The age of a new enlightenment

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By Josephivo

0. INTRODUCTION

Where are you going? Is the past an indication for the future?

Shared beliefs are needed to unify, to make it possible for us, advanced apes, to live, to cooperate in “unnatural” large groups, to create our competitive advantage. To achieve this, some developments were breakthrough-events: the discovery of abstract concepts probably some 30,000/40,000 years ago, later our “fiat” (commonly accepted) deities and more recently our “fiat” money. These catapulted us forward from a few million homo sapiens then to a few billion now, eliminating all other homo species on our way. Today we and the domesticated animals represent 1 billion tons of biomass; all wild animals of a similar size or larger together add up to 100 million tons. No thanks to our muscles nor our single brains, but because we are able to cooperate and fight together with hundreds or thousands or more, instead of doing it all alone or with just a few dozens. We can now talk about feelings, square roots or string theories, market fluctuations. Religion has become more than just respect for our surroundings, unknowns, spirits. Economy is more than just subsistence hunting and gathering.

Religion has evolved in a continuum from shamans as communicators with the spirits of all living or dead creatures, over beliefs in collections of human-like creatures beings in powerful parallel spiritual worlds, into creator and non-creator deities, more ethical focused movements and eventually in all controlling and exclusive religions. Religions as revealed through prophets or as discovered by wise men. Religions as a unique sphere of live dealing with the supernatural, answering the unanswerable questions. Religions as a comprehensive system covering every aspect of life.

Economy evolved from doing all by yourself into specializing and trading some surplus goods. From agriculture in little gardens with a pig and some chickens into the agriculture of never ending fields. Further specialization and worldwide trading in foods, raw materials, tools, luxury goods. An industrial revolution resulting in mega factories. Emptying the oceans on an industrial scale. Factory style henneries rearing 23 billion 6 to 7 week old chickens (opposed to a natural life of 6 to 7 years). From telling our children where and how to hunt and gather into the current virtual information outburst

These evolutions need the support of changing cultures, philosophies, beliefs. This did not always happen gradually. Sometimes paradigm shifts occurred. The Age of Enlightenment in the 17-hundreds was a good example. It prepared us for the modern world.

Is a new shift around the corner? And where will the Philippines be when it happens? Leading or lagging?

1. THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE 18TH CENTURY

1.1 Pre-history and Zeitgeist (spirit of the age) in the second half of the 18th century

Pre-thinkers: Aristotle, Plato, Ibn Rushd, Spinoza, Locke, Hobbes, Descartes . . . More printed books, more universities.

Religion: The Contra-Reformation in Catholic countries or Protestantism as justifying powers for the aristocracy and controlling every aspect of life for the common people.

Politics: Land, even countries as private property of kings and the aristocracy. God had created the aristocracy for that purpose, just as he had created slaves to do the hardest labor. But the save trade became so inhuman that it was questioned, and when you can question the Devine creation of slaves, you could also question the Devine creation of the aristocracy.

Science: Locke still equated natural law with the biblical revelation. Newton came with independent natural laws but he was still obsessed with alchemy. New discoveries, new sciences were hot, new mathematics, chemistry, geology, study of fossils, ethnology . . . The writing down of all this new knowledge in an Encyclopedia was a great success.

Old cultures were revisited, new cultures discovered, India, the East. Especially fascinating were the islands in the Pacific with distinct sexual mores. Ethical behavior seemed possible without a foundation in the Bible.

1.2  Central themes

Some of the thinkers: Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Hume, Kant, Jefferson, Franklin and d’Holbach (but his fame did not survive because of his atheist ideas).

  • Religion

Religion should deal with religion and not with science, politics, art or any other aspect of life. Compensation in afterlife as change for hardship in life is not fair.

Atheism; Deism; religion only dealing with the supernatural and not the secular.

  • Politics

A paradigm shift from the “divine right of kings” to “the consent of the governed”. Absolutism with a king has no justification. The nation is the people, not the personal property of a king.

  • Ethical

Science will improve the world. Human behavior will be rational, explained.

Many different ethical systems are possible; books over the Bounty in Tahiti and about India make man dream.

