On happiness

Seasons Greetings everyone.

I hope you all are keeping well and that you have had a break from work, boring colleagues or for that matter away from annoying relatives.

While scouring the net, I saw a post about unwritten rules on happiness and what struck me as odd was that the poster reduced happiness to the little question of money writing things such as a 50 and 5000 shillings watch both tell time but can’t buy you more hours, which while being generally true is not what we think about when we buy stuff. He writes, for example

1. A $50 watch and a $5000 watch both can tell you the time. But neither can buy you more time. So focus on living each day and each moment fully. And that buys you time and happiness.

2. A $20,000 car and a $200,000 car can both take you to your destination. But neither can take you to your dream. So focus each day on getting a closer to that. And one day you’ll reach it.

Which all sound interesting but only on the surface. The day I meet a person buying an expensive watch because they hope to buy an additional 2 hours in a day, I will report. Until then, this advice while almost looking really deep is nonsense.

I read somewhere, I think it was in Courage to be disliked, that we are happy generally when we feel useful to others. Happiness is fleeting. And as such buying things cannot really solve the problem. We will just need the next big thing: we become like the city of Dubai always coming up with the next big thing to build.

Between contentment and happiness what should we pursue?

Happiness, like all gifts of Fortuna, are never constant. Today one is happy, tomorrow they are miserable. Maybe detachment is what we should seek and say with Arjuna or is it Krishna, that we should look with the same eye a mound of gold and a mound of Ash, a dog and the man who eats the dog.

Be happy. Seek detachment.

If this is

As Leibniz wrote, the best of all possible worlds that god would have created, are we justified in trying to change it? Or should we say with the author of Tao that

Do you want to improve the world?

I don’t think it can be done.

The world is sacred.

It can’t be improved.

If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.

If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.

There is a time for being ahead,

a time for being behind;

a time for being in motion,

a time for being at rest;

a time for being vigorous,

a time for being exhausted;

a time for being safe,

a time for being in danger.

The master sees things as they are,

without trying to control them.

She lets them go their own way,

and resides at the center of the circle.

Should one pray to have their situation altered if the world is sacred and this is the best possible world that the good god could make?

Is making a vaccine trying to change the world? If this is the best possible world, does it mean that a world without disease was not possible and to ask for such a world is to ask for too much? What does this argument mean for heaven then? Or hell for that matter?

Happy Holidays everyone.

The man without qualities

By Robert Musil

Is a novel whose main character is Ulrich- he without qualities- and the parallel campaign whose meeting place is his cousin’s house. First, the parallel campaign achieves nothing. In fact, at the end, one really can’t be certain what the parallel campaign or the whole novel is all about.

But there are many interesting things, some which question some of the myths we hold regarding sex. For example, Diotima says

Quite often a man can’t make love even when he wants to.

In another place, still continuing with the same line of argument, she says

In contrast with a woman’s constant readiness for sex, a man- well, in a word, a man’s manliest part is easily discouraged.

And ends the discussion by saying, which will leave many a man shaking their heads or reflecting, that

He only feels sexually secure if he doesn’t have to be afraid of a woman being in some way or other spiritually superior, and that’s why men hardly ever have the courage to try a relationship with a woman who’s their equal as a human being.

Thoughts which I find all quite interesting.

Just so stories

As of this writing the Nairobi governor, Sonko, has been impeached and the city will have to go to by election to have a new governor. What I am yet to understand is how a populist with little to no education nor experience in governance could have been elected to lead the most populous city in this nation.

This has been my most active year in sports. I managed 9500km on bike, 500km of runs and another 30km of hikes. I have managed to get a sports related injury, if you leave out the bike crashes.

This year long pandemic should just end.

Evidence for Christianity

The argument from truth

The author of the linked post intended, and failed, to show that atheism is not compatible with truth or to argue that atheists have a problem with truth. I argue, without fear of contradiction, that s/he has not proved their case. They didn’t even get off. We cannot, from reading their blog determine what truth is and how its existence is proof for god or an argument against atheism.

