Tag: Philosophy

You and Other People – Drama and Character

…the distinction we live with each day remains simply that between oneself and other people. And the primordial group of other people – our family  – makes up the original cast of characters in the drama of life, a drama that we keep on reviving later with more and more people cast for the same few parts. As for oneself, one is the invisible man. One cannot see oneself, one can only see those with whom one has chosen to be identified.

The raw material of character, then, is not very raw after all. It has already been worked over. It has already been turned into a kind of art: the art of fantasy. Life is a double fiction. We do not see others so much as certain substitutions for others. We do not see ourselves so much as others with whom we are identified. When Plato said we see, not life, but shadows of life flickering in the firelight on the wall of a cave, he was an optimist. Or perhaps he made allowances for the extraordinary distortions and suppressions of shadow play.

Eric Bentley. The Life of the Drama
From chapter 2, Character

Weber’s Iron Cage

In sociology, the iron cage is a concept introduced by Max Weber to describe the increased rationalization inherent in social life, particularly in Western capitalist societies. The “iron cage” thus traps individuals in systems based purely on teleological efficiency, rational calculation and control. Weber also described the bureaucratization of social order as “the polar night of icy darkness”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_cage

You’ll never understand how politics works if you don’t understand Anna Nicole Smith

After a lecture, David Rieff, perhaps America’s most important writer on humanitarian issues, made this surprising comment: “You’ll never understand how politics works if you don’t understand Anna Nicole Smith.” What could Anna Nicole Smith have to do with politics—or brain scans, for that matter? Abundant clues to the answer could be found on any TV channel that night. There were viewers calling in, recounting their emotional responses to Anna Nicole’s life and death. Most of them were women, mourning her, idolizing her. To others, she was a gold digger, an empty-headed celebrity, a celebrity only because she was a celebrity. Her life and death resonated so profoundly with so many people because she exemplified a remarkable variety of narratives. Those narratives exist outside the body – in our culture – and inside the body – in the very building blocks of our brains. David Rieff was completely right—understanding the importance of Anna Nicole Smith will help us understand politics.

Lakoff, George. The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics 

Rene Girard Interview – Entitled Opinions

René Girard: Why We Want What We Want

Saturday, September 17, 2005
Description of show:
“MIMETIC DESIRE IS AN ABSOLUTE MONARCH.” –RENÉ GIRARD

“Know thyself.” It’s not an easy proposition. As Entitled Opinions host Robert Harrison says, “To know yourself means, above all, to know your desire. Desires are what lurk at the heart of our behavior. It’s what determines our motivations. It’s what organizes our social relations. It’s what informs our politics, religions, ideologies, and above all, our conflicts.”

In this conversation, Harrison talks with Stanford’s expert on human desire, René Girard, whose work on the subject was rooted in literary criticism, but eventually reached across disciplines to embrace anthropology, sociology, history, religions, and even the hard sciences.

Girard began his work in the 1960s with a new concept of human desire: our desires are not our own, he said, we are social creatures, and we learn what to want from each other. He has been called “the new Darwin of the human sciences” and was one of the immortels of the prestigious Académie Française.

Their 2005 interview discusses envy and desire in literature — in Canto V of the Inferno, in Cervantes, Balzac, and Flaubert, but most of all in the plays of Shakespeare. They also discuss the role of vengeance as an act of mimetic rivalry, “snobbery” as a form of imitation, and the “sacramental” nature of advertising today. “If you consume Coca-Cola, maybe if you consume a lot of it, you will become a little bit like these people you would like to be. It’s a kind of Eucharist that will turn you into the person you really admire.”

Ultimately, they talk about the mimetic escalation of warfare, Girard’s late-life fascination with the war theoretician Clausewitz, and the need to renounce violence.

