My Respect to Harry and Chris and Other Wise Atheists

I probably won’t say anything which wasn’t said better already in the posts at Mixing Memory and Crooked Timber on the topic of respect for religious and non-religious people. But hopefully will translate what they said into more personal perspective, because so it happens that I’m theist, and that I agree a lot with what they said.

It is really tiresome to read disrespectful comments about theists all over the web. I was an atheist when I was a teenager, but changed to theist in my early twenties. Who knows, maybe I will change in my believes again if my understanding of the world changes. But, as it is the situation now, it seems to me more plausible that there is such thing as God rather than not. Is it the God of the Christianity? I don’t know, it might be, I believe it is, but I’m less sure about that.

Anyway, why does it bothers me when those my beliefs are disrespected?

First, *I know* how I came to those beliefs. I know I wasn’t indoctrinated with them, but got to those by myself. This country was “socialistic country” so dialectical materialism, and ‘religion is the opiate of the masses’ is what we were indoctrinated with, and not religion. So, I was an atheist from the early childhood and through my high school. I wasn’t also bothered with absurdity of life, it didn’t bothered me that the life could be absurd. So, what? If it is absurd, it is absurd, who cares?

Also, I know that I came to those believes through sincere thinking trying to make sense, to understand the world. See, even when I started believing that there was God, my prayers were for him to help me understand the world. Because that is the thing I most wanted.  When I was getting to sleep, that is what I was thinking about. Since then, I feel that I really understand a lot more things about the world. But it seems that my belief that there could be God only went stronger. Of course, maybe I’m not understanding it, maybe I’m misunderstanding it, I can’t be sure, but I try to be sincere the best I can. I try to seek the inconsistencies within my view, to keep them on mind in order to address them further and so on…

So, now, if a person is disrespectful to this belief, what does that mean? Are they saying that I’m insincere, that I lack critical thought, and that that is why I came to this belief? How is this supposed to make me feel, given that I highly respect being sincere and critical thought, given that my thought is guided by those things?  Are they saying that I’m stupid, so that even with best intentions, I was destined to get to this wrong belief? But *I know* I’m not stupid. (How? I don’t want to brag here :).) Also, I’m sure I’m not the most knowledgeable guy, but I’m sure I’m not ignorant either.

So, given that I was not indoctrinated, given that I was sincere in my thinking, given that I’m not stupid nor ignorant, could I still be wrong?  Of course. But if I’m none of those things, and if I spend a big time of my life thinking about those things, it can’t be that my belief is so bad, that it should be disrespected by others. What can I then think about disrespectful comments about my beliefs, and people that make them? I will just say, that probably I end up thinking of them, some of those things that would be implied about me.

Now, lot of people have beliefs which are not inline with mine. Like, some of them are atheists. But I would be really silly to to judge most of those people as a)stupid, b)insincere, c)ignorant, or d)indoctrinated just because they disagree with me. On contrary I think that most of the atheists that are neither of those. So, I *have no right* to disrespect atheism.

As I see it, those who are disrespectful to others are either overestimating themselves, or underestimating the complexity of the world.

Across The Universe

Watched ‘Across the Universe‘ the other day. It’s been long time before I’ve seen a movie with so much charm. Especially the characters of Jude and Max, I thought they were really cool (they got me in the ‘I want to be 20 again!’ feeling). Add to the things that I enjoyed also The Beatles’ great music, artistically painted picture of the changing spirit of the times, lot of hidden references to Beatles’ music and the times, the wonderful performance of Bono of I Am The Walrus. I think I’m gonna watch that movie few more times. If you haven’t see it, it is a musical based just on Beatles’ hits, so might not be for everyone… Here are two parts of it (both start with little dialogs, and the songs are afterwards)…

UPDATE: Argh, just my luck. YouTube decided to clean itself from ‘Across the Universe’ (illegal) videos in the same day that I decided to write a post and include two of those…  Here is the trailer instead:

Happy New Addictions!

Those holidays are hard. With all the celebrating I don’t feel like writing anything philosophical.

All the energy I have is just enough for the professional work. And few distractions I found recently don’t help.

