Fecha: 1 julio 2013
Vacantes disponibles: 11
Fecha: 1 julio 2013
Vacantes disponibles: 11
¨I am the wisest of men because I know nothing and I know that I know nothing.¨
We are now in what Alvin Toffler calls ¨the third wave¨ civilization (in his The Third Wave which is one of his bestselling trilogy)—the information age. It seems we are almost at the threshold of knowing everything right at the tips of our fingers. The internet is loaded with facts and figures. Wikipedia gives us immeasurable amount of information. Hundreds of thousands of websites are providing us online data anytime as long as we are ¨wired¨, so to speak. We could even have a ¨person-to-person¨ chat with resource persons who are experts in certain fields of interest via Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Hangout or Facebook Chat among others. There has actually been an information overload happening now in global magnitude. But is information overload tantamount to knowledge explosion? Is having information knowledge? If we are experiencing now an inexorable and incessant flow of information, are we then heading to a state of knowing everything? And if such is the case, are we really supposed to know everything?
Data constitute information. Once data are signified through interpretation, they are elevated to the level of information. But can we specifically say that once we have information about something, we have knowledge of it? In the ordinary sense, that is true. But in a strictly philosophical implication, mere possession of information does not constitute knowledge. Plato´s basic definition of knowledge still substantially stands to this day: Knowledge is true belief. In this connection, we could say we have information about something and we believe such information. But unless such information is verified at least intersubjectively and at most objectively by human experience or by logical and/or mathematical procedures, it cannot be construed as knowledge. In other words, unconfirmed information or an unverified belief doesn´t fall under the category of knowledge. The American analytic philosopher Clarence Irving Lewis even went further to require justification over and above mere verification as the more rigorous method to determine once and for all if the confirmation of a belief or information is valid and acceptable. In this sense, justification is the condition of being able to get to the most valid instance—among many probable instances—to confirm the truth of an information or belief. Mere verification, Lewis contended, could be very superficial; what is required is a deeper verification which according to him should more precisely called justification.
Technically, the issue of knowledge is in the region of epistemology in academic philosophy where we basically ask the following questions: (1) What can we know? (2) How do we know what we can know? And (3) How do we know that we know? First, by way of propositionalization, we make sense of what we want to know. In the process, we establish the knowability of the thing we want to know. It has to be stated clearly, i.e., unambiguously and in a manner devoid of vagueness. Then we determine the condition(s), mode(s) and context(s) through which we could appropriately verify and hence justify that which we want to know. Lastly, we should not only be able to convince ourselves that we know what we have verified/justified; we should likewise be able to articulate and explain in clear and understandable terms its salient and key points aimed to convince others that we truly know it.
However, this way of looking at knowledge is specifically information- or belief-based. We are presented with information or belief which we verify/justify to determine if such qualifies to be called knowledge. My friend, the Japanese transformative philosopher, Yasuhiko Kimura, goes even further. He says that informational knowledge is the basest of knowledge. He posits a type of knowledge that is higher than the informational and he calls it ¨meta-formational¨. It is intuitive knowledge that inspires. Taking it from Kimura, we find ourselves at the juncture of what separates western epistemology from its oriental counterpart. But he is not done yet. There is the highest variety of knowledge and he calls it ¨transformational¨. This is the knowledge that synthesizes the west and the east for it is not enough that knowledge, whether informational (western) or meta-formational (eastern), is just in the mind—a mental assent. In this sense, Kimura aligns himself with the pragmatists—in the tradition of William James, John Dewey and Charles Sanders Peirce, including the late post-pragmatist Richard Rorty—who have taken up the challenge of Karl Marx in his Theses on Feuerbach that the problem with philosophers is that ¨they have only interpreted the world in various ways¨ when the most important point is ¨to change it.¨ Kimura calls his epistemology ¨triformational learning matrix¨ which is succinctly explicated as follows:
In the last several years, I have been teaching a particular model of transformation, which I call the Triformational Learning Matrix. ¨Tri¨ means, of course, three, and so the formational element comprises three formations: information, metaformation, and transformation.
Informational learning is what we normally go through in our educational system and in our own lives. We read books, we listen to people, and we gain knowledge and experience. We develop a more and more comprehensive body of knowledge based on some principle of organization.
