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Showing posts from May, 2012

Alain de Botton, Essays in Love

Some quotes and excerpts from Essays in Love by Alain de Botton, a wonderful and engaging book that I would recommend for all those who wish to gain a more honest philosophical perspective on love.
* Most people would throw away all their cynicism if they could. The majority just never get the chance.
* Unrequited love may be painful, but it is safely painful, because it does not involve inflicting damage on anyone but oneself, a private pain that is as bitter-sweet as it is self-induced. But as soon as love is reciprocated, one must be prepared to give up the passivity of simply being hurt to take on the responsibility of perpetrating hurt oneself.
* Perhaps the easiest people to fall in love with are those about whom we know nothing.
* I did not love Chloe for her body, I loved her body for the promise of who she was. It was a most inspiring promise.
* Lovers cannot remain philosophers for long, they should give way to the religious impulse, which is to believe and have faith, as o…

Sanity

Sanity is like a thin crust of stability over underlying horrors. At some places, some times, it is stout and pliant, but at others, it is paper-thin. You could poke a hole in it with a finger, peel it away with a nail, and lay bare the raw core of irrationality, the fears, the demons...
One can see the hollowness of this veneer, the superficiality, the pomposity, the self-indulgence and the myopic ignorance. I can understand why the mad sometimes pity the sane. Yet, I would not abandon sanity, nor I would rob someone of it, unless (until?) I had something better to offer in its stead. The insanity that lurks beneath — the insanity I attempt to 'cure' (oh, the arrogance!) — is no better a replacement. No wisdom to bargain chaos for order, albeit artificial and arbitrary that state of array may be.
One may possibly seek something above, but any über-sanity to my mortal eyes would appear no different from lunacy.

Vulnerable

'In this life, I learn strength; in the next one, I can be strong enough to be vulnerable.'

Two Articles About Child Psychiatry

Two fascinating articles I read recently related to child psychiatry:

* Psychopathy in children
* A 6 year old Schizophrenic who might possibly have been born mentally-ill

Serotonin and the Mystic Potential

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A 2003 study The Serotonin System and Spiritual Experiences published in The American Journal of Psychiatry reveals an interesting correlation between Serotonin receptor density in the brain and the capacity for spiritual experiences. Given the limitations, the results of this study must be interpreted with caution; however this may reveal insight into the biology behind the fact that not everyone is capable of mystic experiences. 
And of course, it would be erroneous to interpret this study as demonstrating that mystic experiences are 'all in the head'. The study proves no such thing.
"In the present study, we found an association between interindividual variability in 5-HT1A receptor binding potential and the self-transcendence score on the Temperament and Character Inventory. We found no correlation for any of the other dimensions. The lack of correlation for the other dimensions is consistent with a previous study that used Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire, a…

Multiverse

Does Multiverse answer the Fine Tuning Argument?
It possibly could, if it is shown that physical constants actually exist over all possible ranges. If so, then it would explain why we have the appearance of fine tuning.
Does Multiverse answer the question "Where do the laws of physics come from?"?
No. Because in the setting of the Multiverse, there would still be a set of more fundamental bedrock laws whose origin will not be accounted for.

Martin Rees: One Universe Among Many?
"An astonishing concept has entered mainstream cosmological thought: physical reality could be hugely more extensive than the patch of space and time traditionally called “the universe.” We’ve learnt that we live in a solar system that is just one planetary system among billions, in one galaxy among billions. But there are signs that a further Copernican demotion confronts us. The entire panorama that astronomers can observe could be a tiny part of the aftermath of our Big Bang, which is itself …

Moral Irony

It is one of the biggest ironies that morality itself has such unfairness in its roots.
Morality is unfair because the moral challenges that individuals face are not of equal difficulty and are without uniform chances of success. For example, the moral challenge that a paedophile faces is of much greater difficulty with a much greater chance of failure compared to others. 
Related posts:
A Moment of Judgment
Moral Luck

Feminism and Choice

Beentherella writes brilliantly and with great clarity about feminism and choice in her recent blog post, something that I have been trying to highlight for a long time myself:
"I always took great care to separate the rhetoric about choice with some basic rules that feminism did initially aspire to achieve before it forayed into its present dark alley of dada-ist and gaga-ist absurdities. Yes, feminism is about choice but one needs to be honest about the fact that it is also about making certain types of choices, whether or not we like to admit it. Putting a burgeoning career on hold for love is by no means a 'feminist' choice and I would refrain from calling it one. Neither is putting off a PhD for several years because one wants to start a family first. These are choices and women must be free to make them, but no, they are not feminist choices. It would be childish of me to try and take the course many women do of trying to defend their choices by labelling them as fe…

A Semantic Version of Russell's Paradox

"The mother of all the logical and semantic paradoxes was Russell’s paradox, named for its author, twentieth-century English philosopher Bertrand Russell. It goes like this: “Is the set of all sets that are not members of themselves a member of itself?” This one is a real screamer—that is, if you happen to have an advanced degree in mathematics. But hang on. Fortunately, two other twentieth-century logicians named Grelling and Nelson came along with a more accessible version of Russell’s paradox. It’s a semantic paradox that operates on the concept of words that refer to themselves.
Here goes: There are two kinds of words, those that refer to themselves (autological) and those that don’t (heterological). Some examples of autological words are “short” (which is a short word), “polysyllabic” (which has several syllables), and our favorite, “seventeen-lettered” (which has seventeen letters). Examples of heterological words are “knockkneed” (a word that has no knees, touching or oth…

The Conference of Birds Illustrated for Children

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This is something I'd love to read to my children. The Conference of Birds: Beautifully Illustrated Story of Belonging Based on an Ancient Sufi Poemby Peter Sís. (See the link for more illustrations)