Yearly Archives: 2013

14 posts

Ethical Systems

  The picture above suggests a way to integrate ethical systems on the basis of the structure of action. Ethical reflection can begin with the acting subject, the action itself, or the outcome.  Another consideration is the field of application: What actions can be subjected to ethical considerations? (Sneezing or falling from a tree is not an ethical act.) Furthermore, […]

China, India, and the United States: A Comparison

Why does the United States need urgent economic and political reform? An economic comparison between China, India, and the US reveals the stagnation of the US economy since 2000. The US has engaged in two useless and wasteful wars, and has failed to invest in infrastructure, education, research, health care, etc.The Obama Government is bogged down in a political stalemate […]

Russia at the Crossroads

Update 2017:  Liu Xiaobo died in a Chinese prison in 2017.  Update Dec 26, 2013: Mikhail Khodorkovsky was released from jail on Dec 20, 2013. He is now organizing a democratic movement for Russia from exile.  Note: This post was written in 2013; some things have changed, but the situation in Russia has become even worse, and the country faces […]

Ecological Thinking?

Ecology is the study of interactions among organisms and their environment. One can even think about the human race in ecological terms, and this form of thinking is vital if we want to have a future. If we let our thinking transgress the boundaries of scientific disciplines, ecology becomes philosophy enhanced with information. Ecology stands for our relationship with nature. […]

Poetry, Nature, Thought. Rilke’s Late Poetry.

And we, spectators always, everywhere, turned towards everything, and never towards the open. It fills us. We arrange it. It decays. We arrange it again, and decay ourselves. Und wir: Zuschauer, immer, überall, dem allen zugewandt und nie hinaus! Uns überfüllts. Wir ordnens. Es zerfällt. Wir ordnens wieder und zerfallen selbst. The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote these lines […]

What are Philosophical Problems?

Philosophy clarifies our thought process and refines the basic concepts that we use to understand reality.  Like other sciences, it works on problems – it is driven by questions that cannot be answered easily, or that are unanswerable. If these questions, like the mind-body problem, cannot be answered (yet?), one may still be able to build a theory that illuminates […]

Radical Abundance through Nanotechnology?

In his newest book, Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization, 2013, he tells the history of nanotechnology from its beginnings to today, and then he turns towards the future: What can we expect from the accelerating breakthroughs generated by nano-technological research? Will it benefit humanity, or cause us harm? He is very optimistic, and his answer is given in the title: We are going to experience radical abundance based on these technological breakthroughs.

Vanishing Butterflies and Dying Bees

The European Environment Agency just published a study about butterflies in Europe. It shows that from 1990 to today, over a period of 20 years, the butterfly population was reduced by 50%. The reasons for this disappearance are increased agriculture, and the overall reduction of wild meadows. Mono-cultures, intensification of farming, and lack of sustainable practices leads to a dramatic […]

In God we trust? Money, Debt, and Love.

The following comments are based on David Graeber’s book “Debt: The First 5,000 Years.” 2011. His basic assumption is that economies did not evolve from barter systems; from the beginnings of civilization there were always elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods. Economies started with debt, and we still operate in an environment configured by debt, guilt, sins, and […]

Darwin: The marvels of a riverbank

At the end of the “Origin of the Species” (1859) Darwin writes about a riverbank: It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from […]

Complex systems – a new scientific frontier?

Many of our most pressing challenges, like managing ecosystems and economies, or preventing mass epidemics and market crashes – require a better understanding of complex systems. In recent years, the science of “complexity” came into existence and has grown rapidly. “Complexity” has a precise meaning in science. We call a system “complex” if the whole transcends the parts and if multiple agents participate in it. Most complex systems consist of diverse entities that interact in space and in time; they can be real or virtual. Examples of complex systems are ecosystems, cities, universities, or the stock market. Systems that are merely based on a feedback loop, like automatic temperature regulators, are not complex. Complicated systems are also not necessarily complex. Complicated systems may have diverse parts or many variables, but they are not adaptive.

Chimpanzee Memory

Chimpanzees split from the human branch of evolution about four to six million years ago; they are our closest relatives in the animal world. They use tools like spears, they have limited language capability, and they are sophisticated group hunters. They can be deceptive in their behavior, and they are capable of planning for future events. They can mourn, and they can be altruistic within their groups. Our human sense of being fundamentally different from all other animals needs to be reexamined; it is probably the deepest hypocrisy we carry.

The German Coast Guard

A few points need to be made about the video clip below: Germany does not have a long coastline, therefore the German Coast Guard probably did not receive the kind of funding it needs. Advertisement can be brilliant; I think the video was created for the Berlitz language schools. My German accent has not gone away, even after more than […]

Comments on Althusser

Althusser, who died in 1990, became a very influential French thinker – not only because he was a teacher for many intellectuals, but also because of his outspoken Marxist and anti-humanist opinions. He is known as a philosopher who tried to develop a structuralist version of Marxism. With the general demise of Marxist thinking, however, Althusser’s influence in the intellectual debates has faded away. For most of his life, he was an intellectual ally of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, from whom he took some inspirations especially in regards to his theory of ideology. He was a very clear thinker who was not afraid to take a radical and critical position.