The Seven Liberal Arts

The Seven Liberal Arts

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Free Will Does Exist

We get irked that the ancients tainted their science with philosophy, yet today make the equal error of tainting our philosophy with science. Then let us take the ancient wisdom and the modern science, the best of both worlds, and venture onwards. There's an article floating around proclaiming that free will doesn't exist, but that we should believe in it anyway. Most of it talks about how detrimental (or in some small ways beneficial) a belief in determinism is, while resting on the assumption that 'science has disproved' free will. This large but scarcely discussed claim comes whence: 
"Many scientists say that the American physiologist Benjamin Libet demonstrated in the 1980s that we have no free will. It was already known that electrical activity builds up in a person's brain before she, for example, moves her hand; Libet showed that this buildup occurs before the person consciously makes a decision to move. The conscious experience of deciding to act, which we usually associate with free will, appears to be an add-on, a post hoc reconstruction of events that occurs after the brain has already set the act in motion."

That is, there is something bringing forth a decision before the conscious decision… which sounds a lot like what we would call the subconscious. Basically, it is saying that we do not have free will because we subconsciously make decisions before consciously doing so.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I'm Right, You're Right, I'm Wrong (On Open Mindedness, Part II)

So how exactly does one have an open mind, in the good way? I tried thinking about it for the past three weeks (or avoiding it… mostly avoiding it), and I'm still not entirely clear.

I've seen some say that you have to be willing to consider the possibility that you might be wrong.
But let's be honest. No one wants to do that. No one likes being wrong, and thinking about the possibility too much is enough to throw some of us into panic mode. We feel bad and might lash out, saying that anyone who dares to criticize us is the wrong one. (Notice how "judging" and "shaming" are the only bad things these days, rather than the things that warrant them.) Or we think this sort of thing doesn't apply to us, it should only apply to the people who disagree with us, because of course we're right.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Stargazing in New York and the Infinity of Intelligence

There's something about looking up at an expansive sky of stars that makes people start to contemplate the meaning of life (the universe, and everything.) I suppose in New York there aren't many stars visible and one cannot really see the sky in the first place, so they turned to another source of inspiration—the people. And thus was born the popular website and Facebook page, Humans of New York, and its offshoots. One human goes through the city and interviews other humans for their life stories, insights, and a photo shoot. A year or so ago, it was so popular that I'd be unable to scroll through my newsfeed without seeing several of those posts. And it was for that reason that I irrationally but perhaps understandably began to hate it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Should We Question Everything? The Purpose of Open Mindedness, Part I

The problem of answering what exactly it means to have an open mind, and in what senses it can be a good or bad thing, is a vast and tricky one, and one I do not expect to be able to solve. There are many conflicting notions regarding it out there, all of which seem to make at least some sense. On one hand, most people (it seems) hold openness to new ideas a good thing, because without it, how else would one who is in error ever be able to come to knowledge of the truth? On the other hand, people may argue it is not a good thing, because if you already know the truth, having people tell you otherwise means you risk losing it. Indeed it is possible to know the truth, and in that case, having a mind open to error is foolish. Both sides acknowledge that the goal is knowing and keeping the truth. The problem lies in the fact that plenty of people think they know the truth when in reality they do not.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

5 Rules for a Rational Discussion

This post is inspired partly by an attempt I made at having a conversation with an atheist. On a YouTube comment. I should've known better.

I thought I could get through to him because he had an avatar with words like "Logic" and "Reason" plastered all over it, things that I also esteem and desire to use. My hope led me to overlook the other, glaringly bizarre factor: he was making a sarcastic remark about God on a video that was about soccer ball-shaped carbon molecules.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I suppose I should write an Introduction.

With a sorrowful yet slightly hopeful heart I begin the potentially treacherous adventure of blogging, here in this first post. Whether this is the start of something beautiful or a will end up a short, unfinished road to nowhere, I do not know. Just why I am sorrowful is not entirely certain either, though I think I have an idea. My friends told me to start a blog, and the idea had already rolled about in my mind for years. I wanted to be a writer. I even wrote a book a year ago. A "terribly sensational" book, "open to innumerable criticisms on that account, as well as on many others," to steal a perfect description from the preface of Robert Hugh Benson's 1907 novel, Lord of the World. Perhaps it is best that it was not accepted to be published. After I had finished it, the more I thought about it, the more I found it problematic. At least it was something of a learning experience. So too is this blog intended to be a learning experience, a thought experiment.