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Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

In my view, the answer to the question, “Why should one culture destroy another?” is short and simple: It should not. Why do humans repeatedly destroy the diversity that exists in this world? We kill off entire species of animals. We kill off entire human cultures. We commit genocide and ethnocide. We replace diverse crops with mono-crops. The picture that this creates is nightmarish. Are we really that apathetic that we continue to do these things day in and day out, year after year? What is at the heart of this evil?

In every instance named above, the answer points to power, money, and human greed, lawlessness, and injustice. Species of animals like the buffalo were nearly all killed for their hides–dolphins are killed at incredible rates today in Japan. Native cultures were consciously killed for their lands. Cultures are still vanishing today for land and resources; for instance, indigenous groups in Ecuador are being displaced by oil firms. The Nazi’s killed millions of Jews; the Jews now displace the Palestinians. Monsanto and other agricultural giants make mono-crops replace crop diversity. All these things relate back to a desire for power and money by a relatively small group. Meanwhile, the rest of us allow it to happen. We complain about over taxation; complain about the prices of goods and services; complain about unemployment and poverty; complain that minimum wage is not enough. The whole time, the majority allows the minority to rape the earth in the majority’s name.

We need change. We need to learn to respect. We need just laws and just people to live up to them. The time has come to re-evaluate our collective actions and reorient ourselves. Capitalist globalization threatens world diversity. We cannot have more of the same. The Earth’s diversity is vanishing because we allow it to happen. An alternative to Capitalism and its exploitative methods MUST be peacefully appropriated. The rich must not be allowed the fortune of excess; and the poor must not be allowed to die for our inaction any longer. The time has come for humanity to awaken and evolve. We need to realize who controls mass public opinion and how they do it. We need to learn to ignore what the most powerful responsible for the rape and pillage are saying to us; but we need to stop ignoring what they are doing to our planet and it’s inhabitants. The time for change is now. But how can we do it safely? How can we do it without violence? How can we do it and still remain safe from harms way? What type of system must replace the flawed one that now has hold of the world? These questions need to be answered first or the project is futile; greedy in and of itself; meaningless and dangerous. But to go back to the question that started this blog posting: I answered that we should not allow one culture to kill another. We must find a way to allow capitalism and capitalist culture to exist as well. However, we must not let it destroy everything in its path along the way.

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Birds sound the same as them. The way the notes travel up and down like teeter-totters and dip and twist like ballerinas dancing around each other; tongues–rolling like children down hills in the grass in the summer time. I understand some of what they say but only because I’ve been here with them for a while now. Languages are fascinating. The mind is fascinating because it can make sense of it all; at least enough sense that stories emerge and memories form, and ideas of what once were transform into ideas that are new and larger. The world is a puzzle with each piece a puzzle of its own. A language tells a story. The story becomes a piece of your thoughts. Your thoughts become who you are. I remember now what it was like before I spoke my first word. English no longer works the same as at home; it has become the baby babble that I once spoke before my native tongue. Instead, I am forced to re-learn how to speak. I am re-learning how to tell someone I’m hungry and what I want to nourish myself: I realize what I want is not always available to me. I am re-learning how to ask for a bathroom, to tell someone where home is. Home- I’m not quite sure I really understand that word anymore. What is home? Is it the place where I sleep at night? Is it where family is? Is it where I come from? Where I was born? Where I am now? I no longer know who I am because a piece of me is constantly changing. I am not the same and never will be. Only some distant memories allow me to realize that my past is the only constant and, therefore, I must have grown from what stays the same. Babble, I have become babble. I can no longer express my thoughts because I, too, do not understand myself. My thoughts have become babble for my ability to have thoughts has somehow surpassed my ability to comprehend them. What is home? Is it the language which I speak that defines home for me? Is home a place or is it a concept? Is home a feeling or a word? Did the concept of “home” become a word that became a feeling, or was it that the feeling became a concept that became a word? What is it that I am? Am I, too, like a home? Did the concept of “I” come, and then the word that became a feeling- or was “I” a feeling that became a concept that has now become a word? What therefore is a word? And what meaning does it have? I can understand the word for “home” in many different languages but what is so special about that word that makes me question my existence so? What is it about this different place that makes me wonder so tiresomely over words and meanings?

