Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Scary lack of punishment.

I live in Melbourne, Australia. A few years back we had a rather hot day which we now call 'Black Saturday' (google it for some scary and awesome photos). Nearing the end of a very long drought, and on this particularly hot day, a few individuals decided to light some fires. (some of the fires were probably started accidentally - just for the record).


2 of those enlightened individuals who lit fires near Ballarat, those particular fires responsible for 'only' 1 death (of the 173 from that day), were recently freed from any further trial or punishment on the basis that they had low IQs (60), ADHD, and a diminished sense of right and wrong.


Now... well... where do I start.

People are, of course, 'outraged', but then I don't think they really know why, they just want blood for blood.

I'm confuzzled, because there goes my last reason for believing that the justice system might actually have some philosophical merit.

I don't believe punishing these 2 individuals will help them. I think that's pretty agreeable.

What punishment has traditionally provided is a 'warning' to others that they should follow the law. Hence crucifixes, and those cage things with the rotting bones etc. - This creates a culture where we live in a community because we don't want punishment, rather than because we value what the community values. I think it's safe to say that western culture doesn't really go with that method much any more. (... but that's SO going to be another post later)

Then there's this sense of 'justice', but we know the time old notion that punishing the murderer won't bring back the dead. Justice has only ever had the effect of threat anyway.

The possibly more humane use of prisons is to take people who didn't work with society out of the society. That one kinda makes sense to me, although I'd attempt to find a nice place to put them, so long as they can't plot against me. It does tend to create an 'us and them' sort of thing which is apparently a bad thing.

Then there's the really modern thing of 'correction centre' instead of prison, we take the social misfits then 'correct' them till they fit back in. The duration they spend being 'corrected' is proportional to the effect of the crime they committed to notify us that they needed correcting.

All jadedness aside, I thought that last one was on to something. But then... wouldn't that be the perfect place for an IQ60 ADHD arson who didn't know 'right from wrong' aka 'society's values'?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Semantics and Ontology

Semantics -> The relationship between the word and the meaning.

Ontology -> The nature of the meaning.


I get told quite often that my thoughts are all 'just semantics', and here's why they are not.

If I say 'chair', you know what I mean by the word. If I say 'chair' has no meaning, I'd be saying that the word doesn't signify anything. It's pretty evident that 'chair' does signify something, the same sort of object is imagined when I say 'chair' and you hear 'chair'.

The accuracy of my use of the word is in the comparison of what I am imagining, and what you are imagining. 4 legs, wooden, has a back vs Squishy, fabric coated. Any discussion on that, the 'correctness' of my use of or your understanding of the word is: (da daaaa) Semantics.

When I talk about the nature of a chair, or the ontology of it, I'm not talking about the word. Grant that we both understand to some degree what I mean when I say chair, even if it might differ slightly, we are likely to agree on 'sit-able' (unless it's a broken chair, but that's a whole other thing) Ontology questions the value and meaning of the Construct of chair which I refer to when I say chair.

Does it exist? As in, is 'chair' a thing? The word exists, obviously, because I used it and you understood it, but maybe not the thing which I signify with 'chair', which could also be signified in any other language, and understood by anyone who 'knows what a chair is'.

Also, it's not about the physical-ness of the thing. THIS chair exists, because I am sitting on it. I am asking 'is it a chair?' and 'is there such a thing as a chair?', but not talking about the word.

So what AM I talking about?


We humans like to understand our world. Or at least we tend to, whether we like it or not I suppose. So we categorise it. We split it into understandable 'sections', and sub sections and so on.

What distinguishes a chair from a couch is some imaginary line which doesn't exist, and yet we all tend to agree approximately where it is.

We could see each individual chair as it's own unique object, and just call it 'number 10052', (not even 'chair number 10052', just '10052') but there would be far too many of them, and we wouldn't be able to understand anything new which came along, even if it looked like 500 of the other things we have seen.

So instead we categorise, we are told that this is a chair, and so is this, and so is this, then we work out the things which they all have which make them chairs, and we say that if a thing has all or most of those attributes, then it is a 'chair'. So the next thing we see which has all or most of those qualities is probably also a chair.

That categorisation system is completely made up, and based on nothing else than conventions of society, differing slightly from community to community, (especially where languages differ - that's when language comes back into ontology). Without it we wouldn't be able to survive, communicate, understand... even think, and yet it is completely made up.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Metaphysical Programming

Ok, so yesterday's post was a little boring, I'm grasping at a theory here - give it time to grow :-)

 It seems that Object Oriented programming has many resemblances to plato's theory of forms, added to by Aristotle and Aquinas.

 Allow me to explain forms a bit - and note, this is not exactly as any of them put it, but being that this isn't a university paper, I don't really need to stick to the rules.

 Take a Chair. (Why is is always a Chair...? I like chairs)

 It is a 'particular' or 'instance' of a Chair.

 It is made of Materials, it was made to BE a chair, It was made by a person, and it was made for a purpose (that's Aristotle-ish - see: 4 causes)

 It has properties and functions - it has and does things.

