Taoism. As I already mentioned, I watched the Avatar series and now I’m strangely interested in Eastern philosophy. Taoism to be more specific.
Taoism is based on the Tao, or the Way, which is the source and drive of everything. The founder of Taoism, Lao Tzu, did so with the key literature of the religion or philosophy, whichever you want to call it, the Tao Te Ching. Another contributor to Taoist literature, even if he wasn’t aware of it, was Zhuangzi.
Taoism isn’t an institutionalized religion, like the Church, but consists of teachings. This is so because the religion is very separated, but small family institutions exist. The oldest one being the Celestial Masters School. The priest are called Daoshi.
One of the principal tenets of Taoism is Wu Wei, or non-action. In other words, action disrupts the universe’s harmony and therefore is against the Tao, so they do not take action, that way they can be close to the Tao and the state of Ming (enlightenment). Another tenet is the Three Jewels; Compassion, Moderation and Humility. And Naturalness, basically being what you are in essence, without the influence of culture. Taoism is very close to the School of Yin-Yang.
The obviously most important symbol of Taoism is the Taijitu, or the Yin Yang. It represents the existence of opposites, but that its wrong to call them that because they are complementary. Differently from what our mathematical reasoning tells us, opposites do not destroy each other, but in fact one cannot survive without the other. The Ba Gua is another symbol, consisting of eight trigrams representing eight elements in terms of yin and yang.
In Taoism there isn’t a god like in most western religions, but rather they have a pantheon, and, depending on the school, they have different deities. Popular Taoism has the Jade Emperor as principal deity, but intellectual Taoism, like the Celestial Masters, have Lao Tzu and the Three Pure Ones as the head deities. The Three Pure Ones are the manifestation of the Tao. In the Ba Gua it is said that the limitless (Wuji) created the limited (Taiji), and the limited created two forms, Yin and Yang.
Taoist normally practice two martial arts, Tai chi and Baguazhang. Both are internal martial arts and very interesting. That is all I will mention, but if you are curious and want to read the Tao Te Ching, I exhort and welcome you to do it. And remember to ask.
“لو حاورت ألف عالم لغلبته .. ولو حاورنى جاهل واحد لغلبنى ..”
“If I debate with one thousand scholars, I would win…. If I debate with one ignorant, I would lose”
I know you will think this is mean, but this is true in so many human interactions.
(Source: thirdworldtraveler, via yanagoveg-deactivated20121130)
Movie to watch: The Fountain
The Fountain, my favorite movie. Darren Aronofsky, as director, shows us in this movie the life of Dr. Thomas Creo, a researcher, who is looking for a cure for cancer, as his wife has brain cancer. Not only that, it also presents us with Creo’s wife’s book, a story in the past of a man searching for immortality, and in the future as Creo is the last man on his way to Xibalba. A great insight to Mayan mythology and existentialism. I love it, so please watch it!
Free Will, the ability of a subject to choose from a group of things or actions. We as humans, seem to posses it, common sense tells us so. But do we really have free will? There’s science behind that.
Philosophy has undertaken the task of seeking answer, even were we didn’t think possible. When we think about free will, we only have four philosophical solutions; Hard Determinism, Compatibilism, Hard Indeterminism and Libertarianism. The thing is, the four, being different and contradictory, are correct. As we have no way to test them we can only assume that the logical one is correct, and years of scientific and philosophical scrutiny have made sure that they are all logical.
Determinism is just a cool way of saying that in the world there is cause and effect. Something will have effects, which will cause something and the effects of that will cause another thing, etc. Logically, Hard Determinism tells us that everything is determined, ergo we have no free will. Logical, right? If everything is determined how can we choose? It was determined I would drink Sprite instead of 7-up, so how could I exercise free will if I would still end up drinking Sprite? A very nice example is the movie and book The Time Traveler’s Wife (Pretty nice book btw).
Hard Indeterminism says that we have no free will, but nothing is determined. How? Well, the world is too complex, and things are up to chance. But chance decides for us, so there is no space for free will. And that sucks.
Compatibilism says that everything is determined, but we can still have free will. But how?! Everything is determined, and we have a will to choose what we want, but we do not have the will to choose what we want. That makes no sense! Simpler: We already have a predetermined taste, and the future can predict what we will choose, so he determines the future using our tastes, and is never wrong. We can will what we want, but we can’t will what we will, and time uses that advantage.