~Justin Allen Philcox

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In the 1980’s a group of Canada’s business elite set out to destroy government ownership of business and resources. This same group funded Brian Mulroney’s election campaign. Effectively, over the last several decades, the Washington consensus has taken a strong hold on our lives. The upper class that is so few in number fund our universities, our think-tanks, authors, the mass media…and in so doing, they effectively undermine what is best for the greatest number by educating the population that what benefits the upper class most, benefits the rest in society. This is a sham. Neoconservative and neoliberal ideologies make up the vast majority of what is there to choose from when it comes to voter choice. And when the population is socialized by those with the resources (and thus the power) to think the way that these elites want them to think, there is a SERIOUS problem with the efficacy and legitimacy of democracy as a government by the people for the people. Good government in a democratic nation ought to be contingent upon what is best for society as a whole and not just what is best for a small group with power and influence (the business elite).  As long as the population is educated to think that we must look out for the richest of the capitalist class first and foremost, society itself is on a path for disaster. Deregulation, as has happened increasingly throughout the world for the past several decades, is a path for disaster and it needs to be put into the forefront of world debate and discussion now before it is too late. Bailing out the upper class so they can remain rich at tax payers expense, when they make irresponsible financial decisions, is not good democratic government; it is a tyrannical oligarchy. The fact that there is still unsettling employment data speaks to the fact that even though the majority bailed the few out at the majority’s expense, the wealthy few are still unwilling to take some of the hit by employing  the people who lost their jobs because of the economic elite’s own negligence. We need to rethink this system; because it is not working fairly.  Why should a small few get rich if it results in a larger number growing poor?

~Justin Allen Philcox

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I realize that I have rarely written about certain aspects of philosophy in my blog postings to date. I do, however, try to find the time to examine philosophical issues that I am exposed to or think about. Philosophy is a love of wisdom. If I practice philosophy, I surely must think the thing that I love is attainable, i.e. wisdom. I think it is important to question what this existence is. Skepticism can be used as a tool to examine certain ideas. If there is reason to question, then questions should be asked in the pursuit of knowledge. Ignorance leads us down a dark path. If we can shed light on certain issues and realize the boundaries of our knowledge, we can then make more enlightened decisions.

My last blog, in which I asked if I can really know myself, was meant not as an end all be all solution to what the world around me is. It was meant to demonstrate, rather, that we usually only ever scratch the surface of things. With deeper inquiry we can realize that there is plenty about the world that we can know. For instance, I can know that I exist (Augustine, Descartes, etc.). I know that I can distinguish objects from other objects–things from other things. I know that, through experience, a person can gain vast amounts of knowledge about any given topic. I know that often the more experience a person has with something, the more they come to know that thing. I, therefore, am inclined to think that, since I have had all of my experiences with the world,  I ought to know myself more than any other thing in this world. I know myself more than anything else.

However, with the skeptical view in mind, I allow myself the benefit of a sort of dialectic. I pose questions about the world and discover answers. I can, in some way, converse with the world around me. I doubt something and then I find reasons not to doubt it. The other side of the coin would be to blindly place faith that my assumptions about the world are always correct. I err. I err so many times. I make mistakes and so does everyone else in this world. Mistakes in judgment allow people the opportunity to correct the way of thinking that led to such ill judgments.

I can play the skeptic. To do otherwise might be considered foolish. Questioning the legitimacy of beliefs can have positive effects. It can lead to a better understanding about the world around us. This is a deep complicated thing, life. It deserves inquiry at every turn.

That does not mean we should be always skeptical. Once something is learned it can become a part of your knowledge about the world. At such a point as knowledge is achieved it can be utilized–it does not need to be rediscovered again and again.

When I hint towards the idea that I can never really know myself, there is so much at play. It does not mean that I cannot know things. It does not mean that I cannot know myself. It means that I cannot know every minute detail. I can, however, choose to a certain extent which details I want to know about. I cannot know it all. Nor, do I want to. What would be the fun in knowing everything? If I were to know everything, there would be no fun in learning.

~Justin Allen Philcox

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Can I ever know myself? Can you know yourself? How about the objects and encounters with other living beings?: Can you ever really know them? These questions may seem silly. Please think for a moment about the screen in front of you that you are reading this from. Think for an instant about the chair you are sitting on. Can you ever know these things? We only ever see them in certain periods of time. European existentialist philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty would say we never see anything from all its various angles. We can imagine the underside of a chair–we can imagine what is inside of a computer screen. We can see, hear, feel, touch, smell, taste and breathe most moments of our individual lives. Can we really know those things in this existence that we interact with? There must be something about this life–this place–that we can come to know about it.

