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Archive for May, 2015

massex01

Philosophically, the statement could be taken either synthetically, i.e., as a matter of experience or analytically, i.e., as a matter of logic.

As a matter of experience, it requires us to get into an investigation and arrive at the conclusion that there truly is a connection between massage and sex on the basis of the fact that there really are instances wherein massage leads to sex or vice versa. If the investigation proves otherwise, then the statement is false and is not worth discussing. However, imagining a situation where a massage is being performed by an individual on another individual, having sex afterwards is not a far-fetched possibility. In other words, it is a conceivable situation and I don’t think there is any problem at all if such actually happens. Now, on the basis of such a possibility and even of an actual event where massage and sex are empirically established, settling the issue of whether sex is more than a massage or not is another thing.

We have already established the notion that a massage can spontaneously lead to sex–or perhaps the other way around–thereby making the connection between them. But the prioritization of which of them is essentially or qualitatively more than the other is a subjective matter that can generate contrasting opinions. One might opine on the one hand that sex is more than a massage but another on the other hand might think that it’s the other way around, i.e., that a massage is more than sex. In other words, problems like this is not easy to settle and not even something for philosophy to mind.
In the case of an individual who pays for the services of a professional masseur/masseuse to get an honest-to-goodness massage, we say that for her/him a massage is more than sex. In other words, s/he procures the services of a professional masseur/masseuse absolutely without any desire at all to top it with sex afterwards. However, even in an event wherein sex is sought within the so-called package offered by a masseur/masseuse, it is still a matter of the client’s prioritization which of the two activities is more important than the other.

Taking now the issue analytically, I appeal to David Hume’s principle of causality to establish the connection of sex and massage. The Humean doctrine says that the connection of two entities may either be necessary or constant. The connection established logically, i.e., analytically, is necessary and it contrasts with the connection established empirically which is only constant or a matter of habit. In this sense, we say that there is actually no necessary connection between sex and massage because descriptively, there is nothing in the meaning of  sex that requires a massage and conversely, there is nothing in a massage that requires sex. In this case, it is a pseudo-problematization to consider and ask analytically which of the two is more than the other. Solving this issue is therefore an exercise in futility.

Yet, calling the connection of sex and massage as constant is not even a sensible one since it is not always the case that sex is mixed with massage in particular instances. The connection though may be established as a matter of choice and decision and therefore not something that initially draws its meaningfulness from a logical argument. However, the issue may be used as a logical premise which if accepted as true could lead to a valid conclusion as in the following:

“There is a situation where massage and sex combine. Hence, sex gets in when there is a massage.”

∃ x: [(Mx ∧  Sx) ∧  Mx] → Sx

Corollary to this are the following arguments that are both valid:

“There is a situation where massage and sex combine. Hence, there is no sex when there is no massage.”

∃ x: [(Mx ∧  Sx) ∧  ˜Sx] → ˜Mx

and

“There is a situation where massage and sex combine. Hence there is no massage when there is no sex.”

∃ x: [(Mx ∧  Sx) ∧  ˜Mx] → ˜Sx

But taking the issue universally, an across-the-board necessary connection between massage and sex is unsustainable using as a presupposition the initial validity of the following argument:

“All massage leads to sex. Hence, there is always sex when there is massage.”

∀ x: [(Mx → Sx) ∧  Mx] → Sx

However, using the same elements of the presuppostion may yield the following invalid argument:

“All massage leads to sex. Hence , when there is sex, there must be massage.”

∀ x: [(Mx → Sx) ∧  Sx] → Mx

This is a fallacy known as “affirming the consequent”.

In the final analysis, we conclude that there is no necessary connection between massage and sex, much less can it be argued as a universal, across-the-board proposition that sex is more than a massage. Even the issue of having them as a matter of constant conjunction is yet to be established.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 27 May 2015

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Photos taken after the Tertulia de Matematicas lecture on “Formal Logic: Thematizing the Rational Foundations of Mathematics” at Centro Segoviano, Aula Marqués de Lozoya, c/ Alburquerque nº 14, 28010 Madrid  . . . 26 May 2015

. . . https://sites.google.com/site/tertuliadematematicas/26-5-2015

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demo

“What is true, just, and beautiful is not determined by popular vote. The masses everywhere are ignorant, short-sighted, motivated by envy, and easy to fool. Democratic politicians must appeal to these masses in order to be elected. Whoever is the best demagogue will win. Almost by necessity, then, democracy will lead to the perversion of truth, justice and beauty.”

