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Peace On Earth A Wonderful Wish But No Way

(category: Philosophy, Word count: 626)
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When asked, "If you could wish for one thing only, what would that wish be?" almost everyone; from beauty pagent contestants, to politicians, to religious leaders, to children, to the average person on the street states, "Peace On Earth" or "An end to all wars". Those wishes, while exemplary, are meaningless. As long as humans exist there will never be peace on earth.

Throughout the history of humankind there has never been peace on earth. Cavemen fought other cavemen over territory, food and even women. Cain killed Abel over God's respect. Gabriel blew down the walls of Jericho. America fought the Revolutionary War for freedom and brother fought against brother in our Civil War for more freedom. There have always been wars and there will always be wars.

As long as humans can think, there will be wars. Wars over such concepts as freedom, honor, dignity, etc.. Wars over territory, greed, power, prejudice, etc.. War is a part of human nature. For example, every human being is prejudiced. If they don't like some race, nationality or religion, they don't like short or tall or fat or skinny or smart or not smart or loud or quiet people. Some people don't like children, some people don't like old people, some people don't like people with pets, or people that play their music too loud, or bad drivers, or people that believe in God or people that don't believe in God. What is right and proper to some people can be wrong or even enraging to other people.

Religion can not stop wars, in fact many wars are fought over religion (Note: I believe that religion is used as an excuse for war not the real reason for war.). Christians fought against Muslims during the Crusades, Many Muslims want death for all non believers. The Catholic Church killed heretics during the Inquisition. The Nazis killed millions of Jews and then started killing Catholics. The Russians under Stalin killed anyone even remotly religious. Protestants killed other Protestants for being the wrong type of Protestant. Muslims killed Muslims for being the wrong type of Muslim. Don't forget about Atheists (I believe that Atheism is also a religion, it is a religion of non belief.), Stalin was an Atheist and wanted to get rid of all religion. Most of China's leaders are Atheists and have jailed and killed huge numbers of religious people. History is rife with various types of religious battles.

The main reason for war, however, is the lust for power. The power to make others do and believe as you do and believe, the power to make other people render unto you what you believe is rightfully yours, the power to make other people treat you as you believe you should be treated, the power to gain what you want (ie: money, love, respect, etc.), the power to punish others for doing things that you don't believe they should do, the power to keep other from having things or thoughts that you don't have. In other words, the power to be, in some ways God, to make everyone else in your image with you as their ruler.

As long as people have the ability to think, there will be greed, envy, prejudice and anger. As long as those things exist, there will be wars. Most people believe, either religiously or secularly, in the rules set down in the Ten Commandments, but very few people can follow those rules all of the time because our ability to think causes us to want. Wanting causes us to break some or all of the rules. Humans are not perfect. If they were they would not be human.

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The Emerald Buddha

(category: Philosophy, Word count: 338)
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The Emerald Buddha is a figurine of a sitting Budha, that is the is the palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand. The Buddha is made of green jade, suprisingly not of emerald, clothed in gold is approximately 45 cm tall. The Buddha is kept in the Chapel of the Emerald Buddha, which is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Legend tells that that the Emerald Buddha was created in Pataliputra, India, which is now the city of Patna in 43 BCE by Nagasena. Other great historians beleive that it belongs to the Chiang Saen Style of the 15th century. The legend says that, it remained in Pataliputra for 300 hundred years, until it was taken to Sri Lanka to save it from a civil war. It was then in 457, that King Anuruth of Burma sent out orders to Ceylon to ask for the Emerald Budha and Buddhist scriptures. These actions took place by the king, to try and support Buddhism in his country. This request was granted, however the ship that was brining the Buddha to Burma, became lost in a storm and ended up in Cambodia. The Buddha made it's way through several hands after that: Ayutthaya, Kamphaeng Phet, Lao and finally Chiang Rai. It was finally in Chiang Rai that the ruler of the city hid it.

It wasn't until 1434 that sources indicate the resurfacing of the statue in Northern Thailand. There is one story about the discovery: "lightning struck a pagoda in a temple in Chiang Rai, after which something became visible under the stucco. The Emerald Buddha was dug out and the people thought the figurine was made from emerald, hence its current name."