Metaformation is sometimes called inspiration or intuition; it is a higher form of knowledge that sort of knocks on your door and you become aware of something that is eternal. So when this higher intuition, or metaformation, gets integrated into your own informational learning, you then start to reconfigure the whole context within which you have held the body of knowledge that you already have. And at the same time, you are able to incorporate the higher metaformational knowledge into your own body of knowledge. In this dance between information and metaformation, a transformation takes place.
Metaformation is returning to the source of your being, the ground of your being from which you intuit a new form of insight. Then, when that insight is successfully married with the body of knowledge that you already have, transformation takes place. That is my way of understanding transformation.
Kimura believes that this is the authentic path of philosophizing as an expression of philosophy´s essence being ¨love of wisdom¨ for the genuine path of wisdom leads to transformation.
Now, we get to focus on the question, Should we know everything? Disambiguating the term ¨everything¨, I think the more basic issue we need to resolve first is, Can we know everything? I think we can, as long as what we mean by ¨to know¨ is ¨to have verified¨, i.e., ¨to have found to be true¨ and to mean by ¨everything¨ as any thing within the purview of what is humanly possible to be verified and hence known. And the simplest understanding we can have of ¨thing¨ is that it is ¨not nothing¨, whether it is something that occupies space and time or something that may be accommodated in our so-called ¨mental space.¨ A ¨round square¨ or a ¨square circle¨ cannot be categorized as something (or a thing) for the simple reason that nowhere is it located in space and time nor in ¨mental space¨. Such a conception is obviously a logical anomaly and cannot exist in all possible worlds. In the final analysis, we can say that we can know everything. We may use the following biconditional argument to establish the formal logical consistency of the proposition that we can know everything:
For any X such that X is a thing if and only if it can be known (knowable).
Conversely, we can likewise say:
For any X such that X is knowable if and only if it is a thing.
But should we know everything?
In a strictly philosophical treatment of this issue/question, we could view it from the divergent perspectives of two philosophical disciplines: the ethical and the epistemological. Ethically, we enter into the issue as a matter of duty and we supplement the question, ¨Should we know everything?¨ with the parallel question, ¨Is it a matter of our duty—and thus GOOD—that we OUGHT to know everything?¨ This seems to be a funny concern because no one obliges us to know everything and convinces us that doing so is good. Knowing is a matter of one´s personal issue and is therefore selective. We only need and want to know things we deem to be important to us and in certain circumstances where we are involved. In other words, no one and no particular state of affairs require us to know everything. The question, ¨Should we know everything?¨ is therefore a non-ethical problem.
But would it make sense to view it as an epistemological question? I think it would. If we understand the word ¨know¨ in its non-epistemological/superficial sense which means to simply be aware of or to just be able to understand something and then apply it to ¨everything¨ (on the basis of the disambiguation we earlier did), I don´t think it is necessary to know everything, much less possible to do so. However, on the basis of our previous disambiguation of the term ¨to know¨ which has to be understood in its epistemological sense to mean ¨to have verified¨ or ¨to have found to be true¨, a further disambiguation of the term ¨everything¨ is necessary as we find it in the epistemological context of the question, ¨Should we know everything?¨
¨Everything¨ in such context is not ¨everything that refers to no particular thing at all¨. Everything is ¨every thing¨ and that or this ¨thing¨ is in this sense taken as a particular. Therefore, everything as ¨every thing¨ must be something. And for a thing to be actually taken as such, i.e., a thing, it must have been known as a thing. And for it to be known as a thing, its ¨thing-ness¨ should have been verified or have been proven to be true. On the basis of this analysis, the question, ¨Should we know everything?¨ does make sense and the affirmative rejoinder, ¨Yes, we should know (as in ´have verified´) everything (as in, ´every thing´) becomes epistemologically necessary. Otherwise, the ¨thing-ness¨ of something remains doubtful as a matter of knowledge unless verified.
© Ruel F. Pepa, 21 June 2013
Decent human interaction is best exemplified in a respectable communication using language. We utter statements of facts and opinions. We express beliefs that are casual and serious, even matters of deep commitment. We respond to probing questions that require our honest estimation of events. We get into arguments that challenge our ability to articulate our ideas on certain issues in the clearest and most understandable way possible. We voice out our criticism of other persons´ viewpoints guided by rationality and tact. We want our perspectives to be heard. We intend our discourse to be given an audience.
Our ability to communicate is much more sophisticated than the animals´ because we are endowed with a complex tool called spoken (and likewise written) linguistic capability. Under normal circumstances, we use our voice box to express through a concatenation of spoken words a meaningful statement supposed to be understood by the other person(s) we are in conversation with. In the process, we aim what we say to be fully grasped in a dialogue.
