Monday, April 4, 2011

Philosophy on Epistemology - Descartes' Cogito
Completed approximately October, 2010.

Descartes appears to arrive at his ideological system using a logic set apparently named the "Cartesian Circle". I understand circular logic to refer to a defining premise that refers to itself. I understand the Cartesian Circle to be referred to as circular, for example, because its logic appears considered to propose use of perception to analyze perception.

It is perhaps my analytic inexperience on the topic or perhaps a valuable novel perspective that I perceive that suggests that the Cartesian Circle might also be respectfully referred to as the "Cartesian Contradiction" due to (1) an apparent premise declaration that perception is fallible and cannot be relied upon for infallible detection and (2) an apparent subsequent declaration that perception can be relied upon for infallible detection.

Another possible perspective appears to be that Descartes has solely revised his "perception is absolutely fallible" premise to "perception is typically fallible". I am unaware of whether Descartes intentionally and officially accepts, acknowledges and declares the premise revision or if some studiers simply choose to believe that Descartes' implied the revision based on his introduction of the apparently contradictory premise.

Perhaps, as well, the contradiction appears clear due to the apparently highly summarized abstraction I have suggested. It appears possible that the contradiction that I suggest might have gone undetected during analysis of the voluminous less-summarized concepts set forth, as set forth, in the Descartes writings. In addition to the apparent sheer volume of Descartes' concepts, I understand that they apparently were and are considered generally quite novel. Perhaps the concepts, even individually, might have been considered quite stressful to perceive, much less to analyze as parts of a possibly complex, interactive whole.

It appears, in my fallible opinion, that Descartes attempts to resolve the "Cartesian Contradiction" I have suggested above by using ideological and verbal slight-of-hand, exchanging "external justification" for "internal justification".

Among my fallible understandings, I recall "external justification" to refer to proofs not dependent on perception and "internal justification" to refer to proofs that are dependent on perception. I understand Descartes to suggest the possibility of reality independent of perception: that which exists, regardless of whether accurately represented by perception. I understand Descartes, at least initially, to be included among those who define "knowledge" as accurate, infallible understanding and who define "perception" as the understanding that is subject to inaccuracy. I understand Descartes's initial goal to be to piece together as much "knowledge" or accurate understanding of perception-independent reality as he can.

My fallible understandings include the following. It appears that Descartes' might have perceived that the goal of his effort (that I understand to be an infallible knowledge set) was rendered unreachable because all his calculative work would be done using perception as his sole tool, a tool he defined to be fallible. Perhaps Descartes perceived that the results of his efforts to obtain infallible truth, truth independent of perception, would be essentially worthless due to the fallible results that he understood would be obtained via perception.

It appears that, at this point, Descartes might have wisely abandoned his initial goal of perception-independent knowledge and settled for perception. The faux-pas appears to be, in my opinion, however, that Descartes appears not only to redefine the term "knowledge" to mean "perception" and the word "proof" to mean "clear and distinct conviction", but he appears to continue building his ideological system upon these self-admittedly undependable premises, apparently ignoring the hazards of doing so that he had, himself, previously identified.

It appears, from my brief review of the Descartes material, that Descartes apparent redefinition efforts also redefined his goal to be to obtain (a) a certain, apparently high level of confidence (conviction) regarding perspective and (b) the perspective-independent guidance that I understand Descartes to believe would result from said level of confidence.

It appears that, in his theory of fallible perception, one might find reason not to blame him for making what appears to be such an obvious, and, per my understanding of his theory, tragic mistake: perhaps his perception was flawed... enough not to detect the mistake. But that would only apply if he was wrong.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Community Vulnerabilities
Identifying and addressing community vulnerabilities
By Pierre Belhomme
January 24, 2011. Revised January 28, 2011.

Identifying Important Community Vulnerabilities
The fundamental goal of life seems simple: "eat, drink and be merry".  More philosophically, perhaps: consume resources, take care of self-perpetuation and the environment and interact with others as they do the same.

