Thursday, June 25, 2020

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 28th June: Conformity

 
Dear Friends,
 
This Sunday we are discussing: Conformity.
 
Conformity is a very wide subject in all sorts of disciples and not just philosophy. Carmen has written for us her perspective on the topic and I took an unusual theme in my short essay: conformity and language.
 
Conformity
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/06/conformity.html
 

Reminder:
In the meantime Oscar (JoseOscar) has sent me the Amazon link for his book where you can also find details about it:
 
El Virus de Wuhan: 44 garabatos y ripios  de un confinado en Madrid
https://www.amazon.es/dp/B089CJJMLY/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_8X30EbFRN3RCH
 
If you have any issues about the book please contact me and I'll pass your message to Oscar.
 
 
Finally, the Skype Meeting is on Sunday 28th June at 6:30pm: if you don't have the link already please send me a message.
 
Best and take care
Lawrence
 
telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com
 
PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 28th June: Conformity
 
 
 
 
 
 


 






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Conformity

 

 

Conformity by Carmen

 

I would propose to deal with the topic Conformism from several points of view:

.survival strategy

.exercise of patience

.lack of criteria to decide for oneself.

 

But first of all, please think about the different reactions that people had during the period of confinement.

 

Observing the behaviour of people for having to respect a government order for the benefit of society, has made me reflect on compliance.

 

Conformity has to do, from my point of view, with the attitudes that I name at the beginning of my essay, however, I would prefer to analyze conformity, from the opposite meaning: Nonconformity.

 

The nonconformist attitude has generally been associated with freedom, difference and modernity, but do you think it really is so? Or is the nonconformist attitude synonymous with selfishness, lack of empathy and bad manners?

 

Best,

Carmen

 

------------

 

Conformity by Lawrence

 

There are many situations in life when conformity is a key factor on how we act and what we do. The obvious example would, of course, be conforming to the law. Indeed, we can be made to conform to such laws and regulations. We can also be compelled to conform in a more subtle way, for example the process we have to go through in education and then the norms and practices we encounter at work. Generally speaking society does not really like non conformists; not because they might be wrong but because they don’t follow the norms.

 

There are also social norm we have to conform such as table manners, festivities and how to fall in love. We might not care to follow these norms but we are certainly made aware of such unruly behaviour. Indeed sometimes conformity is about behaviour, we might be bored at a dinner party but we must behave as if we are enjoying ourselves. This “as if” is a wonderful strategy to deceive others about our mental thoughts and beliefs.

 

But there is one context and activity that we never consider as being within the scope of conformity and the subject in natural language. We might consider language as just another sphere of human life such as jurisprudence is another sphere of human life.

 

Whatever we know about a language we assume that it is some kind of opus that is certainly independent of us and certainly an objective entity from us. In effect language is the first activity we seem we have to conform. Learning our native tongue language is so important that our guardians start teaching us their language from the first day we are born. And to compound matters we are forced to learn the structures of our language (grammar) and at some point later the use of the language, from reading books by authors and us writing in our language.

 

But of course it is not clear whether we learn the so called rules and use of our native language from our classes at school or from the fact that we use our language 24/7. Compare our efforts to learn a second language: without practical opportunities to practice the second language in a real context it should be a herculean task to learn in a vacuum.

 

Conformity when we apply a language means following the norms, rules and vocabulary specific to the subject and context we are using the language (see e.g: Wittgenstein Language-Games). The Private-Language issue introduced by Wittgenstein reinforces the idea that meaning of a language is a public domain function.

 

Are we, therefore, justified in our assumption that language is indeed an objective opus or is our attitude towards language a categorical mistake (Gilbert Ryle)?  Why should this matter for our subject? For one thing what are we conforming to when we conform to using the rules, vocabulary and nuances of a language?

 

The categorical mistake is basically an argument against Cartesian dualism: the idea that the mind is an object made of immaterial substances independent of the physical body. Likewise there isn’t an object called language that is independent of grammar, meaning, context and other aspects. And just because we can codify these functions in a book and call it language it does not mean we are describing something objective.

  

The problem is that no amount of rules, meaning of words, and context will lead to linguistic conformity or behaviour conformity. And the simple reason for this is that what we call language is indeed a methodology rather than a box of building blocks.

 

In reality what we are conforming to are the ideas, beliefs and information we communicate to others by using language. What we understand is not the meaning of words but our interpretation of ideas Person A is trying to convey to Person B. I propose that we conform to the use of words not because words have the right meaning, but because we have the right ideas other people or a person is trying to share with us. The “builder’s language” an example given by Wittgenstein in Philosophical Investigations (Section 2) (Wikipedia: Language game (philosophy)) where a builder and their assistant only have a handful of words to communicate, is not a primitive language and “builders languages” are specialised languages. I would argue that a natural language is an amalgam of sublanguages (sub builders language) which help us convey our ideas in that sublanguage/subcontext. And those who are not game players in that sub-activity cannot conform to that sublanguage-game.