First, I downloaded the first season of Heroes from net (the series is not yet broadcasted here)  , and so with the family we are watching two-three episodes per day.

Second thing is the online text RPG – The Kingdom of Loathing (if you have spare time check it out, and for help on your tasks check this wiki). Good thing about this is that number of “moves” is limited per day, so you can’t loose too much time on it per day – probably I’m wasting half and hour per day (though I haven’t really checked, maybe it is more).

The third thing is Miro. It is a torrent-based movie player. There is a list of around 3000 video podcasts (‘channels’) to which one can subscribe. I tried few of the channels, but liked the best the gamers channel , and Cranky Geeks channel. One more addictive thing to deal with.

Oh, and my wife both a Sony Ericsson K550i cellphone (Actually our first cellphone! I still don’t have one, I try not to use techmology much, which is kind of an silly statement, considering the content of this post! Call me Rainbow Jeremy!)

So I was having fun with it for a couple of days, putting new themes, java games, and music in it. Of course I had to try those games myself, and some of those are addictive too.

It is not all bleak though. One addiction I’m trying to do away with are cigarettes, and I’m doing fine for a week or so. Which I guess is much worse addiction than those previously mentioned.

Anyway, I think I will need a couple of weeks to fill my energy cells and get back into mood for philosophy. I am planning to go with the family to a nearby village starting from Saturday for a week, and hopefully there will be snow there. Physical activities are like defragmenters for the brain.

Happy New 2008!

Few Movies I Watched In Past Month Or So

Very Good:

Amelie Polain – I giggled through this one. The photography is stunning. The dialogs hilarious. And very witty playing with the story.

Live Free – Die Hard – I think this might be the fastest movie ever. Bruce Willis is even stronger and cooler in this one than in the previous Die Hard movies.

Next – When I was a kid, sometimes after the movie ended I felt as if I had some abilities that the main character of the movie had. No wonder few times me and my friends were fighting after watching Bruce Lee movie. Anyway, after seeing this movie, that was what happened again! (No, not the fighting part.) Of course I liked this movie. Besides, I thought it was charming.  What’s it about? IMDB says: “A Las Vegas magician who can see into the future is pursued by FBI
agents seeking to use his abilities to prevent a nuclear terrorist

Death Proof – I found this one very funny. It is like one big B-movie joke. I didn’t like Kill Bill much, but I liked this one.

Pride and Prejudice – I haven’t read the book, so maybe that’s why it was very interesting to me.

Children of Men – I had lot of fun with this, but then the scenes of the fight in the city came. Fantastic!

A little princess – Watched this with my little daughter. Very nice kids’ tale.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (no, not the newest one)- It’s OK, but not as good as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Pan’s Labyrinth – I don’t know why they have those gory scenes in there. It would made great family movie.

Bourne Ultimatum – The third in the Bourne series. It is pretty fast and interesting, but maybe the whole Bourne/Bond/Mission Impossible style is getting too crowded? I thought The Bourne Identity was great

The Constant Gardener – The difference between the two main characters is charming, and I think it gives great background to the whole story.

Unknown – The idea behind this one is original, and it develops it quite nicely. Let me not spoil it to you with any information.

Shooter – The story is not much, but lot of nice shooting scenes.

12 Angry Men – 1957 classic. About a jury of 12 men who discusses the case of murder. It has some weird unnatural scenes, but I didn’t mind them much.


Premonition – boring. “Depressed housewife learns her husband was killed in a car accident the day previously, awakens the next morning to find him alive and well at home, and then awakens the next day after to a world in which he is still dead.” Movie that tries to play with time, and nothing interesting happens.

Evan Almighty – boring. I’ve watched Bruce Almighty 5 times, and I would have more fun if I watched that one instead once more.

Wild Hogs – boring and not funny.

Dream Girls – boring.

Simpsons Movie – I didn’t expect for this one to be boring to me. But it was after some time.

The Queen – I don’t remember if I watched this one till the end. I guess I did, but it was boring.

Anchorman – It was little funny. The accent being on ‘little’.

