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Everything posted by Elys

  1. Elys added a blog entry in Blog 1911   

    Inner Peace
    I'm searching for different forms of achieving inner peace. I figured, what the hell? I'll post what I learn here, too. Get some feedback, maybe? *shrug* I dunno.

    [ame=]Wikipedia[/ame] lists the follow words as synonyms for the elusive inner peace:

    Meaning of Life
    Inner Light

    I'm going to look up the cultures, religions and mind sets that created each of these words and try to determine how people across the world are seeking their own form of inner peace.

    (As a side note, I know this list is bullshit because "Shalom" and "Salaam" are Hebrew and Arabic literal translations for the word "peace," but we all gotta start somewhere, right?)
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  2. Elys added a blog entry in Blog 1911   

    A Belated Introduction to This Blog
    This blog is going to serve as my journal, in an attempt to organize my self-education, share what I've learned with others, and present my thoughts to others who know more and may provide insight, criticism and / or approval.

    To properly learn, I know I need a teacher, someone more educated and knowledgable than I, to help me analyze and understand my different subjects. If you feel you meet this qualification in regards to a subject on which I post, I humble implore you aid my understanding.

    In keeping with the philosophy of the site, I hope to share my growing knowledge with others, to inspire them to dig deeper into subjects on which they have already studied, and to enlighten them to subjects they have never considered. In this manner, I aim to contribute to The Library.

    My interests are as esoteric as my life: I'm a hippie born thirty years too late who dreams of ruling the seas as a self-made pirate and currently serves in the Armed Forces. My ancestry, according to family tradition, can be traced back to the Palacial home of the lost Anastasia and the conquering armies of Atilla the Hun. In more recent history, I am the result of an ironic union between an irish lass and an englishman. I have a soft heart and I hate communists - on principle, mind you, not because of any particular revulsion to their godless, pinko ideology.

    See? Esoteric. =p

    In conslusion, welcome, read, criticize, throw me a few words of encouragement here or there (I shed my tough skin with the waxing and waning of the moon), and hopefully this blog will add bits o' knowledge to this Library insteading of stating things that most everybody already knows.
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  3. Elys added a post in a topic Thoughts on Strip Clubs   

    There sure is a lot of pity in this thread for the men who attend strip clubs. Is there anyone here who offers a different opinion? I know, earlier, someone said they did not know a single man who boasted about going to strip clubs, but knew men who went. My experience is the opposite. Most men I've known who attend strip clubs are not ashamed about the habit at all (and it is a habit with them) and will not hesitate to describe in detail the adventures they have had there.

    Is there anyone from the latter crowd here tonight? Because it's a point of view that I think would add some dynamic to this thread and make the discussion a little more deep and a little less one-sided. Or am I jumping too quickly to the conclusion that those who have spoken thus far are in agreeance that strip clubs are "bad"?
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  4. Elys added a post in a topic Thoughts on Strip Clubs   

    Unfortunately, I'm not the right person to continue this debate with - I agree with you compeletly. That's why I called it "an argument" rather than argued it myself. The point of stating it all was to illustrate the difference between "object" and "subject." If you can understand what the argument is trying to say, then you can understand the concept of objectifying someone.

    On a side note, (after I already said I wasn't going to argue it, lol), that particular argument doesn't imply that "the status of a person automatically increases through marriage." Ideally, your personhood is respected before you enter into a marriage - the marriage is simply the final, public statement of that respect. After marriage (ideally), you can be 100% certain that you are respected as a person by this individual, so after sex, you don't lay awake thinking, "Does (s)he really care about me? Or did (s)he say so just because (s)he wanted to enjoy my body?"

    Tying back into the stripper discussion, the above question isn't even a question in the strippers' mind, because it is so obvious: "No, (s)he doesn't care about me and only wanted to enjoy my body."
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  5. Elys added a post in a topic Thoughts on Strip Clubs   

    I'm running out of time to finish reading this thread, but I wanted to get my own two cents in because topics of this sort matter greatly to me in my own personal opinion.

    First, Camp - I got your back. I think Sex and the City was a great show. It was entertaining and funny, and does fit in a certain niche in the history of feminism. To me, the show has never been about women who were empowered because they lived like men. It was more about women who lived like men but were STILL NOT empowered, and their struggle to understand why. Throughout the course of the show, the women tried different things and had different experiences that all seemed aimed at them understanding their own sexuality as women - trying to determine the nature under the nurture, and just how much nuture (provided from society) they were willing to accept.