Hedonism here and now against the heaven later; Epicurus rediscovered, “The pursuit of happiness”.

Utilitarianism, who benefits, who gets hurt by your actions, how to compare, what is proportional.

1.3 Breeding places and Dissemination mechanism

  • Salons and Masonic lodges
  • Letters  and Books
  • Encyclopedias, natural history and science as sources for alternative answers

1.4 Results

  • The rise of the “public sphere”, egalitarian, discussing the “common concern”, with argumentations founded on reason.
  • American declaration of independence, universal individual rights, hedonistic pursuit of happiness.
  • French revolution with Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité as the foundation of all political actions.
  • Modernity. Science as the source of progress.
  • Individualism. Me and only me, not my clan, not my guild, not my church, not my school . . .

1.5 First Enlightenment in the Philippines

King Charles III in Spain encouraged scientific and empirical thought in an effort to debunk myths and superstitions. He even expelled the Jesuit Order from Spain completely in 1767. It was short lived. By the 1770s the conservatives had launched a counterattack and used censorship and the still existing Inquisition to suppress Enlightenment ideas. The Philippines was far away. The “wars” of influence between Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, Benedictines, Jesuits, Regular priests were more important than philosophical discussions.

The Philippines had to wait a century for the Illustrados, Rizal, the Free Masons and also they were short lived. The church kept its power, the American enlightenment had evolved in crude capitalism, the anti-colonialists had their first colony.

2. THE NEW AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT TODAY, OR THE “ENLIGHTENMENT REVISITED”

Today our belief in the primacy of the invisible hand and in the almighty monetary systems is omnipresent.  But the askew income distribution, climate change, globalization . . . all make some people think that this primacy is unjustified. We might need a new approach, just as in the past when overreaching religious beliefs controlled everything in society and in individual life, ignoring the overwhelming new circumstances.

2.1 History and current Zeitgeist (spirit of the age)

Pre-thinkers: Club of Rome; May ‘68 in Paris, Berkley, Berlin and many other countries; the greens; hippies.

Religion: Extremism on the rise again, my (interpretation of) religion as the only reference for the whole world. The world is shrinking; we get more confronted with far away, “exotic” religions.

Politics: America as a single military and economic superpower gets China on its heels. Government intervention in many areas (economy, culture, sports, labor relations, social insurance . . .) reduced/ended with the fall of the iron curtain. Populism, unease with the existing systems, on the rise.

Science:  Moore’s law still holding, Silicon Valley’s new world, artificial intelligence . . .; unlimited interconnections between scientists, fast and almost free A/B testing (comparing the results of two alternatives such as one website and the same website modified, then deciding for the better alternative); Wikipedia, data mining . . .; biological advances as DNA printers, brain research, bionics . . . ; miniaturization down to a molecular scale.

From mono-cultural city dwellers to mega city diversities: Explosion of sub-cultures in urban areas, artistic, music styles, philosophical, political, religious . . . Cultures by age more than anything else, teenagers, adolescence, young adults, mature adults, 3th age, 4th age . . . Different ethical behavior defined in each sub-culture, all living in parallel.

2.2  Some central themes

A few new thinkers (a very partial and personal list) : Philipp Blom, Yuval Noah Harari, Peter Singer, Daniel Kahneman, Joseph Stiglitz, Katrine Marçal.

  • Economy, at the demand side:

How much is enough? Basic, marginal or ballast? To have or to be? Equality and diversity?

Commercialization of all spheres of life: The economy engulfs all, leisure, sport(ing), education, daily conversations via Facebook, care for the elderly . . .

Ponzi schemes in the real economy: Bubbles with profit for the highest layers, when it collapses losses for the bottom ones.

Eroded government influence: multinationals and international organizations gaining power and thus executive and legislative pillars and citizen organizations losing power. Disproportionate power of lobbyists. Decreasing respect for officials.

  • Economy, at the supply side:

The Blue Marble has limited resources. Climate change.

De-humanization: Financial markets with split second reactions by computers. Internet customizing advertisements. Even computers that cheat, e.g. Volkswagen diesel emissions (still programmed but with computer-initiated cheating around the corner.)

