Metaphysical Finale (Part 1 of 4)

Over the next day or two I will be discussing the following topics:
Formulating and Explaining: Determinism, Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Indeterminism, Volitional Indeterminism, The Theory of Agency, Fatalism, Theism, and Atheism.

Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating: An Argument Against Moral Responsibility, The Kid Patriot Argument Against Soft Determinism, The Ernest Patriot Argument Against Simple Indeterminism, The Vera Patriot Argument Against Volitional Indeterminism, What I take to be the best argument against The Theory of Agency, The Argument for Fatalism, What I take to be the best argument for Theism, and What I take to be the best argument for Atheism.

Disclaimer:  For those of you that are here for entertainment, than I’d say you are in for a good couple of days. However if you are one of those students currently taking metaphysics with Ned Markosian that you might as well just turn around, he dislikes my explanations a great deal. Whereas the average visitor here understands this stuff, I have quite a few “makes no sense” tags in the exam. At any rate that’s the disclaimer since I know people Google before exams.

So lets get this part started:

Determinism: Every event that occurs is completely determined by previous conditions.

It’s essentially explained just by writing the line. Completely determined essentially means that the laws of nature require that the action carry out in the manner that it does. The common theme here will be abusing the concept of natural law.

The Argument Against Moral Responsibility

(1) Every event that occurs is completely determined by previous conditions.
(2) if (1), then every action that transpires is completely determined before the birth of the agent.
(3) If every action is determined by events before its agent then people do not act freely.
(4) If people do not act freely then people are not morally responsible.
(5) People are never morally responsible for their actions.

The idea for premise one is that every event is completely determined by the series of events that lead to its activation. If you flip a coin the action of your finger would be the previous event beginning the flipping of the coin, your decision to flip the coin was the signal that told your finger to flip (ideally) and a series of events leading to that thought…so on and so forth. Premise two says that if everything is indeed decided by events before it then obviously the series of events leading up to your activities began before you existed. Another very reasonable assumption. The third premise states that if every action has already been determined by a series of events going before you were even alive then you do not act freely. Again reasonable given the argument. Finally the fourth premise states that if people do not act freely then they are not morally responsible.

Well once we make our way past that huge layer of text it pays to mention that indeed that is a valid statement, if premises are true then indeed the conclusion is true as well. However I would not go as far as to say that it is sound. The laws of nature, gravity, space, and time as well as others I am not thinking about are indeed outside of the control of humans (at least for now). However it is quite a bold jump to say that something like gravity has the same effect on thoughts and decisions as it does on a coin flip.

Reflexive actions are indeed outside of the realm of responsibility of a person. I’m pretty sure all reflexive actions from below the neck happen (relatively) long before a signal reaches the brain. However actions that are decided upon are hardly decided before the agent is born. I would never argue that you are in full control of the events transpiring around you, but you are (to a great degree) able to decide how you respond to them. It is that ability to choose your response that is why people are morally responsible. Natural laws play little or no part in the thoughts and decisions of any living organism. That is the primary difference between a living organism and a non-living thing (like wind). Wind is entirely at the whim of natural forces, your thoughts are not.

Once my headache breaks (hopefully tomorrow) I’ll have a larger chunk of this done.

By | 2009-03-16T19:22:50+00:00 March 3rd, 2009|Journal|3 Comments

How and Why the Trojan War Happened. (From a Mythological Standpoint)

Throughout my time in Greek Mythology (and now Tragedy) I’ve had a theory that has seen some pretty good support from the stories that have been left for us to examine. The problem I had before (other than a forced word count) was what the purpose of my theory was, I refuse to accept that anything happens ‘just because’ even if an explanation is merely a more detailed form of that response. Causes and Effects are wondrous things that keep me awake on many a night. The theory is that the Trojan war, much like (I feel) all wars before and after it, in the fact that it was inevitable given the events transpiring a while before it. However unlike modern world wars, wars on terror, and wars on rap music (down with yee!) this was a war laid out by the Greek gods themselves.