Language, in the present context, is not only understood as spoken but also written. Normally, there are times when we get careless while talking and along the way we commit errors in syntax, semantics and pronunciation. In this connection, we commonly exercise some degree of patience and give the other person we are talking with some wider latitude of understanding in terms of the possibility of committing errors as we likewise expect from her/him the same attitude towards us. But written language is different; we usually have a stricter norm towards written compositions. We tend to be quite unforgiving when we find errors in grammar, meaning and common-sense rationality while we read a written piece. And such is in some ways reasonable because we assume that when ideas are written, they are well thought of, properly deliberated on and precisely fine-tuned.
However, sophistication in communication epitomized in human language doesn´t necessarily mean that such communication is always inherently effective in terms of how a message is flawlessly conveyed to its intended recipient and how the said recipient has exactly grasped or precisely understood the imparted message. In so many instances, miscommunication occurs with results that vary from insignificant corollaries to seriously tragic consequences. And these occurrences, as we have gotten familiar with their recurrence in both casual and even historical contexts, only happen in the human sphere.
Animal communication is obviously not as sophisticated but scientific observations done by experts in this particular discipline have confirmed to us that it is more effective than human communication. It is theorized that the non-complicated and non-creative factors of animal communication make messages easily conveyed and hence spontaneously grasped with perfect accuracy. The American linguistic anthropologist Edward Vajda of Western Washington University came up with the following observations:
1. The signs of animal systems are inborn. Birds, apes and bees naturally and instinctively develop their species’ signals, even if raised in captivity and away from adults of their own species. Humans must acquire language through exposure to a speech community (cf. example of children picking up obscenities vs. a child getting a new tooth). . . .
2. Animal systems are set responses to stimuli. Animal communication is here and now–used to express something more or less immediately present in space and time. In other words, the signs of animal communication are used as indexes. As far as we know, animals can’t communicate about yesterday, about what might be or what wasn’t. . . .
3. In animal systems, each signal has one and only one function. More than one sign cannot share the same meaning. For example, gorillas in the wild have three types of signals which express danger, presence of food, and desire for sex. The gibbon system of communication consists of three signals: a signal for danger on the ground, another for danger in a tree, and another for danger in the air; these three do not overlap in meaning and each meaning can only be expressed by that one sign.
4. Animal signals are not naturally used in novel ways. Animal systems are essentially non-creative. They cannot be used metaphorically or figuratively. As far as we know, animals can’t lie or invent myths.
5. Because they are non-creative, animal systems are closed inventories of signs used to express a few specific messages only. Honeybees, for instance, can communicate only about the location of a source of nectar. As far as we know, bees do not communicate about the weather or the beauty of nature, or gossip about other bees in the hive.
6. Because they are non-creative, animal systems seem not to change from generation to generation. Actually, they change extremely slowly, over periods of many thousands of years, but as a result of genetic drift rather than conscious innovation.
[ ¨Animal Systems of Communication¨ by Edward Vajda . . . http://pandora.cii.wwu.edu/vajda/ling201/test1materials/animal_communication.htm ]
Deduced from the above findings is the affirmation that at variance with animal communication, human communication, being sophisticated, is characterized by a high degree of creativity. By means of a language that is exceedingly developed and complicated in the utilization of symbolic representations, humans have the superior ability to configure ideas and concepts, put them together and construct an assemblage of abstracted reality aimed to better understand and communicate with words past, present and future states of affairs that significantly affect human reality in the personal and the socio-cultural contexts.
Within the sphere of human creativity in communicating with the use of language is the power to convince others with words via a logical argument or a rhetorical discourse. The former is intellectual while the latter is emotional. In the hands of an accomplished salesman, the two approaches may be combined at the expense of the former most of the time. In other words, the logical is ¨creatively¨ manipulated through the formulation of fallacies to capitulate to the emotional by way of sophistry aimed to ¨mesmerize¨ a prospective client. Similar effect has been proven to be successfully achieved by some (and I mean ¨some,¨ not all) preachers—especially many (again, not all) among those of the Pentecostal kind—who resort to the same strategy and tactic to get their messages across. The common victims of these ¨brainwashing¨ devices are the less critical ones easily swayed by ¨¨sugar-coated¨ statements that make them feel ¨good, great and glowing¨.