–Hans-Hermann Hoppe

“But moving on from the ideals to what is actually obtaining in reality, the more concrete question at this point is: Is there really an existing society where the system of governance is truly democratic? Could it be more reasonable and realistic to think on the basis of what is actually happening and hence observed, that there is always a cabal of elite leaders who take up in theirs hands the role of governing people in their respective social locations? Aren’t democratic ideals just as they are, i.e., ideals? In this sense, could we reasonably say that most probably, democracy is just a figment of our imaginations?”

— Ruel F. Pepa, Is Democracy Obsolete?”

Is there a worthwhile sense in discussing the issue of the perversion of democracy? In the first place, what is true democracy? Only when we have captured in clear and definitive terms the essence of democracy can we truly get to an understanding of how it is perverted. Another crucial question related to this matter is: Is it really possible to maintain the immaculate perfection–if there actually is such a thing–of the democratic principles or such is only a figment of someone’s imagination because in reality, democracy is always bound to be perverted? Does history present us with a solid and realistic instance in the collective life of a particular nation where honest-to-goodness democracy has thrived and evolved toward a certain level of near-perfection where supreme political power authentically resides with the people?

Etymologically, we understand democracy as ‘the rule or the government of the people.’ Ideally, we can imagine a situation where the people of a particular geographical territory have a united political power to be in control of their socio-cultural and economic states of affairs. They live in a society where the voice of the majority is heard and the general will of the people is what dominates the political arena. Their leaders as true public servants are genuinely serving the general interest of the people. The dynamics of their leadership are shown in how they sit down and put their heads together with their constituents as they listen to the latter’s concerns, both long-term and imminent. They do not take the cudgel of decision-making from the people as it is a fundamental presupposition that only the latter are the legitimate performers of such act, both simple and complex, while the leaders simply take the role of facilitators. Moreover, leaders are not only representatives of the people but more significantly their delegates. In this sense, it is the people who are the true wielders of power and their leaders are only the facilitators, consolidators and integrators of the people’s concerns, plans and programs. These leaders are also the spokespersons of the people who have delegated them to echo in a broader context what the people want to accomplish and achieve. Lest we get lost in the embellishment of these ideal descriptions, a return to reality is now imperative for what we have just said is not what we find in so-called democratic nations.

The concept of democracy has gone through the process of equivocation. The powers that be in one nation call their government a democracy while those in another have the same name for the kind of government they have despite its diametrical differences from the mechanics and dynamics of the former. A survey of governments of different countries in the contemporary scene yields us all sorts of democracy in varied colors, shades and hues. At the end of the day, we get to a realization that everything has gone confused and confusing as well. Worse yet, we have witnessed how on the one hand is ‘democracy’ globally bannered by one of the most powerful nations in the world in terms of military firepower being traditionally acknowledged as the vanguard of ‘genuine’ democracy in the modern dispensation while on the other hand is at the same time heavily supporting in terms of finances and armaments fascist and neo-nazi governments in other parts of the world like Ukraine, Israel and Saudi Arabia among others. In this connection, we say that it is not really democracy but the concept of democracy which has evolved. Or perhaps ‘evolve’ is not the most appropriate term but rather ‘devolve’. In other words, ideal democracy has in reality passed through the path of perversion. Democracy, in the context of so many nations who call themselves democratic, has been perverted.

