Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

CoPhi returns January 17, 2017

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Bertrand Russell

“The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life...What we need is not the 'will to believe' but the will to find out... I shouldn't wish people to dogmatically believe any philosophy, not even mine... Contact with those who have no doubts has intensified a thousandfold my own doubts... The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt... If there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence... In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted... Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom... Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so... To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it... It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this."
About Russell. As a philosopher, mathematician, educator, social critic and political activist, Bertrand Russell authored over 70 books and thousands of essays and letters addressing a myriad of topics. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950, Russell was a fine literary stylist, one of the foremost logicians ever, and a gadfly for improving the lives of men and women.
Born in 1872 into the British aristocracy and educated at Cambridge University, Russell gave away much of his inherited wealth. But in 1931 he inherited and kept an earldom. His multifaceted career centered on work as a philosophy professor, writer, and public lecturer. Here is a detailedchronology of Russell's life, an overview of his analytic philosophy, and a completebibliography of all his publications... (continues)

Bertrand Russell, third Earl Russell, was born on 18th May 1872 at Cleddon Hall, Monmouthshire, into one of the great political families of Britain. His grandfather, Lord John Russell, the Whig politician and first Earl, who twice became Prime Minister, steered the 1832 Reform Act through Parliament. John Stuart Mill was Bertrand’s godfather, and young Bertie was introduced to Queen Victoria when he was two years old. Russell became a great and innovative philosopher, but he had politics in his genes.

Russell’s mother died when he was two years old, his father when he was three. There were two older siblings, a brother Frank, and a sister Rachel, who died young. Russell and his brother were brought up by their grandparents in Pembroke House, in the middle of Regent’s Park in London. (The house was the gift of Queen Victoria, and had been given in gratitude for Lord Russell’s political services. This was fitting, since, without the Reform Act, Victoria might not have had a throne to sit on.) Here the friendless boy grew up, looked after by a succession of Swiss and German nurses and governesses, and taught at home by a succession of English tutors. He was lonely, unhappy and highly precocious... (continues)
Russell texts online... Russell's message to future generations (video)
On Russell's History. "A precious book ... a work that is in the highest degree pedagogical which stands above the conflicts of parties and opinions." -Albert Einstein... "Parts of this famous book are sketchy ... in other respects it is a marvelously readable, magnificently sweeping survey of Western thought, distinctive for placing it informatively into its historical context. Russell enjoyed writing it, and the enjoyment shows; his later remarks about it equally show that he was conscious of its shortcomings." -A. C. Grayling... "I had the good fortune to have Russell's History assigned by my professor for my first course in philosophy, and my admiration for its verve and clarity has never dissipated." -Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

"I regarded the early part of my History of Western Philosophy as a history of culture, but in the later parts, where science becomes important, it is more difficult to fit into this framework. I did my best, but I am not at all sure that I succeeded. I was sometimes accused by reviewers of writing not a true history but a biased account of the events that I arbitrarily chose to write of. But to my mind, a man without bias cannot write interesting history — if, indeed, such a man exists."
on Love, Sex, the Good Life, and How Moral Superstitions Limit Our Happiness... on Immortality, Why Religion Exists, and What “The Good Life” Really Means | Brain Pickings
Russell the peripatetic. “Every morning Bertie would go for an hour’s walk by himself, composing and thinking out his work for that day. He would then come back and write for the rest of the morning, smoothly, easily and without a single correction.”Gymnasiums of the Mind

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

This I believe: part them (final report installment two) (H01)

            In my first post (http://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2016/11/this-i-believe-part-me-final-report.html) I attempted to illustrait m personal philosophy. For this part, I went into Nashville and, in the spirit of This I believe combined with the Humans of New York*, I asked random people about their beliefs.
*If you aren’t familiar with the Humans of New York project you should check it out at http://www.humansofnewyork.com/. He also post everything on the HONY facebook page if you want to check it out at https://www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork/.
A note:
            I believe I forgot to mention it in my first post, but I personally took all of the photos in both my posts. Several of the nice people I talked to to allowed me to video their response and take pictures of them, and so all of the media in this post was collected by me firsthand.
The meat:
            It was odd—trying to ask people about their beliefs—because people know, but they don’t know they know. At first I was asking people “What is your personal philosophy and why?” and I got a few answers, but mostly people just stuttered out some verson of “I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it,” with various amounts of shame and confusion. My first modification was to try and eaplain what I meant by philosophy, but even that was rather useless.
            In the end the question that seemed the most useful was “What do you believe above all else,” and it’s from that question or some version of it that the following interviews branched.

“I suppose I subscribe to Quasi realism which is, sort of, a result of Humes work, and it’s the idea that what’s right and wrong--I guess it’s the philosophy of ethics; the philosophy of ethics—and um, it’s the idea that what is right and wrong is sort of…the result of the pattern of humanity. There’s no objective correctness (right?); nothings innately right or wrong it’s, sort of, the result of what we do and the decisions we make. You kinda’ don’t find out what’s right or wrong until you do things and we decide that they’re right or wrong.”
Is there any particular reason or event in your life that helped to define your philosophy?
“When I was a kid my parents—not my parents, my mom mostly—used to tell me that, like she one time told me that I would be disowned if she ever found out I wasn’t Christian. So it’s kinda like this idea that you have to be a certain thing and that certain things absolutely or objectively correct and I think that’s just…horrible.

“So I think, I think a natural approach, you know, the idea that there isn’t some sort of outside thing giving us rules of any kind. You know, we came about naturally and there’s no reason that…you know, what’s right and wrong wouldn’t be just as natural.”
This pair was one of the first I spoke to, and he was the first person of the day to give me a coherent response. In fact, of everyone I spoke to, he seemed to be the only one that had ever thought about it beforehand. The girl—I didn’t ask anyone for even their first names—stuttered out the expected “I’m sorry. I’d help if I could, but I just don’t know.”