Unfortunately, however, some goals in the community seem to undermine community well-being.  Beyond the usual suspects of theft, physical violence and property damage, the news seems to report additional threats from some in community-granted public, private, administrative and non-administrative positions of responsibility who use their authority to advance nefarious purposes.

Community Vulnerabilities Exploiters
News reports seem to indicate that some community vulnerability exploiters seek these community positions of trust with the express purpose of implementing nefarious goals. Others seem reported to experience unethical change in goals, perhaps due to misinformation that seems to warrant a goal change. Still others seem reported to follow in good faith inappropriate directions from nefarious higher-level administrators, unaware of the community harm toward which they are being directed.

Identifying Exploited Vulnerabilities
Identifying exploited community vulnerabilities seems both critical and limited as suggested regarding other topics in this blog. Essentially, if identifying exploited community vulnerabilities depends upon human ability, the theorized fallibility of human perception seems to dictate that such vulnerabilities will not be completely identified.

History seems to suggest that enough of the circumstances that would be examined for clues of vulnerability exploitation can be similar enough and manipulatable enough to offer information that can be misinterpreted, yielding conclusions of malevolence where there is none as well as conclusions of innocence where malevolence is rampant.

The Role of Faith in Identifying Vulnerabilities
Based on the theory that humankind is unreliably fallible in ascertaining the thoughts of others, it seems reasonable to suggest that drawing any such conclusion would represent a leap of faith. As in other scenarios discussed in this blog series, an important matter seems to be the subject of that faith. One would seem to choose between faith in God, faith in the accuracy of human perception and faith in chance. Due to the theorized fallibility of human perception, faith in human perception seems to be, in actuality, faith in chance. Once the decision on the foundation of faith is made, the remaining step seems to be to act upon the accepted conclusion in the manner that faith directs.

The Take-Away
In summary, the main points of this perspective seem to be that community vulnerabilities extend beyond the vulnerabilities to theft and violence. A community's positions of trust seem also to be points of vulnerability that might be intentionally or unintentionally exposed to nefarious exploitation. Secondly, identification of nefarious exploitations of community vulnerabilities seems to be a matter of faith, seemingly requiring individuals' prior decision on their individual foundation of faith. Once those steps are taken, it seems that the security of community vulnerabilities will depend on the strength of the foundation upon which individuals' faith is placed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Standards of Propriety
The impact of standards of right and wrong on community strength and success
By Pierre Belhomme
January 18, 2011. Revised January 27, 2011

The Impact of Standards of Propriety
Standards of propriety -- whether a thought or action is right or wrong -- seem to impact most, if not all individual and community decisions, at some point.

Conflicting Standards of Propriety
It seems that the world community can be separated into subcommunities that include nations, states, counties, cities, neighborhoods, families and, at least theoretically, individuals.  In addition, some subcommunities such as clubs and associations consist of selected members from multiple communities.  It seems that one purpose for these subcommunities is the opportunity to implement propriety standards that the subcommunity members hold in common but that are not specified by communities higher up on the community hierarchy chart.

In this scenario, the possibility seems to exist for subcommunities to establish standards that conflict with other subcommunities on the same hierarchy level.  If these subcommunities interact in a way that involves their conflicting standards, what set of standards should be used as a guide?  A reflex answer might seem to be to avoid such interactions.  Perhaps this is the rationale behind segregation.  The problem with this reflex answer seems to be that, since the existence of subcommunities seems to extend to the individual, as described above, and even a pairs of individuals might have differing propriety standards, each community member could potentially be isolated from all others. This seems not to be the picture of successful community.

The other option seems to suggest compromise by which one or more subcommunities agree to develop a new set of standards that they can both accept.  However, such resolution seems to require negotiable standards.  How should the standards conflict be resolved if one or more subcommunities consider their conflicting standards nonnegotiable?

