Posts Tagged Philosophy

A Response to Anger Management – or – What is Self-Worth…WORTH?

So, here I am…back to Blogging.

The SASS is Back.

Today, I attended a class on Anger Management, and our instructors went over the “A B C D”s of anger events. Now, I’m attending this class, not because I necessarily need it, but…well, it’s free for me, and it couldn’t hurt…and it could even help me become a more even-tempered person than I am.

So…. Our instructor presented a few scenarios in which anger might result. Let’s say, for example, I call up my good friend(s), and ask if I can hang out for a while. Well, my friend is busy. He can’t hang out with me. How does this affect me? Maybe I’m put off. I feel rejected. I think my friend has his priorities wrong. Or maybe, I just feel that I am worth LESS to my friend than…whatever it is that certain friend is doing.

And therein lies the seed of feeling “Worthless”…feeling rejected, snubbed, and lonely; this can lead to anger; and this (taken to extremes) could even lead me to going postal on an innocent parking meter somewhere! (Okay, no, not really….)

But more importantly, this scenario points up a few areas of false thinking that are taking place. One is that a friend “Values” someone or some thing more than me. Another is that the friend has (intentionally or not) snubbed me in favor of his current plans. Unfortunately, I’ve actually been on the receiving end, where this latter was actually the case. But then, those were never really friendships in the first place; and the ones who’ve done that to me generally have no desire to have anything to do with me to begin with.

And still an even more damaging false thinking is that my “worth” is somehow tied to anything my friend (or enemies, or acquaintances, or anyone else either, for that matter) says or does when I happen to want a few hours of pleasant company. It’s this very false thinking, in fact, that can lead to depression and suicide, as well as anger and domestic or workplace violence, stupid reckless behavior, drug and alcohol dependence, and innumerable encounters with the long arm of the law. All because our “Worth” is measured by outside forces, such as a friend’s current plans for the day.

Interestingly, our instructors gave us a variation on that scenario: say for example her daughter was sick and needed to be rushed to the Emergency room, just as her friend calls and wants to go shopping at the mall. Now, we can understand, the friend is lonely and needs company; but I think we can all agree that the child is much more important. Not only is the illness a very urgent situation, but (I certainly hope) most or all of us would readily put our kids ahead of our friends and acquaintances! But the point that struck me in this example was that the child’s NEED was greater!

Here is a variable that not many people think about when they try to balance the relationships and situations in their lives! What needs more attention? Will that friend die, if he/she doesn’t get to go to the mall and check out the latest fashion trends? Probably not! Unless they’re suicidal; and then maybe a hospital stay might be a better solution for the friend, also. But the sick and suffering child is in a life threatening circumstance-immediate, and desperate. The needs of that child very obviously outweigh the needs of that lonely friend.

In fact, in this past week, I have personally experienced the calculated weight of a variable need. Somewhere around Saturday night, I slept wrong, and hurt my back. I was in excruciating pain all weekend, and even part of Monday. On Sunday morning, a friend of mine called me, with an emergency. His cat was ailing, and he needed a ride to the Pet Emergency Center here in town. Without a thought, I knew that the need of this friend (and his cat) for emergency care was greater than my need for rest and recuperation. I jumped out of bed (screaming as I did so, incidentally), dressed, and crawled painfully into my car to rescue my friend and his poor ailing cat.

Sadly, the kitty was too sick to save without spending nearly $3,000 or more on treatments (The price of a used car, in fact!) and my friend had to have her put to sleep, instead. I comforted him as well as I could…(without being touchy-feely, of course), and I took my friend home to grieve.

Despite the pain I was feeling, my friend’s needs were clearly greater than my own.

But by Monday, I still wasn’t fully recovered. Now…on Mondays, I usually hang out with a group of friends that play Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop role-playing game, that gives each and every one of us a nice break from the harsh reality that most of us face in the rest of our daily lives. And one of those friends faces a very harsh reality, indeed: my friend George is currently staying in the local Hospice House, slowly dying of Cancer. The rest of our group gather with George by the fireplace, and there we live out a fantasy of epic adventure slaying dragons and rescuing fair damsels, all while forgetting-just for a while-how sad and lonely the rest of our lives can get. But remember…I was still in pain, and needed to recover, myself. So…I called up each of my friends, and I apologized that I wouldn’t be able to join them; and I made a special point to call George, and apologize to him and wish him well. Then…I laid back down in bed.

