Tuesday, December 24, 2019

From Lawrence, PhiloMadrid meeting 12th January 2020: Why Religions?

Dear Friends,
 
Our next meeting is in the New Year on the 12th of January 2020 and with common consent we will continue discussing: Why Religions?
 
In the meantime, wising you a Happy Christmas and New Year; enjoy the holidays!!
 
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, PhiloMadrid meeting 12th January 2020: Why Religions?
 
 

 







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Thursday, December 19, 2019

From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Why Religions?

 
Dear Friends,
 
This Sunday we are discussing: Why Religions?
 
I did not prepare an essay for this topic, but I guess the topic is sufficiently interesting and familiar to all of us.
 
This meeting will also be our last for the year, and we'll decide on Sunday when we return.
 
Look forward to seeing you on Sunday,
 
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: Why Religions?
 
 
 
 

 







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Thursday, December 12, 2019

From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Obsession vs Highly Emotional

Obsession vs Highly Emotional: The difference between obsession and being highly emotional
 
Dear friends,
 
This Sunday we are discussing: The difference between obsession and being highly emotional. However, I shortened the title to Obsession vs Highly Emotional so it will fit in the Subject line!
 
You can find a link to my short essay here:
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/12/obsession-vs-highly-emotional.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: Obsession vs Highly Emotional
 
 
 






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Obsession vs Highly Emotional: The difference between obsession and being highly emotional


Obsession vs Highly Emotional: The difference between obsession and being highly emotional

Although the matter of our topic might give us the impression that we are dealing with emotions, unfortunately the topic is more about language rather than emotions. Having said that there is ample scope to discuss feeling and emotions one the language issues are clarified.

Natural languages can sometimes include features in words and expressions that go beyond the meaning of a word. Even if we accept that a word is just one form of carrying meaning in a speech act, there are many words that convey a type of meaning rather than just meaning. This is true of our words “obsession” and “highly emotional”: in effect natural languages do not deal with words but with concepts. As with other natural languages many concepts are made up of a group of words (the structure) rather than just a single word. Proverbs, sayings and phrasal verbs are such examples.

Unfortunately, it is not my intention nor is it the time to go into excursions in the philosophy of language or even linguistics. My intention is to argue for two positions: (1) although we can translate a speech act (text/spoken) from one natural language to another for basic ideas and factual things, in reality as philosophers we ought to be sceptical about the real value of translation. And this scepticism does not only apply to philosophical, scientific or literary works but also to ordinary circumstance in real life. A translation app on our mobile might give us the syntax on how to order a beer in Spanish but that is all it will do: there would be a semantic difference if one is (1) an English speaker and (2)  a British English speaker. So unless you are at a make believe British/Irish pub in Spain, your translator will not tell you that beer in Spain is ordered by different sizes of glass which are much smaller than the familiar pint glass in the UK, and to make things more complex that beer is cold unlike the UK.

My second argument is that Wittgenstein’s idea that ordinary language takes its meaning from the accepted use is in effect too generous to the powers of a natural language. My argument is that at the very best the established meaning is very specific in time and the prevailing culture of the speakers. My intention is not to criticise or discuss Wittgenstein but to alert readers to issues that might confuse a philosophical discussion rather than help the discussion. I am in no doubt that I’m not the first to point these things out but I don’t have the time to research the issue.

So going back to our topic the words “obsession” and “highly emotional” have the implied type of having a negative meaning. “Highly emotional” does not mean being “very sensitive” or “having strong emotions (about something/someone)” but rather someone who is highly emotional is someone who gets very agitated and maybe even aggressive about the subject. Someone who is highly emotional might even be described as unreasonable, but highly emotional in British English does imply a negative feeling; see for example the use in this article in the Guardian: Life after redundancy — episode 2 https://www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/life-after-redundency-episode-2-mark-palmer-edgecumbe). Seeing the meaning of this word in US word definition sites they do include the idea of strong emotions (positive and negative) for something. But this does not negate the type of word we are discussing but highlights the deviation of the type/meaning of words over cultures.

Fortunately, obsession is less problematic; in ordinary language obsession has clear negative overtones. To speak of someone being obsessed with something is to imply that whatever they are doing it is not good for them or not a healthy activity. Of course, the person themselves might think that this is nonsense and they might be right. For example we can describe a friend of being obsessed with football but that’s maybe because we don’t like football but their football friends might think they are amazing. In a medical (psychological) context obsession is more serious and the ideas and feelings might lead to other negative effects, maybe even have a direct negative health effect. In effect we are departing from the idea that meaning is how we use language to the idea that meaning is very much context driven: ordinary use, banter, professional, medical legal and so on.