 

 

Basically, we conform to a language not because all the components of a language lead us to a meaning, but rather they lead us to the ideas of others. What we share in common is not language but “ideas.” I mean, what’s there for non philosophers not to know the meaning of a categorical mistake?

 

Best Lawrence

 

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

Email: philomadrid@gmail.com

http://www.philomadrid.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Inner Impulse by Pedro

The Inner Impulse by Pedro



As far as I remember our next topic is “The inner impulse”

 

I don’t know really what it is. Nor think that anyone suspects what nature it may have. But I’m sure that those who felt it one day, or several times, will be able to talk about it in our next tertulia.

 

 

I called it the other day the inner Elan. And I thought the origin of this strange word would be Greek. But thanks to Google translator now I know it comes from Azerí the language of Azerbaijan; a branch of Turkish. Meaning:  vivacity.

 

Today Elan is used in French as a French word, meaning impulse. And in English it means also vivacity, but also energy, style and enthusiasm. Not bad, since enthusiasm is the state of the soul of the one who is in God. (En Theos Siasmos).

 

Let’s put aside the Google translator or I’ll get crazy.

 

For me Elan was always the Lotus Elan, a wonderful car design drawn by an English man Ron Hickman. Or so I thought. But wrong once again. He was from Greytown, South Africa. A surprise!

 

With the Elan he became famous, but with his other design, the Black and Decker Workmate, he also became rich. This is also interesting.

 

I invite you all to take a look at the first series Lotus Elan. A beauty. But also a technical jewel with its backbone structure, and its motor/ transmission layout. 30 years later copied by Mazda. Integrally. Not to forget Mr. Colin Chapman, soul of Lotus.

 

This brings us back to Philosophy. Because we are here dealing with the inner impulse, because I was thinking of the mystery of some persons: i.e. Richard Branson,  Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Mark Shuttleworth, Christiaan Barnard and the mentioned Ron Hickman.

 

I’m sure that living in a certain place on the planet influences people more than the stars which are too far away. Some say it’s the climate. I rather think of the latitude and the local cultural “climate”.

 

Branson is a Londoner, and for the sake of our deep reasoning he founded some 360 companies. Something not very usual and starting at the age of 16.

 

Bezos was able to cover the world with his shop, closing or disturbing all the others. Not bad as a start. Bad in other ways.

 

Today Bezos, Musk and Shuttleworth are urged to go to the space, taking people there, a place with a terrible climate for holidays. This is what they sell. Strange inner impulse!

 

Barnard decided to swap people’s hearts, something perhaps practical, but at first sight it looked bizarre, to say the least. Today it has become common and “easy” operation. But being the first is tremendous merit!

 

Which lets me in the end with my all time favorite, Mr. Ron Hickman. Today I’ve discovered he was from South Africa.

 

In my scientific quest I’ve tried to annotate the latitudes of some cities which have been cradle of great innovators. And so in the north we have Athens at 37ºN , Rome at 41ºN, Madrid at 40ºN, Malaga at 36ºN. Upside down we have Cape Town at 33ºS, Johannesburg at 26ºS, Pretoria at 25ºS, Welkom 27ºS (Shuttleworth), and Greytown 29ºS (Hickman). Symmetrical.

 

Which may not demonstrate anything scientifically, but looks splendid. Because North and South at the same latitude produce great minds and wine.  Not to forget Mr. Nelson Mandela, a kind of leader we need now way up north.

 

For Henry Bergson this mystery of the inner impulse was an appealing theme. He spoke of the Elan vital. Describing it as an impulse without preconceived aim nor plan, cause of the wonderful effects of nature.  It takes a French to think so elegant!

 

Someone, as I said who has felt it once knows that with it you can do something. Without it, hardly anything happens.

 

Be it love, 5 children, a company, or 360 companies, a successful business or a charitable foundation covering the world.

 

At first we hardly know why we follow this impulse nor why we have it. Maybe enthusiasm as the Greeks considered it, is the reason. And without reason?

 

Here I leave it to you!

 

Thank you for your attention

 

Pedro

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 21st June: The Inner Impulse

Dear Friends,
 
This Sunday we are discussing: The Inner Impulse.
 
This is an old issue in philosophy and now even in psychology and sociology. Except of course it does not follow that everyone is talking about the same thing. I briefly try to discuss some issues in my short essay:
 
The Inner Impulse
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/06/the-inner-impulse.html
 
Reminder: from JoseOscar
--- video about my book + 1 song ---
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-g_yWgN1mk&t=1s
 
In the meantime Oscar (JoseOscar) has sent me the Amazon link for his book where you can also find details about it:
 
El Virus de Wuhan: 44 garabatos y ripios  de un confinado en Madrid
https://www.amazon.es/dp/B089CJJMLY/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_8X30EbFRN3RCH
 
If you have any issues about the book please contact me and I'll pass your message to Oscar.
 
 
Finally, the Skype Meeting is on Sunday 21st June at 6:30pm: if you don't have the link already please send me a message.
 