Who was involved? Physically on the spectrum of humans (and heroes) we likely can involve Hector, Heracles, Helen, Xanthus, Paris, Priam, Philoctetes, Laomedon, Ajax, Helen, Menelaus, Pandarus, and Patrocalus…woo yeah quite a few people most of which word feels are real names. But who amongst the gods are involved? As it stands I feel we can accuse Zeus, Apollo, Eris, Ares, Athena, Artemis, and likely anyone who placed their godly feet at the lands of either Athens or Troy.

So where does it all begin? Well I feel that we can safely start things with the wildly famous son of Zeus (one of many)-Heracles. For those who know a bit about Greek history it is quite obvious that Heracles was not physically a participant, he died a comfortable distance (in time) before the Trojan war. He never even met Paris, who would be the playboy largely accused for the Trojan war (perhaps unfairly), however he did meet and kill someone very important to Paris. Heracles killed a man by the name of Laomedon, who was the father of a man known as Priam, who consequently was the father of Paris. So many years before Paris was alive the involvement of godly entities in his bloodline was present.

I only mention this because it is by Hercules’ own bow and arrows handed down to Philoctetes, that will indeed poison and kill Paris. It would be (to me) ironic likewise that the very Zeus-like attitude of Paris "if it moves, and is sexy, mate with it" that would end up being the final nail in his coffin. A beautiful nymph that Paris originally found himself in the bed of (before his later rendezvous with Helen) could have easily cured him, however by breaking her heart he ended up dying outside the doors of her shack. A bit of a tangent but I found it funny that by acting like the most successful of Greek gods he would suffer such a terrible end. It may have had to do with the fact that Zeus’s own son had killed his grandfather, setting the precedent that their bloodlines did not peacefully sync. But back on track…

Returning back to the time preceding the Trojan war, there is a series of unfortunate (for the Greeks) events transpiring above the clouds. The events of the heroes below tie in like the string of the fates, this is not an accident by any means. This is likely because of the combined powers of Apollo and Prometheus (without whom it is blatantly obvious that the Greek gods would do terribly in their manipulative attempts). Anyone who thinks otherwise would be well to remember that Zeus, powerful enough to defeat his father (Kronos) who was himself powerful enough to defeat one of the original gods of the universe (Ouranos), could not even end the life of humanity (not for naught of trying either). With the previous piece of information in mind we move onto an event that I originally viewed as accidental but now feels very planned, much like the rest of the things you’ll read here. Zeus after a failed interrogation was (for reasons unknown) finally gifted with the information that had terrorized him for quite a while by a Titan known as Prometheus. Prometheus has arguably one of the greatest powers in the entire Greek universe, he can literally see the future, Prometheus is so powerful that unlike Apollo it would appear that Prometheus can even change the future. Prometheus knew that the lust of Zeus would inevitably cause him to bear a child that will be more powerful than him, much like he was the child that defeated his father, and his father was the child that defeated his grandfather. Perhaps on retrospect this is why Paris was defeated by his own lust, he did not have the forethought necessary to defeat a self destructive trait. More on that later.

Zeus would in his limited wisdom (granted greatly by the consumption of his first wife; Metis the goddess of Wisdom. Who was so wise that her essence would grow within Zeus and sprout from his head (with some assistance from his new Wife’s defunct son Hephaestus) as an entirely separate entity; Athena. I don’t think this was a deed that Zeus did actively, it seemed symbolic of his inability to grasp onto Wisdom (as an entity of raw power). It was with his limited wisdom and somewhat sly nature (still retaining some of his Daughter’s military tact) that he decided now knowing the target of his lust that he would marry her with some modern human. Surely doing so would protect him from his own groin from inevitably defeating him. The wonderful woman’s name was Thetis, a gorgeous sea nymph that would turn most male deities hearts to mush. The decision was to marry her to a man named Peleus, if memory serves he was your average farmer, while that might not be accurate the important information is that he’s merely mortal. A lucky mortal to say the least.