But this was one of the issues Wittgenstein warned us against: we as philosophers should not try to give special meanings to ordinary words that we use in everyday life. Philosophers should not compound language by inventing new meaning for words which no one else knows about. This is good advice although it seems scientists forgot their Wittgenstein.

We have two other philosophical issues we need to contend with. The first is the scientific method of the falsification of hypotheses. The scientific method is dependent on understanding empirical events through mathematical analysis: thus the first issue for science is how to translate mathematical uses into understandable ordinary language. And to complicate matters in ordinary language we do not usually have access to empirical events or objects which scientists concern themselves with: in our daily life we usually do not come across cells and molecules although we are made of such things or quantum effects although we are surrounded by these effects.

So the language of scientists cannot be the syntax and ordinary meaning of words everyone uses never mind that some phenomena are not represented in ordinary day life and ordinary day language: some non scientific people might discuss cells and molecules over a pint but not the general population. Thus obsession like many other words might have a meaning in ordinary language and a different one in a scientific and other technical professions (compare “reasonable” in ordinary language use and “reasonable” in a legal context).

The second philosophical issue we have to contend with is Thomas Khun’s paradigm shift principle. If we accept the principle of scientific paradigm shift, I would argue that what changes when there is a paradigm shift is not only our hypotheses, but also our science: what we accept physics to be today is different from what 18th century natural philosophers thought physics was. Indeed, if we reflect on this principle for a second when we have a paradigm shift in a scientific discipline we also change the language (and mathematics) of that discipline.

I would go further and suggest when we have a paradigm shift in society we also have a paradigm shift in the language employed in that society. Of course, the syntax might remain, but what matters is the meaning we give to such syntax. This would explain why it is difficult for parents to understand the language their children use and for the grandparents to be flummoxed and if not belligerent to the language employed by their grand children. But a more striking example is the shift between British English and American English (or any other English and other natural languages): the irony is that many American words and pronunciation reflect the original British English of a few centuries ago. (This is a fascinating subject but one needs to put in some serious time to really acquire a reasonable idea of this subject!!)

Coming back to our topic, one of the differences between obsession and highly emotional, is that an obsession might have medical or psychological implications whereas someone who is highly emotional might be a pain and annoying to other people but that’s their character and not a matter of something that is disturbing them. Highly emotional people might need to develop some good manners while obsessive people might need help and to learn how to deal with their issues.

In effect, if we want to describe positive emotions we would use “passionate”, and in matters of love we can use besotted or infatuated, instead of obsessed and for “highly emotional” we might use for example “someone with strong opinions” or “someone who feel passionate about something”.

To conclude we might want to complicate the matter even further. We might want to use the word “opinionated” except I have already argued that even the same language does not travel well in time and distance is space. In US English the meaning of opinionated is someone who might have an opinion maybe even strong opinions, whereas in British English opinionated means someone who is obstinate or unreasonable about their own opinion. The morale of the subject matter is that given how slippery and unsettled our language about emotions can be, how slippery and unsettled can a discussion on emotions 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


Thursday, December 05, 2019

From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Love is Dead

 
 
Dear Friends,
 
This Sunday we are discussing: Love is Dead.
 
What is amazing about Love is the fact that no matter how many times we discuss the subject we can always find a new and interesting perspective to discuss the topic.
 
Love is Dead  by  Ruel
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/12/03/love-is-dead/
 
Love is Dead  by  Lawrence
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/12/love-is-dead.html
 
Have a good holiday,
 
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: Love is Dead
 
 
 
 
 






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Love is dead


Love is dead



We first have to define our scope and parameters of what to include as love. From a language perspective the word 'love' covers all sorts of ideas. We have the kind of altruistic love such as a mother’s love towards her children, and one step remove the father of the children then moving on to the grandparents. We might even accept the argument that relatives have a genetic interest in supporting and acting altruistically towards members of the family group. This is not an issue except that it might also be argued that we also have no choice as to who we love in this scenario. But one necessary condition for there to be love is that this feeling is an intentional and a free act. We cannot be told who to love even though for example in arranged marriages some couples might eventually end up loving each other.



This leaves us with another important type of love, romantic love. The kind of love we all wish for if not long for, and certainly we feel we are in control of the whole process. We also feel that we are free when seeking love and free when accepting advances of love by others. Whilst I don’t want to discuss the mechanics of what is romantic love I do want to discuss: why we would want to consider that romantic love is dead? Of course, romantic love is not dead but it does not mean that romantic love can be achieved very easily and where and when we want to seek romantic love.



Again romantic love gives us the idea and feeling of fulfilment and autonomy so we might be justified in thinking that maybe this is a spiritual metaphysical experience and nothing to do with the physical and even biological existence of life. But we underestimate at our peril the biological importance in human existence in such matters as romantic love. In a reciprocal relationship of romantic love we have four distinct acts going on. An intentional act to do something about our feeling towards someone, an intentional act of communication with that person, an intentional act by the recipient to be interested in the person in love and the fourth act to reciprocate that love. Hence, it is quite easy for this causal chain to breakdown and come to naught.