Although, the Buddha is just a simple jade statue, it is dressed with garments that are made of fine gold. The Buddha's clothing are changed by the King of Thailand, to celebrate the chaning of seasons. This occurs three times a year: 1st Waning of Lunar Month 4, 8 and 12

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Fact And Truth

(category: Philosophy, Word count: 1285)
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Thought experiments (Gedankenexperimenten) are "facts" in the sense that they have a "real life" correlate in the form of electrochemical activity in the brain. But it is quite obvious that they do not relate to facts "out there". They are not true statements.

But do they lack truth because they do not relate to facts? How are Truth and Fact interrelated?

One answer is that Truth pertains to the possibility that an event will occur. If true - it must occur and if false - it cannot occur. This is a binary world of extreme existential conditions. Must all possible events occur? Of course not. If they do not occur would they still be true? Must a statement have a real life correlate to be true?

Instinctively, the answer is yes. We cannot conceive of a thought divorced from brainwaves. A statement which remains a mere potential seems to exist only in the nether land between truth and falsity. It becomes true only by materializing, by occurring, by matching up with real life. If we could prove that it will never do so, we would have felt justified in classifying it as false. This is the outgrowth of millennia of concrete, Aristotelian logic. Logical statements talk about the world and, therefore, if a statement cannot be shown to relate directly to the world, it is not true.

This approach, however, is the outcome of some underlying assumptions:

First, that the world is finite and also close to its end. To say that something that did not happen cannot be true is to say that it will never happen (i.e., to say that time and space - the world - are finite and are about to end momentarily).

Second, truth and falsity are assumed to be mutually exclusive. Quantum and fuzzy logics have long laid this one to rest. There are real world situations that are both true and not-true. A particle can "be" in two places at the same time. This fuzzy logic is incompatible with our daily experiences but if there is anything that we have learnt from physics in the last seven decades it is that the world is incompatible with our daily experiences.

The third assumption is that the psychic realm is but a subset of the material one. We are membranes with a very particular hole-size. We filter through only well defined types of experiences, are equipped with limited (and evolutionarily biased) senses, programmed in a way which tends to sustain us until we die. We are not neutral, objective observers. Actually, the very concept of observer is disputable - as modern physics, on the one hand and Eastern philosophy, on the other hand, have shown.

Imagine that a mad scientist has succeeded to infuse all the water in the world with a strong hallucinogen. At a given moment, all the people in the world see a huge flying saucer. What can we say about this saucer? Is it true? Is it "real"?

There is little doubt that the saucer does not exist. But who is to say so? If this statement is left unsaid - does it mean that it cannot exist and, therefore, is untrue? In this case (of the illusionary flying saucer), the statement that remains unsaid is a true statement - and the statement that is uttered by millions is patently false.

Still, the argument can be made that the flying saucer did exist - though only in the minds of those who drank the contaminated water. What is this form of existence? In which sense does a hallucination "exist"? The psychophysical problem is that no causal relationship can be established between a thought and its real life correlate, the brainwaves that accompany it. Moreover, this leads to infinite regression. If the brainwaves created the thought - who created them, who made them happen? In other words: who is it (perhaps what is it) that thinks?

The subject is so convoluted that to say that the mental is a mere subset of the material is to speculate

It is, therefore, advisable to separate the ontological from the epistemological. But which is which? Facts are determined epistemologically and statistically by conscious and intelligent observers. Their "existence" rests on a sound epistemological footing. Yet we assume that in the absence of observers facts will continue their existence, will not lose their "factuality", their real life quality which is observer-independent and invariant.

What about truth? Surely, it rests on solid ontological foundations. Something is or is not true in reality and that is it. But then we saw that truth is determined psychically and, therefore, is vulnerable, for instance, to hallucinations. Moreover, the blurring of the lines in Quantum, non-Aristotelian, logics implies one of two: either that true and false are only "in our heads" (epistemological) - or that something is wrong with our interpretation of the world, with our exegetic mechanism (brain). If the latter case is true that the world does contain mutually exclusive true and false values - but the organ which identifies these entities (the brain) has gone awry. The paradox is that the second approach also assumes that at least the perception of true and false values is dependent on the existence of an epistemological detection device.