This wedding, much like the birth of Athena, was a huge deal. If you were a god worth mentioning you were invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, in fact all the gods were invited to the wedding except for one, Eris, the Goddess of Discord. I thought at first this was because Zeus knew what she would do if she was invited, than overtime it hit me, it’s not that he knew what she would do had she been invited, he knew what she would do had she not been invited. Likely by discussing the situation with Apollo and/or (more likely) Prometheus, seeing as after the events of Prometheus bound the two had a wobbly but peaceful relationship (finally).

Poseidon’s gift to the wedding were two horses known as Xanthus and Barius, with (likely) the obvious knowledge from Prometheus that they’d play a large part in the upcoming war by the very powerful child that the couple would bear. Eris dropped the Apple of Discord into the wedding, this apple was said to be for the "fairest" at the wedding. It would initiate a scuffle between three goddess’ Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Zeus took the apple and handed it off to the human most like him, Paris. This is twofold, Zeus knows that only a complete fool blinded by lust would ever tell any number of Goddess’ (higher than 1) that they are fairer than those around them…short of perhaps getting to bed them all at once and he knew that Paris much like him was someone just horny enough to make such a foolish move.

If all of the gods were in agreement in the war of Athens and Troy the war would be extremely short lived, this was not the desire of the gods (to be explained soon). Aphrodite must like the Trojans was an entity more so of passion than thought (according to the Athenian gods). Zeus likewise knew that if offered power, wisdom, or sex that he’d choose a good lay in a second (albeit for him his own libido is what gave him a powerful Olympian family), likewise if he would so would Paris. The story played out just as he either assumed or was told by his partners. Hera told Paris she’d give him power, Athena told him she’d give him Wisdom, and Aphrodite told him she could get him laid so good he’d be cross eyed. Without a second thought he gave the apple to Aphrodite, at this point one of the world’s oldest (or should be) adages was unleashed. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Except for maybe two woman…who are also goddesses. But I digress.

There are events in Tragedy that are remixed many times over and it is difficult to say which is the truer to its kin. But it is important to note that in the tragedy Iphigenia at Aulis, it is said that Artemis came down just before the death of Iphigenia (being sacrificed by her father) and replaced her with a deer. I feel that events like this were done to add a sense of dread to the war, to remind the humans that the war was unavoidable and that great tragedies would unravel during it, and after it.

Fast forward to the war. Unsurprisingly to anyone, Ares would join up with Aphrodite, not surprising because the two were very intimate. It’s difficult to say no to Aphrodite once you are in her bed. Nothing that unraveled during the Trojan was unplanned, nor was anything a surprise to the gods. This can and likely was in large part because of Prometheus, which may be paradoxical because he’s famous for protecting humanity. However perhaps he foresaw something far worse than the Trojan war had it not happened. Much like killing deer to make certain they don’t starve to death from overpopulation. Hector, much like Odysseus, and Achilles would not want to go to war. None of them were fond of Helen and more so none of them were fond with the idea of dying, it’s just not on the plate of most people, hero or not.

When Paris brought back Helen he had activated an Oath made by all of the men (or most) of Athenian alignment, their oath was that if she ever befell trouble that they’d come to her aid. As is shown in many tragedies related to the situation nobody believed that they’d ever have to actually to do anything about it. Agamemnon says in "Iphigenia at Aulis", Those foolish suitors swore that oath to Tyndareus in their longing to wed; but Hope was the goddess that led them on. Indeed these men all longed for a woman as beautiful as Helen and it was this wildly blind hope that led them to make such a ridiculous oath.

Tyndareus was most likely manipulated by some god, I know not which but considering the way all things fall into alignment it cannot be coincidence. When Paris and Menelaus attempted to settle the war peacefully there would be, much like modern wars, a single shot heard around the world that sparks a battle that costs many lives. That shot would be fired by Pandarus, the male form of Pandora, who is famous for being the first woman gifted by Zeus who would curse the world of Man with misfortune and grief. Pandarus likewise cursed the Greek world with a war of great casualties.