    In regards to strip clubs and degradation, I think it was Kant who made this distinction, but I'm a novice philosophy student, so I may be completely incorrect about everything I'm about to say. Here goes:

    There are two different ways we can approach a human being: as a means (an object) or an end (a subject). A great argument for waiting for marriage to have sex is that only in marriage can you be completely certain that your partner cares about you as a person - a subject and an ends - and that the sex act is not reducing you to a simple object - a more elaborate form of masturbation, if you will.

    When you cease to be considered as a subject - a human being with your own needs, desires and interests - and are reduced a simple object - as important as a table lamp or "pocket pussy" (please forgive my language) - you have been degraded. You no longer hold the status of person. You are merely thing.

    In this way, I argue that stripping is degrading to the stripper. When I watch a balet, I appreciate the beautiful performance put in front of me by the dancers. I admire the skill and control with which the dancers move their bodies, and how wonderfully the dancers seem to blend into the music. Above all, I appreciate the skill and hard work (bloody balet toes is an image that has haunted me from my childhood) that they put into reaching this exact moment of their performance. In short, I do not forget that the dancers are human. The money that passes from me to the performers is an admission of my appreciation for thier hard work to such an extent that I am willing to simply watch the glory and beauty which they are able to experience. When I pay them, I am paying a human being.

    Strippers, however, do not retain their personhood during the execution of their dance. In the minds of their audience, they become an object of sexual arousal. Who they are doesn't matter. The inner person doesn't matter. What matters is only that the audience be aroused by this physical thing that is dancing in front of them. And when a patron pays for attending the show, the payment makes the stripper the object of the business transaction, not the subject. One might as well be paying for a meal at a nice resteraunt - where the stripper is the meal.

    Indeed, at most strip clubs, if you pay $20 for a lap dance, $18 will go to the club and only $2 to the stripper. She is not getting paid for her performance. Someone else is getting paid for her performance. She is merely the object that belongs to the club, and the club will maintain her with the $2 the way one would spare money to purchase more meat for more meals.

    In conclusion, stripping degrads the stripper because it objectifies the stripper and strips (pardon the pun) that individual of his or her personhood.

    When I was getting married, I made it explicitly clear that I didn't want any strippers at my bachelorette party. As far as I see it, the point of watching a strip is sexual arousal, and I cannot be turned on by someone who has been reduced to a mere object. More importantly, I do not understand why anyone would want to be turned on by anyone / thing other than the subject of their sexual interest.
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  6. Elys added a post in a topic Research, Learning, TGL   

    I was hoping something had been done in regards to suggestions made in this thread during my absence. Any changes? Or is TGL the same Ol' TGL that I left in '09?
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  7. Elys added an answer to a question Language Learning Log   

    Wow, that's beautiful, Michio!

    Don't beat yourself up too hard over "slacking off" or being busy, eh? Keep at your diary and your studying, don't give up! Even if there is a month between entires, it can still be helpful! And as long as I'm available, I can cheerlead for you! Haha!
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  8. Elys added a post in a topic Switches, Routers and Protocols   

    That, mon petit chou, would be magnifique! =D
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  9. Elys added a topic in Explore   

    Switches, Routers and Protocols
    Anyone here know networking? I'm talking the whole nine yards - from physical connections (i.e. ports, cables, data rates, devices) to transmission media (cable, fiber optics, radio waves, satellites) to applications (VOIP, POTS, computers, internet) to theory (transmission theory, multiplexing) to protocols (OSI model, TCP/IP, Wireless protocols, ethernet protocols). ... I think you get the idea.

    Furthermore, is anyone interested in learning about all this?

    Long story short, I'm taking a communications class and it's not easy. I can't focus on my blog because every time I think about altruism (the latest post I've been trying to write) there's a nag in the back of my head saying, "Shouldn't you be translating acronyms or something?" But every time I start to go over my notes from the day's class, I get anxious, because I want to be doing busy work contributing to this site. >.<

    SO! I figure, if anyone's knowledgeable and can teach, or interested in learning what I know, maybe I can do BOTH (study and contribute)! Having someone to explain protocols in greater depth would help me master my understanding, while having to rewrite my notes into cohesive bits o' knowledge and understanding that others can learn from would also help me master what I need to know.