Can something be true and reality and false in our minds? Of course it can (remember "Rashomon"). Could the reverse be true? Yes, it can. This is what we call optical or sensory illusions. Even solidity is an illusion of our senses - there are no such things as solid objects (remember the physicist's desk which is 99.99999% vacuum with minute granules of matter floating about).

To reconcile these two concepts, we must let go of the old belief (probably vital to our sanity) that we can know the world. We probably cannot and this is the source of our confusion. The world may be inhabited by "true" things and "false" things. It may be true that truth is existence and falsity is non-existence. But we will never know because we are incapable of knowing anything about the world as it is.

We are, however, fully equipped to know about the mental events inside our heads. It is there that the representations of the real world form. We are acquainted with these representations (concepts, images, symbols, language in general) - and mistake them for the world itself. Since we have no way of directly knowing the world (without the intervention of our interpretative mechanisms) we are unable to tell when a certain representation corresponds to an event which is observer-independent and invariant and when it corresponds to nothing of the kind. When we see an image - it could be the result of an interaction with light outside us (objectively "real"), or the result of a dream, a drug induced illusion, fatigue and any other number of brain events not correlated with the real world. These are observer-dependent phenomena and, subject to an agreement between a sufficient number of observers, they are judged to be true or "to have happened" (e.g., religious miracles).

To ask if something is true or not is not a meaningful question unless it relates to our internal world and to our capacity as observers. When we say "true" we mean "exists", or "existed", or "most definitely will exist" (the sun will rise tomorrow). But existence can only be ascertained in our minds. Truth, therefore, is nothing but a state of mind. Existence is determined by observing and comparing the two (the outside and the inside, the real and the mental). This yields a picture of the world which may be closely correlated to reality - and, yet again, may not.

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Philosophy As A Science

(category: Philosophy, Word count: 523)
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Philosophy is considered a science but it is difficult to say, when one has to compare with an ordinary science, for example biology, or chemistry. This is a question that turns into a burning problem among the scientists and linguists all over the world. Can philosophy be a science? What does philosophy operate with? It operates with categories, which can be as wide and as interchangeable as one can only imagine. Ordinary science operates with definitions, which are quite limited in their field of research. Ordinary science uses terms and laws of that very science to continue the research, uniting with the others in very rare cases. Philosophy gets into the sense of every science trying to achieve results.

We also can not call philosophy a supra-science, for it also uses hypothesis and arguments to state the opinion. But there is the obvious thing: there are now laws in philosophy and never will be, for the science changes with the age, the needs, beliefs and requirements of the citizens. To prove your opinion, you can write the definition essay and state all the facts and arguments you know to prove one way or another. This is also a nice way to research the problem and see what the solution is. But you have to research it carefully; otherwise definition essays will not be fruitful. As all sciences philosophy has gone through its stages of development. Some scientists believe that the crib of philosophy was mythology and religion. If to see the principles of life and some primitive morals stated in some myths we may see that the statement is quite true and philosophy still continues to develop out of social beliefs and ideas. Philosophy is a science which is obligatory learned by every college student in order for him to establish his own philosophy of life. It is quite exciting to find answers to ever existing questions: who am I? What do I know? What can I know? What am I destined to do? Here is one more interesting observation. You can see that all famous philosophers were researching other science fields also. For example, Freud, Yung, Kafka and others were doing research in linguistics and social sciences. Their numerous creations are the pride of human history for they revealed some secrets that remained undiscovered for a long time before their great contributions.

There are so many currents and branches, so many schools of philosophy that it is hard to decide, which one do you prefer and agree with. This much depends on the country, family, society you live in. This is one more difference between philosophy and other natural sciences. The law is stable for any country; gravity exists in India, same as in Brazil. Philosophy is a hard science, for it is very difficult to understand the sense of the dogma reading it only once. It is of course, not easy, but gives credit for you if you get interested and somewhere, being at the social event you quote one of the famous doctors of philosophy and make a great impression of an educated and intelligent personality.