Except in some cases romantic love might itself be the product of a much stronger force of reproductive forces which, of course, are physical/biological forces. Indeed these biological forces can be so strong that we might act on their compulsion without any feeling of romantic love.



But love still happens, whether it is romantic, filial or parental or altruistic, the only problem is that love does not happen on demand. Even biological attraction does not happen on demand. We are not attracted to everyone and certainly do not consent to biological reproduction with everyone. This immediately suggests that matters of love, especially romantic love, are not automatic or based on some law of nature but more a psychological-emotional game we engage in with others. The fact that we also have a whole body of language to help us engage into the delicate game of romantic love makes romantic love more of a rational process than a force of nature.



The idea that love is dead must therefore be the product of unreciprocated love; maybe it is much harder today to find the partner we want to love and to love us back. It is, therefore, quite a legitimate inductive conclusion to arrive at when we seek love and don’t find any that love does not exist. Of course, there is also the little matter that we are more likely to hear about successful romantic love affairs rather than the millions of failed attempts. Whilst it might be true that there are lots of fish in the sea, it is also true that the fish we are interested in might not exist in the patch of sea we live in.



So maybe we ought to dilute the claim, Love is dead, to a more manageable idea that love is difficult to encounter, and in extremis, never to encounter love. I would like to put forward a number of factors why love is difficult to encounter and maybe why it might seem for some that love is dead.



I want to argue that one of the key reasons why we might fail to encounter love is because of the paradox of choice: the paradox of choice was established by the American psychologist, Barry Schwartz, and is well documented on the internet, however, you can hear him on the The Psychology Podcast 25th May 2015 Maximizing, satisficing and the paradox of choice ( https://tinyurl.com/Barry-Choice ).



Basically the paradox of choice is that the more we have options to choose from the less we are like to make a choice never mind a good choice (this is my interpretation). What is important is that more choice is not necessarily better. Schwartz suggests that in our age we are obsessed at maximising our desires and wants: we are maximisers. We don’t just want a jar of jam we want the best jar of jam. This attitude means that we are prepared to put off buying any jam if we don’t believe that the jam we can buy is the best jam.



The paradox of choice is relevant for our discussion because we might be tempted putting off communicating with a prospective partner who might reciprocate our love because we believe that there is someone better out there.  In economics this would be covered by the theory opportunity costs: giving up an economic satisfaction today believing that we will do better in a future choice. This is beautifully illustrated during a property boom market: people will put off selling their house thinking that in a boom market there is a good chance they can increase their price by 50% or 100%. When the boom turns into bust they end up with negative equity if they have a mortgage.



The paradox also attracts the law of diminishing returns and information overload. Diminishing returns because the more jars of jam we have to chose from the less value an extra jar of jam will have for us: thus when we eat strawberries the more fruit we eat the less value we derive from an extra strawberry until we become sick. Thus from an exercise we start off looking forward to, we end up exhausted and dejected. Looking for prospective partners the more partners we meet the less attractive the next person will be. This is obvious by definition since if we are looking at an additional person we have not found the best partner yet. We might even end up with a gambler’s fallacy: all things being equal (see law of diminishing returns) we might believe that given we have not found someone by now we are bound to find someone soon. Unless something changes there is no reason to assume that we’ll win next time.



I would argue that information overload is also relevant for us: whilst it is true that the better informed we are the better placed we are at making an informed choice. But as we know from authors like Nassim Taleb of The Black Swan fame and Hume on induction, the quality of relevant data is more important than just accumulated data. If Bernard Russell’s chicken knew that on day 65 Russell would come to chop its head, the chicken wouldn’t have gone out for lunch. In effect what I am arguing is that the strategy and methodology we employ in our search for love determines both the chances of finding love and the quality of love.



Schwartz argues that we have lost the idea of “enough is good enough” and have entered into a mind set where we have unreasonable expectations in effect we are maximisers. Today we know that what we expect and what we can get are not in any way linked to each other. In other words, a degree of realism can take us a long way.



Another way of solving the paradox of choice is to know exactly what we want and in addition, I would say, know what we can get. In effect, before we can know more about our prospective love, we ought to start by getting to know more about what we want, who we are and what we can get. And most important of all, how realistic are our desires? In other words, are our necessary and sufficient conditions for a romantic love relationship close to reality? Enough is good enough when enough can be achieved.



The Delphic maxim “Know thyself” is more than just a sound bite. And in the journey of romantic love, knowing thyself is a good place to start from.



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













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