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A couple of A.C . Grayling’s books – recently finished

In books, ethics, freedom, good life, history, moral issues, philosophy, politics, traditions on December 14, 2013 at 14:26

The Good Book: A Humanist Bible.
I normally really enjoy books by A.C. Grayling.  I’ve got few complaints about this one.  I don’t know if it’s only fault of the audio book but I found it frustrating that I didn’t know from where the quotes were taken.

I did really enjoyed the verses chapter. It was great to recognise a piece of poetry I’ve learned at school in another language!  On the whole I think the book should not had “Bible” in the title and somehow influencing its structure. Bible is not a greatest of our ancient texts and has been completely discredited over the centuries. 

I also think that this A.C . Grayling book would benefit from inclusion of modern philosophy.

Liberty in the Age of Terror: A Defence of Civil Liberties and Enlightenment Values.
It is right to be concerned with attacks on Civil Liberties.  However I think the author didn’t really shown how much better informed we are thanks to the technology and globalisation,  how much more opportunities we have to express our opinions to the whole world and to listen to opinions of others. The feeling of interdependence and interconnection (one small world!) does helps to promote the Enlightenment values by itself.

Peackocks, pheasants and chickens

In about me, acrylic, art, bird, ethics, legal issues, moral issues, my artworks, pets and domestic animals, philosophy, traditions, wild nature on December 11, 2013 at 17:10

A couple of weeks ago I have been doing a little acrylic miniature:

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Not very happy with the painting but at least one person liked it so I’ll let it be. When I was working on this I’ve accidently stumbled across a sad picture:

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Two freshly shot pheasants.  They looked so beautiful from close up… I know people who wish to execute anybody killing pheasants but at the same time eat their close relatives,  chickens and turkeys every day. .. Which just shows how our attitude to animals (and sometime to humans) depends on pretty looks and “cuteness”. It shouldn’t be this way.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with eating animals: lots of people probably are better off with high animal protein diet as this is the food we originally evolved on.  Obviously we should protect endangered species and avoid unnecessary cruelty to animals, especially the ones closest to us by intelligence. Being cruel or destroying the beauty of nature would eventually backfire.  It will make us more cruel to humans too and guilty and depressed. Yet if medical science really needs to experiment with animals it should be allowed: only humans on this planet know how to heal.

I wish I had time to do an old fashioned still life with those pheasants. ..

Freedom fighting

In ethics, freedom, philosophy, relationship on December 9, 2013 at 12:41

Did you notice that the people who are the loudest at claiming themselves freedom fighters are the first to get angry at you if you disagree? They can’t stand your freedom to have your own opinion.

Some thoughts on honesty / Пара мыслей о честности

In art, искусство, наука, ethics, творчество, философия, philosophy on October 30, 2013 at 17:15

Firstly there is a debate what is science. Is it only study of the subjects that could be described mathematically or proven in a simple experiment? What about the studies of complex systems in geography, biology, human behavior? I think it is all just about honesty. Scientific approach is the honest one. This I know, this I don’t know, this I suggest. No fairies, special dreams or unquestionable authorities.

Secondly… Apparently it is common for some professional artists, when they find out that they don’t have long to live, to destroy the artwork they think is “substandard”. I could understand when an artwork is overpainted immediately as it finished because it is disliked – it makes sence. But if it was kept for years there must be some perceived value in it, maybe only sentimental. So what? Do we bother what people think about us when we do not exist any more? Who are we fooling? What about next generation artists, depressed because they seems to have “bad painting” days while apparently “old masters” never had them?

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Часто спорят о том, что является наукой, а что нет. Якобы если изучается то, что можно однозначно описать формулой или повторить в эксперименте – это наука. Тогда непонятно, что же такое изучение сложных систем в географии, биологии, социологии и т.д. Ведь не гадание же на кофейной гуще! По-моему, научный метод – это просто честный метод. Это я знаю, это я не знаю, это я предполагаю. Никаких фантазий, видений или непререкаемых авторитетов.

Оказывается многие художники, когда узнают, что им недолго осталось жить, начинают уничтожать те свои работы, которые считают недостаточно сильными. Я могу понять, когда избавляются от только что законченного рисунка, потому, что он не нравится. Но если работа сохранена, значит что-то в ней было. Может быть, только для самого художника, но какая разница? Какое нам дело до того, что следующее поколение будет думать относительно нашей работы и наших чувств? Кого мы пытаемся обмануть, заметая следы таким образом? И как насчет молодых художников, которые будут страдать от того, что у их кумиров из прошлого никогда не было слабостей и неудач, а у них – полно?

