Friday 29th of May 2020

of this and that...

Rod Dreher, tells us with confidence that we should never have enough of philosopher Michael Hanby’s essay in First Things, on “the de-Hellenization of Christianity.” 

Whatever this means in regard to the boy with the balloons... I'm not sure... The boy could have been a whatsisname painting done by the great man himself, Banksy, in a narrow street of St Peters, Sydney. The rest had peeled off with old age and with up and down garage door motion, and was repainted with a Lithgow blue hue and a touching artistic attempt at the lettering of "THIS"... Highly meaningful, there is a bit of the philosopher's quandary in this rendition. So squandered is also the essay by Michael Hanby:

Richard Rorty’s brutal postmortem on the revolution within Western philosophy and culture describes Kuhn’s notion of a paradigm shift with perfect clarity. On the one side stands the Platonic tradition, which remained unbroken, in his telling, from Plato to Hegel, despite occasional interruptions by “impure” or transitional figures such as Locke and Kant. On the other stands the new, post-Hellenic tradition, represented in Europe by Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein and in America by the pragmatists ­William James and John Dewey. Rorty thought the latter best exemplified the modern way, since unlike the Europeans, the Americans “wrote . . . in a spirit of social hope” and “rejected neither the Enlightenment’s choice of the scientist as moral example nor the technological civilization which science had created.”

Gus: with “perfect clarity”? Clear, but inaccurate. Brutal postmortem? Illusions die hard... "Social hope" is still tainted by religious beliefs that have NEVER prevented wars — and more often than not, have been at the origins of wars, in which the self-defence argument is as poor as a beggar with no legs, on the street of Pigalle, Paris. 

Sciences do not give a pathway to morality. Sciences can explain the duality between pain and contentment, which is a natural measure of our (and that of many other animal species) state of survival, mental and physical. What sciences can do is give us an extended understanding of our ethical choices based on this theme, which can become as complex as DNA, in order to survive with less pain and with more contentment.

This is what we want, no? 

Since the invention of aspirin and of agricultural crops, pain has become a lesser problem though it’s still recurring — being also manageable with other drugs — and contentment is now helped by a multifaceted entertaining distracting activity provided by various industries — TV, images, theatre, happy drugs, you name it — including the religions that told us that, should we believe, our pain will be lessened and our “pleasure” (rapture) will be augmented in an after-life. Bollocks on this latter. It’s a con-trick to get you to build the temples, the churches, the pyramids for either free, or for a slave wage, while, as well, you pay for the privilege to believe. Tomb-raiders and tourists will come, nor for your old bones, but for the hidden gold you amassed at the sweat of their ancestors' work. 
As an animal with a propensity to think beyond the next meal, by using sciences, first developed through the trial and error of crops — and the herding of goats — we developed the ability to invent (mis)interpretations of who we are, beyond our animality. This invention was answering the growing cosmic questions, with imagination and dreams that we soon used as controlling factors in the behaviour of individuals and of groups. Religions became the con-trick to make you accept, the hierarchy of old men who control the loot— and your womb.
Many illusions/delusions were developed for this purpose, including the notions of good and truth. 

Nothing wrong with these — as long as we keep them human, not spatially specially godly. Nature is far more fascinating that god, angels and demons.

Michael Hanby continues:
Pragmatists think that the history of attempts to isolate the True or the Good, or to define the word “true” or “good” supports their suspicion that there is no interesting work to be done in this area. It might, of course, have turned out otherwise. People have, oddly enough, found something interesting to say about the essence of Force and the definition of “number.” They might have found something interesting to say about the essence of Truth. But in fact they haven’t. The history of attempts to do so, and of criticisms of such attempts, is roughly coextensive with the history of that literary genre we call “philosophy”—a genre founded by Plato. So pragmatists see the Platonic tradition as having outlived its usefulness. This does not mean that they have a new, non-Platonic set of answers to Platonic questions to offer, but rather that they do not think we should ask those questions anymore. When they suggest that we do not ask questions about the nature of Truth and Goodness, they do not invoke a theory about the nature of reality or knowledge or man which says that “there is no such thing” as Truth or ­Goodness. They would simply like to change the subject.