Global competition and leveling towards the least common degree, e.g., legislation for wages, protection of the weak, product safety . . .

Monetary markets reign supreme. Casino capitalism.

  • Behavioral:

Imbalances: Happiness has two faces, the pleasure we experience and the musing about the good life we had. Experiments show the second as more important; today’s emphasis is on the first.

Imbalances: Beauty, too, has more faces: beauty as the enjoyment of experiencing nice music, literature, person, painting . . . the beauty as in acquiring an insight, the beauty of peace/nirvana. Again, today’s emphasis is on the first.

Gamification: the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts (Rules, Goals, Rewards, Structure . . .)

Need for women in charge: Female strengths are needed in our new society. Women just as decoration is too expensive. Unequal pay is unfair.

See also Edgar Lores’ article “Are Filipinos a Siphonophore” and the evolution to more complex organisms.

2.3 Breeding places and Dissemination mechanism

  • Mainly blogs and blog sites
  • Facebook

2.4 Potential elements of a new philosophy

  • Organize activities and society around our hunter-gatherer instincts.
  • “Slow cooking” away from hyper-, away from pre-cooked. The power of whispering.
  • Create the circumstances that are so all important in determining one’s happiness, rather than “delivering” elements of happiness itself.
  • Direct peer to peer business.
  • Back to “commons” or or assets without specific ownership, such as the “shared information property” in Wikipedia, Bitcoins or local currencies. (Basic elements in happiness are sharing and trust. The correct management of commons is enforcing these two feelings.)
  • Give more of nature to the next generation than you received from the previous one.
  • Tao and Tao Te Ching. Not only the goal, the destination, but more important is the way to get there.
  • Ubuntu, a Bantu word and Mandela’s philosophy, meaning:
    • Be united
    • “Humanitarian behavior towards others”
    • “I am because we are”
    • Become human through others
  • Communautarisme, address a person as part of the whole; opposite to atomizing people into their specific needs.

2.5 The new Enlightenment in the Philippines

Most of the original Enlightenment philosophers had mixed backgrounds, catholic/protestant, rural/city, German/French . . . Experiencing differences leads to asking questions. A Filipino has many layers in his own heart, a deep Asian core, a Spanish heart, Chinese traits by proximity and all with an American coating. Different islands, different languages. A substantial number of OFW’s and emigrants assimilating many different lifestyles.

The Philippines has many implicit answers to many of the above questions. They know how to make society happier, more sober, more in sync with nature. If we just could combine the Filipino smile with American assertiveness and Chinese foresight . . .

What does really matter in life? What are the common denominators? What is ballast? What do we want for our children? Who will translate our implicit answers into explicit ones? How to influence policy makers? How to sell our findings to the world?

Not all fight for daily survival; some must have energy left to ask basic questions. How to organize them, pool them to reach a critical mass?

3. Conclusion

A Caliphate? A religious leader also making the law, implementing and judging? A religious leader deciding what to produce, what to consume? A religious leader deciding about your daily schedules, how to relax and about what you can do in the bedroom?  If not, what should be outside the religious domain? The first wave of enlightenment came up with decent answers.

All-powerful boardrooms?  Boardrooms paying lobbyist to make and implement the laws, paying the best lawyers. Boardrooms deciding what to produce, what to consume? Boardrooms deciding about your daily schedule, how to relax and about what is fun in the bedroom?  If not, what should be outside the economic domain? Up to us to come up with answers.

Utopia (Thomas More 1515) . . . It is allowed to dream? Utopia, not as the ideal world we need to build but as a strong tool to specify direction.  Will capitalism, the almighty financial institutions, the myth of the free market be able to realize our Utopia? Or do we have to dream of better systems?

Can our mindset move from TINA to TAPAS? From there is no alternative to there are plenty alternative solutions.