Philosophize by Numbers

I was trying to systematize my views a little, so I ended up with this rough Wittgenstein-like outline…

1 We become aware of things

    1.1 We become aware of objects

    1.2 We become aware of objects’ properties
       1.2.1 Awareness of objects’ properties include awareness of the object

    1.3 We become aware of events.
       1.3.1 Awareness of events includes awareness of objects involved in those events

    1.4 We become aware of relations
       1.4.1 Awareness of relations includes awareness of relata
       1.4.2 We become aware of multitudes and their similarity

    1.5 We are aware of the things we imagine, and things we assume.

2 Things of which we are aware are in relation of context and aspect

    2.1 Aspects don’t exist as self-subsistent, but exist only because the context exists.
       2.1.1 Properties exist only as properties of the objects.

    2.2 Aspects can have further aspects, and contexts further contexts
       2.2.1 An object has color. Color has hue and brightness as aspects

    2.3 Different aspects of the same thing are related because of sharing common ground (the context on which they are dependent)
       2.3.1 One is always affecting the context. The affecting of the aspect is only secondary (abstract), even we might not be aware of it
 One can’t merely change the position of an object. What one does is changing the context of bodies, so that the distance between different bodies will be different.

    2.4 Sometimes we are aware of the aspects but not of the context
       2.4.1 In such cases we tend to think of the aspects as self-subsistent
       2.4.2 When we think about those things we encounter contradictions because of their assumed self-subsistence
 Zeno’s paradoxes appear because of imagined self-subsistence of space and time
       2.4.3 The way out of this is becoming aware of the context, and becoming aware of how those assumed self-subsistent things are actually aspects of the context (one might already be aware of context, but not aware of the context-aspect relation)
          2.4.4 Bachelorhood is aspect of certain kind of social relations
          2.4.5 Phenomenon of chairs is aspect of our society, needs, etc..

3 We perceive some things

    3.1 Our perception is limited, and picks-out certain aspects of the world
       3.1.1 The color we see is an aspect of objects.

    3.2 There is no experience which represents things, and which has what-it-is-like aspect
       3.2.1 We have experience in the sense that we participate in the events of which we are aware (and we learn something from them, or we are affected some way from them)
       3.2.2 The what-it-is-like is wrongly assumed because the physical is not taken to be aspect
       3.2.3 The representational faculty is assumed to explain the illusions, hallucination and dreams
 About general way to address those without accepting experience as representing things see (6.1)

4 We become aware of other people

    4.1 We become aware of other people being aware of the things

5 We give names to what we are aware of

    5.1 When the intentional content is an individual thing, we speak of proper names

    5.2 We give names to the multitude sharing certain aspect – those are the common nouns.
    5.3 Individual events and relations, and also multitudes of events and relations sharing certain aspect can be given proper names, or common names too.
    5.4 We can name imagined or assumed content

6 We are not aware of everything about the context

    6.1 We might mistake one context for another, because the former shares some aspect with the later.
        6.1.1 We might mistake virtual thing for a real thing if we are unaware that we wear virtual reality glasses
    6.2 Of course we can become aware of the things we weren’t aware of.

7 Using language is acting

    7.1 One of the use of language is making someone aware of something through sentences
    7.2 The sentences describe the relations (of which the other is not aware) through words for things (of which the other is aware)
    7.3 The sentences might introduce new words (of which the listener becomes aware while listening the sentence)

8 Some things have a physical aspect

    8.1 Physical aspect is not self-subsistent
       8.1.1 World is not reducible to physical

    8.2 The physical aspect is the measurable aspect
       8.2.1 Measurement is comparing – it is making a ratio between two magnitudes
       8.2.2 There are truths about numbers as ratios
       8.2.3 Those are truths of the physical aspect
       8.2.4 The number aspect is not self-subsistent, but dependent on the context. The number-truths are true of the number aspect just as long this aspect exists as part of the context.

    8.3 Our awareness of things has physical aspect
       8.3.1 Our awareness of things is not reducible to the physical aspect
       8.3.2 The physical aspect of our awareness of things includes the physical aspects of our bodies, the physical aspect of the things of which we are aware, and the physical aspect of the acts of perception (including the physical aspect of the history)
       8.3.3 When our awareness changes, the physical aspect will probably (but not necessarily) change too.