    What dya' say, guys? Anyone up for some heated discussions on frequency spectrum management!?

    Okay, actually, what I'd really like to learn more about right now is satellites and how cell phones work... And figuring out those damned protocols... Those accursed letter and number combinations... How they mock me so...
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  10. Elys added a post in a topic Research, Learning, TGL   

    Haha! It looks like everyone's been thinking the same thing all along. =p

    (Michio, you sent me one AIM message, and I was unable to respond, and now you're not online, so now it's all your fault! =p)

    Perhaps we need a decider to make a decision? We're all giving ideas and examples and apparently unanimous support. We simply need a god to say, "So it is written, so it shall be."

    And Michio! Stop being to pessimistic! Just because this is the internet, doesn't mean people don't care. Especially us folk, who, I think, take our discussions here rather seriously (according to POL's guidance on use of this word).
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  11. Elys added a post in a topic Research, Learning, TGL   

    I found this site because after some quick research into self-education, I found advice that philosophy is that place to start. Google did the rest. ~_^ Is it too optimistic to think this site can be more about philosophy?

    Take Michio's interests - it's arguable that there is philosophy to be found in every field, but philosophical analysis of the Japanese language probably narrows down one's options considerably.

    Why can't we have a sticky somewhere, in each of the forum topics, for example, listing links to threads within those subforums that cover different topics. Michio starts a discussion on adjectives and verbs in the Japanese language, and that becomes THE forum for that discussion, linked in a sticky. Then the thread could contain background information - things others have already researched, facts, encyclopedia articles, etymology, cultural information, explorations and explanations into different, specified research topics and questions. As the questions are identified in this thread, new threads are created to explore those specific questions, with links to these question threads listed in the first post of the original research thread.

    Now we've got a thread with information, that is, theoretically, forever growing, and threads investigating the answers to different questions. The ultimate goal in these question threads could be an article, as long or in depth as the participators want. Once an article is created, it can go to another thread that criticizes the article, proofs it, suggests alterations, basically a thorough reviewing process.

    The final result? An article that can be published in the Library portion of the website. The proud creation of the community that lives here, and the productive end result to which we may strive to add more direction and purpose to our education.

    I rather like this idea because it turns the Library into a place people can come to learn from, instead of a place where people come to chatter philosophically. We don't need to lose the philosophical chatter, I know the ejoyment we get out these things, but I agree with Michio that there also needs to be something of substance, a product, to motivate our educative process.
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  12. Elys added a blog entry in Blog 1911   

    Inner Peace (Epicurean Ataraxia)
    Ataraxia is a Greek word that basically means freedom from worry - imperturbability. It is seen in two different forms of Greek philosophical thought, that of the Pyrrhonians and the Epicureans. This entry discusses the Epicurean philosophy and how ataraxia fits into it.

    Epicurean Ataraxia

    Epicurus was a Greek philosopher born in 341 BC. He lived, he moved around a bit, studied under Nausiphanes and at Plato's Academy, and finally settled down in Athens, where he established his own school called The Garden (most likely because it was set up in his garden). The philosophy he taught touched on Physical Theory, Psychology and Ethics and Social Theory. His physical philosophy consisted of the theory of atoms and how they worked, and included a theory on soul atoms, the atoms that were supposed to comprise a human's soul and provide the capacity for sensation. It is an important part of his psychological philosophy that once a body ceases to function (dies), soul atoms are too weak to hold on to each other and scatter. Epicurus taught that death was nothing to be feared because when the soul atoms scatter upon death, the person no longer has the ability to perceive senses and, thus, has nothing to fear from the Gods or the afterlife. He argued that since there is a word for "death," one often assumes that death is something that can be experienced and, therefore, feared. This is false, since the ability to experience things vanishes with death. Death, then, is nothing to us, because while we are alive, our death is not, and when our death occurs, we do not exist. For Epicurus, ataraxia is the absense of fear (including fear of death) and a continous lack of perturbation and the Epicurean goal in life was freedom from mental anxiety (ataraxia) and freedom from physical pain.

