Thursday, July 30, 2020

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 2nd August: informal summer meeting

Dear Friends,
 
As we usually do for summer we are having a rest from the topics so for the month of August we will just meet for informal conversation. Skype meeting Sunday at 6:30pm.
 
If you are interested in our next topic in September: The aesthetic beauty of machines
 
Don't forget Oscar's book
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
 
Finally, the Skype Meeting is on Sunday 26th July at 6:30pm: if you don't have the link already please send me a message. In the meantime sometimes new members have problems connecting to Skype. Having the desktop version helps, and the mobile phone version is also useful. For some reason Skype fails to connect via a browser.  Other times you might need to restart your PC, but once you connect there is no problem.
 
Best and take care
Lawrence
 
telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com
 
PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 2nd August: informal summer meeting








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PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 2nd August: informal summer meeting

Dear Friends,
 
As we usually do for summer we are having a rest from the topics so for the month of August we will just meet for informal conversation. Skype meeting Sunday at 6:30pm.
 
If you are interested in our next topic in September: The aesthetic beauty of machines
 
Don't forget Oscar's book
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
 
Finally, the Skype Meeting is on Sunday 26th July at 6:30pm: if you don't have the link already please send me a message. In the meantime sometimes new members have problems connecting to Skype. Having the desktop version helps, and the mobile phone version is also useful. For some reason Skype fails to connect via a browser.  Other times you might need to restart your PC, but once you connect there is no problem.
 
Best and take care
Lawrence
 
telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com
 
PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 2nd August: informal summer meeting








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Friday, July 24, 2020

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 26th July: What is aesthetically right or bad? + News

Dear Friends,
 
This Sunday we are discussing: What is aesthetically right or bad?
 
Our meeting on the 26th will also be our last meeting for the season retuning back in September. We will continue meeting on Skype during August but not to discuss a specific subject just chatting – don't forget to bring your own drink!!!!
 
In the meantime my essay for our meeting on Sunday is here:
 
What is aesthetically right or bad?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/07/what-is-aesthetically-right-or-bad.html
 
Don't forget Oscar's book
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
 
Finally, the Skype Meeting is on Sunday 26th July at 6:30pm: if you don't have the link already please send me a message. In the meantime sometimes new members have problems connecting to Skype. Having the desktop version helps, and the mobile phone version is also useful. For some reason Skype fails to connect via a browser.  Other times you might need to restart your PC, but once you connect there is no problem.
 
Best and take care
Lawrence
 
telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com
 
PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 26th July: What is aesthetically right or bad? + News
 






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What is aesthetically right or bad?

What is aesthetically right or bad?

 

We now accept that issues about aesthetics are basically subjective. But just because I like a painting, or a book, or a piece of furniture it does not follow and surely it cannot follow that others have to like them as well. After all we all agree that there are such factors that are supposed to determine what we like or don’t like: our physiology, upbringing, peculiarities, culture, experience and so on. In theory we should be happy with this state of affairs.

 

The problem is that philosophers still insist in finding the objective factor that would make aesthetics an objective discipline rather than the subjective behaviour and we are all supposed to accept this mindset. The immediate implication of the objective criteria for what is beautiful is that it takes away our freedom of choice from us and subjects us to some art police regime: and we all know how tasteless and unimaginative dictators can be.

 

But we also understand that the reason why we try to establish what is objectively beautiful is to bring some order in the world of beauty. When an undone bed with a potty next to it is considered a work of art and sold for hundreds of thousands some people might be justified to wonder whether we’ve reached the gates of hell.

 

One of the issues with the subjectivity problem is that what we subjectively claim to believe is beautiful, others cannot confirm our belief one way or the other. The private language model proposed by Wittgenstein does not work with a sort of “private aesthetic value system”. And one of the reason why there cannot be a “private language like argument” for aesthetics and beauty is that people usually have reasons and motives for saying they like something or not.   Whereas, I don’t need a reason or motives to use the word “beautiful” all I have to do is just use it correctly when I write or speak in English.

 

Unfortunately, there are other reasons why someone would like something, besides they genuinely get real pleasure from the aesthetics of the object. One of them is that they don’t want to contradict the received opinion: if people say the Mona Lisa is a beautiful painting then it is a beautiful painting, why argue. Of course, people may or may not enjoy a painting (I am using paintings for the sake of the discussion), but in many cases a painting might be an “investment” as they say. This explains why sometimes people’s opinion cannot add up to an objective criterion of aesthetics. If someone just invested a few million Euros in a painting it’s important for that person that people think it’s a beautiful painting.  

 

And consequently this is why maybe we cannot objectively say what is aesthetically good or bad. The question at hand is about objectivity since it includes those well known words “good” and “bad”. Good and bad are more serious when it gets to objectivity, more than whether something is pretty or ugly. So in what sense can we say that something is aesthetically good or bad?

