Archives for category: teleology

Remember this puzzle?

To solve it, you have to break the box your own mind has assumed. The limitations your own mind had imposed, at least initially, over the whole thing.
You have here the psychological intricacies.

But ‘breaking’ the box isn’t enough. You also need to ‘see’ the lines…
Giving yourself enough ‘space’ to solve a problem is an absolutely necessary step but will not necessarily take you there.

There are other approaches.

There’s a guy, very successful, apparently, who advocates rethinking the boxes. You can start exploring his ideas here:

There’s another guy who argues that there is no box. No box at all!
And that what you should do if you really want to ‘boldly go where no one has gone before’ is to “Set your box on fire
Ooops… the guy really needs to make up his mind! Before giving advice to others …
How can you “set your box on fire” before acknowledging its existence?!?

Which brings me to conclusion.

The first step towards solving a problem, any problem, is to determine the box which contains that problem. The limits you have to cross in order to be able to build a solution!

Which solution might not become apparent the moment you have crossed those limits! Or ever….
But which solution would have never crossed your mind had you remained inside the original box.

Inside the box in which you had originally confined yourself!

Stage 1
You are the prisoner of the box you have assigned to the problem you have to solve.

Stage 2
You’re still inside the box but your thinking outside it.
The box had become porous. ‘Inflatable’, even.
You can make it as big, or as small, as you deem necessary.

Stage three.
You have removed yourself from the box.
You are aware of the fact that the problem must still be solved inside of a box.
Inside your knowledge and inside whatever resources may be made available for the task.
But your current relation with the box containing the problem makes it possible for you to understand – and, maybe, solve, the meta-problem.
From the outside it’s easier to figure out that it is you who needs to muster the pertinent knowledge, the necessary resources and the stamina to solve the problem.
If you really want it solved, of course.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckswoboda/2020/08/03/why-thinking-outside-the-box-is-the-wrong-way-to-approach-innovation/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inside-the-box/201402/thinking-outside-the-box-misguided-idea
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrQwNFaVaZ8

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Until recently – historically speaking, people had two ideologies to choose from.

Conservative and liberal.

The conservatives used to posit ‘law’ as a ‘cage’ which didn’t allow any transgression while the liberals understood ‘law’ as an agreed upon environment which allowed people an individual but orderly pursuit of happiness.

The advent of Marx’s communism had changed everything. His promotion of ‘class warfare’ as a legitimate political instrument had effectively muddled that which had previously been considered a clear choice.

After communism had been proven an abject failure, the naifs have forgotten about Marx.
Flying under the ideological radar, ‘class warfare’ has metastasized.

Nowadays, Regular Joe is confronted with three ideologies. And to make things worse, their names – attributed and/or assumed, are misleading.

We have a line of thought which uses (natural) ‘law’ as a line of defense against any kind of change. And as a means of bringing back the ‘better yesterday’.

Another line of thought which sees (man made) ‘law’ as an instrument to implement – forcefully, if needed, ‘equality’.

And the ‘classical’ liberals who are squeezed between the previous two.

The state/government – whose job is to keep ‘the playing field’ level and functional, is paralyzed by the first two factions fighting to control it.
The ‘conservatives’ want to use the state/government as a ‘preserving agent’ for what they consider to be their (natural) ‘rights’.
The ‘progressives’ want to use the state/government as an instrument of (forceful, if needed) change towards what they consider to be ‘the common good’.

Meanwhile, the classical liberals – berated by both of the above, have a hard time explaining to a shrinking audience that the state/government is an extremely dangerous instrument if allowed to fall into the hands of ‘single-minded’ operators. That as soon as the freedom of the markets (the economic and, way more importantly, the ideatic ones) is curtailed, everything starts to go south. Fast!

Democracy and the free market have brought us so far.
The freedom of thought/expression and the freedom to act as an honest entrepreneur have been instrumental in us reaching the present state. With the goods and the bads in it.

Each instance in which the state/government had fallen prisoner in the hands of ‘men of state’ with ‘focused vision’, history had run backwards.
No matter whether that ‘limited vision’ had been focused in the past or on “a” future.