 

Comments
155 Responses to “The age of a new enlightenment”
  1. Haven’t quite finished reading josephivo. But the REALITY for most Filipinos ruled by the principalia, datus coopted by the Spanish to help rule the colony, was and is more like the following, IS because these principalia came to form the political families in the countryside:

    https://muse.jhu.edu/books/9780824864064

    As early as the first millennium A.D., the Philippine archipelago formed the easternmost edge of a vast network of Chinese, Southeast Asian, Indian, and Arab traders. Items procured through maritime trade became key symbols of social prestige and political power for the Philippine chiefly elite. Raiding, Trading, and Feasting presents the first comprehensive analysis of how participation in this trade related to broader changes in the political economy of these Philippine island societies. By combining archaeological evidence with historical sources, Laura Junker is able to offer a more nuanced examination of the nature and evolution of Philippine maritime trading chiefdoms. Most importantly, she demonstrates that it is the dynamic interplay between investment in the maritime luxury goods trade and other evolving aspects of local political economies, rather than foreign contacts, that led to the cyclical coalescence of larger and more complex chiefdoms at various times in Philippine history. A broad spectrum of historical and ethnographic sources, ranging from tenth-century Chinese tributary trade records to turn-of-the-century accounts of chiefly “feasts of merit,” highlights both the diversity and commonality in evolving chiefly economic strategies within the larger political landscape of the archipelago. The political ascendance of individual polities, the emergence of more complex forms of social ranking, and long-term changes in chiefly economies are materially documented through a synthesis of archaeological research at sites dating from the Metal Age (late first millennium B.C.) to the colonial period. The author draws on her archaeological fieldwork in the Tanjay River basin to investigate the long-term dynamics of chiefly political economy in a single region. Reaching beyond the Philippine archipelago, this study contributes to the larger anthropological debate concerning ecological and cultural factors that shape political economy in chiefdoms and early states. It attempts to address the question of why Philippine polities, like early historic kingdoms elsewhere in Southeast Asia, have a segmentary political structure in which political leaders are dependent on prestige goods exchanges, personal charisma, and ritual pageantry to maintain highly personalized power bases. Raiding, Trading, and Feasting is a volume of impressive scholarship and substantial scope unmatched in the anthropological and historical literature. It will be welcomed by Pacific and Asian historians and anthropologists and those interested in the theoretical issues of chiefdoms.

    http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/evolution-of-order/ is my article about where the different Filipino candidates are, Binay the chieftain, Duterte the God-King, Poe the prophet, Mar modern.

    Enlightenment? There is another article, lakas loob Pilipinas in my blog, which states that before the enlightenment came the Renaissance and the Reformation. The Philippines must (and partly is) remember where it came from before the Spanish Middle Ages were thrust upon it, favoring the collaborators among its chiefs, the worst of them not the Jesse Robredo types – that would be the Renaissance, giving it back its pride. Second it must find its Reformation – overcome hypocrisy and lies that still pervade its culture. And I don’t mean cursing the Pope I mean honesty. So waking up, changing ways and then learning is the right sequence, and I make it clear in my articles from Riding the Tiger onward that Filipinos are in different stages of this learning process at breakneck speed. These were processes that took Europeans centuries to master.

    • http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/being-truly-modern/comment-page-1/#comment-2153 also is in this vein. Talking about enlightenment is what Hermann Hesse would call a “Glasperlenspiel” – glass beads game, purely abstract, in the context of Filipino reality.

      My comment says: There are different definitions of modern – and one could say the Philippines is about as “modern” as Dubai or Saudi Arabia. The Philippines gets its money from selling its human resources at home and abroad, the sheikhs by selling their oil. Both types of modernity do not have a really strong foundation – once oil is not that needed or runs out the Arabs will be back to what they were 100 years ago, once the human resources that the Philippines sells are not that needed anymore because of worldwide automation and economic crisis both in developed countries and oil countries there could be a rude awakening.

      So the time to modernize – yes I agree that agri-business and food self-sufficiency is an important goal – is sooner than later. Modernity is needed because one cannot turn the clock back, and efficient utilization of land for agriculture is only possible by high-rises for example like you mentioned – and by mechanization of agriculture which is already happening. The other stuff are spin-offs and allow the country to earn the money needed in order to buy what is needed. But vertical integration which Karl has already mentioned is needed to avoid needing too much from others, selling raw materials and buying finished products back is a guarantee for everlasting backwardness.

      So josephivo fully agree a Filipino enlightenment is needed.