A second event happens when Hector attempts likewise to lessen the destruction and challenge any member of the Trojan people to a battle, whoever wins would (hopefully) take credit and perhaps be considered the victor. Ajax would take up the challenge and after a very impressive battle it ended with both deciding it was a draw and handing each other a gift, to Hector came Ajax’s girdle and to Ajax came Hector’s sword. Much like the bow of Achilles, these items would also have greatly important presence later in the war. Symbols of how peace amongst man cannot exist when their destruction is decided amongst the gods.

Apollo would come to the aid of Hector after Ajax felled him with a stone, and explained to him the morbid truth of the war (one side of the truth that is) that no good deed of god would be left without great punishment of a rival god. There would be no gift that did not end with tragedy. Indeed the gift from Hephaestus of Armor for Achilles, with which Patrocalus would wear to his death, was likely done with the knowledge that if Patrocalus the gem of Achilles’ heart were to die that the relatively level headed (for a warrior/hero) nature of Achilles would unravel and leave nothing but a destructive beast. A killing machine that is nigh unstoppable. Likewise the horses gifted well before, Xanthus and Barius, would also be greatly upset and aid Achilles in quick travel and great devastation. Hector would end up being the one that kills Patrocalus, and indeed he would find that the gift from Ajax would be used in his destruction (post mortem). Hector would add insult to injury by donning the armor of Achilles on himself after the murder of Patrocalus, essentially he was wearing the very skin of not only Achilles but Achilles greatest love, an act of Hubris that could not be erased. Hephaestus would then create a second set of armor for Achilles, again a gift from one cannot go without an evil.

Achilles’ rage was in no way masked, Hector would flee in terror around the city of Troy from Achilles. This symbolic chase was to exemplify the end of Troy and the conclusion of the goal of the Greek gods. For those who can’t possibly wait any longer I’ll explain once and for all (I wish) what the goal of the Trojan war was, quoted from the Greek tragedy Orestes by Euripides.


‘Twas I that saved her and snatched her from beneath thy sword at
the bidding of her father Zeus; for she his child must put on immortality,
and take her place with Castor and Polydeuces in the bosom of the
sky, a saviour to mariners. Choose thee then another bride and take
her to thy home, for the gods by means of Helen’s loveliness embroiled
Troy and Hellas, causing death thereby, that they might lighten mother
Earth of the outrage done her by the increase of man’s number. Such
is Helen’s end.

To those who catch the point here. Apollo states that Helen was created to cut the population of humanity that was dealing great levels of stress on the planet that supports them. In other words, we are the deer to the gods and they are trying to thin our numbers in order to protect us. A brutal strategy but one that historically has worked for certain with numerous animals. But back to the war since it’s very interesting to see how far this goes.

Athena, a fan of Achilles, would end up tricking Hector into stopping his fleeing (he was quite a runner) and because of her trickery Achilles would catch and slay Hector quite easily. The gift of the girdle to Hector would be the tool of his blasphemous post mortem treatment, Achilles in his passionate rage dragged the corpse of Hector around (with the aid of Barius and Xanthus) with the girdle he had been handed in good faith by Ajax. Just as the girdle would be the undoing of Hector, likewise the sword he had given Ajax would be the device that killed Ajax (once and for all). To make a long story short, Ajax jumped onto the sword himself and ended his life after an embarrassing event that I seem to remember was created by Athena. I digress like a drunk driver speeding on a thin road I apologize.

Interestingly this point is when Achilles transitions from Athena to Ares in his mindset, this perhaps an example of the worry the gods had gathered. If such a transition can happen so easily with one great man, what’s to say it wouldn’t happen with vast amounts of men? Supporting their decision to lessen the numbers of men (in modern day world wars this appears to have been a reasonable fear).

The Trojan War was planned many years before it unfolded by the Greek Gods, through the aid of powerful entities like Prometheus and Apollo the gods were able to take the most efficient form of control (death) and use it to help lessen the great and destructive numbers of man. As I stated before, this fear is well documented in our own history with entire cities suddenly vanishing beneath the great power of single bombs. We have now reached the period that the gods of old literature had feared to such a great degree that they created the most amazing conspiracy that I’ve ever read about.