But ideal is ideal and ideal democracy might not even be practicable in real-life politics. If such is the case, there couldn’t have been a perversion of democracy along the way. Democracy could even in itself be a perverted concept. One thing that makes it impracticable is the idea of the majority of the people ruling a country which in literal terms is inconceivable. Take the case of a country with a population of more than a million. How do you imagine such a country being democratically ruled on the basis of our definition of democracy? It is just impossible. So a modification in the concept has been generated and was later given the name, ‘representative democracy’. And there is nothing neat in this newly evolved (or devolved) concept which has further perverted the originally perverted concept of democracy. This is precisely what we mean by devolution which as suggested earlier is more proper than evolution in the case of democracy. Besides, who in the first place were the people who ‘invented’ the notion of ‘representative democracy’ but the very people themselves infused with the ambition of being the powerful representatives of their constituents. And now democracy has absolutely gone down the drain because these so-called representatives of the people are in reality representatives of big-business interests owned by millionaire and multi-millionaire–even billionaire–tycoons whose most nefarious operations are generally geared to impoverish the population by way of large-scale exploitative means. Rightly so because these big businessmen were the ones who poured millions and millions of dollars/euros/pesos to finance the bid of these misnomered ‘representatives of the people’ in a traditionally ‘democratic’ process called elections.

Having all these considerations in mind, do we still think that democracy could have gone the way of its ideal trajectory? Democracy being practicably impossible has no other trail but to go awry. Being itself a perverted concept of government makes it a potent tool for malevolent power-grabbers to get to their most desired sinister ambitions. Instead of facilitating government power to be possessed by the people, these megalomaniacs have contrived all forms and props that would make it appear as if the people are the real ones in power. In reality, what we see are only semblances of democracy in varied superficial formations that do not have the purported essence of its ideals. Democracy has therefore never been perverted. What we witness now in various forms of so-called democratic governments where none of the majority of the people in any society for that matter is the wielder of true power is the fact that democracy naturally defeats its ideals and hence is nothing but a failed system.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 18 May 2015

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It was quite a special day in PhiloMadrid on 3 May 2015 as a big group of Philosophy students from the University of Amsterdam joined us at Centro Segoviano (Madrid). . . . The topic discussed was “Can We Understand the Oriental Mind?”

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math

“It is the power of understanding and discovering such truths that the mastery of the intellect over the whole world of things actual and possible resides; and the ability to deal with the general as such is one of the gifts that a mathematical education should bestow.”
— Bertran Russell, “The Study of Mathematics”

Where? In business? . . . In science? . . . In technology? . . . Or in life in general? Well, I’m no mathematician at all and if just to recall the math courses I had in school, they included arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and statistics; can’t even think of any other courses where I did some kind of mathematical computations except in physics though it isn’t officially considered a branch of math. Nevertheless school math seems to be so abstract and divorced from the practicality of real life outside the four walls of the classroom. There was even an instance in the distant past when I overheard a high school student making the comment why he had to take algebra when in the daily grind of actual life, he wouldn’t have one heck of a moment to use it.

So as not to complicate matters, it is perhaps much better if we just take up the most basic aspect of mathematics to get to an interesting discussion of the issue of mathematics’ fundamental role in whatever context we wish to handle the issue. Dealing with the much higher branches could bring us to certain complex problems only the experts can give a run for their money, so to speak. Besides, the obvious limitation set by the topic doesn’t open up  a leeway to explore upper-storey considerations. As a matter of axiological concern, I’d rather look into the pragmatic and utilitarian values of the most basic aspect of mathematics–call it arithmetic, if you will–in the daily life of the common human being under normal circumstances. In this way, we veer away from the academic abstractions of the discipline and locate its usefulness in the down-to-earth nitty-gritty of human experience.

Four very important aspects of human experience that lead to knowledge are differentiation, classification, quantification and specification. In all these matters, mathematics plays an essentially crucial role. The most basic operationalization of mathematics is in being able to differentiate and classify in experience the data of perceptual knowledge. The process is so natural that on the one hand, a unit is spontaneously distinguished from another on the basis of certain obvious properties. Yet on the other hand and on the basis of the same properties, two or more similar units are deemed to be classified as belonging to the same genus or family or species technically called a “set” in the language of modern math’s set theory. In other events, one could rather find some differences in the properties of two units despite some aspects of significant similarities and thus define their intersection.

