Archive for ‘Philosophy’

May 8, 2018

Flower Power

Levitate the Pentagon

Flower power was a slogan used during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violence ideology. It is rooted in the opposition movement to the Vietnam War. The expression was coined by the American beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965 as a means to transform war protests into peaceful affirmative spectacles.

Hippies embraced the symbolism by dressing in clothing with embroidered flowers and vibrant colors, wearing flowers in their hair, and distributing flowers to the public, becoming known as ‘flower children.’ The term later became generalized as a modern reference to the hippie movement and the so-called counterculture of drugs, psychedelic music, psychedelic art, and social permissiveness.

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April 19, 2018

Falsifiability

The Logic of Scientific Discovery

A statement, hypothesis, or theory has falsifiability or refutability if there is the possibility of showing it to be false. It is falsifiable if it is possible to conceive an empirical observation which could refute it. For example, the universal generalization that All swans are white is falsifiable since it is logically possible to falsify it by observing a single swan that is not white.

The concern with falsifiability gained attention by way of philosopher of science Karl Popper’s scientific epistemology referred to as ‘falsificationism.’ Popper stresses the problem of ‘demarcation’—distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific—and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience.

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March 12, 2018

Precognition

Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab

Precognition (Latin: ‘acquiring knowledge’), also called ‘prescience,’ ‘future vision,’ or ‘future sight’ is an alleged psychic ability to see events in the future.

As with other forms of extrasensory perception (ESP), there is no reliable scientific evidence that precognition is a real ability possessed by anyone and it is widely considered to be pseudoscience. Specifically, precognition appears to violate the principle that an effect cannot occur before its cause.

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February 28, 2018

Bal Tashchit

Judaism and environmentalism

Bal tashchit [bahl tosh-keet] (‘do not destroy’) is a basic ethical principle in Jewish law. Deuteronomy 20:19–20 forbids cutting down fruit trees to assist in a siege.

In early rabbinic law however, the principle is understood to include other forms of senseless damage or waste. For instance, the Babylonian Talmud applies the principle to prevent the wasting of lamp oil, the tearing of clothing, the chopping up of furniture for firewood, or the killing of animals. In contemporary Jewish ethics, advocates often point to bal tashchit as an environmental principle.

December 16, 2017

Gingerbread House

Hansel and Gretel

gingerbread house is a novelty confectionery shaped like a building that is made of cookie dough, cut and baked into appropriate components like walls and roofing. The usual material is crisp ginger biscuit made of gingerbread. Another type of model-making with gingerbread uses a boiled dough that can be molded like clay to form edible statuettes or other decorations. These houses, covered with a variety of candies and icing, are popular Christmas decorations, often built by children with the help of their parents.

Records of honey cakes can be traced to ancient Rome. Food historians ratify that ginger has been seasoning foodstuffs and drinks since antiquity. It is believed gingerbread was first baked in Europe at the end of the 11th century, when returning crusaders brought back the custom of spiced breads from the Middle East. Ginger was not only tasty, it had properties that helped preserve the foodstuffs it was in.

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December 6, 2017

Justice as Fairness

John Rawls

Justice as Fairness: Political not Metaphysical’ is an essay by John Rawls, published in 1985. In it he describes his conception of justice. It comprises two main principles of liberty and equality (with the latter subdivided into ‘Fair Equality of Opportunity’ and the ‘Difference Principle’).

Rawls arranges the principles in ‘lexical priority,’ ordering them from most fundamental and prerequisite to least with the Liberty Principle first, followed by Fair Equality of Opportunity, and concluding with the Difference Principle.

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November 25, 2017

Best of All Possible Worlds

Problem of evil

The phrase ‘the best of all possible worlds‘ was coined by the German polymath Gottfried Leibniz in his 1710 work ‘Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil.’

The claim that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds is the central argument in Leibniz’s attempt to solve the problem of evil (i.e. why would a God that is all-loving, all-seeing, and all-powerful allow evil to exist). Historically, attempts to answer the question have been made using various arguments, for example, by explaining away evil or reconciling evil with good.

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August 18, 2017

Virtue Signalling

Slacktivism

Virtue signalling is the conspicuous expression of moral values done primarily with the intent of enhancing standing within a social group. The concept arose in signalling theory (the study of intraspecies communication), to describe any behavior that could be used to signal virtue—especially piety among the religious.

Since 2015, the term has become more commonly used as a pejorative characterization by commentators to criticize what they regard as the platitudinous, empty, or superficial support of certain political views, and also used within groups to criticize their own members for valuing outward appearance over substantive action. This more recent usage of the term has been criticized for misusing the concept of signalling and encouraging lazy thinking.

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July 20, 2017

Daedalus

Labyrinth

In Greek mythology, Daedalus [ded-l-uhs] (lit. ‘cunningly wrought’) was a skillful craftsman and artist in Greek mythology associated with the island of Crete, especially the labyrinth he built there to contain the Minotaur (part man, part bull). He is the father of Icarus (who flew too close the sun on wings his father designed), the uncle of Perdix (the mythological inventor of the saw), and possibly also the father of Iapyx (an Apollonian healer who aided Troy in the Trojan War).

Daedalus’ parentage was supplied as a later addition to the mythos, with numerous figures reported as his mother and father. Athenians rewrote Cretan Daedalus to make him Athenian-born, the grandson of the ancient king Erechtheus, claiming that Daedalus fled to Crete after killing his nephew Talos.

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March 13, 2017

Absurdism

myth of sisyphus

Absurdism is a type of philosophy centered on the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any. The conflict itself is called ‘the absurd,’ by absurdist philosophers.

Absurdists, most notably French philosopher Albert Camus, believe that when human beings realize this fundamental absurdity the most sensible response was to  accept the absurd, and also to keep trying to overcome it. He believed that a human being could become happy by finding meaning in their relationship with the absurdity of their existence. In acknowledging the absurdity of seeking any inherent meaning, but continuing this search regardless, one can be happy, gradually developing meaning from the search alone.

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February 26, 2017

Contrarian

SuperFreakonomics

A contrarian is a person that takes up a contrary position, especially a position that is opposed to that of the majority, regardless of how unpopular it may be. A contrarian investing style is one that is based on identifying, and speculating against, movements in stock prices that reflect changes in the sentiments of the majority of investors.

Contrarian journalism is characterised by articles and books making counterintuitive claims, or attacking what is said to be the conventional wisdom (a phrase attributed to Canadian economist and diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith) on a given topic. A typical contrarian trope takes the form, ‘everything you know about topic X is wrong.’

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February 14, 2017

Buck Passing

willard duncan vandiver

Buck passing, or passing the buck, is the act of attributing to another person or group one’s own responsibility. It is often used to refer to a strategy in power politics whereby a state tries to get another state to deter or possibly fight an aggressor state while it remains on the sidelines.

The expression is said to have originated from poker, in which a marker or counter (such as a knife with a buckhorn handle during the American Frontier era) was used to indicate the person whose turn it was to deal. If the player did not wish to deal he could pass the responsibility by passing the ‘buck,’ as the counter came to be called, to the next player.

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