[lit-ideas] Re: The Institution of Slavery and the Concept of Free Will

  • From: Mike Geary <jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2011 15:46:01 -0500

JL will have to defend himself.  I'm defending myself against all the
unexpressed complaints and annoyance at my trivializing the pursuit of
serious philosophical questions of great import as to what it means to be a
human being.  I'm going to try to be serious (within the scope that that's
possible with me).  Forgive the non-technical language.

(1) What does it mean "to know"?
(2) What warrants knowledge?
(3) Is the physical world strictly determined?
(4) If yes, are mental states strictly determined as well?
(5) If not, whence mental states?

My Response to these questions.

(1)  I have no idea of what it means to know.  I guess from what little I've
read on the topic that a specific bit of knowledge is (in a biological frame
of reference)  a unique arrangement of proteins stored "inside" a brain cell
or within regions of brain cells.  Such protein-arrangements are accessible
for manipulation (or not) given a vast array of physical
conditions. Regarding the mechanics of such accessibility and manipulation
I have no idea -- that is, I have no protein-arrangement to share with you
-- at least none present itself for manipulation at the moment.  Perhaps if
I keep writing I can recall enough protein-arrangement to create a plausible
protein-arrangement that you will accept as plausible.  But I doubt there's
such a supply of protein-arrangements available in my mind to warrant such
hope.  Is there such a thing as a specific protein arrangement corresponding
to everything experienced?  I recognize the song playing right now, I
"remember" the sounds and each variation of those differing sounds, they are
each a stored unique protein-arrangement somewhere among the billions,
perhaps trillions, of brain cells buzzing like air conditioner contactors.
I remember the specific pattern and pitch of the sounds and remember it
compositely as a particular song.  What does remember mean?  I'm guessing
it's a byproduct of what is apparently an inherent drive to
organize protein-arrangements under some type of meaningful database.
Enough bull shit.  Let's call all that "mental states.  But mental states
are "effusions" (lacking a better term) of the physical world which is
strictly regulated by physical laws.  Ergo, --- but wait.  What is the
physical world?  It ain't really physical, now is it?  It's energy.  And not
living soul know what energy is.  Protein molecules are made of unstuff.  A
cosmic ray they say can shoot through the entire earth without hitting
anything because there's so much space between electrons and protons.  And
the electrons and protons and neutrons -- what are they?  particle-waves of
charge.  Charge?
Enough bull shit.  Mental states are ultimately an arrangement of positive
and negative charges.  Are we in charge of these charge?  (Sorry)  What
then is knowledge?

Ah, shit, I'm tired of this.
It is what it is.

A poem then.


This morning,
this birdsong morning
this thrill.
this trilling of mockingbirds
as boundless as hallelujahs
in glorious black churches,
oh, this glorious Easter morning,
oh, this eclat of heavenly visitation,
oh this day,
oh, this me.

My senses sing of wonderful sins
come, tongue   come, hands,
let us come to the songs of skinful celebration
touch me with your breeze
and set my leaves all a-tremble

Let us leave the puzzles to the puzzlers
Let us nuzzle
for we are nuzzlers.

Mike Geary
It is Easter.  The sun has risen.  Soon the earth will be swollen with new
life.  Rejoice.

On Sun, Apr 24, 2011 at 9:57 AM, Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>wrote:

> Unfortunately, these potted remarks by JLS are off-putting to serious
> discussion as they are caged in what could easily be a series of fabricated,
> 'scherzo' and self-indulgent fancies.
> Nor is clear how the "institution of slavery" throws much philosophical
> light on the analysis of "free will", and in particular the question that
> "free will" is never absolutely free or 'unconditioned'. That humans are
> placed sometimes in situations where their freedom from coercion is very
> limited, does not easily tell us much about situations where their freedom
> is not so limited. Whatever philosophical view we take of "free will", it
> hardly alters anything as regards the historical facts about the
> "institution of slavery" or vice versa: for example, insofar as slaves
> preferred slavery to honourable suicide it could be (and was) argued that
> remaining a slave was an act of "free will", albeit of a very fractionalised
> or fettered kind.
> William Bartley once wrote a book "Wittgenstein" that was reviewed as a
> "farrago of lies and poppycock", yet it is ill-deserving of this rebuke in
> comparison to some of JLS' posts. I guess if the various attributions are
> all present and correct, I'll have to apologise for suggesting that this
> post is an attempt at time-wasting as much as anything more worthwhile. As
> it written by an educated person, it might even be used as evidence that
> education is largely a waste of time.
> Donal
> Founder member of the MHIAC Society
> Salop
> --- On Sat, 23/4/11, Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx> wrote:
> > From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx>
> > Subject: [lit-ideas] The Institution of Slavery and the Concept of Free
> Will
> > To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Date: Saturday, 23 April, 2011, 7:54
>  > A Half-Free Will: Oenomus's Solution
> > to a  Time-Honoured Philosophical
> > Problem
> >
> > In an article of 1927, Miss T. Henry,  in "Proceedings
> > of the American
> > Philosophical Association" -- she taught Latin  at
> > Brooklyn --, noted that the
> > solution to Chrysippus's problem (of the free  will)
> > as indicated by Cicero,
> > "De Fato", was solved by  Oenomus.
> >
> > Chrysippus was saying that the will is not free.
> > Oenomus  disagreed. "The
> > will may not be as free as you wish her to be; it is
> > half-free,  if you must".
> >
> > He just added the prefix, 'hemi-' (as in hemisphere)
> > and  applied it to
> > 'free' (hemieleutheros) and also 'slave' (hemidoulos,
> > semiservus,  semiliber).
> >
> > The point, as Geary notes, is, whether we'll call a
> > halffree  man free.
> > "It's like when people ask me if a half-full glass is full.
> > Depends on  the
> > context of utterance."
> >
> > -------
> >
> > The idea of a half-free will  makes a lot of sense.
> >
> > Philosophy cannot be understood, as Geary notes,
> > "outside the context of
> > utterance. The most important philosophical concepts
> > are  rooted in forms of
> > life. In that sense, it was the institution of slavery
> > that  gave Lincoln
> > the glorious concept of 'freedom': "We have two
> > Americas:  half-slave,
> > half-free". He was talking before "The War."
> >
> > "All men are  created free" makes sense as
> > "implicating" that someone
> > suggested that all men  are created slaves.
> >
> > The Native Americans lacked, Geary notes, "a notion
> > of 'free'; ergo, they
> > lacked a notion of 'slave' -- and vice versa. But now
> > they  have learned."
> > And so on.
> >
> > Etc.
> >
> > J. L. Speranza
> >
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