    The mind cannot be relied upon to determine between good and bad because it is subject to beliefs that could be flawed and cognitive errors in judgment. Sensations, however, cannot be altered by a flawed belief, and are not subject to cognitive errors. The body, then, must be relied upon to be the determiner of good and bad - in other words, pain and pleasure. If something is pleasurable, then it is good. If something is painful, then it is bad. We must do all we can to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. This is not a carte blanche to do whatever we desires, however, because some short-term pleasures (i.e. gluttony) can lead to long-term pain (i.e. stomach pains, obesity, etc...).

    To help differentiate between real pleasures and possibly painful ones, Epicurus divided human desires into three categories: necessary, natural, and empty. Necessary and natural desires are those that look to the general safety and well-being of the person. Necessary desires include the desire to eat, or have a roof over our head. Natural desires are more like luxury desires, to eat good tasting food, live in a nice smelling house, or sleep in silk sheets. Empty desires are those that do nothing to look after a person's well-being and can never truly be satisfied, for example, the desire for power, which will neither feed, cloth nor shelter us, does not relieve anxiety and will, in most likelihood, increase our anxiety. Obviously, we are to avoid the empty desires, and feel free to have at the necessary and natural ones all we please.

    In his social theory, Epicurus discusses society's development from the "pre-social" ages up to his modern time. Originally, humans were solitary, and society did not exist. Humans began socializing for security (strength in numbers), and from these humble beginnings we see the evolution of agriculture, towns and villages, cities and kingdoms, and governments and laws. Committing a crime becomes a great example of a short-term pleasure that leads to long-term pain, as even if the criminal gets away with his or her deed, the knowledge that the deed is illegal and fear of getting caught will become a source of anxiety. General fear of punishment turns a pleasure into a pain. There is, therefore, no motive for an Epicurean to violate the rights of others, as such action would lead to more harm for the Epicurean then good. For Epicurus, it didn't matter whether or not a person was virtuous, only that a person behave virtuously.

    Finally, Epicurus puts a special emphasis on friendship, and being a good friend. One should cherish one's friends, and be ready and willing to go to the ends of the earth for them, share in their pain, even die for them. Only by treating and loving a friend so, can one be secure in the friendships of others.

    To sum it all up, obey the law, ignore empty desires, and be satisfied with fulfilling the necessary and natural ones. Do not fear death, and be secure in your ability to fulfill your desires. Become as self-sufficient as possible, to relieve anxiety about the possibility of not fulfilling necessary desires. Surround yourself with friends, and treat them well so you can be sure that they will also treat you well. Live simply, and be satisfied with the simplicity, and you will have achieved Epicurean ataraxia - inner peace.

    Epicurean Ataraxia and Me

    First and foremost, I feel the need to express my humor at the concept of soul atoms. While, as far as I know, there really is no better contemporary scientific way to look at a soul, I still find it funny and cute. =3

    I rather like his description of necessary, natural and empty desires. I think this sort of classification for the purposes of decision making is even more applicable today. What would the world be like if, before attempting to fulfill a desire, people always stopped and thought, "Now do I really need this? And will it really make me feel better?"

    I remember the moment when I learned the difference between need and want, and exercising that differentiation really did make my life a lot simpler. I no longer cared or fretted so much about not having the things I wanted and felt more satisfied in having the things I needed. Even today, my husband and I are a lot more liberal with our money than we ought to be (i.e. buying a compound bow to improve archery skills for when the zombies come, giving a friend $1000 to buy a car 'cause she needed it, etc...), and I know we ought to save more than we do, but we live in such a manner because we are secure in our ability each month to satisfy our necessary needs. Times when it gets tight, we cut down on what Epicurus called our "natural" desires, and it doesn't perturb us to sacrifice these things because we know they are desires that do not matter anyways.

    Epicurus' philosophy results in a very low personal standard of living. As long as you're necessary desires are fulfilled, you are satisfied. Thus, an expensive steak meal is equivalent to a fifty cent can of microwaveable ravioli, and vic versa. Either way, the necessary desire to not be hungry is fulfilled. With this philosophy, there becomes very little that can cause anxiety in a person. If an Epicurean gets laid off from work, for example, s/he is unperturbed because s/he can simply cut back on luxuries and usually still maintain his / her standard of living.

