Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Opera Pimp on Prostitution


Sorry I have been a bit absent but I have been playing an Opera Pimp in one of the saddest stories of prostitution that our culture has thrown up.  Verdi’s La Traviata (or the fallen one), first performed in 1853, tells the tale of a courtesan. She has a glamorous life that quickly sours and ends in early death. It is the opposite of the mendacious myth, Pretty Woman, where prostitution merely prepares the main protagonist for a long and happy life.
Our production was performed in The Men’s Gallery, Melbourne’s largest and most famous strip club replete with runway, dancing poles and decorous nudes on the walls.  This was a version of the opera where the subject matter was reflected in the venue. Whilst The Men’s Gallery is both lawful and not involved in prostitution, it is part of the sex industry, the same industry as Violetta’s bordello in La Traviata.  For details see http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/opera/opera-strips-to-bare-essentials-in-kindred-venue-20130402-2h56y.html
In this atheist ethicist, I opine on the morality of regulation of prostitution.  For the opera was not my first collision with the ethics of prostitution regulation. Long ago in my municipal past, when my responsibilities included the Mayoralty of the area that encompasses the street sex work market of St Kilda, I served on a ministerial advisory committee on street prostitution.  So I have had many brushes with the issue of the regulation of prostitution.
The time honoured response of legislators is the prohibition model. When one deems a behaviour to be unworthy, the knee jerk reaction is to ban it. This is particularly the case with sex and drugs. So in the past alcohol, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, pornography and prostitution have all been banned.  But the prohibition model is riven with disastrous unintended consequences. Prohibition calls forth an illegal market. The illegality of the market is inevitably associated with violent crime, exploitation of the vulnerable and higher prices.
The vulnerable whom suffer or die might include the addicts of the heroin market, the women in the unlawful abortion markets and the sex workers in prohibited prostitution markets.  La Traviata sought to champion the position of the latter. Bans counter intuitively seem to harm the weak and promote the interests of the criminal. Therefore I always champion the opposite of the prohibition model, which is the harm minimisation approach.
Faiths and religions are a problem in this moral debate.  For these archaic relics from the past are full of prohibitions.  Let’s start the Divine Decalogue.  The 10 Commandments might as well be the 10 Prohibitions. But more than prohibition, religions routinely glorify those who go beyond obedience and embrace hair shirt self loathing. Ascetic behaviour is lauded. Temperance in food, drink and particularly sex is found in most faiths.  Take the monastic vows of poverty, obedience and chastity versions of which can be found in the faiths of East and West. These are appalling commitments to self deprivation deserving of a volume on their own.  And the vow of obedience has silenced evidence of priestly crimes that now dominate our news. 
In the context of prostitution, the damaging legacy of prohibition and self deprivation is that open discussion of prostitution is clouded and difficult.
On the other hand, the harm minimisation model does not make a “moralistic” judgement on the activity but merely seeks to understand the consequences for the community.  For those who have been following my moral pontificating for some time, this Consequentialist approach is consistent with the atheist morality I follow called Utilitarianism. I believe that Consequentialism is one of the great moral contributions of atheism.  It takes out all of the archaic moral judgements that cloud the assessment of complex social situations. It looks at the impact on the humans involved and seeks to minimise the harm and maximise the good. 
Prostitution when it is an equal bargain struck between two consenting adults, must be seen as moral. Prostitution in a prohibition model though, inevitably involves an unequal bargain. The transaction is an illegal one with unregulated violence.  It is a situation where the victim (the sex worker) cannot easily be protected by the police because the sex workers are committing a crime.  In the illegal sex markets, the women are often incredibly vulnerable with sexual abuse and drug dependence often part of the story.
La Traviata is a prescient work. It acknowledges that prostitutes often have nasty outcomes. It also recognizes the hypocrisy of moralistic judgment. The parochial and the bourgeois father who denounces Violetta the courtesan, come across as cruel and hypocritical. 
In the contemporary world, the traditional foes of law reform in the drug, prostitution and related markets are cruel. They allow their prejudices, formed in the Sunday Schools of their youth, to be a barrier to humanitarian reform.  Have they learnt nothing since 1853?  Have they learnt nothing from the current paedophile crisis? 
Progress from the religious taboos and ascetic practices of the faiths is slow but necessary.
What is your view?
·         Do you like the certainty of rules and prohibitions or do you like the humanity of the harm minimisation model?
·         Should prostitution be banned in all circumstances?
·         What is the moral position of those who use prostitutes?  Do you use prostitutes?
·         Why is prohibition such a popular regulatory regime?
·         Why does the prohibition of drugs still remain in the face of decades of failure??
Over to you guys.


223 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:59 PM

    I agree with your harm minimisation argument but what can be done with the NIMBYS or should I say the NIMFY's of Greeves Street? Not in my front yard. If they buy a house in this street they have to expect that the industry was already operating but some of those neighbours are obsessed with getting it closed down. Gatehouse do a great job to look after the gals there as do the police who have their own liaison officer who is desginated to care for them.

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    1. Thanks Anon. I am glad that the police and Gatehouse are doing a grand job. I believe that job they do would be easier if the legal situation was more accommodating.
      And of course we need to see a less strict stance on heroin. Thanks again.
      Dick

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    2. In our area some people are obsessed with getting the local pre-school closed down.

      They NIMBY problem is not specific to the sex worker industry.

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  2. Harm minimisation? That seems strange.

    Is it harm minimisation that my job as a software designer is legal?

    So what is the difference? That prostitutes can be exploited. Well any worker can be and are exploited. The profession should be regulated according to the labour laws that any profession is regulated by, amending it if need be.

    I have known a number of prostitutes who were not exploited and did not come to a sad end. It was just a job.

    Calling it "harm minimisation" in itself implies a nonsensical moral judgement.

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    1. Thanks Robin for an interesting contribution. Much of the sex industry is legal. I am speculating but I suspect that those sex workers who had a contented career were in the legal sector. Dick

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    2. To tell you the truth I don't know if they were legal or not. They were freelancers in any case and not attached to any brothel so I suspect that they were not legal.

      But that is not really the point. Why would you call it "harm minimisation" when we make it legal to be a sex worker?

      Would you call it harm minimisation that your own profession is legal?

      If not then doesn't that imply a moral judgement of its own?

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  3. Calling Utilitarianism an "atheist morality" is slightly dubiuos. It is far from obvious that JS Mill was an atheist himself or that he intended Utilitarianism to be an atheist morality. In fact, in the essay in which he sets out Utilitarianism he describes it as a practical method for carrying out the moral commands of Christ.

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  4. My question is - would you apply the logic of consequentialism and harm minimisation to child prostitution?

    Someone might say that it is going to happen whether we prohibit it or not.

    They might further say that if we prohibit it then we cannot regulate it and minimise the harm caused.

    And then they might conclude that if we make it legal then we can regulate it an minimuse the harm..

    So how does that work from a consequentialist viewpoint?

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    1. Great question! Harm minimisation is a subset of consequentialism. In other words, harm minimisation does not cut the mustard in every situation. A consequentialist would argue that murder is immoral because of the harm to the victim and a prohibition should apply. The same argument applies with paedophilia.
      However, sex and drugs between consenting adults is different. There will always be a supply and demand the suffering of the victim is less obvious. There may be no victim. In that case, a prohibition might cause more harm than good.
      Thus I support a prohibition on paedophilia. But I also support a more liberal attitude on less clear cut sexual behaviours. Thanks. dick

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    2. But as I said, the harm minimisation logic would say that the harm in child prostitution will happen anyway and if you prohibit it that harm will just occur underground and without any control.

      So if it is legal then there will be less harm, if it is illegal then there will be more harm.

      So surely a consequentialist should choose the less harm alternative? Why not?

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    3. "So if it is legal then there will be less harm, if it is illegal then there will be more harm."

      Lines have to be drawn somewhere and sex with children is already illegal because of the harm it causes.

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    4. @Robin
      "the harm minimisation logic would say that the harm in child prostitution will happen anyway and if you prohibit it that harm will just occur underground and without any control."
      Deary me, Robin I expected better from you, Dick's topic is for consenting adults only, your aside is a cheap shot. Are you a Cory Bernardi staffer? Do you believe same sex marriage will lead to animal nuptials?

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    5. "Do you believe same sex marriage will lead to animal nuptials?"

      While gay people can't marry each other it has been possible (ie not illegal) to marry inanimate objects. All a gay person has to do is sit still long enough....

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    7. Ochams Razor wrote: "Deary me, Robin I expected better from you, Dick's topic is for consenting adults only, your aside is a cheap shot."
      I am not sure you even understood what I said. Especially since you said this:

      "Do you believe same sex marriage will lead to animal nuptials?"

      I cannot even imagine what sort of a bizarre muddled thought process led you to that ludicrous connection.

      But, no, you are way off.

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    8. The fact is, the responses here pretty much underline what I say.

      Even if it was established that legalising child prostitution would result in an overall minimisation of harm, we still would not countenance it.

      Consequentialism would have to hold that we would countenance it under those circumstances.

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    9. @Robin "I cannot even imagine what sort of a bizarre muddled though process led you to that ludicrous connection."

      The same process that led you to..

      "logic would say that the harm in child prostitution will happen anyway and if you prohibit it that harm will just occur underground and without any control."

      Consenting adults Robin, you brought up child prostitution as a logic argument. No one here will have a bar of that. The nihilist or anarchy blogs are a few doors down. ;)































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    10. Yes, Ogham, I know that no one here will address what I *actually* said - they will pretend I said something else.

      I suppose it would be heresy for an atheist to admit that there might be circumstances where the moral course of action might not the one which results in a net lesser harm.

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    11. @Robin
      "I suppose it would be heresy for an atheist to admit that there might be circumstances where the moral course of action might not the one which results in a net lesser harm."
      Au contraire oh red-breasted one, morality and atheism are very much entwined, and as we are not expected to follow bronzed aged guidelines we have to define for ourselves where those boundaries lay. Unsurprisingly we find our natural instincts a good foundation for a functioning and decent society. You may scoff at the similarities to religious edicts all you like but we say that this is evidence of religion rejigging ancient ways of life to suit manipulative dogma. Morality is ancient so I do not have trouble making my way through societal conundrums and skewed logic as morality is inbuilt not given.
      To unpack the child prostitution problem you raise is simple, consent cannot be given as a child, the parent(or guardian) holds this responsibility and, as an adult, he/she would break a foundation law of care that binds decent peoples everywhere. Greater harm will be done if not to the child but to society as a whole. Simply the child requires rescuing not organising. Adult consent is the key, fail in this duty and a firing squad awaits.

