Essay: Questions

By
philip osophy

Questions are intellectual milestones along a journey of discovery. I say ‘questions’, and not ‘answers’, because whilst questions are definite, answers rarely are.
In all my years of research, answers have been elusive. Indeed, I’m satisfied that what we class as an ‘answer’ is really the latest definition of how we see ourselves as being, rather than a reality. This is so for a specific reason. We always answer a question within a paradigm.

LINEAR OR CYCLIC?

Questions mainly come in two forms – ‘how’ and ‘why’. ‘How’ questions are based within a scientific methodology, whilst ‘why’ questions tend to be of a religious or spiritual nature. Prior to Monotheism, most questions seem to be about ‘why’. This was because intellect was locked in a cyclical mindset based around nature.
Most eastern philosophy is still based in this mindset. However, in the idea of the One God, monotheism broke the cycles, instigating a linear mindset where man had to advance, providing a definite beginning and an end.
This would eventually lead to the ‘how’ questions of science. But further to this, with the breaking of the cycles, our mindset moved from nature to society, and thence to the individual.

MATERIALISM

The new paradigm was materialist, atheistic and scientific. Hence, we can see ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions as coming from specific mindsets, with any answers based fundamentally within the attitude. To me, this has proved destructive for knowledge.
Such questions should not be polarities – should not lead to conflict – but should form a duality of knowledge – distinctly different, yes, but in intellectual balance. The day we realize the importance of this duality of knowledge, then knowledge may be just that.

Essay: Science

By
prof isaac galistein

Science is great. I love science. It confirms us as brilliant thinking beings. But there are many problems with science. It has been so successful that for too many people it is the only system that counts. Unfortunately, single systems are always wrong.
Typically, it holds little moral guidance. Further, our knowledge is always reflected in how society thinks of itself. Science confirms a universe that is chaotic, fragmented and without meaning. So society behaves as if it is too. Knowledge should be balanced by a belief, as used to be provided by religion. But belief can only be superstition in the modern world.

SCIENCE OR VALIDATION?

This, too, holds a problem for science. It is so fundamental a means of knowledge, banishing the idea of belief, that nothing can ‘be’ unless science can measure it. Thus, unknown dangers could exist because science has not yet caught up with nature. But these dangers are ignored in a process I call ‘anti-superstition’.
Most of science is not actually science, but validation. There have been very few true scientists – people who have moved forward our knowledge in a paradigm-shifting way. These scientists were rebels at odds with the established view. This confirms that the validators who follow are actually guardians of old knowledge.

HYPOTHESIS JUNKIES

Science is also choosy about what is valid data. Without a hypothesis with which to sieve data, data seems chaotic. It can only become ordered once a hypothesis is made. Yet if the established view is more a guardian and validator of old knowledge, hypotheses will reflect this and be dictatorial in nature, locking out contrary data from analysis.
Surviving hypotheses eventually become theories within which data gives a probability of correctness. This becomes scientific truth, but too often the ‘probability’ factor is not understood by the public. This leads to a feedback loop of consensus reality.

CONSENSUS REALITY

Because the world clearly offers evidence of action, the idea grows that the theory answers how that action occurs, and ‘reality’ becomes a mind model as opposed to a definite.
Of course, this process cannot be proved to occur, but neither can it be disproved, as evidence would be identical whether it was true or false. Yet the simple possibility should be enough to demand a little more humility from science.

Essay: Morality

by
philip osophy

Morality can be a dangerous word nowadays. The subject is concerned with what is right or wrong, or the goodness or badness of character or behaviour. As an intellectual subject, it is known as ethics.
I’m dipping my mind into the moral maze, offering my basic views on the subject. Agree or disagree, vital to a moral outlook is the importance of debate and the right of any individual to offer their views.
I’ll begin with one important aspect often not appreciated. Morality invariably involves more than one person – one to do and one to judge. After all, can every one of us say that when we’re on our own our behavioural standards are as high as if we were not?