Each time this subject comes about I remember about Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History.
About how concentrated he was on the future he had seen as forthcoming.
About how his ‘hard focus’ had prevented him from noticing the sunken part of the iceberg.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/10/texas-abortion-law-jonathan-f-mitchell-profile
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Manifesto.pdf

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Let me put this another way.

Nobody can survive alone.
Not for a considerable amount of time, anyway.

“It takes nothing to join the crowd”.
To join, maybe… but if you choose to remain, you must ‘follow the rules’.

So yes, it takes everything to stand alone… Your very life!
And the ‘membership price’ is your ‘absolute’ freedom…

Hard to make up your mind, eh?
Then let me raise up a few points.

I started this argument by mentioning that nobody can live alone. Not for long and not very comfortably. No matter how hard you may prepare yourself.
Don’t kid yourself. All those hermits and preppers you hear about – on ‘social media’!, are able to do that because of modern technology. Which technology has been developed by somebody else…
On the other hand, most individuals are able to survive, alone or in small groups, while jumping from ‘one boat to another’. Think emigration, for instance. Or ‘acculturation’.

But no crowd will ever survive its members leaving in droves!

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The single truth which is accessible to us is that while there is a single truth – we may call it ‘reality’, if you want, we’ll never know it in its entirety.
We may get ever closer to getting there but we will never arrive.

The corollary – which is an integral part of the kernel truth, being that the effort to get closer to that single truth can be exerted only as a collective endeavor. Any other approach will, sooner rather than later, end up in a cul-de-sac.

The sooner we agree about this ‘kernel’ truth, the more peaceful the journey to never get there will become.

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Ordinary people are aware of their own self, have an identity and are driven by goals.
The ‘fulfilled’ ones have developed an understanding, belong to a community and are driven by compassion.
The really ‘lucky’ have found meaning.

And peace.
Those who are still driven try to spread it.

For whatever reasons, vaccine arrived later in some countries.
For whatever other reasons, some people had chosen to ‘opt out’ in those countries where the vaccine had been plentiful.

The results have been the same.

More than half of Vietnam’s people are currently under lockdown.
New daily cases have surpassed 10,000 and deaths are being reported in hundreds. Of Vietnam’s nearly 16,000 COVID-19 fatalities, more than 99% have come in this latest wave
.”

https://www.npr.org/2021/09/16/1037768399/long-weekend-becomes-9-week-lockdown-for-ap-vietnam-reporter
https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/pennsylvania-coronavirus-breakthrough-cases-vaccinated-unvaccinated-20210914.html

What is truth?
Which is THE truth?
Is this true?

One word, three questions…

‘Truth’ is a convention.
You cannot understand ‘truth’ without ‘lie’.

Watch the video.
Go on, I won’t go anywhere!

It’s irrelevant for the current discussion whether the drongo lies consciously or has just developed an ‘ordinary’ skill. Equivalent to that of feeding itself by ‘fishing’ worms. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwVhrrDvwPM.

It’s enough for me that both us and the meerkats are able to notice that the drongo did lie. And, at least once, did sound the alarm about a real danger.

Hence it is possible, for both us, humans, and the meerkats to tell lies from truths.
Again, I have no idea whether the animals do it in a conscientious manner.

All I know is that we, humans, did coin the concept of ‘truth’. And that of ‘lie’.
And we not only coined the concepts but also attached names to each of them.
We agreed among ourselves to name them truth and lie, respectively.

In fact, we have made an agreement. A gentleman’s agreement… About when to use each word.

And a subsidiary one. About when we must definitely tell the truth and when a lie is acceptable.

http://perflensburg.se/Berger%20social-construction-of-reality.pdf

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A bunch of ideologically motivated criminals got together and perpetrated a horrible act of terrorism.
A group pf courageous passengers got together and partially foiled the terrorists’ plans.

Both the terrorists and the courageous passengers eventually died.
The terrorists died killing people while the heroes died saving lives.
The terrorists didn’t reach their ultimate goal – the US is still standing proud.
The heroes did achieve their goal. The hijacked plane crushed in a field, far from the target the terrorists aimed to destroy.

Doing something alongside others isn’t enough.
For that something to end up well, the goal must be wholesome!

On the face of it, the two men couldn’t have been more different: Bingham was 31 when he was killed; Judge was 68. Bingham, a former college rugby player with a 6-foot-5, 220-pound build, was a gay public relations executive with an active dating life. Judge was a kindly Franciscan friar who was “selectively out,” according to longtime friend and LGBTQ activist Brendan Fay.