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    12. You do realise, don't you, that child prostitution is happening right now? Even here in this country.

      The foundation law of care that binds decent people is being broken right under our noses. The greater harm to society is being done and the children involved are not, generally, being rescued and the firing squad is nowhere to be seen.

      Even so, prohibition is still the right answer.

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    13. RalphH9:19 AM

      Dick Gross11:48 PM
      “…. Harm minimisation is a subset of consequentialism. In other words, harm minimisation does not cut the mustard in every situation. A consequentialist would argue that murder is immoral because of the harm to the victim and a prohibition should apply. The same argument applies with paedophilia.”

      Dick, you're a man of many talents. I hope your opera went well.

      I'd forgotten about your “consequentialism”. One thing you haven't mentioned (or maybe considered) is the consequence of immorality on the perpetrator. Acting morally/considering the welfare of others is what makes us human. Acting immorally has the opposite effect. An immoral person may create/amass a store of ego stroking/worldly consequences for themselves but leave a trail of harmful and hurtful consequences behind for others. In doing so they inure themselves/their minds (i.e. the real person) against any form of empathy or love for their victims.

      If, as religious people believe, life continues beyond the death of the physical body (there is absolutely no proof that it doesn't) the person who has chosen to make immorality a part of their life/character is in for a major shock.

      “However, sex and drugs between consenting adults is different. There will always be a supply and demand the suffering of the victim is less obvious. There may be no victim. In that case, a prohibition might cause more harm than good.”

      “Consenting adults” is a real crock of an argument in determining what is moral and what is not. It is just as possible for two adults to consent to immoral activity as it is to consent to moral activity. Also all “adults” are not equally equipped to decide what they really want or what is in their best interest. A weaker character can be seduced by a stronger and become addicted to and locked into immoral behaviour - tied by guilt or fear or just plain ignorance.

      “Thus I support a prohibition on paedophilia. But I also support a more liberal attitude on less clear cut sexual behaviours.”

      I also support a “ prohibition on paedophilia” because it is so obviously an attack and exploitation of the innocent and weak - physically and intellectually i.e. of those not yet capable of making rational/moral decisions.

      Prohibition doesn't work well for adults because they like/need to make their own decisions – to feel in charge of their own lives. 'Prohibition' in the US and the losing war on drugs demonstrates this. The answer is education – so that (in individual minds) the rational may triumph over the emotions which can so easily lead a person astray by immediate but temporal delights that will soon lose their allure and leave the person trapped in addiction.

      From a religious context, I believe God wants all people to live morally/with consideration and love for other's happiness because that's the only way they can experience genuine/lasting happiness themselves.

      WRT prostitution, God revealed the law/use of sexuality (Genesis 2.24; Matthew 19 4-6) i.e. for humans, genuine marriage between one man and one woman. All else is some form of abuse which the person becomes responsible for to the extent that they understand what they are doing, feel capable of desisting yet choose to continue. It is only freely choosing, not just to do (everyone falls into that trap to some extent) but to love evil that makes people irrevocably addicted to it.

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    14. Dear Ralph,
      Thanks so much for your extensive reply. You are correct in attacking the notion of "consenting adults". Does a severely damaged person who gravitates to sex work qualify as "consenting". Does as you seem to ask the word "consenting" take away all moral censure of the sex industry? These are not easily addressed and I thank you for your contribution as ever.
      Dick

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  5. "Do you like the certainty of rules and prohibitions or do you like the humanity of the harm minimisation model?"

    The latter as it does reduce harm where prohibition increases it.

    "Should prostitution be banned in all circumstances?"

    No.

    "What is the moral position of those who use prostitutes?"

    I'm guessing they think it's okay, even if their religion bans it.

    "Do you use prostitutes?"

    No. Knowing my luck I couldn't even pay for sex.

    "Why is prohibition such a popular regulatory regime?"

    For pollies it's the easiest route and pollies think everyone wants it.

    " Why does the prohibition of drugs still remain in the face of decades of failure??"

    Politics. See above.

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    1. Dear Stranger, I don't think that luck plays as big a role as you seem to be suggesting...
      Dick

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  6. Dick before I give my thoughts on the questions you have raised, also my experiences being a driver/minder for prostitutes (long story), may I ask that you consider implementing a template for this blog.
    For example a Blogger friendly free template site such as BTemplates
    http://btemplates.com/2013/blogger-template-modern-style/.
    here I've picked a simple template but browse the styles if you like.
    I know you're busy treading the boards (looking flash Bro' in that photo) but this process seems simple. Caveat.. I've not run a blog so a modicum of assumption on my part here, but it doesn't look hard and I'm willing to help.
    Datestamps yum.

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  7. Dick asked: "Do you like the certainty of rules and prohibitions or do you like the humanity of the harm minimisation model?"

    Here is the problem - I don't like either of these.

    We don't say that being a green grocer should be legal in order to minimise harm to green grocers.

    Being a green grocer is legal because there is no good reason for prohibiting green grocery.

    Being a sex worker should be legal for exactly the same reason that being a green grocer is legal.

    Sex workers are neither Violetta nor are they Pretty Woman.

    They are just people who have a particular job.

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    1. MalcolmS8:17 AM

      "Being a sex worker should be legal for exactly the same reason that being a green grocer is legal"

      I'll keep that in mind when I purchase my zucchini from now on.

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  8. So turning the the last question of why there is still a prohibition on drugs.


    Lets take the example of heroin.

    It would not be true, as I said of sex workers, that selling heroin should be legal for the same reason that being a green grocer should be legal.

    There is a very good reason for prohibiting the sale of heroin. This is not based on any archaic morality.

    Heroin is a dangerous addictive drug.

    The customers of a heroin dealer might be consenting the first few times, but it cannot be said that they consent to their continuing need for the drug.

    So the question is - does the logic of harm minimisation lead to the conclusion that we should consent to the sale of heroin?

    I don't think so. But on the other hand I think we should recognise the addict as a victim and not a partner in crime.

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    1. MalcolmS8:38 PM

      "The customers of a heroin dealer might be consenting the first few times, but it cannot be said that they consent to their continuing need for the drug"

      Not sure that's correct. The customers know where it leads. Although some may pretend that they are an exception who can dodge the bullet.

      I think its akin to claiming that you consent to throwing puppies off skyscrapers but you don't consent to them hitting the ground.

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    2. For someone turning 18 right now - how would they know that? Where did they get that information?

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    3. MalcolmS10:00 PM

      You are coming across as a little naive. I certainly knew it at 18. From my parents and peers. Modern kids are no less astute.

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    4. Mal: I certainly knew [about heroin] at 18. From my parents and peers.

      That explains a lot.

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    5. From what I remember, when you are 18 you are indestructible, you know everything and your parents are well meaning fools.

      The person selling drugs is the coolest person you have met and he confers coolness onto you by condescending to pay attention to you.

      He says "They just tell you that stuff to scare you".

      He withdraws that gift of coolness as soon as he realises that you are one of the ones who are going to stick by the promise you made to the well meaning fools.

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    6. MalcolmS1:04 AM

      Robin: "From what I remember, when you are 18 you are indestructible, you know everything and your parents are well meaning fools. The person selling drugs is the coolest person you have met and he confers coolness onto you by condescending to pay attention to you. He says "They just tell you that stuff to scare you". He withdraws that gift of coolness as soon as he realises that you are one of the ones who are going to stick by the promise you made to the well meaning fools"

      So, contrary to what you had previously implied, you did know about drugs at 18!

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    7. If that is what you call knowing about drugs then I have pretty much proved my point!

      Delete
    8. MalcolmS8:00 AM

      You have not proved your point - you have conceded the point. There would scarcely be an 18 year old who does not know someone whose life has been adversely affected by drug use - and often more than one. It was certainly the case when I was an 18 year.

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    9. Mally Mally Mally. How hypocritical and\or deceptive is it of you to whine about the "adverse effects of drugs" when Your entire foolosophy was written by a frickin meth head

      And not that crappy Russian meth either - the good potent yank stuff

      Just look at those wild staring eyes
      http://bitly.com/15zUucJ

      Oops. Wrong "whacked out russian mystic who destabalised an empire". Sorry

      This is your twitchy fast talking psychotic "novelist" yeah?

      http://to.pbs.org/16TytoN
      (Now Mal - no naughty thoughts)

      Though to be fair theres still no denying the quality of her output. How did she do it?

      From http://science.howstuffworks.com/meth1.htm
      8x
      Users can also maintain their interest in mundane activities for great lengths of time. As a result, performance of repetitive tasks continues at a high level for hours and hours, when normally it might wane due to boredom.
      x8

      No wonder "honest" nobjectivists say,"Drugs are good - mmmmkay?". I mean, check out this classic line!
      http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2009/11/how_ayn_rand_became_an_american_icon.html

      "the naked, twisted, mindless figure of the human Incompetent"

      Wow!

      So Mallywally, Its ok for you to tell us what you really think. It really is

      Just put some pants on first...

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    10. MalcolmS9:04 PM

      FYI zedinhisbigloonyhead I have never looked up any of your links and have no intention of ever doing so. Although I am familiar with many of her original works.

      So it was with some interest that I read your quote:

      "the naked, twisted, mindless figure of the human Incompetent"

      She appears to have got you and your "progressive" teachers in one.

      How amazingly prescient!

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    11. MalcomS wrote: "You have not proved your point - you have conceded the point."

      I have got no idea what you are talking about.

      You appeared to believe that my naivity as an 18 year old somehow meant that I "knew about drugs".

      You may not know this but a parental warning and a meeting with a drug dealer does not constitute knowing the consequences of drug use - not by a long shot.
      MalcomS wrote: "There would scarcely be an 18 year old who does not know someone whose life has been adversely affected by drug use"

      Any backup for that. I didn't know anybody adversely affected by drug use when I was 18 and I did not know anybody who did.

      Have things changed so much?