The Impact of Conflicting Standards
Propriety standards seem to form the basis for most, if not all, written and unwritten guidelines.  Standards conflicts would seem to prevent communities from functioning.  Building codes, human rights, even health care guidelines seem to require understanding of what is right.  Without right and wrong, there would seem to be nothing to prefer or desire.  Any outcome would be as appropriate as any other.

Resolving Conflicting Standards
War seems to have been considered a solution for resolving conflicts in standards.  The rationale here seems to be that the subcommunity that is stronger in some characteristic should decide the standard for the interaction between the subcommunities.  However, that, in itself, seems to be a standard.  Who establishes this as the standard?  Perhaps, most probably, the stronger subcommunity but as well, perhaps both, in faith that each is the stronger.

Perhaps chance is also employed as selector among conflicting, non-negotiable standards.  The problem with chance as such a selector is the manipulatibility of chance to alter its outcome and therefore the unsuitability of chance as an objective decision-maker.  Another such possible problem seems to be the difference between chance and propriety.  If the goal is propriety, and the conflicting parties acknowledge a lack of understanding regarding propriety and toss the decision to chance, it seems that they hope to have that chance of achieving propriety.  However, the value of this approach also seems of little intellectual value in achieving propriety because, it seems, not knowing what propriety was before they threw the decision-making to chance, they might not recognize propriety should they even chance upon it.

Do either of these options really assist in establishing propriety?  Aside from outside intervention of a being capable of effecting outcomes, an option selected by victory in war or by chance does not seem to guarantee propriety of the selection.  Perhaps war and chance are considered methods of finding out what this being knows to be appropriate perspective.

The Source of Conflicting Standards
The Bible seems to describe standards conflicts as being caused by an abandonment of the sole leadership and guidance of the superbeing, referred to as God, who establishes human standards of propriety and provides individuals with certain understanding regarding such matters. This suggested abandonment of God's leadership and guidance seems also to have resulted in abandonment of provided understanding.  Perhaps, it seems, due to rejecting God's guidance, individuals' understanding of propriety has wandered off slightly, perhaps leading them to different conclusions to which they might cleave with the furvor appropriate to concepts as fundamentally important as standards of right and wrong.

I am not aware of the secular community's explanation for such non-negotiable propriety standards conflicts or how to holistically get past them.  Objectively, the Bible seems to offer the best and most supported explanation I've heard.

Propriety Standards and Community Success
In my opinion, perhaps a certain level of community success is establishable solely via voluntary acknowledgement of the sole leadership of this superhuman being.  This seems to bring to mind the possibility of human coercive efforts to effect such acknowledgement.  Coersion, however, seems not to be the ultimate solution.  The apparently reported many years of human existence seem to confirm that.

It seems, however, that many are still searching in their own way to understand how their lives should be structured and how they should interact with others who might also be searching for understanding, perhaps from different resources and in different ways.  From my perspective, even as a believer in God and perhaps, especially as a believer in God, this seems to mean for me that God is authority over both my life and the lives of others and, as such, is the hub of community interaction and success and the establisher of standards of propriety.  Attempts to establish alternative standards seem, at best, exploratory and at worst, harmful.  This seems to be supported by my apparent observation that many if not all technological and other alterations to what seem reported to be original design seem to require destruction of one or more resources to create the newly designed resources and, despite the advantages of these new resources, seem also to be accompanied by harmful by-products and side-effects.

Perhaps, as apparently reported regarding the major alteration of the Florida everglades, humankind will, at some point, decide that certain alterations, with all their advantages, are not an improvement on the original design and are worth restoring to original design.  Perhaps,since community individuals seems not to have yet pulled the plug on their explorations of alternatives to sole leadership and guidance by God, I hope that God furthers my growth in understanding about standards of propriety I should hold, the standards of propriety held by others and how I should address conflicts between the two that seem to present themselves.  In that way, my portion of the community will, hopefully, be successful.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Human Fallibility and Community Success
The impact of human fallibility on community strength and success
By Pierre Belhomme
January 14, 2011. Revised January 27, 2011.