But in the face of a critical and analytic mind geared to question not only the principles but also the methodology of advancing such principles, manipulative preachers and salesmen fumble and stumble. At the end of the day, what gets revealed is the fact that there is actually no strong principle involved in their discourses. Salesmen and preachers engaged in such ¨psyching up¨ schemes fail to own their words. They get pushed against the wall and that´s the end of the seemingly impregnable tenets they have been trying to advance. They beat around the bush, so to speak, and have a crack to circumvent what they purportedly believe by means of rationalization, not rational argumentation. In the process, they disown the original contents of their discourse by way of ambiguation wherein the meanings of keywords in a message are distorted in the original context to create a rationalized version intended to ¨redeem¨ them from the quagmire of incoherence and inconsistency where they landed after a close and rigorous scrutiny of their stupid notions. In the final analysis, what is clearly exposed are a bunch of guys who couldn´t own their words because their discourses did not actually stand on principles they genuinely believed in. What gets revealed at the end of the day are ¨con artists¨ who had been around to delude and cheat people in their naiveté.
Corollary to the above problematization is the contrary condition where we witness people as they are truly able and essentially committed to own their words. They are personally convinced of the truth of what they say and seriously take responsibility of whatever consequence such could possibly build up in due course. They mean what they communicate and they communicate it because they are convinced of its constructive importance. Under the scrutiny of a critical and analytic mind, they stand on their ground and own their words. We call them men and women of conviction. They believe what they say and without any shadow of doubt, they will always own their words and defend them even in the face of the most rigorous test.
Nevertheless, even that state of affairs cannot just be allowed to rest without controversy for we at this point look toward a new problematization: the presence of dogmatic defenders among them ( and of course, we don´t assume that all of them are). Yes, they are persons of conviction, individuals who are not cowed to stand on what they believe, human beings who own their words. But what makes them controversial is their dogmatism. They are not open to subject their convictions and ideas related thereto under the light of rational critique and analytic investigation either by way of scientific or philosophical inquiry.
Generally, people who are always ready to own their words are highly appreciated because we don´t want wishy-washy individuals. Communication will always be informative and exciting, enlightening and productive if participants say what they mean and mean what they say. Communication gets messed up once someone starts to get vague or ambiguous in her/his statements. But in the course of an honest-to-goodness encounter that facilitates communication, openness to reason and criticism is always substantially valued even if it would lead to the point of relinquishing an age-old belief that can no longer stand under the light of reason.
© Ruel F. Pepa, 18 June 2013
Truth is so hard to tell, it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible.
The acceptance that all that is solid has melted into the air, that reality and morality are not givens but imperfect human constructs, is the point from which fiction begins.
Taking the question at its face-value automatically leads to a negative reaction: It is not. A simple test is in the way books and other reading materials are classified in bookstores and libraries. One who looks for a philosophy book or a reading material on a philosophical subject matter doesn´t proceed to the ¨Fiction Section¨ of a bookstore or a library to find what s/he needs. Thus, we confidently say in simple (or more precisely, simplified) terms that philosophy is not a fiction.
But is the issue really settled at this point and any attempt to get more seriously concerned about it is nothing but an exercise in futility? Veering away from the context of the library and bookstore, could there be a more meaningful consideration of whether philosophy is a fiction or otherwise? In the first place, what is a fiction? In responding to this question, we should not get bogged down by the casual identification of the term ¨fiction¨ solely and specifically with literary works like novels and short stories we enjoy reading. Then afterwards, we clarify what we mean by philosophy which could be an irritating matter because the situation obviously requires us to define again for the nth time what philosophy is. Nevertheless, we deal first with the question of what a fiction is.
When do we say that something (not only a literary work in this case) is a fiction? Linguistically, there are certain semantic properties that constitute the term ¨fiction¨. In its most basic form, a fiction is a product of one´s imagination. It is not therefore a fact—a state of affairs—that actually happens or has happened as a concrete event in space and time. In other words, a fiction is not a circumstance objectively perceived in the actual spatio-temporal context. More simply, we say that a fiction is a figment of one´s imagination.
It doesn´t however mean that a fiction is generally unrealistic. It is fundamentally unreal as we have tried to semantically clarify it. But in certain cases, a fiction could be realistic. Being realistic, a fictional account may therefore possibly occur in actual experience because its general features and elements are conceived in terms of what has been experienced in reality by its creator or experienced by other people that the fiction creator has observed. Even if we go back to the literary context, we are aware that there are fiction novels and stories that are realistic on the one hand and non-realistic on the other, being in the category of out-of-this-world fantasy like stories of goblins and fairies, zombies and demons, etc.