      Maybe you were just one of the lucky ones knowing someone affected by drug use.

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    12. MalcolmS11:53 PM

      "I didn't know anybody adversely affected by drug use when I was 18 and I did not know anybody who did"

      Then clearly you were not on the same university campus as I was where the effect of opiates, LSD, marijuana, alcohol and tobacco was certainly evident.

      "Maybe you were just one of the lucky ones knowing someone affected by drug use"

      Are you serious?

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    13. As I said, do you have a cite?

      Incidentally, I did not go to university until much later - I went straight out to work at 18. When I did go to Uni I went in the evening and had not much experience of campus life, but I certainly did not see any example of the effects of drugs.

      But, as I asked before, can you give an example of how you saw the effects of opiates.

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    14. 8x
      I have never looked up any of your links and have no intention of ever doing so.
      x8

      As you shouldn't dear boy. These little snippets are in no way intended for your edification.


      8x
      She appears to have got you and your "progressive" teachers in one.

      How amazingly prescient!
      x8

      rofl -

      He shoots - its in the air - its in the air - its... Oh no! - Its bounced of the wall and spilled a lesbians coffee!

      Better run Mallywally, she doesnt look happy.

      - rofl

      Ok

      Your score with this comment is 1/10 (I'm a generous soul)
      I admire the way you try so much harder than the other boys and understand that its only a complete lack of aptitude that prevents you getting anything near the same results as them. ;)

      Because of this this, (Did I mention I'm a generous soul?) for a suitable fee I may possibly be persuaded to let you sit another test...


      (PS:You are wearing some pants now. Right?) ;)

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    15. MalcolmS3:12 AM

      Robin: ".. do you have a cite?"

      Sure, I'm it! I'm the 18 year old we are talking about. The eye witness. You'll just have to take my word for it.

      If you reject the word of an eyewitness then I can't help I'm afraid.

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    16. You said that there would scarcely be an 18 year old who has not seen someone adversely affected by drugs.

      And your evidence is juat one person - yourself!

      You might want to think about that.

      Delete
    17. MalcolmS7:40 AM

      "your evidence is juat one person - yourself! You might want to think about that"

      Of course, I can only speak for myself. But I was not alone on that campus I assure you. Many peers participated although I was more concerned with graduation and restricted my celebrations to alcohol and tobacco. It was when the baby-boomers first arrived at university. Revolt against authority and conservative parents, discovery of "the Pill," "free-love", flower-power, Hippies and Beatniks, rock-n-roll all in a psychedelic haze. It was also the days of the militant left, Vietnam and the conscription of 18 year olds. Please stop repeating that 18 year olds knew nothing of drugs - you don't know how ridiculous you sound.

      You might want to think about that.

      Delete
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  10. Dick, I think I could write a novella in response to this blog. You've touched on subjects I have strong feelings about.

    Firstly the opera. I thought you gave a great performance. The contemporary setting was perfect for the story that slowly unfolded from the moment one entered the venue. I wept during parts of the performance, and laughed during others. After reading this blog I find myself seeing the performance in a slightly different light. Yes it was theatre and entertainment but, as you write, at the heart of the story is tragedy. Violetta dies at the end of the opera, she also suffers greatly because of her profession. She is judged because of what she does rather than being seen for who she is.

    Sometimes orgasm is referred to as the 'little death'. I wonder if some sex workers experience a 'little death' of self when they sell their bodies to make a living. I suspect the majority who enter the profession do so out of necessity rather than choice. And yes I know we all make choices, but in the real world some 'choices' are more difficult than others.

    I see nothing wrong with prostitution. Sex workers provide a much needed service, however I wonder how many experience job satisfaction. Am I being judgemental by harbouring these thoughts? I suspect that some who use sex workers are gentle, kind folk, I also suspect that other clients are less than kind and gentle.

    I've two friends who have worked in the industry. For them it was during a low point of their life. I've seen young women standing on street corners in the middle of winter and felt sad for them. Some have no protection, and never know what kind of person their next client will be.

    Although I've only had sex with one man in my life, I've experienced different kinds of sex - submissive sex, deeply loving sex, fun sex, experimental sex, sad sex, and survival sex. In my early married life, as a result of my upbringing, I didn't enjoy sex. I couldn't understand how something that had been wrong for so long was overnight alright. I submitted, rather than participated. Not because my husband demanded it, rather because I was brought up to believe it was my duty. My husband, being a deeply sensitive man, realised there was a problem. We worked lovingly together and eventually enjoyed a wonderful sex life.

    Why am I sharing this? I'm doing this because I equate my early married life, the nights of submissive sex, with what a sex worker may sometimes feel. I forced myself to have sex when I didn't want to, and even though I loved the man dearly, it was not a pleasant experience. Also life isn't all scientific theorising, it's an individual lived reality.

    To answer your questions, Dick, I'm all for the humanity of the harm minimisation model.
    No, prostitution should not be banned.
    It's not up to me to judge the moral position of those who use prostitutes.
    And no it's not something I've indulged in. But if Jon Bon Jovi should decide to give it a whirl I may be tempted to,join the queue.
    I struggle to understand why prohibition is such a popular regulatory regime when it's been obvious for decades that it doesn't work.
    The drug subject I'll address in a separate comment.

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    1. Ahh Tricia you're an inspiration, and you've got the job of GG's resident art and theater critic ;)
      On the prostitute matter. I drove and protected girls when visiting clients for a friend when he was sick, I got to know them and even some of their customers. I found that though the work has an element of sleaze the girls were warm and human and most clients awkward and embarrassed. Some of the women loved the work and some felt it a chore, so I guess it reflects the general human condition, it's just a job. As for me I have occasionally used prostitutes, but I'm not a fan, I'd prefer what's called the girlfriend experience. Yeah I'm a bit of a sensitive sook.
      Drugs. I started using heroin at 18 and continued on and off for ten years. It might surprise most people to know that getting an (heroin) addiction is quite hard, it mainly comes down to how far from the import source you are(how much it is "cut") and what access to cash you have. Alcohol is harder to give up, implementing harm minimization for drunks would improve society more, but I digress.

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    2. And yet I have known a number of people who became dependent quite easily and never really kicked it.

      But, yes it is probably easier to get an alchohol addiction for a number of reasons

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    3. In fact I would say that most alcohol users have an addiction to some degree.

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    4. Hello Og,
      Thanks for sharing a little of your story.
      Like, Robin, 'I have known a number of people who became dependant quite easily and never really kicked it'.
      Sadly my son was addicted to heroin from his very first hit. Ken was given his first hit of heroin while in a government CAT team run facility, where he'd been placed as part of his treatment plan after weeks of hospitalisation for a psychotic break. We were not told that some of the residents were placed there instead of prison, while waiting for their cases to come to court.
      Yes Ken made a choice, but he was in a weak and vulnerable state when he made that choice. He was also supposed to be in a safe place, under the daily supervision of a medical team. His dad and I visited each day, and yet we had no idea of what was really going on.
      He'd struggled with depression and bipolar disorder since he was a child. He first contemplated ending his life at 11 years of age. He succeeded on his forth attempt. He was 26 when he died. It will be 14 years this August.
      He told his father and I, that first hit sent a peace through his veins, a peace he'd never known before. He spent the rest of his life alternately 'chasing the dragon' and fighting his addiction.
      I won't labour the point as I've written excerpts of Ken's story in previous blogs. There are some who can use heroin on and off, then there are others who are addicts from that first hit.
      For some years I worked as a volunteer on a family drug help line. I know a lot about addiction. I've been educated by people who are experts, and I've spent time listening to addicts and their families. I couldn't save my son's life, but I could try to make a difference in the lives of other addicts and their families, even if it was just a non judgemental ear and voice on the end of a phone.
      Yes these days alcohol is a bigger problem than heroin, but heroin is still a terrible problem. Also alcohol is not illegal. Young people are not classed as criminals if they are alcoholics.
      To answer Dick's question - I will never understand why the prohibition of drugs still remains in the face of decades of failure. I believe in a harm minimisation approach, and for me the first step that needs to be taken is decriminalisation.

      Delete
    5. Tricia, when you talk of Ken's problems I am reminded of a small number of individuals that reacted to certain substances very much how you described. That lust for drug pre-habit is an indicator of deeper problems. I believe, with hindsight, people with bi-polar or severe social stress (rape, incest, abandonment etc.) make up most of these numbers, for them it's an "out" not a naughty adventure. My heart bleeds for you Tricia, I can only imagine the horror you and your husband have gone through in losing a child. If my flippancy on this matter has upset you please accept my apologies.
      "I will never understand why the prohibition of drugs still remains"
      There are those that believe they are born to rule, judge and condemn others they feel superior to, an ugly human trait. A vestige of the powers certain people(kings, lords and priests) had pre-enlightenment.
      Decriminilsation? Baby steps. Marijuana has never killed anyone yet the laws continue to destroy lives, the incarceration of your Ken is an example, condemned by associations and opportunities. The law is an ass.

      Delete
    6. Hiya Og,
      Just a couple of points. Please don't ever apologise for stating your point of view. I don't take comments personally. Part of our coping mechanism as a family was to develop a very back sense of humour. I share, not for sympathy, but to try to show the 'human face' of addiction.
      Also Ken was never 'incarcerated'. He was in a hospital based facility that was supposed to be a safe place. His hospital bed was needed for a more critical case and he was deemed not yet ready for discharge. This facility was close to the hospital and was visited daily by a psychiatrist and psychiatric nurses. Ken did tell us he was afraid there, but sadly, because of his previous paranoia, we didn't realise how valid his fears were. We made the mistake of believing the administrators instead of taking seriously our son's genuine fears. This is one of many mistakes I've had to learn to live with.
      He did come before the courts at a latter stage after being charged with possession of a small amount of heroin. He had a conviction registered, was asked to donate $500 to charity but was not punished further. The magistrate was a kind and caring man who spoke to the three of us and wished us well. He recognised addiction as an illness.
      I do agree that in many instances 'the law is an ass'.

      Delete
    7. Dear Tricia and Oh Great and Powerful Og,

      Thanks so much for that conversation. It was very powerful. Thank be to God that the censorship of the blog has gone. I will copy these thoughts and send to an academic doctor who specialises in these matters. It was a fantastic conversation. Thanks again.
      Dick

      Delete
  11. Dick wrote: "What is the moral position of those who use prostitutes?"