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The Idea Of God Is Not Henceforth Relevant

(category: Philosophy, Word count: 488)
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Well educated, intellectual people, especially scientists at all times demonstrate considerably smaller adherence to religiosity than others. However, there are still believers of the idea of the God in science. If we exclude from their number those who feel a painful requirement for external protection and support by virtue of their poor living circumstances, there are those who come to idea of the God as a result of amazement at a world that has many unsolved problems. The surprising diversification of subjects and entities can be scientifically formulated in principle as it can sustain the quasi-stable condition and demonstrates development.

Common sense suggests, that for an explanation of the observable diversification in life, it is necessary to admit that each separate subject, each organism, each social unit, and even each computer program should contain a special internal causative engine, a local determinism, which maintains an autonomous internal life in it.

The conventional concept of determinism does not suppose the existence of such sources. This represents a scandalous weakness in the concept. Not finding the required causative source within the framework of philosophy, people are compelled to address the always-available, exotic, exciting fantasies of the irrational sources that are available in religion and mysticism.

Today the situation can be considerably rectified. The recently published concept of Ring Determinism identifies the required internal causative source by way of a closed plot of the customary causal chain. This is a self-contained circuit which, it turns out, is contained in the entrails of each separate natural formation. This circuit is just that ontological base in which each separate natural formation finds and displays its exclusive individuality and asserts itself in the capacity of "causa sui " - the cause of itself.

Internal local causative action, continuously circulating inside a separate body, is transmitted from element to element. It ensures its systemic, synergetic wholeness in the operation of its elements and subsystems in the phenomena of "emergence", special internal policy, resistance to external actions, aggression directed externally, egotism, egocentricity, self-preservation, self-organization and finally, self-development.

One of the conclusions of ring determinism is, that under the supervisory control of the internal cause continuously circulating in a body, and under the continuous effects of external factors, there is the miracle of self-development. This results in an observable diversification of surprising properties of subjects, organisms, social units, human products and other things.

The local causative circuit can randomly or by design, become closed. Then finding an ability towards long-lived quasi-stable self-maintenance, self-resumption, or, in the case of dynamically developing systems, the determining vortex, it becomes the high-power engine which creates, saves and induces a flock of living and nonliving natural formations in development.

Educated people can now sigh with relief since a rather weighty rational argument against the idea of creationism has appeared and the necessity to appeal to irrational theories has vanished.

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The Basics Of Western Astrology Explained

(category: Philosophy, Word count: 550)
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This article covers the basics of Astrology and how they are inter-related. Astrology is defined as 'the art or practice of determining the supposed influences of the planets and their motions on human affairs and human disposition'. From this practice a horoscope can be produced - a diagram (or chart) of the relative positions of planets and signs of the Zodiac at a specific time, usually the time of birth. A forecast can then be produced.

The Zodiac:

Western Astrology originated way back, around 500 BC, with a concept called the Zodiac being developed. This comprised of an imaginary sphere surrounding the earth, which followed the path of the Sun through the constellations during the year. The Zodiac was split into twelve sections, each named after the specific constellation noted in that area.


Many ancient philosophies used a set of classical elements to explain the way nature behaved. Each sign was connected to one of the classical elements (fire, earth, air, or water) and was also related to a region of focus; social, personal or universal.

* Water signs are related to growth processes, identification and emotion. In tandem with the other elements, water feels that fire will make it boil, air will evaporate it, but earth will shape and channel it.

* Fire signs are related to action, passion, and energy. In tandem with the other elements, fire feels that earth will smother it, water will drown it, but air will fan and enliven it.

* Air signs are related to thought, perspective and communication. In tandem with the other elements, air feels that water will obscure it, earth will suffocate it, but fire will inspire and uplift it.

* Earth signs are related to sensation, stability, and practicality. In tandem with the other elements, earth feels that air will dry it, fire will dry it, but water will refresh and nourish it.


Each sign is connected to one of three modalities; cardinal (sometimes referred to as movable), fixed, and mutable.

There are four quadrants following the order of the zodiacal signs, with three signs in each. Each quadrant describes a season, beginning with a cardinal sign, continuing to a fixed sign, and ending with a mutable sign.