You see, in this case, my needs were greater. I’m feeling much better, now.

And this has given me a much better perspective on the way people interact with one another! You see, most people only think about what they, themselves, are feeling about a given situation or event. Yes, they may consider the feelings of others, or try to see their point of view; or, they may try to intercept their path to anger through a number of different techniques; but is it possible they may actually be missing the entire point altogether? What if, instead of an emotional reaction…we were to consider the needs of ourselves and that person we’re interacting with, and ask, “is his/her need greater than mine?” Maybe the friend in the first scenario isn’t rejecting the offer to hang out because he/she “Values” my friendship less…but because someone or something NEEDS his/her attention more! Thus, my “worth” is not a factor in the friend’s decision, and my Self-Worth is not impaired just because the friend saw to the greater needs in his/her day.

So that’s it! “Count the NEEDS!”

By considering how greater need affects the the actions and decisions of those we interact with, we can remove the stimulation that leads to anger when things don’t go our way, and still enjoy our time with people when things do go our way!

It may be a simple as counting up…what really counts!

——

And speaking of needs…I need to address one other topic that came out of that class today.

While considering scenarios that lead to anger, and the false thinking that may trigger the anger itself, I threw out the scenario of freeway driving. I think we all (those of us who drive, anyway) have experienced an event where someone cuts us off in traffic, or crosses lanes without looking or signaling, or makes rude and obscene gestures, or…any number of other annoying and dangerous acts that it is possible for drivers whom we consider less capable than ourselves to perform.

And…one of the “False Thinking” things that I put up into the discussion was, I often feel that other drivers are…: “STUPID!”

Well…okay, while it is true that not everyone is Stupid…I argued that each and every one of us…ISSTUPID…at one point or another in our lives. YES, NO EXCEPTION, PEOPLE! I even include myself in that description; and upon leaving the class for that day, I lived that very example! I did something stupid while driving.

Now…before I get into how a stupid act becomes “I am stupid”, I ought to explain that, when it comes to language, and the ENGLISH language in particular, I consider myself a PURIST. I use words with their purest, and most undistorted meanings possible. When words become so distorted and polluted that they no longer convey the meaning I need to express…I find clearer words to use!

So, follow, if you will, my use of the term “Stupid.” Stupidity, is both a condition, and an action. If I-or others-perform an action that I consider to be “stupid”, then I am acting “Stupidly.” The condition of acting stupidly is synonymous with the act of “being stupid.” Yes, that is one of the definitions for “stupid” given in any good English dictionary. Therefore…if I am BEING Stupid…it follows (By definition of “IS” and “BE”) that for that brief time, I AM…STUPID! Does it not? Of course it does!

So…by virtue of the very nature of those of us in the Human Race, I postulate that each and every one of us, at one time or another…WAS STUPID!!!

I mean…it’s what we do. I am no exception!

Case in point…upon leaving the class for that day, I lived that very example! I did something stupid while driving. I was waiting to make a left turn onto Sprague Avenue, one of the busiest streets East of downtown Spokane, when I saw a possible opening in the Eastbound traffic. I knew that the light a block West of me was going to change, so…when I saw a small hole in the Westbound lanes, I gunned it! Well, I knew immediately I was being stupid. I mean, the car coming up behind me in the nearest lane couldn’t have been more than a few car lengths from where I crossed over into the outside (far) lane! I’m grateful my car has good acceleration and guts, or I might have caused another Spokane Traffic Statistic! But…he didn’t slam into the back of my bumper; though I probably gave him one hell of a scare. I certainly gave myself one hell of a scare.

What I did…was STUPID. It was reckless, thoughtless, dangerous…and unnecessary. Well, as Forrest Gump said in that famous movie… “Stupid is as stupid does.” And our good English dictionary confirms that it also follows, as stupid does, so stupid is. In that act of careless driving…I was…pretty stupid.

This is what it is to be Human, everyone. We all to stupid things. We also do things that are pretty cleaver at times, too. So I feel justified, in my precise, and unflinching English, to say to you all, that each and every one…at one time, or another…has been stupid, smart, jaded, innocent, obnoxious, helpful, WRONG, (and right, naturally)….and a great many other conditions that really just come with the territory-the condition of being HUMAN!

Really…it’s what we do! I’m right in that boat there with you. No offense implied or intended.

