Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Emo Jake

Oh my god. I'm listening to Kevin Smith listen to "Emo Kev" of his youth and its hilarious and something I can relate to in a deep way.  I don't mean deep as in "oh, I'm so profound."  Deep as in the connection is deep.  It hits something real.

I briefly looked at some of my past entries in my document folder and looking at myself even from three years ago is a trip.  I looked at an essay I wrote when I beat Super Mario World an it's a combination of analyzing the game and self-importance of both gloating that I beat the game and stating that this is a milestone in my life and needs to be documented.  The presumption in chronicling this is my life deserves to be journaled.

I took pride in the fact that I wrote more than fifty notebooks throughout my high school career.  Mostly full of sci-fi ideas and essays shitting on religion and other people.  Wish I had some wish me as I was in college so I could continue this stroll down memory lane.  A lot of people have selfies; I have fevered scrawlings where I unironically refer to Holden Caufield as a Stoic figure.

I look at that time in a loving yet mocking way, much like Kev does from his past.  There's at the most eight years between me and Emo Jake, when there's more than twenty between Smodcast and Emo Kev.

But I don't think in reality I've changed much and maybe ever will - regardless of this being a good or bad thing.  I looked at my past post and it got six views.  Which is hysterical.  I love the idea of an audience.  The idea that what I'm thinking and feeling, what I am, is worth witnessing.  Very Rousseauian.  Straight out of Discourse on Inequality.

My birthday was about a week ago.  So it's fitting I'd have this epiphany (if you can call it that) now.  Just a nice stroll down memory line with your favorite narcissist.

Apparently I'm giving something to the six of you. And that's nice.  But I'd be lying if I'd say I'm doing it for that reason.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Opening – Natural and Ethical Philosophy

Asides from a search for the truth for its own sake it appears that philosophy is motivated in two other ways:  for utility and for guidance.  Utility is fairly self-explanatory but by it I mean pursuit of knowledge that can benefit our lives.  By guidance I mean grounding what it even means for something to be of benefit.  Guidance on questions of purpose, ethics and goodness; what our lives should be rather than simply how to attain this undefined ‘ought.’
Natural Philosophy (incorporated by the sciences) seems talented in its task at providing Man the things it desires and giving accounts of the natural order of the world.  The development of ethics however, is not as clear as the natural sciences however because it deals with what cannot be easily verified through an instrument.  It deals with ideas of living that are personal and controversial, but it is these matters of what human nature is and how we are to live that makes any descriptive account of the world relevant.  Describing what is is not of significance if we do not know what is significant – what ought to be.
If philosophy exists in order for us to gain knowledge of this world and for us to live well in it then further endeavor in epistemology is no longer necessary and exploration of metaphysics (in the strictest sense) never was.  David Hume and those who follow in his notions of knowledge, idea formation and probability have provided an account of knowledge which has aided great minds in providing things of great utility (among other possibilities) to the human race.
If we examine the fields of knowledge, we find that broadly speaking the whole can be segmented into two:  knowledge of physical properties and knowledge of sentient beings.  This is not accepting Metaphysical Dualism despite its superficial similarity.  Instead, if we examine what men have learned throughout the centuries, it seems we have learned a great deal in regards to the properties bodies and substances appear to have and how to manipulate the physical order in order to attain our goals. 
How to attain the desired behavior(s) out of men and women and what even this desired conduct is however remains if not a mystery of philosophy then a failure in action and realization – for everyone despite their disagreements would agree that much of the world is not as it ideally would be[1].  If philosophy is to be practical it need go no further in the realm of bodies, for science seems to be doing its proper role in a way that the philosophers of centuries past could scarcely imagine.  Most would argue however that there is far more to alter in regards to ethics and politics (human conduct and organization) to achieve desirable conditions for humans and other inhabitants of the biosphere.
Though we need knowledge of ‘oughts’ to have any knowledge be of consequence, we also need knowledge of descriptive particulars for that knowledge to be of any use.  Practical wisdom entails knowing what is and what is achievable in what ought to be.  That is, it is an inherently pessimist account of “making the best of the non-best situation.”  Knowing we will never reach the ideal, but instead knowing the world, what is desirable and striving what is achievable or possible in the world rather than acting on the ideal (normative accounts) alone.  This is what religions are known to do which is why they often can achieve very little of their goals.  They are talented at achieving their political goals but not the ultimate ends of universal belief and goodness, because what they strive for is not only impossible but they make no legitimate attempts at attaining it.

[1] True, it by no way follows through the strictest reasoning that simply because all think the world is not ideal that the world is not ideal – everyone could be wrong.  But it does follow logically if we provide the normative claim that the world should resemble something that most people are content with as opposed to a world of suffering, randomness and injustice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

On Rene Descartes’ Fifth Discourse on Method

In Descartes’ autobiographical work (or a philosophical work which has an autobiographical structure to it) he outlines why he thinks a machine cannot convincingly simulate the actions of a man while it easily could a non-human animal (beast)[1].  He surprisingly conjures the possibility of a machine which looks exactly like a man and even is programmed (my words, not his) to speak a given phrase or expression which would be appropriate and therefore convincing in one situation but would not be enough to become convincing as a human being generally.  And this is true.  We see this if we imagine Abraham Lincoln automatons outside Mt. Rushmore who stand up, tip their hat and say in an earthly tone, “I was born in a log cabin in meager conditions, yet by the age of…”
However, Descartes commits two faults here – one obvious one not so.  The obvious one is his idea that a machine cannot think.  AI is not an idea that strikes him which is understandable because of his historical limitations and therefore we can excuse this minor error of his definition and conception of ‘machine.’  His second error is in believing that an automaton could not be convincing in a litany of scenarios.
For just as a computer can simulate chess, so I believe I could be playing a player in China when in actuality no such player exists, a computer can simulate a litany of games.  And just as a computer can simulate a litany of games so a computer can replicate without thought a litany of responses to a plethora of different chunks of audio (meaningless noise to the machine but generating a response nonetheless – the same way the body automatically responds to varying temperature and atmospheric pressure) in a way found convincing. 
Like a chess game, the majority of conversations often follow a certain pattern.  Each line of dialogue from each speaker can be viewed as a “move” (though I’m not sure what taking a chess piece would be in this analogy).  Moving pawn to D3 is equivalent to “how are you” and so on.  A machine could even be designed to unthinkingly listen to vocal cues and tone from the speaker and respond based both on the content and the form the content takes.  For just as an animal can “unthinkingly” survive in a litany of situations without thinking the words, “oh shit, wilder beast,” so a machine can replicate thought without actual being sentient.