Entitled Opinions
with Robert Harrison

Pascal Pensee – 147

We do not content ourselves with the life we have in ourselves and in our own being; we desire to live an imaginary life in the mind of others, and for this purpose we endeavor to shine. We labour unceasingly to adorn and preserve this imaginary existence, and neglect the real. And if we possess calmness, or generosity, or truthfulness, we are eager to make it known, so as to attach these virtues to that imaginary existence. We would rather separate them from ourselves to join them to it; and we would willingly be cowards in order to acquire the reputation of being brave. A great proof of the nothingness of our being, not to be satisfied with the one without the other, and to renounce the one for the other! For he would be infamous who would not die to preserve his honour.

Project Gutenberg

Context Collapse

As social beings, we adapt our communication to the situation at hand — the “context”.

If you’re a 25 year old student attending University, then you probably talk about different topics, use a different vocabulary, phrase yourself differently and in general behave differently in these situations:

  • A thanksgiving dinner with your parents, siblings and grandparents.
  • A pub-crawl with friends your own age that you study with.
  • A private conversation with a small handful of close friends of yours.
  • A political meeting discussing policy in a political party you’re a member of.
  • Colleagues and/or bosses that you talk to during your part-time job.

Context collapse is what happens when all these widely different social contexts all collide.

If you share something on Facebook with the default “Friends” setting, then you’re effectively sharing it with ALL of the groups above and more. Your different contexts have collapsed and become one; and you might find that you don’t have a lot to say that you’d really like to share with ALL of these people.

Quora

Places in The Pilgrim’s Progress 

  • City of Destruction, Christian’s home, representative of the world (cf. Isaiah 19:18)
  • Slough of Despond, the miry swamp on the way to the Wicket Gate; one of the hazards of the journey to the Celestial City. In the First Part, Christian falling into it, sank further under the weight of his sins (his burden) and his sense of their guilt.
  • Mount Sinai, a frightening mountain near the Village of Morality that threatens all who would go there.
  • Wicket Gate, the entry point of the straight and narrow way to the Celestial City. Pilgrims are required to enter by way of the Wicket Gate. Beelzebub’s castle was built not very far from the Gate.
  • House of the Interpreter, a type of spiritual museum to guide the pilgrims to the Celestial City, emblematic of Calvary and the tomb of Christ.
  • Hill Difficulty, both the hill and the road up is called “Difficulty”; it is flanked by two treacherous byways “Danger” and “Destruction.” There are three choices: Christian takes “Difficulty” (the right way), and Formalist and Hypocrisy take the two other ways, which prove to be fatal dead ends.
  • House Beautiful, a palace that serves as a rest stop for pilgrims to the Celestial City. It apparently sits atop the Hill Difficulty. From the House Beautiful one can see forward to the Delectable Mountains. It represents the Christian congregation, and Bunyan takes its name from a gate of the Jerusalem temple (Acts 3:2, 10).
  • Valley of Humiliation, the Valley on the other side of the Hill Difficulty, going down into which is said to be extremely slippery by the House Beautiful’s damsel Prudence. It is where Christian, protected by God’s Armor, meets Apollyon and they had that dreadful, long fight where Christian was victorious over his enemy by impaling Apollyon on his Sword of the Spirit (Word of God) which caused the Foul Fiend to fly away. Apollyon met Christian in the place known as “Forgetful Green.” This Valley had been a delight to the “Lord of the Hill”, Jesus Christ, in his “state of humiliation.”
  • Valley of the Shadow of Death, a treacherous, devilish Valley filled with demons, dragons, fiends, satyrs, goblins, hobgoblins, monsters, creatures from the bottomless pit, beasts from the mouth of Hell, darkness, terror, and horror with a quicksand bog on one side and a deep chasm/ditch on the other side of the King’s Highway going through it (cf. Psalm 23:4).
  • Gaius’ Inn, a rest stop in the Second Part of the Pilgrim’s Progress.
  • Vanity Fair, a city through which the King’s Highway passes and the yearlong Fair that is held there.
  • Plain Ease, a pleasant area traversed by the pilgrims.
  • Hill Lucre, location of a reputed silver mine that proves to be the place where By-Ends and his companions are lost.
  • The Pillar of Salt, which was Lot’s wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. The pilgrim’s note that its location near the Hill Lucre is a fitting warning to those who are tempted by Demas to go into the Lucre silver mine.
  • River of God or River of the Water of Life, a place of solace for the pilgrims. It flows through a meadow, green all year long and filled with lush fruit trees. In the Second Part the Good Shepherd is found there to whom Christiana’s grandchildren are entrusted.
  • By-Path Meadow, the place leading to the grounds of Doubting Castle.
  • Doubting Castle, the home of Giant Despair and his Giantess wife, Diffidence; only one key could open its doors and gates, the key Promise.
  • The Delectable Mountains, known as “Immanuel’s Land.” Lush country from whose heights one can see many delights and curiosities. It is inhabited by sheep and their shepherds, and from Mount Clear one can see the Celestial City.
  • The Enchanted Ground, an area through which the King’s Highway passes that has air that makes pilgrims want to stop to sleep. If one goes to sleep in this place, one never wakes up. The shepherds of the Delectable Mountains warn pilgrims about this.
  • The Land of Beulah, a lush garden area just this side of the River of Death.
  • The River of Death, the dreadful river that surrounds Mount Zion, deeper or shallower depending on the faith of the one traversing it.
  • The Celestial City, the “Desired Country” of pilgrims, heaven, the dwelling place of the “Lord of the Hill”, God. It is situated on Mount Zion.