Then we closely focus our attention on a particular set of units and look at them individually. At this point, we begin to quantify and connect them. We determine the factors that make them related to each other and the conditions that make them affect each other as well. A further magnification of each of the unit with a more serious stress on its peculiarities brings us to the in-depth level of specification. We get to its detailed components and explore their systemic interconnectivity that effects functionality. Technically, we are into the epistemological realm of philosophical inquiry which fundamentally considers the importance of the basic instrumentality of mathematics. In other words, this is how we actually begin to comprehend empirical reality: through the mathematical path. The thematic aspect of mathematics is obviously a non-issue as  yet but what is being established by this presupposition is the integral pre-eminence of the spontaneous, non-thematic mathematical category in human consciousness.

The normal human at her/his most basic state of being is mathematically enabled. S/he has the inherent mathematical endowment to differentiate, classify, quantify and specify empirical information because at the base of her/his epistemic platform in consciousness is the very domain of logical reasoning which is the absolute foundation of the mathematical infrastructure. Says Bertrand Russell in his ‘The Study of Mathematics’:

‘The characteristic excellence of mathematics is only to be found where the reasoning is rigidly logical: the rules of logic are to mathematics what those of structure are to architecture. In the most beautiful work, a chain of argument is presented in which every link is important on its own account, in which there is an air of ease and lucidity throughout, and the premises achieve more than would have been thought possible, by means which appear natural and inevitable. Literature embodies what is general in particular circumstances whose universal significance shines through their individual dress; but mathematics endeavours to present whatever is most general in its purity, without any irrelevant trappings.’

Being thus grounded in logic, mathematics in its thematized form provides the structural patterns that lead us to a better understanding of an otherwise complex reality with all the series of interconnected events impossible to track down in a space-time maze. Mathematics, in this sense, facilitates us to better understand significant aspects of reality by isolating the ‘fiber’ of their quantitative dynamics from the ‘flesh’ of their empirical mechanics. The whole process is actually a simplification rather than a complexification as the non-enthusiasts of the mathematical discipline stubbornly contend.

Mathematics is the sophisticated extension and expression of human rationality thematically ‘institutionalized’ in formal logic. This thought brings us to the realization that the most fundamental role of mathematics in human life is the ‘fortification’ of certain matters of specified information and knowledge of various levels of importance by way of a thoroughly quantitative examination of their categorized and differentiated components. Common sense has its own degree of importance but not enough in attending to the complexities of higher-level problematizations.  The facilitative edge of logical reasoning at that stage is never doubted as a time-tested ally. Nevetheless, in a lot of instances, the trajectory of complexification doesn’t rest within the coverage of what logic may handle but even goes farther upward  at a certain height where the sophisticated process of mathematical operations are of the essence.

Mathematics, though utilized epistemically through the facility of human consciousness, is a transcendent discipline for its essentially independent character is not contained within consciousness. Had it been so, its subjective streak would have shown. But mathematics is devoid of subjectivity. From a dualistic perspective, we automatically conclude that if it is not subjective, it must be objective and hence located in the outside world. But neither is mathematics a property of  what classical philosophy calls the ‘extended substance’. Mathematics is therefore not in the mind nor in the world. Like the question on the reality of the ‘soul’ raised by the Buddha in the Surangama Sutra, mathematics is located neither within nor without. Perhaps its most appropriate location is Plato’s Realm of Universals for in that sphere, nothing may be destroyed nor altered in eternity and perfection. In fact, the transcendent reality of mathematics could even be properly construed as higher than the ‘secured’ status of the christian ‘God’ for even the latter cannot violate the rules of logic, much less that of mathematics. This reminds me of an encounter I had some two years back with a stupid clergy of a charismatic episcopal church who argued with the intensity of a preacher delivering a passionate homily behind the pulpit that his ‘God’ is so omnipotent (all-powerful) he can even will to make two plus two become five.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa 13 May 2015

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fem

“Other people will call me a rebel, but I just feel like I’m living my life and doing what I want to do. Sometimes people call that rebellion, especially when you’re a woman.”
— Joan Jett

