Curiosity, Innovation, Society - and Electrical Telecommunication

Human curiosity, and innovation, and society, or, if you like, science, and technology, and culture, each has its own independent ethos. But they continually affect each other. This interaction can be seen in the emergence and development of many kinds of technologies, each of which has followed its own particular course and has had its own particular outcomes.

I will now discuss one particular case, electrical telecommunication, which transformed societies, by delivering information more quickly and more copiously.

Before the existence of electrical telecommunication, information was sent by a range of technologies, such as shouting or other sounds, beacons, and the transport of written information by human runners, carrier pigeons, etc.

Electrical telecommunication could not even have been thought about, until there was an awareness of the concept of electricity. It took a lot of human curiosity and innovation to bring this into being, and a lot more to make it really effective.

We now think of electricity being either static, that is, not moving, or current, which is continuously moving.

Static electricity is the condition when something has an electric charge, that is, when it contains either an excess of electrons or a shortage of electrons. This imbalance creates a force, measured in volts, that tries to restore the balance.

Static electricity had been observed for thousands of years, in the form of lightning, and fish that could give electric shocks when touched, and amber (the same amber sometimes used in jewellery) which, when rubbed by some other materials would attract small objects, similar to the attraction of a magnet. These occurrences were not thought to be connected in any way.

Capitalism and Socialism

What is Capitalism?

Well, we’re all familiar with Capitalism, as it is what stacks the shelves in the supermarket; whereas you’d queue all day for half-a-loaf of bread in the old Soviet Union.

Of course, your local supermarket has at least two brands of everything- that’s the virtue of competition –unless the supermarket is striving for a monopoly in the product, by introducing its “own brand”.

And regulation is needed, to ensure the product meets a certain standard of quality, with ingredients displayed on the packet. Also, at not too low a price, lest the supplier goes broke.
So, it is clear that unfettered Market Forces is not ideal.

With Fall of the Berlin Wall, and collapse of the Soviet Union, it was assumed that Utopia had arrived – or that was implied. All that is needed now is fine tuning. (How’s the All Ords today?)
However, now, with the political advent of Bernie Sanders in USA, Jeremy Corbyn in UK, and Donald J Trump as US President, a critique of capitalism is evident – all is not well. We have popularism and protectionism. Likewise, Brexit and problems with the European Union and its PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain).

After all, communism tried to rectify the inherent defects of capitalism, and the demise of communism leaves capitalism with the same defects it always had – and which are resurfacing.

But, enough of this, let us get back to basics.

Where does morality come from?

Do moral judgments express beliefs? Those who claim it does not (non-cognitivists) can be differentiated by emotivism and norm expressivism. Those who they do include error theory (all moral beliefs are wrong), subjectivism (individual, cultural, divine command, and ideal observer), and realism (naturalism, and non-naturalism).

The following presentation to The Philosophy Forum (June 4, 2017) covers these issues.

The Concept of Beauty


As a concept, beauty has been extolled, revered, dismissed and argued about throughout history. It has been regarded as some fundamental property with connotations of perfection, or equated with truth. It has been declared, in an adage, to be merely “skin deep” and to be “in the eye of the beholder”. Today’s discussion is an attempt to develop a concept of beauty that will be coherent and defensible. I will start with definitions, and then discuss beauty from a range of viewpoints.

A Tentative Definition

Dictionaries refer to beauty as giving aesthetic pleasure or pleasure of the senses. But since aesthetic pleasure is defined as pleasure derived from the appreciation of beauty, this doesn’t help. “Pleasure of the senses” might imply something like the pleasure of being stroked or massaged, but this seems inadequate as an example of beauty. Dictionaries also refer to beauty as being perfection of form. But what are the criteria for perfect on? Something like a balanced combination of dissimilar elements, perhaps? But many things we regard as beautiful are neither perfect nor complex. The French novelist Stendhal described beauty as “the promise of happiness”, commenting that “there are as many styles of beauty as there are types of happiness”. But beauty seems to be a presence not just a promise, and happiness is not entirely the same as pleasure.

Here are two tentative definitions that I have concocted:

Beauty is the quality by which something gives pleasure to someone for reasons other than mental stimulation, personal gain or the satisfaction of innate drives. The pleasure may be aroused by a thing or an artistic representation or an action or an idea.
Beauty is the quality by which something gives pleasure to someone directly through the intellect and independent of any ulterior considerations.

The Nature of Political Conservatism

The nature of political conservatism and it's demographic the phenomena of the rise of the right-wing

The context for this essay is obviously the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency; and more widely the swing to the 'right' occuring across much of Europe. Also the shock, confusion and atmosphere of incomprehension, that seems to have arisen in consequence. As usual mine seems to be a minority theory, certainly it is presented for consideration in that spirit, whatever history may finally make of it.

