February 26, 2007 at 2:31 pm (literature)


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February 26, 2007 at 2:31 pm (literature)

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February 26, 2007 at 1:48 pm (literature)

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February 26, 2007 at 1:33 pm (general philosophy)

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Encountering a tree

February 26, 2007 at 1:30 pm (Uncategorized)

Spending much of my life alone in nature i have developed a way of thinking and relating to nature and would be curious how a philosopher would define this. It is more about the experience than representing it with words, but i’ll make the attempt regardless. It is an example that represents a larger way of interacting with the world.

When i encounter a tree, my longing is to connect. I allow the tree deep inside my experience and attempt to extend my experience outward to the tree. I look first at its features, its movement and play of light and color through its leaves. I look at it as though it were the only tree by perceiving there is none other just like it. Then I climb onto its branches and feel its strength against my back. I close my eyes and try to perceive the experience of a tree – its timelessness and quiet. I realize that just as my extremities are defined as me through being connected, then so can the tree become me through connection. I have some sense that just as it is my perception that defines the intention and meaning of my extremities, so perhaps my intention can in part define the tree. Perhaps it is because the tree cannot perceive its own experience that I must, and that is the very reason it is part of me.

Then I wonder how I might enter into the tree’s experience. Some suggest plants grow stronger when encountering a nurturing intent, and I hope that the tree grows stronger in my presence. Then I ask if every part of this experience has only to do with me and has no part of the tree in which case I am forever isolated from it and everything else, despite a fundamental longing to connect.

Here are some interesting thoughts from poets who were also deeply affected by trees. I realize it is used as metaphor poetically, but i feel this use of metaphor represents a deeper experience that i attempt to address here. That is why it’s not in the arts forum. The issue at hand is not these poems specifically, but the experience suggested by them described above.

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The best philosopher

February 26, 2007 at 1:21 pm (general philosophy)

I’m reading John Stuart Mill’s Mathematics and Experience in which he argues that all of our knowledge is derived from experience. Reading this also brings to mind his works On Liberty and Utilitarianism. What strikes me is that I can’t help but consider J.S. Mill as being the best writer I’ve read in philosophy. He is the only one I know of that can consistently combine a creative and stylistic writing style with a clear and logical analysis of a problem. The way he expresses his ideas is both rigourous and literary.

Who are your favorite writer-philosophers?

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Pop music

February 23, 2007 at 2:38 pm (philosophy of the arts)

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Philosophy is music to me

February 23, 2007 at 2:26 pm (philosophy of the arts)

Plato informs me that philosophy means a Jazz solo. I am no musician but I think I comprehend a little about jazz because I understand Plato’s message.

To do philosophy is to create meaning. To learn philosophy is to study the great minds of history as they create meaning while in an attitude of critical self-consciousness of a radical nature.

To do philosophy is to liberate the individual just as I imagine that jazz liberates the musician; s/he liberates the self by arousing the emotions and extending by analysis the knowledge and the understanding of our self and the world.

Knowledge is an achievement instigated by a search for truth; truth is our comprehension of reality and it has a universal quality. Understanding is the creation of meaning; it is a leap beyond knowledge. Understanding is a rare confluence of intellect and emotion; meaning is subjective, it is meaning for me. Understanding is the resulting synthesis of fragmentary knowledge into a form that has meaning for me.

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What is art?

February 23, 2007 at 2:22 pm (philosophy of the arts)

I would be interested to see what other people’s opinions are on the notion of pornography as an art form, or better, whether or not pornography is moving in that direction. I should add, by way of warning, that if you need to search for any of the concepts I am talking about, it is probably safer to do so through a neutral medium such as Wikipedia rather than through google.

First of all, I am not referring to whether or not we may consider the nudes of classic art as pornographic; however, if anyone feels that this is necessary to this discussion, I would be interested to hear their reasoning.

Recent years, and increased use of the internet worldwide, have seen pornography, as an industry, multiply its output and profits tenfold. Compared to just ten years ago, there are a great deal many more people consuming pornography on a regular basis.