But both men showed courage beyond comprehension that day, saving lives and perhaps even souls.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-news/saint-911-hero-flight-93-lived-different-lives-share-legacy-death-rcna1979

There are some things each of us must do.

Breathe, drink, eat, take cover.

There are some things each of us should do in moderation.

Drink, eat, ‘rest’…

There are some things each of us should never do.

Lie, steal, kill.

The things we must do ‘depend’ upon our DNA.
Unless we do what our DNA tells us to do, we die.

The things we shouldn’t do have been determined culturally.
Our fore-fathers have noticed that not doing ‘those things’ helped a lot.
That communities who taught their members to not do those things survived a lot easier and fared a lot better than those communities who had been ‘lax’ about ‘things’.
Teaching what to do and what to not do across generations transformed learned information into culture.

In time, culture has fulfilled the same function as DNA.

DNA had made it possible for life to exist. For species to survive. And to evolve when needed. When the environment had changed.

Culture had made it possible for communities to survive.
Individuals belonging to each generation didn’t had to reinvent fire each time they were cold. Or afraid. Or hungry.
They just remembered what their ancestors had taught them and put it into practice.

But there’s also a huge difference between DNA and culture.
Both consist of information passed over generations and both are instrumental in the survival of those who depend on that information being put to use.
The difference consists in the fact that DNA actually demands a certain behavior while culture only recommends certain ‘answers’.

There’s more.

DNA is a ‘language’. It has ‘letters’, ‘syntactic’ rules and even means to correct errors.
Culture uses languages as a vehicle.

Both code information using ‘letters’ and ‘words’ but they differ in how that information is passed to the next generation.
DNA passes that information in a way more ‘rigid’ manner than culture does.

While it is true that slight differences occur whenever genetic information is passed from one generation to another – that’s how evolution works, those ‘directly interested’ in the process have nothing to say about this whole thing. The differences occur accidentally and survive only if they don’t harm the organisms where they appear.

With cultural information things happen in the exact opposite manner.
Differences occur only when enough individuals notice that it would be beneficial for them to change that particular habit in that particular manner.

And now we have reached the moment to contemplate another similarity.

As the DNA has become more elaborate, the ‘superior’ organisms had enjoyed more individual ‘freedom’. Or ‘lee-way’.
Insects have more lee-way than worms, fish have more lee-way than star-fish, dogs have more lee-way than frogs and humans have more freedom than the rest of the apes have lee-way.
Similarly, people belonging to the hunter-gatherer culture had accrued a lot more freedom when they had learned – and taught it to their children, how to make fire. And so on.
Those who had learned how to grow their own food – and passed the information to the next generations, had far less chances of dying of hunger. And a lot more lee-way to conduct war…
Those who had learned how to make metal tools were a lot freer than those who shaped their tools out of stone. And very soon the stone-shapers had been ‘subdued’ by those yielding bronze weapons.

And so on to the present day.
Those who have become adept users of mass-media are seeding ‘change’ into the minds of the naive.

I only hope that they will eventually find out what Ernst Mayr had to say about this process.

Evolution is in no way about ‘the survival of the fittest’.
It is only about the demise of the unfit.

The problem with the ‘lee-way’ generated by culture being that whenever it becomes too wide the whole system becomes fragile.

Whenever people get high enough on freedom they forget that in order to survive we need to remain inside the ‘straight and narrow’ mandated by DNA and endorsed by culture.

Otherwise put, being torn between musts and don’ts is far better than being stuck. In a grave.

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Plants transform water, minerals and sunshine into organic matter.
Herbivores transform plant matter into meat.
Predators cull the misfit among the herbivores.
Scavengers return the ‘discrete components’ back to where they belong. At the start of the cycle.

Please note that this train of transformations happens both above and below water.
That it includes all living organisms we know about.
And that it constantly reshapes the environment.

The oxygen we breathe had been produced, at first, by some primitive bacteria.
The soil which currently nurtures the plants which feed everybody else is a ‘by product’ of past and present organisms.

And so on.

Life is a web. Each of the species, a knot in this web.