RELIGIOUS OR SECULAR?

Morality, to many, is religion based. Rules are definite, and breaking them risks Divine Retribution. This is a clear cut moral approach. But things changed with the decline of popular religion.
In a more secular world, ethics moved to the philosopher. This involved personal reasoning, the outcome being that definite rules could not be guaranteed. To many, this was the beginning of a moral free-for-all.

IDEOLOGY

Morality often becomes as one with an ideology. In the Industrial Revolution, for instance, laziness was immoral, thus requiring absolute industriousness from people. In all cases, I think this is wrong. It should be the arena for scripture or the philosopher. In other words, people who have influence, but not power. For morality should never be used as a political tool.
Many people believe that the modern liberal ideal of morality is correct. It is proven by the general good order of society. I’d argue that this is not the case. Good order occurs because services are such that people do not have to strive to be ordered. Should those services fail, I think we could quickly revert to barbarism.

A PROBLEM OF SEPARATION

One central moral problem is separation. By this, I mean the failure to separate non-consensual physical acts against the person, society, or property thereof (criminality) from lifestyle. Whilst punishment can be variable, I think attitude towards transgression should be absolute. A crime must be a crime, regardless of the reason.
Lifestyle is different. Nature flourishes because of total diversity. Whatever can be done is done. Hence, society can best flourish by following this same principle. What is done by consenting adults is no one’s business but their own.

THE NORM

There is one proviso to this. Any society reaches a ‘norm’ of behaviour. This is essential for order and manners. Hence, total diversity of behaviour is something to do in private, or clearly accepted public arenas. In the general public, I feel people should always moderate their behaviour.
This is an important point. All too often, morality concerning lifestyle is not morality at all. Rather, it is the furtherance of sensationalism. This is supposed to get a message across concerning lifestyle, but most of the time it is simply about exhibitionism.

TRANSGRESSION

One other important aspect of ethics is this. People will always transgress, and this is how it should be. Because if being moral is seen as easy, then our standards are not high enough.
Today, morality is moving in many new directions. Human rights verses the nation state; the morality of science; our moral responsibility towards the planet. It is a subject that I will no doubt return to in the future.

Essay: Reality

by
philip osophy

What we’re told is reality invariably isn’t. Consider ‘reality television’. Nothing can be further from the truth. It’s a lie. Unless you believe it. Then it’s a psychosis.
Television also gives us the ‘celebrity’. The ‘reality’ of this is that they are robots. This is the only explanation I can think of for such stupidity. Except …
The urge to be famous is such that they are so adaptable to image that the ‘person’ disappears. Hence delete ‘robot’, insert ‘zombie’.
So, ‘non-existence’ of celebrities as real people? This would be understood by the sociologist, Baudrillard. He argued that media is now ‘infotainment’, merging reality and fantasy to such an extent that we no longer know which is which.

SIGNS & NORMS

Mind and culture conspire to increase un-reality. The world is full of ‘signs’ that guide us, but lie. A soup can makes us salivate. Yet do you know it doesn’t contain worms?
We also have a societal understanding of what is ‘normal’. This defines what is ‘abnormal’, and to be marginalized as ‘different’. But is anyone normal?
We have our own view of ‘reality’. Philosophers have theorized we each have a ‘mind filter’ that views the world in our own particular way. So how can there be a definite reality when we each have our own?

REALITY, HALLUCINATION & MORE

Your mind is even in conflict over what is ‘reality’. We have a left and right brain, one looking at things emotionally, the other rationally. Who’s to say which is right? Argue this one out with yourself!
We also hallucinate ‘reality’. Now, people think this way madness lies. But the mind constantly interprets sensory expression. And if our attention isn’t on the world, it makes up its own mind. Spooky!

MODERN MAGIC?

