A slightly less ambitious 2016

My original goal for the year involved posting twice per week — or at least one “analysis” and one “review”, which could also be the same post. I’ll just drop that down to at least once per week. It’s a busy year.

less ambitious or whatever

I’ll also start using free stock images in my posts to attract readers. This one’s just for irony, but I bet it will make someone click to this post anyway. (Source: Pixabay.)

The philosophical gap

Introduction

Imagine two young, passionate lovers, say Romeo and Juliet in a world where they didn’t die but got to stay together. We can assume they’re both about the same, but for this story, let’s look at things from the point of view of one of them — Juliet, say.

(This is actually about philosophy, but wait for it.)

At first, everything seems perfect. She’s intoxicated with him and he with her, and they like everything about each other. Their time together is bliss and there are never any disagreements because they care about each other above all. She knows they are perfect together because they are so in love. What else would be needed?

But time passes and the rest of life begins to seep into the seeming perfection. Things that have been pushed aside start to have an effect. She actually doesn’t like how he always picks his nose and only pats her on the head and says she’s cute whenever she tries to say something intelligent (or whatever).

And then hey have a fight and say angry, mean things to each other.

Juliet is devastated. Her whole world comes crashing down. Their love didn’t automatically solve all problems after all. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t the most powerful thing in the world. She almost wishes they would have just tragically killed themselves earlier so that at least people might have mistaken it for the most epic romance in fiction instead of some snotty teens being obsessed with each other for a while.

Of course, it never occurs to her that love might show its strength in being willing to resolve your conflicts, and that expecting one emotion to do all the work for you forever is naïve, unrealistic and, really, lazy. Just because love isn’t some silly effortless solution doesn’t mean it’s not real. In fact, is it not even more significant when it involves making an effort and overcoming real adversity?

And what is this an analogy for? Well, a lot of philosophers and other people who really start thinking about things are in the Juliet position. When they find out their naïve beliefs are not true, maybe are even contradictory, they stop there and think they’ve proven something huge, when all they’ve really found is that the naïve version of old beliefs was not true. They still hang onto the naïve belief of how things should be, though they don’t believe things are like that. They’re caught in the gap between naïve belief and real understanding.

If only they could cross the gap, they could gain a real new understanding.

Gap

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Review: Biocentrism by Robert Lanza and Bob Berman

Biocentrism

Wait, quoting Deepak Chopra? Who exactly is this being marketed to?

Biocentrism purports to outline a new scientific hypothesis strongly suggested by both the results and the blind alleys of current science. According to this theory, life and consciousness must be understood as not being merely emergent phenomena in a universe built of physics, but something fundamental that the physical universe depends on. The main arguments combine metaphysical idealism from philosophy and an interpretation of the “observer effect” in quantum mechanics to conclude that physical things do not exist (or do not exist in a definite state) other than when they’re observed. There are also other conclusions like the unreality of time and space at the fundamental level.

Apparently Robert Lanza is supposed to be some kind of a new superstar in science — someone such that if anyone was going to revolutionise things, it would be someone like him — and Berman also a notable scientist. Nevertheless, their presentation here gives little reason to be convinced.

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Watchmen’s Ozymandias and the ultimate moral dilemma

Introduction

Ozym Ozymandias

The ideal hero… but can he be?

First, I have to ask you: have you read Watchmen? Or at least seen the movie? If you haven’t, this is going to spoil the heck out of it; what I’m discussing is tied to the conclusion of the great story. Do read the original graphic novel first rather than reading this. If you’ve seen the movie, that’s good enough, but I would not recommend starting with it instead of the comic.

Watchmen is the graphic novel (ie. comic book) that always gets mentioned when talking about how comics or even superhero comics can be deep and can be art. I’ve already discussed philosophical questions raised in it in two articles, concentrating on the metaphysics around Dr. Manhattan. This time, I am going to use it to look at a central question in ethics. It’s one of the most important questions in ethics: do the ends justify the means, or, when do they?

Now, if you’re ready to hear more about this, read on.

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