“Well I’m Christian so I believe in God. And how did I get there? I was raised in a Christian-Catholic family ,um, so I guess my foundation growing up and then, as I got older, I just, I had to make my own decisions. I ,um…well, I stuck with it, and I still believe it.”
Is there any particular event that solidified that belief for you?
“No I never, I never doubted it or questioned it. I think that, as I got older and you go through life events, I think your faith—for some people—becomes more important to them. It helps, kind of, make sense of things and sometimes get you though difficult times. So, uh, it wasn’t really an event, it was just that I think I’ve always believed it and the older I get the more I, the stronger it [her faith] becomes.”
She was one of the last people I spoke to, and also the most suspicious. Although she did let me record her interview, she wouldn’t let me video it, and she didn’t want me to take any photos of her face
She seemed annoyed by my second question. As if the underlying idea that she might have ever questioned her faith bothered or even offended her on a level she couldn’t acknowledge.

“I guess…uh…treat others the way you would want to be treated. The Golden rule. I grew up with it, and it was reinforced though life experiences.”

After some stuttering off camera when I initially asked, and then the tripping over her thoughts that I caught on video—and placed earlier in this post—this nice woman came up with probably the most straightforward of the days answers.

“So the one true thing for me is love, and I think that it was the first thing I knew as a child. It’s what I know with my own child, and it’s what my family and my community continue to show me is true.”

            As I said before, most of the people I spoke to hadn’t really thought about it, and couldn’t come up with anything on the spot. For every person that gave me a response another half dozen didn’t, and of those about one in every six wouldn’t even let me explain who I was and what I was doing. Even so, I had several nice conversations off-camera with people that couldn’t actually answer the question at hand.
            My favorite of the off-camera conversations was one I had with a sweet older lady. I’d started to give her my whole shpele about who I was and what I was doing, and she let me get all the way through it, and even asked me a few more questions about it, but then she started telling me about herself which was perfectly fine. I don’t mind to listen, and so I stood there for at least fifteen minutes while this sweet old lady told me about how she and her husband were Chinese immigrants who’d come to America alone in their teens. How they’d both worked for so long, and hard to raise their children and then put them through college, and how now their ids all made good money and were supporting them. They lived in California, and they were here in Nashville to visit their son and watch their grandson play football. I didn’t catch whether their grandson was in high school or college, but apparently whatever game it was was a big deal.
            My favorite part about her though, the bit that stuck in my head, was how she seemed to genuinely happy. Through it all she kept reiterating how lucky she was, and she seemed to really appreciate what she’d earned and what she’d been given both. When she bid me farewell without having ever answered my question or even take a picture of her I couldn’t help but notice the innocence in her elderly eyes as she smiled at her husband. The crinkle of laugh lines long ago etched in her face made me smile and create laugh lines that aren’t even an echo yet.

          I'm going t leave you with two more quote's. Both are said by Ender in Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game series. The first is from near the end of Ender's Game while Ender is trying to explain what war is to him, and the second is from Speaker for the Dead, and requires not even the minimal explanation I gave you for the first. 

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them.... I destroy them.” 
― Orson Scott CardEnder's Game

“No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one's life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins.” 
― Orson Scott CardSpeaker for the Dead

Links to comments:

My Last Post

Hello, everyone. This being part of the final installment, this will be my last post. I thank everyone in my class for making philosophy interesting and especially thank Dr. Oliver for introducing many topics and ideas about philosophy that I hope to continue researching and philosophizing over one day. Merry Christmas everyone.

Here are the links to my two comments from other students installments:



(H1) A look into the work of John Rawls part II

In my previous post, I focused on his work with The Theory of Justice. And as we know, Rawls was a very influential philosopher because of his diverse theories and works. Rawls had far more works concerning society other than that of fairness structuring. Some of his other work with theories include items such as his 'Sequence of Theories', 'Ideal and Non-Ideal Theory', 'Reflective Equilibrium', 'Independence and Morality', and 'Legitimacy and Stability'. It is through these works that Rawls is able to dive deeper into society. He does not simply look at society as a whole,but he delves into the mentality and morality of the individual. This makes his work much more influential as it brings the reader to consider themselves rather than everyone as a whole.

To begin with, The sequence of Theories uses an overarching political domain to contrast with sub-domains in sequence. And using this structure, Rawls moves from the large international scale, to even animals. Furthermore, he addresses a "self-contained democratic society reproducing itself across generations". This democratic structure will be constructed over all sub domains. These sub domains would be further structures under the previous, however, perhaps containing other principles with which they are governed and operated. These establishments are in contrast with the utilitarian aspects of the political philosophy.

Additionally, Rawls' work in the political region includes the Ideal and Non-Ideal Theory. The Ideal Theory assumes two separate subjects. The first ideal theory establishes the assumptions that societies and citizens alike would chose to accept whatever laws are provided and that they would not war or commit crimes. The second, establishes that both society and citizen are in acceptable living conditions that their morality in decisions is affected. As in, citizens are not starving and a country is not failing. Using the ideal theory, we are able to deconstruct real society that is the non-ideal world and locate its faults. The Non-ideal theory focuses heavily on the ability to use the ideal society and citizen to recognize the faults in the non-ideal society or citizen, as well as establish the ability to use this reflection to adjust the characteristics of these non-ideal entities and make them ideal.