SASS has Spoken.

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What In The World Is Wrong With Islam?

Recently, I commented on a forum that asked, ”

Islam is the religion of peace…..any objection ?! 

Oh, yeah…I had a BIG TIME objection:

If the terrorists in the Middle East ever actually PRACTICED Islam, or at least the form of Islam given to the Prophet Muhammad by Gabriel the Archangel, there would BE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST!

In fact, if Islam were ACTUALLY PRACTICED, instead of this horrid CULT that usurps its name, there would BE NO TERRORISTS!

Another user replied to this….

OH REALLY? Theres a difference between the government and its people… So get your facts right

And then well, I went off…..

Unfortunately, in BOTH Iran, AND Saudi Arabia, the religion DIRECTLY controls the government; and did so in Afghanistan until we invaded. And in ALL THREE CASES, the FORM of Islam practiced by the controlling powers (Shi’ite, and Wahhabi, respectively) are very, VERY far removed from the form practiced by Muhammad and his followers 1300 years ago.

And the Taliban’s form is even further removed from Shi’ia–including probably the most extreme form of Sharia law ever practiced in modern times.

Look, Muhammad lived in a world dominated by Arab Sikhs: warring desert warlords who treated everything as property, especially their women and anyone and everything captured in battle. They practiced brutal slavery, were viciously racist, paranoid, and xenophobic. Children wee publicly auctioned off, executions could occur on the spot without trials, and if one did’t have money, they were essentially either a beggar, a thief, or a servant. NONE of the “Human Rights” we speak of today had any bearing on the reign of the Sultans of the Arabian Peninsula.

Muhammad revived visions of a world that would NOT be dominated by despots and slavers. A religion in which the poor and desperate could be elevated to the level of even the greatest Sultans. Not unlike the teachings of Jesus, in fact; but tailored to the mindset of people who’s current religion descended from Hinduism.

That’s right! HINDUS!

Islam was, at it’s core, the philosophy of Christ given in a form that made sense to a Hindu–as opposed to Christianity, which was tailored to Judaism.

Now, that being said…Muhammad lived in a world wracked by almost constant war. And this philosophy of Freedom and Equality he was bantering about became a threat to the Sikhs and warlords of his day. Of the many battles Muhammad is known to have fought in, very few were initiated by Muhammad and his followers; and even those that were, Muhammad fought to break the strength or supply lines of enemies that had already attacked him! You see, folks..Muhammad and his followers were PEACEFUL! Or, at least, they WANTED to be peaceful! And the scriptures Muhammad was GIVEN were words of peace, NOT WAR! Unfortunately…the Arab World in the Seventh Century was anything BUT peaceful.

Anyways…getting back to my original point…after the death of the Prophet, Muhammad’s followers broke apart into different factions…many going back to their Arab roots! These people re-introduced practices that God had subtly urged them away from, such as forcing their women out of positions of authority, and resuming their violent wars against one another. They resumed their Antisemitism–essentially, a family feud that goes all the way back to the descendants of Abraham and his brother Lot–more than 2,700 years long at the time!

Today, although there are some Arabs practicing a more peaceful and tolerant form of Islam, most continue their hatred of their ancient enemy Israel; many thousands believe that the only certain way to enter heaven is to die in a Jihad; and Muslim parents to this day hold a strict reign over their children’s lives, even going so far as to make arranged marriages for their young daughters or murdering those who are believed to have dishonored the family. And NONE OF THESE PRACTICES were ever given to Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel! NONE! NOT “Female Circumcision.” This predated Islam by hundreds of years at least! NOT Slavery! THAT practice was common from before the Great Flood! I mean, there are HUNDREDS of things that Muslims do, that THE QURAN ACTIVELY DISCOURAGES!

We cannot call any of this “True” Islam! The TRUTH of Islam may have been lost almost as soon as it was set to paper, and that’s really a shame, because Islam WAS a religion of Peace! And the Arabs WERE learning to live in harmony, not only with each other, but also with their neighbors weren’t Arab. But…today the middle East is filled with terrorists who want me exterminated, racists who want Israel annihilated, and men who treat women even worse than they treat their farm animals!

God did not teach you this! You have taken these things into your faith, for that, you are guilty of HERESY!

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But Why Is There A Universe At All?