    As per my earlier comments, it is the same as the moral position of those who shop at a green grocers.

    "Do you use prostitutes?"

    Only ever once and that was not a success. We ended up spending the rest of the time sitting on the edge of the bed, watching a movie on telly and chatting.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What is odd to me is that no one has addressed this point that I made earlier.

    If you would not consider the legality of being a green grocer as "harm minimisation" then why do you consider the legality of being a sex worker as "harm minimisation"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Robin
      "If you would not consider the legality of being a green grocer as "harm minimisation"
      If zucchinis were illegal we would, to get rid of the criminal element.

      Delete
    2. So that is why it is legal to be a green grocer?

      Delete
    3. @Robin
      "So that is why it is legal to be a green grocer?"
      Are you a spokesman for LRL(Land Rights for Luffas)?
      If so, just tell me the date the carrots are marching on parliament house and I'm there.


      Delete
    4. Because no-one has a moral problem with being a green grocer.

      Some (many) people do have a moral problem with prostitution. Part of that argument is that it is immoral in and of itself and so should be illegal. Another is that it inherently causes harm to the person involved. No-one says that about green-grocing.

      The harm minimization argument says banning prostitution doesn’t make life better for prostitutes and, in fact it tends to make life worse for them. Moreover, it does not reduce by much the number of prostitutes. Therefore, even if you have a moral problem with prostitution, allowing it to be regulated reduces much of the worst effects of it (many of those bad effects only arising through it being illegal).

      Delete
    5. RalphH9:34 AM

      “The harm minimization argument says banning prostitution doesn’t make life better for prostitutes and, in fact it tends to make life worse for them. Moreover, it does not reduce by much the number of prostitutes. Therefore, even if you have a moral problem with prostitution, allowing it to be regulated reduces much of the worst effects of it (many of those bad effects only arising through it being illegal).”

      boof6:03 AM, although I don't believe that prostitution should be banned or made illegal, there is nothing intrinsically good about it. It should be taught and treated as morally wrong because it is morally wrong which means that it corrupts the morals or inner life. Not all things morally wrong are made illegal because one cannot control the inner life (thoughts and intentions) of people.

      Many things are illegal for expediency and for the sake of order rather than being immoral. Illegality when tied to a moral issue is more concerned with preventing external harm e.g. the physical and psychological trauma of rape and child sexual abuse.

      Some people, unfortunately, think/believe that legality is the arbiter of right – that if it's not illegal then it's quite OK and problem free. Not banning prostitution does minimise the undercover/black-market activity associated with prohibition but a considerable amount of harm is still done spiritually to both prostitute and perpetrator. Moral instruction/education (if listened and adhered to) will prevent that harm altogether.

      There is a documentary on iView called 'Prostitutes of God' ( http://www.abc.net.au/iview/#/docs ) - about prostitution in India, that some may find interesting and informative.

      Delete
    6. 8x
      Some people, unfortunately, think/believe that legality is the arbiter of right – that if it's not illegal then it's quite OK and problem free
      x8

      Like religion? ;)

      Delete
    7. RalphH7:22 PM

      zedinhisbigflyinghead2:49 PM, I certainly didn't have religion in mind when I wrote that. Religion is a discipline like science or language or the arts or commerce etc. Like these other disciplines, religion is intrinsically good. It involves the revelation and study of the spiritual (element/dimension).

      Religion is however subject to misunderstanding, misinterpretation, misrepresentation and abuse. By abuse I mean being twisted and misused for personal, selfish, evil reasons.

      I was thinking of things that are of themselves abuses - like prostitution, homosexuality, alcoholism, intellectual property piracy etc. - results of self-centred human nature that have become culturally accepted because they are difficult to police and appear to have minimal harmful effects especially to those who look only to immediate/sensual rather than lasting/spiritual sensual gratification.

      Delete


    8. 8x
      things that are of themselves abuses - like prostitution, homosexuality, alcoholism, intellectual property piracy
      x8

      Odd list:
      =========
      intellectual property piracy

      From http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1165771.stm

      Brazil, which manufactures and distributes drugs free of charge to HIV-infected people, a policy that has led to a 50% drop in the Aids death rate in the country.

      Thats evil yeah? Poor widdle dwug companies

      ========
      prostitution

      8x
      those who look only to immediate/sensual rather than lasting/spiritual sensual gratification.
      x8

      I'm with you. Them sex goddess biaches charge far too much...

      Delete
  13. Whup
    Another comment went missing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 8x
      There would scarcely be an 18 year old who does not know someone whose life has been adversely affected by drug use
      x8

      Obviously, considering how many drugs are being flogged by "counselors" in schools these days
      http://www.drugs.com/ritalin.html
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/5400338/Ritalin-ordeal-sparks-warning

      Why are so many drugs being given to children? I must say I did find parts 1 and 2 of this documentary interesting.

      http://archive.org/details/AdamCurtis_TheTrap


      After seeing that, good ol' fashioned smack dont seem so bad. After all W.S Burroughs used it for 60 years, wrote funny books, and didnt shoot many of his wives.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_S._Burroughs

      So I'm with Mallywally, remove all frickin legislation and let the frickin market decide just like it did in the golden age of capitalism.


      http://bitly.com/15ASJfo

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Opium_War

      After all thats what the market is there for - To make rational decisions - Right?

      Delete
    2. Hiya Zedly, you make a good point about the Ritalin, in fact I'm reminded that this is not just about the young. My mother, when she was alive, tried to intervene in her bairns destructive behaviors only to be shamed when her opened purse revealed Valium, Bex, Codeine, sleeping pills, amphetamines and other prescribed chemicals that stupefied, along with tobacco and alcohol, my mother would still insist she was not a drug taker. I believe we have evolved into Homo Helucigensis. The "speed for kids" program, and I include inhalers in this, worries me as the street version they will encounter in their formative years will destroy those poor individuals with imbalanced brain functions. Nasty drug speed, very nasty and the most psychosis inducing substance in common use.

      Delete
    3. If anybody knows a school counsellor prescribing Ritalin then report them to the police without delay.

      Ritalin cannot be prescribed by school counsellors.

      Delete
  14. I wrote the following poem almost 13 years ago. The link at the end takes you to an article on the subject of safe injecting rooms written last year. While we write young people continue to suffer and die. There are plenty who are willing to complain about the issue of drug addiction, few are prepared to do anything constructive about it. Since I wrote this piece a safe injecting room opened in Sydney. There are those who support it, and those who want it closed down.
    To my knowledge there is not yet a safe injecting room in Melbourne because our previous Premier was "afraid it would send the wrong message". I wonder if he would feel the same if he walked for a day in my shoes.

    WALKING WITH AN ADDICT

    I don’t know if injecting rooms will work
    But then again neither do you
    I only know young people are dying
    There must be something we can do
    These injecting rooms could be the beginning
    Of altering the public’s perception
    The first step in shifting the focus
    From the drug to the pain-filled affliction
    The clinical styled surroundings
    Staffed by people from physical and mental health spheres
    Make a statement about drug addiction
    One I long for more people to hear
    Drug addiction is a health issue
    Addicts need both medical and psychological care
    Even with this help the battle is arduous
    It’s almost impossible within the prison system’s snare
    I’ve lived with an addict, witnessed his struggle
    Walked beside him as he searched for a cure
    At times I had to walk away for a while
    Witnessing his constant suffering more than I could endure
    A mother needs a lot of internal fortitude
    To cope with the addiction of her only child
    The battle gets even harder when you hear
    Your loved one and his struggle defiled
    Luckily my husband could take over
    Thankfully he was part of our caring team
    Sometimes I’d find a deserted beach
    Where I could just stand and loudly scream
    Even today I find the occasional scream helpful
    As I struggle to cope with the death of my son
    A safe injecting room wouldn’t have saved his life
    But my child was only one
    One of many who suffer this affliction
    An affliction these injecting rooms will possibly not cure
    But they may be a step in the right direction
    How many more lives lost if we wait ‘till we’re sure

    Tricia 12/2000

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-02/doctors-call-for-safe-injecting-room-trial/4290672


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous8:12 PM

      DICK HERE! Confronting poem sent off for others to read. Thanks T. Dick

      Delete
  15. MalcolmS12:03 AM

    For those who are uncertain about the morality of prostitution here is an excellent read set in revolutionary Russia in which, in one of the sub-plots, the bourgeois heroine [Kira] prostitutes herself to a Soviet revolutionary [Andrei] in order to get enough money to pay the medical bills of her lover [Leo] who has tuberculosis.

    No more plot spoilers.

    http://www.coolage.in/2013/05/08/the-book-review-we-the-living/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @MalcolmS
      "For those who are uncertain about the morality of prostitution"
      Has anyone here dithered in their viewpoint?
      Tell me Mal why do you hold so hard to Rand's philosophy?
      Genuine question, keep it short for us simple folks.

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS2:39 AM

      Sure og, I'll keep it simple for you.

      It's because it's true.

      Delete
    3. Its just occurred to me that since Ayn Rand was addicted to meth, and delineated the principles of nobjectivism while under its influence, that strict adherence to its principles would entail the subconscious adoption of the impulsive, irritable paranoid thinking style characteristic of a speed freak.

      Addiction by proxy? hmm

      Delete
    4. MalcolmS3:20 AM

      That's an arbitrary assertion. There was no addiction to meth. It was prescribed for a temporary medical problem.

      Delete
    5. @Malcolm
      "It's because it's true."

      Thank you for the insult
      Now explain yourself.
      Bullet points will do.
      Are you capable of such?

      Delete
    6. @MalcolmS
      "There was no addiction to meth. It was prescribed for a temporary medical problem."

      No way, these are the eyes of long term addiction. I've seen them many times in my life. You are an innocent and easily led.

      Delete
    7. Are you really saying that you can look at the eyes of someone in a photograph and tell that they have a long term addiction?

      Delete
    8. @Robin
      "that you can look at the eyes of someone in a photograph and tell that they have a long term addiction"
      The secret here is "a" photograph, show me a shot of Rand that is sane, go on I challenge you. something is not right here and you know it.

