereby save us from mistaken schemes for happiness.
page 58  There are few better remedies for anxiety than thought.  In writing a problem down or airing it in conversation we let its essential aspects emerge.

Chapter 3
page 80 And yet, for Seneca, in so far as we can ever attain wisdom, it is by learning not to aggravate the world's obstinacy through our own responses.... Philosophy must reconcile us to the true dimensions of reality, and so spare us, if not frustration itself, then at least its panoply of pernicious accompanying emotions.
page 85 We will cease to be so angry once we cease to be so hopeful
page 89 We are mistaken if we believe any part of the world is exempt and safe.. Nature has not created anything in such a way that it is immobile
Page 91 We do not know what will happen next
Page 96 Seneca more wisely asks us to consider that bad things probably will occur, but adds that they are unlikely ever to be as bad as we fear
Page 98 It wasn't hypocrisy.  Stoicism does not recommend poverty; it recommends that we neither fear nor despise it.
Page 99 The frustration caused by the inanimate object is compounded by a sense that it holds one in contempt
Page 100 It is tempting,  when we are hurt, to believe that the thing which hurt us intended to do so.
Page 107 .... for Seneca, wisdom lies in correctly discerning where we are free to mould reality according to our wishes and where we must accept the unalterable with tranquility
Page 107 Our leash is long enough to give us a degree of leeway, but not long enough to allow us to wander wherever we please
Page 109 We can as easily go astray by accepting the unnecessary and denying the possible, as by denying the necessary and wishing for the impossible.  It is for reason to make the distinction
Page 109 We may be powerless to alter certain events, but we remain free to choose our attitude towards them, and it is in our spontaneous acceptance of necessity that we find our distinctive freedom


Chapter 4
Page 144  Through these books, Montaigne could gain legitimacy for parts of himself of which there was no evidence in the vicinity
Page 146 By travelling....Montaigne invited us to exchange local prejudices and the self-division they induced for less constraining identities as citizens of the world.
Page 146 ...a friend being, among other things, someone kind enough to consider more of us normal than most people do
Page 158  Montaigne encouraged us to blame the author.  An incomprehensible prose-style is likely to have resulted more from laziness than cleverness
Page 168 A virtuous ordinary life, striving for wisdom but never far from folly, is achievement enough


Chapter 5
Page 178 Schopenhauer :  "We shall be quite civilized only when ... it is no longer anyone's right to cut through the consciousness of every thinking being... by means of whistling, howling, belowing... and so on"
Page 181  As fame brings more attention from women, Schopenhauer's views on them soften
Page 189 Our will-to-life drives us towards people who will raise our chances of producing beautiful and intelligent offspring
Page 198 They would never have grown so disappointed if only they had entered love wiht the correct expectations
Page 199 ...we can go to the theatre, the opera and the concert hall, we can read novel, philosophy and epic poems---an it is in these activities that Schopenhauer located a supreme source of relief from the demands of the will-to-life

Chapter 6
page 205 Nietzsche had realized that difficulties of every sort were to be welcomed by those seeking fulfillment..
Page 215 Nietzsche was striving to correct the belief that fulfillment must come easily or not at all, a belief ruinous in its effects, for it leads us to withdraw prematurely from challenges that might have been overcome if only we had been prepared for the savagery legitimately demanded by almost everything valuable
Page 224 As Nietzsche's beloved Montaigne had explained in the final chapter of the Essays: We must learn to suffer whatever we cannot avoid..
Page 233 The thought of Utilitarianism, and even the nation from which it had sprung, enraged Nietzsche
Page 237 There may be differences between such words and a drink but Nietzsche insisted on an essential equivalence.  Both Christianity and alcohol have the power to convince us that what we previously thought deficient in ourselves and the world does not require attention, both weaken our resolve to garden our problems; both deny us the chance of fulfillment
page 243 Like his pastor father, Nietzsche had been committed to the task of consolation....But unlike pastors ...he had judged difficulties to be a critical prerequisite of fulfillment, and hence knew saccharine consolations to be ultimately more cruel than helpful.  .
page 243 Not everything which makes us feel better is good for us.  Not everything which hurts may be bad












Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sartre and Camus--A Historic Confrontation

The book was edited and translated by David A Sprintzen and Adrian van de Hoven

The following are quotes that I want to discuss with my book group. References are to location on the Kindle. There are 3308 locations are the Kindle for this book.

