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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Patience

It is understandable to be impatient with organizations such as the American Cancer Society, since they have been talking about getting rid of a disease for over half a century.
It is understandable to be impatient with institutions such as the Pentagon or the United Nations for they have claimed a goal of peace, for seven decades in the latter case, for a quarter of a millennium in the former case.
But it is not understandable to be impatient with any one of your freely chosen 1-to-1 associations.  It is only through cosmically scaled improbability that one even knows the other.  How can the one presume to be the other’s keeper?

Why philosophers should hang out at the humanists' parties

https://aeon.co/ideas/why-philosophers-should-hang-out-at-the-humanists-parties

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Crestwood Christian Church -- Dec 1 Meeting Place

Happy Thanksgiving, Philosophy SIG members.  Since the Library is closed December 1, we will meet instead at the Crestwood Christian Church, 1882 Bellefonte Drive, Lexington.  A map can be found at this link.  Teresa Hager's attached memo contains more info on the room itself.

We have yet to determine a topic (except that we will hear about poetry as a holdover from the last meeting).  Other possible topics could be:
  • What is your favorite poem and what are its philosophical attributes?
  • Animals and Philosophy
  • Ending Poverty
  • Racism in Western Philosophy
  • When Robots Act Like Humans
  • Clever Machines
  • Your Recommended Topic(s)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Hager, Teresa <teresa.hager@uky.edu>
Good morning Jim,
            I have you scheduled at Crestwood Christian Church on Friday, December 1 from 9:45-11:45am in room MC-4.  Once you go through the doors by the gym, the room will be the fourth classroom on the left.

Have a great day!


No Meeting November 24, 2017

Greetings to members in the Lifelong Philosophy SIG -- OLLI at UK.  In annual observation of Black Friday, we will NOT meet on November 24.  We will reconvene December 1 (more later)
 
Be sure to check the SIG's web site for up-to-date info.  This web page can be found at https://reasonockhammencken.blogspot.com

Write me an email at jimmonomoy@gmail.com, if other questions come to mind!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

Various Philosophical Items




https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171103155208.htm



https://aeon.co/essays/we-can-end-world-poverty-without-destroying-the-planet



https://aeon.co/essays/why-the-western-philosophical-canon-is-xenophobic-and-racist







https://www.quantamagazine.org/clever-machines-learn-how-to-be-curious-20170919/




Philosophy for Everyday Life (pdf)

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.5, No.1 (July 2015):1-18
[Essay]
Philosophy for Everyday Life
Finn Janning*
Abstract
The aim of this essay is two-sided. The first is to illustrate to what extent philosophy can contribute
to our everyday living. The second is to illustrate how. The implicit thesis that I try to unfold in this
experimental essay is that these two sides—what and how—constantly intermingle. Although the
philosophical approach takes its inspiration from the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and
Michel Serres, as well as from modern secular mindfulness, the main consideration in any
philosophy that contributes to our life must be the coherency of our approach to life. Philosophy is a
way of relating to life, which, among other things, requires awareness. This essay, therefore, does
not present a single way of living that is beneficial but instead advocates a form of life that is
philosophical.

You aren’t my teacher. I’ll give you this much: is it satire, as you’d say?
Is it poetry? It’s fantasy, always. —But, I beg you, don’t underline any
of this, either with pencil, or—at least not too much—with thought.
 -- Arthur Rimbaud, Letters: The Artist as Critic

1. Introduction
What is a philosophy for everyday life? It is a practical philosophy that can
help us transform our images of thought. It is a movement from thinking about
life to letting thought be thought by life.

[continue reading]Philosophy for Every

Next Meeting 11-17-17

Greetings to members in the Lifelong Philosophy SIG -- OLLI at UK.  Our next meeting will be November 17 from 9:45-11:45 am at the Eastside Branch of the Lexington Public Library.  We will be in one of the meeting rooms on the second floor.  From either entrance, go toward the children's books for the elevator or stairs.

The topic, continuing from last week, will be Experiences from recent weeks that had philosophical import.  Show and tell.

Be sure to check the SIG's web site for up-to-date info.  This web page can be found at https://reasonockhammencken.blogspot.com

Write me an email at jimmonomoy@gmail.com, if other questions come to mind!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Personal Philosophical Experiences

Today we will talk about recent, personal, philosophical experiences:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr quotation

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Next Meeting, November 10

Greetings to members in the Lifelong Philosophy SIG -- OLLI at UK.  Our next meeting will be November 10 from 9:45-11:45 am at the Eastside Branch of the Lexington Public Library.  We will be in one of the meeting rooms on the second floor.  From either entrance, go toward the children's books for the elevator or stairs.

The topic will be Experiences from the past week that had philosophical import.  Show and tell.

Be sure to check the SIG's web site for up-to-date info.  This web page can be found at https://reasonockhammencken.blogspot.com

Write me an email at jimmonomoy@gmail.com, if other questions come to mind!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Mencken quotes and biographical material

Greetings to members in the Lifelong Philosophy SIG -- OLLI at UK.  Our next meeting will be November 3 from 9:45-11:45 am at the Eastside Branch of the Lexington Public Library.  We will be in one of the meeting rooms on the second floor.  From either entrance, go toward the children's books for the elevator or stairs.

The topic will be 
H. L. Mencken
Mary Miller and I will lead the discussion.  I will see you on November 3.