Science complicates it further. The properties of the subatomic particle are such that we can never know its true state. The world is fundamentally a matter of probability.
But if this is so, how can we ‘see’ a definite reality? Well, the theory is that a definite reality is created by our ‘observation’ of it. Before we see it, it isn’t.
This makes us our own magicians. The world we create is as much about our perception of it as the actual existence of it. If it exists at all.
Confused? Come now, haven’t you seen The Matrix? Maybe not an exact reality (pun), but there is a theory that God is a baseball capped computer geek, and he’s playing a video game called ‘us’.

Essay: Space Exploration

By
prof isaac galistein

The first thing to realise about space exploration is it hasn’t begun yet. All we seem to do is send unmanned toys to Mars and Venus, and fly around the planet in high orbit like flies buzzing around something dead.
Some would say the Apollo missions were real exploration. After all, we got to the Moon, man! Sorry, it was nothing of the sort. It was simple oneupmanship – a consequence of the Cold War, and the determination to beat the Commies.
We SHOULD be getting out there. The urge to explore has been the crowning glory of the human race, moving out of our natural habitats in Prehistoric times, and eventually navigating the planet. We are Homo Curious, you see. We need to know!

PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS

But at present, it has all stopped. Maybe it’s because space is such a magnificent, terrifying leap. And because we’ve lost our courage, we’ve descended into the trivia and celebrity obsessed world of today. In other words, we’re burying our heads in the sand.
Another problem to space exploration proper is government. Space is run by government, but history shows they are terrible explorers. All known exploration in our history has been pushed forward by businessmen, intent on trade. Governments play catch-up.
For that reason, Big Biz should be looking spacewards, not fuelling our trivia obsessed society. They’re the real cowards, happy with their profits. Well, listen, Big Biz. Get the hell off of this planet!

YES, IT IS IMPORTANT

Some people say space exploration is of no use to us. This is wrong. One thing that is becoming clear is that real exploration cannot be done by any single country. It would be a planetary affair. And I can think of no better impulse to bring us together more as a species. So there is an advantage. Peace.
The media can play its part. Every advance in our society has come due to a new idea. We need a Big Story to fuel us. So it’s time to think up a good Big Story about our planet, and its place in the Cosmos. Get us all inspired!
Our solar system holds wonders by the million, all waiting to be explored. Our technologists are up to the task of building adequate space vessels and closed habitats capable of providing for small colonies. The only thing holding us back is our fear.
And I’m not just talking about our solar system, either. Ever since the 1960s plans have been on the drawing board for innovative designs of fast and generational starships, with innovative engines, even collecting hydrogen fuel as they go to the stars.
Many believe faster-than-light travel is impossible because of the barrier placed by Einstein. But what we forget is Relativity is not a theory of the universe, but of man. And the best way to find out if such travel is feasible is to place an imperative on scientists to find out. I, for one, think it’s bunkum.
Star travel could even begin a new form of existence for man, as one of the peculiarities of such travel is that the faster you travel, the more time slows down. So if light speed was attained, a journey that seems to take years viewed from Earth, would only actually only take a matter of weeks on the ship. Hence, our new star travellers could actually live through many centuries.
One final barrier is the idea that man is too violent and destructive to be let loose in space. From my experience, man is never more violent than when he is bored. When he has a real mission to achieve, he excels as a human being. So, is it time for Blast-Off?

Essay: Love

by
philip osophy

This work is about love. Now, don’t go all romantic on me. I’m going to be clinical. Too often love is thought of only emotionally, but that doesn’t explain it, or our behaviour. I’m going to be rational.
I’m also going to be specific about what love I’m talking about. I’m not going into love of God, or family, or your favourite pet or teddy bear. I’m talking about the intimate emotional relationship between two people.

SPIRITUALITY

Love and spirituality can be closely connected. Eastern philosophy often combines the two, and religion and love have similar language – ecstasy, passion, etc. I feel this is because both come from a deep emotional centre within the mind.
Where did love come from? Well, if you don’t accept evolution, I suggest you skip this bit. Man is said to have become man because of a unique pelvis which allowed him to walk erect. But what would be the upshot of this?