I see my chair. I can feel it under me supporting my weight. I assembled it out of the box. I spent time in this chair, sitting upon it; others have sat in this chair. How did this chair come into existence? Imagine the person who designed it. Imagine all the bugs that may have landed, or crawled, on it. Imagine all the places this chair has been. Maybe the materials to make it were shipped from Canada to China; then it was manufactured in China; designed in the US; and sold in Canadian outlets of US corporations like Walmart. The point of all this rambling is that I don’t really know the chair that I am sitting on. I don’t really know the computer screen in front of me. Hence, I don’t really know much about any of the things of my existence. However, I exist; I come to understand parts of the world through existence. I can never fully know all parts of the world. I can only know parts of things and fill in the blanks; in an attempt to understand the world I interact with and that interacts with me.

If my experienced existence is comprised of merely my interactions with parts of various things, then I am prone to err in my understanding of the world. If what all that I have said is true, then I base most of my judgments about the world on things I know relatively little about. I fill in the blanks, make stories about, create illusions about the other side of things which I cannot immediately be exposed to. It takes time to really get to know a chair–but we can never fully experience the chair from all angles or all times and spaces. We know the form of the objects in this world, in a sense; but we can never really know each particular part of these objects’ existence. We share but moments of our existence with everything we come into contact with. Moments of things. As Heraclitus would say, everything is in a state of flux; you can never set foot in the same river twice. If we try to measure flux, it will change in the process. Every moment is fleeting. With all this in mind, I ask myself, what do I really know?

~Justin Allen Philcox

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It is relatively easy for any of us to state our opinions about what the world ought not to look like. Not many of us want to see war, death, destruction, high taxes, joblessness; none of us wants to be a slave, nor homeless, afraid. Many moral, social, and political theorists have spent time and energy attempting the more difficult task of trying to express what the world ought to be like. From Plato to Aristotle, Marx, Mills, Adam Smith to Che Guevara, to Milton Friedman–all of them have attempted (even without success) to create a system that will overcome the ills in the world. It is a difficult task to espouse an entire theory of state or social and economic theory.  It is so easy to look around the world and see it’s problems. Solutions are always so much more difficult to come by.

I would like to say that I live in a world without poverty. War is greed. Success is defined too often by Bill Gates’ and not often enough by Gandhi’s. While I think it is important to acknowledge ideals,  I would like to avoid being overly idealistic because idealism must exist in the face of realism. I do not think that a social utopia is possible to achieve in a world with so many competing interests; but I do think we can do better. It is our duty as people to create the best possible world. Rather than tell you how we can make the world a better place, I would like you to tell the world how we can make it a better place. Please leave a link to an inspiring story (video, book, blog…etc.) in the comments box. This story should include something that would make this world a better place. How does it sit in the face of realism, that is, is it something attainable for the many? Be creative.

Thank-you for sharing your inspiration with the world.

~Justin Allen Philcox

Here is a link I have chosen in response:

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The other day I was tired and I could not find the energy for working on anything. I was in no particular mood for another mindless TV episode, nor did I have the desire to watch another pointless movie. I found myself digging through documentary films: a balance, I felt, between work and rest. It has been three days since I did so and the documentary that I decided on has left a searing impression on me ever since.

“Home” (2009), is a documentary that is both aesthetically wondrous and scorchingly eye opening. It is a film about the history of our planet; its growth, its evolution, its various inhabitants; plants, animals, and HUMAN. It is the history of life on our planet–from beginning to our present predicament. I found most scathing, the last 50 years: Humans have changed the face of this planet in ways that I was never, fully, able to realize until I watched this film. We have damaged our home in ways never before imaginable in the entire known history of the planet. I say all this and yet find my words greatly understate just how dire the situation has become.

It is not, as most documentary films of the sort have become, a demonstration of hopeless doom and apocalyptic gloom. Rather, this film shows possibility for human growth–promise for our future and our home before it is too late.

If there is one film you watch this year (only one film) this NEEDS to be it.

The internet has many places where you can find a free copy of it. There is ABSOLUTELY no excuse for not turning your attention to the place we all call home for a couple of hours. Sometimes, we all have to do a little house cleaning and this is, more than at any time in the history of the planet, the time we need it most. We are all responsible for the place we live. The project is immense, but this film offers us a glimpse and a rough road-map of the chores that NEED to be done.

If there is one little thing that I can do now, it is to stress the importance of this film as a wake-up-call. Please, if you have not yet seen this film take the time to view it as soon as you can. Please spread the word to other people to watch as well.

Thank-you for helping to make our home a better place,

~Justin Allen Philcox

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