      Delete
    9. MalcolmS6:49 AM

      "these are the eyes of long term addiction. I've seen them many times in my life. You are an innocent and easily led"

      And you are still hallucinating.

      Delete
    10. "And you are still hallucinating."
      Hehe, I know more than you about hallucinating and when I'm not little Mal. My radar is up sunshine, this woman is not playing with a full deck and I bet you suspect as such. Anyone who wants to hang their reputation on this ditz is in for a hard time from me. Say hello to my little friend. Boom!!

      Delete
    11. MalcolmS8:36 AM

      OK ogham, since you asked, here is an Introduction to Objectivism

      http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_peikoff_intro

      for when you have a spare 75 minutes.

      Delete
    12. 8x
      That's an arbitrary assertion. There was no addiction to meth. It was prescribed for a temporary medical problem
      x8

      I suppose 30 years could potentially be shoehorned into the "temporary" category.

      Especially by a chronic bullshit artist.
      Hmm. I wonder where we could find one of them? ; )

      Delete
    13. 8x
      http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_peikoff_intro
      x8

      Oh Mallywally, surely you can sum up your foolosophy in your own words?

      After all - as you so rightly emphasize - Clicking someone elses links is so vewy vewy hardies...

      Delete
  16. Zed. I know nothing about Ayn Rand, however, in my opinion terms such as 'speed fread' achieve nothing in the context of this debate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Should read 'speed freak'

      Delete
    2. It's not just the eyes Tricia, but the manner, the reactions, the body language, the paranoia, the abuse of lovers, the self isolation, the blame of society for everything. Pure speed problems.

      Delete
    3. Og, my issue is with the derogatory term created by combining the words 'speed' and 'freak'. While we use terms like speed freak and the popular term junkie, we subconsciously or deliberately dehumanise addicts. As I wrote previously, I know nothing of the person referred to. Their possible drug problem is not my issue, it's the dehumanising terminology. Sorry but I've a real stick up my butt where this issue is concerned.

      Delete
    4. Trish

      I hear what you are saying

      Ironically the first result returned during a google search for speed freak returns this:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_Freak_Killers

      I say ironically because Ms Rand was an admirer of notorious serial killer William Hickman. (If you have the stomach for it there are plenty of references to Hickman and Rand in the following google search)

      http://bitly.com/144guYF


      But I digress

      It's not my intention to offend (unless I am intending to offend, if you catch my drift). On the other hand I'm of the belief that linguistic policing has major shortcomings not only wrt achieving its "theoretical intentions" but also in the way it creates massive conceptual logjams in the process of discourse. Both the political left and right use "faux-sensitivity" as a stick to bash anyone who challenges their carefully crafted propaganda (Whoopsy the correct term is PR - Sorry, my bad) ;)

      In short, whenever succinctness is at odds with sensitivity, I'll pick succinctness every time and if someone is offended by my choice of words, well: "You cant have everything" (After all, where would you put it? ... Everywhere?) ;)

      So sorry 'bout that, but if someones tweaking its because they are a speed freak
      http://www.kci.org/meth_info/slang_names.htm

      Delete
    5. MalcolmS9:06 PM

      zedinhisbigloonyhead: "Ms Rand was an admirer of notorious serial killer William Hickman"

      She did not admire him because he was a serial killer as you dishonestly imply. The actual reason can be found in her original article in "The Ayn Rand Letter." Of course that means you will have to acquire a respect for original sources, buy a book and learn to read above kindergarden level.

      That'll stymy you bonehead.

      Delete
    6. MalcolmS10:09 PM

      ogham: "It's not just the eyes Tricia, but the manner, the reactions, the body language, the paranoia, the abuse of lovers, the self isolation, the blame of society for everything"

      You're still hallucinating.

      Delete
    7. 8X
      "Ms Rand was an admirer of notorious serial killer William Hickman"

      She did not admire him because he was a serial killer as you dishonestly imply.
      X8

      Well, theres no "X because y" implication there, so likely you have a comprehension problem and/or paranoid and/or deliberately trying to paint me as a anti-rand propagandist.
      (My personal thought: Theres a LOT from columns A B AND C)

      Fortunately however I couldnt give a rats arse what species of snake is living in your hat, because you just handed me this delightful repast on a frickin silver platter!

      Oh lord above. Could it be?
      You REALLY DO exist!?!

      8x
      Of course that means you will have to acquire a respect for original sources, buy a book and learn to read above kindergarden level.
      That'll **stymy** you bonehead.
      x8

      Course one: Hors d'oeuvres

      (I remember: You no linky clicky)

      http://dictionary.cambridge.org/spellcheck/american-english/?q=stymy

      Results for stymy

      stymy was not found
      Did you spell it correctly? Here are some alternatives:
      stymie
      sty
      styes
      stump
      stagy
      stye
      seamy
      stems
      style
      study


      Course two: Main

      Oh Mallywally. I am not stymied by the irony at all. My beautiful bony head is full of the very juiciest thinky marrow.
      So if you can manage to spell it at a kindygaga level - I'll certainly read it at a kindygaga level (just like all your other gooble-gobble). ;)


      Course three: Sweet

      Poor lad. You also spelled childgarden wrong
      Well? Have I got you stumphed yet?

      Ahhh -Well, now for the brandy
      roflmao

      Delete
    8. Zed you didn't offend me. If there was a prize for political incorrectness I'd probably be a finalist. I admit I have a stick up my butt where this one issue is concerned. I wonder why. :)

      Delete
  17. Happy Jesus-goes-to-heaven day, everyone.

    Amazingly in a largely godless country I get a day off to celebrate.

    By the by, if heaven isn't a place in the sky (as modern 'sophisticated theologians' say) why did jesus ascend when he went there?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You took the day off?

      You do know it isn't a public holiday don't you?

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS11:50 PM

      Boof lives in Sweden.

      Delete
    3. Really, I didn't know. Probably said, but I wasn't paying attention.

      Those Swedes - any excuse to take a day off :)

      Delete
    4. I think that Boof is alluding to the Orthodox Easter???

      Delete
    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    6. No, Ascension Day

      Delete
    7. RalphH5:09 AM

      "... if heaven isn't a place in the sky .... why did jesus ascend when he went there?"

      boof10:55 PM why did Jesus also say "…. the kingdom of God (heaven) is within you." (Luke 17:21)?

      One doesn't have to be particularly sophisticated to realise that heaven does not refer to anything of time and space. It refers to the inner world of the mind which can be described only in terms of state (e.g. happy/sad) rather than spatial dimensions like up/down and inner/outer. The spatial language is allegorical – a tool to help explain a world that we cannot directly experience when living in a physical body in a physical world.

      Stories involving elevation (going up a mountain or ascension) refer to an elevation of mind from the mundane/natural/physical to the sublime – involving the full picture in all it's complexity and wonder. Similarly when we expand our thoughts and feelings and focus on inner causes rather than merely scratch the surface of external/natural causation.

      Jesus may well have appeared to ascend spatially when he ceased to be visible to the physical sight but he would still be visible to the inner spiritual sight – the understanding of the mind.

      Delete
    8. MalcolmS7:15 AM

      RalphH: "One doesn't have to be particularly sophisticated to realise that heaven does not refer to anything of time and space. It refers to the inner world of the mind"

      Er... "inner"?

      Sounds spatial to me!

      That's yet another fail Ralph.

      Delete
    9. RalphH9:15 AM

      Or maybe you need a degree in literature to go with your science degree Malcolm - in other words a broadening of experience would be useful.

      Is the heart you love with the biological, mechanical pump that beats in your chest or is it something within/inner that cannot be defined spatially?

      Thoughts exist in your head but as a general awareness. Thoughts cannot be defined spatially with length, breadth and depth. If we use these terms WRT thought, they are being used figuratively or allegorically.

      I suggest you think again - without the blinkers on.

      Delete
    10. Ralph: Is the heart you love with the biological, mechanical pump that beats in your chest or is it something within/inner that cannot be defined spatially?

      Neither. The things you love with are chemicals: testosterone and oestrogen to fire up your lust; adrenalin, dopamine and serotonin to get you attracted; and oxytocin and vasopressin to get you attached.

      Delete
    11. Sure. How does that work How do those chemicals transform into a feeling of love that I have?

      Delete
    12. Then again you never did get back to me about how electro-chemical activity turns into a feeling of nausea. Or any feeling.

      Delete
    13. RalphH6:23 PM

      Terry4:58 PM, two things – firstly, I wasn't using love in the narrow romantic/sexual way you interpreted it. One can put one's heart and soul into any endeavour and love things as diverse as a beautiful day or a scientific principle, a job or a certain food etc. Behind loving is willing – it's the willing, wanting feeling 'side' of the mind (as opposed to the thinking, reasoning side).

      Secondly, the chemicals you mention may very well be involved when one is 'loving' (some and various things) but that is only to be expected as love acts on and through the physical body. Chemicals of themselves are just 'dead' things, incapable of any motion or action unless brought together or animated by some external force or act of will. Do these chemicals still exist in a recently 'dead' physical body? Why do they cease to operate as you suggest?

      Delete
    14. Robin:

      I don't have the difficulty you seem to have with the concept of feeling. There's not enough space here for me to explain why. I suggest you read what Antonio Damasio has to say about the nature of feelings and their relation to emotions.

      Delete
    15. MalcolmS7:52 PM

      Terry, your feelings *are* your emotions.

      Delete
    16. Terry, I don't know why you think I have 'difficulty' with the concept of feeling.

      That seems like a compete non-answer.

      You are basically making the claim that love is chemicals as you have previously made the claim that nausea is electro-chemical activity.

      You have stated this metaphysical claim as though it was settled fact and one that you seem to be certain about.

      Delete
    17. Terry wrote: " I suggest you read what Antonio Damasio has to say about the nature of feelings and their relation to emotions."

      One of your usual vague references. Does he actually answer the question? Or are you just avoiding the subject?

      Delete
    18. Mal: Your feelings are your emotions.

      That depends on how you define the words. To a neuroscientist there’s a clear distinction:

      Emotions are the cascade of bodily changes that occur in response to a stimulus. When you see something that turns your stomach, for example, your immune system releases a hormone which acts on neurons in your brain stem which in turn cause your stomach to relax in a condition of stasis. All of these changes happen automatically without you knowing it. And they happen in me the same way, more or less, that they happen in you and other animals.