“Feminism is not a dirty word. It does not mean you hate men, it does not mean you hate girls that have nice legs and a tan, and it does not mean you are a ‘bitch’ or ‘dyke’; it means you believe in equality.”
— Kate Nash

“I’d like every man who doesn’t call himself a feminist to explain to the women in his life why he doesn’t believe in equality for women.”
— Louise Brealey

The present discussion specifically focuses on (1) second wave feminism, also called  modern feminism (which emerged in the 1960s and was highlighted by the publication in 1963 of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique) whose principal aim is to end gender discrimination and (2) post-modern or third wave feminism (which came out ca. 1990s) whose centerpiece is sexuality as a significant foundation of female empowerment. Antedating these two waves was the pre-modern or first wave ( in the 19th century) feminism whose main concern was on woman’s suffrage or right to vote.

One presupposition that stands out though in dealing with this issue is the fact that feminism as an ideology and a movement is unilaterally a western socio-cultural and politico-economic concern. The height of its assertive defiance is in the context of a western industrial society whose fundamental landscape has been dominated by the male species being simply a continuation and perpetuation of patriarchy in the preceding civilizations both ancient and medieval. If however, we find feminist movements in Asian societies, these are almost certainly the more heavily western-influenced ones.

Feminism, in general, is an aggressive stance  against social prescriptions that undermine the dignity of the woman as a human being. We find this woman-debasing condition in almost all social institutions where the rules of the game–both implied and expressed–are almost always male-centered, male-promoting and hence absolutely advantageous to the social standing of the man. In this kind of social arrangement, the man is in full control of major concerns such as organizational leadership, decision-making, rules-formulation and institutional administration among others. In this state of affairs, it is the man who calls the shots, so to speak. It is against this pernicious social setting that the woman has rebelled to actively assert her rights, her dignity, her creativity, her competence, her humanity and the distillation of all these is cogently imbued in the ideological framework of feminism.

Pushed against the male-dominated social wall, the prejudiced woman of the modern western industrial society has seen her disparaged condition and resolved once and for all to rise up and subvert the imbalanced system. With an unwavering will power that even surpassed that of a man’s heart, she has moved onward traversing old and seemingly secured cultural frontiers to claim territories society bestowed on her male counterpart since time immemorial. At this particular instance, feminism is not only an ideology but a movement. Along the rugged socio-cultural terrain, the woman succeeds in demonstrating not only to the man but likewise to the docile segment of her species the reality that she is perfectly able to dabble and accomplish a lot of endeavors culturally assigned to the man without necessarily losing her femininity.

We’ve seen her as an accomplished engineer directing an army of construction workers in a high-rise building project smack at the center of the metropolis. We’ve witnessed her mettle operating  a bulldozer in a highway construction project. Right in the busy inner-city streets,  we have boarded countless times the bus or the taxi she drives or the subway train she operates. Nowadays, she is no longer as defiant and angry as in the past several decades ago hollering invectives against the system in mass mobilizations. With the total confidence of a seasoned performer, she soberly does her job today with a high sense of achievement while reminiscing the past when such kind of a job was  specifically categorized within the exclusive domain of the male species. Neither is her competence being challenged by anybody anymore for her place in society being equal to that of the man is already established and secure. These are among the many positive gains of feminism.

However, the struggle is not over yet. Conservative fundamentalist religions which are mainly of so-called Christian rootage in western societies are still around asserting their irrational dogmatism and freak stubbornness despite obvious irrelevance. Suffused with their counterfeit spirituality, these so-called conservative fundamentalists have formulated self-serving moral guidelines to perpetuate the notion that the woman ought to be subjected under the headship of the man. More repugnant than this general mandate is the particular injunction that the woman has no “god-given” right over her body. In other words, she has no choice at all to determine what she thinks is best for her condition in physical terms. The loudest voices from which this notion emanates are those of the fundamentalists–both catholic and evangelical–whose nauseating slogan is “All life is sacred.”

In the light of this imminent concern, post-modern or third-wave feminism is here yet to stay until the moral legitimacy of feminine sexuality is fully achieved over and against the distorted morality of religious fundamentalism and when total woman empowerment is finally an unconditional reality.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa 7 May 2015

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