Furthermore, one of the more individualistic reviews that Rawls conducts is the Reflective Equilibrium Theory. By using this theory, one can assess their own political views and compare them to other beliefs they hold. It is a reflection on one own's political judgement and their ability to be equal in logic and reasoning as other. Using these judgments, one is able to draw upon conclusions for other topics related to the same matters and produce the same stance on them. For example, looking down upon slavery would also expect one to believe that everyone has basic rights, and vise versa. All of one's stances on political matters are suppose to be reflective and supportive of each other. One is to strive to have all of their judgement line up, however, this is not possible as perfect equilibrium is not attainable, believes Rawls. One must pursue a conformity of their believes. If a belief of there's conflicts with there preexisting template for judgement, they must alter that belief to get it as close to the others as possible, as this is the only way to justify one's beliefs. The closer one gets their beliefs, the closer they are to narrow reflective equilibrium, or a coherence of initial beliefs. The most unique part of this theory is the emphasis on one's ability to change their beliefs to better fit the mold established by the supportive construct of previous judgement.

The next theory combats a seemingly contradictory method and attempts to establish law over multiple beliefs, this is the legitimacy and stability theory. First off, in order for a society to be free and correct, every citizen is entitled to their own beliefs. No one is going to be entirely the same in moral and political belief. And it must be at the up most Democratic will that people are able to have their own differing opinions. However, when it comes to a society in whole, there must only be one, unifying law. Therefore, even if topics of gay marriage or religion differ from person to person, in a state there must be a set decision on every topic. However, Rawls understands that this would seem to have issues. The first, would be legitimacy. This raises the concern that if it is democratic for a state to impose its will on the individual. Should all citizens be coerced into a set belief even if it is against their own. Secondly, the issue of stability. How would it be possible for citizens to follow and obey laws established by the state which differ and maybe even contradict their own. However, it is necessary for this to be so, else there can be no law and order.

To confront the issue of legitimacy, Rawls turns to the subject of reason. It would be apparent that it would seem illegitimate for one individual to force their beliefs onto another. And in a democratic structure where only one stance must be established, such a problem arises. Therefore, it comes down to the requirement of reason. One citizen must reasonably belief that the law which they establish is the best for all. Additionally, it must be a reasonable assertion that others that may disapprove fully of a set law would be willing to follow it. People must be reasonably accepting of the enforcement of a set of laws established. And that political structures must be accepted freely and not require forceful domination for their enforcement. Therefore Rawls leaves the legitimacy issue up to citizens to be reasonable in their deciding of a law's ability to be enforced.

Such reasonable citizens would be in search of a proper cooperative society. A reasonable citizen would want a society where they would follow laws and those around them are also expected to follow the same laws to the same degree. Citizens would follow the laws even if it requires sacrifice, however, they acknowledge the greater good of a law. And it would also be expected that these reasonable citizens would also expect their fellow citizens to be reasonable and therefore not expect that fellow citizens conform entirely their own beliefs that they see as entirely true. They would also acknowledge that others have equally reasonable beliefs. It would be the fundamental requirement that all citizens attempt to reach a degree of compromise. An ideal outcome features mutually agreeable terms for both parties on each matter and law that comes to light.

Tolerance is a fundamental part of this ability for individuals of a society to be able to create the ideal scenario. Especially, for matters of religion and morality. Rawls states that these subjects are so deep that even those with some of the closest beliefs on political and social issues could have different religious and moral ideologies. It is imperative that citizens of a society understand that those in the society with them have differing ideologies and that these are also capable of being held by reasonable and good willed people. These issues are captured by his burdens of judgement. People use their collection of experience and upbringing to draw their own opinions on these matters and a reasonable citizen must be willing to respect and cooperate with them for the greater good.

It is with these social and political theories that Rawls was able to be just an influential philosopher of his century. Rawls seamlessly transitions between the philosophies of a social order and its inhabitants. He uses a wide variety of theories which have their own importance as well as a contribution to his over arching establishments. These theories span from matters of economy to state to an individual's ability to establish their own moral code and to apply themselves with others for the greater good of a society. Using these theories, Rawls paves the way toward what he sees as an ideal society of individuals with differing, but acceptable and reasonable ideologies.

Total Word Count: 2,504
References: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rawls/
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Final Report: Marx, Plato, and Creating a Perfect Society, Part II (H1)

    In my previous installment, I compared the two different pseudo-utopian societies presented by Karl Marx and Plato, and analyzed the factors that would contribute to their eventual success/failure if implemented. I also examined the pros and cons of the society we are a part of today, and pointed out that there is definitely room for improvement. Finally, I finished the post off by presenting what I believe to be the key for creating an ideal society that will stand the test of time. For coverage's sake, here's a quick list to recap in more detail:

  • The communist society Marx believed would overcome the capitalist system and bring equity and freedom to the triumphant working class was doomed to fail, as it ended up being even more exploitable than the current social complex. This is evident in the rise of communist powers such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in the early-mid 20th century, who were able to gain the support of the public by masquerading as champions of the socialist ideals, but promptly turned upon their people once they had achieved the absolute power they had sought the entire time.

  • The ancient Greek philosopher Plato outlined his ideas for the "perfect society" as well, almost two millennia before Marx was even born. However, Plato's Republic is nearly the complete opposite of what Marx had in mind, structurally speaking (Marx's communism is obviously motivated more by economic factors, but they are comparable on the grounds of measurement of social status between the individuals that theoretically make up the two societies). Plato envisions a nation divided into different social classes, such as soldiers, merchants, scientists, etc., all ruled by a caste of philosopher-kings. The success of such a society relies entirely on the citizens' contentment with the individual tasks which they are each assigned early on in their lives; needless to say, not many people would be willing to settle for being forced to spend their lives in a position that they do not enjoy. Plato's Republic would collapse under the weight of the envy and resentment which would fill its populace from the moment of its inception.

