Thursday, February 13, 2020

From Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The emotional value of things

 
 
Dear Friends,
 
This Sunday we are discussing: The emotional value of things.
 
As we all know emotions are an important issue in philosophy but our subject is a perspective on the topic that we are mostly preoccupied with about people and not things. You can find my short essay here:
 
The emotional value of things
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/02/the-emotional-value-of-things.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: The emotional value of things
 
 
 

 







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The emotional value of things


The emotional value of things

Emotions are a key subject in philosophy, and how philosophers have accounted for emotions reflects the sort of thinking and mind sets at a given time or period in history. What has not changed about emotions is that they are motivators for actions.

“Things”, to distinguish from people, are a class of objects that we can direct our emotions and a cause for our emotions-based actions. To make our subject more manageable I shall only discuss the topic within the context of material things or objects. Even though ideology and beliefs affect us more emotionally and we attach more emotions to them than chattels and trinkets.

The class of material things is also wide and large. We have things that we inherit from those dear to us, presents and gifts, things we find in the streets, souvenirs, things we collected over the years, things we buy, and so on. The most important aspect of the emotions we link with these things is that the emotional value is not measured in terms of money even though the thing itself might have a monetary valuable. And the second thing about the emotional value we place on a thing is a subjective value. How I feel about some object is not a feeling others are expected to have or suppose to have.

More importantly, how I feel about something does not have to conform to some rational or reasonable criteria. And this is a problem when considering some theory of value which is an important issue in economics. In a way, an emotional value of a thing is a twofold criterion. The first is that we attach subjective criteria which in all probability others cannot have the same experience. How we react to the loss (or gain) of something is purely subjective even if two people demonstrate the same behaviour towards a thing. The other subjective criteria are the reasons and psychological process for attaching some emotional value to a thing.

The consequence of this is that it is difficult to attach an objective monetary value to an object and secondly any attempt to give a monetary value to an object with an emotional value attached to it is bound to fail. Consider a case of two car thefts except one car is a company car and the second car was a gift from a parent before the parent died. Surely we expect that a person who lost the gift would attach more emotional value to the car than they would to the company car.

Indeed, a loss of a thing we attach some emotional value has more than just a mourning value of a loss, more importantly we feel violated especially if it is something that was stolen from us.

This has two consequences in real life. The first is that emotions can be manipulated to attach a false emotion to a product as part of a marketing ploy. In such cases companies use a range of tool to evoke the right emotions, images, language and music. The objective is to emphasise the emotional content they want consumers to attach to a product hoping that they will buy the product. The emotional language can include such concepts as status symbol, exclusive, intelligence, health, simple, easy, cheap, excellence, German engineering, choice, children, family, and, in some cases, a very high price might itself be used to evoke emotions of status and exclusivity. This wouldn’t be so bad if what we are talking about are cars, perfume and dresses.

However, this is the very technique some companies use and have used to push cigarettes, drinks with high levels of sugar, unhealthy additives in fast foods and high level of salts in snacks. This suggests that our emotions are also vulnerable to external manipulation; the irony is that it seems that our vulnerability is due to the limits of our rational reasoning. The very same problem philosopher and other have complained about emotions all these centuries.

The second consequence is that, as I have argued, when we attach an emotional value to an object we give it a “property” this it is difficult for others to quantify. In the case of the stolen gift car we cannot say that we received full restitution even if the insurance pays us the full value of a new car and the offender jailed by the authorities. It seems that when we endow an emotional value to an object we are giving it a value on a par with what economists call an “intrinsic value” but a value enjoyed by one person i.e. us. An intrinsic value is a value of the object itself, a gold ring would have an intrinsic value of the gold. And in a way justice is also denied to us because once the object has been violated there is no restitution of the full “value” of the object. The courts can restore a monetary value but how can they restore an emotional value?

Our issue, therefore, is first and foremost how do we attach an emotional value to some things or objects but not others? The second issue is how can we restore an emotional value to an object when that value is purely subjective and exclusive to us?

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: The emotional value of things

Thursday, February 06, 2020

From Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Does philosophy give us answers?

Dear friends,
 
 
This Sunday we are discussing: Does philosophy give us answers?
 
The answer is yes, but how we get to yes is not that simple as I try to show in my essay which you can find here:
 
Does philosophy give us answers?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/02/from-lawrence-sunday-philomadrid.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: Does philosophy give us answers?
 
 
 






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From Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Does philosophy give us answers?

Does philosophy give us answers?


Today we are aware that a number of issues and problems in philosophy are due to the vagaries of our natural language. This question is at the forefront of confusion in philosophy as much as “what is the meaning of life?” But if people expect to find the answer on how to build a better mouse trap in philosophy, don’t bother it’s not going to happen.

And the reason why it won’t happen is because it is not the business of philosophy to build better mouse traps and make people rich in the meantime. In other words what is at issue is: what is the question or questions we are asking. Firstly, are we asking questions that have an answer and are we asking questions that can be answered by the philosophical method?

