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Archive for November, 2008

Hilary Putnam Quotes

11/20/2008 3 comments

Some quotes from a 20th century philosophical giant:

“When I claim that the murder and suffering of innocent people is wrong, I do not, I think, really care about the question whether this judgment would be valid for a being of a totally alien constitution and psychology. If there are beings on, say, Alpha Centauri, who cannot feel pain and who do not mind individual death, then very likely our fuss about ‘murder and suffering’ will seem to them to be much ado about nothing. But the very alienness of such a life form means that they cannot understand the moral issues involved. If our ‘objectivity’ is objectivity humanly speaking, it is still objectivity enough.”

“Talk of moral ‘perception’, like talk of mathematical intuition, or of reference and understanding, is not reducible to the language or the world-picture of physics. That does not mean physics is ‘incomplete’. Physics can be ‘complete’–that is, complete for physical purposes. The completeness physics lacks is a completeness all particular theories, pictures, and discourses lack. For no theory or picture is complete for all purposes. If the irreducibility of ethics to physics shows that values are projections, then colors are also projections. So are the natural numbers. So, for that matter, is ‘the physical world’. But being a projection in this sense is not the same thing as being subjective.”

Here’s a longer one and a more complex one. But understanding this can be quite revolutionary for one’s view of the world:

“Of course, if metaphysical realism were right, and one could view the aim of science simply as trying to get our notional world to ‘match’ the world in itself, then one could contend that we are interested in coherence, comprehensiveness, functional simplicity, and instrumental efficiacy only because they are instruments to the end of bringing about this ‘match’. But the notion of a transcendental match between our representation and the world in itself is nonsense. To deny that we want this kind of metaphysical match with a noumenal world is not to deny that we want the usual sort of empirical fit (as judged by our criteria of rational acceptability) with an empirical world. But the empirical world, as opposed to the noumenal world, depends upon our criteria of rational acceptability (and, of course, vice versa). We use our criteria of rational acceptability to build up a theoretical picture of the ’empirical world’ and then as that picture develops we revise our very criteria of rational acceptability in the light of that picture and so on and so on forever. The dependence of our methods on our picture of the world is something I have stressed in my other books; what I wish to stress here is the other side of the dependence, the dependence of the empirical world on our criteria of rational acceptability. What I am saying is that we must have a criteria of rational acceptability to even have an empirical world, that these reveal part of our notion of an optimal speculative intelligence. In short, I am saying that the ‘real world’ depends upon our values (and, again, vice versa).” (emphasis added)

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Confusing Cultural Attitudes

11/13/2008 6 comments

Here are two actions that I see as polar opposites in many ways: violence and sex. Nearly every connotation that violence has is negative. Violence carries with it notions like hate, blood, pain, ugliness, death, etc. Sex (with consent) seems quite the opposite (sex without consent could probably be categorized as simply another form of violence). Nearly every connotation that sex has is positive: love, pleasure, transcendence, beauty, life, etc. And yet–at least here in America–we seem quite tolerant toward violence when it comes to our films, television, and other forms of media. On the other hand, we seem quite intolerant toward sex (and as an extension of sex, nakedness). This is especially true among certain religious groups. Many people are okay with with watching films or TV shows where people are mowed down by machine guns or where people’s necks are sliced, but those same people are disgusted by a sex scene. Likewise, many parents don’t seem to mind if their children attend gruesomely violent films, but heaven forbid if they are caught watching porn. Looking at naked people or at people having sex apparently corrupts the mind whereas violence, well, must not have any negative affects worth worrying about. These attitudes seem completely reversed. If we are to shy away from, downplay, or outright condemn one of these two actions, violence would seem to make the most sense. Sex, on the other hand, seems to be something worth praising.

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Categories: Philosophy

“QUESTIONS THAT HAUNT ME”

11/02/2008 1 comment

The following is from an email I received from a friend. Some of these are quite brilliant while some are pretty stupid. Enjoy.
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If you have sex with a prostitute against her will, is it considered
rape or shoplifting?

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Can you cry under water?

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How important does a person have to be before they are considered
assassinated instead of just murdered?

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Why do you have to ‘put your two cents in’… but it’s only a ‘penny
for your thoughts’? Where’s that extra penny going to?

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Once you’re in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were
buried in for eternity?

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Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

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What disease did cured ham actually have?

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How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be
a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

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Why is it that people say they ‘slept like a baby’ when babies wake up
like every two hours?

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If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?

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Why are you IN a movie, but you’re ON TV?

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Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in
binoculars to look at things on the ground?

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Why do doctors leave the room while you change?
They’re going to see you naked anyway.

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Why is ‘bra’ singular and ‘panties’ plural?

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Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a
horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

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If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about
him?

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Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane ?

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If the professor on Gilligan’s Island can make a radio out of a
coconut, why can’t he fix a hole in a boat?

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Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours?
They’re both dogs!

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If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why
didn’t he just buy dinner?

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If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from
vegetables, what is baby oil made from?

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If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

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Do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same
tune?

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Why did you just try singing the two songs above?

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Why do they call it an asteroid when it’s outside the hemisphere, but
call it a hemorrhoid when it’s in your butt?

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Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at
you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the
window?
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Categories: Comedy