Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Small Sentence to Drive yourself Sane

The next time you are doing something absolutely ordinary, or even better

the next time you are doing something absolutely necessary, such as pissing, or making love, or shaving, or washing the dishes or the baby or yourself or the room, say to yourself:

"So, it's all come to this!"


Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Internal Sensation of Happiness

I became conscious of an overwhelming feeling of happiness while exercising the other day. Puzzled I decided I’d have to check this happiness-business out.

Happiness can be defined as emotions experienced when in a state of well being.

People often show that they are happy by smiling.

There would be pleasures for the moment, and a more static happiness.

Defining happiness - Try define "green" to a blind person! Internal experiences are subjective by nature.

Non human animals are happy when they have achieved a goal concerned with the motivational system of the organism. It would be the satisfaction in doing something deliberately to achieve these goals – repeating actions of success. So - only animals with the ability to learn, should be able to feel happiness. (Scratching an itch would be enough though) (Talk about short term happiness!!)

Of all the animals, only man can sit and contemplate reality. Aristotele would say this would make him happy, in the same way as it would make a bird happy to fly, or a fish happy to swim.

Zhuangzi would say though, that mans ability to distinguish between things and form dichotomies, would make him unable to find true happiness, as all would be divided into things to like and not to like.

Now, what about my feelings of happiness. Zhuangzi might be right, but I think I’ll spurn his ideas. If we cannot possibly experience true happiness, we cannot know what it is, and why contemplate the unachievable. Aristotele’s down-to-earth theories has always attracted me in their simplicity. My happiness at exhausting myself would, I reckon, fall into the category of had I been a bird flying this would have made me happy. And now here I am still happy contemplating it. Humans certainly have the best of two worlds. That’s cool.

Look! Footnotes! :
http://ne.se/jsp/search/article.jsp?i_art_id=O233173&i_word=lycka 20050528
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happiness 20060528

Thursday, May 25, 2006

No red toenails in the Grand Canyon!!

A friend just back from the US, has today told me that the absolutely most dangerous animal of the Grand Canyon is the squirrel! Those little fluffy tailed animals are so full of bacteria that they are highly poisonous. They often even carry the bubonic plague! Craving for food they are fearless of people, and they use their razor sharp teeth to slice through anything - yes, even the hand that feeds them!

Having red painted toe nails, is according to my friend, a very bad idea as those would look just like candy to any little chipmunk.

At night one can feel safe though; then there is no activity on their side. But ... don’t get to comfortable - night time is just the changing of the guard!

I was also told, that in Vegas there are escalators moving in circles! Must have been an exciting trip!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I have just spent a few days in the woods. I saw a dead hare floating right next to the canoe. That was a bit horrid. A bloated hare in murky waters … I wonder how it died. Sitting at a fire under a tarpaulin, the rain pouring all around it, definitely wasn't horrid! Watching the shape of the whirls in the rapid water, to be able to determine where the rocks would be to be able to avoid them, was exhilarating! I saw quite a few beaver building-sites, but no beavers. Quite a lot of different birds nevertheless, which incidentally doesn't do a lot for me. Frogs do though! I think they are the cutest! It was to cold for the adders to show up. Nowhere for them to sunbathe. Not a lot of stairs at night; a few though which was nice.

I love spending nights outdoors. Knowing I'm going to spend the night, I am able to eliminate thinking about the experience ending, and thus enjoy it so much more. When I have that night in front of me, I sort of put everything worldly out of my mind; and that is just the greatest state! Bliss is to me when the biggest "worry" is finding a suitable place to make camp, or cook, or some other survive-for-the-moment kind of thing.

The very handy thing is that when that outdoor day comes, which hasn't got an outdoor night in front of it, it normally feels quite ok. This is when a warm shower, a nice sofa, a bit of Internet or going to the pub, suddenly seems like the most eternally wonderful thing ever.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Now, that woman is funny ...

In Mathematical Terms

My reservations towards utilitarianism began with ideas around presumptions on the values of lives, in accordance to democratic values.

The ethics of democracy says that every human life is equal in value. If every human life is equal in value, each life must have a consistent value. This consistency in one life’s value is in proportion to one human. One human - one life.

My assumption is that there is a conflict between this supposition and utilitarianism. The utilitarian theory would, as far as I can understand say that it would be a better deed to save ten lives than one.

My hypothesis though is that, because of the constant value of life, in proportion to each human, ten lives is not more worth than one.

