Towards Better Democracy

Good words, well written, better the world. Good literature betters the world immeasurably.

Ian Ethan Case – Who’s There?


Ian Ethan Case – Who’s There?

Malcolm D B Munro
Thursday 7 February, 2019

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Filed under: art, life sciences, Literature, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

Remembering Dr. Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, a pioneer in population genetics


Remembering Dr. Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, a pioneer in population genetics

When Cavalli-Sforza began his work he was highly controversial, scoffed and scorned by the Academe, those involved in the field of Paleoanthropology.

Now, what was once regarded as the activity of a charlatan, is pursued with vigour by an army of scientists all over the globe.

Pioneers are seldom celebrated in their lifetime.

Malcolm D B Munro
Sunday 27 January, 2019

 

Filed under: art, Current Events, history, life sciences, Media, Memoir, Music, mythology, Paleoanthropology, poetry, songs, stories

Concept: We Can Conserve International.org


Concept

we conserve international.org – WCCI

“Let’s ensure, for our great-grandchildren, our great-great-grandchildren, and those far beyond them, a planet on which life is possible.”

The organization must not be a US oriented one. The organization must not be exclusionary but secular and above and beyond the petty rivalry of nation states. The mission must have the means to be universal and appeal to all who have the will and commitment to support it’s aims.

It needs to be said from the outset that any organization is doomed to fail at launch, or soon after, should that organization not have clear aims and goals. Every baby is born through care and attention.

The aim is simple: We can, as individuals world wide, significantly help reduce global warming. We cannot devolve to others, our would be leaders, what is ultimately our responsibility. We are not talking of using paper instead of plastic, laudable though such efforts are. No, we are talking of individual efforts initiated at a community level where people take charge of our future on the planet in their own way and within their own ability, reduce impact of the perils we face. The pyramids were built by thousands, albeit by slaves. Ants build vast structures.

The answer is simple: There are millions, billions, of people upon the planet. The combined effort of even a fraction of those can have an enormous impact. Far more than any corporation or collection of them, or of any government. The lack effort of these latter, in some cases, borders on the criminal were the means to prosecute implemented.

The means are simple: To reduce the waste in our lifestyles. We need not be frugal nor penurious, but modest and practical in the means that we adopt to lead a less profligate and careless lifestyle. For example, in the number of vehicles we own, and even a modest reduction in their use will, multiplied across the globe, have a significant cumulative effect. The small will be made great through sheer numbers.

The name of the organization is, at this stage, a working name. The International means that the organization is the platform for daughter organizations which are organized on a regional, country and local level which collectively combine to pursue the aims and objectives of the parent organization.

The governance of the organization will be developed as the concept, the project, moves forward. To do this, best practices will be adopted from elsewhere. We are not going to reinvent the wheel.

The organization’s mission is to be supported by the wealthy of the world. By wealthy is meant relative to the poor, hungry, disenfranchised and dispossessed of the world.

There is no reason on this earth why such latter individuals should not join in the efforts spoken of here. But simply that their contribution will be different in kind. After all, the organization seeks to act to preserve their interests, as well as others, in what surely lies ahead in terms of global warming. It is you who are worst affected by the prospects of results of global warming. But the organization will gain value should any of you choose to participate. Minds and action are equal, hungry or not.

To those reading this, I say: Should you own your own home or rent it, have a job and have some sense of security, you are wealthy in these terms. You have the power and ability to conserve which  is what the organization is all about, guiding and harvesting those efforts.

The organization recognizes, and wishes to respond to, the call for action in an effort to halt and, perhaps, even reverse current trends which indicate the destruction and and annihilation of our home, this earth. This language might seem to be hyperbolic but it is not. The present prediction of ”… by 2030 such and such will happen,” or “… by 2050 the world will be …” lie too far into the future and, given the universal habit of procrastination, “… oh, we have plenty of time ,,,”, we will not act. More immediate dates and targets, more realistic ones, need to be adopted, at least by this organization.

