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.

Race conditions for the Human Species : A Global Perspective

1.0 What are Race Conditions?
1.1 Not be confused with "the human race" (French origin from Italian, razza); but rather a race of movement (Middle English from Old Norse, ras). It is an expression from electronics and programming which is applicable to other systemic environments. It refers to uncertainty in an output when there is a multiplicity of operations occurring concurrently in the same environment. The multiple signals or threads are in a "race" with each other often with disastrous consequences (e.g., Therac-25 radiation therapy machine).
1.2 Placing locks in a system with race conditions will enforce sequential behaviour (at a cost to parallelism and speed) but may also introduce "deadlocks" which bring signals to a halt (e.g., apocryphal Kansas railway statute) or "livelocks", where signals are active but cannot progress (e.g., polite corridor problem).
1.3 The interactions of human beings with their environment constitutes a massively system with parallel signals, feedback loops, and programmer intervention. Modern science had significantly reduced the degree that this system as a whole is unpredictable; evaluation in such circumstances is carried out in terms of risk evaluation (likelihood and consequences).

Charles Baudelaire and Seeing Things-As-They-Really-Are

‘But what can eternity of damnation matter to someone
who has felt, if only for a second, the infinity of delight?’
- Charles Baudelaire.

I am fascinated with the person and poetry of Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867). I am sure that says more about me than I would like to know or share.

The Abolition of Crime: New Principles in Criminology and Justice

The Cost of Crime

Those who follow the pithy aphorism, "crime doesn't pay" should also be more attentive to the costs of crime. The Australian government's Institute of Criminology estimated that on 2005 figures, that crime costs Australia nearly $36 billion per annum - about 4.1% of the GDP. Forty per cent of this is the result of fraud, followed by burglary at ten per cent, then drug offenses at nine per cent, arson at eight per cent, and and assault at 7 per cent). The Australian Productivity Commission determined that on 2009 figures the Australian governments spent more than $10.7 billion on criminal services; police accounting taking up 66.7 per cent of the total cost, followed by corrective services at 22.7 per cent, criminal court administration at 5.7 per cent, and civil court administration at 4.9 per cent.

Leonardo Da Vinci, Tertiary Education Autodidacticism and Genius

There seems to be a superficial tendency (I know I have it); to regard “university education”, as better than “self-education”. I would be decidedly more nervous about utilising the services of a surgeon who was self- educated; rather than one with a certified university education !

A word for a ‘self-educated ’ person is an ‘autodidact' eg [autodidact](Oxford Dictionary) “ A self-taught person.”
From http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/autodidact ;

Free Will, Compatibilism, and Determinism: A Pseudo-problem

The debate between advocates of free-will, compatibilism, and determism is certainly on-going. Recently The Philosophy Forum had a meeting with Tim Harding of The Logical Place with his views on the subject (PDF attached of his presentation). Behind the walled garden of Facebook Alice Knight continued the discussion with contributions from Philosophy Forum regular Leslie Allan, Tim Harding, Stephen Lawrence, Trick Slattery, and others. Leslie Allan post a summary of his views, leading to the amusing possibility of a debate between "the logical place" and "the rational realm"!

Religion and the US Presidential Election

The inspiration for today’s address comes from a nine-year-old front page of The Bulletin, the now defunct news magazine that closed down in 2008, less than three years after the death of its benefactor Kerry Packer. The front page referred to our 2007 federal election. It read GOD’S VOTE. John Howard and Kevin Rudd are desperate for the religious vote. Inside were comments by representatives of a number of religious organisations. Not in any order these were Catholic, Buddhist, Pentecostal, Islam, Lutheran, Hindu, Jewish, Presbyterian, Uniting and Anglican. The religious influence on Australian politics has spawned several books, the most famous being God Under Howard by Marion Maddox, who teaches at Macquarie University. We’ve even had religious or quasi-religious political parties. I won’t list these as our talk today is basically about the United States, which has a different political system but, like in Australia, religion is an important factor in the minds of many voters. One point of interest is the fact that the The Bulletin article, written by Roy Eccleston, invited comments from representatives of four non-Christian religions. In the United States this would be very unusual.

Epistemology of Madness

1.0 Epistemology and Madness in Context
1.1 Epistemology, the study of the knowledge and scope of knowledge (intellectual and experiential), and the groundings and justifications of claims. It is differentiated from ontology (being, becoming, existence).
1.2 As an epistemological review it is not the reality of madness that is reviewed here (e.g., a review of causes); but rather how does one know whether a behaviour or person suffers from madness.
1.3 'Madness' has a number of definition; it can refer to insanity, folly, rage, or intense enthusiasm (as a proper noun, it can also refer to a 1970s/1980s popular ska band). It is mainly the former sense that is discussed in this presentation, although one could suggest that the definitions can be associated with the primary definition.
1.4 Note that 'insanity' derives from the Latin for 'not healthy' (sanus), a "sickness of the mind". Thus insanity can be considered a defectiveness mental process.


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