20 December 2013

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Are we puppets? + News

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Are we puppets?

Well, if we are puppets we are a strange set of puppets since there is
more to human beings than just performing to a tune. And as I try to
argue in my short essay it all depends on whether we can recognise
ourselves that we are behaving like puppets.

In the meantime Ruel has sent us a link to his essay:

Hi Lawrence,
Below is the link to the essay I wrote for Sunday´s PhiloMadrid.

Thank you.
Hasta Domingo.


In the meantime, Helena is looking for a bedsit or share accommodation
with others in a safe area of Madrid hopefully not expensive. If you can
send me an email I'll pass it on to her.

And finally, may I take this opportunity to wish you all the best for
the holidays;

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at O'Donnell's
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

Are we puppets?

Nature does not care about life; including human life.

And as always in philosophy my statement is based on language and our
application of language. The idea of nature that we have is one of some
entity or structure we call "nature" that somehow we imagine is
responsible for the order and happenstance we go through within our
environment. Of course, there is no such entity manipulating things in
the environment, like there is no ghost in the machine. Thus the idea
that "nature does not care about life" (and its opposite) makes as much
sense as to say that "the present king of Frances does not like baked
beans." There is nothing to care about life, apart that is from us, and
there is no king of France not to like baked beans.

Just because a language utterance is grammatically correct it does not
follow that it also makes sense. Likewise the question "Are we puppets?"
needs further clarification. Nature, god, nor the aliens are pulling
some invisible strings to make us do one thing and not another like a
puppeteer does in a puppet show. Having said that we are not very sure
about the aliens, though!!

What we know so far is that atoms get together to form other structures
and a few more structures until one of these structures is some living
entity; i.e. an autonomous structure or entity that can interact with
its environment. And of course, we are such structure.

However, it is still very useful to have such language tools or words as
"nature" in our language without which we wouldn't be able to exchange
ideas about our environment efficiently and coherently. We think we know
what our topic means, but should we consider puppet to mean manipulated
or determined? The difference is important; manipulation means we can do
something about it, but not necessarily if we are determined. I will
argue that one does not necessarily exclude the other.

What is sure is that living entities or systems have one very basic
predefined purpose and this is the very basic imperative: survive. And
although this imperative is the core of our function and our existence
it is not the only function a biological entity is preset to achieve.
Other competing functions might include, although in my opinion they are
never the core function: reproduction, seeking pleasure, avoid pain,
curiosity, information gatherers, socialize with agreeable company,
accumulate resources especially ones that are necessary for survival and
so on.

Thus the instinct to survive is so powerful that a rational person would
always choose to behave in such a way so they survive. This does not
mean that some don't freely choose to risk dying, for example soldiers,
fire fighters, participants of extreme sports, or for some accumulation
of mental reasons to actually do away for their life. Taking risks is a
rational process anyway, especially when there is a valid cause behind
it; and tragedy is the name of the game of life.

It, therefore, does not take much for those who can position themselves
in a group in such a way that they can take better advantage of the
resources available in that society or simply take advantage of the rest
of society. In other words the difference is very small between being a
living entity and a living entity that manipulates us.

Thus, if we are puppets, and I will take this to mean manipulated as
well, it is because we perceive a threat that is beyond our capacity to
overcome it. I would therefore argue that the first cause of any
manipulation of others is caused by our sense of inability, as
individuals, to overcome these threats by others. If we are puppets it
is because we start life thinking that we are puppets.

And this is why nature, the atoms, the gods and probably the aliens do
not care much about life: there is no mechanism to neutralise any
threats to our life. What crazy puppeteer would allow their puppets to
destroy each other? The only home grown defence we have against threats
to our life is cooperation. To begin with, if we are busy helping each
other, we'd be too busy to try and destroy each other. Indeed,
cooperation is the best defence against manipulation. But are we really
like the puppets incapable of getting together to persuade the puppeteer
to change the act a bit?

Best Lawrence

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Are we puppets? + News

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