      Fast-forward Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment to be able to shape the future.

    • josephivo says:

      For the pre-Spanish history a visit to Ayala Museum is revealing and the book “Path of Origins” editied by Purissima Benitez-Johannot

      Do you really think we have to repeat all the mistakes the West made in the Renaissance, hence Enlightenment, during the Enlightenment, hence Modernity, during Modernity hence the problems of today? Do we really all have to drive large SUV’s first, 1% efficiency in transforming chemical energy into kinetic? (2,000 kg metal and plastic for 80kg people, 50% efficiency of a combustion motor, air friction…) 10 fold meat consumption, (cows fartiing 20% of all greenhouse gasses) 20 fold energy consumption… all become individualists?

      Or could we jump straight to the next world with its new challenges? Start thinking today?

      • OK, that comment summarizes the gist of your article. Yes, the reality is that the West is now discovering sustainability and inclusiveness. Europe HAD to discover it earlier than the USA because it lost its former power, while the US went on longer with it’s old ways, now you have people like LCPL_X who is Cascadian and Juana Pilipinas who farms.

        The discussion on the Social Security System – and what happened to it in Europe – remind me of something my father once said: in Europe everything the family does is done by institutions, including taking care financially of the aged, watch out when everybody has less children there will be not enough money for the old in the pension system.

        But then Filipinos have a lot of catching up to do, mentally. Because they have not even understood the lessons of a few minutes ago for the most part, yesterday even less, can hardly handle today. Thinking about tomorrow – including making sure the sea does not harm the country even more – is a challenge and will mean fast-forwarding the mindset.

  2. Micha says:

    Nice one joseph. Lots of sub-topics to expand and expound into, for sure, but overall, it’s a coherent description, from superficial abstract, of the human project.

    • Micha says:

      It will be interesting, for instance, to pursue further discussion on the connection between fiat God and fiat money in the bigger tent of humanity or, at least, large groupings of humanity.

      • josephivo says:

        Fiat God, almost by definition, or at least by observation. There are and have been so many Gods for different peoples. Only when consensus exist between larger groups, religion always becomes a strong unifying force. Belief in essence is individual but religion is needed to mirror yourself and thus strengthen your belief (“if others do this too, it must be correct”) and certainly religion is needed to unify.

        Fiat money, our monetary world only can do its magic if we belief in artificial money, gold or goods you cannot multiply by just moving it from one account to another.

        • Fiat God, morality or laws: society’s way of restraining the advanced ape that we are.

          Fiat money, gold, Yap stones: society’s way of organizing trade in goods and services.

          That is all it boils down to in the end: how we organize living in ever larger communities.

  3. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. Aargh, Joseph.

    1.1. Here I am munching on popcorn, drinking Ovaltine, concentrated on the small world of my old country, enjoying the political mud-slinging and the victory in the beauty pageant and… and you disturb my equanimity with your global view of exhausted paradigms and the need to shift to a new one.

    1.2. Well, mate, I will try to harness the grey cells, preserved as they are in milk and not formaldehyde, and see what I can come up with.

    2. Let me begin first by observing that the detail of your paradigms are impressive — and rich — as they delve into the different spheres of religion, science, politics, economics, ethics and psychology.

    2.1. I will limit my observations to religion and science because these two, in my view, try to offer a comprehensive view of an understanding of life, whereas the others are mainly concerned with how the business of life should be conducted.

    2.2. Accordingly, I will divide the ages of the world into the following:

    o The Age of Religion (Past)
    o The Age of Enlightenment (1685 – 1815)
    o The Age of Relativism (1815 – Present)
    o The Age of Integration (Future)

    3. The Age of Religion

    3.1. The base principle of the religious paradigm is faith. The basic constant of the universe was gods or a god.

    3.2. This age embraces the Axial Age which saw the birth of the major religions.

    3.3. Religions, both theistic and non-theistic, offered the cosmologies of salvation to give meaning to man’s life.

    3.4. The basic solution it promoted to life’s problems was of the heart: love. But because each religion was (is) not universal but exclusivist, the solution could not be practiced in reality.