In a more formal term, we say that a fiction is a mental formulation. But mental formulation is of course a general description that applies not only to fictions but also to scientific theorizing, mathematical equations, organizational planning, schedule programming, among so many others. In logical terms, we say that: All fiction is mental formulation but not all mental formulation is fiction.
Let´s have an experimental exercise in formal logic using the argument:
¨If a scientific theory is a mental formulation and a fiction is a mental formulation, therefore, a scientific theory is a fiction.¨
Let: S = scientific theory; M = mental formulation; F = fiction
¨For any S such that if S then M and for any F such that if F then M, therefore, if S then F.¨
This is an invalid argument that violates the order of hypothetical syllogism by committing ¨the fallacy of misplaced middle.¨
We could say that in a similar vein, philosophizing itself fundamentally involves mental formulation of ideas and concepts couched in propositional arguments or statements of elaborated principles that are empirically coherent and/or logically consistent. But in the light of the above argument, philosophy cannot in any way be construed as fictional. We do not however imply that no connection at all may ever be forged between philosophy and fiction. In fact, a fictional story—whether it is a novel or a short story—may serve as a vehicle to advance a philosophy or a philosophical notion.
Plato´s Dialogues are not novels but they surely are stories of people so seriously engrossed in philosophical conversations. We could almost precisely surmise that in many of these dialogues, the settings—though we were not there in person and we were not privy to Plato´s experiential domain—are only made-up and hence fictional. A similar genre was used by the Irish empiricist George Berkeley in his Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous. Philosophy or methods of philosophical inquiry could also be the theme of a fictional novel as in Philip Kerr´s A Philosophical Investigation wherein the author even sporadically quotes statements from Wittgenstein´s Philosophical Investigations here and there. Another case in point is the bestselling novel authored by the Norwegian wordsmith Jostein Gaarder, Sophie´s World, which is a serious attempt to ¨de-professionalize¨ western philosophy and its historical development essentially presented in a fictional story for popular readership. In other words, philosophy may in a way be fictionalized—i.e., enclosed as a major focal point in a fictional story—to draw widespread—even grassroot—interest. Nevertheless, the whole process doesn´t make philosophy a fiction.
Another issue that may be raised is the experiential aspect that characterizes some fictions. As we have earlier determined, some fictional works may not be real but they are realistic, i.e., within the range of what has been experienced and what can be experienced by certain people in this world. This consideration may also serve as a connecting point between the philosophical and the fictional. Without necessarily talking about writing a literary fiction, we could think of fictional stories designed to project philosophical ideas and principles aimed to inspire people to understand life much better and hence make it more meaningfully and even excitingly liveable. But the caveat emptor prevails: The whole process doesn´t in any way make philosophy a fiction. Rather, in the present context, it would be more correct to say that the fiction, i.e., the literary fiction, is on philosophy. This only strengthens the notion that it doesn´t make sense to assert that philosophy is a fiction.
Looking at philosophy—and I mean western philosophy to be more specific—in the course of its historical development that goes back to ancient Greece, it emerged as a thematic phenomenon in the spontaneous course of broadening the scope of the sphere of human intellectual achievements at the time when the ancient Greeks were deeply immersed in and dimly shrouded by the superstitions and mystifications that characterized its mythological religion dominated by the Olympus-based pantheon of gods and goddesses led by the ¨almighty¨ Zeus. If we want now to talk of fiction, ancient mythological Greek religion was hardcore fiction. And the emergence of the first so-called philosophers was a welcome relief in the lives of a people fed up with the exploitative machination of a hyper-superstitious religion enslaving them for so many generations.
The new age of the philosophers was a fresh air from the staleness of a petrified mythological religion. This assessment doesn´t however misconstrue the fact that there are certain good things in mythology. ¨The mythology of a people is a serious and conscious presentation of stories that reflect culture. It is the collective memory that heightens a people´s sense of cultural identity, social dignity, and national pride. Myths are a cultural ´roadmap´ that takes us to the socio-existential terrains of the human soul. Myths reflect the uniqueness of the culture of a people as well as the frame of mind of each individual denizens in that cultural context.¨[from ¨The Dynamics of Love as Fertility, Formity and Formality in Ancient Mythologies: A Critico-Structural Excursus into the Classics¨ in Sophophilia by Ruel F. Pepa, p. 57 . . . http://issuu.com/kspt/docs/sophophilia ] We don´t see anything wrong with mythology as long as it serves to inspire human endeavours within the limits of what is reasonable, facilitative, life-enhancing and happiness-promoting.