[This section is the author's attempt to inform us of the historical environment of the feud.]


Loc 37 When rebellion itself becomes a vehicle of oppression rather than liberation -- what then is left to us?

Loc 124 Self-defense is justified ... but premeditated murder ... is not
Loc 129 ...the limits ..and the moral price individuals must pay if they transgress those limits ...
Loc 138 Calculated violence is always a sign and symptom of dehumanization.

Loc 140 Claims to exclusive possession of the truth prepare the ground for oppression ... Disagreements then become grounds for ideological combat... Camus' efforts during the tortuous struggles of the Algerian civil war take meaning here.  ...he strove to find common ground where dialogue might begin...

Loc 150 He [Camus] rejected any theory that argued that the ends justify the means

Ontology: the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being

Metaphysics: the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, identity....

Loc 186 That connection comes to the fore as Sartre becomes increasingly preoccupied with the concrete historical impediments to ... the realization of human freedom.
Loc 192 Political engagement seemed like an ontologically grounded moral imperative. ... Sartre came to see that the conditions (within which we come to be) profoundly mark the character ...which we make ourselves. ... We choose to be something definite, in a particular historical situation ...

Loc 200 While suffering few illusions about the repressive nature of Soviet power ... Sartre became convinced ...Only the Communist Party stood between the French working class and unimpeded capitalistic exploitation 

Loc 204 ...Sartre was convinced ..take sides ..even if necessary bt submerging truth...

Loc 207 Camus' sense of the responsibility ... Rejecting the exclusive alternatives explicitly owed by the political world ... He continued to believe that dishonest means corrupt noble ends

Loc 215 ...strengthened Camus' resolve not to sacrifice human values and concrete individuals for long term ideological goals

loc 237 Is there a Truth of History?  Or many truths? Or is its meaning only a series of diverse perspectives brought to it by engaged actors?

loc  239    Further, must one always tell the truth, or at least strive to do so?   ....   And does the truth guarantee that values will prevail? ...   May not noble illusions sometimes be necessary to mobilize the people for the dangerous struggle to throw off an oppressor?   .... These are among the issues raised by Camus, Jeanson, and Sartre in the texts that follow.


[continued introduction by David A Sprintzen et al]

loc  411  Sartre issues a statement in Combat ....."existentialism...Man must create his own essence: it is in throwing himself into the world, suffering there, struggling there, that he gradually defines himself. ... '

loc  598 Camus...concluded that there are moral limits to what actions are permissible regardless of the grandeur of the goals to be obtained.

loc  605   Sartre ....finally committing himself to the concrete struggles of real people in the real world---with all its necessary moral compromises. .....   He concludes that solidarity in the struggle of the oppressed masses is the sole path to a meaningful existence in this contingent world without transcendent purpose.

loc 618 Sartre had said that to condemn the Soviet prison camps would be tacit support of capitalism ...  He preferred to tolerate them [prison camps] as a no doubt unpleasant but necessary step to a more perfect society

loc 637 -Jeanson [in the May 1952 review of Camus' The Rebel] rejected Camus' claim that Marxism led to Stanlinism ..and accused Camus of avoiding reality ....

loc 659 Sartre's Reply to Camus which deserves notoriety for some of the most acrid ad hominem arguments in the annals of philosophy.

loc 713 Camus' position was based on the principle of coexistence: two peoples living together under a common charter of human rights.  ....where different nationalities live together in peace....  Camus remained faithful to the philosophy of The Rebel: opposition to violence. disgust for uselessly spilled blood, instinctive repulsion in face of intolerance and fanaticism.

loc 727 In The Rebel, Camus attacked the "historicism"  of his contemporaries, their invocation of "History" to justify their own public commitments and their indifference to the human costs of radical political choices.

loc 737 Simone de Beauvoi concludes that Camus was an idealist, a moralist, and an anti-Communist

loc 738 Sartre had labored since 1940 to repudiate idealism, to wrench himself away from his original individualism

[next is Jeanson's review of The Rebel]

loc 823 aren't we compelled to find the emphasis on style in this book excessive?