The concept of  We Can Conserve International.org imagines a nonprofit organization which acts as a magnet to draw to it those citizens, wherever they live on the planet, who wish to contribute, as citizens. to the reduction of global warming. Such citizens understand, and are rightly alarmed at, the prospect of our total self-destruction.

We Can Conserve International,org serves as a platform to provide information and guidance – and harvesting the results and effects of such efforts – as to how citizens, as individuals or locally organized groups, can make a significant difference in reducing, and even reversing, the trends we are currently witnessing in the destruction of fellow species, ice melting, and sea and ocean temperature rises, and the desertification of some parts of the world. Such citizens who are drawn to We Can Conserve International org are informed and alarmed at the prospect of what the data trends we are told of by scientists and concerned organizations, terms of the data, the scientific evidence which shows with absolute charity the perils we face., who are wish and are willing to lead or help lead the organization into the real world.

Global worming is not a matter of belief. The facts are too numerous and multifaceted to not be true. Hard scientific evidence is not theological. And the studies have been carried out over a large span of time. How much evidence do you need to know that we are the guilty party. Of course, were this not true, we would not have been, and largely still are, in denial.

Should we continue on our present course (see the references below) without effort to reverse it, we face a dire world which at some point, sooner than we presently predict, will result in the total destruction of all life on our planet.

We, those of us who wish to, can make a difference, a significant, if not profound, difference. Should individual and community groups act, then the possibility exists of billions of people all over the planet achieving what corporations and governments can never achieve. We can conserve without being frugal, without greatly affecting our present lifestyle however and whatever that is, with notable exceptions; the powerless, the hungry, the disposed and displaced, we can recognize that we are profligate, create vast amounts of waste without thought. Citizens, filling the recycle bins is not enough. Doing good with good intentions is futile. What is required is a change of heart, a fundamental recognition that, in the end, we are all species, we are inseparably part of all life forms. We are not superior. We suffer from hubris and are alone among our fellow species in our wanton self destruction. No other species acts as we do. We are out of kilter, possibly even, out of control.

­This is a launch document in preliminary draft form. The intent is to draw others who wish to have a hand in the formation of the organization so that its realization is not the result of a single person.

Those interested may contact the author through comment on his blog, Towards Better Democracy, malcolmdbmunrodotorg

Copyright the Author. Protected under the Copyright Laws of the United States. Unauthorized use constitutes theft.

Malcolm D B Munro
Tuesday 22 January, 2019

A few references

  1.  We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN\
  2.  Climate Change
  3. Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC / Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  Date: 2018

 

 

 

 

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Kellie Rucker – Blues is Blues


Kellie Rucker – Blues is Bluess

Malcolm D B Munro
Sunday 18 Novmeber, 2018

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50% off or more – Autumn Sale of Fine Art Work


SALE
Saatchi Art

Malcolm D B Munro
Wednesday 10 August, 2018

Should you be interested in purchasing more than one work, please contact the art through the Comments column of this blog.

 

Filed under: Archaeology, art, Arts, Book Review, cells, Current Events, Cytokines, English poetry, Eternailities, Eternalities, German literature, history, Internet threats, life sciences, Literature, Media, Memoir, Music, mythology, Paleoanthropology, poetry, Proteins, songs, Startup companies, stories

The mind problem: the body knows better


With only the mind we humans would be utterly impoverished. With only a mind we would be dumb beasts of burden. And not the Supreme Beings we consider ourselves to be.

As noted elsewhere, René Descartes did humanity and science a disservice.  In conceiving the mind as being separate from the body, he postulated a view which has been absorbed into the language as a concept: that the mind is not connected to the body, is not a part of it. The effect has been destructive because an erroneous view has been adopted in lay thinking and that has paralyzed scientific and philosophical thought. The lay view has been absorbed into a world view because the educated view has said this is so; that the mind is separate from body, that there is a divide between it and its parent.  This is very far from the truth. No body, no mind.

Descartes has been accepted, hook, line and sinker, without further thought. His view has not been developed. As with any genius, and René Descartes certainly was, and his ideas brilliant. But not all of them. Those ideas and concepts are not in toto correct. Few views so presented are.