Modalities and Related Zodiac Signs:

* Mutable signs are related to adaptability, resourcefulness and holism. They are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.

* Fixed signs are related to determination, focus and individuality. They are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.

* Cardinal signs are related to creativity and initiation. They are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.

Summary of Zodiac Sign Characteristics:

* Aries (cardinal, fire, personal): defensive, energetic, head down, assertive, impulsive.

* Taurus (fixed, earth, personal): patient, indulgent, resourceful, thorough, devoted.

* Gemini (mutable, air, personal): quick, logical, inquisitive.

* Cancer (cardinal, water, personal): clinging, protective, sensitive.

* Leo (fixed, fire, social): theatrical, generous, proud.

* Virgo (mutable, earth, social): critically, practical, efficient.

* Libra (cardinal, air, social): lazy, co-operative, fair.

* Scorpio (fixed, water, social): anxious, passionate, sensitive.

* Sagittarius (mutable, fire, universal): careless, free, straightforward.

* Capricorn (cardinal, earth, universal): suspicious, prudent, cautious.

* Aquarius (fixed, air, universal): detached, democratic, unconventional.

* Pisces (mutable, water, universal): distracted, imaginative, sensitive.

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A Brief History Of Creation

(category: Philosophy, Word count: 1760)
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What is the loop of Creation? How is there something from nothing?

In spite of the fact that it is impossible to prove that anything exists beyond one's perception since any such proof would involve one's perception (I observed it, I heard it, I thought about it, I calculated it, and etc.), science deals with a so-called objective reality "out there," beyond one's perception professing to describe Nature objectively (as if there was a Nature or reality external to one's perception). The shocking impact of Matrix was precisely the valid possibility that what we believed to be reality was but our perception; however, this was presented through showing a real reality wherein the perceived reality was a computer simulation. Many who toy with the idea that perhaps, indeed, we are computer simulations, deviate towards questions, such as, who could create such software and what kind of hardware would be needed for such a feat. Although such questions assume that reality is our perception, they also axiomatically presuppose the existence of an objective deterministic world "out there" that nevertheless must be responsible for how we perceive our reality. This is a major mistake emphasizing technology and algorithms instead of trying to discover the nature of reality and the structure of creation. As will be shown in the following, the required paradigm shift from "perception is our reality fixed within an objective world," to "perception is reality without the need of an objective world 'out there,'" is provided by a dynamic logical structure. The Holophanic loop logic is responsible for a consistent and complete worldview that not only describes, but also creates whatever can be perceived or experienced.

Stating that it is impossible to prove the existence of anything beyond one's perception is not saying there is nothing beyond perception, only that if there is anything, then whatever that is, is indefinite. It could be argued that the existence of physical laws, the universal perception that the apple falls to the ground is proof of an objective reality. However, this universal agreement is also our perception. It could be argued that if we cannot decide what to perceive, and everybody perceives the same physical reality, then there must be some lawfulness that dictates how we perceive and therefore, this lawfulness could be external to our perception. However, this lawfulness, as we shall see later on, is the precise lawfulness that creates perception, the process of definition, which is not external to perception (this process creates the perceived and the perceiver, which then gives meaning to this process - a loop - but about that, later). It could be argued, that hitting our knee on the table - whether we believe in the table or not - will hurt. The table is external to our body, but not to our perception. What then is perception? It is relating, a process of definition, defining and thereby rendering meaningful what has been perceived.

What then is this process of definition? It is creating borders within which one's perception gains meaning. The word "definition" comes from the Latin de finire, meaning, making finite or limited. In Hebrew, definition is HAGDARA (הגדרה), meaning, to border. Any definition necessarily implies what the definition is not, or stated differently, to have meaning, whatever is defined explicitly includes the meaning by implicitly excluding everything else. Consequently, to define means to place the defined object within borders that by default create something beyond the borders of the definition. What is this something beyond the defined? The implicitly excluded everything else, or in other words, the indefinite. The paramount importance of incorporating the indefinite within a consistent logical structure cannot be overemphasized. The indefinite itself is a paradox, and incorporating it within the Holophanic logical structure engenders the loop of Creation where the dynamic structure of paradoxes is both the creative force of existence, and also the proof of the necessity of existence.