  • Our society today is adequately composed for most, but there are areas in which it can be significantly improved. Although modern society has made great strides towards equality for all races, genders, religious creeds, sexual orientations, etc., there are still conflicts between different groups which make productivity and advancement in certain fields a painstakingly slow process. Specifically, I mentioned the contentment with physical and emotional weakness that permeates our society, and how most of our generation is coming into the real world expecting the rest of society to hold their hand in every aspect of life, instead of dealing with its challenges and bettering themselves individually. I ended the post by explaining that the way to minimize such conflict is to create a brand new society which is tolerant and indiscriminant of all manner of people, but by necessity excludes those whose personal beliefs directly conflict with the ideals that your society is built upon.
    To conclude my final project, I would like to bring all of the ideas I have presented together to outline what kind of society I personally would like to see created. I will divide this section into 3 major areas of concern: its ideal form of government, its economic system, and the ideas which make up its very social foundations.

I. Government

On the structure of the government, I tend to lean towards a kind of fusion between classical Greek and Roman systems. Ideally, the populace of my society would be very well educated, enough to take interest in and vote on major issues themselves in a kind of direct democracy (one of the prerequisites for being eligible to be a part of said society would have to be passing a screening process to determine if one were intelligent enough and had enough of an interest in the laws governing him or her to participate in the democratic process). However, an elected council would exist to perform the task of relegating resources to specific projects, and other minor decisions which it would be unnecessary to take a population-wide vote on. One major function of this council would be to elect a suitable leader in times of crisis; in the event of something such as facing aggression from a hostile nation, this council would elect an individual of particular expertise to temporarily lead the nation with absolute power in the fashion of the dictators of the ancient Roman republic. This dictator would receive complete control over the government and military in order to swiftly end the conflict rather than having its resolution taking a lengthy trip through civil and bureaucratic channels. The leader would then be expected to relinquish their power once the problem was resolved, or face the wrath of an incredibly intelligent and strong citizenry. While I am on the subject of international conflict, I will say that this society would have no means of declaring unprovoked war upon another nation. Although other societies may not share the same beliefs as mine, it is important to remain cordial with them and refrain from conflict when possible. However, I believe if an aggressive power will not see reason, then the only way to deter such attacks in the future is to smash the opposition into oblivion, and make sure anyone else who may have the same idea sees it. You don't want to be seen as a provocative, aggressive nation who looks for every opportunity to show off its might. But you have to be willing to show the rest of the world that you will never allow it to interfere with your civilization's destiny.

II. Economy

This subsection will be short, because as I said in the last installment of my project, the development of a complex economy is an unfortunate and unnecessary occurrence. I believe that it should ultimately be up to the people themselves to decide what kind of economic system to develop within the ideal society, but it would likely end up being a laissez faire-style capitalist economy based on the values the people would wish to uphold.

III. Social Ideals

This is arguably the most important part of this section, and the one for which I am likely to receive the most criticism. In my previous installment, I stated that a successful society must be built upon a specific set of ideals, and here I will lay out the ideals that form the civic base of my society. This society would (theoretically) be unfettered by political corruption and economic greed, unbound from the restraints of conflict between different religious beliefs, unhindered by injustices towards different kinds of people in general. As such, there would be far more time and room for improvement, for both society and individual. As a society, scientific advancement is one of the most important goals. It raises the standards of living for everyone, and compounds upon itself to essentially make further scientific discovery easier and faster. As individuals, self-improvement is the ultimate driving force. Discard your petty insecurities and forget your self-misery, and your body an mind become free to grow and become more than they were before; the kind of people in my society would be the kind who are not content with mediocrity, who strive to achieve higher knowledge and physical prowess to accomplish some end, if not just for its own sake. Because of this focus on self-improvement, the people of this society would constantly encourage one another to become stronger and smarter, to overcome physical weakness and mental barriers and get as close to perfection as they possibly can. Contests of strength or wits would likely be a common occurrence; physical conflicts would not be as looked down upon as they are today, provided they began with an honorable challenge and not a cowardly blow from behind, and took place in a suitable environment. Of course, those with legitimate disabilities which impede their physical capacities would not be looked down upon by the rest of society, as they could still be honored as successful scientists, teachers, etc. Another important aspect of this society is its sense of justice. It is my belief that if your people lack the conviction to sentence their criminals as they are due, then you invite calamity by weakening your society from within. The laws of my ideal nation would be clear to all citizens and taught extensively to everyone; if one were to break these laws, they would be doing so in full knowledge of the consequences of their actions. Their fate if caught would ultimately be up to the communal decision of a large court made up of citizens from many different backgrounds, but I see no reason to rule out such extreme measures as the death penalty if the perpetrator has done something incredibly severe. Separation of church and state means that you cannot rely upon the idea of some divine power sentencing your criminals for you, so you have to be willing to give them what you and your fellow citizens deem that they deserve. Prisons are a huge waste of time and resources, so anybody who committed a major crime that wasn't outright murder would be documented and exiled instead, and barred from returning to the society and spreading their poisonous criminal ways among others.

    In conclusion, the ideal society I would like to see created is not perfect. No society can be perfect, because there will always be conflicting opinions amongst individuals. But you can minimize this conflict by creating a new society based on a specific set of ideals, and being highly selective (but not discriminatory as we see it today) as to who you allow into it. The society I would found would be built upon the ideals of honor and justice. The individuals in this society would work hard to improve their lives in any way possible, and they would all come together to create an indestructible nation which is more than the sum of its parts. This is getting pretty long, so I'll go ahead and cut it off here. I welcome any comments or criticism about how I interpret Marx and Plato, or potential flaws in the rough outline of my ideal society.

