Animal Ethics, Rights and Welfare

Most of you know me well enough probably to be aware of my prejudices and commitments regarding today’s topic. But as I have been asked to lead the discussion I will make my vested interests clear: I have been a vegan for about 32 years and I am a member of Animal Liberation Victoria.

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).

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.

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.

Taoism Review

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

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.

Leonard Felder: The Ten Challenges (The Second Challenge) Review

The Talmadic Second Commandment, or First Commandment in the Philonic or Augustinian traditions, is phrased "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). Felder notes that this is usually, and incorrectly, interpreted as an edict against building and worshipping idols.

The New Seminary Buddhism Review

1. What are the Four Passing Sights that Siddhartha saw and what did they mean to him?

According to the traditional biography, Prince Siddh?rtha Gautama was shielded from religious teaching and knowledge of human suffering by his father King ?uddhodana, who desired his son to develop expertise on secular and royal affairs. According to the prediction of the shramana (ascetic) Asita, he too would become a ascetic if he came into contact with the existential conditions of life. Siddhartha thus spent 29 years as a prince in Kapilavastu [1], a region of the ancient Shakya kingdom, near the border of contemporary India and Nepal, in relative luxury.

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