The Philosophy of Quantum Physics

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?

1.0 Definition, Scope, and History

1.1 Quantum physics is a branch of physics which is the fundamental theory of nature at small scales and low energies of atoms and subatomic particles. An atom is defined as the smallest unit of matter that has the properties of a chemical unit. They consist of a nucleus of protons and neutrons (making up around 99.94% of the mass) and one or more electrons (hydrogen ion excepted). Protons, neutrons, and electrons are fermions, contrasted with bosons. Fermions obey the Pauli exclusion principle and includes all quarks and leptons (electrons, muons, tau, and neutrinos). Bosons include photons, gluons, guage bosons, and the Higgs boson.
1.2 Quarks are elementary subatomic particles for protons and neutrons, both of which have an internal structure. Electrons are elementary particles in their own right with no internal structure. There are six types of quarks, known as flavors: up, down, strange, charm, top, and bottom. Up and down quarks, found in protons and neutrons, have the lowest masses of all quarks. The heavier quarks rapidly change into up and down quarks through a process of particle decay. Gluons "glue" quarks together.
1.3 Quantum mechanics gradually arose from the wave nature of light began in the 17th and 18th centuries, when several scientists proposed a wave theory of light; in 1838, Michael Faraday discovered cathode rays, and in 1859 the statement of the black-body (thermal) radiation problem by Gustav Kirchhoff. Max Planck's provided a solution in 1900 to the black-body radiation problem, Albert Einstein in 1905 offered a quantum-based theory to explain the photoelectric effect, and Niels Bohr's a new model of the atom included quantized electron orbits in 1913.

Ontology and Violence: What is violence ?

More precisely a phenomenological ontological 'theory of violence


Just to put these ideas in context; for anyone who has not come across this speaker’s approach to ‘philosophy’. The contention is, that language is not just a subject matter of philosophy; (whatever that may turn out to mean), but especially in the meaning of the words of a particular philosophical theory ; is a necessary prerequisite to that philosophical theory.

What is Life? What is A Life?

Life is the property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and other inanimate matter. But this simple description omits to say how to make the distinction. Some life forms seem inanimate at first sight, for example spores or slime. And continued argument about how to decide exactly when human death occurs, with such concepts as brain death replacing earlier concepts such as cessation of heartbeat or breathing, shows that the criteria for being alive are uncertain.

A common biological definition is that living organisms possess four properties:
* metabolism – using material and energy within the body to support continued functioning;
* reproduction – producing, from within the bodies of living parents, new separate organisms that become similar to their parents;
* growth – increasing in size from infant to adult;
* response or adaptation to the environment – taking action needed for metabolism, growth, reproduction and safety.

The Nature and Existence of Time

The present time “does not exist.”
It isn’t even fleeting.
The past is gone and often missed,
And just keeps on retreating.
They say tomorrow never comes –
You can’t give it your greeting.

The message of this simple rhyme
Seems very, very strange,
For if there’s no such thing as time,
Then what could ever change?
(GL 2013)

We all are aware of something called time, but it is hard to define what it is. It seems to have something to do with change, or with sequences of events, but we are still aware of it when nothing seems to be happening. And we have concepts of now, and before and after, which seem to be essential aspects of time.

But what is time? Is there such a thing as the present time? Does time exist? What do philosophers and scientists think about it?

There are more philosophical opinions on this topic than there are on most other parts of the physical sciences. And scientists also disagree about some aspects of time. So this essay will be just a simple overview. And there is much more to say about time than is covered here.

Is Pantheism an Atheism?

Etymology and History

The word 'pantheism' in popular translation means "all God". Which at least on an initial level, would seem to be the polar opposite of atheism. The Oxford dictionary defines the term as "A doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God" and, interestingly, "The worship or tolerance of many gods." This does not sound very atheist at all. However as one digs a little deeper into the etymology some further understanding is gained in the history. The Ancient Hellenic "pan" is a relatively unproblematic translation of "all". But "theos" is alternatively "god" or "divine", derived from the Proto-Indo-European "to do, to put, to place". It is not related, despite similarity in form and meaning, to the Latin 'deus', whose Proto-Indo-European root, is "sky" or "heaven". In fact, in Latin, it is a lot closer to the words feriae ("festival days"), fanum ("temple"), and festus ("festive"). Immediately from the etymology once can see to core themes; simultaneous association with reverence and immanence.


Subscribe to Lightbringers RSS