But when the mythological tradition under the aegis of its egotistical leadership and abusive cabal of priests and priestesses has become awry by blowing up certain components that promote deep superstitions to manipulate circumstances and exploit people, the positive aspect of mythology for the main purpose of human flourishing loses its essence. This is what happened in ancient Greece and it inevitably ushered in the emergence of a new breed of people called ¨philosophers¨. They were generally iconoclasts imbued with the aspiration to de-programme the superstitious dogmatism of the people by challenging them to use the power of their critical and analytic rationality to expose and oppose religious errors concocted by their manipulative religious leaders and rammed into their throats hook-line-and-sinker by conditioning in them the superiority of blind faith over reason.
However, the first philosophers were not totally free from fiction-production. In fact, their philosophizing was basically characterized by fictional theorizing as they searched for a coherent explanation of the origin of reality as we see it in the world or the universe and the things found in it. The first philosophers were generally cosmologists. By way of metaphysical reflections, they problematized the origin, nature and basic substance(s) of the cosmos or the universe. For them, this was the begin-all of how humanity should reckon and explore reality. Each of them had his own fiction—a mental formulation or conception of reality.
The first of them was Thales of Miletus who came up with the fiction that the most fundamental substance (arche) of the cosmos is water. For him everything came out of water. His student Anaximander had a different fiction; he said it was not water but rather Apeiron or the boundless, the immeasurable, the inconceivable and dark abyss. Later came Anaximenes who was Anaximander´s student. He said it was neither water nor the boundless but air. We can continue on and on discussing the fictions of other philosophers who came out after them and whom history of philosophy calls ¨the Pre-Socratics¨ for the simple reason that they all preceded Socrates. If we want to reconsider the assertion that philosophy is a fiction, it was the cosmological period in the history of western philosophy that precisely gave sense to it.
In the hands of the Pre-Socratic cosmologists, philosophy could rightly be called a fiction. In a sense, we could call them proto-scientists because they sincerely sought ways to explain in meaningful terms the world out there. They were the precursors of science in an age when philosophy and science were not yet properly demarcated in definitive terms. However, their efforts have been rendered insignificant and their fictions irrelevant as science progressed until it reached its present point of high level sophistication in depth and breadth. Metaphysical cosmology of the Pre-Socratic vintage has been surpassed and overtaken in the modern—and post-modern—age by the scientific field of theoretical physics.
Then came Socrates whose advent inaugurated a new era in philosophizing. The philosophical problematization shifted from cosmology to ethics. Now philosophy was more concerned with the issue of what a human being ought to do to lead a virtuous life. The most prominent Socratic challenge is not to know the origin and the nature and the substance of the cosmos out there but to know one´s own being. The course of philosophical inquiry has turned inward. ¨Know Thyself¨ is the most prominent of Socrates´ dictums. Philosophy was then focused on the virtuous life and the use of human rationality to get there. In the process, Socrates introduced a method of philosophical inquiry wherein a succession of questions were posed to another person in a conversational encounter until the person had finally realized his originally flawed principles in life through a facilitative opening of his rational capability which led him to a new perspective and to a more insightful way of life. This method of philosophical inquiry became known as the ¨Socratic dialectics.¨
Philosophy has since then taken a new direction. In the hands of Aristotle who was a student of Plato, the line of demarcation between philosophy and science became more defined. Philosophy is now more infused with the essence of rational inquiry in all its facets. In the course of its development, philosophy´s path in the present era is much more well defined with a more positive view of where it is heading to. It will no longer allow itself to be contaminated by fictional speculations which in history became most rampant during the Middle Ages at the time of the ascendancy of the Roman Catholic religion.
