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'Star Wars' and The Universe as an Energy Force: An Ontological Claim

Yoda
1.0 'Star Wars' and The Force

1.1 In the sci-fi movie series "Star Wars", a metaphysical power called "The Force" is introduced. The Force is described by the Jedi knight Obi-Wan Kenobi in the following terms: "It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together". As a product of living things, when there is large scale destruction of life sensitive individuals refer to "a disturbance in the Force". In later releases of the series (earlier in the sequence) it is established that the Force is biological, the result of midi-chlorians, described by George Lucas as being "a loose depiction of mitochondria, which are necessary components for cells to divide".
1.2 Some of the exotic powers that those who have control over the Force include unnatural strength, levitation, telekinesis, telepathy, suggestive hypnosis ("Jedi mind control"), enhanced reflexes and speed, long-distance empathy, precognition, directional lightning, and ghostly projection. Force sensitivity represents a potential from birth and is trainable to that potential. It is expressed entirely through ego projection (Yoda: "Do. Or do not. There is no try.")
1.3 The physicalist of midi-chlorians explanation has been largely rejected by the Star Wars fan-base, and especially by followers of Jediism, a nontheistic religious or religious parody movement which claims adherence to the ideas behind the force and the associated ethic which recognises the existence of a "dark side" to The Force. Yoda says "Anger, fear, aggression! The dark side of The Force are they. ... A Jedi uses The Force for knowledge and defense. Never for attack." One of the activities of the adherents of Jediism is to proclaim and advocate such recognition in census forms. This has been particularly notable in Australia (65,000 in 2011), New Zealand (20,000 in 2011), England and Wales (176,632 in 2011).

Magical Thinking : An Anthropological Excursus

1. The relationship between philosophy and anthropology
1.1 If philosophy, narrowly defined, is the study of ontology, epistemology, and logic, then these have a relationship with anthropology, broadly defined, as the study of humankind. For particular aspects of human behaviour must have a relationship with the higher level philosophical issues - thus this represents a tangential excursus from our usually studies in philosophy.

Rational Thinking and Emotional Attachments: How can we admit error?

Gods rest ye, Unitarians, let nothing you dismay;
Remember there's no evidence there was a Christmas Day;
When Christ was born is just not known, no matter what they say,
O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

Our current Christmas customs come from Persia and from Greece,
From solstice celebrations of the ancient Middle East.
This whole darn Christmas spiel is just another pagan feast,
O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

The Pragmatic Limits of Scientism in New Atheism

I would like to begin this presentation by giving my thanks to David Miller for inviting me to speak here tonight and for the range of philosophical organisations that he convenes; such as the Melbourne Atheist Society, the Existentialist Society, and the Agnostic Society. David, a little like myself, is a person of many hats.

Sunday Assembly : Some Serious Reservations

I note with interest the recent review of The Sunday Assembly and its establishment in Melbourne, Australia (Freethinker, July). As a person who was going to be involved on the committee of said establishment, I am obviously supportive on the desire to create a non-theistic church which retains 'church-like' community. However I have some serious reservations about The Sunday Assembly which lead to my resignation from the organising committee.

Because the issue is a public one, rather than a personal one, I have a duty to bring the reasons for my resignation to public attention.

The Philosophy of Education

Presentation to the Melbourne Philosophy Forum, Sunday September 1st, 2013

1.0 Definitions
1.1 The Philosophy of Education is an applied philosophy that examines the aims, forms, methods, and results of education as both a process and a field of study. It concerns itself primarily with epistemological questions (e.g., learning methodologies), and ontological questions (e.g., cognitive facts of being), and the logical relationships in education. It also connects with moral reasoning and institutional requirements, as the sociology and economics of education, and issues in learning and motivation, the psychology of education.

The Inspirational Malala Yousafzai

A presentation held on August 4th, 2013 at the Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church

Apparently those with patriarchal religious beliefs do not like educated women. Such beliefs find their expression in numerous sources, such as the demonic temptress Lilith in Judaism, the recommended treatment of women in Paulian Christianity, the the Quran's verse 34 of Surah an-Nisa, which establishes hierarchy and allows domestic violence. In some cases those people with such misogynist attitudes, derived from such texts, are prepared to engage in the worst sort of violence to further their hateful ideas. Such misogyny has a particular place in history due to its prominence in religious thought often used in the union of thinking that both hates women and fears the concept that they are deserving of equal rights.

Fred Hollows Foundation Concert Speech

These concerts are always such an expression of musical talent, and a reminder to myself that, as appreciative as I might be, I have no practical skills in the field. But apparently I can come up here like a stormcrow and bring the mood down.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dialectical Reasoning

Presentation to The Philosophy Forum, June 2nd, 2013

1.0 Pre-Modern Dialectics
1.1 Logic can be differentiated into formal or discrete logic and informal or rhetorical logic. The former can include studies in purely formal content, propositional and predicate logic, set theory and so forth. The latter is a study in argumentation and fallacies. (See "Logic in Philosophy", April 18, 2007 http://lightbringers.net/node/33)
1.2 The story of dialectics begins as a type of informal logic used by the Hellenes, especially by Plato's Socratic dialogues, but also Heraclitus argument of the transitory nature of all things and, as a result, the union of contradictions: "We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not.""We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not."

Success and Failures of Contemporary Unitarian-Universalism

This is an address about our the current situation of our shared and chosen faith, the way it is organised, how it conducts itself, and its future prospects. It is neither optimistic nor pessimistic in its approach, nor does it seek to besmirch or to eulogise. The address will look at some contemporary examples of successes and failures within Unitarian-Universalism, and tie these into motivational and especially organisational reasons for these effects. The scope of applications include the Unitarian-Universalist churches of the North America and Australia-New Zealand, the Unitarian and Free Christian churches of the United Kingdom and Australia-New Zealand, and indeed all those organisations that come under the umbrella group of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists. In this sense, it is a very broad picture - but one which will also look at some local examples.

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