Jump to content

Magpie

Members
  • Content Count

    885
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

0 Neutral

About Magpie

  • Rank
    Tri-Centurion
  1. Magpie

    GOLD

    Yes, I was talking more about the Anglo-Saxon tradition. Someone like Derrida or Nietzsche doesn't have the same problem with identifying irrationality.
  2. Magpie

    GOLD

    I think that's a fair point, although there is a distinction between questions like "how does the brain work", and "how do neural networks recognise patterns" and questions like "why does the result of brain activity feel like 'me thinking' " and "why do we have such a strong sense of being a 'person' and of having free will". For the latter questions it is still important to know how the brain works, but knowing that doesn't necessarily resolve those problems satisfactorily. For me, something that always bugs me about philosophers is how unwilling they are to recognise and account for irrationality. For instance while reading your rant I was interested in the part about patterns - it's always seemed to me that a lot of what the human brain does is to look for patterns and narratives in the objective world. It is indeed good at doing this, but also many cases of irrationality arise from projecting patterns that aren't genuine (for instance numerology, if you think of the way it affected medieval thought in particular) and from clinging to previously observed patterns and narratives and then interpreting new facts in the light of them (for instance when you get two opposing religious/national narratives you find the two sides of the argument interpret all facts in the light of their previous assumptions). Philosophers tend to think they are extremely rational and that all problems have an ultrarational solution so they are uncomfortable with irrational thought. That also leads me to question your last paragraph. Does knowing how the brain works necessarily teach us how to prevent silly ideas and myths? Perhaps it just explains why we are prone to such irrational behaviour?
  3. Magpie

    GOLD

    Hi Steve, As a (longtimeago) philosophy graduate I feel vaguely compelled to defend philosophy. I read the link and did enjoy it, and you're right that philosophers can be a bit too detached from scientific inputs - though there is some value in that also as science is subject to its own myths and prejudices and occasionally a philosophical perspective can be valuable. But my main feeling reading your views was that you aren't really attacking modern philosophy, but a dated version of what it consists of - very few philosophers bother to ask "what is the meaning of life" or "where did we come from". Whereas there is a lot of discussion of how neural networks relate to thought and whether the sensation of free will arises from (chaotic or deterministic) brain processes. You have recent schools of thought like functionalism and neural darwinism and the work of Dennett which has a lot of interesting stuff to say on these topics. Your answers to the questions are fine and would probably be all a scientist needs to bother with, but one can see potential problems in them and it is in those problems that a lot of modern philosophy resides.
  4. Magpie

    GOLD

    Yes, so knowledge and belief are a relation between the thinking subject and the objective world. d2thedr's point would maybe be better expressed in terms of "facts". There are facts about gold that are not subjective, not in any way dependent on someone thinking about gold - facts about its durability, chemical make-up, mass etc. However (IMO) value is always subjective - we ascribe value to an object based on our beliefs/knowledge of that object. We may ascribe value for good reason, for instance it is true that gold is durable, rare on this planet, and that it is generally valued by other people. But the value is not inherent to the object, only the facts that cause us to value the object.
  5. Magpie

    GOLD

    I might be wrong but I think Churchill saw it as a matter of honour to restore the pre-war rate - because a lot of citizens had bought government bonds, thus funding the war deficit, he felt that to devalue would be to pay them back at a reduced rate. He may have had a point, but his stubbornness on this probably did more harm than good in the long run (and yes there was a bit of mythology underlying it too).
  6. If the mafia were legal and then someone passed a law to regulate them more closely, shares in the mafia would fall. The media tend to simply say "the city doesn't like it" or "shares have fallen" as though this automatically means it's bad news. In fact if banks valuations are partly reliant on their being able to take excessive risks in the future, then it's a good thing if their shares fall in response to this announcement - it means that the market believes there is a chance that this will indeed restrict the banks.
  7. It's great news if they can get it through.
  8. Very interesting thread. Haven't time to get too involved, but reading Dr B's original posts I was thinking about how completely the language of government and media are geared to growth=good. The focus on GDP makes this absolutely clear as any activity that moves money around is counted as "good". I was having a similar conversation with someone recently about whether or not bankers genuinely benefit an economy - their assertion was that they are a net benefit because they pay tax on their income - the counter argument is that if the money they earn has simply been skimmed from other parts of the economy then they may well not be of any net benefit. There are many examples, but things like planned obsolescence (as mentioned in the capitalist razor example earlier) are also obvious ones. If we use more stuff and throw more stuff away, that is regarded as good. So something like the scrappage scheme comes to be regarded as a success because it meant more money moving around, regardless of the obvious waste it involved. One of the big problems is how to change the language and mentality of economics to see sustainability and living standards (including issues such as work/life balance) as being more important than constant GDP growth. Not sure that attempts to measure "happiness" really address this, but it's an important area for people to think about at this stage of history. Especially as we have a pretty good example of mainstream economics making a hash of things.
  9. Magpie

    GOLD

    Absolutely. The former is a pretty meaningless metaphysical statement, whereas the latter is a useful and interesting observation - one can then go on to debate whether or not the current situation would or wouldn't be improved by a move to make gold more central in the monetary system once again. I'm not convinced that it would, but I don't have a problem with anyone who argues it would.
  10. Magpie

    GOLD

    Absolutely - the fact that value is innately subjective doesn't mean we can't talk intelligibly about it, only that any search for objective value is doomed. I think it's fair to search for something which makes a reasonable de facto measure of "constant value" simply for the purposes of a rule of thumb, which is perhaps what id5 really wants. I just think it's always a mistake when people confuse that practical need with a more fundamental search for objective value - in fact I think that the desire to "believe in gold" is often strongest in people who have thought hard enough about money to become rather alarmed by how subjective and metaphysical value is - but rather than embrace that subjectivity they want to find something "solid" and "objective" that they can believe underpins value - thus one ends up with (eg) gold as real money, or the labour theory of value or whatever - anything other than accepting value is entirely subjective.
  11. Magpie

    GOLD

    You're wasting your time then, on a philosophical value at least - because all value is subjective, and exchange/monetary/economic value in particular. The value of any one thing is measured in how much of other things it could be exchanged for. There is no constant in this process.
  12. Explain then, instead of sneering. I doubt we are as clueless as you imagine, but maybe you'll surprise us.
  13. You don't say. Gee, teach us some more fascinating facts, pleease?
  14. Tragic, how will this country cope with two less parasites? If you decide to go to Mexico with them, try not to bang the door on the way out.
  15. People receiving £25K+ bonuses are hardly in the middle in the grander scheme of things. The size of their bonus is probably larger than the median income in this country. In general the argument for punishing the bankers is much the same as the argument for penalising pushers more heavily than drug users. Seems a fairly sound argument to me, I just think it hasn't been taken far enough.
×