Total word count: 3,690
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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

As A Poly Sci Major... This I Believe (2nd Installment) H03

In my first installment I talked about where my anxieties over the political system lay. But in the past 5 hours in my Global Politics study group we've talked about where the problems lay in the WORLD and how we are going to fix them; and I think I've realized something; our international problems are much bigger. I'm never going to completely agree with a system in America... But at least we have one. We decided to try to create a system for the world that is both fair and also achievable. NOT easy.
We spent a long time talking about the perfect system for the world, having gotten off topic from the real question and finding ourselves in a much more interesting discussion. Instead of talking about why our present nation-state system didn't work (like we were meant to) we got a little off track. Instead talking about ways to fix it. First we decided that obviously what we are doing now doesn't work; nation states don't work. First let me explain what they are... It's actually super interesting philosophy. States are the geographic boundaries that we live inside of; there is no difference between the word state and the word country. A nation is a mental construct, if you consider yourself to be, you are. If you consider yourself American, then you are American. The main problem with the nation state system we said, was that everyone was out for themselves, and there is no big force that can stop a nation state from harming their own people to get it. Genocide, tyranny, multi-national companies, global warming... All running rampant.

Like I said, the main problem with the nation state system is that every one is out to do what's best for themselves. What we devised to fix this is: nation states can't work alone. The only way to solve the global issue is to first come together as humans. When we go to another country, and someone asks us where we are from, we automatically say American. That is our national identity, there is almost nothing stronger than that. If Mexico invaded California tomorrow, and the government called for more soldiers, how many of us would volunteer? It's a higher number than you might think. That's because our nationalism compels us to help, it is part of who we are as humans; find a tribe, join a tribe, defend the tribe. We think it's time for a new tribe. A global tribe; so before anyone identifies with a country, they identify with their fellow humans. We think that it is necessary for global peace for everyone to recognize first that whats best for the good of humanity is what's best for us all first and foremost. I understand though that this is an extremely liberal point of view, and I'll admit it is idealistic.

One of the main problems is that some humans are inherently selfish, not every country will think this way... How do we fix that? One of the ways we came up with: give the UN or the EU more power to regulate international power. The problem with that is that not every state would be represented. So make it one country one vote we said, but wait thats not fair either. We decided to leave the system for another day in favor of another blatant problem;  neither body is mandatory. The UN has by far the most international cooperation of any governmental body in history but anyone can leave and rejoin at times that are convenient for them. So make it mandatory we said. The problem is, and threaten them with what? Here is where the group and I differ: we could use hard power (aka war), to threaten other countries into doing what we want -my idea-, or we could use soft power (economics, trade bans, that kind of thing) -their idea-. They didn't want to threaten death, my philosophy is, that there are always going to be people who will go around the trade bans to make some cash (I'm just not as idealistic). But wait! What if we let them leave but then just enforce the rules anyways, they just don't get the voting rights anymore. Ahh. No, it's been proven by the fact that we rebelled when Britain did this to us that this isn't a great idea. So at an impasse we look at our options again. We look and we realize why we even need to discuss this in the first place.

Constructivists believe in changing the ideas that the world is based on, and that it is easier for some than others. It tends to be easier for people in high places than normal people because people will listen, that in itself is because of some of the rules that the world is already based on. The world is an endless cycle of changed rules, little bitty rules framed by how life already works. They see the world as something that is built out of interpersonal relationships, the social construct everything is based on.Constructivists ask questions on a much larger scale, so it takes longer to answer. If people were to doubt the construct, the whole thing disintegrates, everybody decides it stops, so it stops. It could be some other way, red is an arbitrary color for stop, but everyone knows that it means that. If someday we were to choose a different color, we could, everyone would just have to believe it to make it true. Everyone believes that there are states so there are.

How much of belief structure do you have to share before you can have international relations? You can’t establish diplomatic relations with people who don't understand the concept to a state. This is the international problem. Each country is different in that they each have their own sense of right and wrong. We can't have a working solution to global issues right now because not all countries have the same problems. What we here in America consider a concern is probably infinitely different than what someone in China considers an issue. This is what political realists consider to be the issue. As long as we are so widely varied we must accept diversity but we cannot depend on others. Because we do not share our ideologies, today's friend could be tomorrows enemy; you can't trust anyone to repay a favor tomorrow, so each thing is something for something, every man for themselves.

Anyways, just wanted to let everyone in on why the global political system is trash. And why it's ineffective and useless at the time being. It has no power to effect global issues or human rights grievances until we give it some.  That's why I'm glad our biggest problem in the US right now is someone that we didn't want for president to win. Although a large portion of the country is unhappy, it was inevitable either way. I think truly the fact that we are so upset is insane. The democratic and republican parties don't even really differ that much on ideologies. In fact, the US it the MOST ideologically mushy country in the world, the things we make such big issues about are actually relatively small issues. I'm just glad that I line in America where everyone pretty much believes the same thing, agreeing on the majority of the big things instead of constantly fighting over the big things. I think the country would run much smoother if we were all constructivists and decided that the different parties didn't exist anymore, we were all American and that that is what matters, not party alignment, but again, I realize how ideological and unlikely to happen this is. Everyone has their own beliefs, and here in 'Murica, we are allowed to express them, no matter how much others might disagree.

First Comment Here
Second Comment Here

First Post Here Words: 1,248
Total: 2,560

Sisyphus and College Part 2

In my previous installment, I discussed the myth of Sisyphus and the relation that it has had to my college experience thus far. I talked about how Sisyphus was doomed to perform the same task over and over again for eternity, and my own personal fear of falling into the same fate as him. The thought of having no tasks, obligations, or goals in life is one of the worst things that I can imagine for myself, and I personally could think of nothing worse for myself. However, since I wrote my last essay, I started to toy with the idea of myself being doomed to the same fate as him, and how I would cope if I was in the same situation as Sisyphus.

