zaterdag 23 november 2013

Erwin Mortier



"Ik blijf het een teken van beschaving vinden dat er flink heen en weer gepikt kan worden. Maar steeds meer heb ik de indruk dat ik mijn eigen bijdragen zo maak dat er geen speld meer tussen te krijgen is en dan zijn reacties vaak niet inhoudelijk meer. Zo verliezen we dus toch een stuk beschaving."


Gestameld schotschrift

We verliezen een stuk beschaving.
Steeds meer heb ik de indruk dat de mensen niet meer weten waar ze over praten.
Zou Erwin Mortier zich aangesproken voelen?
Ik heb hem niet bij naam genoemd, ik heb het over "de mensen".
"De mensen" zijn overduidelijk niet "alle mensen".
In dat geval zou ik zelf niet meer weten waar ik over praat.
Het moge duidelijk zijn dat dat zelfs voor mij een brug te ver is.
Ik, laten we eerlijk zijn, insinueer dat Erwin Mortier niet meer weet waarover hij praat.
Ik insinueer dat door dezelfde formulering te gebruiken.
"Ik heb de indruk".
Aan een indruk is niets "inhoudelijks", het is niets "objectiefs".
Zo winnen we dus toch weer een stuk beschaving.

donderdag 14 november 2013

Alessandro Baricco



Alessandro Baricco schreef een niemendalletje (is dat geen mooi compliment?):
Driemaal bij dageraad.

De mooiste laatste zin van een boek:

"Ze zat te denken aan de wonderlijke bestendigheid van de liefde, in de nimmer stilstaande stroom van het leven."

zondag 10 november 2013

Sam Harris



http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-moral-landscape-challenge1

"Morality and values depend on the existence of conscious minds—and specifically on the fact that such minds can experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe. Conscious minds and their states are natural phenomena, fully constrained by the laws of the universe (whatever these turn out to be in the end). Therefore, questions of morality and values must have right and wrong answers that fall within the purview of science (in principle, if not in practice). Consequently, some people and cultures will be right (to a greater or lesser degree), and some will be wrong, with respect to what they deem important in life."


Everybody (every minds) can experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe.

I think I can agree with that.
"Can" however is a  difficult word in a central argument.
We're getting nowhere with "can".
"Can" is a relative word.
"I can agree" isn't clear enough.
Either you agree or you don't agree.
What is relative?
When there is more than one possibility, it's relative.
What is absolute?
When there is only one possibility, it's absolute.
So there is always the question of how the word "can" is used by the writer.
And perhaps even more important, there is the question of how the word "can" is understood by the reader.

Everybody (every minds) can experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe.

There is the possibility that someone experiences various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe and someone else doesn't. While they both "can", one does and the other doesn't.
That would imply the existence of stupid people. People who don't understand the difference between well-being and suffering. People who are in a permanent "stupid" state of mind.
That would imply the existence of bad people. People who won't understand the difference between well-being and suffering. People who are in a permanent "bad" state of mind.

There is the possibility that someone at a particular moment experiences various forms of well-being and suffering in the universe and someone else at a particular moment doesn't experience various forms of well-being and suffering in the universe.
So there is a distinction between this someone and this someone else.
When there is right and wrong, someone at a particular moment is right and someone else at a particular moment is wrong.
This "someone" is called "conscious minds" and this "someone else" is called "unconscious minds"
Within the limits of relativity ("at a particular moment") it is possible to be absolute.
Paradoxically we might say: in priciple we can (absolute) make a distinction in practice.

Conscious minds can experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe.

Within the limits of relativity this "can" is absolute.
Having clarified at what level we are playing, the use of "can" has become superfluous.

Conscious minds experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe.

This is presented as a fact.
But prior to the fact is the assumption.

If minds are conscious then they experience various forms of well-being and suffering.

What is of interest for me is wether you yourself define these statements as logically equivalent or not.
It's up to you. You've got to make up your mind.
If you decide in favour of a logical equivalence then "conscious minds" always (absolute) experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe. It's impossible that they don't experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe . If so, these conscious minds wouldn't be "conscious minds", they would be "unconscious minds".
As a matter of fact, I think you need this logical equivalence to make your point.
Without this logical equivalence, without "necessity and sufficiency" this is what happens:
"Therefore, questions of morality and values might have right and wrong answers that fall within the purview of science (in principle, if not in practice). "
That's something entirely different from:
"Therefore, questions of morality and values must have right and wrong answers that fall within the purview of science (in principle, if not in practice)."
With a  relative "can", with a "can" where there is more than one possibility, it's impossible to achieve a "must".
Must is absolute.
Only with an absolute "can" it's possible to achieve an absolute "must".
Only with the "always" (absolute) it's possible to achieve an absolute "must".
Only with a logical equivalence it's possible to achieve an absolute "must".

Conscious minds and their states are natural phenomena.

Again, this is presented as a fact.
But prior to the fact is the assumption.

If minds are conscious then they are natural phenomena.

Once again it's up to you to decide wheter this is an "if and only if" construction or not.
And once again I think you are forced into this construction unless you are willing to abandon the "must" in favour of the "might".

Now, I suppose you are familiar with the fallacy "denying the antecedent".
Sometimes this kind of arguments can seem very convincing. The traditional example is the reasoning of Alan Turing and according to me, it's also very appropriate in this context.

"If each man had a set of rules of conduct by which he regulated his life he would be no better than a machine. But there are no such rules, so men cannot be machines."

This argument is invalid, but it seems valid because of our (natural) resistance against being a machine.
This argument is invalid because of the following reasoning.
If P, then Q
Not P. Therefore not Q.
This argument is invalid because men could still be machines that do not follow a definite set of rules.
As you know, there is something very peculiar about this "denying the antecedent".
Sometimes this "denying the antecedent" isn't a fallacy at all, sometimes it is a valid argument.
More to the point, if there is a logical equivalence between P and Q, then the above mentioned reasoning is valid!

If conscious minds are natural phenomena, then unconscious minds are unnatural phenomena.

I am perfectly entitled to make this statement because you let me make this statement.
I am perfectly entitled to make this statement because you established the logical equivalence.
Now in my opinion, of course I'm not sure about your opinion, unnatural phenomena (ghosts, dwarfs, spaghetti monsters, you name it...) don't exist.
The consequences of this conclusion are yours to make.

This is my central argument.
There is allways hope.
I refuse to give up hope.
There is always a choice.
This is your choice:
You might change your opinion or you might want to reformulate your central argument.


(dedicated to my father)

vrijdag 8 november 2013

Alicja Gescinska



Alicja schrijft een absurde tekst over Camus.
"Het onheil dat volgt uit de overtuiging dat alles eender IS en dat niets hoeft. N'importe quoi".


Een absurde tekst omdat ze Camus niet leest zoals ik hem lees.


Ze ontneemt me ei zo na mijn inspiratie.
Daar kan ik moeilijk onverschillig bij blijven.