By | 2009-03-02T20:11:11+00:00 March 2nd, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on How and Why the Trojan War Happened. (From a Mythological Standpoint)

The Challenge of Education

  I’m pretty fascinated with learning, it’s a wonderful process that never ceases to please. However I find myself fighting to stay enthused about interactions with the university I’m currently shoveling money at. I don’t think its the financial investment either, which albeit at this point does feel a bit wasted, I think it has to do with the nature of Education in (at the very least) the US.

  When I (and most people I know) read a book the general idea is to grasp the gist of the material, the take away from the experience new outlooks on some branch of thought. When you read however for school the way that testing is made up you end up being required to memorize the entirety of the text which leaves you with a huge chunk of matter.

  I remember far more from just reading books and am more likely to return to the books when they aren’t turned into a chore. The moment my classes are over I have my college texts up for sale, the sight of them disgusts me (literally). I think the challenge of Education is to create a system of learning that is enjoyable. This is not difficult and is something that video games manage all the time.

  Learning in games? Well it’s not exactly conventional knowledge seeing as knowing the names of the 150 original Pokemon won’t exactly help you as a Chemist. However you’ll find for many people while its difficult to memorize 150 different parts of the human body, with the same amount of studying they’ll grasp all the Pokemon.

  To me it has to do with the atmosphere of the two projects. If you fail to memorize all the Pokemon on day X you will likely just be inconvenienced when trying to remember what you are missing. If you fail to memorize all 150 different parts of the human body you were handed, you look to fail an exam and depending on its weight find yourself having wasted months of time and thousands of dollars.

  So what is impeding your intake of knowledge for these two activities? For the Pokemon you are learning with no real penalty if you fail and thus you put more time thinking about the information than the repercussions. For the body parts you are trying to remember the information while having the very large negative effects of failing nagging at you.

  Anytime you are in a course where exams are far and few between you are not being tested on what you know, you are being tested on how well you deal with stress. Telling from the response of the average college student it would appear that most people are not good with handling stress.

  There are obvious ways to fix this and I’ve discussed them many times before. However this week, alongside a huge collection of Metaphysics questions I’ll take a stab at how Education should work and hopefully if enough people see it somewhere might actually try it. Be interesting to see students succeed again.

By | 2009-03-01T22:33:15+00:00 March 1st, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on The Challenge of Education

"Of you"

Honesty buds from thee
a hierarchy
of wondrous words
of shimmering deeds
Earth’s most genuine
of seeds
Garden of Eden
merely a first run
prepping for the green
of you

stream of pearly blue
filters life like morning dew
shimmering stars
amidst a sea of Earth
Nature’s nurtured
by the words
of you

Sweet nectar tingles
upon the tongue
filling firmly
the heart of me
feel warmth
amidst frozen reality
all wounds heal
within a blanket
of comfort
of calm
of you

By | 2009-02-28T17:29:38+00:00 February 28th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on "Of you"

The Internet Mega-bias

  On the internet I’ve begun to wonder if in fact there is a rule for ignorance. Perhaps some sort of internet mega-bias. I’ve often found it funny that you need a license to drive a car but not to have a child or surf the internet. I know this is an old adage that has probably been joked about many times before I even knew about the inner bowels of the internet (which I likely don’t, I’m probably looking at the shoulders and thinking I’m in deeper).

  While in and of itself the following is a blanket statement I would err on the side of caution that all people reading the following try their best to agree with it:

“If you think you aren’t ignorant on the subject you are ranting about you most certainly are ignorant.”

  It’s in part I feel the nature of ranting, when we don’t understand something we begin to talk about it passionately. If you find yourself using name calling during your rant you are basically setting the level of ignorance in the discussion, the more you discount your ‘opponents’ argument the even more likely that you have no idea what you are talking about.