[next is Camus' reply to the review]

loc 1126 The truthfulness of a thought is not decided by whether it comes from the Right or the Left ....

loc   1226   ...my book does not deny history (a denial that would make no sense) but only criticizes the attitude that aims to make history into an absolute.  Hence it is not history that is rejected but a perspective on history...

loc 1295 ..In any case, if one is of the opinion that authoritarian socialism is the principal revolutionary experience of our time, it seems to me difficult not to come to terms with the terror that it presupposes, particularly today---and, for example, so as to remain close to reality, with the fact of concentration camps.


[next is Sartre's reply to the Camus' letter]

loc 1435  If we dare call ourselves the brothers of those in misery, we must devote every instant of our life to them, and in that case, you are not their brother....  You are a lawyer who says "These are my brothers" because these words stand the best chance of making the jury weep

loc 1466  You used to denounce the use of violence everywhere, and now you subject us, in the name of morality to virtuous acts of violence.

[And then Camus responds to Sartre]

loc 2301 I learned that crime, far from having been given birth and burning in a criminal soul only to be immediately extinguished, could justify itself, turning its theoretical system into a powerful force, spreading its adherents around the world, ultimately conquering and ruling,  What else was there to do then except fight to prevent this result?

loc 2305 It is said that it is not the reasons for honor that sustain one, but rather honor itself that keeps one standing tall.

loc 2316 It would be more correct to say that we knew clearly where the lie was without yet being able to say where the truth could be found,

loc 2337 Far from wishing to condone anything, I wanted to understand the kind of guilt we shared

loc 2353 ...and that the rebel, if he does not rebel on behalf of everyone, ends up by reaching an extremity of solitude where everything seems permitted to HIM.  ...  The nihilism of the solitary individual like that of historical religions ends up consecrating terror on the level of the individual or the state.

[ then William L McBride responds in 1952]

loc 2661   It is true some of the excesses of the French Revolution stemmed from an extreme Enlightenment optimism about human virture

[then Jeffrey Isaac's essay]

loc 2786 How ought oppression to be conceptualized and resisted?  What are the limits of radical politics?  Is it possible to envision a politics practiced against the grain of Marxism and liberalism?

[then a time line---here are just  few excerpts]

Camus's refusal in September 1944 to join the editorial committee of Sarte's Les Temps modernes suggests political differences.
October 1951---Publication of The Rebel
January 1960--Camus dies in an automobile accident



Earl will help me reduce these down to 10 topic questions to be discussed with the  book group

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A non-believers guide to the uses of religion by Alain De Botton

Quotes from the book that I would like to discuss:

Location 91 For instance, much of what is best about Christmas is entirely unrelated to the story of the birth of Christ..

Loc 161 ...look away and assume that a government agency will take care of the problem

Loc 295 ...there are few more effective ways to promote tolerance ... than ... to eat supper together

Loc 454 Medieval Christianity certainly understood this dichotomy...on New Year's Eve ... The Feast of Fools
Loc 465 in 445, the Paris Faculty of Theology explained ...that the Feast of Fools was a necessary event in the Christian calendar, in order that foolishness, which is our second nature and is inherent in man, can freely spend itself at least once a year
Loc 469 ...we cannot be naive about our nature 

Loc 649 ...on the wall of churches and public buildings... their purpose was straightforwardly didactic: they were meant to provide a compass...   By contrast .... libertarian theorists have argued that public space should be neutral

loc 734 There are few things that secular society believes in as fervently as education
loc  846 It has been the essential task of the Christian pedagogic machine to nurture, reassure comfort and guide our souls
loc 856 Differ though we might with Christianity's view of what precisely our souls need, it is hard to discredit the provocative underlying thesis, which seems no less relevant in the secular realm ... that we have within us a precious, childlike, vulnerable core which we should nourish and nurture on its turbulent journey through life
 loc 919 A university alive to the true responsibilities of cultural artifacts within a secular age would establish a department for relationships, an institute of dying and a centre for self-knowledge... curricula to engage directly with our most pressing personal and ethical dilemmas