The views held by Aristotle form the basis of the Scientific Method. For example, he came up with concepts and a perceptual view of the world which has been of inestimable help to humans, given that we are on an endless quest in understanding the phenomena we perceive around us. As such, or as importantly of all, we are indebted to him for his naming more cogently, more understandably, than any previous to him or amongst him, our perception of the world. For, as much, if not all, of the phenomenal is cloaked in myth, little of what we see will be understood. (In fact much knowledge still unexplored by us with our mind = body problem is contained in myth. But that is another story.)

For example, Aristotle posited the concept of the monad, a word used in the quotation above. We do not use the word monad; the writer of the quotation does. We understand the word atom instead. In doing so we particularize a word and make it more understandable. Of course we could use his word. No reason why we should not have done so, but we have not. We have chosen the word we use because we wish to differentiate what we mean from what Aristotle meant. We intend precision, we find Aristotle vague. For us, well maybe, we use atom because we can define what we understand an atom to be, of what it comprises. For that we have a theory. What Descartes’ mind – body thing is a belief. Hence us swallowing him whole. We believe him. Contrariwise, Dalton’s theory can be supported by evidence. At least until such times as contrary evidence is produced. None have been so far.

Descartes’ believe still grips us in its spell and we are hypnotized by it, as by the stare of snake.

And here we can point to a broad problem which we will explore either in this essay or, perhaps, in another. For now, we frequently, in order to describe something we don’t have a name for use metaphor. This means of naming is inappropriate in its use to attempt to point to something we don’t have a name for since the metaphor has no real referent. (Mind you the simile is far worse.)

In all that I have said so far, I am talking in the way that Descartes did and as most philosophers have done and still do.

So sum up where we are at this point in the discussion, Descartes treated the mind essentially as if the body does not exist. I think the body does exist and the mind is inexorably a part of it. The damage done is illustrated by the fact that we have a bunch of philosophers have invented a study called Theory of Mind. While there is to a certain extent validity in it, and it is certainly intellectually stimulating, such a field of inquiry as so conceived, will always be a reductio adsurdum as much as talk of the soul is – another orphan term. Thankfully we do not have a philosophical field of inquiry into the theory of the soul. Not as far as I know. We leave that to Religion and stay well away despite Aristotle attempt to lure us into doing so. We have Dark Night of the Soul (La noche oscura del alma) and long may it remain there.

But in this essay we are not going to talk of the Mind – Body Problem because no problem exists. The problem is of a different kind. This problem is that we have no language with which to talk philosophically as to what the body consists of, or, perhaps as some philosophers would put it, what the body consists in.

The essay will only, within reasonable length, be able to point to the problem and say that it exists. To more fully explore this problem would take a far longer essay than I intend this one to be, a paper, or, maybe, the chapter of a book.

Let’s have a look at some attempt at saying what the body is. What we might find are definitions or descriptions. Let’s see. But bear in mind that we wish to describe the body philosphically.

Philosophers believe the body as any material object is with our perception. Its basic properties are the size, mass and impenetrability. Phenomenologists distinguish the human body [From what? The body is distinguishable? True, it is not a ghost.], called body-subject, because it is related to subjectivity [What? Is not the body an object? Objectivity is possible, surely. We do not usually talk of the body subjectively unless it is to say, “I feel hot.” Things like that]. The classic question is the relationship of body and soul [Soul? Relationship. I thought this paragraph is about what the philosophy of the body is. ]. Some, like Spinoza think this report in the way of unity (monism), the other on the dual mode (parallel) [The sentence is ungrammatical and not really subject to analysis. Still talk of unity is useful. Dual mode is not. A philosophy which does not define terms is hardly a philosophy. At least Descartes elaborated on what he meant.].