  I’m not about to feign that I’m immune from the issue either, there is not a single topic on this planet that I do not have some level of ignorance in. I don’t fully understand (and for a few of these examples I barely understand) the economy, astrophysics, commercials, psychology, philosophy, English, grammar, or even stream ecology. I’m willing to admit that, and I feel that is likely the first step to hearty debate instead of fruitless childish banter.

  If you are looking for very good examples of what incredibly ignorant banter looks like I’d suggest checking out the political forum of absolutely any entertainment site. Likewise just about any thread in the entirety of a site called Topix. There is something about it that seems to brood emotional drivel.

  There is something very interesting about the nature of communication, an inverse relationship that seems to come out as follows:

The louder you are is directly proportionate to how little you know.

  There are most certainly exceptions to this rule as there are with any rule in the universe of rules. That being the difference between impassioned speech and ‘decibel’ levels. As I’ve stated before people like Dr. Tyson and Dr. Pinker (two people I highly suggest watching speeches by) are incredibly impassionate about what they are discussing and yet they are not loud.

  Further clarification comes from what I mean by loud, when a person begins to talk to you in a manner that seems to imply that you are below them they are being loud. Even in conversations via text there are tell-tale signs that this is happening. Italics tends to be a very good indicator for the very savvy ranters of our world. Likewise when a person implies that your sources are some level of meek, while generally not providing any themselves and/or stating theirs are infinitely more reliable (which is the case likely because of Confirmation Bias and other factors I have no real understanding of quite yet).

  If you ever cite Wikipedia and the other person shoots that down, I highly suggest citing the sources the Wikipedia entry cites. Even in college this will take your grade from a B to an A and all you have done is left an area with a stigma for areas that don’t. Wikipedia is roughly as accurate (and sometimes more accurate) than Encyclopedia Britannica, yet see which of the two your professor or “Commander_Keen_39” will accept as legitimate.

Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica
Wikipedia survives research test
Wikipedia:Errors in the Encyclopædia Britannica that have been corrected in Wikipedia
Assessing Wikipedia’s Accuracy

  I know that might have felt like a bit of a runoff on the conversation but its to prove a point (and admittedly a bit of a tangent…I drift in thought easily), just because you don’t feel a source is legitimate doesn’t mean that it isn’t. You should instead try to provide more sources from places you feel are credible and discuss why you feel they are credible. Otherwise what is the point?

  This may in part be why I find myself debating less and less online. At this point most people feel the point of a conversation is to argue, and not in the literal sense of an argument, but in the more Hollywoodesque clash of the titans way. It’s a shame too that a source of such vast amounts of information would be blanketed in a thick layer of ranting banter.

  Generally speaking if someone responds to your points in an obviously demeaning manner, it is best just to ignore them. You cannot change the views of the truly ignorant because ignorance is bliss, to jump back on my Hollywood comment think of it like the movie Shallow Hall.

[after Mauricio broke Hal’s spell]
Hal: Okay, who do you think is the most beautiful woman in the world?
Mauricio: Wonder Woman.
Hal: Okay… let’s say everyone else in the world thought Wonder Woman was ugly.
Mauricio: It wouldn’t matter. Because I know they’d be wrong.
Hal: See! That’s what I had with Rosemary! I saw a knock out, I don’t care what anybody else saw!
Mauricio: You’re right. I guess I really did screw you, huh?

  So think of it like that. The person who just walked into your conversation see’s their Wonder Woman being called ugly. They will battle you because they feel there can be absolutely nothing wrong with Wonder Woman. Likewise if you manage to help them see the light most of the time it’s not for the better. Anyone who is that infatuated with Wonder Woman will not do something positive enough with their newfound information to offset the negative impact on them by the destruction of that veil of ignorance.

  Perhaps if you could convince millions of people in a flash that Wonder Woman was ugly you might make something happen. But those one on one bouts on the internet do nothing but sanction your energy and waste your time. At least that’s my thoughts on the issue…who knows maybe someday someone will write a long book on the wonders of the Internet-Mega bias :).

By | 2009-02-28T15:42:42+00:00 February 28th, 2009|Journal|1 Comment