    One BIG problem I have with Epicurus' philosophy is the little-picture view it advocates. Epicurus focuses purely on the individual and what directly affects the individual. Don't worry about the world, or the big picture, just make sure you've got enough to eat and a warm place to sleep. But I DO worry about the world, and I DO worry about the big picture. I worry about socialized health care and China's growing economic influence in America. I am perturbed by the growing parent state and the laws that take the decision of wearing a helmet or buckling a seat belt out of my hands. Epicurus said that "the greatest benefit of self-sufficiency is freedom," but can self-sufficiency free me from my government? Epicurus' perfect lifestyle seems better suited for a commune of quasi-social hermits than modern society.

    I feel that as much of his philosophy as can be applied to contemporary life I have already figured out. Since his philosophy has nothing new to offer me, I find myself no where closer to my personal goal of inner peace. And so in conclusion: thank you, Epicurus, for nothing.


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  13. Elys added a comment on a blog entry Inner Peace (Epicurean Ataraxia)   

    Thank you, Hugo! You certainly put my thoughts into much more clear and concise words! Maybe this calls for a formal comparison of the two (Epicurus and Donne) somewhere down the line...
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  14. Elys added an answer to a question Bibles in other languages   

    I know the LDS have a book of Mormon in Tagalog... I dunno about Bibles, tho.
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  15. Elys added a post in a topic Advice: The Bible and Textual Criticism   

    But wouldn't a commitment to a coming Kingdom imply a belief in that Kingdom, and, therefore, a logos type knowledge of a physical place?
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  16. Elys added a post in a topic How can we encourage some women to view philosophy as important?   

    Thanks, lingeries name, for the references. I looked up Haslanger and found a nice little blog entry about her and women in philosophy:

    I'm going to read the Haslanger article that was linked in the blog right now, but the blog article brings up a point that I don't think has been mentioned in this thread: critical mass of women in philosophy - which sounds much more realistic than a theory that women are deterred by the argumentative nature of philosophy.

    MTF when I'm done with the Haslanger link.

    [EDITED to add:]

    Doi, the Haslanger article is the one referenced in the first post. =p Maybe I should pay more attention to the authors of things that I read, lol.

    Anyway, critical mass, women in philosophy, harrumph, harrumph!
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  17. Elys added a post in a topic Poll: Death Penalty   

    Au contrare, mon ami! The right to decide whether or not a fellow citizen can have his or her life taken away by a government can also be described as ought!

    I like to think of it as a moral right, but I might be using the wrong word to describe it. (I slept through my philosophy class on the semantic difference between "morals," "ethics," and "virtues.")

    Let me put it this way:

    If society has the right to decide whether or not a death penalty exists, then I think it perfectly acceptable that the death penalty exist. Perhaps I am a little more vindictive than others, but I find it unfair that by committing a heinous enough crime, a criminal gets the free-ticket of living on someone else's bill. I'd rather pay to have a criminal put to death than pay for a criminal to spend life behind bars. (And I'm not entirely sure the international community would be okay with America simply exporting their criminals.)

    Interestingly enough, I'm not sure a person's life should be decided on by a vote. It's a big problem I have with America's society to begin with: by being born on American soil, one does not get the choice on whether or not one wants to live by America's rules. They are simply enforced upon one. Before I even know what a social contract is, I'm expected to live by the rules that exist / have power because of the social contract. The problem of America's social contract not being voluntary makes me hesistate to 100% agree with laws agreed upon by that society.

    It's the question of in which realms society should be allowed to make decisions that is the major hang up for me.
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  18. Elys added a post in a topic Poll: Death Penalty   

    Dear, I'm not talking about governments, I'm talking about the people: "does society have the right" (can) before "whether society should" (ought).

    This seems like a frustratingly long correspondence for the simple act of establishing the question. Is there something I am doing that is hindering understanding? If not, then I respectfully ask that you slow down and not rush your understanding of my words, because this isn't the first time I've had to repeat myself and inefficiency frustrates me.
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  19. Elys added a post in a topic Poll: Death Penalty   

    From the first post:

    Within the realm of this thread, mine is a completely legitimate question. The assumptions of others in regards to this question is not enough to convince me that the answer is "yes".

    The question of can ought to be answered, first and foremost, before ought is considered.
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  20. Elys added a post in a topic Poll: Death Penalty   


    First, I apologize if my attempt at brevity resulted in an incomplete conveyance of my thoughts.

