Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Schools Of Hedonism - Part 2: Methods Of Evaluation

There are numerous schools with subtle and not-so-subtle differences in the way choices can be evaluated; the most argued variable is whether the calculation has to be quantitative or qualitative. The quantitative approach suggests that pleasure is calculated by its intensity multiplied by its duration, so the best case scenario is feeling intense pleasure for a long period of time. The quantitative approach usually relies solely on the duration regardless of the intensity.

Other differences are whether pleasure and pain add up as scalars, or are taken as a ratio... Lets say one person had 10 points of pleasure and 5 points of pain; Another had 4 points of pleasure and 1 of pain. The scalar summation says that the first guy had 5 more points of pleasure so he has favorable life experience, while the ratio based schools says that the second guy had four times pleasure as pain so he has favorable life experience.

Yet there are those who radically change the methods of calculation, and instead some schools of thought argues that one has to maximize pleasure regardless of pain. Others argue that one has to minimize pain regardless of pleasure. Those two schools are more common in Utilitarianism; Consider a hypothetical situation where unjustifiably killing a few people would help a large civilization. Some would argue that the common good is more important than a few lives, while others would argue that regardless of the benefits of sacrificing a few, unjustifiably killing someone is not acceptable. The first position is usually called positive utilitarianism, while the second is usually called negative utilitarianism.

It seems interesting that some people actually tried to formulate hedonistic calculations through what is called hedonistic calculus! It has been argued that the happiness of different people is incommensurable, and thus hedonistic calculus is impossible - not only in practice, but even in principle...

In this series:
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 1: Introduction
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 2: Methods Of Evaluation
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 3: What Kind Of Pleasure?
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 4: Egoism VS Utilitarianism

Sunday, September 24, 2006

How Much Are They Paying You?

In the film Lost and Delirious , when Mary felt other people looking down on her because she hangs out with her lesbian friend, she turned for advise from her wise friend the school gardener:
Mary: How much does it matter what other people think?
Gardener: Well, it depends on how much they are paying you, I guess... How much are they paying you? (source)

If you find yourself wasting so much time thinking about what other people think, maybe you should think again!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Religious Perspectives: An Insight Into Modern Satanism

The following excerpts are taken from "Religious Perspectives" - an interview with Oz Tech, a Satanic priestess from the temple of Set.

Basic Beliefs:
Q: Do Setians then worship the personification of evil?
A: We believe that the prince of darkness is responsible for consciousness, the psyche, what divides human being from animals, one aspect of aspects of that is an understanding of the idea of good and evil. We don’t worship a god of evil. We admire a being who takes the idea of good and evil, works with it and makes enlightened choices.

Q: Who or what does the Setians believe or worship?
A: The Setians believes in him or herself; worships his or her capacity to think, to choose, to evaluate, and to create. The Setian strives to become his or her own god.

Q: So what’s next on your agenda? World conquest?
A: What we are after is an individual awakening. We are looking for people who want to walk their own path in the world, who want to improve themselves. We are looking for people who are interested in pursuing the challenges like Prometheus; the people who are going to steal the privileges of the Gods and hand them over to humankind. Those are the people who are Satanists.

Q: What is the eventual goal of the Setian?
A: The eventual goal of the Setian is to become his or her own God. To create the universe in which he or she lives. To experience. To learn. To attain wisdom. To reach undreamed of capabilities through the exercise of will and intelligence.

Ancient Myths And Symbology:
Q: Then how do you perceive the prince of darkness?
A: The prince of darkness was originally a compliment to the Lords of light in the ancient Egypt. This has to be seen in view of an earlier philosophy, a philosophy which sees in the dark, a philosophy which is not afraid the dark, a philosophy that draws a line between the people who cower around a camp fire in the darkness and talk about the monsters out in the dark while they are waiting, and the people who pick up a torch, the light bearers, who then go out into that darkness, who go out and explore the unknown.

Q: This is what I cannot understand: if Lucifer is the so called the bearer of light, then why do you call him the prince of darkness?
A: Set was originally the lord of darkness; he is a stellar deity in the Egyptian mythos. I might point out that while the darkness is the symbol of ignorance to people who are themselves ignorant, most of our knowledge about true the position of man in the cosmos comes from the astronomers, the people who found knowledge in darkness. It’s no accident that Galileo was prosecuted by the church to his death. There is wisdom in darkness; there is wisdom to be found going the solitary way, against the doctrines of the church, the doctrines of society. There is a refining of the individual intellect that comes with the path of the rebel, and the path of innovator. There is Prometheus who gave the gift of fire to mankind. The gods punished him for this.

