25 October 2012

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Flexibility + News

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing Flexibility. A topic in philosophy that does not seem to be very
common, although the Greeks and others have discussed change in detail. But an important key about
flexibility is that it does not destroy the identity of what is changing. I also discuss other ideas
in the few paragraphs I wrote below.

In the meantime Miguel has sent me a link for his maths tertulia this Saturday:
Estimado tertuliano,
Te invitamos a asistir a la próxima Tertulia de Matemáticas:
Esperamos contar con tu asistencia, y aprovechamos la ocasión para enviarte un cordial saludo.
Tertulia de Matemáticas


Although the concept of flexibility does not seem to be very common in philosophical discussion I
would argue that this concept plays a key role in metaphysical and epistemological thinking.

However, in everyday life we use the term flexibility for personal behaviour and attitudes. Indeed
Angel posted a link on his Facebook wall to a review by Ted Cascio of House & Psychology, Episode 2
(http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hollywood-phd/201012/house-psychology-episode-2) where he
discusses "Functional flexibility is roughly one's self-reported inclination and ability to
effectuate different, sometimes contradictory, behaviour across diverse situations. Examples include
somebody who can, depending on the situation, be either ambitious or lazy,..." And "situationality,
...... situationality involves the feeling that one is incapable of engaging diverse behaviour but
also that situations nevertheless tend to automatically "pull out" such behaviour."

We can even go further to suggest that today flexibility is such an integrated concept to human
behaviours that it appears in many aspects of our life. For example, for all intents and purposes
the term has been hijacked by human resources departments and turned into a zombie, when they say
things like -the successful candidate will need to be flexible-, to mean something like you do what
we want you to do whilst we have no reason to adopt to your needs. Or in advertising, the flexible
saving plans, the flexible car design, the flexible kitchen appliance, the flexible woman, and so forth.

But as an epistemic concept in philosophy I would argue that the term is key in helping us
understand some serious metaphysical issues we encounter when trying to understand the world around.

When we look at the world around us we physically see (perceive) two distinctive features, some
things always change and some thing always remain the same or constant. But we also see things that
sometimes they are constant but then change to something else. The day night cycle is a constant
with built in change. Mountain ranges tend to remain the same for a really long time (but they can
also be said to be changing but that is not really relevant here). Rivers, so beloved by Greek
philosophers, can be said to be constantly changing.

The question is how do we understand this dichotomy between what is fixed and what is changing? How
do we, for example, find the causal connection between the "I", the "self" that is a constant
throughout our normal healthy life and the "me" who changes with age, temperatures, chemicals in the
air, other people's behaviour etc?

Indeed I propose that we understand (epistemology) this relationship between what we perceive as
fixed and what changes in nature (metaphysics) by developing the concept of flexibility. One of the
key meanings of flexibility is of something moving from one state to another whilst maintaining its
necessary and sufficient conditions for its identity. When the "me" changes from a state of neutral
emotions to a state of happiness I do not cease to be the "I" that I identify as the master of the "me".

We can now go further and suggest that with this conceptual idea of flexibility, we can now become
proactive with our environment to change the environment with a degree of confidence that we can
change it to the way we want to perceive it. But, of course, I say a degree of confidence because we
also know that change can also bring about a loss of perceived identity. When we cut a tree in the
forest we have destroyed the identity of the tree; it ceases to be a tree and of course become
something else, i.e. wood. Sometime we get it wrong, we think we are baking a fruit cake but end up
with a pappy mass of wet dough.

Thus, although the concept of flexibility is by definition an epistemological concept, its sole
purpose is to help us understand the world around us and to use it to interact with that world. I
would say that flexibility serves as a bridge between the metaphysical world and the epistemological
world which we inhabit at the same time.

Best Lawrence

Cementerio Británico

Redacto el presente mensaje tanto en español como en inglés con el objeto de comunicarles el
programa de visitas guiadas sábados por la mañana al Cementerio Británico.

Las visitas empiezan a las 11 horas en la entrada del Cementerio Británico, calle del Comandante
Fontanes 7, distrito de Carabanchel
*sábado, día 27 de octubre, cuando daré las explicaciones en español
*sábado, día 3 de noviembre, cuando daré las explicaciones en inglés.

Lo dejo a su elección cuál día acuda y no hay necesidad de avisar.

Si prefiere hacer la visita en una fecha no programada por la presente lista, no hay más que avisarme.

Tomen nota de nuestra página web < www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > que contiene información de la
historia del Cementerio y el mapa de su ubicación.


I am writing this in both Spanish and in English to provide the programme of Saturday morning guided
visits to the British Cemetery.

We meet at 11 o'clock at the Cemetery entrance in Calle del Comandante Fontanes 7 in Carabanchel
* the visit on Saturday 27th October will be in Spanish
* the visit on Saturday 3rd November will be in English.

The choice of date is left to you and there is no need tell me in advance of the visit whether you
are coming.
If you would like a visit on a different date, just let me know and I will arrange it.

Do take note of our website < www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > where you will find details of the
Cemetery's history and a map of its location.

David Butler


Best Lawrence

PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao

Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

----------From Luisa---------
Please not you will have to let her know in advance if you wish to attend, thanks:
Data of language exchange,
Location: Café Comercial
Address: Glorieta de Bilbao, 7
Website location:
Dates: on Saturday
Time: from 12:30 to 14:45
Price: 2.50 € (exchange organizing, hiring the top of the cafeteria and coffee, tea, soda, wine or
beer are included).
Luisa - email to confirm please alvarez_luisa@hotmail.com

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Flexibility + News

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