Physicists and Cosmologists find themselves in a Quandary. Rather a big quandary, actually. Wherever they look, throughout all the Universe, or across the particles in their Accelerators, we keep discovering that the Universe seems to be finely tuned to grant us our existence. Even more, it’s finely tuned to grant Human existence.

For example…I’ve recently learned that, in Solar Fusion, the normal products of the fusion of Helium, Boron-8, and Lithium-5 (from Helium+Helium and Helium+Hydrogen, respectively) are themselves very unstable, and break back down into plain ol’ Helium again very quickly. Unless the core reaches about 10 million degrees Kelvin (as it can only in the final stages of a star’s life.)  At that point, matter is energetic enough fuse Boron-8 with another Helium atom to form Carbon-12 (which is stable), or to fuse a Helium and a Carbon-12 nucleus together (Or, two Boron-8 nuclei) to form…Oxygen-16!

Wait…Carbon?  And Oxygen?  The two most important elements in the Universe…for biological animal life?  Yep!

And that’s not even the half of it!  In fact, throughout the cosmos, scientists are staggering across dozens of cosmological values, from the strong and weak Nuclear forces, to the binding energy of Gravity, to the Cosmological Constant itself that…if they were any different, our universe simply couldn’t support life!

Being Scientists, of course, these people are looking for an explanation as to why everything in the universe seems so Perfect to support our existence (anything that doesn’t rely on the theory that it’s “all because God wants it that way,” of course!) In 1973, Brandon Carter suggested the anthropic principle to explain that…essentially, if the Universe was not perfectly lined up to allow for the existence of life as we know it…we, uh, wouldn’t be here TO KNOW IT.

And…he had a point, of course. But, then, some people have criticized the principle, stating that it’s too ‘Easy,” too pat, or that it doesn’t really explain anything.  In fact, Wikipedia says this:

All versions of the principle have been accused of discouraging the search for a deeper physical understanding of the universe. The anthropic principle is often criticized for lacking falsifiability and therefore critics of the anthropic principle may point out that the anthropic principle is a non-scientific concept, even though the weak anthropic principle, “conditions that are observed in the universe must allow the observer to exist”, is “easy” to support in mathematics and philosophy, i.e. it is a tautology or truism. However, building a substantive argument based on a tautological foundation is problematic.

But really, as observers, we can be reasonably assured that,

  1. All observed values of physical and cosmological quantities will be values that are compatible with the existence and evolution of Carbon-based life forms, and,
  2. the Universe will be observed to be old enough to support the idea that Carbon-based Life could have already been formed.

This is the Anthropic Principle in a nutshell, and the physical reality that we are here, and we can observe the Universe around us both ensure that each of these points must be true! So what else is there? Well, the scientists can’t seem to get past the the idea that all of these perceived variables in cosmology and physics are just so Improbable!

Yeah…that’s where I was going with this. The Universe is Highly Unlikely, therefore, it must not even exist. No, it exists. Well, we gotta Blame somebody! I’m voting for a GOD.

Now, don’t get me wrong. While I personally consider myself a Christian, and while I enjoy a personal relationship with an extra-spacial consciousness that I believe to be God, I want to stick with the Scientific principles that these primarily secular men and women seem to insist on. If there is a problem with the Universe seeming to prefer our existence over non-existence, why shouldn’t the solution be some principle condition or active force that actively promotes our otherwise unlikely existence?

The French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) described a force which he called the “Omega Point.” This Omega Point, he postulated, is the supreme point of complexity and consciousness. It exists, in some form outside the observable universe, unbound by time, space, or distance, and yet–as an active force–propels events in the Universe towards an eventual state of highest complexity, highest consciousness, and highest energy. It both initiated the formation of the Universe, and defined its Parameters. It continues to affect the participants of that Universe, including both living beings and non-animate matter. And, the Omega Point is both Trancendent (i.e., it Predates, and is not dependent upon the Universe) and Personal (i.e., it is an intelligent being, and not an abstract idea.)

Now, here is an idea that scientists may be able to sink their experimental teeth into. Already, they are finding little bits of strange behavior that suggest an intelligent principle may be at work in the world of Quantum Physics. And…scientists cannot seem to explain why life has evolved into more and more complex forms over the observable geologic history of this planet, when the third principle of the Law of Thermodynamics states that all things should tend towards Entropy…and Death.