[1] I paused here in particular in order to show that, if there were such machines having the organs and the shape of a monkey or of some other animal that lacked reason, we would have no way of recognizing that they were not entirely of the same nature as thee animals; whereas, if there were any such machines that bore a resemblance to our bodies and imitated our actions as far as this is practically feasible, we would always have two very certain means of recognizing that they were not at all, for that reason, true men.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pointless Update

Hey guys,

Trying to see if I'll be able to graduate on time with an emphasis on one of my degrees but its looking iffy. A lot of pre-reqs for the upper-level Psych classes I'll be taking.  If I can't then maybe I'll just get two regular degrees but it really would've been nice to have on the emphasis.  Oh well.

Haven't put a lot of time into my paper yet because I'm playing through Half-Life 2.  I plan on selling my Xbox but I need to play through this, Portal and play GTA MCX (joke more appropriate for Call of Duty but whatever) a bit before doing so.

I still have about a week and a half before classes and as long as I get a bit more done for my paper before then I'll feel accomplished.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

On Psychological Grounding of 'Ought' Child Rearing and Moral Education

It is clear we raise children with notions of “ought.”  We tell them they ought not to steal and they ought to treat their playmates in a certain matter.  But what message are we sending to children and what are we teaching them when we really teach them ethics?  Are we teaching them the “deep down” ought of what grounds morality, or are we giving them a list of do’s and don’ts and teaching them what they ought to do to avoid punishment and receive reward?  Can we ever truly teach ethical intentions, or is this something that is far more innate in people?
This is a question of motives and the generalizability of the human condition.  Are human beings all alike in their motives and core traits?  It’ been speculated that all will pursue pleasure and avoid pain if both rational and self-interested, but it seems that there are large portions of the population that fluctuate between these conditions.  Many people most of the time are entirely self-interested but there are those who routinely act out of a sense of the welfare of others.  Are they as they are because they were taught (or otherwise learned) this sense of concern for others or was it innate in them?
Most likely it is a myriad of factors which define almost every dimension of our being, but because this isn’t very satisfying I’m tempted to explain why it appears who we are in relation to others is largely innate.  Most if not all children are taught lessons in relating to other children and following rules.  Most children comply either in pursuit of reward or to avoid punishment.  But there are instances of children acting out of general goodness (concern for another’s well-being) or for some “inner reward” such as a feeling of pride when one does something challenging.  These motives exist in potential in nearly all humans but they appear to exist far more so in some than in others.  There are siblings that are raised in the same home and yet are radically different people; having entirely different states of mind when relating to people.
We must also look at the “rational” portion of rational and self-interested.  Dostoyevsky, the Russian novelist and precursor to Existentialist thought, argued that Man wants what he wants even if he knows that what he wants will cause him more pain than pleasure.  We are irrational, stubborn animals deep down, and what we long for we cannot choose according to a Utilitarian Calculus.
Both aspects can be seen in Hume’s Moral Sentimentalism.  Human beings are guided by the sentiments – not by reason.  Sometimes these sentiments are self-interested, at other times altruistic.  But they are regardless of the specifics what is at the core of our being.  What was given to us at birth and reinforced and molded through our life experiences.  We are slaves to these sentiments.  If a child follows his parents’ directives this in no way indicates an acknowledgement of the moral “ought” that the parents wish to transfer to the child – passive obedience and acting out of self-interest is just as if not more likely.
Aristotle argues that through habituation people can become virtuous and live the good life.  But someone must first be compelled to action before he can habituate himself to it.  If an animal in a cave never feels compelled to step into the day light and exercise his vision he will never be habituated to the light although sight is arguably fundamental to his flourishing. 
It’s a somber truth that our intrinsic desires and motivations have often little if anything to do with living a good life whether for ourselves or for others.  We are driven by innate impulses that exist for evolutionary reasons.  And although these impulses ensure the survival of the species, they in no way secure our happiness or prosperity individually or collectively.  This is largely due to the fact that happiness is negative in character – it involves an absence of pain and desire rather than something which exists in its own right.

Most of education is descriptive rather than normative.  And this shows in the Egoism of the citizenry.  Whether more efforts to normative questions and affairs would alter the motives of the citizenry remains to be seen.  If Aristotle and Plato are correct than moral education is what is lacking in our democracy.  If Hume and Schopenhauer are right than it is largely a fa├žade of our civilization, a false pretense and show we have and it is not moral education which is lacking but a proper form of government that is led by “gold-souled” individuals rather than through democratic means.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Beat Another Game

Just finished Sonic Generations.  Give it a B+ because while it does have both two D and three D levels its a little short and doesn't motivate you to get all the extras. Also no chaos.  And I love those things.  And by love them I mean love to throw them against the hall and watch them cope with ongoing trauma from continued abuse. 

Bought a lot of shit the last three months.  But have several ideas of papers to write so I've earned it in my book.