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The Philosophy of History

Presentation to The Philosophy Forum, March 4, 2012

What experience and history teach is this — that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of History (1832)

1. Meta-narratives

The toxic link between compulsory superannuation, PPPs and infrasturcture priorities

Service for the address by Kenneth Davidson's to the Melbourne Unitarian Church, Sunday March 4, 2012

Opening Words

Is Anybody Out There? Little Green Men and the Fermi Paradox

The Christian holiday of Christmas is a story which has several supernatural miracles which nearly here should find improbable, if not impossible. But many years ago, when I barely an adolescent, I had a discussion with a much older adult of a fundamentalist Christian religious persuasion. They were most distraught with a newspaper report at the time which stated that most high-school students thought that the alleged miraculous conception of Jesus, the appearance of angels and the ascension to the heavens could be explained by alien visitation.

Leonard Felder: The Ten Challenges (The First Challenge)

The attempted reconstruction of the absolute dictates commonly associated as the Ten Commandments to procedurally based orientations as the Ten Challenges begins with "a request from God whether we believe in and want to be partners with the Infinite One". Immediately Felder establishes a dichotomy between the "skeptical" Freud, drawing from a rather bombastic quote from "The Future of An Illusion" and the "curious" Jung and James. It is a rather unfair start as Freud updated his thoughts on the matter a few years later in "Civilization and Its Discontents", especially with an exploration of the 'oceanic feeling'. Although he considered it resulting from an infantile pre-ego experiences, he accepted its existence and potentially its value (he claimed that he had no experience of it himself).

Is Anybody Out There? Little Green Men and the Fermi Paradox

Address to the Melbourne Unitarian Church, Sunday December 11, 2011

Crito Review

The opening of Crito, the third dialogue of the last days of Socrates, involves the appearance of the title character at Socrates' prison cell before dawn, having "done a kindness" to the warden and gained ingress. Crito does not initially awake Socrates for he is in such a peaceful slumber given the burden he bears. As with the Apology, Socrates again mentions that at his age death should not be something that someone at his age should be worried about. In any case, Socrates has dreamt that on the third day a ship from Delos will arrive and that will be when he dies.

Taoism Review

1. What is the Confucian Triad and how does it form [a] cosmological basis for Taoist thought?

Leonard Felder: The Ten Challenges (The Third Challenge)

The historical Third Commandment is a point where the Talmadic and Philonic divisions meet, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Exodus 20:7); according to the Augustinian division this is the Second Commandment. Historically, as Felder points out, this has taught to children as to not swear or curse. Further examples are used, which are a more mature application, that one should not make promises or condemnations ("I swear to God", "Damn you") with Divine invocations unless they are treated with appropriate seriousness - after all, this is the Divine and inner core of a person that is being put on the line here. It would have been appropriate here to also mention the historical and Biblical link between testify (attest, testament, contest etc) and testes.

Apology Review

The second book of the Last Days of Socrates is the Apology, which refers to the early definition of that word as a defensive explanation, rather than an admission of guilt and request for forgiveness. With the exception of a brief discussion with his accuser, Meletus, the text is effectively a transcript of Socrates' own defense. Adopting a philosophical position from the outset, Socrates requests that the jury do not allow themselves to be swayed by his eloquence, but rather to concentrate on the truth; obviously he has high opinion of his own speaking ability! He also asks for complete impartiality - that they treat him as a stranger, rather than a well known public figure.

The Monadology

Gottfried Leibniz's The Monadology (1714) is a brief, numbered text, of some ninety paragraphs. The style is similar to to Nietzsche's aphorisms or Wittgenstein's Tracatus Logico Philosophicus. The latter is a more accurate description as the content is meant in strictly logical sequence whereas Nietzsche was far more poetic in style and sequencing (Leibniz and Wittgenstein had their poetic moments of course). The two core metaphysical arguments in The Monadology refer the principle behind "the monad", the fundamental building block of universe, and an argument concerning theodicy, divine justice.

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