    3.5. While the Age is of the past, the religious paradigm is still the dominant bedrock of our lives. We see this in the clash of civilizations between Islam and Christianity. We see this in the potency of political and socioeconomic “faith” ideologies of communism, liberalism and conservatism.

    3.6. In the Philippines, the entire culture is submerged in the religious paradigm of faith, love and emotionality. Our fellow blogger, Wilfredo, is the quintessence of this paradigm and the Filipino psyche.

    4. The Enlightenment

    4.1. The Enlightenment was the antithesis of the Age of Religion. It brought forth the scientific paradigm.

    4.2. The base principle of the scientific paradigm is reason. The basic constant of the universe is the rational belief that nature is governed by invariable physical laws that can be discovered by empiricism.

    4.3. Science offered the explanations of science to give meaning to man’s life.

    4.4. The basic solution it promoted was of the mind: observation and experimentation. But because science could not present a comprehensive cosmology as religions do, the solution could not be accepted… and people still clung to the religious paradigm.

    4.5. While the Age is of the present, the scientific paradigm is the dominant distraction of our lives with the profusion of gadgetry developed from its basic findings of the laws of nature.

    4.6. In the Philippines, we see that we have finally entered this age with the advanced projects in DOST that fellow blogger Irineo has mentioned, including having our own satellite.

    5. The Age of Relativity

    5.1. The Age of Relativity is the outcome of the failure of the religious paradigm and the scientific paradigm. From this failure has emerged what I call the relativistic (or postmodernist) paradigm.

    5.2. The base principle of the relativistic paradigm is that faith and reason are relative to the observer. In the religious paradigm, Truth is seen as monolithic. In the scientific paradigm, Truth is seen as discoverable. And in the relativistic paradigm, Truth is seen as polylithic (or modular or heterogeneous). There is not one Truth but many.

    5.3. Of course, the beginnings of the Age can be seen in the replacement of classical physics by quantum mechanics, in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. And its development can be seen in Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Schrodinger’s cat and in Godel’s incompleteness theorems.

    5.4. The basic solutions offered have been many: Einstein’s general unified field theory, Hawking’s Theory of Everything, Wilber’s Theory of Everything, Laszlo’s Akashic field theory, multiverses in physics and pluralism in religious and political systems.

    5.5. This Age is of the present and of the future. The general consciousnesses of the peoples of the world have not yet absorbed the non-monolithic nature of truth.

    5.6. In the Philippines, there would be very few individuals who would accept the relativistic paradigm. In the Society, I only know of you, Josephivo, who has said elsewhere that truth is a function of the model.

    6. The Age of Integration

    6.1. I see this Age as the antithesis of the Age of Relativity.

    6.2. The base principle of the integral paradigm will be that of nonduality.

    6.3. I see this age as that where a consensus has been reached as to what the best systems are in all spheres, but also a consensus that best, second-best and third-best have to live side by side.

    6.4. It will neither be an imposed caliphate or a utopia. It will be a world of acceptance – and celebration — of differences and of mutual respect.

    6.4. I see this Age as a precursor to the dying of the sun.

    7. Perhaps the Age of Integration will be followed, or coincide with, the Age of Interstellar Discovery, the ultimate Diaspora.
    *****

    • If and when America manages to make parts of Mars habitable, there will be Filipinos there.

      Filipino OSWs – Outer Space Workers. Clark Spaceport will be full of OSW traffic.

    • I keep coming back to Wanted new thinkers post I suspect that like that post this will be read re read dozens of times.

      Thank you josephivo and also edgar for your reply.

    • karl garcia says:

      Dying of the sun….

    • Micha says:

      edgar, what is your example of polylithic truth?

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        1. In the religious paradigm, the diversity of “truth” in the various religions is polylithic.

        2. In the scientific paradigm, the diversity of “truth” in the origins of the universe is polylithic.

        3. I enclose “truth” in quotes because no one can establish a single “objective” truth in the paradigms. The possibilities are that one is true, none is true, or all are true — either wholly or to a certain extent.