Be sure to check the SIG's web site for up-to-date info.  This web page can be found at https://reasonockhammencken.blogspot.com

Write me an email at jimmonomoy@gmail.com, if other questions come to mind!



Mary -- This is to verify that we will be presenting H. L. Mencken at the next Lifelong Philosophy SIG Meeting, 11-3.

I plan to discuss 10 quotes taken in order from the following list:

  •  ... there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.
  • It was morality that burned the books of the ancient sages, and morality that halted the free inquiry of the Golden Age and substituted for it the credulous imbecility of the Age of Faith. It was a fixed moral code and a fixed theology which robbed the human race of a thousand years by wasting them upon alchemy, heretic-burning, witchcraft and sacerdotalism.
  • It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull.
  • Off goes the head of the king, and tyranny gives way to freedom. The change seems abysmal. Then, bit by bit, the face of freedom hardens, and by and by it is the old face of tyranny. Then another cycle, and another. But under the play of all these opposites there is something fundamental and permanent — the basic delusion that men may be governed and yet be free.
  • Socialism is the theory that the desire of one man to get something he hasn’t got is more pleasing to a just God than the desire of some other man to keep what he has got.
  • At the bottom of Puritanism one finds envy of the fellow who is having a better time in the world, and hence hatred of him. At the bottom of democracy one finds the same thing. This is why all Puritans are democrats and all democrats are Puritans.
  • Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
  • Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.
  • But the razor edge of ridicule is turned by the tough hide of truth. How loudly the barber-surgeons laughed at Huxley—and how vainly! What clown ever brought down the house like Galileo? Or Columbus? Or Darwin? . . . They are laughing at Nietzsche yet . . .
  • To the man with an ear for verbal delicacies — the man who searches painfully for the perfect word, and puts the way of saying a thing above the thing said — there is in writing the constant joy of sudden discovery, of happy accident.
  • The public...demands certainties...But there are no certainties.
  • Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.
  • Of all escape mechanisms, death is the most efficient.
Please let me know if you have material to add to the web site.

Best regards

Mary Miller

Nov 1 (1 day ago)
to me
Hi, Jim, here's what I worked on so far, the first part is some notes for myself on Mencken's history - I thought it would be useful to give some background on his career and influence.  I won't read this, it's more notes for myself.  I have quotes that  I may edit and will likely cut or shorten some,  I do tend to overprepare!    I want to use a quote from American Language, but haven't chosen one yet.  I may also use something from In Defense of Women and I will bring in a few volumes for people to take a look at - I have several of his works that I used in writing my thesis.  

See you Friday, looking forward to this,  Mary

Mencken started as a newspaperman working for the Baltimore Sunpapers  – with only a high school education.  His association with the paper  continued off and on for most of his career  He became an editor of The Smart Set and later The American Mercury, both of which published short fiction, essays,  and literary criticism.
He had close ties to many of the premiere American novelists of the era – Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis,  and was wildly influential with intellectuals and college students during the 1920s and early 1930s, although he always derided universities and academics.  
Mencken wrote a bit of fiction and even poetry as a young man, but his work was largely nonfictions.  He was incredibly prolific, writing  thousands of articles and books on a staggering array of topics, his own estimate of his output was 10 million words.   His correspondence with friends and authors consists of thousands and thousands of letters (he almost always made a carbon copy of letters he sent), although he destroyed some letters with women with whom he had relationships.     One of his most enduringly popular works was The American Language which went through multiple editions and had two supplements, a massive scholarly work on the differences in British and American English.  
Mencken’s influence began to wane during the later 1930s.  He was a supporter of Germany during WWI and was slow to denounce Hitler and the Nazis in the years leading up to WWII, he was writing editorials for the Baltimore Sun and was finally forced to resign in 1941 because of his views on Hitler and Roosevelt.
Despite his ridicule of marriage, he married Sara Haardt in 1930 .  She was in very poor health and wasn’t expected to live very long, and she died about 5 years after they married.  He lived his entire life in the same house in Baltimore, except for the 5 years of his marriage.
Mencken had a variety of illnesses throughout his life,and was something of a medical consultant to his friends, connecting them with the many doctors he knew in Baltimore. In 1948,  Mencken had a severe stroke that largely robbed him of the ability to read and write and severely impaired his speech  a tragedy that was for him so profound that he sometimes referred to that as the year that he died, although he lived for 7 more years. 

Mencken was an ultimate believer in liberty, but had grave doubts about democracy:
He believed in liberty  “in the wildest and most imaginable sense” and  “up to the extreme limits of feasibility and tolerance”
QUOTES
When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost... All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” 
The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.” 

“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.” 
Notes on Democracy
“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is na├»ve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on "I am not too sure.” 
It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance.   .   .   . Every theologian spends a large part of his time and energy trying to prove that religions for which multitudes of honest men have fought and died are false, wicked, and against God.” , Minority Report
I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind — that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

“All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him, A Mencken Chrestomathy
He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.
(writing about US President Warren G. Harding)” 
 “Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself.” 

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.

I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.

I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech — alike for the humblest man and the mightiest, and in the utmost freedom of conduct that is consistent with living in organized society.

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

I believe in the reality of progress.

I —But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.” 
The Artist: A Drama Without Words

Jim Carigan jimmonomoy@gmail.com

Nov 1 (1 day ago)
to Mary
Looks excellent!


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