 

To complicate the matter when we speak of beauty or aesthetics we immediately think of objects and things, a beautiful person, a nice paining, an elegant dress, an aesthetically beautiful piece of furniture and so on. However, there are many things we can attribute beauty  which are not things themselves such as a “beautiful goal”, a beautiful poem, a beautiful formula, a beautiful idea etc. If we have difficulty deciding whether a painting is beautiful or not, how more difficult is it going to be to decide whether a formula is beautiful. I will discuss this problem later on.

 

Coming back to our question, do we mean that something is aesthetically good if it meets some criteria or fulfils a function? Or does it mean that if something has objective aesthetic features then by definition it must be good? Indeed the Golden rule was supposed to be such an aesthetic criterion that would qualify most 2D visual objects as candidates of being aesthetically good. Some might argue that only paintings that follow the Golden rule qualify as art. Of course, there is nothing necessary about the golden rule, but like speech language accents, an accent has nothing to do with language. But if one insists on using an accent one better make sure one knows the proper language that goes with that accent. The same with say paintings, the Golden rule is not a necessary condition, but having a slanting horizon for a landscape or seascape is certainly not something of being good art.

 

What we have to consider now is whether the problem of aesthetic objectivity is a language problem? Historically a key tool of philosophers to understand concepts such as good, bad, beautiful and so on was to ask the question: What is x? Earlier I suggested that beauty can be subjective unlike a private language. Likewise, some things cannot be adequately answered by a type of “What is x?” question. Or, as in our case, it has serious limitations.

 

Sometimes, we have to ask a different question precisely the least often asked question “How to do x?”. This question falls within the ambit of applied epistemology* and Knowing How**.  This question is not exactly the same question as “Knowing how x is done”. You would appreciate this is a complex topic and I have no intention of going into a long discussion about it. However, what I mean by the question “How to do x?” is precisely knowing how x is done and actually doing it. This doesn’t mean that one single mistake implies that someone doesn’t know how to do X. By knowing how to do x we mean consistently doing x.

 

A painter might occasionally produce a dud, but most times they don’t. This might give us some form  of objectivity in aesthetics: we might not all agree whether a painting is beautiful, but we can all agree that a seascape must not have a slanting horizon. Becuase we know that the sea horizon is not slanting in real life. Our brain will object to a slanting horizon line if we are in tune with a painting or whatever. Something that is aesthetically bad will upset us.

 

But then look at the painting by Frans Hals, the Laughing Cavalier, which is at the Wallace Collection, London; the Cavalier seems to follow us with his eyes whichever way we look at him. Of course, we know that the painted eyes are not moving anywhere, and yet this is one of the most famous paintings ever. Indeed there is nothing wrong with the painting because by nature we look at the eyes of people. Certainly not any pair of eyes but a particularly pair of eyes drawn in a certain way: I’ll leave you to discover the secret in the Wikipedia entry under Laughing Cavalier.

 

Thus we may or may not think that the Laughing Cavalier is a nice painting, but if any artist wants the eyes of a portrait to follow the viewer there is only one way of doing it (read the Wikipedia entry). Today this technique is used in advertising, fashion, celebrity images and so on.

 

But there are limitations to any aesthetic objectivity, aesthetic objects tend to be 3D objects (paintings are 3D objects but that’s a different matter) and therefore subject to deterioration and the influence of other physical causes.  Take another two really world famous paintings: Las Meninas by Velázquez and Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer. Millions of words have been written about these paintings but what is special about them is that the light of Las Meninas is the same light we see in Madrid every day. That light is Madrid.  And the same with the Girl with a Pearl Earring, the light falling on the face of the sitter from the window cannot be anything but a north European light.

 

But unfortunately when we see paintings we always see them under different light conditions from the one they were created under: if we’re lucky, a decent light in a museum might help. This is why most of Rembrandt’s paintings are always vivid and impactful: Rembrandt was the first Photoshopper in a modern light studio.

 

Rembrandt made sure that whatever the light conditions his paintings were seen under, they will always reflect that warm mesmerising glow of light. Compare this with the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. The real painting or images of it depict the deterioration and grime of the painting over the centuries. Can you imagine the radiant beauty of this painting if we could see it in Leonardo’s studio?  The impressionists were right, beauty is nature"".

 

We can come to some criteria about what is aesthetic objectivity,  therefore, right or bad. But when we see something beautiful or something ugly are we seeing real nature or some shadow of nature at the back of a cave?

 

Best Lawrence


(26-07-2020 corrected for typos)

 

*See for example: Argumentation Step-By-Step:  Learning Critical Thinking through Deliberate PracticeANN J. CAHILL AND STEPHEN BLOCH-SCHULMANElon University

https://www.unl.edu/philosophy/Pedagogy-Cahill&Bloch-Schulman.pdf

 

 

**Knowledge How

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowledge-how/

 

Note: and then there is Plato’s question about function in The Republic, 352e till 353e

http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=GreekTexts&getid=1&query=Pl.%20Resp.%20352e

 

"" The impressionists really advocated the power of light and light as part of nature.