Plato saw through the subterfuge of religious beliefs and expressed ideas of Good and Truth at a maximum relative need for the human species to survive best in peace rather than fight for curry. This is where we need to tame our “natural” aggressiveness as not to kill anybody and to manage our receptivity as not to become submissive. These simple levers are at the complex core structures which lead us to gather food, process it digestively and procreate. 

It has long been a pass-time for religious dudes who demand submission to the idea of god, to denigrate exacting sciences by showing that there is little morality in sciences while the superior religious beliefs instruct us in good and truth. Bollocks.

Sciences have shown a greater gamut of “truths” and improved our (good) comforts a million fold since the last saint flagellated himself. There is no greatness in being a masochist, nor in being a sadist, nor being a believer in an after-life.

 But we need to keep our eyes opened. Like religions have polluted our thoughts, sciences have modified the natural environment. We know this too well.


Michael Hanby continues:

The essence of de-Hellenization is a loss of “the superiority of the immutable over the changeable,” a superiority, paradoxically, that ensures that the mundane things of this world—for example, man and woman—are invested with inherent meaning and intelligibility as symbol and image of the immutable. In theological terms, this means the inevitable loss of the transcendent otherness and holiness of God, whose subjective correlate is “the fear of the Lord.” This loss is most conspicuous in the liturgy of the post-conciliar Church, or at least in the manner in which it is often celebrated, with its saccharine ­pieties, sentimental pop music, therapeutic homilies, and drive-through Communion lines. Whatever the merits of traditionalist arguments against the Novus Ordo, they are surely right in at least this much. Where the majesty of God’s holiness is absent from the liturgy of the Church, fear of the Lord cannot long survive among the people, be they clerical or lay.

But while restoration of the liturgy may be a necessary condition for a true “sense of God,” it is not a sufficient one. Treated as such, it always risks degenerating into a kind of boutique Catholicism, external to our fundamental apprehension of the world. For this spiritual deprivation has an intellectual corollary. Philosophically speaking, de-Hellenization means the eclipse of an order of being, nature, and truth that transcends history, the triumph of time over eternity, with the corresponding reduction of nature to meaningless matter and a reduction of truth to so many social, political, or psychological “situations.”


Sophism was never shown to be so stupid than in the paragraphs above. "Truth that transcend history"? this statement is in par with the ridiculous utterance that “global warming is crap” or that your "cat is a dog” because they both eat tinned food… 


The meaning of meaninglessness is far more accuratety pleasing than a belief in Noah’s Ark and the rest of the religious crap, including the Israelite wars, that goes with it. Having to deal with meaninglessness does not mean being nuts or loony, or that we’re bad. It simply means that we can be more circumspect in our understanding of the relative nature and of our specific stylism that developed from our scientific explorations. The idea of a creator that let us fumble in paradise is to say the least ludicrous. That we search for ways to improve the human condition should show us quickly how ludicrous the "messaging coming from above the clouds" is ridiculous. 

We have the potential to explore the stars – yet this potential developed from the random soup over 3.5 billion years on this pithily planet. Scientifically, we’ve moved on from Kuhn, with the advent of the iPhone. We might still be brain-dead, but we’re on the way to having real fun.


With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don’t arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation but that the revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of “normal science,” as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age. 

This new edition of Kuhn’s essential work in the history of science includes an insightful introduction by Ian Hacking, which clarifies terms popularized by Kuhn, including paradigm and incommensurability, and applies Kuhn’s ideas to the science of today. Usefully keyed to the separate sections of the book, Hacking’s introduction provides important background information as well as a contemporary context.  Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.




We’re lucky monkeys. 


Gus leonisky

Your local happy babboon.


Note: Plato himself ... identified problems with the [his] justified true belief [absolutism] definition in the Theaetetus, concluding that justification (or an "account") would require knowledge of differentness, meaning that the definition of knowledge is circular. Circular logic is a logical fallacy in which the reasoner begins with what they are trying to end with.

Plato placed "reason" ahead of "observation". This has been the fake support of Western Civilisation for the last 2400. Lucky, observation/deduction/verification/improvement of sciences came along.

the mexican halloween...

Rosa Cienfuegos has lived in Australia for close to a decade, but there's one tradition from her native Mexico that she vows to keep alive. 

"Day of the Dead is one of the most important [traditions] for all Mexicans," she says.