I personally consider that pornography is primarily a form of vulgar titillation, rather than being genuinely erotic; my understanding of the erotic is that it is not primarily focused on the more ‘base’ desires of voyeurism and stimulation, that the notion of the erotic is synonymous with our procreative functions.

However, I am interested in areas of pornography which seem to be heading away from ‘pure’ titillation, and more into experimenting with what is possible in the context of pornography. For instance, the practice of Bukkake seems to be farther removed from the notion of ‘pure’ titillation than what is conventionally considered pornography – it strikes me as, presently, being more concerned with extremes of human endurance; further, it seems to question, by exposing one extreme of pornographic enterprise, the precise limits of what will be consumed by the pornography industry – that is, Bukkake strikes me as a question for the ‘art’ of making pornographic films, a similar enterprise to contemporary artists (from Duchamp onwards) questioning what is acceptable within the context of a gallery.

Hentai, similarly, seems far removed from pornographies primary purpose of vulgar titillation, insofar as it is not concerned with representing sex faithfully – in fact, Hentai thrives more on a sort of Freudian dreamwork, on delirium and visual association than what is conventionally considered titillation. Further, I have friends within animation who watch some Hentai videos for their animational skills, and consider the titillation factor minimal if not entirely absent.

So, given these instances (there are others as well), I am basically asking: Could pornography be considered art? Are we beginning to see pornography break away into areas not primarily concerned with titillation? In questioning, or challenging, ‘what is acceptable in pornographic film’ (as spurious as that sounds), what are the ends of contemporary pornographic films.

I don’t wish to give the impression that I am the world’s largest consumer of pornography, and I hope this forum will be good enough to consider my comments with at least a modicum of seriousness. Although pornography is not one of the most enticing areas of philosophical investigation, I’m sure some of you are aware of certain writers (Sontag, Barthes, de Beouvoir (sp?)) exploring the notion of the pornographic.

Opinions, any one?

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Social darwinism

February 23, 2007 at 2:17 pm (politics/law/economy)

I  just had a conversation with some Nietzche fans, and discovered that they and he were social darwinists. Is anyone here a social darwinist? Why?

Personally, I think that darwinism is true; that species adapt to their environment over time. However, I believe that as humanity we have created our own environment. In todays environment, which was created by today’s elite and powerful, how can you see what is going on as beneficial on an evolutionary scale?

Fact: the more educated people are, the less children they have. At least in areas where everyone has equal oportunity to education, the smartest people are being weeded out of the genepool relatively speaking.

Our new capitalist system also shows that the rich and wealthy don’t necessarily have more children. Assuming equal oportunity, we’re weeding out the successful and productive.

Going more into Nietzche, violence, to be successful, takes the forms of organised combat in wars. Social darwinism sees this as a test of one group against the other, and the superior group wins. But between nations and races, there is less genetic difference than between the members of those nations or races. All violent forms of social darwinism are relatively unproductive if you want a stronger species.

I don’t need to remind people of the racism of the founder of social darwinsim, Herbert Spencer.

Even if you believe that although the rich and educated are not reproducing enough, or that everyone else is reproducing too much, that the important thing is that the rich and educated are getting ever greater amounts of power so that if there ever is a crisis, their genes will be those that represent humanity and everyone else until then is an expendable workforce, there are still problems. Our neo-capitalist system rewards not the intelligent and creative, but the persistent, conformist, and I daresay ideologically idiotic and uncritical people the most.

My conclusion is a few points:

1. In short we’re breeding sheep to a few idiotic shepherds.
2. Our genetic differences are so varied and so widespread that there is still the capacity for serious examination of how society should be structured to reflect what is best for the species in any group and place so that warfare is absolutely insane.
3. That we create our own environment to adapt to.
4. There is no reason to assume that a more democratic and socialist system would be any worse for the evolution of humanity. Indeed, I personally believe that as a group we could make more rational decissions about the kind of people the species should become than we do as separate individuals… creating the kind of environment that people would adapt to that would actually be better for the species.

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