FACE TO FACE

It meant that mating became natural and comfortable face to face. And for the first time a species had regular, intimate closeness as the norm. I’m convinced love came from this process, and from here, what we class as humanity followed.
Emotional togetherness birthed other emotions such as joy, jealousy, grief. And most importantly, an impulse towards another individual assisted in our thoughts moving away from instinct. In a way, this is even expressed in Genesis, with man and woman as one in a garden (nature), until temptation came and Adam had his Fall.

PROCREATION

Love has not always been expressed as it is today. For much of history it was seen as functional, and mainly for procreation. This was due, I think, to a mind-set in which survival was uppermost. Only when society organized itself to improve survival did the view change.
It is first popularly expressed with Shakespeare, with Romeo and Juliet placing love above duty to family or society. For the first time it becomes expressed as all-encompassing and all-consuming.

TOO FAST?

Today, love seems to have changed once more. We tend to be infatuated by the personal and lifestyle. And all too often, this places love as a choice alongside career or personal politics. A fast society also demands immediate gratification. This does not allow time for love to blossom.
But what, exactly, is love? Well, I think, in order to explain it, we must realize it doesn’t exist. Now, I know many will be appalled by this, but read on. To me, love is two things: infatuation and deep companionship.

DUALITY

When love first blossoms it is physical and sexual – hormones are in overdrive. And it is this I class as infatuation. Eventually, this goes, and it is replaced by the deep companionship I speak of – and in many ways, this is the most powerful of the two in the long run.
I make this separation for an important reason. All too often, when infatuation wanes, people can mistakenly think they are falling out of love, when what is really happening is a transition. If we realized this, maybe there wouldn’t be quite so many separations.
Of course, in the short term, infatuation for someone can overpower deep companionship, and it is here that the affair occurs. Yet often, I see that it is the failure of trust that leads to separation. Perhaps we shouldn’t automatically class the affair as a ‘separation’ matter. It is simply a misunderstanding of what love is, and is not.

Essay: Knowledge

by
Philip Osophy

We like to think of knowledge as truth, but if this is so why does it keep changing? Looking at the various knowledge systems throughout history it becomes clear that knowledge is really an intellectual reflection of how we see the universe. And from that knowledge comes control – hence, society also becomes a reflection of the universe.
This is why a Godly society had a particular order, meaning and direction. The universe was ordered by God. Today it is very different. The universe is chaotic and the result of chance. Hence, order, meaning and direction seem to be disappearing.

HOW WE THINK

But there’s another element to knowledge. It decides how we think. A religious society is more holistic, looking at things as a whole. In our fragmented universe, this overview has gone, leaving us with a specialized form of knowledge.
This is why the Renaissance Man has disappeared. And whilst this may provide great benefits, I’m sure a holistic view alongside the specialized could help us towards a much more balanced view of knowledge. I wonder if the universe will change any time soon to allow this?

Essay: Graduates

by
Philip Osophy

Take a handful of young, impressionable people who are searching for knowledge, add a charismatic kind of guy who’s on a mission to convert you, and you’ve got yourself a cult. Slowly the mission-guy places his thoughts in their minds and, for want of a better word, they’re brainwashed.
However, the thing about cult mentality is that it extends to normal life; and in a way, this same process occurs in university education. An under-graduate could well be part of a watered-down cult, so his independence of thought could well be degraded.

PROFESSORS

This is particularly so with ‘top’ professors. Sure of themselves, they tend to be single minded, and there’s a real possibility that the students don’t even get a rounded education in the subject, but simply HIS ideals.

DUMBING DOWN?