"Everybody knows about it, [but] everybody's misunderstanding the real meaning of it, I mean, in this part of the world. 

"To me, it's important to share what we really do in Mexico — it's not a massive party with a DJ and full of dress-up things, it's more a connection with family or the loved ones who've passed away."

This year, Rosa has set up an altar in her small "tamaleria"— a store selling empanadas, tamales and other Mexican specialties — in the Sydney suburb of Dulwich Hill. 

As is the tradition in Mexico, the altar (or ofrenda) is adorned with marigold flowers, chocolate skulls, incense, photographs of loved ones lost and, importantly, their favourite foods and drinks. Rosa says the Mexican dish known as 'mole' is particularly popular. 

These items are believed to entice the souls back to earth for one night in November.


Read more:

a god with double standards...

Two recent rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) demonstrate not only that it's a political and hypocritical organization. They also show the severe structural defects of human rights law in general.

On October 25, the ECHR found in favor of Austria and against a claimant, Frau S., who had been prosecuted for saying in 2008 that the Prophet Mohammed "was a pedophile" because he had married a six-year-old girl. The applicant had claimed that the criminal sentence she received violated her right to free speech, enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court found against her and in favor of Austria, which had convicted her of inciting religious hatred.

On July 17, the same ECHR, by contrast, had found in favor of Russian applicants from the now famous 'Pussy Riot' band, and against the Russian state, which convicted them for having incited religious hatred by staging a performance of a 'punk prayer' in Moscow's Christ the Savior cathedral in 2012. This case was considered under three different articles of the European Convention on Human Rights but it made two judgements under the same Article 10 which the judges later said could not protect Frau S. In the Pussy Riot case, the court found that the girls' right to freedom of expression under Article 10 had been violated.

In other words, according to the Strasbourg court, you are allowed to insult the Christian religion but not the Muslim religion. It is difficult to think of a more obvious case of double standards than this. Worse, and as Gregor Puppinck of the European Centre of Law and Justice in Strasbourg has pointed out, it is clear that the court justified finding in favor of Austria, and against Frau S., purely out of fear of Muslims. In numerous paragraphs of the ruling, it defends Austria's conviction of the woman in the name of the goal of protecting "religious peace." This can mean nothing else other than that peace might be threatened by Muslims if Austrians insult the prophet of Islam. In other words, the court is failing in its primordial role, which is surely to uphold the right of speech against threats of violence against them.


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Read from top.



climate change in our guts...

The article states halfway through that :

"In many ways, the loss of our microbial diversity resemble climate change. Industrialization has led to substantial unintended pressures on global ecology"...


Much of our "modern" ailments have been due to the lack of microbial diversity in our guts.


Since World War II, there have been dramatic increases in metabolic, immune, and cognitive diseases, including obesity, diabetes, asthma, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and autism. Their incidence has risen, first in the industrialized world and more recently in developing countries (1). In addition to the health effects, there are enormous costs of these diseases: Obesity costs $2.0 trillion and diabetes costs $1.3 trillion per year globally (1–3). As these diseases advance in developing countries, the problem is worsening rapidly. The cost, to health and economies, is becoming unsustainable, with care of chronically ill adults competing with the proper care for the next generation. Are all these distinct diseases independent, or is there a common underlying factor? We believe that changes in the human microbiota occurring concomitantly with industrialization may be the underlying factor. The changes involve the loss of our ancestral microbial heritage to which we were exposed through millions of years of evolution.


Read more:



See also: the cost of PCBs to the killer whales...


In most cases, problems arise from several confluent factors influencing an outcome. I placed this (simple) scientific article here to show that life is more complicated than "and god said or did" (read from top)... Sciences are fascinating and LIFE IS EXPLAINABLE through sciences. Many of us tend to resist the scientific explanation of life because we love the mystery of simplistic imagination. Sciences rely strongly on imagination and observations. There will be a point soon when scientific imagination and understanding will replace the religious notion of life. Then we will be able to create a better peaceful humanism. But we also need to be aware that the great ideas of sciences can be use dangerously. There is a massive gap between understanding reality and usage of processes that have unpredictable consequences. It's not "playing god" — it's just being more aware of the "next" in human progress — philosophically and technically.