wikipedia

AlDaily – Desultory Selection, October 4, 2020

How to think about disaster. Accepting one’s place in a vast, complex, and violent world is healthier than it sounds… more »

When William James gave up on religion, he went in search of a new avenue to save his life. Can his approach help you save your own?   … more »

What Joseph Brodsky was able to set in motion: “Not the limits of a meager idea, but the activity of thought itself.”  … more »

Beware the reflexivity trap — the notion that awareness of a fault absolves one of that fault. It is rampant in millennial fiction… more »

Why we hoard. Stuff attracts more stuff, and accumulation has a powerful logic rooted in history and biology   … more »

Go forth and get you some learnin -> aldaily

Tacit knowledge and IT

Tacit Knowledge

Tacit knowledge (as opposed to formal, codified or explicit knowledge) is the kind of knowledge that is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it. For example, that London is in the United Kingdom is a piece of explicit knowledge that can be written down, transmitted, and understood by a recipient. However, the ability to speak a language, knead dough, play a musical instrument, or design and use complex equipment requires all sorts of knowledge that is not always known explicitly, even by expert practitioners, and which is difficult or impossible to explicitly transfer to other people.

– Wikipedia.

How much of working in an IT environment is tacitly learned? How much of that can be made explicit?

A common one – learning how the existing software works is often tacit. You get a ticket to modify some existing functionality. How it currently works, how it’s supposed to work, how to run it, what problems are known vs what problems are new. How often is all that directly explained?

Semantic Polarities – Ugazio, Parks

“Valeria Ugazio’s book Semantic Polarities and Psychopathologies in the Family: Permitted and Forbidden Stories proved particularly useful. Ugazio considers the construction of identity in terms of a number of “semantic polarities” (fear/courage, good/evil, success/failure, belonging/exclusion) and suggests that in each family of origin one criterion of value will tend to be hierarchically more important than others in the way people talk about and assess each other. As a result, it becomes a matter of urgency for each individual in the group to find a stable and comfortable position in relation to this dominant polarity. Is it, for example, more important in this family to be seen as independent and courageous, or as pure and good, or as a winner? Wherever and for whatever reason an individual is unable to find a stable position—perhaps he or she wishes to be good but simultaneously yearns for transgression, or desires intensely to belong but then feels diminished by inclusion in the peer group—this can lead to the kind of conflicts and oscillations we associate with mental illnesses, or again with the tensions and ambiguities we find in creative art.”

Parks, Tim. Life and Work: Writers, Readers, and the Conversations between Them