Each member of a species gives some and takes some from the web. And, in doing this, keeps the web alive. Gives strength to each knot and keeps the entire web in one piece. In one functional piece.

At first, we – humans, as well at the rest of the apes, have been playing ‘top dog’.
We’ve always taken more than we’ve been giving back. Apes have very few natural predators, except for viruses and bacteria. But what we used to take wasn’t that much out of proportion as to make a noticeable dent. As to endanger the big picture.

Until we, humans, have invented agriculture.
Have actually enslaved plants and animals to serve us.
Shaped the world to cater for our needs. Transformed forests into savannas to feed our animals and savannas into fields for our crops. Then fields into cities for our dwellings and industrial parks for our factories.

Enslaving the nature hasn’t been enough. We have enslaved our own brethren to work in our place.
To take care of our animals, to tend our crops, to clean our houses, even to nurse our new-born.

And we have started to fight among ourselves. Attempting to control more and more of the Earth, we have stepped on each-other’s toes. Then ‘we’ have started to push back against ‘them’. By force, if necessary. By deadly force, if we saw fit.

Here’s were we stand now.

Our current contribution is negative.
We have polluted the planet way beyond its short term capacity to cope with all the refuse we’re stacking on its back.
We have burned enough of the fossil fuel which had been accumulated during hundreds of millions of years that we have thus changed the composition of the atmosphere. Changed it in the wrong direction…
By hunting and by ‘repurposing’ the land we have contributed to the huge bio-diversity loss we are currently witnessing.

Some of us have started to understand what’s going on.
Not only to understand but also to attempt to remedy the situation.

When one country had fallen under the ‘spell’ of terrorists – and a danger for all other countries, a large coalition of ‘interested parties’ have stepped in. And tried to make things right.
For a host of reasons, that effort turned sour. And the ‘interested parties’ have decided to leave.

Amid all that mayhem, a lonely soul had remained steadfast. And spun the Earth in the other direction in his desperate attempt to save his protegees from the advancing Taliban. In his successful attempt to save his protegees from the advancing Taliban…

LONDON (AP) — A former U.K. Royal Marine who waged a high-profile campaign to leave Afghanistan with almost 200 rescued dogs and cats has flown to safety — with the animals, but without his charity’s Afghan staff, who were left behind in Kabul.
A privately funded chartered plane carrying Paul “Pen” Farthing and his animals landed at London’s Heathrow Airport on Sunday after a saga that gripped and divided Britain, raising difficult questions about the relative value placed on human and animal lives.

The way I see it, we – humans, are here to impart meaning to everything we get in contact with.

Now, what’s the meaning of the ‘story’ above?

Are we finally understanding the responsibility we have towards the rest of the living world?
Or we’re still arrogant enough to do as we please? Without any consideration for what’s going to happen next?

As I said before. Humans don’t have any natural predators.
Except for bacteria, viruses … and other people.

A little over three centuries ago, a certain Thomas Malthus maintained “that infinite human hopes for social happiness must be vain, for population will always tend to outrun the growth of production.” Let me add that Malthus had been educated at the Jesus College in Cambridge – where he had received his master of arts degree in 1791, and had taken his “holy orders” in 1797. Had been elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1821, elected a member of the French Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, to the Royal Academy of Berlin… and so on…
Until now, Malthus has been proven wrong. We somehow managed to feed ourselves. In fact, despite the fact that we’re now roughly 8 times more numerous than we were in 1800, most of us eat far better than most of Malthus’ contemporaries. Live way longer. Lead far happier lives.
Not without ‘associated’ costs. Borne mainly by the environment. And by some of the ‘others’.

The problem being that the things which had worried Malthus – population growth and the limited nature of the Earth, are true only in part. Yes, population growth puts indeed a lot of pressure on the limited Earth we currently inhabit, but the main thing which limits our “social happiness” is our limited understanding of what’s going on here.

Our self centered and self serving image of the world.
Our own inability to find a long term, life preserving meaning for the things which happen around us.

To us.

By us.

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/
https://www.britannica.com/science/biodiversity-loss
https://apnews.com/article/lifestyle-europe-cats-dogs-kabul-2ef71936faed95629c5f258e3e7ff9ea
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Thomas-Malthus
https://www.statista.com/statistics/1006502/global-population-ten-thousand-bc-to-2050/

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