To better grasp the impetus of Creation, let's look at the indefinite and paradoxes. What does "indefinite" mean? Anything as long as it is not specified (not defined); anything that appears both within and beyond the borders of the definition and thereby rendering the border superfluous, which means, no border, no definition. If nevertheless we would attempt to define the notion "indefinite," then that's a paradox because if we succeed, then it is defined, which contradicts its meaning - its indefiniteness - and the word "indefinite" means that it cannot be defined. This is an example of a paradox, that in essence means, if it is what it is, then it is not what it is, yet if it is not what it is, then it is what it is. A paradox is a creature that consists of a structure (how it is defined, the dynamic process on its way to stabilization) that contradicts its significance (what it is, the stabilized entity). What characterizes a paradox is the motion between its structure and significance, where the structure implies that its significance contradicts its structure, and vice versa.

Another example of a paradox would be "wholeness." Wholeness (totality, infinite, boundless) can only be wholeness if we can find a way to define it so that it includes everything and there is nothing beyond it. However, if we define wholeness, then to have meaning, it must be bordered within the walls of the definition, which implies that there is something beyond this border, in which case it is not wholeness. Or in more formal language, wholeness is only wholeness if it is not wholeness, which is an inconsistency. If we are satisfied with that, then we have completed the definition of wholeness. However, if we try to include the beyond created by our earlier definition within the borders of our next attempt at defining wholeness, then we gain a new definition of wholeness, which by the sheer structure of the process of defining creates a new beyond. In this case, the process of defining wholeness will be consistent but incomplete, and wholeness will remain indefinite.

Contemplating the paradox of Creation, the ancient Egyptian myth of Creation springs to mind, the myth of the self-creating god, Amun (or Amon). Amun masturbated and swallowed his semen, after which he spit it out in the form of a ball, thereby impregnating his mother, the sky. And only then, was he born. Thus Amun was his own father. Those pious who discovered the illustrated version of this myth in Karnak covered up the erect phallus of Amun, and with it, this story of Creation was laid into obscurity. The Holophanic model of Creation could regard this Egyptian myth as Amun retromorphously creating himself. I have coined the word retromorphous to mean, defining in retrospect, turning non-being into the potential of whatever the observation is made from, or in other words, creating the past from the present, creating the source from its outcome, which is the basis of complexity in the context of the loop logic. That is, only after Amun was born can he give meaning to his mother, the potential from which he emanated and to the process that created him (as represented by masturbation and incest) whereby he was born. Of course, neither the sky nor the masturbating Amun have meaning until Creation takes place de facto and Amun emerges. I find this an enticing illustration of the basic paradox of existence.

So how can there be something from nothing? What is "nothing?" Nothing is what didn't turn into the potential of something. If there was something from nothing, then that nothing would have turned into the potential of something, because when we ask, how is there something from nothing, we ask this question from something, when something already exists. If we take a deeper look at "nothing," we'll discover that "nothing" is a paradox. Any definition is something, so if we defined "nothing," then it would become something, which contradicts its essence of being "nothing." Another way of looking at "nothing" would be by means of it being something that is meaningless. That is, "nothing" could be something that does not relate and that no thing or no one relates to. That is, if there was something totally alone in the universe, then that would be nothing, but it would be meaningless. If such existed, its existence would be external to our perception, and as such, this "nothing" would be indefinite.

We said that the indefinite could be anything, as long as it is not specified (not defined). However, if we nevertheless tried to define "nothing" (the indefinite), what would we get then? Since "nothing" is non-definable, it is transparent as the object of our inquiry. So when we attempt to define it, all we have is what we put into it, which is the process of definition. "Nothing" stayed nothing, we didn't define it, only made the process of definition explicit. "Nothing" gains meaning when we fail to define it; but having tried, we are left with a bonus, a something, which is our process of defining "nothing." Creation of something from nothing is not a function of defining something, but a function of attempting to define "nothing." And then, if that process of definition - which already is an existence - looks back at its origins, if this process of defining investigates into its own genesis, then what does it see? It sees itself. It sees the process of definition - self-reference.