The square brackets in the quotation are mine. I chose this particular definition because it contains within an important word in it: unity. And this is the central point. There is a unity in all phenomena which refer to the body. If the mind is separate from the body, it does not exist. If you are going to talk of mind in relationship to the body then you must ipso facto accept that the mind is a part of the body, however abstract we think the mind is. Monism has to be where it is at. There is no philosophy that truly embraces dualism. If we do accept this view, then we back where we started, Descartes and the Mind / Body problem.

Now if we accept that the idea of mind is a nonphysical entity. the answer would be yes. However, as with science’s rejection of monad and use of atom instead, we say that we can make mind a physical thing, then I say we can. At least, neuroscience can say, “This is mind. These are the neurons that operate the mind.” At this point we are saying that mind is much like consciousness; consciousness as opposed to unconsciousness; awareness as distinct from unawareness., “Do you realize what you doing?”

We have now moved a long way forward. At least we recognize that consciousness is in some way a part of the body. We can say this because we have an opposite. The body is not thought of as being in opposition to the mind. Though psychologists would certainly point to a state of being where it is. But that is from a medical point of view, though an interesting one, nonetheless.

The essay does not really honour its title. Because it will only argue that the mind is not the best or only means by which we an conduct inquiry. In fact, the point is to say that, to use a term I dislike, we can engage in whole body thinking and achieve a far better understanding of world and what are its constituents. For we barely understand, taking only a logical or analytical view of it. Our understanding is limited terribly if we do. We see this in the limits we are reaching: black holes, dark matter, the futher reaches of the atom, the depths of the cell and so on.

Hence, the body thinks better than the mind. Thinks? Ah, there we have it. Language begins to break down. Our philosphical vocabulary with regard to the body is poor, close to nonexistent. Without terms we can describe nor discuss anything. In the phrase, “The cat sat on the mat.,” we are simply teaching grammar or whatever this pedagogic phrase sets out to do, we are teaching concepts. Cat, mat. Physical things, true. But all language, all languages do that. There is no need to teach such stuff in school. We learn it on the street, in the fields. People spoke grammatically long before grammar began to be taught in schools. But, like Tartuffe’s Dupe, we never knew we spoke prose. Why did we need to know?. We were fluent without it.

The human body is the entire structure [An erroneous term if we are defining what the body is. We might better say: structure and envelope, unless the skin which encloses the body is thought of as a structure, which it is. The structure of the skin is one of a collection of cells organized in a particular way. But this misses out by not identifying function. Both building and bridge are structures but that does not say what a bridge nor a building. A better definition, and a better, simpler one would be to say that the body is a structure composed of cells, groups of which have different functions, these groupings depending on function.] of a human being. It is composed of many different types of cells that together create tissues and subsequently organ systems [System is a good word to describe the body, but only if we think of the body as a system of systems; biological systems not manufactured ones.]. They ensure homeostasis and the viability of the human body. [The examples chosen are an indication of the quality of content available on the Web where much intellectual discussion is contained in blogs. Nothing wrong with that. But, supposing you wished for more substance you will not find it. Even sites putting themselves up as being souces of knowledge are shallow and are rags compared to the riches that come from a publisher such as Oxford University Press or that of Harvard. I say this as an aside because, if we are to become more and more reliant on the Web, even more than we are at present, what we find and will continue to find is pretty thin gruel.]

This definition is broadly a medical one and not a philosophical one. We could discuss the body as phenomenon. But that is not what we are going to do.

Instead, in order to conclude what must be a short essay, we are going to point to other modes by which the body apprehends phenomena; intuit, perceive. imagine. conceive: (There are many more.) states which might be thought of as states of mind but are not. Often we are told, “Empty the mind, your awareness and understanding will be greater.” The body not only knows better than the mind, it thinks better.

Malcolm D B Munro
Sunday 10 June, 2018

Footnote: The essay is based on no single source nor sources and is stand alone. The example of The Philosophy of the Body, poor though it is, illustrates the paucity of material thrown up in a single Google search. Ah the perils of any reliance on the Web. A glaring example, surely, of why books in printed form will exist for a very long time. Mind you, it, the Web, is good at answering the question, “What’s for supper tonight.”

 

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