Q: And I suppose your medallion that you are wearing gives you some sort of a special power to accomplish that goal, right? [The medallion is an upside-down pentagram]
A: This medallion is the insignia of the temple of Set. It shows the pentagram; a very old symbol. In the time of ancient Greece, it was the secret of the Pythagoreans, a fraternal band of mathematicians and philosophers who wanted to inquire into the secret things of nature. Today this symbol still represents the desire to inquire into the structure of the cosmos and to know its secrets. There is no more magic in this medallion than the magic of understanding that is found in the enlightened human mind.

Deformed Perception Of Satanism:
Q: Ok. What about Richard Remer and those other satanic slaves?
A: Psychotic killers are failures. Drug cultists who are using voodoo to keep people in line are failures. Our philosophy is not a philosophy of failure, violence, and mayhem. [It is baseless] To say that the prince of darkness or the philosophy of Satanism is responsible for the combination of ignorance and psychosis that one sees in these crimes which have nothing to do with Satan or Satanism.

Q: What about books like "Michelle Remembers" written by ex-cultists who describe blood rituals, sexual perversion, and brain washing?
A: Stephen King makes a lot of money writing such things as fiction, others make a lot of money writing such things as fact. There is no evidence that any of these things have actually happened. Where are the convictions? Where are the trials? You get these people on talk shows. They never talk to police departments. They talk on television. Talk in books. Give me a break!

The Fall Of Biblical Churches:
Q: But that was one small period when the church fell from the grace of god.
A: This was the time when Christian faith had its strongest hold on the mind of men. You judge for yourself what the product was. Today that grip is weakening, technology is moving ahead, progress is being made, people are living longer, they have more freedom and more enjoyment in life. You tell me what Christianity has brought to humanity. At its hype, people were being burnt at the stake, hanged for heresy, people were dying in their 20'es and 30'es, filth and disease, and people said it was god's will. I’d rather be my own god if that’s the god that Christians have to offer.

PS: Download a text version of the interview here
PS: View the full interview here

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Schools Of Hedonism - Part 1: Introduction

Lets first start by stating what Hedonism is: Hedonism declares pleasure as the highest good, and that the humans' ultimate goal is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Variations from this straight forward definition do exist and that's whats will be discussed in this series.

Hedonism assumes that humans seek pleasure (others claim that happiness is what humans seek not pleasure - for now pick what you think fits). Since the rightness of an action is measured by the degree it fulfills its purpose (by definition), thus pleasure is the highest good - as Hedonism suggests.

Several attempts have been tried to discredit Hedonism, the most notorious of which is the paradox of Hedonism which goes like this: A person cannot seek happiness and obtain it - but, when one pursues some other purpose (eg. a challenging career, a project important to humanity, a code of ethics, a religious commitment), one achieves happiness. A philosopher once said: "Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so."

It is important to notice that the paradox of Hedonism isn't really paradoxical; Hedonism states that humans seek happiness, but if a person - for psychological reasons - fails to achieve happiness by pursuing happiness then if it works for them they can pursue another goal which diverts their attention from focusing on that happiness - which consequently helps them achieve happiness which is the stated purpose as Hedonism suggests.

Another thing worth notice is that seeking pleasure doesn't necessarily undermine pleasure - as the paradox of Hedonism suggests. Proclaiming Hedonism and pursuing pleasure can work flawlessly - it can have counter-intuitive side effects on some, but that's their problem!

In this series:
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 1: Introduction
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 2: Methods Of Evaluation
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 3: What Kind Of Pleasure?
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 4: Egoism VS Utilitarianism

Friday, September 08, 2006

Slow Coming Blogging Material

For the last couple of weeks, there has been scarce new material on this blog and I think I know why! Its the vacation! Yes, on vacations I'd be onto every lazy past time and no juices are flowing in my head.... Considering the way things are going, most of my material comes to me on my way to university: I live in amman and my university is near Irbid, a 1-hour distance, and when I am on the bus for one hour with nothing else to do but enjoying thoughts flowing through my head I get ideas... On vacations, lazy past times are more indulging...