loc 999 Aside from needing to be delivered eloquently, ideas also have to be repeated to us constantly. ... our best thoughts reinforced to counter the continuous pull of distraction and disintegration. ... Religions have been wise enough to establish elaborate ... How free secular society leaves us by contrast ... We honour the power of culture but rarely admit with what scandalous ease we forget its individual monuments. ..
loc 1092 ...Zen Buddhism anointed the tea ceremony as one of its most significant pedagogic moments ... Every aspect of the ritual has meaning, beginning with the cups, whose misshapen form reflects Zen's affection for all that is raw and unpretentious. ... the tea ceremony is a mechanism for bringing to life ideas about which participants already have a good intellectual grasp and yet continue to need encouragement to abide by. ...
loc 1106 .. but the mikveh ritual, associating outer hygiene with the recovery of a particular kind of inner purity, like so many other symbolic practices promoted by religions, manages to use a physical to support a spiritual lesson.
loc 1113 Religions understand the value of training our minds with a rigour that we are accustomed to applying only to the training of our bodies. ... They do all this not in order to deny us freedom but to quell our anxieties and flex our moral capacities.  
loc 1216...console and tame .. We require effective centers for the restoration of our whole beings; new kinds of retreats devoted to educating through an array of secularized spiritual exercise ..

loc 1288   ..it is simply the wrong question to raise.  The apposite point is not whether the Virgin exists, but what it tells us about human nature that so many ...felt the need to invent her ...
loc 1301Though such longings go largely unmentioned in adult society, it has been the achievement of religions to know how to reanimate and legitimate them.


loc 1335 Religion teaches us to be gentle on ourselves in those times of crisis when, desperate and afraid , we confusedly cry out for help

loc 1377 ..the secular age maintains an all but irrational devotion to a narrative of improvement, based on a messianic faith in the three great drivers of change: science, technology and commerce.

loc 1411 Christian and Jewish marriages, while not always jovial, are at least spared the second order of suffering which arises from the mistaken impression that it is somehow wrong or unjust to be malcontent. ... Within the religious ideal, friction, disputes and boredom are signs not of error, but of life proceeding according to plan... ...the faiths have the good sense to provide us with angels to worship and lovers to tolerate

loc 1426 Pessimists can have a far greater capacity for appreciation than their opposite numbers, for they never expect things to turn out well and so may be amazed by the modest successes ....


loc 1509 Spinoza had no patience with the notion of an anthropomorphic Supreme Being ... For him, 'God' was merely a scientific term for the force that had created the universe ... Spinoza proposed that we use our imaginations to step outside ourselves and practice submitting our will to the laws of the universe

loc 1541 Science should matter to us not only because it helps us to control parts of the world but also because it shows us things that we will never master

loc 1568 Moreover, time spent in museums seems to confer some of the same psychological benefits as attendance at church services

loc 1619 Christianity, by contrast, never leaves us in any doubt about what art is for:  it is a medium to remind us about what matters. It exists to guide us to what we should worship and revile if we wish to be sane, good people in possession of well-ordered souls. ... The German philosopher Hegel...indicated that art engages us through both our senses and our reason...

loc 1645 We may associate propaganda with corruption and tasteless posters, but Christianity took it to be synonymous with the artistic enhancement of our receptivity to such qualities as modesty friendship and courage.

loc 1670 It is fundamental to the power of the Christian story that Jesus died in more or less the greatest agony ever experienced by anyone.  He thus offers all human beings, however racked by illness and grief, evidence that they are not alone in their condition

loc 1692 By its very nature, life inflicts on us universal pains based on timeless psychological and social realities

loc 1702 Christian art understands that images are important partly because they can generate compassion, the fragile quality which enables the boundaries of our egos to dissolve, helps us to recognize ourselves in the experiences of strangers and can make their pain matter to us....

loc 1849 The curators should co-opt works of art to the direct task of helping us to live: to achieve self-knowledge, to remember forgiveness and love and to stay sensitive to the pains suffered by our ever troubled species and its urgently imperiled planet... Museums should be places that use beautiful objects in order to try to make us good and wise.

loc 1919 What if we are also influenced by the houses, hospitals and factories around us? ... strive to put up buildings that could advance a case for goodness through their beauty?

loc 2055 ..there are places which by virtue of their remoteness, solitude, beauty or cultural richness retain an ability to salve the wounded parts of us

loc 2060 We need psychoanalytically astute travel agents who could carefully analyze our deficiencies and match us up with parts of the world which would have the power to heal us

loc 2271Comte recognized that a secular society devoted solely to the accumulation of wealth, scientific discovery, popular entertainment and romantic love--a society lacking in any sources of ethical instruction, consolation, transcendent awe or solidarity- would fall prey to untenable social maladies.












