Value your Freedom!

I sometimes wonder at the absurdities of life. Late trains plus rain and no umbrella, grumpy waiters who are grumpy for no apparent reason and the ringing of the phone just at the very moment I thought about somebody specific. I also wonder about why only the glass bottles slip out of my fingers and the plastic ones do not. But when I pause and stop to wonder and look around closely, in the big picture of things, these are really only minor problems and they do not disturb my personal freedom at all. I can walk and enjoy the rain and I can either accept that glass bottles simply slip through my fingers or buy the other version. But what if these little choices in life are simply not there anymore? Continue reading “Value your Freedom!”

Eat Pray Love

No, this post is not about the movie. Disappointed? Accept my apologies. The title is a mere reference to a small bit of the movie that made me think of…

We live in an age of unparallel developments in science and technology, where human knowledge has arrived at an unforeseen stage. Continue reading “Eat Pray Love”

Torturing animals is bad

Last month the New York Times Magazine ran a gut-wrenching article exploring the relationship between animal cruelty and human-on-human violence.  A taste:

The link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence is becoming so well established that many U.S. communities now cross-train social-service and animal-control agencies in how to recognize signs of animal abuse as possible indicators of other abusive behaviors. In Illinois and several other states, new laws mandate that veterinarians notify the police if their suspicions are aroused by the condition of the animals they treat. The state of California recently added Humane Society and animal-control officers to the list of professionals bound by law to report suspected child abuse and is now Continue reading “Torturing animals is bad”

Have you told a lie today? Tell me about it!

No, I do not want to hear anyone’s confession. It is only that since I read yesterday’s article in the Independent about the science of lying, researched by Robert Feldman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, I do very much think about how much I have lied and how much those I am talking to have lied in the last 24 hours. If this question is bizarre for most people, it is even more so for a philosopher. We are interested in the TRUTH, not in how the truth is bended to fit our or anyone’s purpose. The article claims however that the latter is what we are doing constantly. Continue reading “Have you told a lie today? Tell me about it!”

Will Science Beat Religion? And What are they Competing for?

In a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking said that, “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.”  This statement is indicative of the on-going debate between science and religion.  In fact it seems to disclose a great many of the assumptions that underlie the debate.

The debate is hardly a new a one.  However, in its contemporary form many of the interlocutors, regardless of on which side their allegiance falls, agree about the fundamentals of the argument in Hawking’s quote.  For instance, that religion and science are in a competition; they seem to provide mutually exclusive answers to Continue reading “Will Science Beat Religion? And What are they Competing for?”

Interview: Comic Relief – A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor

What makes something funny? John Morreall has been studying humor for more than 25 years and, as well as being a professor of religious studies at the College of William & Mary, he is the author of Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor. We were lucky enough to catch up with John recently, and he told us about his long term interest in the subject, and explored some of the themes in his book.

The Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write Comic Relief?

John Morreall: I’ve been teaching and writing about humor since the early 1980s.  My book Taking Laughter Seriously came out in 1983, and then my anthology The Philosophy of Laughter and Humor in 1987.  Since then my thinking about humor has matured, so I wanted to refine old ideas and articulate new ones.  The big idea I wanted to work out in this book is that humor is a kind of play.  Play is an essential part of life, but it gets very little attention from philosophers.  Analyzing humor as a kind of play generates insights into its value and also fits well with current scientific thought about the evolution of laughter. Continue reading “Interview: Comic Relief – A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor”

Hawking and his aliens

Earth is calling…or maybe not!? In a new Discovery Channel series, Stephen Hawking has answered the question that has plagued scientists for years. In his mind it is totally logical to assume that aliens are out there and that we should not invite them over here. The reason why there has to be extraterrestrial life is the sheer number of galaxies in the universe and the resulting huge number of planets in every single galaxy. Somewhere there has to be life. Hawking admits that this life can be in the form of microbes and small animals, but he is adamant that there can also be intelligent life and that these aliens can be very very dangerous for us Earthlings. They might be on the hunt for resources or space to live in and might be far advanced from us. For hundreds of years the idea of extraterrestrial life has challenged astronomers, because the sheer assumption leads to a whole plethora of philosophical relevant questions. First of all, would we not have to change the term “alien” and apply it exclusively to extraterrestrial life? Continue reading “Hawking and his aliens”