Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient 2012-04-24T18:28:38Z Pat Gunn Examples of Raising the Level of Discourse <br />Date: Wed Apr 11 12:49:14 2012<br /> <p> I'm pretty happy with the way <a href="">this conversation on G+</a> turned out. It started out moderately hot, with some insults and not a lot of actual content, and ended up (as of this writing, at least) with a few topics we agree on, some neat history and philosophy of governance, and more civility. I'd go over the bit by bit, but it's easier just to read it. </p> <p> Last night, I had a choice between two social gatherings (!!), and went with a skeptics group run by (and I do mean to state it so strongly) a local philosopher. It was a lively discussion on celebrity endorsement of scientific, anti-scientific, and semi-scientific positions. I loved the sharpness of the people there and the variety in opinions. It was a bit unwieldy in size, but was a delight. There is a point of slight awkwardness in that one of the people who attends the meeting is a former would-be employer, but that can be navigated. </p> <p> There's a skeptical conference coming up that I am thinking about attending; it's a bit expensive and I'm trying not to spend a lot of money (spectacularly failed at that yesterday, when I bought a Playstation Vita and a lot of oranges, haha) until I'm more employed. I probably will go, but there's another bit of potential awkwardness in that there's someone I asked out on a dating site who's going to be prominent there. </p> <p> I do kinda regret not being able to attend both meetings last night; the other one was about cross-domain reasoning, which is a topic I'd like to study in grad school, but it was also hosted in the home of someone who leads a group I'm generally wary of (hive of people of the libertarian flavour of transhumanism). </p> <p> I do feel that being here is good for me; my natural reclusive tendencies might not win out in the end if I can keep attending enough social events to meet folk before I feel the need to go hide. 2012-04-11T16:49:14Z Universalising Doctrines <br />Date: Wed Apr 11 20:52:52 2012<br /> <p> A small cluster of ideas that I've mentioned in passing in past posts that probably deserves one of its own: </p> <ul> <li>In any movement that aims for some universalising notion of the good, it is appropriate to aim to eliminate the bad and secure victory for the good, not to secure existence of the good as a "viable choice". This applies to anything from religious liberty to opensource software; if you just want it as an option, what you have is a personal preference (even if your option takes a certain number of institutions to really be viable).</li> <li>This is not meant to disparage those who do just want their preferences to be viable; it's a definitional line that one might reasonably be on either side of</li> <li>I contend that the multiculturalist flavour of liberalism, or at least large parts of it, actually has few notions of the good, as its notion of diversity requires most other values be reasonably quiet. The person who, for example, pushes back against universal criticism of female circumcision for the sake of respecting the cultures that perform it, even if they strongly oppose it in their own culture, is opposing the universalisation of a value-choice on that topic. As someone opposed to that flavour of reasoning (despite my metropolitan identity, I believe in universalising values), this idea of "mind your own business" is a call to neglect one's duty to one's values, or perhaps to adopt a kind of practical nihilism.</li> </ul> <p> From this, I also strongly oppose the efforts of libertarians who dream of floating nations, or nations in space, to escape conventional morality; it is not enough to eliminate slavery, institutional racism/sexism, and the threats to labour where we are, we should seek to eliminate them everywhere and to prevent new bubbles of humanity from emerging that recreate past evils. </p> <p> As implied by my metaphilosophy of values, I don't think that all value conclusions must/should be universal, nor that we should defend them all with the same tools or vigour. Whether and to what extent our value-conclusions are universal is something we should keep in mind when we're reflecting on our values. 2012-04-12T00:52:52Z Virtu, Virtue, and Opening <br />Date: Thu Apr 12 12:04:56 2012<br /> <p> A restatement on the difference between citizen and world actors, and virtu and virtue with respects to them. This is cobbled together from a discussion I'm having on G+, with different bits from different comments; sorry if it's not entirely coherent. (view full entry for contents) 2012-04-12T16:04:56Z After Tours End <br />Date: Thu Apr 12 20:33:05 2012<br /> <p> Today's meetup adventure turned out not to be quite what I thought it would be; (view full entry for contents) </p> <p> Today I left the apartment with a topic to chew on; occasionally I've had to deal with, in debates of various kinds, people trying to deconstruct and then discard the public good. (view full entry for contents) </p> <p> Today's lunch was pretty interesting; I had to go to a post office to mail a check, and this took me on a walk a good ways south of where I live in Flatbush; after mailing it, I wanted to get some indian food, my phone brought up a Pakistani restaurant instead, so I took another reasonable hike southwards, into what seemed to be a Afghan/Pakistani/Jewish neighbourhood; there were plenty of people who looked like they were right out of pictures I've seen of Pashtun areas of Afghanistan (and there were Afghan restaurants too; might go back to give them a go sometime). Anyhow, lunch was at Bukhari, on Coney Island Avenue. The atmosphere wasn't that great, but the food was pretty good, quite healthy, and my meal came out to be $4. The food reminded me a bit of Srees. 