 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Answers for Aristotle by Massimo Pigliucci

Philosophy book club is discussing the book in late October 2013.

Here is the complete title:

Answers for Aristotle
How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life

Earl said he'd help me reduce these down to 10 topic questions by the time we meet October 27, 2013.

Loc 150 of 4242 (page 6 of 312) There is a distinct possibility that bad philosophizing may make our lives more miserable ...

1. ** 163 page 6 Eudaimonia is achieved by engaging in virtuous behavior ...319 page 21 Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit

2. **Loc 172 page 7 ...major obstacle to increasing our eudaimonia ...is akrasia, traslatable as weakness of will...

*loc 260 page 13..if you asked one hundred philosophers what philosophy is, you would probably receive the proverbial hundred different answers .....my [Massimo's] take on it is that philosophy is founded on the construction (and deconstruction) of reasoned arguments... [he then mentions other traditions that are commonly counted as philosophy that don't fall neatly into that definition]

3. ** 278 page 15 Aristotle said that morality is about what makes human beings flourish

* 469 page 33 Fallon had a nice childhood with no traumas and plenty of affection from his family

** 502 page 35 According to Green's theory, we change the type of moral judgement we employ--... utilitarians ... to deontologists ... ... The basic idea is that our cognitive processes (broadly speaking, our ability to think rationally) are engaged in utilitarian ethical judgement, while our emotional responses (our gut feelings, our intuitions) enable deontological judgement. [example: fat guy and trolley]

** 616 page 44 Why is it that we seem to have a strong instinct to consider some notions wrong and others right?

** 628 page 45 "...no common power...continual fear..." ...Thomas Hobbes .... his underlying idea is that morality and justice are latecomers ... the power of the state keeps us from sliding back into a war of all against all...

Loc 686 page 50 ...reciprocal altruism

Loc 895 page 65. enlarge the conditional reciprocity circle to the entire human race ...

*loc 909 page 66...modern deontological theories are based on philosophical analysis, not on theology. [he offers Kant as one example]

*loc 935 page 68 .deontology tends to be concerned with intentions as opposed to consequences

*loc 944 to 958 pages 68 and 69... morality is about reducing suffering ...Peter Singer ... consequentialism ... [he goes on to compare the best of intentions to actual consequences]

4. **Loc 1000 pg 72 .... Real life is too complex for that, and ethical decisions are indeed difficult to make which is why virtue ethics emphasis on character rather than actions or intentions may ultimately be more realistic.

*Loc 1006 pg 73 If you truly do not know what it is like to have to battle the weakness of your will ...

*loc 1012 page 73 [talks about virtue ethics, Kant's categorical imperatives, and consequentialism]

5. ** loc 1135 -1139. Pg 84 -85 Always attentive to the stress that results from cognitive dissonance, the brain immediately "retrieves" memories that are not actually there, literally making up stories as we go to reduce the .....   ..simply a result of confabulation that the patient's brain concocted to reduce the cognitive dissonance

loc 1202-1209 pg 89-90  ..how the brain largely works to rationalize our views of the world.......Only through this awareness and constant vigilance can we hope to improve our ability to make reasonable decisions...  Think of it as training your brain the same way you train your muscles at the gym.....

* loc 1261 pg 94 ...intuition is about the brain's ability to pick up on certain recurring patterns; the more we are exposed to a particular domain of activity the more familiar we become with the relevant patterns....and the more and faster our brains generate heuristic solutions ...
loc 1403 pg 104 ...acquired intuitive skill made possible by the brain having seen enough similar situations to extract patterns...