    No, I do not consider mercy a specifically religious virtue. I mentioned separation of church and state because I view such a separation to include separation of the state from belief values or prescribed virtues. I view values as a form of religion in their own right, and, as such, something the government should not concern itself with.

    The only right and wrong the government should be concerned with is what is written down in the law books as a result of the positive vote of the people. To quote the great Coach Bobby Knight, "Piss on ethics." As far as the government should be concerned, the legal code is its guide to right and wrong, not virtues and morals. A government ought to be soulless and blind, doing only what it was programmed to do.

    Also, I fail to see how such a form of government would be "well on its way to totalitarianism" and I find it rather unfair that you would assume whether or not I would prefer such a form of government.

    Lastly, I did not say the death penalty provides protection or facilitates cooperation, I said that these are the only roles to which a government should mind. [PORTION REMOVED ON EDITING AND REPLACED WITH:] Whether or not the death penalty achieves these ends, or whether the death penalty does so in a more efficient manner is a moot point. The fact is that it is on the books and it is the obligation of the government to follow those books.

    The real question here has little to do with the morality of a death penalty or the psychology behind it. The question we ought to be asking ourselves is "does a society have the right to give its government the power to take away a citizens life, especially when membership into such a society is not a conscious choice but, instead, a matter of birth?"
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  21. Elys added a post in a topic About Depression   

    Having experienced depression at several points in my life, and for several different reasons, I feel compelled to share the fact that "a lot of other people are depressed, too" has never been a line that comforted me. I know depression isn't isolated to me alone. Hell, I know that depression is not a rare thing at all, and nine times out of ten, everyone you meet has experienced or will experience depression in their lives. Big deal. This fact doesn't change how I feel, personally, or make the things that upset me go away, or instantly become more manageable.

    Depression comes in many different forms. In the bulk of your post, I think you're speaking of only one kind, a weaker level of depression that comes from realizing there's nothing worth doing in this world and a fatalist sort of view of things. I call it a "weaker" version because it is not really depression, but, like you said, a pessimism. And you're right, there's nothing wrong with that. It sucks, cause you're always gloomy and happiness is a lot more fun, but I wouldn't call that a mental illness as much as a downer view on life.

    But there are other levels of depression that I would call a mental illness. Take the depression that led me to a year of anorexia. I was surrounded by things that I knew gave my life meaning. I knew that I was having trouble with one, tiny part of my life which otherwise should have given me cause for feelings of pride and accomplishment. My depression was a result of something I was experiencing in my environment, not a result of a pessimist outlook on the world. It was wholly unwelcome in my mind, yet I was completely unable to remove the constant feelings of sadness that made it hard to get out of bed, show my face in the morning, go through my daily tasks, etc... Hell, every meal I would stare at my plate of food and try to will myself to eat it, but I simply could not do it, no matter how badly I wanted to.

    When I was 10 I experienced a suicidal depression completely contrary to what you described in that, while everyday I wished for the strength to take my own life, I failed to do so because of my firm belief that I had meaning in this world. It was a depression brought on not because of a pessimistic view on life but, rather, despite an optimistic one.

    Then, of course, there are those who are physically impaired and have no choice but to feel depressed - the whole "chemical inbalance" thing. I think if you're experiencing a depression as a result of a lack of a certain chemical in your brain, then you have what classifies as a mental illness. My mother takes what she explained to me once as her "happy pill," and with it, she is able to have normal thought, and function normally during the day. Without this pill, she is unable to choose between pessimist and optimist thoughts. If being a pessimist is not a choice, then would you call that a normal response to the world? I would argue it is not. There is always the argument that "happy pills" simply means that rather than having no choice but to be pessimistic, one has no choice but to be optimistic, I've understood my experiences with my mother to be that her pill allows her the capacity for both. Of course, there are several different "happy pills" out there, with several different effects, and I did see her on a different medication that removed all ability to feel at all, pessimistic, optimistic, or otherwise.

    What I am saying is that there are several different levels of depression, some that are natural responses to everyday life or introspective reasoning, and some that are unnatural reponses and ought to be classified as "mental illness." But then, there are also several different ways of dealing with these levels of depression, from simple talking it out to more drastic medication techniques.

