Is intelligence a moral value?

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As always, philosophy is the science of definitions. A philosophical writing, long or short, must include definitions of main concepts so analysis can be possible.

Intelligence is the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new situations. It is the synonymous of reason and logic. Intelligence is also applied to animals, plants, and technological objects (think of smart phone for example).

For a long tradition inherited from Christian catechism, intelligence is referred to as a moral value: an intelligent person is an ethical person; a bad person is not intelligent but clever and cunning. Which leads us to the following question: so a bad person, for a example a criminal, can never be qualified as intelligent no matter how intelligent they can be?

In order to promote ethics, moral values and Good (which is not a bad thing), religions made of intelligence a moral value. However, in its definition, intelligence is cleverness, smartness and cunningness since it is the ability to deal with a situation.

Intelligence is only an intellectual capacity, hopefully to be used for the good of humanity.

The Trial and Execution of a True Moralist and Philosopher – Socrates

…I say that in fact this is the greatest good for a man, to talk every day about virtue and other things you hear me converse about when I examine both myself and others, and that the unexamined life is not worth living for a man… Socrates, The Apology of Socrates by Plato Socrates was […]

The Trial and Execution of a True Moralist and Philosopher – Socrates

Epictetus vs Jesus on Figs. The relationship between philosophies… | by Massimo Pigliucci | Stoicism — Philosophy as a Way of Life | Medium

Massimo Pigliucci refers to two passages on the fig tree. One is from the Gospels, where Jesus cursed a fig tree and it died completely. The second passage is from Epictetus, the stoic philosopher, who explained that it is wise to take advantage of what life has to offer; therefore it is foolish to desire the impossible.

Through the comparison of these two references, the author explains the difference between religion and stoicism as a philosophy.

It is a well written article, easy to read but profound. There is a freedom in picking religion over philosophy and vice versa. This choice, along many others, dictates our life in general.

Check the article by clicking on the link below:

https://medium.com/stoicism-philosophy-as-a-way-of-life/epictetus-vs-jesus-on-figs-the-difference-between-philosophy-and-religion-3f47939375d1

Gilles Deleuze and his views on people

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For some, he was a complicated; for others he was an outstanding philosopher for his intertwined rich writings and his beliefs on people as individuals, capable of achieving the impossible. While other leftists prefers the social group over the individual (mostly communists do), Gilles Deleuze prevailed the importance of the individual in a world that is a web with no frontiers with endless domino and butterfly effects (Covid19 anyone?). The concept of the deleuzian space will be presented in a future post.

Consciousness is made of impressions and experiences. It is an ongoing process; one can’t achieve a set consciousness that doesn’t change. So, we go through lives affecting and being affected by the outside world and our strength is to be creators of new possibilities.

Here are some of his quotes that sum up his views on people.

A concept is a brick; it can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.

Philosophy, art and science are not the mental objects of an objectified brain but the three aspects under which the brain becomes subject.

A creator is someone who creates their own impossibilities and thereby creates possibilities.

There’s no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons.

The self is only a threshold, a door, a becoming between two possibilities.

Drunkenness as a triumphant of the plant in us.

To affirm is not to bear, carry or harness oneself to that which exists, but on the contrary to unburden, unharness and set free which lives.

To those who say escaping is not courageous, we answer: what is not escape and social investment at the same time? (With Felix Guattari).

 

 

The four questions of Kant and their eventual answers today

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In the Preface of The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant asks three questions that gave the fourth one. His project is an enquiry undertaken by Pure Reason to search out the limits of Pure Reason. The questions are the following:

What can I know?

What ought I to do?

What may I hope for?

What is man?

I will start with the last one just to figure out how we can answer these questions today.

What is man? Or what am I?

I was told by reading Kant and other philosophers that I am a rational being, capable of speaking (Aristotle), living through dialectics so that the Universal Reason can establish itself in the world (Hegel), among other definitions. How did it serve me today?

Since the 20th century, rationality is technical or technological and we are submitted to machines and algorithms. All other fields and walks of life evolve and revolve around infotech and biotech with a progressive absence of critical thinking. I love the Kantian project and I believe Kant is one of the biggest philosophers ever, but we are more emotional and practical beings than highly rational. How can the critical thinking “function” with the massive amount of news and fake news by the minute?

What can I know?

Everything and nothing thanks to social media. It all depends on how we use this tool to our full potential. Potential can differ from one person to another; however technology can be a wonderful tool to learn new skills and to be updated.

What ought I to do?

Other than surviving on all levels, I think ethics are the name of the game for the present and the future. It lies on freedom and courage to step forward and be responsible for the whole world.

What may I hope for?

That’s the most difficult question especially today when the world is stuck between the pandemics and the economy crisis. I think by willing to be flexible and accepting that change is inevitable, by willing to work differently and having a new perspective on life, can we hope for a better future.

Can I steal a face mask to protect my family?

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photo by healthline.com

 

Responsibility has never been of this amplitude.

As citizens, we were taught to be responsible towards ourselves and others. However, citizenship’s responsibility is more abiding by the law for a smoother organized life in society. A transgression of the law leads to punishment and repair.

Suddenly, in this peculiar pause, a walk outside has become an individual and a collective moral question. The dilemma is this:

Can I steal a mask to protect myself/my family? Or, in absence of a mask, can I walk outside uncovered?

Stealing is universally criminal. Foolishness, taken to a certain extend, in time of crisis is as criminal. If ethics are made of somehow universal principles (truth, respect etc.), never before, wise practical and casuistic ethics (i.e to wear a mask) has become a universal principle. Therefore, in this precise matter, stealing a mask is less harmful than to be face uncovered outside.