In the myth of Sisyphus as written by Albert Camus, he talks about Sisyphus as being the "absurd hero". His passions on the earth and his scorn and disobedience toward the gods is what secured his spot in the underworld. His own reckless actions on earth and below it in the underworld are to blame for his fate for eternity, and while nothing is said about Sisyphus in the underworld one can imagine his thoughts while he rolls the stone, when it stops and begins rolling down the hill again, and when he goes back again towards it. Camus says that the part of the myth that interests him the most is the decent of Sisyphus to the bottom of the hill. He writes "I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end... At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock". I find this a very interesting viewpoint, as this is where his absurdist viewpoint is prominent. He believes that instead of dreading the descent toward the rock, that Sisyphus actually enjoys the descent. But why? Well, he imposes his absurdist point of view onto Sisyphus, and states that even though he is not free to do what he wants, he is superior to his task, and therefore free in a certain way. After reading this passage a couple of times, it began to creep in my brain that he may have found a sort of newfound freedom in his eternal punishment. He also writes, "One does not discover the absurd without being tempted to write a manual of happiness". This is a line that particularly stood out to me, as it put into words thoughts that have been in my mind for some time. Accepting the absurdity of life and it's ridiculousness is not exclusive to being happy; for if Sisyphus accepts his fate, as Camus suggests, and what comes with it, he could become liberated by his life and duty of rolling the rock. He has one job, and there is a certain peacefulness that must come with accepting his fate and finding a certain tranquility in it.

This is not the only time that Camus talks about absurdity and happiness. Later in the myth he says
that, "happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth", which is another way of saying that the two go together, like apples and oranges. Absurdity is all about accepting that we, as humans, will never be able to comprehend the complexities of this world or all the information in it; and if or when we accept this fact, we are liberated in ways thats that are second to none. Soren Kierkegaard wrote extensively on the subject of absurdity a century before Camus, and greatly influenced his thinking. Sisyphus must have realized at some point durning his punishment that there is no other reality for him, no other opportunities; the rock is his only reality and the only thing that exists for him. And as he pushes this rock and watches it roll back toward the dark abyss from which he had come, he has two choices of what to think about, two mindsets to adopt. He could dwell on the negatives of his situation, the eternal pain that he has to endure and the monotonous struggle of pushing the rock up to never achieve anything. Or, he could choose to find joy in his struggle, as he is the master of his rock and the master of his days. He is superior to his fate. If he accepts his eternal struggle as his fate, is it really that bad? Or is it simply something he has to do?

Again, this brings us full circle to his fate; as I stated in the other installment, where would the punishment be if he had a goal to achieve and success to look forward to and work for? His work is futile and unfulfilling, thus eternal turmoil ensues. He is conscious of his punishment and the actions that led him there, as it is the only thing that he can think about when he pushes that rock up the hill. That is the main source of his pain according to Camus; the fact that he is forever concious of his task. However, what overshadows this fact is that when he reaches the end of the mountain and watches that stone roll away, there is nothing but him and his own universe, the one that he created and is that master of. As Camus says, "the struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart" and Sisyphus is just that, a man whose decisions led him to the reality that he faces. And Sisyphus is just that; a man that is faced with a task he must endure.

We are more similar to Sisiphyus than we may realize. Well, obviously nobody reading this post is going to have to push a boulder up the side of a mountain for eternity, but we each have our own individual struggles that we have to deal with. Just like Sisyphus, we are all humans, and we are all the products of our choices. The present is an accumulation of all of your previous choices and decisions in your life up to this point. And, just like Sisyphus, we all have the opportunity to look at our life in one of two ways. If we choose to let our past control us then we are doomed to never excel and go forward in life as we could. Living in the past is a surefire way to never change. Unless you allow yourself to free your mind from the past and realize that life is what you make it, you will be caught in a cycle that will be hard to break. We are the masters of our own fates. "Captain of my fate master of my soul," as said by William Henley in his poem Invictus, and I must say that I think Camus would agree with the quote. At the end of the myth, Camus says that "one must imagine Sisyphus happy", and I have to say that while I may not agree, I can see where Camus believes that he could find a sort of peacefulness in his eternal punishment, as stated earlier. However, I do believe that everything and every situation is what YOU make it; nobody else is going to live your life for you. So my question to you is how are you going to live your life; are you going to accept it or create it?


Word count - 2,003

Humility vs pride

            In the first instalment, we concluded that pride was the root of all non biological evil. Now I would like to discuss some of the greatest evil acts in history starting with Adam and Eve. The first sin in history where Eve bit into the apple, was committed because her pride was insulted by the serpent. The snake called her unknowing and unintelligent, and prove that she was not she ate of the apple committing one of the greatest sins in history. The crucifixion of Jesus was committed by the high priests and people of power. Although Jesus had not committed any illegal acts despite possibly disrupting the piece. They needed him to die specifically because he was questioning what they believed. He was falsely killed because the high priests and people of power where simply to prideful to admit their ignorance.

            World War Two occurred in part due to the state of Germany proceeding World War One. The German people had pride and could not stand living in poverty; giving Hitler the perfect opportunity to rise to power. Pride can be the root of good as well, but not the root of all goodness. The defeat of Germany was also due to Hitler’s Pride when opening the second front he over exuberated himself and this action caused the loss of the war. In the defeat of Germany specifically Hitler’s Pride played a pivotal roll in the goodness at the wars end. Another instance of Pride being good in World War Two was the loyalty of the Japanese when fighting for their nation. However much like American soldiers during the Vietnam War the Japanese showed extreme cruelty do to the same Pride in their nation.