Philosophy as worldview, philosophy as critical inquiry, philosophy as a way of life, philosophy as a commitment to a cherished principle. . . These are all absolutely serious concerns of the different aspects of philosophy and they are not fictional. We must be delighted though by the fact that literary fiction is an effective and viable channel/vehicle through which philosophical notions may be communicated and reflected on. In ¨An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science Fiction Film¨ Steven M. Sanders makes the following significant comment:
¨. . . philosophy and science fiction are thematically interdependent insofar as science fiction provides materials for philosophical thinking about the logical possibility and paradoxes of time travel, the concept of personal identity and what it means to be human, the nature of consciousness and artificial intelligence, the moral implications of encounters with extraterrestrials, and the transformations of the future that will be brought about by science and technology. Of course, many science fiction films emphasize gadgets and special effects to the neglect of conceptual complexity, but the films discussed here engage viewers on the plane of ideas and provide occasions for historical, political, literary, and cultural commentary as well as philosophical analysis.¨
[The Philosophy of Science Fiction Film, edited by Steven M. Sanders (published by the University Press of Kentucky, 2008)] http://www.new-territories.com/blog/interzone/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/0813124727.University.Press_.of_.Kentucky.The_.Philosophy.of_.Science.Fiction.Film_.Dec_.2007.pdf
© Ruel F. Pepa, 11 June 2013
We generate our own environment. We get exactly what we deserve. How can we resent a life we’ve created ourselves? Who’s to blame, who’s to credit but us? Who can change it, anytime we wish, but us?
Do we get what we expect to get since we believe we deserve to have it? There seems to be a more basic question: What circumstance or perhaps, who determines something we deserve? This matter is basically subjective though I would like to believe that there are cases when it could also be considered objectively.
We did a job quite well in behalf of another and we expect to get a commendation from the latter because we believe we deserve it. We anticipate congratulatory remarks after the performance of a praiseworthy accomplishment. We are convinced we deserve to be paid fairly in the appropriate practice of our profession. We deserve a word of gratitude after getting out of our way and walking an extra mile, so to speak, just to make another feel better. Human interactions on a daily basis are in one way or another commonly characterized by expectations and in so many instances, expectations to get what we feel and believe we deserve.
But in what way are we supposed to get what we deserve? Shall we openly call the attention of the one who should be expressing his or her gratefulness to us? Shall we make some subtle moves just to make the other person feel or be reminded that he or she should be doing an act or saying some remarks as an expression of appreciation which we think we deserve? Shall we exercise our highest sense of trust towards the other person whom we consider to be respectable, hence there is no need to explicitly or implicitly call his or her attention to pay us or to praise us or to thank us because he or she will do it anyway at a later time?
As a matter of culture, we don´t openly call the attention of the other person and tell her or him to thank us or to praise us. We just wait and when such expectation is not consummated, we just resign to a state of disappointment. However, doing a professional job in service of another is another thing. Culture dictates that one should be paid for a job well done for she or he deserves it. And if the other person fails to carry out such a serious obligation, the one who rendered the service has all the rights in the world to get the payment she or he deserves. The former instance is subjective while the latter is objective.
Now the nitty-gritty of the issue is: Do we ACTUALLY get in ALL cases what we deserve? One´s response is dependent on her or his hermeneutical take of the question. If we are of the belief that every experience in life is the most likely effect of previous deeds on the one hand and the most likely cause of future events on the other, all that we have gotten and thus constitutive of our lives on earth—past, present and future—are what we in reality deserve. We are in the here and now because this is the result of what we´ve made our lives to be and this is what we deserve. Life is a matter of one´s choices and with all the choices we´ve made, this is our present condition which we deserve after all.
But if we believe that certain forces—both benevolent and malevolent—are operative in our reality to which we are subject and hence of which we are not totally in control, we have to accept the fact that in some cases, we are happy to get what we deserve while in other instances, we experience disappointments as we are deprived of the things we deserve. In this connection, we further ask: Are we living in a world that is inherently unfair or this view is just the result of our disappointments after experiencing setbacks in life? Perhaps the world is neither; it´s a neutral world. We have people here and there whose fairness towards others is a prominent virtue. But we also have the opportunist kind whose ways and means are always to take advantage of the others.
The ethical resolve that we should have upon this realization is two-pronged: As to subjective expectations, we should exercise a certain degree of soberness towards ourselves and in every particular circumstance and learn in the process the fact that some anticipations will be fulfilled whereas some will not. As to objective expectations based on established standards like in getting monetary compensations or in obtaining scholastic grades and qualifying institutional recognitions, we have all the rights in the world to use those very standards to openly claim—even fight for, if necessary—and finally get what we deserve.
© Ruel F. Pepa, 4 June 2013