      Feelings, on the other hand, are the processes by which we perceive the bodily changes taking place when we are in the throes of an emotion. And they are achieved by a collection of structures in our brain stems and insular cortices.

      Delete
    19. I hope Damasio's thesis is not as dumb as the getAbstract summary makes it sound. For example "many – if not most – rational decisions are actually based on emotion; "

      Do you think?

      Antonio Damasio - special subject - the bleeding obvious.

      Delete
    20. No, "Descartes Alleged Error" does not seem to the point. Can you be more specific as to where Damasio addresses the subject?

      Delete
    21. Robin:

      Damasio's comment about rational decisions being based on emotions is entirely consistent with the views of the rest of his colleagues in the neuroscientific community. The same veiews are being expressed in psychology, evolutionary biology and experiemental philosophy. Your derision is a reflection of your ignorance of our current state of knowledge.

      Delete
    22. If you read a little more carefully you will find that I didn't say the comment was inconsistent with anything.

      I said that it was bleeding obvious.

      Delete
  18. Terry's metaphysical assertions about chemicals and mind raise an interesting point.

    Ogham's Razor says "Unsurprisingly we find our natural instincts a good foundation for a functioning and decent society. "

    Why is that unsurprising?

    If our natural instincts are just our brain manufacturing chemicals making us do stuff then why do they make a good foundation for anything?

    If these chemical events are the result of some random mutations of a long chain molecule which fortuitously increased the probability that a distant ancestor of ours would survive just long enough to reproduce in an ancient and vanished environment, then why are they a good foundation for anything?

    And the very concept of a decent society must have arisen by the same method.

    So how are these good foundations?

    If something was useful for passing on certain configurations of long chain molecules hundreds of thousands of years ago, or possibly millions of years ago, how does that make it a good basis for determining how we should organise our society today?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MalcolmS7:43 PM

      "If our natural instincts are just our brain manufacturing chemicals making us do stuff then why do they make a good foundation for anything?"

      Exactly, they don't. You will not get a sensible reply to that question from the materialists.

      Especially as man has no "instincts" - or *innate ideas* for that matter.

      Delete
    2. Ogham's Razor is only partially correct. I prefer this from Joshua Greene:

      I believe that [the problems in our societies] are a product of well-intentioned people abiding by their respective common senses and that the only long-run solution to these problems is for people to develop a healthy distrust of moral common sense. This is largely because our social instincts were not designed for the modern world. Nor, for that matter, were they designed to promote peace and happiness in the world for which they were designed, the world of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

      Delete
    3. Mal: Especially as man has no "instincts" - or *innate ideas* for that matter.

      Ignoramus.

      Delete
    4. Terry wrote: "Ogham's Razor is only partially correct. I prefer this from Joshua Greene:"

      Your Greene quote appears to be just exactly the opposite of what OR said, so I am not sure why you are saying "partially correct".

      Delete
    5. Robin: Your Greene quote appears to be just exactly the opposite of what OR said, so I am not sure why you are saying "partially correct".

      If I don’t reply to all your ripostes it’s because clarifying things to you takes up more time than I have.

      You will notice that Greene refers specifically to ‘moral’ common sense. That is his field of interest. But there are other types of common sense which can be quite helpful. And that’s why OR is partially correct.

      Delete
    6. Terry - if you don't have time to clarify your comments then why do you have time to further obfuscate them?

      You don't seem to have said anything to the point.

      Your quote from Greene reiterates the point I made.

      And yet you seem to think that it partially supports what OR said.

      If Greene goes on to state some way in which these instincts can be a good foundation for a decent society then you don't quote that part.

      So if there is something Greene says that partially supports the idea that natural instincts gained by natural selection can be a good foundation for a decent society then why don't you quote or explain that part?

      Delete
    7. Moreover the quote from Greene misses the rest of the point. It is not just that these instincts gained by a distant ancestor living a different kind of lifestyle in a vanished environment.

      It is also that they were not selected for because they led to a decent society. They were selected for because they increased the probability that this distant ancestor would survive long enough to reproduce.

      So what is the other kind of commonsense that would make such an instinct a good foundation for a decent society?

      Delete
  19. MalcolmS7:19 PM

    Sure Terry, testosterone and oestrogen *are* chemicals but they are not the "lust." Dopamine and serotonin *are* chemicals but they are not the "attraction." Oxytocin and vasopressin *are* chemicals but they are not the "attachment."

    What you, as a consistent materialist, don't get is that consciousness is the capacity/faculty of perceiving that which exists. Consciousness depends on the existence of brain/matter/chemicals but *is not reducible to it.* Consciousness is some sort of emergent property of a certain type of advanced brain structure and we don't yet know how that works. But it is self-evident that consciousness and matter[brain] are different.

    What Ralph, as a consistent spiritualist, doesn't get is that consciousness is just as thisworldly as brain/matter/chemicals. Consciousness is not supernatural but it is sui generis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am with you until the last sentence. sui generis does not necessarily imply natural.

      It all depends upon what "natural" means.

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS8:24 PM

      "sui generis does not necessarily imply natural"

      I did not claim it did.

      But consciousness is both natural and sui generis.

      Delete
    3. 8x
      What you, as a consistent materialist, don't get is that consciousness is the capacity/faculty of perceiving that which exists.
      x8

      False'
      One can also perceive "that which doesnt exist". Or so Billy the Magic Cat tells me.. And I never argue with Billy

      8x
      Consciousness is some sort of emergent property of a certain type of advanced brain structure and we don't yet know how that works.
      x8

      We? How do you know someone else hasnt cracked it? How could you tell?

      8x
      What Ralph, as a consistent spiritualist, doesn't get is that consciousness is just as thisworldly as brain/matter/chemicals. Consciousness is not supernatural but it is sui generis.
      x8

      What do you mean by thisworldly? And how do you know that what you and Ralfie are "misguidedly" calling "the supernatural" isnt really a "thisworldly" phenomena anyway?

      And how do you know that Ralfies consciousness isnt both "supernatural" and "this worldly"? After all, you have just said that you dont know how consciousness works!

      Re Sui generis: How Does -for instance- "the market" "assign value" if it doesent also "perceive what exists"?

      tsk. So many holes.. so little time...

      Delete
    4. Fair enough. I agree that it is sui generis. I don't know if it is natural or not.

      Delete
    5. MalcolmS12:47 AM

      Of course consciousness is natural. The natural world is full of conscious beings. Their consciousness is no less natural than their stomachs or legs! Do you have any evidence that consciousness is other than natural?

      Delete
    6. 8x
      What you, as a ***consistent materialist***, don't get is that consciousness is the capacity/faculty of perceiving that which exists.
      x8

      8x
      The natural world is full of conscious beings. Their consciousness is no less natural than their stomachs or legs!
      x8

      I wonder if perhaps the consistency of your "blogic" would be more evident if your examples were less "material" and more "non-material" than legs and stomachs are.

      Because so far Ralfies well in the lead in the sensible stakes

      Or did you mean Billy the Magic Cat's legs and stomach? ;)

      Delete
    7. "What you, as a ***consistent materialist***, don't get is that consciousness is the capacity/faculty of perceiving that which exists.'

      Which makes animals and plants conscious.

      " Consciousness is some sort of emergent property of a certain type of advanced brain structure and we don't yet know how that works."

      According to you it's just the ability perceive that which exists and it doesn't take a complex brain to do that.

      Delete
    8. MalcolmS9:39 AM

      Stranger aka AndrewR: "According to you it's just the ability perceive that which exists and it doesn't take a complex brain to do that"

      Shall I presume that you are a shining example?

      Delete
  20. MalcolmS7:25 PM

    BTW Ralph, I have never claimed to have a "science degree" although, as it happens, one of my qualifications does have "science" as one of the words in the phrase. Please refrain from these continuous, non-cognitive "leaps of faith." You are just making stuff up and it does you no justice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RalphH9:33 AM

      MalcolmS7:25 PM, I didn't really think that you did have Malcolm. I was just borrowing from Terry's earlier discussion to make my point. IMO educational 'degrees' can be over-rated (as the wizard of Oz says in the movie of the same name).

      Like so many other things, they can be a blessing (of great value to the holder by making them a more useful and better citizen) or a curse (if used for self-aggrandisement and pomposity).

      What, pray tell, is your idea of a 'non-cognitive leap of faith'? - i.e. is there a 'cognitive leap of faith'? I happen to believe that faith is very much enhanced and strengthened by knowledge/cognition.

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS7:02 PM

      RalphH: "IMO educational 'degrees' can be over-rated"

      I agree, especially in our ideologically corrupt education system. However, in our highly regulated statist society, you still require such qualifications in order to be permitted to work.

      "I happen to believe that faith is very much enhanced and strengthened by knowledge/cognition"

      Faith can never be "enhanced." What you require is to replace your ill-gotten "belief" with some knowledge of epistemology and you will discover that *all* man's knowledge is derived from reason and that "faith" is worth squat.

      Delete
    3. 8x
      *all* man's knowledge is derived from reason and that "faith" is worth squat
      x8

      I dunno mallywally
      After all, where would you be without your faith in crackhead jesus lady?

      Delete
    4. RalphH11:27 PM

      MalcolmS7:02 PM “Faith can never be "enhanced." What you require is to replace your ill-gotten "belief" with some knowledge of epistemology and you will discover that *all* man's knowledge is derived from reason and that "faith" is worth squat.”

      IMO, you have the weirdest idea of faith Malcolm. Faith essentially means trust or confidence. You obviously have a great deal of faith/trust/confidence in your reason and your ability to reason.

      Faith is not a source of knowledge but without faith one would never search for knowledge or have any confidence in the validity of any knowledge discovered (or revealed).

      When one obtains knowledge believed to be true one has far more faith (an enhancement) than one had prior to obtaining that knowledge and belief.

      When forming a friendship, one has far more faith in the other person the more one discovers that they are reliable, truthful and trustworthy.

      Delete
    5. MalcolmS11:49 PM

      "When forming a friendship, one has far more faith in the other person the more one discovers that they are reliable, truthful and trustworthy"

      Not "faith" Ralph. What you have is knowledge based on reason.

      Delete
    6. RalphH6:57 AM

      So you don't trust anyone Malcolm because to trust someone means having faith in them?

