Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I'm interested in philosophy because it's about understanding the world and our lives. When we started the festival three years ago, philosophy was more likely to appear in Monty Python. It was a laughable matter, it was technical and analytical – not about our lives. Our aim is to overturn the current intellectually conservative environment, where ideas and philosophy are not valued or taken seriously. Our goal is to create an open, vibrant, intellectual culture which combines innovative thought with rich experience.
Poetry and philosophy matter in everybody's lives.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
- new street tree plantings are species from more southern ecosystems, eliminating the native white oak in favor of sweet gum.
- more street trees in business districts to help control run-off water and to cool the air.
- light-colored permeable pavers in parking and bike lanes to control run-off, to channel water to street plantings, and to lower the temperature.
- rubbery additives to pavement assist with expansion and contraction due to extremely hot and cold seasons.
- investing in air conditioners for public schools.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Of course it was wishful thinking for me to have suggested in my title that this could spell the end of all 'isms'. For there was bound to be one for the very point of view that I'm recommending. "A bloodless quietism" is how Crispin Wright has labeled it—"the bland perspective of a variety of assertoric 'language games', each governed by its own internal standards of acceptability, each sustaining a metaphysically emasculated notion of truth, each unqualified for anything of more interest or importance." Well, Crispin, sorry for being so anemic, boring, and effeminate...
Friday, May 20, 2011
"What should I do in the face of disagreement? Should I change my opinion just because you disagree? If I change my opinion just because you disagree, that seems kind of wussy. On the other hand, if I don't at least reconsider, that seems kind of arrogant. So what should I do: be wussy or arrogant? chuckle"Lackey: nervous laughter
Saturday, May 14, 2011
I recently wrote about Molyneux's problem (2 posts ago, see the long quote from John Locke).
I chanced on a wonderful book by Marius von Senden, called Space and Sight. . . . For the newly sighted, vision is pure sensation unencumbered by meaning: "The girl went through the experience that we all go through and forget, the moment we are born. She saw, but it did not mean anything but a lot of different kinds of brightness." . . . In general the newly sighted see the world as a dazzle of color-patches. They are pleased by the sensation of color, and learn quickly to name the colors, but the rest of seeing is tormentingly difficult. . . . The mental effort involved . . . proves overwhelming for many patients. It oppresses them to realize, if they ever do at all, the tremendous size of the world, which they had previously conceived of as something touchingly manageable. . . . A disheartening number of them refuse to use their new vision, continuing to go over objects with their tongues, and lapsing into apathy and despair. . . . On the other hand, many newly sighted people speak well of the world, and teach us how dull is our own vision.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Any great work of art — whether literary, philosophical, psychological or visual — challenges a humanist to be curious, to ask open-ended questions, see the big picture. This kind of thinking is just what you need if you are facing a murky future or dealing with tricky, incipient problems.
- thinking carefully about situations which involve complexity and ambiguity
- creative problem-solving
- clear writing and sophisticated oral presentation skills
- understanding the subjective perspective of other people.
- thinking for oneself and developing the courage to speak one's thoughts
We found that students concentrating in business related coursework were the least likely to report spending time studying and preparing for class. If one considers simply hours spent studying alone, undergraduates concentrating in business coursework invest less than one hour a day in such pursuits. Given such modest investments in academic activities, it is not surprising that business students show the lowest gains on measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
To which purpose I shall here insert a problem of that very ingenious and studious promoter of real knowledge, the learned and worthy Mr. Molyneux, which he was pleased to send me in a letter some months since; and it is this:- "Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal, and nighly of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt one and the other, which is the cube, which the sphere. Suppose then the cube and sphere placed on a table, and the blind man be made to see: quaere, whether by his sight, before he touched them, he could now distinguish and tell which is the globe, which the cube?" To which the acute and judicious proposer answers, "Not. For, though he has obtained the experience of how a globe, how a cube affects his touch, yet he has not yet obtained the experience, that what affects his touch so or so, must affect his sight so or so; or that a protuberant angle in the cube, that pressed his hand unequally, shall appear to his eye as it does in the cube."- I agree with this thinking gentleman, whom I am proud to call my friend, in his answer to this problem; and am of opinion that the blind man, at first sight, would not be able with certainty to say which was the globe, which the cube, whilst he only saw them; though he could unerringly name them by his touch, and certainly distinguish them by the difference of their figures felt.
John Locke's theory of ideas was that all of our most basic, simple ideas have their origin in direct experience. Thus, someone who is deaf and has not experienced sound cannot know what a musical note sounds like, and someone who is only mild-mannered cannot even imagine what a homicidal rage feels like.