Thursday, July 21, 2011

Listening to university lectures

Watch it on Academic Earth

Philosophy of Death, Yale University Introductory Lecture: Listen and write the missing words.

Professor Shelly Kagan: All right, so this is Philosophy 176. The class is on death. My name is Shelly Kagan. The very first thing I want to do is to invite you to call me Shelly. That is, if we meet on the street, you come talk to me during office hours, you ask some question; Shelly's the name that I respond to. I will, eventually, respond to Professor Kagan, but the synapses take a bit longer for that. It's not the name I immediately 1.__________________. I have found that over the years, fewer and fewer students feel comfortable calling me Shelly. When I was young, it seemed to work. Now I'm gray and august. But if you're comfortable with it, it's the name that I prefer to be called by.

Now, as I say, this is a class on death. But it's a philosophy class, and what that means is that the set of topics that we're going to be talking about in this class are not 2._________ to the topics that other classes on death might try to cover. So the first thing I want to do is say something about the things we won't be talking about that you might 3.____________ expect or hope that a class on death would talk about, so that if this is not the class you were looking for, you still have time to go check out some other class.

So here are some things that a class on death could cover that we won't talk about. What I primarily have in mind are sort of 4.________________and 5._____________ questions about the nature of death, or the phenomenon of death. So, a class on death might well have a discussion of the process of dying and coming to 6.____________ yourself with the fact that you're going to die. Some of you may know about Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' discussion of the so-called five stages of dying. There's 7.__________, and then there's anger, and then there's bargaining. I actually don't remember the five stages. We're not going to talk about that.

Similarly, we're not going to talk about the funeral industry in America and how it rips off people, which it does, in their moments of grief and 8.______________ and overcharges them for the various things that it offers. We're not going to talk about that. We're not going to talk about the process of grieving or 9.___________________. We're not going to talk about sociological attitudes that we have towards the dying in our culture and how we tend to try to keep the dying hidden from the rest of us. These are all perfectly important topics, but they're not, as I say, topics that we're going to be talking about in this class.

So what will we talk about? Well, the things we'll talk about are philosophical questions that 10.___________ as we begin to think about the nature of death. Like this. In broad scope, the first half of the class is going to be metaphysics, for those of you who are familiar with the philosophical piece of 11.___________. And roughly, the second half of the class is going to be value theory.

So, the first half of the class is going to be concerned with questions about the nature of death. What happens when we die? Indeed, to get at that question, the first thing we're going to have to think about is what are we? What kind of an 12.__________ is a person? In particular, do we have souls, and for this class when I talk about a soul, what I'm going to mean is sort of a bit of philosophical jargon. I'm going to mean something 13.______________, something distinct from our bodies. Do we have immaterial souls, something that might survive the death of our body? And if not, what does that 14.______ about the nature of death?

What kind of an event is death? What is it for me to survive? What would it mean for me to survive my death? What does it mean for me to survive tonight? That is, you know, somebody's going to be here 15.___________ to the class on Thursday, 16.___________ that will be me. What is it for that person who's there on Thursday to be the same person as the person who's sitting here lecturing to you today? These are questions about the nature of personal 17._____________. Pretty clearly, to think about death and continued existence and survival, we have to get clear about the nature of personal identity. These sorts of questions will occupy us for 18.___________ the first half of the semester.

And then we'll turn to value questions. If death is the end, is death bad? Now, of course, most of us are immediately and strongly inclined to think that death is bad. But there are a set of philosophical puzzles about how death could be bad. To sort of give you a quick taste, if after my death I won't exist, how could anything be bad for me? How could anything be bad for something that doesn't exist? So how could death be bad?

So it's not that the result is going to be that I'm going to try to convince you that death isn't bad, but it takes actually a little bit of work to pin down precisely what is it about death that's bad and how can it be death? Is there more than one thing about death that makes it bad? We'll turn to questions like that. If death is bad, then one might wonder would 19. ___________ be a good thing? That's a question that we'll think about.

Or, more generally, we'll worry about how should the fact that I'm going to die affect the way I live? What should my attitude be towards my mortality? Should I be afraid of death, for example? Should I despair at the fact that I'm going to die?

Finally, we'll turn to questions about suicide. Many of us think that given the valuable and precious thing that life is, suicide makes no sense. You're throwing away the only life you're ever going to have. And so we'll end the semester by thinking about questions along the lines of the 20._______________ and morality of suicide. So roughly speaking, that's where we're going. First half of the class, metaphysics; second half of the class, value theory.

Find the answers here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Are we free?

Lucas , an American Jewish teenager protests and stand up for palestinian people. He considers that Israel is occupying the Palestinian people in his name, in the name of world Jewry. That is a serious political, social  and moral issue.  

I would like  us to wonder if we are free to express our opinion or  there are limits of freedom of speech. This video indicates us that we are not free to support our point of view and each state do not put up with a  civilized dialogue or rational arguments. In addition to this,  repressive mechanisms of state prefer violence. 

To conclude,  I strongly believe that whoever  does violence instead of  democratic dialogue, either he is silly or he is unjust. Lucas is a teenager hero , not only because he stands up for palestinians' rights, but also since he is powerful and brave to express his opinion. As human beings we should condemn violence wherever it comes from.  

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The last post - Derek K. Miller

This is a blogger's touching final post published after his death from cancer. There are a lot of lessons to be learnt by reading this, but the most important one is expressed in this exract:

It turns out that no one can imagine what's really coming in our lives. We can plan, and do what we enjoy, but we can't expect our plans to work out. Some of them might, while most probably won't. Inventions and ideas will appear, and events will occur, that we could never foresee. That's neither bad nor good, but it is real.
I think and hope that's what my daughters can take from my disease and death. And that my wonderful, amazing wife Airdrie can see too. Not that they could die any day, but that they should pursue what they enjoy, and what stimulates their minds, as much as possible—so they can be ready for opportunities, as well as not disappointed when things go sideways, as they inevitably do.

