Sunday, 19 October 2014

Overlooked miracles

Wrapped up in our quest for thrill and excitement, we overlook the real unmatched wonders of this world, the wonders that have the advantage of having happened.

 Stupefied by our constant hunt for thrill, excitement and entertainment, hungry for stories of the supernatural and easily misled by false visions of the transcendent, we fail to recognize the genuine wonders.

  Consider this. Has it ever occurred to you that the world humans inhabit is one made of a very strange fabric? Future prospects, real and false memories of the past, religious believes, hopes, ambitions, prestige, status, power structures, norms, laws, hierarchy are all the driving force behind our actions not only on individual level but also in case of human groups. Whole societies and nations are animated by the same kind of fictitious structures whether these are collective myths, nationalism or supernatural tales. Granted, these haven't emerged in some sort of vacuum. They have their neural and hence biological basis. Nor do they override the physiochemical laws of the world in which they play out. But this shouldn't distract us from realizing the oddly fictitious nature of the human experience. Our world is to a large degree a mental construct.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Sam Harris versus Dr. William Lane - Debate: Is Good from God?

   Not long ago I came across an interesting debate on the foundations of morality which took place at Notre Dame University in 2011. The audience witnessed a rhetorical duel between two proponents of conflicting views on the issue: Sam Harris representing a secular approach and Dr. William Lane defending the Christian stance on morality. Personally I was left with the impression that as the debate unfolded, the speakers were drifting away from one another and it concerns in particular Sam Harris who unfortunately failed to point out the most obvious weaknesses of his opponent. I warmly recommend you to watch the entire discussion. What follows below the video is a handful of reflexions on what should have come across in the debate but did not.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The specter of reductionism or do things shrink once measured?

  It is be a bit of a commonplace to say that humans often act and reason on irrational premises. We often follow double standards when making judgements and are thoroughly inconsistent when we act. Our wish to have the cake and eat the cake is proverbial. But apparently none of these is so obvious as to not to be worth mentioning. One of such inconsistencies is following one particular cognitive strategy in our daily lives but opposing it when it comes to some emotionally charged issues.

Back in the garden

  Remember that garden you used to wander in as a child? It seemed to extend over a vast space and its dark recesses hid many a mystery. Its corners, the thick shrubbery, trees and other elements of its enigmatic topography were the scenery of epic and exciting stories such as battles and exploratory expeditions. Maybe it was not a garden but a park or a yard or maybe your flat? Common for all such places where one's childhood played out is that for many they have shrunk over time. Or to put it more precisely, the sense of vastness and the unfathomable quality such places possessed have vanished.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Cognition, belief and old Czech movies

The role of belief in cognition is a fascinating question I have pondered over a couple of times. But for some reasons It was only recently I decided to come to grips with it. What gave me the incentive was the lecture “Jesus, the Easter Bunny, and Other Delusions: Just Say No!” given by Dr. Peter Boghossian of Portland State University. 

Or maybe more precisely it was one the questions asked during the question and answer session following the talk and which was not properly addressed either for the lack of time or for some other reason. A person from the audience suggested that beliefs must play a vital role for atheists as well.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

A letter to Dovid Katz or twisting the history

Sometimes it takes one ill-placed word to cause a good deal frustration. I was only couple of days ago that I came across a man named Dovid Katz. The fellow is heavily engaged is what is called a double-genocide debate but for me Katz will stand for frustration brought about by one little mention in his article in the Guardian.

Dear Dovid Katz,

  Today when browsing the Internet I accidentaly stumbled upon an assertion I had never expected I would stumble upon in any reasonable newspaper. I quote:

"But what I can testify, after many years of talking to Lithuanians, Latvians, Belarusians, Poles, as well as Jews, is that, believe it or not, there is a common memory of the war here having started in 1941 – while the events of 1939 continue to be recalled as a nearly bloodless changeover of regimes that was either despised or cherished depending on one's ethnicity"
                                                             Dovid Katz "Why red is not brown in the Baltics"