* 1267 pg 95 Because of this association, intuitions are accompanied by a strong gut feeling that we are right. Intuitive responses and emotional responses are not exactly the same thing neurologically speaking but they share some of the same brain circuitry and are therefore difficult to disentangle
loc 1271 The deep connection between emotions and intuition was evident .....


6. ** loc 1474 pg 111 Deductive reasoning is truth preserving.... That is, if the structure of the argument is valid and if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true.
loc 1481 So there are basically two ways in which a deductive argument can go wrong: when its structure is flawed or when one or more of its premises are not true.

* loc 1557 pg 116 A better way to think about how science works was proposed by Thomas Kuhn partly in response to Popper's ideas. ...occasionally the growing number of unsolved puzzles begins to cause a  stir.... So we will move on .... trying to figure out if we can trust science ...

* loc 1731--1735 page 131 The first line of defense therefore is to stay mindful and try to avoid having to resist more than one of these (or any other) temptations at any given time.   ....Just as the Greek philosopher suggested that virtue is a matter of mindful practice, so modern scientific research tells us that we can improve our willpower ... exposing yourself to small temptations and successfully resisting them
 * loc 1811 page 137 ...free will is the ability to act according to our considered desires
...compatibilists think the the universe is deterministic but that does not preclude free will...
libertarian incompatibilists think the the universe is NOT deterministic ...deterministic incompatibilists think that determinism is real and therefore free will is precluded ...[Massimo explains why he is a compatalist]


* loc 1989 page 150 David Hume claimed ...that reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions... Hume went a step further and famously maintained that morality itself is not arrived at by logical argument but is rather the outcome of our emotional reactions

** loc 2325 page 176 ....our behavior makes us partially responsible for the happiness of our friends, and that presents us with even more of an ethical duty to do the right thing

** loc 2386-2388 page 180 ...loyalty to a friend ... is something that Aristotle would not have found problematic (within limits, of course) ...Mill and Kant,  on the other hand would be somewhat at a loss if asked to justify the special regard one has for a friend within the context of their broader ethical systems.

7. ** loc 2519--2539 page 193-194  People  respond differently to the same factual information depending solely on how it is presented or framed.  Politicians and advertising agencies know this very well, which is why they try to prevent negative connotations for any of their position or products. ...people were responding to the framing , not the facts

* 2608 most of us, most of the time, use what cognitive scientists call heuristics---convenient shortcuts or rule of thumb to quickly assess a situation or a claim.

* 2625 The next time you find yourself vehemently defending a political position, however, you may want to seriously ponder whether you are behaving as a Bayesian updater or whether you are deploying one of the six rationalizing strategies

2659 we have a fairness calculator embedded in our brains

* 2665 reflective equilibrium is a type of rational reflection that seeks to achieve an equilibrium among different notions, judgments or intuitions we might have about a given ethical problem

** 2675 Rawls applied the method of reflective equilibrium to arrive at an ingenious device meant to guide us toward the establishment of a society that is as just as can be rationally conceived
*2870 ..the basic idea is that we want to strive as much as possible to harmonize our beliefs... In practicing reflective equilibrium ... the goal is not to achieve a probably impossible perfect harmony ... One of Rawl's starting points in A Theory of Justice is that a pluralist society is unable to build a system on a single comprehensive moral doctrine 
2791 morally corrupt and therefore unhappy

8. ** 2806-2819 page 216-217 ... if everyone (or even just a large enough number of people) becomes a free rider, there won't be a ride left for anyone. ...

9 * *2820 argument against Marxist theories ...the better the situation becomes for the working class ... Once enough workers have crossed into middle class status, their incentive to engage in further struggle vanishes

2831-2834 The most obvious answer... governments that enforce ... our need for collective cooperation

 * 2899 .. there is a huge difference between a secular system, which is neutral toward religion, and an atheistic one which might be described as antireligious

10. ** 2917-2939 ...Rawl's fundamental concept of justice as fairness ... constant trade off between individual liberties and equality ...we should agree as a society not to accord special privileges to people who happen to have been born in a certain way ... social goods should be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution benefits everyone ...accord more resources to the people willing to do the work