Human Fallibility
Mankind seems to admit its own fallibility which seem suggested to include human perception and the limitations on first-hand knowledge.  These fallibilities seem to render human assessment to be somewhat unreliable.  Nonetheless, humankind also seems, at times, to operate as if infallible, perhaps simply in order to move forward with the decision-making relevant to daily life.

Impact on Community
Mankind's apparent claims of authority in the face of its fallibility seem to have resulted in the establishment of fallible systems, whose impact on communities seems reported and personally experienced to include community dysfunctions such as dramatic economic resource imbalances, intense conflicts, negative emotions and impaired personal health.

Community members have recently been increasingly characterized as expressing anger, confusion and fear about the state of community.  Perhaps some of the dissatisfaction is attributable to the unrealizable expectation of strong, successful communities built upon fallible foundations.

However, an understandable reason for community hesitancy in embracing this theoried fallibility seems to be the dependence communities have developed on its systems.  Perhaps it might be very disconcerting, disorienting and even debilitating for community members to realize that the systems they depend on for their livelihood are incapable of providing the expected support.

The Path to Moving Forward: Intellectual Growth or Acknowledgement of A Supernatural Authority Figure?

How then do communities move forward?  It seems two schools of thought exist.  Some seem to believe that humankind has been developing and will continue to develop needed answers until, perhaps, humankind has them all and is no longer fallible.  Others seem to believe that humankind is intrinsically fallible and dependent on a supernatural being to whom mankind owes its existence, who requires acknowledgement of its authority and from whom, alone, mankind receives the keys to mankind's success.  The two theories seem potentially mutually exclusive.  If the second theory is correct, the success of community seems ultimately to depend upon community members consulting this supernatural being regarding achieving individual and community success.

Complaints About A Supernatural Authority Figure
It seems that some reject certain aspects of such a relationship with such a supernatural being yet construct similar relationships among themselves.  For example, some seem to reject a supernatural being who would insist on acknowledgement of its authority yet also seem to often establish community leaders upon whom they confer authority and toward whom they require acknowledgement of that authority.

Another seemingly inconsistent perspective seems to reject the establishment of guidelines by a supernatural being while sanctioning establishment of guidelines for self and others.

Another seemingly inconsistent perspective seems to question both the establishment of guidelines and the allowance of misfortune.  This mix, however, seems to offer both guidelines for avoiding misfortune and the freedoms to abide by and/or not to abide by those guidelines.

Trading Riding for Driving

Perhaps the main issue is a desire to be one's own ultimate decision-maker -- a reasonable objective if humankind truly is and perhaps a maddening and self-destructive objective if humankind actually isn't.

Even if humankind isn't its own ultimate decision-maker, I seem to recall the Jewish Old Testament as describing the supernatural being as granting humankind a very wide range of "acceptable" decision-making, not to mention an even greater range of decision-making forecasted not to result in success. Secular human history seems to corroborate this account by reports of humankind's tremendous current and historical accomplishments and failures.

The Take-Away
Assuming successful community is the goal, if humankind will eventually figure out all the answers, well...  If not, and a supervisory supernatural being exists who requires acknowledgement of its authority and is the key to community success, perhaps community individuals should consider that dialog.  Based on history and current events, it seems, the sooner, the better.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Equality And Community Success
The role and issues of treating community members equally
By Pierre Belhomme
January 6, 2011.  Revised January 27, 2011.

The Goal of Equality
The strategy of evaluating equality in communities seems intended to develop community success through appropriate treatment of community members. Though equality might seem to be a simple standard to implement and evaluate, in practice, certain aspects of equality seem very complex perhaps because, in my opinion, equality seems to be more of an intuitive perception than a calculable attribute. The following examples seem to be key aspects of community member treatment regarding which equality is considered important.