Libertarianism is the idea of the simple-minded. It simply states that nothing is determined, therefore we have free will to choose what we want and create our own destiny. If you want to compare it with its archenemy, Hard Determinism, watch The Time Traveler’s Wife and then watch The Butterfly Effect. Libertarianims believes in destiny.
The four theories, in theory, are logical and therefore true for now. What we need is a time machine to know. In Back to the Future, McFly learned that Libertarianism is the way to go, since he could change everything. (Philosophy is in the most unusual places). But in The Time Traveler’s Wife, Henry finds out its the exact opposite. I sincerely believe in Compatibilism, as I have free will, but I know that the choices I am going to make are already made.
Please ask and comment! I want to know what your philosophical stand point is and why!
Newton’s laws of Motion: Action-reaction law
The Action-reaction law is the third law of motion proposed by Newton. Quite simply; “Law III: To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, or the forces of two bodies on each other are always and are directed in opposite directions.”
This means that when an object is pushing another, the other object is also pushing the first object, but the acceleration is different which is what makes one dominate over the other.
As these are laws, they can be observed everywhere, but I have never seen a law so easy to prove. It is not only in physics you see this, but in ordinary life. A perfect example, when a father abuses of his son. Depending on the “acceleration” of their characters, the kid can turn out to be mild, shy and depending (where the father dominated) or the opposite can happen, he can turn out strong, bold and rebellious. This happens in all our lives, we are, either a copy or the opposite of our parents’ characters.
When someone screams, we either plug our ears or scream louder. In the literary world, when ideals flood the world, there comes another apparently weak idea, which reacts to the first idea and can get to overpower it. The fight against a rational industrialization was romanticism, the fight against an overpowering church was renaissance. A tyranny inspires revolution.
A decision will have its consequences, either good or bad. Those consequences are the reactions to our actions. Our mistakes and our accomplishments are actions, we must hope the reactions a positive. But for that we must act, and now, before inertia settles in on our minds and memories.
If you need, you can ask.
Lex III: Actioni contrariam semper et aequalem esse reactionem, sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse aequales et in partes contrarias dirigi.
Newton’s laws of Motion: Second Law
Newton’s Second Law of Motion
Law II: The alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impressed; and is made in the direction of the right line in which that force is impressed.
The law simply states that a certain force will move an object a certain space, and double that force will move it double the space. It will remain in a straight line, unless some other force is at work.
Its really difficult for me to talk about this law more philosophically because I consider it quite arid. I can see it basically says that some objects will need more force to pushed than others, but that that force will yield its reward. So when you consider it futile to stand up to someone, you are wrong, because it will cause an effect, minimal as it may be. Still, if standing up doesn’t work its probably because you aren’t applying enough force. And that force you haven’t added will yield its reward once you apply it.
Lex II: Mutationem motus proportionalem esse vi motrici impressae, et fieri secundum lineam rectam qua vis illa imprimitur.
Movies to watch: The Matrix triology
The Matrix triology, I don’t really need to tell you much of this one. It tells the story of Thomas A. Anderson, alias Neo, a computer hacker mystified by the search of the meaning to cryptic references to the matrix. Trinity, another hacker, tells him to consult Morpheus. Morpheus then, after escaping from agents, offers him two pills, one to go back to normal, and the other to know the truth. After Neo chooses to know the truth, he finds himself in the real world, which is now run by machines, built by humans but that had now enslaved them for thermal energy.
You all remember the movie as the craziest action movie of your time. But that is completely wrong. Action is just collateral damage of the beautiful construction of the movie, from the Wachowski brother (incidentally the screen-writers of V for Vendetta). The movie’s motive is of presenting another philosophical stand-point. Watch the movies, comment, ask. I can’t wait to talk about the movies.
Newton’s laws of Motion: Law of Inertia
Sir Isaac Newton was a physicist, philosopher, astronomer, mathematician, among other things, and one of the most important things that he did, apart from discovering gravity, was to compile the three laws of motion in the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Those laws are very important for physics, but me, who always sees it in a different light, think that they are important in every thing.
The first law of motion is as follows: Law I, Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except in so far as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed. The Law of Inertia. Its credit is actually given to Galileo, by Newton.