2012-04-13T00:33:05Z Bugle and Accordion <br />Date: Sun Apr 15 20:24:32 2012<br /> <p> Yesterday I went into Manhattan to try a South Indian place called Hampton Chutney(view full entry for contents) 2012-04-16T00:24:32Z Rules for a Social <br />Date: Tue Apr 17 10:57:57 2012<br /> <p> A philosophy-oriented group I'll be checking out next week has a particularly neat list of behaviours that might get one removed from the group: (view full entry for contents) 2012-04-17T14:57:57Z Feuerwoche <br />Date: Fri Apr 20 17:34:08 2012<br /> <p> This has been an interesting week for me. (view full entry for contents) </p> <p> Two concepts that are tricky to resolve: the concept of the genetic fallacy, and conversational calls of privilege. <ul> <li>The Genetic Fallacy is the notion that arguments should generally be resolved regardless of who makes them; regardless of the race, sex, religion, etc, arguments stand on their own</li> <li>The Conversational Call of Privilege is a call for people to reexamine the positionality inherent in their position, with a hint that it may be self-serving and put an unfair burden on others</li> </ul> Neither of these are entirely good or bad. (view full entry for contents) </p> <p> This weekend will largely be swallowed by <a href="">Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism</a>. Hoping I'll meet yet more members of the secular community here. </p> <p> A bit of news that might be interesting, perhaps: (view full entry for contents) </p> <p> Finally, I offer a (perhaps strange) reconsideration on the topic of military chaplains. After some reflection on some of the arguments for and against them, I am no longer of the opinion that they should not exist. My reasoning is based on the enclosed nature of life in the military; like only a few other jobs, there are few opportunities to reliably leave an active post of duty, and given that, a failure to provide adequate opportunities for self-expression of one's philosophy (religious or not) is excessively damaging to the effective practice of freedom of conscience that exists in outside life. This is not precedent-setting for the kinds of leeway we must/should give in general society so much as a recognition that unusual allowances can be made to equalise with self-actualisation opportunities present in broader-society, and that these allowances might override a general strong commitment to secularism in some instances and to some degree. I don't have any specific ideas as to what the acceptable bounds are of the field this opens up, I just am willing to accept it as a field. We would probably provide the same thing to astronauts on a long-term manned space mission, for the same reasons. 2012-04-20T21:34:08Z NECSS 2012 <br />Date: Sun Apr 22 21:31:14 2012<br /> <p> This weekend was spent at a <a href="">conference on science and secularism</a> in Manhattan. (view full entry for contents) </p> <p> It's finally raining in NYC, but unfortunately it's a very cold rain. I'm also still hobbling from the combined effect of a rough discipline in trying to get back into barefoot running and build foot pads rapidly, and my new shoes, both of which are rough on feet in different ways. My introvert-version social batteries are pretty drained, and I don't have the luxury of being entirely reclusive tomorrow to recharge, eep. </p> <p> The conference has me regretting the low-profile I've kept over the years; I'm not interested in being a star, per-se, but being more known and taking part in philosophy panels would be nice, and maybe having a better-known blog would expose me to more members in the secular blogging community and lead to more conversations. I'd probably need to split my personal life into a separate blog to make that more possible, and maybe go over topics in a more systemic way rather than just blog on whatever's been on my mind recently. I've generally hoped that my blog is interesting and provocative and might fling a few ideas into the heads of people who read it regularly, but I've been pretty lazy about it, and I can do better if I give it more attention. Certainly better than Eliezer, haha. Still thinking about whether I should do this; my blog fills a pretty complex role in my mental life. 2012-04-23T01:31:14Z More Thoughts on changing how I blog <br />Date: Mon Apr 23 11:04:13 2012<br /> <p> I'm thinking more about a sidepoint mentioned in my last post; maybe I should change how I blog. (view full entry for contents) 2012-04-23T15:04:13Z Blog Reworking <br />Date: Tue Apr 24 14:28:38 2012<br /> <p> Sometime over the next few days I'll be splitting my personal life into a separate blog, and devoting this blog to philosophy, current events, and ideas. I'll be trying for a higher quality and a slightly higher brow for the future of this one, and will be more comfortable narrating my life (largely to remember it) on the other one. The LJ sync will follow this (future non-personal) blog (it would not be hard, given that I wrote all the software involved, to have the LJ include both, but I'd like them to be entirely separate). When I finish replumbing (and decide where and if to sync my personal blogging somewhere), I'll do a post on that. </p> <p> To whatever extent I can disclaim the normal social graces that might have you reading my blog out of some feeling of social obligation or being too polite to leave, I do. I might be curious if there were anything in particular I said that had you go, or if it's just not your cup of tea, but if you want out, just go. There are a few of you who've seen posts others haven't, either because I know you've read enough philosophy to know what I'm talking about, or because I need to vent emotions and only feel safe with a few ears, or some other content/reason; I've never been sure if that was welcome or not, I just did it. There won't be more of that on this blog, and I don't know if/how I'll have that in the future. </p> <p> I probably won't purge old entries. The search engines know them and occasionally I've gotten emails about their content. I might try to split the personal out of the other stuff in them, perhaps, but each blogpost is a memory and there are quite a lot of them; changing them might feel wrong. I might try to postmirror this blog ("dachte") to a few more places; dachte has never been my handle (my online handle has generally been "Improv" for many years, named after the old Lotus Spreadsheet for NeXTStep), I've generally thought of it as a place. (Some of my use of it, as an AIM handle, has not been entirely consistent with this) </p> <p> A few of the people I read seem to have separate semi-professional or professional blogs, and that's probably a good sign. My one hope with this is that I don't avoid posting about things that fall between the cracks between my personal life/mental state and philosophy; one of the big points I've hoped has come across in my years of blogging is that philosophy is a human endeavour, tied to almost every aspect of life. The practice of philosophy is not one that (should) alienate one from human nature (although excessive self-awareness might); it's one that illuminates it, drawing on values and ideas that come from life experiences. If, for example, I were to grab on the topic above and do an entry on names for virtual things (like "dachte" versus "Improv") and identities, their relationship to imaginary friends, and things of that sort, would that be philosophy or would it be personal? Rather, would it be better thought of as being more of one or more of the other? Providing food for thoughts and acting as a kind of philosophical Marja-i Taqlid (maybe more as a list of cool things to look up and potential thoughts to take), done mutually between a lot of thinkers, should be breathtakingly eye-opening for everyone involved (or watching). But that's just a concern, and I'll deal with it. 2012-04-24T18:28:38Z