Equality in Community Member Value
Generally, community members seem to want to avoid being considered less valuable than other community members. However,it seems that community members can only guess at the valuation thoughts of others.  This seems to suggest some limitation in true identification and addressing of thoughts of inequality.  The only methods I can think of to address inequality, therefore, seem to be proactive education on equality and reactive investigation of perceived expressions of inequality.

Equality in Life Enjoyment
Another goal of equality seems to be that no community member is prevented from enjoying life as much as any other community member.  Based on the theory that enjoyment is essentially thought-based, however, accurately assessing this metric also seems inherently limited.

Equality in Resources
Another goal of equality seems to be avoiding inappropriate resource imbalances. However, differences in community member circumstances seem to complicate assessing resource balance among community members.  Different community members with different goals and/or abilities, for example, might require different types and amounts of resources. Many apparent potential differences in individuals' circumstances that humankind has no objective method of accurately assessing or comparing seems to make it difficult, if not impossible for humankind to accurately assess community member resource balance.

Complexity of Resource Equality Goals
Resource equality seems to include three apparently distinct goals that seem, at times, complementary and, at other times, mutually exclusive: equality of physical resources, equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. Equality of physical resources seems to suggest that similar physical resource amounts are allocated to community members.  Equality of opportunity might provide more of a physical resource to a community member to overcome impediments to success not experienced by another community member.  Equality of outcomes might continue to supply resources to a community member until an outcome similar to another community member's outcome is achieved.

The conflict seems to be whether equality of opportunity refers to opportunity tailored to the circumstances of individual persons or to a "standardized" opportunity perhaps based upon an average or arbitrary value.  Adopting either definition might be considered to shortchange community members to whom the other definition more closely fits.  The person-specific definition seems the best solution since an average, despite community members' desires to the contrary, will, by definition, be insufficient for the person whose circumstance warrants more opportunity than the average circumstance.

The Take-Away
If these analyses are accurate, perhaps important steps in developing community success include recognizing the complexities of and limitations in assessing and achieving equality, remembering the importance of pursuing the different facets of equality when interacting with community members and, where appropriate, educating on equality.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The First Step Toward Community Success
Finding the role of faith
By Pierre Belhomme
January 3, 2011.  Revised January 13, 2011

The path to community success seems to lead to decisions whose answers seem, at some point, to require faith.  It seems that, perhaps, in an attempt to avoid dangerous, abusive claims to religious or supernatural authority and/or tensions associated with debating sharply divided perspectives on religion and the supernatural, decision-making has been structured to bypass the issue of faith and embrace instead logic-based principles of scientific discovery, rather than faith-based principles associated with religion and the supernatural. However, closer examination seems to suggest that human scientific thought might also be based, at some point, on faith and that faith, therefore, isn't ignorable. If this is true, perhaps the first step toward community success is addressing the foundations of faith.

This suggested dependency of scientific thought on faith seems to stem from the apparent limitations of human first-hand knowledge. Logically, a guess, a calculation or second-hand knowledge on such circumstance seems to require faith in the intuition, calculation or communicator from which such knowledge is obtained. Even first-hand experience seems to require faith in the accuracy of human perception. Learning, therefore, seems to be an act of faith that suggests existence beyond the current capacity of the learner and an entity -- perhaps an originator of what's being learned -- with greater capacity and, therefore, greater authority than the learner. Some seem, however, to relegate consideration of any intelligence beyond human intelligence to religion and the supernatural and away from scientific thought.

Whatever the reason for the apparent hesitancy to consider the possibility of supernatural ability and/or knowledge, the hesitancy seems, logically, in my humble opinion, to impede community well-being, due to the hesitancy's role in stopping individuals short of answers to community issues that involve faith and would bring about community well-being.

If this is the case, perhaps the first step on the path to community well-being might be to recognize human authority as less than ultimate and to recognize the role that faith plays in scientific decision-making.  The result might be community perspectives that recognize and address rather than bypass issues that involve faith and determine community well-being.