 

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

 

Email: philomadrid@gmail.com

 

http://www.philomadrid.com.

Friday, July 17, 2020

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 19th July: Alienation in everyday life

Dear Friends,
 
This Sunday we are discussing: Alienation in everyday life
 
This is a topic we can easily identify with, but as I argue in my very short essay feelings shouldn't be enough to determine whether we are being alienated.
 
Alienation in everyday life
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/07/alienation-in-everyday-life.html
 
 
Reminder: please pass the message to others:
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 19th July at 6:30pm: if you don't have the link already please send me a message. In the meantime sometimes new members have problems connecting to Skype. Having the desktop version helps, and the mobile phone version is also useful. For some reason Skype fails to connect via a browser.  Other times you might need to restart your PC, but once you connect there is no problem.
 
 
Best and take care
Lawrence
 
telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com
 
PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 19th July: Alienation in everyday life
 
 
 









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Alienation in everyday life

Alienation in everyday life

 

The concept of alienation involves the idea of isolation or exclusion. However, isolation implies being separated from a group or society. Exclusion is more personal because we are personally being rejected or left out of the group.

 

But there is another aspect to alienation. We might feel we are being excluded but it could also be that we are excluding ourselves. In other words, alienation could also be that we are excluding ourselves from the group or society for reason we might be unjustified to believe. Basically we feel we just don’t fit anymore in the paradigm we used to belong. Of course, if we don’t fit anymore maybe it’s because we have changed. It is not a reasonable assumption to believe that only others change.

 

The ambiguity of alienation is that we always assume that we are being excluded, others are excluding us, and hardly ever do we associate alienation with us not fitting anymore. This distinction is important because when we are alienated we might also be justified to believe we are being victimised.  By being excluded we are losing the privileges we enjoyed when belonging to the group and not to mention we lose the benefits of belonging to the group.

 

However, when we exclude ourselves we are basically failing to evolve with the group. But this is one interpretation, maybe the group is evolving in a direction we do not like and hence the feeling of alienation. In many cases we would even be justified to leave the group post haste.  The point is that just because we feel alienated it is not necessarily the end of our world as we know it.

 

How does alienation affect us in our daily life? For most of us our daily life is filled with the things we do every day. Mostly this means our work, the goods we buy, the programmes on television or cable TV, government, new technologies and so on. But all these activities have an element of making people feel annoyed, distressed, angry, and a few more emotional out bursts but is that enough to be alienated. Sometimes the TV programmes are really bad, but we still feel it is the best entertainment medium for day to day viewing. What would it take to move from not liking a programme on television to feeling alienated from television as a whole?

 

Surely alienation in our daily life must involve a sense of permanency, so it must be something beyond not liking it. Pandemic aside, for example, over the years we notice that restaurants are charging more for poor quality service. There comes as time when enough is enough, and maybe frequent restaurants less often or none at all. But surely the rational thing to do is to patronise restaurants who we know will give us value for money. But is it worth the chase for the value for money restaurant?

 

Against this situation, we might also feel alienated from society because the news services are changing, aesthetic values are changing and some might even argue that moral values are changing. Firstly, it is much easier to evaluate a lunch than it is to like a genre of art that we find meaningless. Secondly, whilst things might evolve for the better or the worst we still have to make value judgements. And this means that we have to inform ourselves about how things are evolving around us. If we are unable to keep up with this progressive change we won’t be able keep our life relevant.

 

Today ideology and dogma are no longer sufficient to understand the world around us. Unfortunately, we cannot judge the new world with the old tools. Sure we might have legitimate grounds for not liking the new normal, but unless or at least before we understand how this new normal functions and why, we are likely to make mistakes.

 

In conclusion, before we feel alienated we have to make sure that we are not really being alienated and that we are not being excluded because ‘they’ don’t want us anymore. Smart phones are not complex because telecoms want to exclude elderly people from the information age, but because the information age is a complex era in the 21st century. The alienation should be aimed towards those in charge but failing in their duty to make sure the elderly feel they are included.

 

The 2020 information age does mean that we need to manage information with constant information overload and more demanding skill sets. This means that today we have more opportunities to be included but many more to be excluded. Basically, today we have to be our own private investigator, our own investigative journalist and worst of all, we have to be our own judge and jury. Getting one of these wrong might mean needlessly feeling excluded or dangerously including ourselves in groups that do not wish us any good

 

Best Lawrence

 

 

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

Email: philomadrid@gmail.com

http://www.philomadrid.com.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, July 09, 2020

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 12th July: Are values dead?

 
Dear friends
 
This Sunday we are discussing: Are values dead?
 
The natural habitat for this question should be moral philosophy, but there are other meanings to value than just morality. In my short essay I examine the alternative analysis than morality:
 
Are values dead?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/07/are-values-dead.html
 
Reminder: please pass the message to others:
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 12th July 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 12th July: Are values dead?
 
 








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