* 2950 Rawls suggests that the participants in the discussion should deliberate as if they had no information about their own ...
2965 ... But Rawls answers that this strategy [utilitarianism] is likely to result in unacceptable restrictions of the rights of one or more minorities

3158 after this, therefor because of this

3162 rationalize away the repeated failures

3590 virtue is a matter of practice

* 3620 Modern psychology makes the same distinction that Aristotle made between happiness as simple pursuit of pleasure and happiness as a fulsome eudaimonia life

11. ** 3696 ...wiser people ... distinguishing situations when it makes sense to take some action from situations that simply need to be accepted because there are no viable alternatives

12.* *3729 we are inherently limited in our ability ... cut ourselves a bit of slack for not getting life exactly right ...














Monday, July 22, 2013

The Power of Movies-How Screen and Mind Interact-by Colin McGinn

My philosophy book group is discussing this book Sept 8th. I suggest we discuss the ones with **.

Here are some of the quotes I would like to discuss:

**Loc 122  Art, in other words, is transformative .....What moves us at the movie theater is the power of the imagination

*Page 27 of 212 (loc 361 of 2585)  ...gazing into flames is no doubt an ancient pastime... We can see strange and fascinating patterns... ...perennial human urge to leave the home and assemble in the fire-lit dark with like-minded strangers to listen to stories.

*Pg 37 loc 478 ...we do not thereby look into the photograph ...We look at the photograph ... The movie image is seen but not looked at...

*Loc 482 Photographs are objects of visual attention; movies exist to direct attention elsewhere...

**Pg 51 loc 661 In the close up we can see to the bottom of the soul by means of such tiny movements of facial muscles which even the most observant partner would never perceive. ...The close up exploits what psychologists call mind reading. ...Without the close up movies would lack much of their psychological power, their peculiar dramatic punch.

**Pg 55 loc 702 Three factors feed the voyeuristic appetite in the cinema, the close up, looking into, and the psychological foregrounding

*Pg 73 loc 934 here is Roland Barthes on the face of Greta Garbo: Garbo offered to one's gaze a sort of Platonic IDEA of the human creature ...the name given to her, the Divine ...

**Page 78 loc 986 If spiritual bodies, analogous to angels, confront us on the screen, then is watching a movie anything like a religious experience?

*Page 82 loc 1038. Polytheistic and pagan full of violence and conflict, sexual passion and hunger for power, the movies approximate more closely the religion of our wilder forebears

**page 94 loc 1190 The answer, I suggest, is that the actor pretends that someone else's mind is in her body

Pg 95 loc 1200 ...metaphysical assumptions about mind and body... 

Pg 98 loc 1239 ..it is that the screen is consciousness externalized. 

Pg 100 loc 1246 ... Consciousness is essentially an awareness of things outside itself

**Pg 106 loc 1325 For music is clearly the most reliably guaranteed medium for the creation of emotion in the human breast.... the music tells the audience what to feel and makes them feel it

** 108 loc 1345 Both film and dream serve, not just to represent and express emotion,  but to open the emotional valves--to let emotion flow freely

**page 136 loc 1686 There is nothing better after a hard day of philosophical thinking and writing than a mindless movie...

**pg 141  loc 1750 ...movie theater is a place where people's suggestibility is abnormally high, owing to the dream mechanisms that are there evoked

**page 165 loc 2019 ...always someone on the screen whose place you are imaginatively occupying; without this your involvement would be greatly diminished

** 200 loc 2419 The power of film in creating propaganda should be seen in the same light.  The critical faculties are reduced, the mind entering a state of dreamlike susceptibility...

**page 201 loc 2437 Secondly, movies are primarily a medium for sensation and feeling, not for abstract thought....








Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Free Will by Michael Frede

These are quotes from the book that I want to discuss.  The numbers are to the location on my Kindle.
According to the Kindle, there are 3212 locations and 178 pages in the book.  Hopefully you can use those references to convert the location number to the page number in your book.

163 Let us assume that it is a fact that, at least sometimes when we do something, we are responsible for what we are doing, as nothing or nobody forces us to act in this way; rather we ourselves desire or even choose or decide to act in this way

178 We should carefully distinguish between the belief in a free will and the ordinary belief that at least sometimes we are responsible for what we are doing.

