Tag Archives: Reductionism

The Edge Challenge 2017: What scientific concepts deserve to be more widely known?

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I recently purchased a copy of Sam Harris’ book Letter to a Christian Nation. I had intended to purchase his book Free Will but changed my mind.

I could say: “Sam Harris is wrong.” But why? Why would-should I? What value can I offer my readers, Mr. Harris readers, The Edge contributors etc., by critiquing an argument I’ve not read, predicated on the logical progression of a ‘related argument’ by the same author? Would I be begging the question the author also begged? Would doing so implicate me in a formal or informal fallacy of logic? Why might a distinction between formal and informal be a barometer of sorts?

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I was interested in his assertion that Free Will is an illusion, and I wanted to listen to a nuanced discussion of solipsism, by someone educated enough to not just know and understand what “begging the question” IS, but also someone rhetorically able to debate and teach. Someone able to frame the limitations imposed by any beliefs that “beg the question,” regardless of the paradigm.

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I then proceeded to observe my navel and inadvertently created circumstances that support his argument. I wanted to buy his treatise on “reductionism.” I knew that my checking account was depleted. I knew that it was likely I would deplete it to danger level before my next pay day, and that should my insecure guilt catch up to me, any purchase I made thru Amazon’s used book market place, would obligate me to pay for return postage. And I bought the book I didn’t want, anyway. I bought other things. All on sale etc,.etc. And here I sit. One week till my next pay day, short on the weekly bus pass to get to work beginning tomorrow and just as shameful, I’m now short of the Uber/Lyft cab fare necessary to get TO CLASS where I’m working on my paralegal associates to compliment my undergraduate degree.

The name of this blog is Borderlands of Health and Wellness. Just in case you’ve forgot.

My fellow Americans, I am a biological member of a family that votes Republican. I currently live in Tennessee, just North of God’s Country, known to fellow Americans and expatriates as The Grid Iron Throne. Alabama.

On my mother’s nuclear family side, the only member SUSPECTED of voting for a member of the Democratic party in the last 65 years (because we are too estranged a unit to discuss such matters unless we intend to SHORTEN a visit, conversation, or FUTURE family get togethers) passed away on All Souls Day, 2012. The “suspect” before returning to The United States for hospice care, was an MD who worked in mental health abroad. On those visits he did make to the U.S.A. before his passing, his daughter always came first, as she should. His other family, (sisters, brothers, cousins, nieces etc. never were guaranteed a visit and got a phone call occasionally, if we were privileged.)

On my father’s side, the LAST purported Democrat, who voted for ROOSEVELT people, was the youngest son of a second wife, a progenitor who graduated from Samford University (a Baptist college affiliated with Birmingham Southern)in Birmingham Alabama and married again after his first wife’s death. What capital, assets, this progenitor possessed, paid for University educations for each of his children until his money was exhausted. My paternal grandfather, saw his father’s assets provide such boons for his siblings and knew, all that would remain for him, would be family land. So he only completed his education thru the 6th grade if I’m not mistaken, and chose to became a farmer.

Why did I begin this post with a clear appeal to scientific literacy, insinuate to the reader that the public intellectual who also promotes the results of The Edge Challenge on his website may be
a) wrong
b) leaving out information
and
c) run the risk of annoying and loosing my readers with a personal anecdote that clearly is moving in a somewhat aposterori direction?

Here’s why.

Historical mimesis. Aristotle coined the term and concept more than 2,000 years ago. There are numerous terms that describe the same phenomenon concentrated in a diverse array of subject matter. I’m choosing this term to essentially “dial down” from the clear and present concerns presented by the first 100 days of the current presidential administration. I can’t speak with complete certainty for anyone but myself, but meta narratives caught many Americans off guard since 2000 A.D. at the very least. Author Sam Harris I wager in his book, Letter to a Christian Nation has predicated his letter-tome on the premise of natural philosophy and mimesis. His argument is aesthetically dependant on begging his own question and I will wager in the paragraphs to follow that at no point, does his book, Letter to a Christian Nation bring up “Universal History.” Sam Harris could and can run circles around me, but it doesn’t change the fact that he has a red ball under a nutshell and is doing a magic trick that makes use of observer bias. It also doesn’t negate his views.

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Regardless of who your family voted for in the 2016 election, Donald Trump has won. Regardless of the origins of The Tea Party phenomenon, it caught fire on both coasts of The United States and burned right to the center. Regardless of how ethnically diverse either political party is in fact, portrayed as, or rhetorically marketed to be, the premise any health care system is based on, operates on the scientific law that human beings have a limited shelf life. We catch fire, we wear out, burn out, burn down.

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I dropped the ball for myself and my family (if idealism is a scientific law) buying Sam Harris book. The review I read gave me a false impression of the content to be found between its covers. Its not without value don’t get me wrong.

But when I am ready to write “The End of History and The Last Woman” I will. And not before. Consider this statement dear academics and fellow writers as my claim to this book, paper and treatise. Don’t touch my book title Mary Shelley.