If there is nothing external to perception, then this process of definition is the overall wholeness, the creator of meaning when it can relate to itself. However, to have meaning, the process of definition has to be defined; this definition would be a self-referential quasi-infinite and continuous process of establishing borders that create the indefinite beyond that establishes borders creating the indefinite beyond that establishes borders… which means, wholeness would continuously and forever fail to define itself while succeeding to define something - anything but itself.

Of course, both the totally defined and the totally indefinite are idealized notions that would be inconsistent with the Holophanic loop logic, nor can they be found in nature. The totally indefinite would be the total meaningless nothing, the kind of non-being that cannot be fathomed because if we would think about it, it would already be something. On the other hand, there can be no total definition either. I have used the term uncertainty of sameness to describe the logical impossibility of total definition. A defined entity can be said to have reached sameness

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Comment On The Importance Of Human Life

(category: Philosophy, Word count: 624)
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The preservation of human life is the ultimate value, a pillar of ethics and the foundation of all morality. This held true in most cultures and societies throughout history.

On first impression, the last sentence sounds patently wrong. We all know about human collectives that regarded human lives as dispensable, that murdered and tortured, that cleansed and annihilated whole populations in recurrent genocides. Surely, these defy the aforementioned statement?

Liberal philosophies claim that human life was treated as a prime value throughout the ages. Authoritarian regimes do not contest the over-riding importance of this value. Life is sacred, valuable, to be cherished and preserved. But, in totalitarian societies, it can be deferred, subsumed, subjected to higher goals, quantized, and, therefore, applied with differential rigor in the following circumstances:

1.. Quantitative - when a lesser evil prevents a greater one. Sacrificing the lives of the few to save the lives of the many is a principle enshrined and embedded in activities such as war and medicinal care. All cultures, no matter how steeped (or rooted) in liberal lore accept it. They all send soldiers to die to save the more numerous civilian population. Medical doctors sacrifice lives daily, to save others.

It is boils down to a quantitative assessment ("the numerical ratio between those saved and those sacrificed"), and to questions of quality ("are there privileged lives whose saving or preservation is worth the sacrifice of others' lives?") and of evaluation (no one can safely predict the results of such moral dilemmas - will lives be saved as the result of the sacrifice?).

2.. Temporal - when sacrificing life (voluntarily or not) in the present secures a better life for others in the future. These future lives need not be more numerous than the lives sacrificed. A life in the future immediately acquires the connotation of youth in need of protection. It is the old sacrificed for the sake of the new, a trade off between those who already had their share of life - and those who hadn't. It is the bloody equivalent of a savings plan: one defers present consumption to the future.

The mirror image of this temporal argument belongs to the third group (see next), the qualitative one. It prefers to sacrifice a life in the present so that another life, also in the present, will continue to exist in the future. Abortion is an instance of this approach: the life of the child is sacrificed to secure the future well-being of the mother. In Judaism, it is forbidden to kill a female bird. Better to kill its off-spring. The mother has the potential to compensate for this loss of life by bringing giving birth to other chicks.

3.. Qualitative - This is an especially vicious variant because it purports to endow subjective notions and views with "scientific" objectivity. People are judged to belong to different qualitative groups (classified by race, skin color, birth, gender, age, wealth, or other arbitrary parameters). The result of this immoral taxonomy is that the lives of the "lesser" brands of humans are considered less "weighty" and worthy than the lives of the upper grades of humanity. The former are therefore sacrificed to benefit the latter. The Jews in Nazi occupied Europe, the black slaves in America, the aborigines in Australia are three examples of such pernicious thinking.

4.. Utilitarian - When the sacrifice of one life brings another person material or other benefits. This is the thinking (and action) which characterizes psychopaths and sociopathic criminals, for instance. For them, life is a tradable commodity and it can be exchanged against inanimate goods and services. Money and drugs are bartered for life.

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The Science Of Superstitions

(category: Philosophy, Word count: 995)
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"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science."