    On a final note, in regards to pessimism being a socially unacceptable attitude, I reference Marvin, the depressed robot from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Yes, it is completely acceptable for Marvin to be depressed. He's an incredibly intelligent robot, possessing all sorts of genius reasoning faculties, yet his existence is to fill roles far below his processing powers. His life is completely pointless. Justification for his depression aside, however, he is a complete downer to be around and no one wants to talk to him because he's only going to say something pessimistic and moody that no one cares to hear in a very "misery loves company" sort of way. Happiness has been regarded in some philosophies as the only real goal in life, it should come as no surprise that people should shun you if all you have to provide towards a relationship is completely contrary to that goal.
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  22. Elys added a post in a topic Poll: Death Penalty   

    I don't necessarily agree with the assumption that the state should behave in line with society's morals and ethics, i.e. act mercifully. It is not the role of the government to exemplify what kind of people we want to be. That's why we have this concept or theory of separation of church and state. The government's role is not to act charitably or christian. The government's role is to provide protection and facilitate cooperation between the states and the people.
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  23. Elys added a post in a topic How can we encourage some women to view philosophy as important?   

    Having known some thoroughly confrontational and argumentative women in my time, I am going to have to say, from experience alone, the use of the word "argument" is not the reason there are few women in philosophy. Furthermore, any college level student considering philosophy as a major is presumably smart enough to know what is meant when they are told "Philosophy is all about distinguishing good arguments from bad arguments." It seems to me that the hypothesis is giving women less credit than they are due, intelligence-wise.
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  24. Elys added a post in a topic Whistleblower confirms peak oil   

    "it was 'imperative not to anger the Americans'"? Why are we being blamed for this?
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  25. Elys added a blog entry in Blog 1911   

    Altruism and Natural Selection

    Biological altruism is used to describe actions creatures in nature perform that reduce their reproductive fitness – their ability to produce offspring – while improving the reproductive fitness of others. An example of this is the Vervet monkey, which, when predators approach, will give off a warning call that alerts other monkeys that danger is near, but also alert the predator to the warning monkey’s location. Giving a warning call reduces that single monkey’s reproductive fitness, indeed its very chances at survival, for the benefit of the other monkeys. According to natural selection, would not the monkeys possessing this alarm calling instinct have died out long ago, expunging the trait from the species?

    This is the question posed and answered in Stanford's Encyclopedia of Philosophy article titled, "Biological Altruism." The article provides a progression of theories, critiques and defenses, and finishes the whole thing up nicely with an application of these theories towards understanding the evolution of human behavior.

    The key thing to remember here is that biological altruism is measured in cost and benefit to different organisms' reproductive fitness, that is, the effects of the altruism, with little thought as to the intent of the altruist. We're discussing non-human creatures here, so intent can't play a part, given the natural assumption that most organisms do not have conscious thought and are incapable of intentional altruism.

    The first theory presented to explain how altruism is able to evolve through (or despite?) natural selection suggests that natural selection occurs at a group, rather than individual, level. A group with altruists ready to sacrifice themselves for the good of the group has a greater chance of survival compared to a group full of selfish organisms who will let their fellow organisms die. Thus, natural selection would favor the altruistic group.

    From Darwin's The Descent of Man (1871):
    a tribe including many members who ... were always ready to give aid to each other and sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection. (p.166)

    A major problem with this between-group theory, however, is the concept of "subversion from within," and addresses the problem of free loaders. If a group of organisms exists that is 100% altruistic, and a single organism is introduced with a mutation that caused it to be selfish rather than altruistic, that selfish organism would reap the benefits of the altruism of others, while incurring none of the costs itself. It would have a greater reproductive fitness, as would its offspring, and its offspring's offspring, and, due to the superior fitness of the selfish organisms, altruism would eventually be bred out of the group.

    To reconcile this problem, the kin-selection theory was born. What if the altruist organisms discriminated between who would and would not benefit from that altruism? If altruists behaved so only towards their kin, then the inclusive reproductive fitness of creatures possessing the "altruist gene" would increase, thus increasing the chances that the gene will prevail through the generations.

    From Stanford:
    Kin selection theory predicts that animals are more likely to behave altruistically towards their relatives than towards unrelated members of their species. Moreover, it predicts that the degree of altruism will be greater, the closer the relationship.
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