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I dropped the ball the moment I walked into the Macy’s at The Mall at Green Hills in Nashville and walked to the jewelry clearance rack and purchased Ralph Lauren, Lora and Lilly and INC, item(s.) I got great deals on the prices. I can accept cash tips that MAY allow me to cover my self imposed shortfall before my next pay day. But I’m NOT guaranteed CASH TIPS. EVER. No wellness employer hands out cash to employees at the end of each shift in advance of tips left on credit or debit cards. I just essentially GAMBLED big time for the wrong reasons. Or did I?

Free Will. Free Will? Free. Free? Will. Etc,.

Where is intentionality now? Where is the individual? Am I alone in a forest listening for a falling tree, or am I listening to the delicate sounds of Sturm and Drang? Is it a fallacy of equivocation on my part or let’s say Mr. Harris himself, if he contacted me to state correctly, that to berate myself for my actions would be a morally baseless and abusive action ONLY if I had failed to calculate the odds of receiving cash tips alongside the intervals of time between the point of purchase, number of work days and my departure for my next class?

REDUX

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Moral. Not Mortal. Moral. I will now make a bet with my readers. I will wager a guest blogger article hosted on both this blog and my personal blog, Ashley M. Heidi Carter, that in his book Letter to a Christian Nation, author Sam Harris AT NO TIME draws a Direct dual link between ontology, either theological or philosophical and aesthetics. I wager he never mentions Avveroes (Ibn Rushid’s) The Double Truth. I also wager, he never calls Universal History by that name. To do so…

I know I can and believe many of my readers could, choose a variety of substitute concepts to replace the innate diversity of aesthetics, and still communicate the notion that although human reason can demonstrably exist apart and independent of a divine creator, the idea of ‘natural law’ is bifurcated to include the unknown variable.

Manifest Destiny. Destiny made manifest?

Civics 101 ladies and gents! The Bill of Rights is not a legally binding document. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying the document “Is a REBUKE.” In America we have inalienable rights. The Bill of Rights famously includes a fallacy of equivocation that HAS BEEN USED TO CREATE THE ILLUSION OF MANIFEST DESTINY IN PERPETUITY. Historically, NO GOVERNMENT can legislate the ontological ACCORDING TO GENRE…and law. Are you sure about that Free Will fallacy Sam? Can I trust your judgement Sam? How far can any of “US” trust you with a Free Will argument today, The 30th of January, 2016. The day the Associate Attorney General of The United States resigned or was fired? Free Will?

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Averroes. Ibn Rushid. The Double Truth. Former President Obama and current POTUS Trump DID NOT EXCHANGE SPOUSES. Let’s ALL REMEMBER NOT TO BEG THE QUESTION (s) of sociology, cultural arrogance and aesthetics. Let’s all remember that axiology is the step child of epistemology and proceed accordingly to our better judgment:Even though none other than Ronald Regan himself was once PURPORTED to have called Osama Bin Laden a “Freedom Fighter.” I think that “quote” deserves a “Fact Check.” If Idolatry is “the problem” why should Sam Harris get a pass for a “IDEOlogical fallacy” rather than a “white lie?”

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Boredom: What is it and How should we respond?

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What is Boredom? Why would anyone other than someone who is bored be interested about the topic? Why write about it unless your creating solutions to a problem? Could boredom ever be healthy? Is Boredom contagious?

Boredom is a feeling first and foremost. It lies at the root of many illnesses, so many in fact, that the modern tourist economy can be traced to the rise of consumer based economic theory. Entire forests have been felled to produce the volumes of literature devoted to dispelling this fearsome specter that brings chaos in its wake. The Archbishop of Wales opined:

“We are a deeply, dangerously bored society. And we’re reluctant to look for the root of that. Why do we want to escape from the glories and difficulties of everyday life? Why do we want to escape into gambling or drugs or any other kind of fantasy? Why have we created a culture which seems more in love with fantasy than reality? Whether that’s gambling or drugs or, for that matter, the national lottery, we should be asking “What’s happened to us? Why are we so bored?”

In a comment about the presumed differences between urbanites and suburbanites, Reinhard Kuhn states ” She is tired of the magazine that she is reading or the television show that she is watching and mixes another cocktail for herself. Or perhaps she telephones an equally bored friend and they talk for hours about nothing, or perhaps she drifts into an affair that means as little to her as the television show or magazine article.”

These descriptions aren’t a flattering picture of modern societies and womanhood are they? Is it an excuse for anti-feminism or for economic criticism, religious criticism or is it indicative of an adjective, a description that in its discursive slant, illustrates the problem that hides in plain sight?

Anais Nin

Richard Winter broaches the subject of boredom by listing adjectives to describe it.

  • Apathetic
  • drab
  • dull
  • colorless
  • ennui
  • humdrum
  • insipid
  • interminable
  • irksome
  • lifeless
  • lethargic
  • monotonous
  • mundane
  • repetitious
  • routine
  • stale
  • tedious
  • stodgy
  • tiresome
  • uninteresting
  • vapid
  • wearisome

Antonyms for Bored and Boredom are

  • interesting
  • absorbing
  • amusing
  • attractive
  • captivating
  • charismatic
  • compelling
  • delightful
  • engaging
  • engrossing
  • enthralling
  • entrancing
  • exotic
  • fascinating
  • gripping
  • riveting
  • stimulating
  • exciting

To bore someone is to weary them by “being dull, uninteresting or monotonous” and as Winter notes, is also mildly aggressive. To even argue that by enforcing boredom, we inflict pain on our spouse, our friends or loved ones, would require that we understand and recognize the emotion within ourselves.