Albert Einstein, The World as I See It, 1931

The debate between realism and anti-realism is, at least, a century old. Does Science describe the real world - or are its theories true only within a certain conceptual framework? Is science only instrumental or empirically adequate or is there more to it than that?

The current - mythological - image of scientific enquiry is as follows:

Without resorting to reality, one can, given infinite time and resources, produce all conceivable theories. One of these theories is bound to be the "truth". To decide among them, scientists conduct experiments and compare their results to predictions yielded by the theories. A theory is falsified when one or more of its predictions fails. No amount of positive results - i.e., outcomes that confirm the theory's predictions - can "prove right" a theory. Theories can only be proven false by that great arbiter, reality.

Jose Ortega y Gasset said (in an unrelated exchange) that all ideas stem from pre-rational beliefs. William James concurred by saying that accepting a truth often requires an act of will which goes beyond facts and into the realm of feelings. Maybe so, but there is little doubt today that beliefs are somehow involved in the formation of many scientific ideas, if not of the very endeavor of Science. After all, Science is a human activity and humans always believe that things exist (=are true) or could be true.

A distinction is traditionally made between believing in something's existence, truth, value of appropriateness (this is the way that it ought to be) - and believing that something. The latter is a propositional attitude: we think that something, we wish that something, we feel that something and we believe that something. Believing in A and believing that A - are different.

It is reasonable to assume that belief is a limited affair. Few of us would tend to believe in contradictions and falsehoods. Catholic theologians talk about explicit belief (in something which is known to the believer to be true) versus implicit one (in the known consequences of something whose truth cannot be known). Truly, we believe in the probability of something (we, thus, express an opinion) - or in its certain existence (truth).

All humans believe in the existence of connections or relationships between things. This is not something which can be proven or proven false (to use Popper's test). That things consistently follow each other does not prove they are related in any objective, "real", manner - except in our minds. This belief in some order (if we define order as permanent relations between separate physical or abstract entities) permeates both Science and Superstition. They both believe that there must be - and is - a connection between things out there.

Science limits itself and believes that only certain entities inter-relate within well defined conceptual frames (called theories). Not everything has the potential to connect to everything else. Entities are discriminated, differentiated, classified and assimilated in worldviews in accordance with the types of connections that they forge with each other.

Moreover, Science believes that it has a set of very effective tools to diagnose, distinguish, observe and describe these relationships. It proves its point by issuing highly accurate predictions based on the relationships discerned through the use of said tools. Science (mostly) claims that these connections are "true" in the sense that they are certain - not probable.

The cycle of formulation, prediction and falsification (or proof) is the core of the human scientific activity. Alleged connections that cannot be captured in these nets of reasoning are cast out either as "hypothetical" or as "false". In other words: Science defines "relations between entities" as "relations between entities which have been established and tested using the scientific apparatus and arsenal of tools". This, admittedly, is a very cyclical argument, as close to tautology as it gets.

Superstition is a much simpler matter: everything is connected to everything in ways unbeknown to us. We can only witness the results of these subterranean currents and deduce the existence of such currents from the observable flotsam. The planets influence our lives, dry coffee sediments contain information about the future, black cats portend disasters, certain dates are propitious, certain numbers are to be avoided. The world is unsafe because it can never be fathomed. But the fact that we - limited as we are - cannot learn about a hidden connection - should not imply that it does not exist.

Science believes in two categories of relationships between entities (physical and abstract alike). The one is the category of direct links - the other that of links through a third entity. In the first case, A and B are seen to be directly related. In the second case, there is no apparent link between A and B, but a third entity, C could well provide such a connection (for instance, if A and B are parts of C or are separately, but concurrently somehow influenced by it).

Each of these two categories is divided to three subcategories: causal relationships, functional relationships and correlative relationship.

A and B will be said to be causally related if A precedes B, B never occurs if A does not precede it and always occurs after A occurs. To the discerning eye, this would seem to be a relationship of correlation ("whenever A happens B happens") and this is true. Causation is subsumed by a the 1.0 correlation relationship category. In other words: it is a private case of the more general case of correlation.

A and B are functionally related if B can be predicted by assuming A but we have no way of establishing the truth value of A. The latter is a postulate or axiom. The time dependent Schr

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