    8.4 We are affecting physical aspect through affecting the context (see 2.3) even if we are not aware of that
       8.4.1 When affecting certain brain parts, we are really affecting our awareness of things

Obligatory Links and Optional Pictures

Of course, you’ve heard about the Philosophers’ Carnival #47 and that OPC2 started.

And few pictures I made this past weekend at countryside…

No turtles were harmed during the making of the pictures, (and at least one of them eventually ran away, and my daughter was sad). I guess it just hid in the nearby high grass while we were having lunch, but we couldn’t find it after that.

Took photos of few bugs…

Of my nephew…

, and of a tree…

Shameless LCMS Promotion

I pointed few times that I work in the company called Xyleme, and that one of our products is a learning content management system.

Learning content management system is a software system (client/server/web access type of thing) that allows for learning content creation (alone or distributed, with possibility to assign some work to subject matter experts), content reuse (same content linked in multiple materials, so you only change on one place), search and versioning, publishing the content in different types (like web courses or all kind of different printed materials), assessment of students through questions when they visit the web-course, etc…

As I was part of the development of the product and it’s conception from the day 0 (and put lot of sweat, blood and brain cells into it), I’m proud of the results. To see why, here is a link to the demonstration of the product that was put on web those days.

Happy Birthday To Me

Instead of cake, I put several music videos in the widget on the left sidebar featuring traditional (folk) songs from my country which you probably wouldn’t hear otherwise.

And here is one more – just audio, it is by local band called Synthesis(which is in the first video from the sidebar) featuring Toše Proeski(the singer from the fifth video from the sidebar)

Overcoming the fear of death

I have been thinking of writing on this topic for some time, and got to it today inspired by the post No Need to Panic? over at Ideally Speaking

There was period in my life when I was a kid, when I thought about the issue of dying every day. At the time it seemed to me that in light of that question the daily things are unimportant, and I wondered why nobody else is preoccupied with thinking about the issue of death. The realization of the certainty of the death, the realization that inevitably there will come the day when I will die, was coming to me every night I went to bed. I was wishing I never realized this immanence, but once I did, I felt that it is nonsense merely pretending that it wasn’t there, or occupying my thoughts with other activities  – I will die! even if I don’t think of the issue.
There was several things that affected my thinking of death since, but I’m not sure I’m OK with the idea of death now, or I just can’t present to my self its inevitability as graphically as when I was kid. I like to think that the former is the case, but there will come the day when I will know for sure.
Anyway, what I hope is that somone with same fears might find this following thoughts comforting and helpful…

1. In high school I read somewhere (I think Bhagavat Gita) that there can be two cases connected to the issue if the self is basic/fundamental thing (connected to the feel that we directly exist as self – that there is nothing else more basic in which ‘self’ is grounded)…
Either that fundamentality/being-basic of the self is an illusion , in which case it will disappear with death, but in which case also we don’t have anything to worry about, because, after all it is just illusion. Or… the self (or part of it) is properly basic, in which case we don’t have to care, as it would still exist after death.

2. Later I also found that valuing other things over my life, removes even this need for rational approach to the question. Taking for example moral duties as more important puts the issue of death in different perspective. It might be religious duties, but also any other moral duties – being moral being over a being concerned with its existence.
I remember while watching the movie The Last Samurai that I was thinking  that they succeeded to depict this power of will to value duty and honor over own existence in the life of the Samurai culture, so you might want to check it out as example of this (if you haven’t seen it already).

3. Love is always fine ally against fear of any kind. The sense that one is part of the society, that the love among the people (and God for those which are religious) is bigger and transcends one’s own existence, reduces the moment of death to death for others. So, to say… the tear in the eye of those who knew you, is more you then the cold body left after death. On Flickr, I found this picture coupled with a quote that, I think, capture this feel better then my explanation.