Academics have only confused and conflated the problem of identifying emotions such as boredom with quotes such as this one: “a metaphor for the postmodern condition” – when writing about the emergence of the word into the cultural lexicon of the 1750’s!

Andy Warhol has summed up the modern view of boredom in his film Sleep where an audience (presumably pays) to watch a man sleep for 8 solid hours! Rest assured, the clip below is only a minute and a half long, and at that length, may be longer than some sexual encounters, which brings up the various maladies and health disorders associated with boredom.

Addictions, family dysfunction, abuses of communication between those who love one another, all these are yet more symptoms of undiagnosed boredom that we attempt to treat with medication or with wellness paradigms that fail to educate about the emotional states common to the human condition. We are taught to climb rock walls to learn new ways to get high, to try dating and sex and even unprotected risky sex before we are ready, and of course, there are always other impulse control disorders where boredom can be regarded as a trigger factor or as a symptom.

We typically associate boredom with under stimulation and monotony. This is the wellness logic behind advertisements promoting exercise and yoga, rock climbing and the outdoors. Romanticism recycled as a cure for the evils and perils of the modern worlds ills. We see this clearly mass marketed in TV shows like Preppers and academics routinely lampoon such “cultural backwardness” as “conspiracy culture” and on and on. As cited above, the term postmodern or one of its variations is trotted out and used to criticize everything and sundry that represents a rejection of “progress.”

But is it? All this, all these ideas are invalidated to avoid discussing an emotion: boredom.

In some spas flotation tanks or “sensory deprivation ” tanks are utilized to promote altered states of consciousness. How do they achieve this? The effect is achieved thru under stimulation. Hallucinations, impaired thought processes, restlessness and mood swings occur if too much time is spent in the tank. For this reason, most spas don’t have the staff to monitor guests mental health and elect not to offer the service. The point however about the side effects of boredom are profound.

Repetition also takes a lot of heat when the subject of boredom arises. Not only does it raise psychological questions that have fueled near culture wars about psychoanalysis, over medication and healthcare, it has been used as a reason to challenge universities that offer wellness programs, as evidence for cultural decline and economic malaise due to globalization.

Boredom. Such a fearsome beast. It’s almost enough to drive people to suicide and one might be pardoned for wondering if it indeed does. What of a once happily married couple who no longer delights in one another’s company? One begins drinking, the other has an affair. Or perhaps it’s drugs or sex or both. Who is to blame? Would suggesting both individuals lack emotional maturity encourage them to slow down and work on self-development help or harm?

What about the common internet troll? What about the chat rooms that proliferate online? I’ve always and still do compare them to buy, sell and trade magazines, or the Sunday shoppers where the occasional rant disguised as a public announcement are often published. Online, it’s easier to recognize a real gripe from some psychological grandstand. Chances are, boredom prompted their rendition of “Teen Spirit” in a “grown-up” venue.

Any parent can tell us about the value of repetition as well. Small children love to hear bedtime stories and never seem to get tired of them, the same ones in their early years. The same toys and blankets, the same voices and smells and to their parents delight, they love to see the same faces day after day. Unlike soured romances and faithless lovers, children and animals know who butters their bread.

Assembly workers are the poster children for the physical ills of repetition. When we’re young and when we allow ourselves to learn something new, we often find repetition has value. We learn 2+2 equals 4, we learn to walk, we learn to listen and to talk. When we get older, some of us learn to think! Athletes put up with a great deal of bodily repetition and show off the results.

Politics and economics are another example. J.M. Barbalet is a sociologist who noted that boredom is also relieved by conflict. Those who have experienced the luxury of distancing themselves from the national tragedy of September 11th, 2001may or may not have noticed that at the time, that a push for “evidence based medicine” had been percolating since the mid 90’s. What may not be as obvious were the effects upon related but distinct discourses and disciplines. Take psychology for example. Freud and Jung were both beginning to be subjected to the processes of not only peer review but presumably, “scientific rigor.” Academia was the excuse as it so often is for those who recognize and can quote the names of modern intellectual gladiators and their forebears. Economics is yet another arena. Naomi Wolf took up this theme rightly or wrongly in her book The Shock Doctrine. And we all have borne witness to what has occurred in American political venues and health care since that time. Meanwhile, criticism of “the French Nietzsche” was advanced and the critics opined it was time to think with “Nietzsche against Nietzsche” as early as 1991 in France. An English language publication of this criticism did not emerge until 1994. Some of us earn our sheepskins and outlive either or both our competitors and our friends and some of us die young. Regardless of what is said about this sordid scene and how everyone was oblivious, it requires a collective variety of denials to say so; Osama did notice. And he wasn’t alone. Those who understand and know the upshot of what this implies should take a second look at history.

Boredom? Say it ain’t so?