            Ted Bundy, the mass murder wanted everyone to know his name. He was perhaps one of the most successful at this in history. Not that indifferent form jack the ripper who lived many years ago, but is still talked about and studied to this day. It is a personal belief that most crimes are committed for fame. The guy who breaks into a house with is his buddies most likely at some point says hey guys watch this or look over here. These are examples of pride, Ted and Jack both wanted people to know who they were that’s why they entangled theatrics into their murders. I am quality of this just like most of us are. It is unlikely that you will ever find someone that says look at what I did. There is nothing wrong in doing good and successful things it is a good and necessary part of life. It is when you are so desperate for attention that you do good or wrong things just to achieve the attention you get form doing it.

            For most people, even if Jesus was not a messiah he was a good person and a great teacher, he could really capture an audience. He was humble he is known to have served the people who followed him. There is a famous quote “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”, this is a form of humility you are putting yourself below the good of the nation instead of above it. Those famous words were spoken by Kennedy, a well like and popular president, In his inaugural speech. Martin Luther King Jr. a pastor and man of God spoke the famous words “I have a dream” clarifying a vision of what he wanted America to be like. Most don’t know though that paragraph after this ended with the comment we will stand hand in hand as black and white and as brothers and sister. He did not alter himself above his brethren. He was among the masses he was another face in the sea of people standing up for what is right. My great grandmother was one of the best people you would ever meet there was never a soul that she would not help. If she didn’t have a shirt on her back she would go work for one to give to you, and there were times in her life where a shirt on your back was hard to come by. I ask you now, what to Jesus, Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., And my great grandmother all have in common? They were all humble.

            Evil cannot come of humility only good can. The people in the above paragraph where all incredible people, the best of the best. Some of their names will surely be known for eternity while some will only have a name until it weathers off the gravestone. They were all humble though all four of them and so many like them. It is no coincidence that Pride and humility are opposites just Good and Evil are. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is a scientific law however I believe that it extends on past science and into the realm of morality and religion. For every good there is an evil for every right choice there is a wrong choice and for every prideful action there is a humble one.

            I myself am human and have the struggle with pride every day. We are all human and all make mistakes, but we must realize that we have a problem before we can attempt to fix it. I know that I am very self-centered and egotistical, and have more Pride then I should. There have been points in my life where I would be offered food and I was hungry and I would have rather stolen food then to have excepted the offer, because I was to prideful to show weakness. It’s a real struggle and one that I work against every day. I have not and do not know that I ever will eliminate my Pride, but I can see my humility growing every day. I must admit also that I am happier because of it I still do not like excepting charity, but I have found that people find pleasure in helping others almost as much pleasure as the receiver finds in exception of the gifts they are to receive. In section one I committed that pride was the root of all evil, in section two I elaborated, and discussed the goodness of humility. In the last sentence of section two now I ask you, is your root one of Pride or is it one of Humility? 

The Most Peripatetic Man of the Western U.S.

Installment no. 2 (H02)

          John Muir was quite the peripatetic. This is a man who spent every waking hour of his day in the wilderness. He would go out for days at a time in the Yosemite Valley and reflect on his existence. Muir saw nature as his own home; he would write friends and described the Sierra as "God's mountain mansion."

 **Above: Picture taken on the John Muir Trail, a 200+ mile trail through the Sierra Nevada Mountains**

           Muir was a very spiritual man. He came from a very strict Christian household with a Father who was very adamant that his faith was the only faith that should be followed. So, ever since he was a young boy, Muir was drilled with Puritan like beliefs, however, once he came to America and began to spend time in Yosemite Valley, Muir changed his faith to reflect how he felt in nature. He still believed in God and Christianity, however, he believed that people are a lot less significant than most of them would like to believe. Muir saw people as no more important than an alligator. 
          Muir believed that to discover truth, he must turn to what he believed were the most accurate sources. His sources include the Bible, which his father made him read everyday to the point where he memorized almost the entire Old Testament and the entirety of the New Testament. The Bible was the only thing that his father considered a primary source, however, Muir found another primary source for understanding God: the Book of Nature. In nature, Muir believed that he was able to study the world that came straight from the hand of God, uncorrupted by civilization and domestication.
           Muir's philosophy and world view rotated around his perceived dichotomy between civilization and nature. Muir began to stylize himself as a John the Baptist whose duty it was to immerse as many people as possible in a mountain baptism. John Muir felt the presence of the divine in nature. In nature, his writings conveyed feelings of ecstasy. Only in nature did Muir believe that spiritual enlightenment could occur. 

**Left: John Muir**
***Above: A John Muir Quote***

          For John Muir, nature was his home. He would use the term "home" as a metaphor for nature and for his attitude towards nature itself. Muir would use domestic adjectives and nouns when discussing his scientific findings in his writings while he roamed his landscape. 
"the little purple plant, tended by its Maker, closed its petals, crouched low in its crevice of a home, and enjoyed the storm in safety."--John Muir from one of his various journals.
In his later years, Muir used his descriptions of the Yosemite Valley and Sierras for preservation efforts, which includes him making Yosemite into a protected National Park, in his later years.
          John Muir passed away at the age of 71 in California Hospital, now known as California Hospital Medical Center. Even though he passed, his legacy still lives on. John Muir contributed to so much during his lifetime that some of his work is still present today, such as the Sierra Club, which helped establish a number of national parks after he died and today has over 2.4 million members. Muir has been called the patron saint of the American Wilderness, quite the title if you ask me. As a dreamer and activist, his eloquent words changed the way Americans saw their mountains, forests, seashores, and deserts. Muir exalted wild nature over human culture and civilization, believing that all life was sacred. The primary aim of John Muir's nature philosophy was to change human conceit, and in do this, Muir was believed to have moved past the Transcendentalism of Emerson to a "biocentric" perspective of the world. He achieved this by claiming nature as a conductor of divinity, and writing nature as being synonymous with God. 
          The legacy of John Muir will exist as long as humans have nature to preserve. Muir will live on through his writings, teachings, and establishments. He wrote numerous letters to his wife, the government and other important figures. He also wrote for magazines and news papers and science journals. He wrote books to help inspire humanity to leave civilization behind and get in touch with their wilder self. He established the Sierra Club and the second National Park. He has had several things named after him, including a 200+ mile long trail. John Muir will go down in history as one of the greatest naturalists of all time and also as an amazing philosopher and scientist (believe it or not, he discovered that Yosemite Valley was carved out by a giant glacier rather than an earthquake which was the popular theory of the time). John Muir truly was a great man. 