He who has gone, so we but cherish his    memory,abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

4.OK, i have to mention religion. Life after death certainly dispels the fear of death, as if we believe that we will not die, there is nothing to be afraid of. But the religion is not very comforting in that respect, while removing the fear of death, if you have sinned and are believer (as I am), it only replaces it with the fear of likely possibility of eternal fire.  In personal communication some people  have accused me that I’m religious just a way to cope with the issue of death. I answered that personally, I would be much more at comfort if my existence just ceases (given the previous reasons), then to be confronted with possibility of eternal punishment.

What I take to be the grounds of Philosophy

If one needs to point to a central issue in philosophy, if one needs to use just one word to say what philosophy is about, it has to be – comprehension. As, if one removes comprehension, the philosophical questions and philosophical answers, philosophical discussions and everything philosophical looses sense… The questions make sense just if comprehended, the answers are good only if comprehended, the philosophical method or inquiry also need to be understood and comprehended. (BTW, the way I use “comprehend” here is roughly synonymous with “understand”. No fancy theoretical accounts or meanings.)

The comprehension is important on two levels. First the comprehension of Other, comprehension of what are people, asking, saying or wondering. But that comprehension is seen just as a way to the overall-comprehension, some ideal of comprehending everything that needs to be comprehended by philosophy.

Having put the central issue of philosophy as comprehension, we can put limits on what philosophy can allow, and what should be marked as inappropriate to it.

As one, for something to be comprehended, it must be brought clearly in front of the awareness. In such way philosophy is intimately bounded to consciousness and to awareness, and to the issue of what we can be aware of.

Because of this, I think critical stance towards our mental powers of awareness is needed, questions like ‘what are types of things we can be aware of?’, ‘how do we become aware of things?’ need to be asked. Those issues should be first explored, so that we are sure that the tower which is built has stable basis.

I’m repeating I think the words of Kant, who was saying that the powers of the mind has to be critically assessed before any metaphysics is built, but in my own opinion Kant failed to be critical enough. He took the terms such as “mind”, “objects”, “reality” in their common-sense usage in the society in which he was raised, and worked with them, without getting into inquiry into what he means by those words.

Or to put it another away, so it connects to the start of this post, one must get to this question…

    -What is that which I’m aware of, and to which those words I use relate?

That is the stance the philosophy must make. I have to become aware of what each of the words I use (to speak about philosophy) refers to, and there has to be this possibility of comprehension, as otherwise (if the meanings of the words are something which can’t be comprehended), the proper critique of the grounds of philosophy can’t be made. Even if what one says ostensibly makes sense, if such critique is not done first, the sense will be there limited by the society, in which one is born, or by the paradigm through which one have learned things.

Does this mean that we should avoid the words as they are connected to the paradigms/society? No! Philosophers can’t accept that. If one takes the meanings of the words to be based in the unconscious otherness, one gives up the philosophical work from very start.

We must assume that what the words relate to, what the words mean, is accessible to the consciousness, and even if the meaning is connected to the society or paradigm, it is the work of the philosopher to comprehend those meanings as such.

Such philosophy, as a comprehension, is in that way possible only under such conditions. Not accepting those conditions is not philosophy, it is giving up.

Philosophy news

After programming professionally for years, somehow the love for the programming itself disappears in the routine of everyday work.

This last weekend I reminded myself of the original love I had, by looking into the ways one can play with blogs from java program. I was playing with things, and the result is this semi-finished aggregator. It aggregates the posts of the philosophy blogs. (I added some blogs I read, and some others I found for testing purposes).

I think I will play with it some more the next weekend… First, I need to do the updates automatic (on X hours). As it is now I have to push a button for the update to happen. As I can’t put java code on the server, that solution will have to suffice for now. Second, I will probably do the archive thing, so that “Past Days” part properly shows aggregation of posts for each past day.

And some time in the future, I want to look into possibilities for some kind of text mining… I know next to nothing of this field, but sounds like interesting play field. It would be interesting to see what kind of semantical information can be extracted from blogs.

Update: It seems I didn’t have as much time as I thought to work on this… I will put this thing aside for now. I will keep updated aggregate page on this blog, at the “Power Blogroll” page.