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Showing posts from March, 2012

Context

'If there are any universal rules or principles of morality, it is because we share a common context, minimally, the context of being "human".'
Robert C. Solomon, Living with Nietzsche

A Universe From Nothing

A fatal philosophical critique of Lawrence M. Krauss' recent book ‘A Universe From Nothing’ by David Albert.

Marx at 193

Marx at 193: an excellent analysis of Marx's relevance to the contemporary world and the accuracy of his predictions by John Lanchester.

Why Freud Matters

In this article at NYT, Benjamin Y. Fong talks about what he thinks is of value in Freud's psychoanalysis, and that if psychoanalysis experiences a cultural death, then something of worth would be lost. He identifies this insight as:
'... the relation between two realms of psychic activity that Freud called the “primary” and “secondary” processes. The former domain is instinctual and relentless, a deep reservoir of irrational drives that lie just beneath the apparently calm façade of our civilized selves. The latter is the façade itself, the measured and calculating exterior we unconsciously create to negotiate everyday life. Although these two terms are somewhat obscure, the basic divide between them is familiar to the point of obviousness.'
The more we submit to dominant cultural norms, and the more we ignore the inner impulses, the more the subconscious drives fester and agitate, ultimately expressing them in subtle and not-so-subtle ways and manifesting in various ev…

Existential Morality

The moral aspect of Sartre's existentialism, as I understand it:
Existence precedes essence. There is no 'human nature': man is what he wills himself to be. There are no ends or goals that he is constrained to look up to. God does not exist and therefore no moral rule or code can legitimize itself by the fact that God imposed it. Even if God existed and imposed these moral rules, men would still be able to challenge them, just like the rules of any political authority. In his existential freedom man can always ask God "Why should I obey?". No authority can legitimize any moral code of conduct, nothing can make it binding on us. In the absence of objective moral rules, no action is ever impermissible, and neither is an action ever justified.
Ethics is like art. Our responses to specific moral situations are creative acts that we are forced to invent by our free choice. We cannot judge these choices to be morally right or wrong (because there is no objective moral…

Positivism

Courtesy of Maverick Philosopher:
"... the Nietzsche quotation that Richard von Mises uses for the motto of his book Positivism (Harvard University Press, 1951, p. xii): 
. . . die kleinen, unscheinbaren vorsichtigen Wahrheiten, welche mit strenger Methode gefunden werden, hoeher zu schaetzen als jene weiten, schwebenden, umschleiernden Allgemeinheiten, nach denen das Beduerfnis religoeser oder kuenstlerischer Zeitalter greift.
. . . to value more highly the little, unpretentious, cautious truths, arrived at by rigorous methods, than those vast, floating, veiling generalities for which the yearnings of a religious or artistic era reach."

Cosmic Religious Optimism

This post is a shorter chopped up version of the article Reincarnation and the Meaning of Life by John Hick. I edited the article to reduce its length and make it more accessible for readers who do not relish long reads (though I'm afraid it's still long for a blogpost), and to emphasize more on the central thesis. If it titillates your interest, do read the complete article; it is definitely worth it.
------- Reincarnation and the Meaning of Life
John Hick


Nietzsche puts forward the idea of eternal recurrence, the endless repetition in every detail of the entire history of the universe, including our own lives, and including this present moment. In his own books the idea comes as the most penetrating possible question about the value of each individual's life and of human life generally. Has your life thus far been such that you would want to live it again and again endlessly, exactly the same in every minutest detail? And would you want human history as a whole to be repe…

Abortion and Infanticide

In a paper that has outraged many, and rightly so, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva argue that there is no moral difference between a fetus and a newborn, neither of whom has the moral status of a person, therefore "‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled."
While I do find this proposal morally abhorrent, I do think that the argument that there is no difference in the moral status of fetus and a newborn is worth considering. If the difference between a fetus and a newborn is merely passage through the birth canal, then indeed I find it difficult to see why this change of geography should constitute a significant change in moral status. Being pro-choice, I have been trying to grapple with this problem for quite some time. The problem is most people have the impression that if abortion is morally permissible, then this permission extends right to the very last…