The law simply states that a object in motion will remain like that until someone makes it stop, or a object in rest will stay like that until its made to move. That is why the Earth doesn’t stop going round and round the Sun. That is why a basketball rolling stops (it was at rest, a force moved it, and another force made it stop).
We as humans, also have our speed and motion. Our minds move at a certain speed. As Einstein said: “Necessity is the fuel of inventive.” Our minds go at a certain speed, until a psychological or physical force make it change, in this case necessity. Our attitude is the same way. Someone that isn’t willing to do anything will stay like that, until an external force makes him willing to. We need an external influence to change ourselves.
Looking at it in a bigger scheme, everything is still subject to that law. Abuse doesn’t stop until an external force makes it stop. Who will make that bully stop if it isn’t me? Who will stop the economic abuse if it isn’t me? Or looking at it on the other light of the law, who will make our civilization advance from its standstill?
Inertia isn’t only a physical effect. It’s psychological, economical, political, sociological, philosophical, spiritual, personal. Only when we are on the verge of some calamity do we move forward. It doesn’t need to be like that. There doesn’t have to be a dangerous external influence. Can’t the influence of historical education teach us that we have to seize that force before we have to fear it? Indifference causes more indifference, apathy causes more apathy, violence more violence, war more war, poverty more poverty, richness more richness, hate more hate,… but love, more love. We don’t need an earthquake to start charity, we need the will, which is an external influence in its own.
Physics can sometimes be the most important education of all.
If you need to know something, ask. Break the inertia.
Lex I: Corpus omne perseverare in statu suo quiescendi vel movendi uniformiter in directum, nisi quatenus a viribus impressis cogitur statum illum mutare.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
Plato in his book The Republic used this allegory to illustrate a person’s reaction to some very specific circumstances. This allegory is presented by a dialogue, from Socrates, Plato’s teacher, and Glaucon, Plato’s brother.
Socrates starts by posing a scenario, where people were tied up, unable to move, from childhood, with their heads fixed to be kept looking straight at a wall in front of them. Behind them there was a fire and a raised walkway, where people walked, carrying different things. Socrates suggests that these people would take the shadows for reality, just like the echoes, instead of taking them like reflections of reality. Socrates then states another situation. In the case where some of these people were liberated, they wouldn’t be able to recognized those things which cast those shadows, and would consider the shadows more real. And when they were struck by the fire, they would turn away to the shadows. They would be angry if someone dragged them out of their reality, even if it isn’t THE reality. But then, that freed person would consider himself happier than those in the shadows. He would pity them for their ignorance. Even if he tried to go back he wouldn’t be accepted, since his eyes were corrupted by reality. Socrates even goes on to say that they would kill the man that tried to take them up to reality.
The message in this allegory is more than direct. He states the case where we are stuck in a false reality, and then taken out into the real reality. But… is this the real reality? Yes, you may say. But… didn’t they think that too? We may never know if this is real or not. But in this allegory, Plato states different effects of that. Some people will want to remain ignorant, crouching down, hiding in the shadows while he knows that the sun shines over the Earth. Others will embrace reality and pity those who are still in the shadows. When Socrates says they would put to death those who tried to liberate them, who did he mean? Well, those who have already been liberated! Once they embrace reality, and pity those in the shadows, they will try to liberate them. But they will think him to be corrupted, and will reject him, an try to put him to death. They will not believe in enlightenment, just in the shadows. Would you accept reality?
If you want to know anything, just ask me.
Epimenides was a Cretan philosopher circa 600 BC. In a poem proposing that Zeus, against popular belief, was immortal, Epimenides wrote; “The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!”. From there was derived the paradox; Epimenides was a Cretan who made one immortal statement: “All Cretans are liars”. Analyzing the paradox you can see that a Cretan says all Cretans are liars, therefore that statement made by him is untruthful. But implying that that means that all Cretans are truthful is wrong since that would make the statement a lie and make Epimenides a liar. What you can imply is that some Cretans are truthful and some are not. But then, you can imagine, it would not make sense since Epimenides specifies that all Cretans are liars, not just some. Therefore there is no logical answer to the paradox. Its just a paradox.
If you have any questions (even if they are unrelated), ask. I will find the answer for you.
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