In history, philosophy, politics on August 10, 2013 at 19:30

“Whereas the hard power of bullets and bayonets can win battles, it is only soft power that can win wars” – A. C. Grayling

It’s OK as long as its not harmfull

In ethics, freedom, philosophy, relationship, religion on June 23, 2013 at 08:12

John Gray said in a recent interview: “I don’t care what people believe, unless it is in some way demonstrably toxic or harmful.”  This is somebody posing as original critical thinker – yet the phrase describes probably most of us with various opinions about many subjects. Each human think of different ideas as harmful, that’s it. Any religious fanatic would think that not following his understanding of his religion is harmful to people and he, being, of course, concerned about everybody’s wellbeing, would go any distance to convert all of us, to protect us from harm. Lots of horrible things are done not because of hatred but because of compassion, because of will to help to some “lost sheep”.  Non-fanatics may think the same, but they won’t actively go and try to “rescue” everybody they meet. Unless you live a life of apathy and indifference, you would find ideas, beliefs, sets of mind that you think are harmful. It could be just a waste of time in you opinion, or you could think “this may lead to violence, and that’s bad”.  Do psychologists, sociologist, historians, brain scientists write on when, how and which ideas become destructive for individuals or societies? Do they publish the results openly, without fear of offending supporters of these ideas? This may bring some clarity. Or maybe not, as the experts would probably disagree on what is destructive. For example, how much anger, procrastination or indifference is OK for each of us, could violent outbreaks in history lead to better future, etc…

What John Gray is afraid? “… the idea that human beings are, by their very nature, free is the one of the most harmful fictions that has ever been promoted anywhere.” So there is example of somebody who is actually after your freedom. Harmful illusion it is…

Free speech

In freedom, philosophy, politics, religion on May 27, 2013 at 18:01

“Democracy requires debate and challenge,  the rule of law requires the right to be heard in court, genuine education requires questioning and access to information. Without free speech none of these things are possible.  Something the price of the free speech is offence, but “feeling offended” can never justify censorship.” A.C. Grayling

Stone throwers

In good life, philosophy, relationship, religion on May 24, 2013 at 07:31

Imagine walking along a cliff. If a stone falls near you it may hurt. But there is another situation when it hurts so much more. Even if the stone didn’t actually hit you. It happens when a stone is thrown at you by somebody. Yes. This is one reason why the day I’ve  left religion was my happiest one. Not just every random misfortune vent from an all-powerful god but ultimately I have been forced to think that I deserved it… Life is beautiful when random is left alone for what it is.

Some thoughts on the interview with Jim Al-Khalili

In about me, ethics, freedom, good life, moral issues, philosophy, relationship, religion on March 8, 2013 at 14:24

http://rationalist.org.uk/articles/4070/facing-the-future-an-interview-with-jim-al-khalili

I agree that humanists should work more on the positive side of secular life, on creating the society which would be caring, loving, tolerant. But I can’t agree with accepting these Christian statements as rules. Turning the other cheek in many cases would give the wrong message to an offender. And different people call different things “love”. I still remember being told that to love in Christian understanding is to wish to a person being saved by God… That’s all.

I am a bit worried to hear about “good manners” when there still is inequality and injustice backed up by religions on this planet.

Maybe I was lucky – I’ve never seen atheists knocking on doors or surrounding people on the streets with the purpose of converting. .. I think some of us feel themselves as an offending side only because of the hyper sensitivity of many religious people to slightest disagreement with their views.

I respect kindness, courage, honesty, creativity, everybody’s right for self-expression but how could I “respect views” with which I disagree? And is a person civilized because of his or her “political correctness” or rather because that person can’t tolerate another person being abused?

I also think it is very important for secular people to stop mimicking religious ones. We don’t need “atheist churches” or ” humanist bibles”. We should work on positive and original self-identification, promote various aspects of secular lifestyle.

On changing attitudes

In art, ethics, good life, moral issues, people, philosophy, religion, time, traditions, writing on March 2, 2013 at 12:51

“I don’t believe in witches, but I don’t call myself an ahexist.”- this is Jonathan Miller saying “No” to negative self-definition. Fortunately it is normal now in the West not to believe in witches and other supernatural stuff. Calling somebody atheist is a bit strange really.

Recently a woman came to my shop and asked me if I want some leaflets for single parents. .. I was a bit surprised and said I am not a single parent and she may leave her leaflets at the designated area of the Market. She wouldn’t leave. “Look, there is more useful information in there”. Even more surprised, I looked. After first paragraph the word “Bible” started to creep in. This is what it was all about! I asked her few questions about why she believed (“Jesus told me” and “it’s the most printed book in the world”), asked her about horrible facts from her favourite book (she approved genocide with ease) and shamed her for trying to brainwash people. And with stealth too – wich was dishonest and disgusting – but this shows how ashamed they are themselves about their own teachings.

Two Mormon girls who surrounded me on the street few days later have been slightly more open. “We do not trying to change your mind, just come to us and be happy! ” Really? What if I am already happy? No reply. Why do you believe the stuff you teach? “Because we feel that it is so”… Well, I don’t. The funniest thing was that they turned out to be from Russia too – in the middle of the conversation. Probably they were from the Ural or Siberia. New Russian export – the Mormons…

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