 It shares in the form of "Chair" - that is, it is A chair, and other things are also other chairs, the thing that they have in common is that they are 'chairs' aka - share in the form of 'chair'

 Right, so in programming this is like:

 class chair() { -- stuff that all chairs have in common } -- This establishes the definition of 'chair'

 MyDeskChair = new chair() -- this means My chair is A chair and so has all the things every other chair has.

My particular chair might also have more things about it which other chairs don't - like it's color, fabric, etc etc. - these are called Accidents (as opposed to Substance, which are the things which MAKE it a chair, it could still be a chair even without the Accidents, but without the substance things (like sit-on-able) it isn't a chair)

Now think backwards, isn't my chair also a type of seat? and isn't seat a type of 'object'? - we're getting more down to the Aquinas side of things now.

So everything is an 'object' - it's substance is only that it exists, or did exist, or will exist, everything else is accidental.

Then most things can be categorised more precisely than just "object" - into Animal, Vegitable, Mineral - or indeed whatever categorisation system makes sense for the task-at-hand.

This trend between OO programming and Classical philosophy isn't a fluke, but more of a representation of the way in which we see our world. The ancient greeks were trying to understand the world, so they categorised in class systems, the modern programmer seeks to make a computer which understands the world (as much as a human), so they develop a class system.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Object Oriented Aristotle: The Soul

So this could be a bit of fun, expressing Aristotle 'on the soul' in .net OO... Maybe just for me.

class object{
  int width, height, depth;
  int x, y, z;
  function create(list FromObjects){ ... }
  function dispose(list IntoObjects){ ... }
}

class plant : object
{
  stream Life;
  void AddSustenance(){ ... }
  event DisposeWaste(){ ... }
  plant clone() { .. }
}

class animal : plant
{
  function sense(Sense input){
 switch(input)
    case Sight: ...
   case Sound: ...
   case Taste: ...
   case Touch: ...
    case Smell: ...
  }
  event act() { ... }
  overrides animal clone(animal Mate) { ... }
}

class human : animal
{
   function reason() { ... }
   soul Soul;
}

class Soul
{
  Memory memory;
  Art art;
  Identity identity;
}

Monday, October 17, 2011

agnosis

Ahh, how much we all think we know

I have discovered a new state of being. Agnosis: I don't know my arse from a hole in the ground. And it's wonderful, and it's OK.

It's hard to write about, because ideologically... I am wrong. Which is, of course, the point. But that's never mattered before, so why should it now? Instead, I'm just sharing my grasp for some semblance of logical conclusion in a falsely controlled blob of 'knowledge' where we grant a premise or two and see where it takes us. If you're in to that sort of thing.

Most importantly, I'm not worried about being wrong. In the new-found knowledge that I always am, it no longer matters.

Daemonl Out.

Friday, February 4, 2011

In-Humane treatment of animals

My first response to this phrase: Animals are not human, thus needn't be treated humanly. Unfortunately for that theory, 'Humane' refers more to the human performing the actions/thoughts/attitudes than the animal being acted thought or attituded about.

Anyway, it is pretty common for people to believe that hunting animals for fun is inhumane, then people usually draw the line somewhere between testing of cosmetics and eating meat.

Testing of cosmetics has to occur in order for cosmetics to exist. If you don't want them to be tested, don't use them AT ALL. Unless you are comfortable using the knowledge gained from previous experimentation with animals and, sorry, victims of the holocaust, so long as the company you are now buying from never paid for any such experimentation, they just purchased / pirated the results. While you are at it, don't use any human safety devices which require knowledge of the human breaking point (airbags, parachutes...).

I am against testing on animals, but I am also against testing on humans. I don't know where that leaves me.

Having made a side point, allow me to make the point I intended to make, summarised by a concerned user of Yahoo! answers:

"Is using fly spray cruel to flies. do they die in agony? I know flies are flying poo, but i still don't like anything to suffer, sometimes if i use fly spray the fly takes ages to die and seems to go in agony, i know its a fly, but what does the stuff do to the fly, is there a more humane way if they won't use the window"

Apparently we are happy to kill an animal because it is annoying or possibly dangerous to our health. Like spiders which don't bite. I like spiders, they eat flies. I don't really like flies... And yes, I use fly spray.

So why is it OK to kill smaller animals and not larger ones? Insect / Mammal? See: Mouse Trap. And even so, why is killing an insect because it is annoying 'humane'. Killing birds, of course, is inhumane, because they sing pretty songs.

I eat meat. I eat chicken. I eat eggs. I want the animals to be treated like animals, in that they are given free range, good feed, and killed 'humanely', that is (apparently) quickly with no pain. Oh, unless it's fish, then we don't care how slowly it 'drowns' without water.

Oh how precious we all are, thinking that we care about animal rights.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Job

I FINALLY got a new job, doing exactly what I want to be doing, even my current boss said this one suits me better.

I am now a software engineer / integrator / programmer, getting paid a decent wage to do it.

2 weeks notice today, And counting.