More thoughts and updates on Derek's wife's blog:

Friday, July 1, 2011

The most important 48 hours in EU history?

By Jérôme E. Roos On June 28, 2011

Post image for The most important 48 hours in EU history?
Amidst mass protests and an historic 48-hour strike, one ‘no’ vote by a Greek MP could tip Greece into bankruptcy and the world into global financial meltdown.
The eyes of the world are on Greece. Or, to be more specific, on Syntagma Square, where 300 MPs prepare for a crucial vote on the EU-IMF imposed austerity package — and where hundreds of thousands of Greeks will converge to stop the vote from being passed in the country’s first 48-hour strike since the fall of the dictatorship.
There is an uneasy tension in the air in Athens. Just yesterday, Communist protesters stormed the Acropolis and unfurled a giant banner calling for a massive organized counterattack. Today, over 5,000 policemen have mobilized in central Athens to prepare for an epic stand-off with hundreds of thousands of striking workers and indignants.
What is going on in Athens right now is truly historic. Indeed, superlatives aside, it is nearly impossible to describe the gravity of the situation at hand. What happens in the next 48 hours in Athens will determine the fate of the entire eurozone, the EU and — indeed — the world economy as a whole. This is the very climax of the eurocrisis.
Here’s the short synopsis: today, Greek members of parliament will start debating a new round of austerity measures, which are a condition for Greece to receive both the fifth tranche of last year’s bailout, worth €12bn, and a second bailout, worth €80-120bn from the EU and IMF. They will vote on the measures on Wednesday.
Now, if Parliament votes against, Greece will be denied both the fifth tranche of last year’s bailout and the second bailout by the EU and IMF. As a result, Greece will be forced to formally default by mid-July, when several billions of euros worth in three and six-month bonds mature.
In the midst all of this, hundreds of thousands of Greeks are expected to converge upon Syntagma Square, right in front of Parliament, for the largest mass demonstration so far — coinciding with the country’s first 48-hour strikesince the fall of the dictatorship and the establishment of democracy in 1974. Unions have threatened to storm Parliament and physically prevent the vote from taking place.
As a result of the strike, the entire country will grind to a halt right as the austerity memorandum goes to vote on Wednesday. Indignant protesters will mount popular pressure on Parliament to possibly unsustainable levels, right when four Socialist MPs announced that they consider voting against the memorandum.
This leaves Prime Minister Papandreou’s Parliamentary majority hanging in the balance: if all four abovementioned Socialist MPs vote against, Papandreou will only have a majority of one. That means that if one more MP unexpectedly votes against the austerity package (or simply fails to show up for the vote), the measures won’t pass.
This, in turn, will almost certainly trigger a sovereign default, as the EU and IMF will withhold the disbursement of additional bailout funds. Rating agencies will call a ‘credit event’, causing the Greek banking sector to collapse. To understand how this could trigger an EU-wide financial meltdown, read the article here.
While the world holds its breath, some smart people are finally starting to realize that this is not just a Greek crisis. Even the Wall Street Journal now seems torecognize what we have been repeating endlessly on ROAR, namely that this is not a fiscal crisis in Greece, but a financial crisis in the European banking sector:
What we have come to call the Greek crisis is, first, an international banking crisis. Like Lehman Brothers, Greece is definitely not too big to fail. It is too interconnected to fail, too interconnected to the international banking system … What we are calling the Greek crisis is also a crisis of structural economic dysfunction.
Similarly, in an editorial yesterday, The Guardian wrote that:
Discussions of the Greek debacle commonly assume that it’s a disaster made in Greece that now requires the rest of Europe to step in and sort it out. Wrong: this is a crisis of the eurozone, in which Athens is not a leading actor but merely a stage set.
Only dimly aware of the structural problems in the eurozone and the looming insolvency of some of Europe’s largest banks, EU leaders met up with some of the continent’s richest and most powerful bankers last night. In the luxurious comfort of a Roman palace, they debated how the private sector could contribute to a ‘real’ solution for the crisis.
One of the options put on the table by the French was to roll over some debt, buying Greece more time to get out of this mess. But while the idea sounds appealing in theory, even the Financial Times has recognized that “you’d have to be dropping acid to think that [this approach] is even going to do its job of buying time for the next few years.”
As the German Green Joshka Fischer pointed out in an op-ed yesterday, this leaves us with only one realistic policy option: to prepare for a controlled default. But since Europe’s leaders seem unwilling and/or incapable of even considering this as a legitimate policy option, the people are going to have to drive this option home themselves.
Unfortunately for Greece and for Europe, the only way to demand a sane solution to this overwhelming crisis right now is through a full-blown revoltagainst the Greek political establishment and the foreign powers to which it has been so beholden. From Syntagma Square, we are hearing nothing less than a cry for revolution.
As Costas Douzinas just put it in The Guardian:
Syntagma has become Tahrir Square in slow motion. It is a peaceful, democratic revolt that was easier to start because the fear of brutal repression is smaller, but will be harder to complete as it faces the enormous might of the European Union and global finance capital.
Whatever the outcome, in the next 48 hours, the future of Greece, Europe and the world hangs in the balance. I will be on an airplane flying back to Europe for most of it, but hope to continue updating you as soon as I get back. Until then, strength and solidarity to our brothers and sisters in Athens!