Best and take care
Lawrence
 
telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com
 
PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 21st June: The Inner Impulse
 



 






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The Inner Impulse

Unfortunately I sent out the email before Pedro could send me his essay.

You can find his essay here:

The Inner Impulse by Pedro

https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/06/the-inner-impulse-by-pedro.html





The Inner Impulse by Lawrence

 

A synonym for the “inner impulse” would be “gut reaction”, a “gut instinct. What is relevant for us is whether an inner impulse leads to physical action or a belief, maybe even a strong belief.

 

The difference is important to establish whether an inner impulse always leads to physical action in a single causal action or whether there is an intermediary stage of a belief and then maybe an action. This will have a bearing on one of the most relevant issues in philosophy: theory of action*. In a “normal” action despite the philosophical arguments would require from us beliefs, desires, intention and of course some physical behaviour to formulate our physical mental states into physical states in space/time.

 

The “inner” part of the inner impulse covers our epistemic state which includes such things as beliefs, experience and maybe even instinct. In other words, we need to be in some form of epistemic state to justify our actions as “normal” actions and even more important as moral actions. This makes it more imperative to distinguish an action done by “normal people” and an action done by someone with a disease of the mind (legal).

 

The impulse part of the topic is usually associated with behaviour, and an impulse purchase is the most common impulse we are familiar with in our daily life. Thus if we accept that our inner impulse is some form of gut reaction, the reaction part is also usually understood as a behaviour. But can an inner impulse lead to an epistemic action, such as forming a new belief? Would that still be behaviour?  

 

Two of the key problems with actions are: is an action the right action to bring about the desired result? And for many actions we can also ask is an action also a moral action? If normal actions we go through a normal causal process of maybe formulating beliefs, fact checking them, plan a strategy and so on and then act. Should we also afford the same causal status to inner impulses?

 

This opens a whole load of questions. For example, should we hold inner impulses to higher moral standards or is this mitigated by the fact that gut reactions usually involve some unpredictable disagreeable factors, or maybe even an agreeable event. And is the epistemic state of the inner state more reliable than say the epistemic state of a reasoned or rational action? What we can say for sure is that inner impulses are more emotional and closer to us than just any ordinary actions. Buying a cake from a baker on an impulse surely must make that cake taste better than just picking up a box with a cake in it from the supermarket?

 

But is there this emotional connection between an event independent of us and this sudden outburst of an action by us? Surely the impulse to buy a cake from a baker must have a special ingredient (I know apologies) which a box from a supermarket does not have. I would say that the extra ingredient must be passion or at very least a burst of emotion. And we know very well that emotions do play a role in our actions and behaviour.

 

Surely this means that inner impulses might very well be nothing more than acts based on passion or emotion; a sort of causal short cut from perception to action bypassing reason, logic, analysis and rational action. You will notice that I did not include experience and instinct. Could it be that inner impulses are not shortcuts but rather actions based on some rudimentary system based on information we collect in our life?

 

The language is not only curious but also telling. Maybe this information and behaviour is only released with emotions or passion. Reasoning and consideration take time, and time might be of such an essence that even thinking about something might be too late. In other words we have to act on the spur of the moment or lose the opportunity.  

 

Thus language like: inner, impulse, gut, reaction, spur and so on is very distinct from the language of ordinary actions. Rational, reasoned, analysis, considering, and thinking is hardly a language that evokes emotions and passion. But it is still a language that leads to action.

 

So are inner impulses an independent system of human action that is activated under certain conditions; maybe even when time is of the essence. Or could it be the case that inner impulses are no different from other forms of actions, including the causal chain of thinking, consideration and so on, but when certain conditions pertain we move from perception to action in one single causal move. In other words we act from perception to action when time of the essence. Or maybe it is some other human system of action.

 

*You might care to search for Theory of Action and especial the simple theory of action Donald Davidson which is quite controversial to say the least.

 

Best Lawrence

 

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

Email: philomadrid@gmail.com

http://www.philomadrid.com

 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Apologies for Link: PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 14th June: Saving Humanity



 

 

Dear Friends,

 

This Sunday we are discussing: Saving Humanity

 

This is quite a popular topic, and a topic that can really lead some people to sleepless nights. But the question is: what is the role of philosophy in all this?

 

I try to address this issue here:

 

Saving Humanity – by Norma

http://www.philomadrid.com/2020/06/saving-humnity-norma-article-in.html

 

 

Reminder:

In the meantime Oscar (JoseOscar) has sent me the Amazon link for his book where you can also find details about it:

 

El Virus de Wuhan: 44 garabatos y ripios  de un confinado en Madrid

https://www.amazon.es/dp/B089CJJMLY/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_8X30EbFRN3RCH

 

If you have any issues about the book please contact me and I’ll pass your message to Oscar.

 

 

Finally, the Skype Meeting is on Sunday 14th June at 6:30pm: if you don’t have the link already please send me a message.

 

Best and take care

Lawrence

 

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

Email: philomadrid@gmail.com

http://www.philomadrid.com

 

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 14th June: Saving Humanity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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