(Talk at Oxford Karl Popper and Hayek Society.)
Emotion is often taken to be a source of bias that is devoid of thought and is therefore irrational and closed to reason and argument. However, the Stoics, the ancient Greek philosophers who developed propositional logic, argued that emotion and reason are entwined. The Stoics maintained that emotions are a product of the way we think about the world and our place in it. We have the emotions we have because of what we think is the case.
And so reason and emotions are not separate realms but are congruent. I like to put it this way: all thought is emotional and all emotion is thoughtful. It follows that if one changes the thought, one can change the emotion. Suitably targetted refutations of inaccurate beliefs or re-framing of our thoughts can disarm troublesome emotions.
Strong emotion may cloud our judgment and slow our appreciation of an argument’s ramifications, but as Shakespeare said, we work by wit and not witchcraft and wit takes dilatory time.
An immediate corollary is that emotion is no insuperable barrier to arguments for liberty and enlightenment.
(Talk hosted by the Oxford University Popper and Hayek Societies.)
[The sacred element brought in by poet and horseman for the Enlightenment, Alex Brocklehurst.]
The Sacred Element. A short story by David Ramsay Steele.
(Note. Before you watch the video, I invite you to prime your mind by first reading our philosophical comments here. In any case, do read them in conjunction with the video, as the whole is meant as an entertaining stimulus to thought.)
The Premise of the Story:
The Young Zeno, model BN.00001, an AGI simulating human trials and tribulations and their solution, creates a theatrical piece Moment to highlight the phases of his rational-emotive problem solving.
Humans cannot resist the temptation of creating autonomous Artificial General Intelligence, AGI. Even if they fail, they will learn more about themselves trying. But if AI is to be granted general intelligence, what of emotion? An important hurdle is a reconciliation between what is often thought to be the different universes of reason and emotion. Indeed the Enlightenment as the bastion of reason is often contrasted with Romanticism as the champion of passion.
A common traditional view is that thought comprises all that is rational: logic, analysis, planning and calculation; ...
"Even then you had to take a guest to the bathroom to tell him a
joke. You turned on the water full force and then whispered the joke. You even laughed quietly, into your fist. This marvellous tradition did not die out."
Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich.
Are we really at this point in the West?
Like jokes, music is universally a victim of totalitarian tendencies. In 2020 the Chinese Communist Party banned multiple classical pieces of music, deeming them religious in background, among which was Ludwig van Beethoven's wonderful Symphony No. 9, "Ode to Joy".
The human mind can’t help seeing meaning everywhere. We hear voices in the wind, see faces in the clouds. As the human mind can make anything into a sign for anything else, even works of art without textual accompaniment can appear suspicious to the totalitarian mind. Too much dissonance or a hint of the avant-garde or, at the other end of the scale, the minutest use of traditional motifs or structures (indicating a longing for the past) that the new ...
The Biden-Putin meeting, and two little-noticed summits initiated by Russia with India and China. The Annual Putin Speech, Ukraine, and India as a future colossal power, bringing its own character and aims to the international balance of power.
The geopolitical temperature seems cool enough for a peaceful Christmas.
"Jaw Jaw is better than War War."
Dr Roger Townshend, author of the book Axis Power: Could Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan have won World War II?
[A report by Roger Townshend, followed by Q & A with Alexander Brocklehurst and Ray Scott Percival.]
Historical analogies and comparisons to bear in mind in dealing with current sensitive points in international relations.
What was the Armistice?
The Armistice was the ceasefire that ended hostilities between the Allies and Germany on the 11th of November 1918. The Armistice did not end the First World War itself, but it was the agreement which stopped the fighting on the Western Front while the terms of the permanent peace were discussed. The Treaty of Versailles formally ended the War after more than half a year of negotiation.
Dr Roger Townshend,
author of the book Axis Power: Could Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan have won World War II?
Alex Brocklehurst, author of a chapter in the forthcoming book Jordan Peterson: Critical Responses. (Preface by Sam Harris.)
The Roger Report on international relations. This episode is about the tense relations between China and Taiwan, the CCP's taunting or probing of Taiwan's airspace.
When a person dies, a world is lost; when your parents die, the universe itself seems adrift. It's a time to reset perceptions and get back on course. It is a time to build new worlds.
I’ve been reading about the history of the Nuremberg code and it’s surprisingly interesting. The book is Nazi Medicine and the Nuremberg Trials: From Medical War Crimes to Informed Consent, by Paul Julian Weindling. It's a story of hard-won incremental moral progress.
This helped me express some key points when referring to the Nuremberg code.
When I read the code (attached below), I considered the spirit of the code and not just the letter.
Morality trumps legality: even if the code is not a legally enforceable document, it has great moral import. The Nuremberg code is part of our accumulated corpus of ethical thinking that we can draw upon in meeting new moral problems. The fact, emphasised by some, that it is not a legal document stating a law with ready enforcement mechanisms, ought not to distract us from its greater worth as a moral compass. And it, along with other documents has, since its publication in 1947, enriched the formulation of our moral and legal codes. Ideally, laws are ...
Defending the Enlightenment through animated philsophy.
"Animated" = Full of life or excitement; lively, vigorous.
"Philosophy" = Love of truth.
An autonomous life is one in which we can make a difference according to our own aims and plans. This is the personal aspect of the enlightenment. However, this is under threat from a perverted alliance of governments and the tech giants.
Enlightenment Defended will repel the dark nihilism of “post-truth”, woke culture, identity politics, and PC-Speak, which are feeding this rotten symbiosis of state and tech giants. To counter this backward step in our society, Enlightenment Defended will catalyse the bright flame of the enlightenment —liberty, reason and progress.
Enlightenment Defended will create a realm that frames our deepest thoughts about life through articles, documentary, animation, poetry, humour, music and myth and philosophical debate. People are many-sided in both apprehension and enjoyment.
Enlightenment Defended will ...