I will state, following Odera Oruka that all truths are contextual, where context is a tradition that determines the levels of understanding and the rules of rationality. Within a context, objectivity is implied and therefore, to argue that truth is contextual is not to commit to relativism.

After failing to make a coherent argument for truth as demonstrating that the Christian god exists, our interlocutor moves to morality and attempts to kill the horse that has been killed so many times there is no death left in it- is morality objective or subjective?- in their own words

What about claims that morality is relative? Someone may say one behaviour is acceptable and another not. If there is no God, then all our morals are a matter of personal opinion and not objective.

And as I have said of truth, codes of behaviour are context specific. And within a given context, whatever norms or codes that people live by are considered, they will be objective.

Our interlocutor then writes

If there is no God, then all our morals are a matter of personal opinion and not objective.

as if transferring the source of the opinion improves objectivity. Where gods have been claimed to have spoken, they have not been clear. Is it bad to kill? Not if they worship a different god. Or if it is as a sacrifice to a god. So that, if we are to follow the precepts laid down in the bible (our interlocutor argues for Christianity), we would not be certain on how to act.

We are told

However, if there is a God, and that God has defined right and wrong moral behaviour, then we have a standard outside of ourselves providing us with an objective standard for morality. If God does exist then we can have real objective moral truths.

and I ask which are these? Don’t eat shellfish? Take for example the command don’t kill. Why should we not kill? Because god has said. This, I argue, is unhelpful. It takes us to WLC philosophy of divine command theory where everything that god says is right. I am not sure Euthyphro’s dilemma has been successfully answered.

Most times when I read blogs by Christian apologists, I am left wondering why do they live in such small worlds. When a person writes

The Atheist must borrow the Christian worldview, to hold onto objective moral truths, but at the same time they want to reject the foundation for moral truth.

i ask is the world divided only between Christian and atheist? From whose world view does the atheist in Buddhaland borrow from?

If 1+1=2, the existence of god adds nothing to this. It is independent of gods. I don’t see how empirical facts help with the argument for existence of gods. Unless the apologist is able to demonstrate that the existence of god will change the value of 1+1, then using it as an argument to demonstrate the existence of god fails, unless I am missing something.

Man a machine

by Julien Offray de La Mettrie is one those books I recommend you read during your December break. He writes somewhere

I do not mean to call in question the existence of a supreme being; on the contrary it seems to me that the greatest degree of probability is in favor of this belief. But since the existence of this being goes no further than that of any other toward proving the need of worship, it is a theoretic truth with very little practical value. Therefore, since we may say, after such long experience, that religion does not imply exact honesty, we are authorized by the same reasons to think that atheism does not exclude it.

or

Let us not lose ourselves in the infinite, for we are not made to have the least idea thereof, and are absolutely unable to get back to the origin of things. Besides it does not matter for our peace of mind, whether matter be eternal or have been created, whether there be or be not a God. How foolish to torment ourselves so much about things which we can not know, and which would not make us any happier even were we to gain knowledge about them!

or

[..]It follows that the study of nature can make only unbelievers; and the way of thinking of all its more successful investigators proves this.”

and to end this post, he says about the soul

The soul is therefore but an empty word, of which no one has any idea, and which an enlightened man should use only to signify the part in us that thinks. Given the least principle of motion, animated bodies will have all that is necessary for moving, feeling, thinking, repenting, or in a word for conducting themselves in the physical realm, and in the moral realm which depends upon it.

Freewill (again)

You have noticed there is a dearth of content here for a while now. I don’t know who to blame for this but I know it ain’t me. So I thought I could lighten matters here a bit by asking a few questions.

For those who believe we have freewill, how do you define it?

When men go to war as soldiers, do the rank and file have freewill or is it the generals who have it? And to what extent can we say the soldier acted on his own freewill? I am aware of the recommendations arising from the Nazi trials where it was agreed among other things that people must own their mistakes and cannot hide behind a chain of command.

A person who was born well and became mental, at what point did they lose their freewill? Do they get it back if they were to get well?

When do children begin to have it?