Before I go on, have a look at this interview by Timothy Williamson | The Role of Philosophy which you can find on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/c1ihZHdfXSA .

A pressing problem we have about language is precisely what we understand philosophy to be. To begin with philosophy is not a recipe book that we use to do things such as making a cake or build bridges.  And to compound our problem many people refer to many activities as philosophy so before we can even talk about philosophy we have to entangle what it is we are talking about. The philosophy I am talking about is close to what is colloquially referred to as analytical philosophy, even though these days this does not mean much. What matters is that by philosophy we mean a methodology: for our purposes it is not a discipline that tells us how things are but rather an analysis of our thinking. At the heart of analytic philosophy is logic, but not exclusively. In our methodology we are always on the lookout for dilemmas, paradoxes and so on.

Philosophy is an activity about our thinking: how we think and not what to think. This is the same methodology that gave us science and jurisprudence to mention a few other examples. In a way philosophy is a quest for what is certain and this quest goes back in time to the Greek philosophers and beyond. It is obvious today that what is certain are facts, and the human challenge is how to arrive to these facts. How we arrive at these facts is the domain of philosophy (analytical philosophy) which includes the scientific method and up to an extent the jurisprudence method.

Some might object by pointing out that philosophy has always been about seeking the truth. The problem many philosophers and what we might call today scientists, ventured out to find the truth but what they came across was a morass of incongruities: the mind-body problem by Descartes or Maxwell on aether. It transpires that we’ve been looking for the facts rather than the truth all these millennia: in the chronology of things first come the facts then we can deduce the truth.

Development in philosophy, science and jurisprudence has followed a pattern of identifying what is not working with our thinking and improve what does work. It is not surprising that the law courts, although being very conservative in their thinking, work in tandem with the development of science and philosophical thinking.

By now it should be obvious that there is no such thing as philosophy but philosophical thinking, specifically a way of thinking a methodology. The computer in front of me is something that exists and is certain of existence independent of me, but not so philosophy. Without someone to apply the methods of philosophy to evaluate our thinking there won’t be any philosophy going on. The same with science: if there are no people applying the scientific methods to discover facts about the world (and this is not a guaranteed) there won’t be any science: but there will still be facts. So yes, if a tree falls in the forest it does make a noise even if no one is there to hear it: those sound waves breaking the sound barrier will still happen.

In the past, and certainly within living memory of some of us, there was a clear distinction between science and technology. Science was the discipline of discovering facts about the world, and by world I mean everything that is physical, and how the world functions. And technology was about applying such knowledge and principles to achieve things to serve our purposes, from building better mouse traps to better spaceships. Unfortunately the science part has been infected by that incompatible mental disease of making a profit at the point of the cost. So today we talk about science when we should be talking about technology and engineering. Technology and engineering are not exactly the domain of philosophical thinking because by that stage we would have fixed and do fix our thinking at the scientific methodology stage; but this is taking us away from our topic.

But our main enemy of philosophy today is the chauvinism we inherited from the 19th century intelligentsia when knowledge was not only compartmentalised by activity but also by institution. The scope of the gentleman scientist or philosopher were fast coming to an end. So science became what the people in the physics department at a university did or any department with the title science in it. Even today many people associate philosophy with having a philosophy degree and working a in a philosophy department. Today more philosophy is being done outside philosophy departments than all these centuries put together.

Fortunately for humanity and philosophy, philosophy is an activity that not only happens in some philosophy departments but more likely to happen in physics departments, medical research laboratories and the philosophers of today will probably have degrees in the sciences, art, law and even art and music.

What is relevant for us is when looking for an answer to a question we need to distinguish between the history of ideas and philosophy and the philosophical and scientific method that may show us the way we need to think. The history of ideas and philosophy are very interesting subject especially since we can understand why today we are where we are because we know where we came from, but they are not necessarily all that relevant today.

In a way the philosophical method including the scientific method progresses (think Khun’s paradigm shift here) by making redundant what was once thought to be the best philosophical and scientific methods. Appealing to some ghost in the machine or using a blood sucking “bicho” to solve philosophical or medical problems was never going to last forever.

Of course, this also has an element natural selection in it: valid thinking and robust procedures tend to survive longer than weaker ideas. Even though, we accept the possibility that what is a weak idea today might be a life saving idea tomorrow: there are too many examples that demonstrate this point, the washing of hands by doctors is a case in point.

And this has an important implication for us, an answer to a question might very well depend on who is asking the question, who is answering the question and when is the question being asked. What is peculiar about employing the philosophical method to answer a question is that when we find the answer the question ceases to be a philosophical question (apart from being part of the history of philosophy) and becomes a member of its natural domain and habitat for example physics, immunology, contract law and so on. It also helps that the questions we ask of our philosophical thinking or methodology do indeed fall within the domain of philosophy.

So yes once we know what philosophy we are talking about philosophy does give us answers. But philosophy can only give us philosophical answers to philosophical questions and the nature of philosophical answers is that what is an answer today might be gibberish tomorrow.

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: Does philosophy give us answers?




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