We might save the world by stealing a mask!

 

My life this week in 2020 the year of change

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photo by unsplash.com

The country is shut down due to the corona tsunami and people remain home. For me, it was a new experience as i am teaching online. I hate corona but i am loving this online job experience. However, being locked down, I couldn’t help but wonder about the year 2020.

For those who follow my blog, they know that starting october 2019, we have been on a long revolution against corruption and injustice. So on a shaky land we entered 2020 that hit us with more turmoils and with corona. Horrible as it is, we must look at the bigger picture. 2020 is the year of battles and change; which logically leads to the desire of change or to resistance because of fear. I feel it is a turning point: there is before and after 2020. The decade sounds revolutionary on all levels.

Corona, floods, earthquakes, protests, climate change and more demand responsibility and collective consciousness. It demands awareness and redifinition of oneself, of social structures, of relationships, of politics, of economics. Basically it demands form each one of us a choice and a role. Speaking of Corona: movies, tedtalks, conferences predicted the outbreak of a similar virus. We listened but we didn’t get ready for it. Now that the outbreak is here, what am I going to do? How to deal with others? Who am I and what are my deepest desires? The natural incidents I mentioned indicate the redifinition of the earth itself.

2020 is the year of big lessons in life. Incidents will force us to retrieve into ourselves and connect on a deeper level with our fears and desires. It is the year that must teach us to let go of the past and start fresh new, both on individual and collective levels.

So yes there is fear and loneliness. There is a resistance to change. But do we have a choice other than love and flexibility? I don’t think we do.

 

What Spinoza taught me about my body

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Or what exactly I have learned about the body in general reading Spinoza.

It is not very common to link philosophy to fitness, philosophy being a discipline of the mind and rational thinking. However it is such a vast world that the reader can find any topic analyzed by philosophers. Philosophy is maybe the only real lesson of life.

Baruch Spinoza was a leading philosophical figure of the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century.  Hegel said about him: “The fact is that Spinoza is made a testing-point in modern philosophy, so that it may really be said: You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all.” His philosophical accomplishments and moral character prompted Gilles Deleuze to name him “the ‘prince’ of philosophers”.

Being a big critic of dualism, Spinoza’s philosophy focused on monism starting with the body and he wrote the following:

“We know nothing about a body until we know what it can do, in other words, what its affects are, how they can or cannot enter into composition with other affects, with the affects of another body, either to destroy that body or to be destroyed by it, either to exchange actions and passions with it or to join with it in composing a more powerful body”.

In other words, humans aren’t free unless they know the causes of their actions. The cause is in the body. To understand this idea, Spinoza describes life as a series of occursus or encounters. Therefore, we encounter everything: people, events, phenomenons, viruses etc. Each and every encounter affects us differently, depending on each one’s body characteristics and forces.

I learned this lesson seriously and I started to observe my body’s reactions to almost any encounter, including food, fitness exercises, some tasks at work and so on. Progressively, I began to add some little adjustments to my daily life based on my observations. Would you believe me if I say that Spinoza was a life changer?

I recommend reading Spinoza, specially his masterpiece Ethics. You can never go wrong.

Why global warming doesn’t matter

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Lebanon, October 2019

In 2019, the planet burned! From the Amazon Rainforest to Australia, fires devoured trees, plants, animals and lands. Facing this heartbreaking and scary scenery, only romantics like Greta and us yelled the danger of global warming.

So, global warming is the planetary issue, right?

Not so fast. The less romantic among us don’t care about global warming. To them the real underlying issues are elsewhere. They are respectively: energy and nutrition.

The world population was estimated to have reached 7.7 billion people in 2019. Authorities’ worries are more about producing energy (nuclear, alternative, fossil…) and finding ways to feed the immense number of mouths. It is an issue because food industry is one of the biggest energy consuming factors.

Does this all show us that the real problem is the shrinking of the vital space?

The vital space is the space needed for a specie to survive. With an increasing world population in terms of demographics, the concept of vital space is not openly discussed for ethical reasons obviously. The concept of vital space requires harsh questions: fewer babies? More birth control? If so, isn’t the current population at risk of aging?

Or, as awful as it sounds, wouldn’t wars do the job to lessen the number of people?

Whether global warming needs urgent and immediate actions, it is high time we let go of the past in order to face the future. What past are we talking about? Traditions and religions.

The rise of the animal in me

 

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In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche wrote: “Become who you are”. Defining the “who you are” implies the following concepts: conscious animal, thinking animal, rational animal, speaking animal, political animal (Aristotle) and the list goes on. Then how to become an animal?

The link between humans and animals has always been solid but gladiatorial. History of mankind would have been totally different had horses been extinct alongside dinosaurs. So, naturally and culturally, animals have always been present in humans lives.

Mythology tells us stories of deities, humans and animals. Most of the time, deities had human and animal traits. Only evolution of societies draws a separation line between what is considered as culture, (therefore human) and nature (the animal world). The more this line of segregation was thick, the more collateral damages were made on beings from both sides.

The animal in me brought animal rights back to life. Sympathy with animals and nature motivates all sorts of new ethical actions such as veganism, nature protection, and ethical treatment to animals and so on.

panthere noireThe animal in me also brought to life a new (or old new) workout: the animal flow. It consists of moving like some animals, mostly reptiles, to increase mobility, strength and flexibility. Now this makes me think differently: an ethical treatment to animals is one thing and becoming an animal for few times a week is something else.

Are we somehow escaping humanity?