But in general I think education is suffering today by the requirement to teach for work rather than teach for education’s sake. This, combined with increasing numbers going to university, leads to a degrading of initiative and other values that used to be important. It is producing a bland mediocracy, led by a new generation of dumbed down graduates.
Of course, many in universities argue we’re not dumbed down, but maybe it is unnoticed by passing generations. By this, I mean that a professor from the 1980s would disagree that dumbing down has occurred by the 2000s because he relates it to his intellect, which he could not possibly admit has dumbed down since the 1960s.

Essay: Illness

by
dr illya ness

Let me make it clear from the start that I think most of our medicine is wonderful. We live in lucky times where medical science is increasing our life expectancy marvelously. But that doesn’t mean there are no problems.
One is the power of the pharmaceutical companies – not only to make vast profits, but also to steer research into too narrow a margin, and arguably missing out on less profitable, but equally important, areas of research.
We also have the natural pessimism of modern medicine. It makes you ill, whereas a more holistic, whole body approach alongside the conventional could add that boost of optimism so essential to fighting illness.

MIND-SET

You see, personal mind-set is so important. Infact, I’d say the biggest cause of death is unhappiness and worry – which brings us to preventative medicine and the health police. In many ways they are destroying us, taking away risk and, with the help of the media, turning us into hypochondriacs and fad dieters. Being healthy can sometimes be bad for you. As for me, I’m a big believer that nothing will kill you in moderation – unless you’re unlucky.

NEVER THE TWAIN …

To most medical practitioners, there are two major areas of medical understanding – the physical and the psychological – and rarely do the two areas meet. Yet it is quite obvious that there is a large amount of cross-over between the two.
For instance, there is a suspicion that there may be a psychological factor to cancer. Certainly stress – a psychological element – can play a big part in heart conditions. And it is well known that if you sit around moping when you have a cold, it will get worse. Where the two areas do meet is in what is known as the ‘placebo effect’.
In most illnesses, the placebo effect can have up to a 30% effect on the condition. But what do the doctors do about it? Accept that it exists. But even though they don’t know what causes the effect, they leave it at that.

PSYCHO-PHYSICALITY

The most obvious avenue to follow in the physical/psychological realm is to note that chemicals in the body can have a great effect on health. Yet we know, for certain, that emotional states can regulate the prevalence, or not, of such chemicals.
The psychological factor of illness and disease has been ignored for too long. Indeed, I find it a strange quirk of the English language that if you put a hyphen in disease you end up with ‘dis-ease.’
There is a realm of illness I would call ‘psycho-physicality’, which branches out into most areas of health. And it is about time the medical profession began to take it seriously and study the true effects on mind upon the body. Until they do so, too many people will live a poor quality of life, and many may even be dying needlessly.

Essay: Madness

by
Dr Illya Ness

Modern society has a problem with eccentricity. It doesn’t seem to fit any more. Today we have to be ordered, like cogs in a machine. The problem with this is real genius has always gone hand in hand with eccentricity.
Maybe that’s why our culture is so sterile today. And without the stimulus the genius used to provide, sterile order leaves us without meaning. Could this be why so many seem to have problems today, with drugs, crime and depression?
It all seems insane to me. But of course, eccentricity and insanity are closely allied and have a purpose. Today a schizophrenic is simply mad. Yet just look at the old style shaman, hearing voices, orchestrating hysterical ritual. Maybe schizophrenia itself used to have purpose, providing culture and wellbeing in a tribe.
Madness, you see, has always been devised by the knowledge structure in order to alienate types of behaviour deemed inappropriate – such as the genius of the eccentric to stir up culture and stimulate us above normal social control.

THE MASK

This gives us a hint of what may lie behind madness, for while society may like this form of order, the inner person does not. Hence, in order to survive the strictures of society we all create a social mask, an outside persona which people think is the real you. When in reality the real you is a cauldron of inner turmoil as you fail to feel totally as one with your society.
The social self – the mask – drives us mad, with psychological problems arising because of its conformity. Maybe we need to realize this and, for true psychological health, be allowed to vent our need for deviance now and again – just as the hysterical shaman allowed.