      Having "knowledge based on reason" of someone's integrity is a great reason for having faith in them.

      Faith without such knowledge is not necessarily misguided - there may be other pointers - but it is a 'blind' faith.

      On the other hand it is also possible for the reasoning to go awry if it is tainted with preformed prejudice in which case a true knowledge (or truth) will not be acquired and any faith as a result will be baseless.

      Delete
    7. MalcolmS8:19 AM

      "So you don't trust anyone Malcolm because to trust someone means having faith in them?"

      No, I trust someone if I have no reason to think they are other than trustworthy. I don't trust someone if I have evidence of moral compromise. Trust has nothing to do with faith. Faith is irrelevant in my life.

      "Having "knowledge based on reason" of someone's integrity is a great reason for having faith in them"

      Having "knowledge based on reason" of someone's integrity means that you have no need of faith. You have already resolved the issue by reason.

      Delete
    8. RalphH9:34 AM

      MalcolmS8:19 AM - “No, I trust someone if I have no reason to think they are other than trustworthy. I don't trust someone if I have evidence of moral compromise. Trust has nothing to do with faith. Faith is irrelevant in my life.”

      faith [feyth] noun
      1. confidence or TRUST in a person or thing: faith in another's ability. (my emphasis)
      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith?s=t

      faith (n.)
      mid-13c., "duty of fulfilling one's TRUST," from Old French feid, foi "faith, belief, TRUST, confidence, pledge," from Latin fides "TRUST, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, belief," from root of fidere "to TRUST," from PIE root *bheidh- (cf. Greek pistis; see bid). (my emphasis)

      http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?l=f&p=1&allowed_in_frame=0

      You may feel a need to redefine the word to suit your prejudice Malcolm but in doing so you no longer have a reasoned explanation. Note that “confidence” also gets a number of mentions.

      “Having "knowledge based on reason" of someone's integrity means that you have no need of faith. You have already resolved the issue by reason.”

      What's the issue? That you can't have faith and reason together? I suggest that's your issue because you don't really understand faith and the place it plays in our lives.

      Delete
    9. MalcolmS8:22 PM

      Don't misrepresent me Ralph.

      I am perfectly aware that faith has numerous synonyms which is why I am particularly careful to use it in the sense I do in our discussions. The sense in which I consistently use it is as to its use as a means to knowledge. Faith is only "belief" or "feeling" and results in zero *knowledge.* Squat!

      Man is not the helpless plaything of an otherworldly spook Ralph. Man is an autonomous being of self made soul, a being of self gained knowledge and, by the grace of reality, a being of a specific nature. His nature is such that he has 2 eyes, 2 arms, 2 legs, a stomach and only one means to knowledge - reason. Faith in faith :) was an error inherited from primitives and witch doctors and is worthless as a means to knowledge as any good epistemology text will explain.

      You may well have faith that 2 + 3 = 5. THAT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE KNOWLEDGE. In order to have knowledge that 2 + 3 = 5 you must grasp it by a process of reason. You can teach a parrot to say E = mc^2 but that won't make it a physicist.

      Delete
    10. RalphH5:03 AM

      MalcolmS8:22 PM, I have no more interest in an “otherworldly spook” than you do. My interest is in God – the source of reality/existence as we know, understand and are conscious of it. Surely reason (which is a great tool to have) properly applied, enables us to see it's own limitations.

      I don't see faith as a “means to knowledge”. It is not a competitor to reason – it's an adjunct. Without faith (a sense of trust) there would be no belief – without belief there would be no purpose in reasoning. Reasoning either confirms or repudiates our belief. Only if it is repudiated do we lose our faith and need to amend our it.

      You said, “Faith is only "belief" or "feeling" and results in zero *knowledge.* Squat!”

      I think that only blind faith equates with feeling, belief implies a mix of thought and feeling. Genuine faith is faith tried and tested (therefore not blind).

      I also believe your reliance on reason is misplaced in it's absoluteness. Reason is subject to the will so only to the extent that the will (we're talking about human nature here) is good, is reason reliable.

      Delete
    11. MalcolmS7:17 AM

      " Reason is subject to the will so only to the extent that the will (we're talking about human nature here) is good, is reason reliable"

      Another false premise. [Free] will *is* the [faculty of] reason. They are the same thing. Or have you not noticed that thinking is a volitional[willing] process?

      Delete
    12. 8x
      You can teach a parrot to say E = mc^2 but that won't make it a physicist.
      x8

      If we teach an idiot to say "reason" instead of "faith" however that DOES make him a nobjectivist


      Delete
  21. Robin: You are basically making the claim that love is chemicals as you have previously made the claim that nausea is electro-chemical activity.

    If you were a more careful reader you would note that I said ‘the things you love with are chemicals’, which has a different meaning to ‘love is chemicals’. What you perceive as love has its origin in chemical processes. A high school science student could tell you that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A high school student could tell me that thunder was Grud snoring.

      The question is - would it be true?

      Delete
    2. But I am not really sure what you are saying. I am not sure that you are sure what you are saying.

      So love is not chemical processes. Love has it's origins in chemical processes - yes?

      That seems to suggest that the chemical processes produce something else - or is that not what you mean?

      Delete
    3. Essentially, you can describe any electro-chemical process you like and you will not have described love. You will not have described the feeling of nausea or any emotion or feeling.

      You will have described an electro-chemical process.

      Delete
    4. 8x
      Essentially, you can describe any electro-chemical process you like and you will not have described love. You will not have described the feeling of nausea or any emotion or feeling.

      You will have described an electro-chemical process.
      x8

      So when I describe the mechanics of internal combustion to you, I'm not actually describing driving to the shops?

      Well I never... ;)

      Delete
    5. Not quite sure where you are going with that.

      It seems that you are saying that if I describe the physical events happening within a few miles of my head then I will have described nausea. Or love.

      Or something like that.

      It is sometimes a little hard to work out what you guys are driving at.

      Delete
    6. But let's try and tease it out.

      I am glad to have a concession that a feeling like nausea is not brain activity.

      So Zed says that I cannot describe a trip to the shop by simply describing the engine activity during that trip. Quite true.

      I would also need to describe the activities happening in the car as a whole as well as how the car is interacting in its enironment.

      Having described a sufficient number of these I would have described a trip to the shop.

      But if I try the same trick with the case of a feeling of nausea then I could describe not only the brain activity but the activity of the body as a whole and its interaction with the environment and I would still not have described a feeling of nausea.

      Delete
    7. MalcolmS9:47 AM

      Terry: "Robin... If you were a more careful reader you would note that I said ‘the things you love with are chemicals’, which has a different meaning to ‘love is chemicals’. What you perceive as love has its origin in chemical processes. A high school science student could tell you that"

      No, the things you "love with" are not chemicals. The things you love with are *values.*

      Furthermore, you have not demonstrated that "love has its origin in chemical processes." Perhaps those chemical processes have their origin in love.

      Delete
    8. 8x
      I am glad to have a concession that a feeling like nausea is not brain activity.
      x8

      From me? I didnt concede that at all

      8x
      I would also need to describe the activities happening in the car as a whole as well as how the car is interacting in its enironment.

      Having described a sufficient number of these I would have described a trip to the shop.

      x8

      False

      You still havent described what you went to the shop for, what model of car you drive, why you chose to purchase that model of car, whether your wife agreed with that choice and how that affected your relationship,

      Neither have you described what you were going to use your purchase for, how much it was going to cost, how you earned the money to pay for it and whether you paid cash cheque or credit card. And did you flirt with the cashier? .. naughty! ;)

      Also you missed blah blah blah etc etc.

      You get the idea

      Delete
    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    10. Zed wrote: "From me? I didnt concede that at all"

      You didn't? It is a little hard to tell when you argue indirectly like this.

      Do you think that the feeling of nausea is brain activity?

      Or are you saying that we don't know yet

      Do you think that some description of brain activity can be a description of nausea?

      Zed wrote: "Also you missed blah blah blah etc etc.

      You get the idea"

      No, I still don't get what you are saying. It does not appear to be an analogous analogy to me.

      Are you saying that it is impossible to describe anything at all because any description will leave something out?

      Delete

    11. 8x
      You didn't? It is a little hard to tell when you argue indirectly like this.
      x8

      I'm not arguing, I'm discussing ;)

      If it helps any, while I agree with your basic assertion, that *an emotion (or feeling) cannot be simply reduced to brain activity*, both you and Terry are in the process of painting yourselves into your own reductionist corners (with a little help from mallywallys gooble-gobble of course - he's good like that)


      8x
      Are you saying that it is impossible to describe anything at all because any description will leave something out?
      x8

      Impossible?

      Keep trying ol' son

      Delete
    12. So, Zed, no chance that you will explain what it is tht you are saying?

      Delete
    13. MalcolmS7:32 PM

      zedinhisbigloonyhead: "I'm not arguing, I'm discussing ;)"

      Ranting I would have thought.

      Keep trying ol' son.

      Delete
    14. 8x
      So, Zed, no chance that you will explain what it is tht you are saying?
      x8

      Geez robster, at least make an effort...

      Delete
    15. RalphH11:05 PM

      MalcolmS9:47 AM “No, the things you "love with" are not chemicals. The things you love with are *values.*”

      Obviously one values the things one loves but it's the love that gives personal value to those things. The love is prior – it's the very heart/the motivator of the matter.

      “Furthermore, you have not demonstrated that "love has its origin in chemical processes." Perhaps those chemical processes have their origin in love.”

      Quite a valid suggestion Malcolm – now you're thinking like me.

      Delete
    16. Zed: "Geez robster, at least make an effort."

      I have made more effort, I suspect, than your words deserve.

      Am I supposed to guess what you mean?

      Is there any reason that you can't just say what you mean?

      Delete
    17. MalcolmS2:01 AM

      "Is there any reason that you can't just say what you mean?"

      Er... chronic looniness?

      Delete
  22. "So how are these good foundations?"

    Because they have evolved to work, mostly.

    ReplyDelete
  23. As I said, they evolved to work one or two hundred thousand years ago, or maybe millions of years ago in a set of conditions that no longer exist.

    And by "work" we mean that they increased the probability that our ancestors would survive just long enough to reproduce.

    That is a good foundation?