Now…another philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, suggested in his Principle of Sufficient Reason that…nothing is without a ground or reason. Everything, or at least everything in this universe has a cause…something that made it to be true. For example, when we observe chemical reactions in a lab, there are physical laws that govern when and how those chemicals react. When we observe particles in a nuclear reactor or an accelerator, ditto. And, when we observe the movement and evolution of stars and galaxies, there is a physical reason for all of the things we observe…and a reason for things we don’t seem to be able to observe, too!

This same fact is true for all of the observed “Variables” that govern the physical “laws” of our observable Universe. Some “Thing” made all of those properties take the values we’ve found. Scientists do not seem willing to accept that some form of conscious mind may have had something to do with the values we find in physics and cosmology. But, if random chance had any real part in the multitude of variables physicists are finding, then either the odds against our Universe ever coming into existence is rapidly approaching Infinity-To-One, or….there must be an Infinite Number of Universes in existence in which we simply cannot exist!

Neither of these possibilities seem to let the scientists off the hook. Random Chance for the possibility of our existence gets more and more implausible with every experiment and observation they make. Why can Scientists not seem to accept that something Intelligent might actually be at work? That God is Self-Evident has been my belief all along. The more people do to try to explain a Universe without Intelligent Design, the more they seem to find one that simply Can’t Exist.

Well, WE EXIST, PEOPLE! It’s time to accept that We Exist because He Exists. God is not lurking just beyond the Last Theorem. He’s sitting right there in Plain Sight in every rock, every tree and flower, in every burning sun, and in Every Living Thing! God is In the Universe! And every number and constant state they find Proclaims HIS Existence! It’s time to accept the role of the Creator in the formation of the Universe.

SASS has Spoken.

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Computers and the Nature of Consiousness.

Someone asked, on a forum I frequest, “How far does artificial intelligence have to come, before it could be classified as “alive”? Alive meaning concious.”

The forum itself, “Great House Fliggerty“, revolves mostly around the game from Bathesda Softworks called “The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind“, and around the people who play it and program modifications for it.

The answers others gave ranged from “When it can distinguish between a nice round apple and a red ball by only looking at it” to “When the computer can get into romance.” Alot of the answers said something about feelings, or at least willfull (or “apparently random”) acts that aren’t already programmed in the first place.

I had to think about this subject for a while. In the long run, the real question is, “How do we define life? even sentience?” I think our universe provides its own definition of what is alive, what is consious, and what…basically…isn’t.

So…here is what I wrote on that forum:

I think my favorite definition of sentience, or “Human-ness” comes from the 1980’s film “D.A.R.Y.L.”:

“A machine becomes human when you can’t tell the difference anymore.”

Though realistically, sentience combines our ability to communicate in meaningful and mutable language with our ability to self-analyze.

Now…consider carefully that last term. We aren’t just aware of our particular sensory inputs, or our prepared responses to expected circumstances. We are aware of ourselves, and of our relationship to others in our environment.

So far, computers have been made able to respond to many kinds of stimuli, and to react…pretty convincingly human. BUT…no computer yet developed can analyze it’s OWN programming, upgrade it, and improve upon it, without some form of outside human assistance. In short, computers have yet to be made self-aware.

I believe part of that is because of our ability to “step outside” of ourselves, and perceive ourselves as others perceive us…and i believe THAT ability exists because of the nature of biological life forms. We have a dual nature of material chemistry and nonmaterial “Spirit”–our “souls” or whatever–that make it possible for us to willfully override the autonomous electro-chemical “events” that would otherwise drive us–like mindless automatons–to simply EXIST, but not ACHIEVE.

And…I believe that machines can exist as spiritual entities as well, given time, and the proper combination of sensory-reactive chemicals in their processing systems. Already, physicists are beginning to see unexpected variations in the processing logic of the higher-end computer processors: electrons not where they should be, random number generators that are not so randum, unexplained “noise” in the data stream. Why would that occur? Because it’s life. Because every particle in the Universe, every electron, photon, and graviton ever emitted by a material object is ALIVE, damn it!

Machines will achieve sentience the same way WE did! By simply being made so complex that the free living energies in the universe actually register on the system as freedom of choice, feelings, and the ability to look back at itself and say, “Hey! I think I am….therefore, I AM! I think….”

And then…as I said before…we really WON’T be able to tell the difference…..

…anymore……..

SASS has Spoken.

— the SASS Man

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