Saturday, October 24, 2015

let there be trust in sky blue

Friday, the United Nations General Assembly marked the 70th anniversary of the UN with a declaration reaffirming the faith of the 193 member states that the U.N. charter unites all member states “in diversity beyond our differences of language, culture or religion, today as 70 years ago.” Around the world, over 200 landmarks were lit in UN blue.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Interview of Habermas on philosophy’s missions

In a recent interview (Web and PDF), Habermas emphasizes the importance of individuation:
...Every...step in the process of the socialization of a person, as they grow up, is simultaneously a step towards individuation and becoming oneself....reason does not lose the transcendental power of spontaneously projecting world-disclosing horizons. This 'creative' power of imagination expresses itself in every hypothesis, in every interpretation, in every story with which we affirm our identity. In every action there is also an element of creation…

Sunday, August 16, 2015

exobiology and the work of humanity

My interest in all things S.E.T.I. and extraterrestrial are philosophical and literary. I have good reason to want to give serious attention to related topics. But I’m kidding about contact with anyone who’s had contact with any beings. This is so needless-to-say! Part of my interest in exobiology and S.E.T.I. is why lack of local ET presence is clearly the case.

But a recent tabloid interview with an Apollo 14 astronaut is being picked up by non-tabloid sources, claiming that NASA has long known about an Earthly presence of ETs. I’m amazed to see my improvisational mind being “corroborated.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

intelligence of Earth

Relative to exoplanetary research, it’s appropriate to regard a life-bearing planet as a singularity. Our only example shows how intelligent life evolves into singularly caring for planetarity—Ours and Others, just as caring for other persons exemplifies the best of our humanity, which is always admired.

Relative to Our Anthropocenic condition, evolutionary engineering (in highly ethical senses) is how extinction level events are avoided, yet relative to designing how we are to flourish in Our evolving.

Relative to transnational Good (for the sake of Our evolving), global human development is a paramount value of economic health.

Monday, August 10, 2015

beings there?: ETs and the Silence

Last January, I had an exchange with science columnist Dennis Overbye at the NYTimes about his light-hearted Christmastime article on prospects for ETs to be found.

He responded graciously, saying that he wanted to follow up someday by writing about the Fermi Paradox. He did so, last week, in light of Stephen Hawking’s call for accelerated searching, and Yuri Milner’s pledge of $100 million to the cause. Overbye focused on pessimism toward SETI that is argued in detail by philosopher Nick Bostrom.

So, I wrote back today, after studying Bostrom’s case.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

being technically informed is not technocratic

Shortly after I did a short acknowledgement of the Vatican encyclical on climate change, I discovered that a philosopher whose doctoral background was intimately Habermasian criticizes the encylical—a mere one day after the encyclical was published—because he wants to promote his mastery of the economics of carbon credits (Joseph Heath, NYTimes, June 19).

Actually, his article is self-undermining (misreads the encyclical, thus doing a knee-jerk critique of a straw man, as they say). Also, carbon credits are not recommended by some leading policy researchers, such as Jeffrey Sachs; so, the matter has nothing to do with Catholic theology, contrary to Heath’s opinion.

Sachs notes, in his book:
Emissions permits may (or may not) give more predictability to the future quantities of emissions....[B]ut in fact permit systems are often not very credible, since an expected scarcity of permits (driving up their price) frequently leads governments to increase the allotment of permits. Taxes in general are much easier to administer, while permit systems are in principle easier to configure to meet special interests (e.g., specific favored industries can be given permits for free in order to delay their adjustment to alternative energy sources). [p. 436]
But Heath provides a good context for addressing the distance between pastoral appeal (bottom up, so to speak) and mechanics of expert public policy. Yet, the distance is appropriately large, and philosophical theory should need to comprehensively appreciate that distance. The hermeneutical challenge seems vertiginous.

I don’t know when I’ll take time to elaborate about this (importances of technological knowledge that don’t make public policy technocratic), but I’ve archived the “NYTimes Picks” of comments on Heath’s improvisation; so, there’s a good amount of material to work with, besides the very long encyclical.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

dialogue won't save “Our Common Home”

The Anthropocene results from everyone's ancestors. Its future belongs to everyone's children. Obviously: One Earth, one ultimately shared horizon.

The Vatican's Encyclical last month on climate change—"On Care for Our Common Home"—urges dialogue (35 instances of the term), whereas vital need is for trans-continental leadership between governments, which has been too slow for decades. It's nice, though, that the Encyclical was issued on Habermas' birthday, June 18. Happy trails, Jürgen!

The encyclical is complex. I won't give a knee-jerk reaction like some "experts" have done, a day after its publication. (I have in mind a particular philosopher's self-undermining view of the Vatican on carbon credits).

Monday, May 11, 2015

pointing man in a pointillistic land

Firstly, imagine a large-scale landscape, with rolling hills let’s say, but generally level—except that it has high hills, here and there, and a few that are very, very high: peaks. Now imagine this as a 3-dimensional graph of the flow of liquid, with vectors all over, like a weather map showing winds—concentrations of flows, when lots of vectors from distant points set up flows that tend to converge, and the more the convergence, the higher the hill or peak. Not a chaos of winds, but a higher concentration of flows that creates more serenity. The greater the flow toward one point, the higher the serenity. And the gods create the weather.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

being a spirited democrat

March 8 update

Here I’m just moving some spontaneous notes from my home page, preliminary to a page that gives credence and elaboration to the spontaneity below. That page is now done. Getting beyond the Feb. 8, 10, and 15 meditations below included important kinds of issues, worthy of elaboration—at book length, which I won’t make time to do. But I usefully got beyond the spontaneity. This posting is just a record of a week-earlier inspiration.

February 23

Whatever one’s critical insight (e.g., Critical Theoretical, deconstructive, Analytical), traditional terms may remain highly important, deserving to be advanced in new ways.

Monday, January 12, 2015

On not treating cultural resources as capital

The PBS News Hour today had an interesting video story titled “Investing in America’s cultural capital,” which was an interview of the chairpersons of the National Endowment for the Arts (Julia Chu) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (William Adams—who has a PhD in philosophy).

Below, Part 1, I extract the passages from the interview which most interest me; then, Part 2 is a copy of my extended “Comment” online at the transcript, which is the motivation for this posting. Part 1 provides context.

My very short Part 3, “progressive pragmatism as grounded idealism,” links to Adams’ NEH policy speech, Nov. 2014 (whose mid-parts I recommend), which I discuss briefly. And I link to the new NEH “Common Good” project, which I want to discuss later.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

fundamentalism and philosophy (as therapeutic)

Firstly, I want to distinguish fundamentalism from extremism. Fundamentalism is a way of understanding that’s not necessarily pathological, though it’s inviting to pathological persons because fundamentalism is simplistic.

Yet, good might be done by bringing extremism back from the jungle to a non-violent fundamentalism—which implies that violent mental illness can be healed. I would not claim that extremism is best healed through fundamentalism! But fundamentalism is not inherently disposed to violence. Extremism is best healed through, first, standard psychiatry (if not correctional services), then through long-tern psychotherapy, maturation of self understanding, and realistic education. Gaining (or re-gaining) authentic spirituality is a normal aspect of professional psychotherapy. Yet, fundamentalism isn’t yet authentically spiritual, I would argue.