228 As a matter of historical fact, it turns out that a notion of a will is not necessarily a notion of a will which is free.

270 The Christian God is a benevolent agent who provides for his slaves in such a way as to enable them to live a good life. [this sectin also talks about other types of slavery and tyrants]

420 ...presumed fact that people sometimes, in cases of conflict, do act, against their better knowledge, on their nonrational desire.

443 ...in Aristotle's view..it is a long story about how in the past one has failed to submit oneself to the training, practice, exercise, discipline, and reflection ... One acts either on a rational desire, a willing, or on a nonrational desire, an appetite.

450 The distinction Aristotle is aiming at is the distinction between things we do for which we can be held rsponsible and things we do for which we cannot be held responsible

528 Aristotle thinks rather optimistically that the ability to make the right choices comes with human nature and a good upbringing

to be continued

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Philosophy of Sherlock Holmes

Posting quotes about the book that I want to discuss at the April meeting of the philosophy book club.
The Kindle doesn't give page numbers. There are 4051 locations. So please use the fraction (my location divided by 4051) to determine the page #. In other words multiply the fraction by the number of pages in your book. :-)

Loc 284-- ... Holmes' hubris may actually be intellectual courage
Loc 297 ...epistemic humility is consistent with the intellectual courage it takes to risk being wrong in order to capture the truth

Loc 380 ...intuition was something which he seemed fond
Loc 381 ..realized that sometimes it's easier to know something than to explain the justification for it

Loc 537 ...privacy in personal affairs that do not threaten public safety

Loc 545 What Kant's moral philosophy fails to address are the practical questions of what a person of good will would or should do in cases where it is a question of how to respond to the immoral acts of others, and how to judge these responses. This criticism is somewhat off the mark, for Kant doesn't claim to be addressing these questions.
Loc 549 Kant leaves it to each of us to use our reason to discover the practical application of the moral law for ourselves. He is simply giving us a foundation ...
Loc 526 Is it ever right for a private citizen to go above the law

Loc 625- A law that can't be enforced is no better than no law at all

Loc 629 - ...Aristotle states a truly virtuous man would find his greatest pleasure in doing what is noble and would be pained to do otherwise

Loc 743 One of the jobs of the philosopher is to bring clarity and precision to the terms we use in everyday language

Loc 1104 We have seen that it is certainly not deduction, as so often maintained by Dr Watson or by Holmes himself. ... It is one form or another of inductive reasoning that Holmes deploys...

Loc 1047 enumerative induction and eliminative induction

I would like to discuss the difference between deduction, induction and abduction.
Definition of deduction: loc 956, loc 1035, loc 1107
Definition of induction: loc 243, loc 999, loc 1019, loc 1109
Definition of abduction: loc 245, loc 1058, loc 3136, loc 3138
Loc 956 Deduction is what philosophers call a truth-guaranteeing type of reasoning, meaning that IF the premises of a deductive argument are correct, then the conclusion must be inescapably true.
Loc 992 This is important because it introduces an element of probability (as opposed to certainty)
Loc 999 ...generalizing from a series of observations, what philosophers can induction.
Loc 1035 ..the premises of a deductive argument often are the result of preexisting induction, which means that even the truth preserving character of deduction is in fact built on shaky foundations.
Loc 1058 Consilience is often referred to as abduction, or inference to the best explanation
Loc 3170 The abductive portion of Holmes's deduction thus depends on induction.

Loc 1902- What mattered for Kant was that our actions be inspired by the right intentions ...

Loc 2498 Among the most desired job skills today are critical thinking, good communication skills, ethical decision making, the ability to work well in teams and global literacy

Loc 2507 Consider the three leading moral theories today: consequentialism, duty theory (aka deontological ethics) and virtue ethics.

Loc 2539 ..a broad knowledge base is important for civic literacy and the responsibilities of democratic citizenship

Loc 2923 Among these finer fruits, Thoreau thought are the pleasures of friendship, the pursuit of knowledge,personal growth, and communion with nature ...

Loc 3066 Logical analysis can help detect falsehoods, but moving toward truth takes creativity...