If you would like to learn more about the John Muir Trail, check out this short documentary on the subject:

Links to the People's posts I commented on:

Link to my 1st installment:

Philosophers view on God (installment two)

I want to address some replies on my first installment first.

-        Yes, we know the earth had a start date through observation of planet destruction and creation. We do not know the date, but can determine that there is one.

-        Lee Strobel is an investigative reporter and did write for The Chicago Tribune, who for fourteen years after high school biology believed there was no God.

-        When I say “trust that there was a plan” Arieanne Yates explained it better. I cannot see the future and God is eternal. This means that he sees that sins or injustices will go punished whether we see it or not there is a punishment because He is the ideal of justice.  Hitting on another point just because there is injustice does not mean his unloving. Let me put it in a parent child example. A 6 year old child steals a pair of sunglasses from a store. The alarms go off and the parent returns them after realizing that the child has picked them up. Once the two get home the child is spanked. The store manager does not see the punishment, but has confidence that there was one. The parent loves the child, but still punishes it. Because there is pain in the world does not determine that god does not exists just as a parent spanking a child does not determine that the parent does not love the child. God cries for every sin because he knows he has to punish it, but that punishment does not mean that there is not love.

-        Everything so far that it has said has come true and if we ignore the aspects about God and look at events that happened such as the crucifixion, places Jesus went, and kings that lived we see that it has historical accuracy.

-        Some Christians do have logical explanations for becoming Christians as in they have looked at other religions and found that Christianity provided them with truth or scientists that are looking at creation and see no other explanation. Christians have scientific, historical, and personal reasoning for conversion.

My first installment was supposed to be against God ,but I could not take my own views out of it so I have reversed my initial plans and the second installment is against God.

~~ second installment~~

            The first philosopher I would like to talk about is Nietzsche who believed God was an illusion of the mind. He claimed that God was dead and that we killed him and explained this accusation by saying that “the belief in the Christian god has become unbelievable”. One his talking points was creation which is understandable because how do we talk about god without creation. In his book The Anti- Christ, Nietzsche talks about Genesis and calls out what he says are God’s blunders. He first says that man was not entertained or want to be an animal and then says that women are the serpents in their essence. We can clearly see that he does not believe in the Christian creation, but if not that creation then which one? As an atheist Nietzsche believed in evolution, but denied Darwinism. My initial response to this was how? Nietzsche called Darwin out on four components of evolution: New organs, Weak outlast strong, sexual selection, transitional forms absent.

            Nietzsche wrote in his book Will to PowerAgainst Darwinism.—The utility of an organ does not explain its origin; on the contrary! For most of the time during which a property is forming it does not preserve the individual and is of no use to him, least of all in the struggle with external circumstances and enemies.” Then continues to say that Darwin over estimates the influence of external circumstances and that the life process moves to exploit these external circumstances.

            I had trouble finding other sources on this argument, but this is the quote this website pulled “Anti-Darwin.—As regards the celebrated ‘struggle for life’, … where there is struggle it is a struggle for power … its outcome is the reverse of that desired by the school of Darwin … the weaker dominate the strong again and again—the reason being they are the great majority, and they are also cleverer. … Darwin forgot the mind.” I can see his point here with humans and other evolutions that animals have such as the monarch butterfly imitating a poisonous butterfly.

          His next comment id the first one where I do not need an outside source to understand. ”Anti-Darwin … We almost always see males and females take advantage of any chance encounter, exhibiting no selectivity whatsoever.” This is exemplified by human rape and other animals that reproduce through rape.

          His last confusing point was “there are no transitional forms”. Nietzsche writes “Primitive creatures are said to be the ancestors of those now existing. But a look at the fauna and flora of the Tertiary merely permits us to think of an as yet unexplored country that harbors types that do not exist elsewhere, while those existing elsewhere are missing” From what I can gather he is saying that a species as a whole will evolve and that this is wrong because we see the existence of plants change and those changes are a fork in their path.

          Speaking of Darwinism, I also want to talk about his views on God which I got from this website. Early in life he entertained the thought of becoming a clergyman for the Church of England. After that he went to college to prepare to become a minister and was accepted after graduation, but he then instead went on his scientific voyage. This led to a religious voyage of sorts where he questioned religion a lot. Through the his voyage he was ridiculed by the sailors for quoting the bible and eventually gave up on the truth of the old testament. He was baffled by thinking that if God made a revelation to the Hindus would he accept them saying it was a revelation from Vishnu. Despite this disbelief he wanted to believe, but it continued to creep in. He eventually gave up on Christianity and can “hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity true.” I believe that this caused him to create and accept his broad terms for evolution and natural selection. He believes that animals are to simple to be put together by an intelligent designer. He also says that he sees more design in the variability and in natural selection than in life itself. He also finds flaws in the best argument of his time saying that the existence of God is proved by deep convictions by most people which can be experienced by most other religions.

Here are the comments on first installments: