Thursday, October 31, 2019

From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Is fear the most negative of emotions? + News

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Is fear the most negative of emotions?

You will find the links to the essays by Ruel and I below.

Is fear the most negative of emotions? By Ruel
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/10/29/why-is-fear-the-most-negative-of-emotions/

Is fear the most negative of emotions? By Lawrence
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/10/is-fear-most-negative-of-emotions.html

And by general agreement during the last meeting we decided that on Sunday the 10th we will discuss "Cheating".

Finally, Minguel has sent us details about a meeting on the 5th November "Celebration of Mind" on the birthday of Martin Gardner. You can download the PDF file with details at the link below which will be available for 7 days.
https://we.tl/t-txBTsXkamC

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/  OR  PhiloMadrid.com
MeetUp https://www.meetup.com/PhiloMadrid-philosophy-group/
Gran Clavel (Café-Bar): Gran vía 11, esquina C/ Clavel, 28013—Madrid


From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Is fear the most negative of emotions? + News



Is fear the most negative of emotions?


Is fear the most negative of emotions?

There is no doubt that fear is the most negative of motions. It is the most negative because in serious cases it activates our survival instinct and secondly because we usually feel hopeless and doomed when we’re overcome by fear.

The second aspect of fear is that we experience fear in two ways: physical fear and psychological fear. Vertigo, strange animals, flying, walking in the dark, these, I will describe, are physical fears. We are challenged with physical harm and our fear will mostly disappear once the perceived danger disappears. This does not mean that we have overcome our fears or phobias about flying or spiders, just that when we’re not flying we are not afraid of flying and so on.

Psychological fears are different. Physical fears are about the here and now, psychological fears are about the future and future events. We are not afraid today when we can pay our mortgage, but the day when we cannot pay our mortgage then we fear for our quality life and dwellings. But if today we are afraid, because of justifiable reasons, that some day in the future we might not be able to pay the mortgage then that psychological fear is not going to disappear just because today we can pay the mortgage.

I would argue that the key operating factors of fear are risk assessment and knowledge about the situation. It is part of the rational methodology that to be able to assess a risk we need information (knowledge) about the situation we find ourselves. This does not mean that given enough information and enough risk assessment tools we eliminate the risk, the risk will never go away. Flying in a plane will never be risk free of falling down to Earth, this is the nature of flying and gravitation. Gravity will always work if your flying plane fails. Household spiders are usually harmless, but this does not mean that a dangerous spider cannot make its way to your home, especially in tropical regions.

The scope of risk is indeed to know the nature of the dangers we might face against the benefits of taking the risk. This is why millions of people fly every year although many are really scared about flying. But lack of knowledge or the right information can have a causal effect on the reliability of our risk assessment.

Our second most important factor is when we don’t have vital information available to us, which may sometimes be false assumptions masquerading as useful information, which will lead us astray in the future.

It’s one thing to have a fear of flying, but it is another matter to fly with an airline that is banned from EU skies because of a really bad safety record. Indeed we are very prone to falling into a language trap such as: this is an airline hence it must be safe because flying is a safe mode of transport. Indeed this kind of thinking and assumptions about language might make any valid logical argument useless in real life. The language trap here is the noun “airline” since not all airlines operate the same even though they might be bound by the same safety rules. Moreover, a quality airline would not use language tricks like we fly to Capital City X if they don’t land in an airport in or close to the city. Low cost airlines do sometimes employ such tricks, such as flights to Capital City X but the airport is some twenty kilometres away is some middle-of-no-where airfield.

Finally, our fear can also affect other emotions such as: love, pain, elation, joy, sadness, and so on. But as I have argued above the issue with fear is always risk assessment and access to the relevant information. Basically, the nature of other emotions activates an element of fear in us. When we fall in love we fear how long it will last, will we be loved back, is this the right person to be with and so on. When we experience pain it is not just a physical felling of the nervous system but we also experience the associated fear that it might be a serious illness, expensive to fix, and so on.

It seems that fear functions as an early warning for challenges to life and our well being, what is not clear is whether fear is an instinct or a rational process. Surely over coming fear requires some risk assessment (conscious or not) thus making fear a causal effect to start a rational process. But we also know that lack of fear can be the consequence of some brain disease. It is well observed that many patients with advanced dementia can lose their social inhibitions and might even be aggressive that in normal situations would be unacceptable.

In conclusion fear stops us from doing many things and maybe holds us back from a happier life, but rational fear, that is fear based on reasonable factors, can be a positive emotion. We might save our life by being slightly afraid about things. Like paranoia, excessive fear can be really damaging but a little bit of fear and paranoia can serve us well in our life.

Best Lawrence


Thursday, October 24, 2019

From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Global Risks


Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Global Risks

This topic is quite fashionable these days, but I guess global risks have always been fashionable throughout the centuries and the people living at the time. Below you will find the links to the Essay by Ruel and I.

Global Risks - Ruel
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/10/23/global-risks/

Global Risks - Lawrence
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/10/global-risks.html


Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/  OR  PhiloMadrid.com
MeetUp https://www.meetup.com/PhiloMadrid-philosophy-group/
Gran Clavel (Café-Bar): Gran vía 11, esquina C/ Clavel, 28013—Madrid


From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Global Risks



Global Risks


Global Risks

For our purposes when we talk about global risks we are concerned with human caused risks. And although we are not concerned with massive meteorites crashing into the Earth it is not always clear what are human made risks and natural risks. For example, human made risks might be unhealthy food production but susceptibly to viral infections or diseases such as diabetes might be regarded as natural risks by some. But we all know that in some cases one is a necessary condition in the causal chain of the other.

Hence, one problem for us is to distinguish between human made risks and natural risks. When we discuss human made risks we have to be clear between the effects of human activity and the underlying causes of these effects. A prime example of this possible confusion is the present scourge of plastics pollution. Politicians, probably taking their cue from commercial interests, blame consumers for not preparing their plastic wastage for recycling, rampant consumerism and wastage, over packaging, and maybe they accuse their political opponents of not doing enough to protect the environment.

On their website* the British Plastics Federation report that “…only 4% of the world’s fossil resources are used in plastics production.” One would have thought that plastics would, therefore, be a manageable and reasonably priced exercise to control and prevent from entering into the environment eco system. We now know that fish stocks not have mercury in their system but plastic too. With this example I want to show that the effects are not just simple face value causes, or one-to-one cause effect events. Global risks might not have a single cause for a specific risk.

The answer to this plastic question, for example, it cannot just be controlling plastic production, nor discovering alternatives, although these might help, but rather: why aren’t there effective plastic waste collection programmes worldwide? No doubt such programmes would have fixed costs to run and these fixed costs might be too expensive or unavailable to some countries. By fixed costs I do not only mean in money terms, but also in skills and expertise, economies of scale, and coordination of these programmes worldwide.

One of the main issues of the recycling mentality is whether recycling causes more harm than the problems they are meant to solve. A number of factors include: the location of the waste and the distance of recycling facilities; the quantities to be recycled, and the funds and personnel to carry out such recycling; an then there is the initial investment and training. More academically, we need to investigate economies of scale and the principle costs to convert physical matter from one form to another.

In reality, the plastic recycling problem, to give one example, is the effect of other casual factors. Mainly, lack of resources to recycle and more commercially attractive to produce and use plastics than to manage the waste.

Remember this number: 1,000,000,000,000.
Now remember this number: 1,000,000,000

The first number is a financial trillion and an import number** that is very relevant for global risks within the context of the European Union. And the second number is a financial billion.

The EU Commission estimates that about one trillion Euros are lost due to tax evasion and tax avoidance every year within the EU. As a comparison in 2013 the estimated health care expenditure*** in Germany was about €369,388,754,377 ($411.5 billion). The one trillion Euros lost in taxes in the EU is the equivalent of 2.7 the German cost of their health care system and that’s a lot of plastics bottles that can be recycled. By the way, I use Germany as an example because it is the largest EU country with an 80 million plus population.

So two of the key human made global risks are lack of resources for local authorities to organise and monitor collective services such as pollution control, health care and other necessary services for human living. Services, I must add, are best provided by seeking economies of scale and the global distribution of knowledge gained from such services. And the other factor is the disregard to good practices in provideing goods and services, human rights violations, unaccountability and lack of transparency especially on matters financial. What my example from the EU means is that everyone who pays taxes within the EU is subsiding those who do not pay taxes (mainly companies) to the approximately value of €1trillion. So such issues, at least within the EU, as climate change, plastic pollution, environment protection, and animal husbandry are the direct cause of lack of funds and resources by local authorities to create programmes to control these risks.

From a philosophical perspective, mainly political philosophy and philosophy of economics, what matters is whether the present economic model of creating wealth, managing wealth, and sharing wealth is best for a human population that is more and more concentrated in cities and large urban sprawls.

The overpopulation problem that Malthus tried to identify has mainly been solved by technology, more effective production methods, and better life style has kept this problem under control. Indeed, such countries as Japan, Germany, Spain and Italy have negative population growth: they need to attract people from other countries to maintain the productivity that can keep today’s living standards: that’s just to remain where we are.

As a consequence of inequitable wealth distribution this creates risk in access to education, health care and human/labour rights. Don’t forget when Marx was writing about the struggles of the labour force a large proportion of European wealth was creating by the exploitation and plunder of resources of countries outside Europe. And domestically created wealth did not have to account for labour rights, health and safety, quality control, and standards of production and manufacturing.  Sure, exploitation and plunder still goes on today, but the profits from these activities have to be hidden and laundered to give them the impression of transparent providence.

The causes of human global risks require us to take these human created risks from a global perspective, there is no point of us cleaning our coasts from plastic debris if our neighbours do not. But this is very difficult to achieve because we are well and truly attached to the 18th and 19th century model of the state and countries. What matters is our country: we might have a global super digital highway but we certainly don’t have a global mind set. Furthermore, equitable wealth distribution is very difficult because we still do not have a valid argument, never mind a good answer to the question: why should someone who control large portions of wealth share it with others?

Best Lawrence


*Oil Consumption
British Plastics Federation
https://www.bpf.co.uk/press/oil_consumption.aspx

**A huge problem
Taxation and Customs Union - European Commission
https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/fight-against-tax-fraud-tax-evasion/a-huge-problem_en

***2015 health care outlook Germany
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited
https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Life-Sciences-Health-Care/gx-lshc-2015-health-care-outlook-germany.pdf

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/  OR  PhiloMadrid.com
MeetUp https://www.meetup.com/PhiloMadrid-philosophy-group/
Gran Clavel (Café-Bar): Gran vía 11, esquina C/ Clavel, 28013—Madrid




Thursday, October 17, 2019

From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: What makes our destiny? + News

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: What makes our destiny?

We have discussed the topic of destiny many times in the past: look for the links on the PhiloMadrid.com site.

Ruel has sent us the link to his essay:
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/10/15/what-makes-our-destiny/

And my short essay is at:
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/10/what-makes-our-destiny.html

Finally, there are two events as part of the British Cemetery cultural programme details from the link below.
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/10/british-cemetery-cultural-programme.html

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/  OR  PhiloMadrid.com
MeetUp https://www.meetup.com/PhiloMadrid-philosophy-group/
Gran Clavel (Café-Bar): Gran vía 11, esquina C/ Clavel, 28013—Madrid


From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: What makes our destiny? + News


What makes our destiny?


What makes our destiny?

This is one of the oldest questions in human thinking. What is more, the question has survived the test of time hence why we still ask the question even in the 21st century. Destiny belongs to a set of concepts that include: fate, fatalism, fortune, predeterminism, one’s lot, and so on.

The underlying issue is the fact that we believe we have a free will and the ability to shape our life, and yet what we propose in our life does not always come true. Some might even say hardly comes true at all. Hence this conflict between what we want and wish for ourselves and what actually happens requires an explanation.

I will argue that the traditional idea of destiny is a mental idea we have of us in our life. Basically there is no destiny other than our idea of destiny. The problem is of course, and as always, when such subjective ideas are exploited by unscrupulous charlatans for their own ends. Be they organised religions or fortune tellers.

These terms have one problem: they refer to events in the future which have not yet happened. And when we experience our life we think that what happened was done by some other force since our experience is different from what we wanted, planned and desires. This is creationism in a different guise. But when we plan, desire and wish what our future should be like we become victims of the future fallacy. How can we think of the future when the future hasn’t happened? In effect what the future looks like is just a mental image in our brain: a chimera, a mirage.

But this does not mean we should just let go and see what happens. On the contrary, if we do nothing, nothing will happen. The problem is that we tend to think of our future, to use a weak analogy, as a finished painting by some Goya, or Rembrandt or Renoir. When in reality the most we can do when we think of our future is to think in terms of rough drafts: broad lines and meandering curves.

The difference between us and the masters is that the masters know what comes next after the draft. Many of us are not well informed of what it takes to reach our desires.  This is not necessarily our fault, maybe the people in our surroundings cannot help us or did not want to help us. But what is clear is that, if we sketch on our canvas an outline of sunflowers, we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t end up with a bunch of red roses.

Our surroundings do determine what happens to us; in the same way our health and mental states determine our future. In many cases, many of us shouldn’t start our life from where we are or from where we did. In other words determinism is not all dead yet. But this does not mean that we cannot change some events and when things go wrong it does not mean we cannot get back on the rails. It just that, sometimes we arrive somewhere else than where we originally wanted to go; something like a low cost flight in winter.

To conclude, many times our destiny sucks, but sometimes our destiny is not as bad as it could be.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/  OR  PhiloMadrid.com
MeetUp https://www.meetup.com/PhiloMadrid-philosophy-group/
Gran Clavel (Café-Bar): Gran vía 11, esquina C/ Clavel, 28013—Madrid


British Cemetery cultural programme

Two great occasions in the British Cemetery cultural programme :
Event  1, themed event on Edgar Allan Poe at the British Cemetery at 6 p.m. on 26th October  organised by altisimo.gigs@gmail.com. Reserve on-line. This is a Spanish-speaking occasion. The Fundación de Cementerios Británicos en España is allowing the use of the Cemetery but the entire administration of the event is in the hands of the organisers, altisimo.gigs. All queries direct to the organisers.

Event  2, Cemetery Stories : The Fundación Cementerios Británicos en España offers an evening fundraising event on 20th November English-speaking occasion. See the attached letter of invitation (BELOW) outlining details including the location of the event. The number of admission tickets is limited for reasons of space.
Application for admission to be made direct to Michael von Stumm and all queries to m.vonstumm@gmail.com.   
Dos actos culturales del programa cultural del Cementerio Británico :
I, tarde temática en el Cementerio sobre Edgar Allan Poe a las 18,00 horas el día 26 de octubre ofrecido por altisimo.gigs.  Compra de localidades on-line. Acto hispano-parlante. Tomen nota que la administración está exclusivamente encargada a la entidad organizadora altisimo.gigs. Para cualquier aclaración pónganse en contacto con altísimo.gigs@gmail.com

II, Cemetery Stories. Acto anglo-parlante el día 20 de noviembre por la tarde, patrocinado por la Fundación Cementerios Británicos en España con el motivo de recaudar fondos para el mantenimiento. Véanse la carta convocatoria adjunta con los detalles del emplazamiento. Se solicitan las invitaciones teniendo presente que el aforo es limitado por razones de espacio. Para cualquier aclaración pónganse en contacto con m.vonstumm@gmail.com. 
 
David J.Butler M.B.E.




----



Fundación Cementerios Británicos en España

British Consul  Sarah-Jane Morris, Ralph Smith  and David Butler
invite you on
Wednesday, 20th November 2019
to a light-hearted talk entitled

“Cemetery Stories”

at Gómez-Acebo & Pombo Abogados, Pº de la Castellana 216 (Plaza de Castilla) 28046 Madrid
19.00 Arrival
19.30 Guest Speaker: Michael von Stumm
20.15 Questions & Answers
20.30 Wine & Cheese

Michael von Stumm worked for 20 years as an advisor to Kurt A. Engelhorn and his family on their investments and their philanthropic activities. This covers a number of interests like real estate, private equity and especially Fine Art and Classic Cars.
Michael’s background is in the insurance industry where he worked for many years with a particular focus on art risk management. During this period he lived in Cologne, London , New York and Milan.
He holds a Master’s  Degree in Industrial Administration from Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., USA and an MBA from Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich, Germany

The British Cemetery Foundation relies entirely on voluntary contributions to maintain the upkeep of this historic Madrid cemetery. There is no charge for this event but any donations at the end of the event would be very welcome
For security reasons it is necessary to bring an ID card along
R.S.V.P.  with your NIF/ NIE till 18th November


Amazon.es

Amazon other link