PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, January 04, 2018

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Eagerness (ilusión in Spanish)

Dear friends,

First of all Happy New 2018!

And it is quite fitting that our meeting this Sunday is Eagerness
(ilusión in Spanish)! What sort of eagerness or ilusión must we have
about a new year? I mean if anything is unknown it's the start of a new

Eagerness (ilusión in Spanish)

Natural languages are very local and circumstantial to local conditions.
And by conditions we can include customs, experiences, political
influence and so on. This makes meaning and use of words and word
compounds relevant to local use.

The written form of words and sounds of words might travel much better
than local meanings and use; hence we can find many external words in
any given natural language. But this does not mean that the use and
meaning of the external words also apply in the adoptive language. In
the meantime the most annoying side effect of this phenomenon is that
unsuspecting speakers of both languages might end up with an unpleasant
surprise outside their social environment. My most annoying experience
was a huge sign outside a self service restaurant in Italy with the sign
"Free Pizza"!

The Spanish word "ilusión" which is sometimes wrongly translated into
English as "illusion" or worse "disillusioned" is a good example of a
word sounding similar and although the local use is different in Spanish
and English, it does inherit, up to a point, the concept of "wishing or
wanting the impossible or impractical". But this is not the most common
use of the word "ilusión". One of the meanings of "ilusión", the one
that concerns our topic, is: Sentimiento de alegría y satisfacción que
produce la realización o la esperanza de conseguir algo que se desea

The equivalent concept in English is best described by this clutch of
synonyms for Eagerness: enthusiasm to do or to have something; keenness,
enthusiasm, avidity, fervour, ardour, zest, zeal, passion,
wholeheartedness, earnestness, commitment, dedication. And an even more
common term would be "to look forward to" or "waiting in anticipation".

This must be good news for those who advocate that human beings have
some sort of innate concepts such as happiness, sadness, eagerness and
hope etc etc. To be fair it is not that we have these concepts innately
inherited by us, but rather that our brain and nervous system are made
up in such a way that we feel sensations of happiness or sadness:
Spinoza was right about humans wanting to reach an equilibrium between
pleasure and pain. And that language does rule our means of
communicating between individuals, but natural languages are just one
way of information transfer. For example: ants and bacteria do it with

The bad news is that we just don't inherit some sort of natural language
grammar or syntax. The meaning and use of words and words structures
just do not travel over space and time and they certainly do not travel
with DNA and genes.

Indeed the concepts of eagerness, keenness or zeal etc etc are concepts
that help us put the future into personal context of the "now", but most
of all they say a lot about how we feel now. My eagerness to start the
philosophy meetings after the holidays is a behaviour or feeling about
my state of mind now, it certainly does not tell us anything about our
meeting on Sunday or my state of mind on Sunday. That meeting has not
happened yet so there is nothing to say about it. But my/our state of
mind now does tell us that we have an emotional force to help us
transcend the period between now and Sunday. We use eagerness and the
like as some kind of a metaphysical reaching out into the future. A sort
of metaphysical lasso to help us bridge the gap between the "is" and the
"ought" of how we understand our future should be.

But is this ought a moral ought as well. Will it be an act of immorality
or an unethical event if I don't enjoy the meeting on Sunday? Of course,
a disappointment is not an immoral act per se, but should it be? Indeed,
businesses and legislators recognise that disappointment and failure are
not very nice things for us to experience and hence they usually
compensate us or replace products that do not perform as advertised or
simply fail to perform at all. In the Donoghue v Stevenson case the
judges spoke of a duty of care. It's as if a promise to have a certain
experience is a moral promise over and above a contractual promise.
Sometimes a sorry is more important for us than just the money we spent
on a product. But can we stretch this idea of a future promise to a
philosophy meeting? Probably not, after all a "philosophy meeting" does
not create the emotional rush of a sign "Free Pizza"!

Although I used the term eagerness for future events another application
is in the present to express enthusiasm now. We are very good at
distinguishing people who are doing something out of an obligation and
those who do something with enthusiasm and interest: children are very
good at these roles.

Finally, can we live without eagerness? Most probably we can survive
without a sense of eagerness or ilusión in our life but it will
certainly be a boring life. In the same way a life of dread would be
very depressing and stressful. And maybe this is the real value of this
clutch of emotions: people who do not express eagerness or enthusiasm
must surely be suffering from some serious problem. But how can we help
these people? How does one teach enthusiasm or eagerness to others?

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813

PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Café Madrid
Calle del Meson de Panos in Opera

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Eagerness (ilusión
in Spanish)

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