    ReplyDelete
  24. MalcolmS9:56 AM

    Terry: "Emotions are the cascade of bodily changes that occur in response to a stimulus. When you see something that turns your stomach, for example, your immune system releases a hormone which acts on neurons in your brain stem which in turn cause your stomach to relax in a condition of stasis. All of these changes happen automatically without you knowing it. And they happen in me the same way, more or less, that they happen in you and other animals"

    Incorrect. Emotions are not "bodily changes" - that expression refers to physical events. Emotions take place as a *mental* event within consciousness. Emotions may well have physical corollaries but emotions are not reducible to those physical corollaries.

    When I experience the emotion of fear I do not experience a "cascade of bodily changes" - what I experience is fear!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mal: When I experience the emotion of fear I do not experience a "cascade of bodily changes" - what I experience is fear!

      You don’t have a clue, do you? When you experience the emotion of fear your heart rate rises, your breathing speeds up, your pupils dilate, your liver metabolises fat and glucose faster, endorphins flood your body, and your brain’s decision-making areas perk up. If those are not bodily changes then what are they?

      What you are confusing with emotion is the feeling of emotion, which in this case is the process by which your brain perceives all the changes taking place in your body while you are experiencing the emotion of fear.

      Delete
    2. You are confusing what is happening to your body with what you are experiencing.

      Delete
    3. MalcolmS8:33 PM

      Terry, thanks for your repetition of the same error.

      The long list in your second paragraph are all physical/physiological events. They are NOT [singularly or collectively] emotions or "feelings of emotions."

      An emotion is a *mental* event which arises in consciousness. In your example ALL those physical events *follow* the emotion of fear. The really interesting question is: *where do your emotions come from?* - a question you cannot answer given your false premises.

      Hope that helps.

      Delete
    4. Without disagreeing, I would have to point out that those events may precede or accompany the emotion of fear as well as follow.

      Delete
    5. MalcolmS9:57 PM

      Yes Robin, I agree. Which means that equating emotions to physical events is false. As I said: The really interesting question is: *where do your emotions come from?*

      Do you know the answer?

      Delete
  25. MalcolmS10:00 AM

    Terry: "Mal... Ignoramus"

    Fallacy of ad hominem.

    Apparently your polemics are as hopeless as your science.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Certainly it was ad hominem. But I am still somewhat puzzled by your claim that we don't have instincts. What about a baby's instinct to suckle for example?

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS1:55 AM

      By “instinct” I am referring to an unerring and automatic form of knowledge - such as a swallow migrating to the other hemisphere with the onset of Winter. That is not the case with man who is born 'tabula rasa,' i.e., with a mechanism for consciousness and the acquisition of knowledge but no content.

      A baby's capacity to suckle is not an "instinct" in this sense but a *reflex* as any physiology text book will testify. It even operates without consciousness as in the thumb sucking of a sleeping baby or, sometimes, even a foetus in the uterus.

      Delete
  26. 8x
    When I experience the emotion of fear I do not experience a "cascade of bodily changes" - what I experience is fear!
    x8

    Them shadows is vewy vewy scawy mummy ;)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Zed to Robin: If it helps any, while I agree with your basic assertion, that *an emotion (or feeling) cannot be simply reduced to brain activity*, both you and Terry are in the process of painting yourselves into your own reductionist corners (with a little help from mallywallys gooble-gobble of course - he's good like that)

    Which means what, exactly, if not zeddy-weddy gooble-gobble?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol

      Nice work y'all.

      Be sure to let me know when your various "questions" are fully "resolved" to your respective personal satisfactions.
      ;)
      roflmao

      Delete
    2. For one thing it means that he is not the dogmatist that I took him to be. Sorry for the assumption.

      Delete
  28. MalcolmS9:23 AM

    Where do emotions come from?

    If a complete stranger holds a gun to your head the normal emotion you would experience is *fear.* Why? Because you have acquired knowledge of guns in your lifetime which indicates that they could be life threatening in such a context. Such knowledge is retained in your subconscious and the stimulus of the gun evokes the emotion almost immediately. If you held a gun to the head of a child who knows nothing of guns it would evoke no such emotion. If you held a gun to the head of a terminally ill person seeking euthanasia you would evoke an opposite emotion.

    So the chronology of emotion is: 1. the stimulus[gun], 2. subconscious *evaluation* of the stimulus, 3. emotion.

    I'm not saying that Terry's brain/neurology/chemicals are not relevant. In fact they are probably enablers.

    But the primary cause of emotions is the *values* you hold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reification


      Reification (also known as concretism, or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness) is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event, or physical entity.

      In other words, it is the error of treating as a concrete thing something which is not concrete, but merely an idea.

      I'm off fishing.. yeah!


      Delete
    2. Yes we all know what reification mean - but what is your point?

      Delete
    3. Nevertheless I can see a pretty easy reductionist counter argument to Mal's point which would be to say that the primary cause of the emotion is the body's danger response system and the values are simply the information that it is using in this case.

      Delete
    4. MalcolmS9:28 PM

      zedinhisbigloonyhead

      That is one of many fallacies committed by materialists/nominalists who regard "ideas" as not fully real. You need to grasp that an idea/concept, once formed, is a mental concrete.

      You have contradicted yourself by using "abstractions"[ideas] to write your post and have written them as *words*[concretes]. If your abstractions are not real, then, in what sense are your words real?

      Hope that helps and that you were not eaten by a [concrete]shark :)

      Delete
    5. MalcolmS9:48 PM

      The "body's danger response system " is as simplistic as is human "instincts" in this context.

      How does it apply to the child and the adult seeking euthanasia in my example? It doesn't.

      You can leap out of the trenches and run away OR you can charge the enemy - depending on your values - "body's danger response system" be damned.

      Consciousness of values is as impervious to physical reductionism as is consciousness itself.

      Delete
    6. 8x
      You need to grasp that an idea/concept, once formed, is a mental concrete.
      x8

      lol

      Delete
    7. Quick favour Mallywally: When youre at the apothecary next can you pick me up a box of phlogiston?
      Its on the shelf right next to mals patent brain concrete - lol

      On a more serious note, I shall be taking a hiatus from gg (otherwise known as Mr Mal-gorium's Wonder Emporium)

      Fear not though - All is not lost:

      As a now fully reified mental concrete, Billy the Magic Cat has promised to drop in occasionally and sink a casual claw into mousy mals magical meaninglessness.

      Hooroo - rofl

      Delete
    8. Anonymous11:55 AM

      You bastard!

      Dont leave me here with this clown

      Signed
      Billy the Magic Cat

      Delete
    9. MalcolmS9:43 PM

      So, hisbigloonyhead is to morph into Billy the Magic Cat!!

      A good career move??

      Don't bet on it Pussy :)))

      Delete
  29. Mal:

    Urbach-Wiether disease is a genetic disorder that destroys the brain’s amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for the physical changes that occur while you’re in the throes of fear. People who have this disease are therefore incapable of experiencing the emotion of fear. There is nothing in the world that can scare them.

    How do you reconcile this fact that a genetic disorder can remove the emotion of fear with your belief that fear is learned?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous2:45 PM

      Simply by ignoring it and calling you an idiot.
      After all, Mr Predictable is nothing if not predictable...

      Ooh! A mouse!

      Gotta go

      Signed
      Billy the Magic Cat

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS9:17 PM

      "How do you reconcile this fact that a genetic disorder can remove the emotion of fear with your belief that fear is learned?"

      No "reconciliation" is necessary. It's the same as the absense of brain necessarily absents consciousness. A being which by its nature is incapable of fear is not applicable here. You could make the same point about a tree!

      However, it is still an inexorable fact that prior volitionally chosen *values* determine what you fear. I think I have demonstrated that. I don't deny that "chemicals" are involved in the process - only your point that they are primary.

      Delete
    3. MalcolmS9:21 PM

      Terry, here's a little experiment for you to perform.

      Raise your right arm!

      There, that wasn't so difficult was it? What caused you to do that? After all the "chemicals" were always available and yet you didn't do it a minute ago or 5 minutes ago! The *primary* was the volitional aspect of consciousness - the mental act of will.

      Delete
    4. MalcolmS9:25 PM

      BTW Terry

      Don't forget to lower your arm!

      ... you are looking like Adolph... and you'll scare the missus and kids!

      Delete
    5. The case is more interesting because I have heard that people with amygdala damage *can* experience fear, but not fear from external threats, for example things that directly induce fear in other people also directly induce fear in people with amygdala damage.

      I could probably find the reference if anyone is interested.

      I don't know, but would be interested to know if people with amygdala damage can experience other kinds of fear - for example fear of growing older or an impending disease.

      Delete
  30. The following is my contribution to the (at times) interesting discussion on addiction, instincts, feelings and emotions. As per usual, no science from Tricia, just life experience.
    Also, as the poem states, I was not consciously aware of my emotional response to the approach of Mother's Day. It was not until the third night without sleep that the penny dropped. I'm normally a very self aware person, therefore where does an expereince such as mine fit in the spectrum of your discussions? I ask this out of a sense of genuine curiosity.
    Please don't let the subject of the question limit any response. I've toughened up since my early days on the GG blog.

    Son and Sky

    Laughter back in her life
    Interesting projects
    Meaning and purpose abound
    And yet
    Three sleepless nights this week
    It would appear her body
    Is aware
    The black stallion of Mother's Day
    Is galloping toward her
    Hooves pounding the tempo
    Requiem for a Dead Child
    Fourteen years since
    Her so sad son
    Laid down the intolerable burden
    His life had become
    Her childless mother lesions
    Ache
    With familial longing
    As she sits in the dark
    Waiting for dawn
    Slowly it comes
    Swathes of colour
    Join together
    'Till the sky is a breathtaking blaze
    Her atheistic heart
    Longs for a moment
    To see her artist son's hand
    Painting this gift of morning skies
    But what was
    Can never be again
    The yin of grief settles
    Beside the yang of love
    It is enough for today

    Tricia 11/5/2013

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MalcolmS10:25 PM

      Great poem Tricia.

      I think it all comes down to the question: How do you replace an irreplacable value?

      I don't think you can.

      But what about the positive - the fact that he was born and that you loved him for the time he was your son.

      Perhaps that's all anyone has.

      Delete

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