(The fact that one human’s life can enhance the life of another human does not come in to this discussion)

Thinking about this I found it really hard to understand what I was actually after. While trying to understand, I thought maybe it can be explained in mathematical terms … I therefore phoned a friend of mine, whom is very clever with maths, and I explained my problem. He was actually the first one to seem to understand what I meant, and this rather swiftly. He then gave me a mathematical formula for explaining the phenomena: He said we have to start with a constant and this constant being one life. x in the equation is the number of lives.

The equation would be: “The constant times x divided by x equals the constant”

The motivation for this equation is that the life of one human being can not be more worth than a human. This is independent of if you talk of one human being or one hundred human beings it is still one life.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

To Walk Away from Omelas

What about that, eh! I have just stumbled on this parable dealing with the justice of utilitarianism. Just as I was gonna let go of the subject …! Ah, well then; just a little bit more …

The story is “ The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and it gives the setting of the town Omelas, a utopian place of happiness and delight. Everything at Omelas is pleasing and lovely, apart from the one thing: The happiness of the citizens is dependent on an unfortunate child being kept in filth, darkness and misery. All adult citizens know of the child, and they all know it has to be there, as all their good fortune is dependent on its misery.

Some of the people walk away from Omelas, as does the author by allusion, and the story ends.

"The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas."

Read Ursula K. Le Guins story at http://teacherweb.ftl.pinecrest.edu/crawfor/apcg/Unit1Omelas.htm

Le Guins story is variations on a theme by William James (1842-1910). He writes:

“Or if the hypothesis were offered us of a world in which Messrs. Fouriers's and Bellamy's and Morris's utopias should all be outdone, and millions kept permanently happy on the one simple condition that a certain lost soul on the far‑off edge of things should lead a life of lonely torture, what except a specifical and independent sort of emotion can it be which would make us immediately feel, even though an impulse arose within us to clutch at the happiness so offered, how hideous a thing would be its enjoyment when deliberately accepted as the fruit of such a bargain?”

It seems to me, that we should not be content until all are in Omelas. Further I don’t see what the big deal is. Why should it not be possible? For everyone to strive for the same thing there has to be a common principle. If the common principle is achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, it always allows for the miserable child of Omelas. If the principle is the idea of every life’s equal worth, we can not allow for any scapegoats.

Monday, May 15, 2006

And still ...

Dostojevskij was not very impressed with utilitarianism either. The grounds for his resistance towards it though, was as far as I can understand, rooted in romanticism, and thereby his arguments for rejecting utilitarianism very romantically influenced. He suggested people accepted the greatness of the country, the people and the tsar as part of the divine; an order to be accepted, with no room for rational questioning. I can’t say this is where I want to get! Rationality in truth-seeking is fun, and why not even desirable! D is not interested in any such nonsense. He reckons obedience and subordination is the only way towards good (as in vs. evil). He says further that we must rejoice in naivety in what reaching goodness concerns. He describes independence and rationality as the greatest hindrance in this.

D. apparently and further, sees man as the child of eternity, whom being lost was turned into the “desperado of eternity”. I sure wonder what he means by that!

Ah, well, it seems I will have to look further than Dostojevskij for an answer

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What is so good about utilitarianism?

It seems to me utilitarianism is somewhat overrated; I also find, that it appears to be connected to equality a bit too haphazardly. As far as I can see it doesn’t necessarily lead to equality as in levelling, whatever the resources are. I don’t understand what is supposed to happen to the poor sods that are left over when the “greatest number” has received “the greatest good”. Does utilitarianism promote happiness for the majorities, on the expense of the happiness of the minorities? Is it so, that if happiness is to be maximised, people that would be able to gain more happiness out of certain recourses, such as money, should have precedence to it, as the happiness would be maximised. As far as I can gather utilitarian philosophy would mean that it would be unreasonable to spend money on a small group of incurable people to achieve slight improvement, if this money could be used to cure loads of people with minor ailments. This seems to rhyme badly with standard ethics. It seems to me utilitarianism is a raw deal what concerns minorities, the very poor, the non intellectual and the incurably sick. It also seems to me that utilitarianism doesn’t take the individual into account, and that it even sanctions human sacrifice, when this would contribute to the overall combined benefit. Worst of all it seems to me to go beyond the principal of the sanctity of human life. Death penalty proponents are probably very often utilitarian, come to think of it. This is getting more and more barbaric! Considering utilitarianism is such an overall accepted philosophy, I now come to the conclusion that I probably have misunderstood it all.