        4. But in terms of subjective reality, certainly a religion (or scientific theory) is “true” for its believers.

        4.1. In a religion, the belief is true in the sense of the experiential reality of the believer.

        4.2. In a scientific theory, the belief is true in the sense that there is at least one (or more) rational basis in the observance of natural phenomena for the theory.

        5. Now a religious (or scientific) truth may become false. One may argue in this case, that the previously held truth (that has become false) was never true. On the other hand, one may argue that that was a truth for a certain span of time. And people lived the reality of that truth.

        6. So what is truth? This is the big question.

        6.1. Truth can be that which conforms to external reality. We may never know this. And external reality — usually when we arrive at the “bottom” of it — consist of paradox.

        6.2. Truth may be consensus (or conjective). But we know that the truth held by a minority may be truer than that held by a majority. Even a minority of one.

        6.3. Truth may be subjective perception. But we know that subjective perception is unreliable.

        6.4. Jesus’ answer to Pilates’ question, “What is the truth?” may be the correct answer.
        *****

        • Micha says:

          Let us leave aside the religious paradigm because I have long ago realized it’s a mega scam. Let us instead focus on real, tangible things like, I don’t know, maybe our planet for a start. What other “truths” are out there to describe or apprehend the nature of this planet other than it is spherical, made up of continents and oceans with a core, a mantle, and a crust, and revolves around the sun for 365 days?

          • Another truth is that there are billions of people living on this planet. One further truth is that there are over a hundred million Filipinos all over this planet now, and that most of them live on over 7000 islands that some Spanish explorers decided to call Filipinas.

            What is also true is that King Philipp II (whose evil character as played in Don Carlos was indirectly the inspiration for Darth Vader) made a treaty with the Filipino datus that were willing to cooperate. These datus became the principalia, their successors politicians. Those that did not cooperate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_of_the_Maharlikas were exiled. Some Filipino rebels were exiled to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioko which was known as Fernando Po during Spanish times. No connection to Grace Poe or so… What I think josephivo is trying to answer are two questions: how can the Philippines survive and how can the world survive, i.e. the people, and how can that solution be?

            • Micha says:

              Irineo, I can see that you’re all over this place and had been posting comments left right and center. Currently I am not talking to you but to edgar, so could you please bugger off for a change and for a minute?

              • This is an open discussion. So take my comments or ignore them.

                Others may make something out of them if they make any sense at all. 🙂

              • Micha says:

                Yes this is an open discussion so you may start a thread down below all you want. I’m waiting for edgar’s reply but you’ve already diluted the thread with something that totally disengages the particular subject matter I wanted to clarify.

          • edgar lores says:

            *******
            1. Tough one.

            2. I tend to see Earth on several levels:

            o Physical planet (scientific)
            o Metaphor (scientific and spiritual (or religious))
            o Multi-dimensional (spiritual)

            3. Physical planet. Under the scientific paradigm, Earth is one planet of a typical middle-aged star of which billions exist in the Milky Way galaxy, which is just one of billions of galaxies in the observable universe, which may just be one of many multiverses.

            3.1. We perceive Earth as a singular system supporting diverse biological life forms.

            3.2. Given the immensity of the universe, I would assume that we are not alone, that there are other planets elsewhere that also support life forms. I find it inconceivable that man — with all his pettiness, misery and wars — is the height of such magnificent creation.

            4. Metaphor (or not). I think the Earth is a metaphor for all of creation.

            4.1. There is a view that the Earth not only supports countless life forms but is also a living, breathing planetary being. This is the Gaia hypotheses.

            4.2. Seen in this light, I would propose that the various astronomical objects — the strange creatures — that populate the universe are also life forms. I would go further and propose that the universe is a life form.

            4.3. After all, what is the distinguishing characteristic of life? Wikipedia enlists 7 characteristics — namely, homeostasis, organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli, and reproduction. Arguably, all cosmological entities have most, if not all, of these characteristics to varying degrees.

            4.3.1. The flaw in the Gaia hypothesis is that Earth does not have the last characteristic, although the universe does have it. However… this leads us to the last level.

            5. Multi-dimensional.

            5.1. Under the scientific paradigm, the Earth is a biosphere of sea, earth and sky, the material plane on which we live.

            5.2. Under religious paradigms, it is the center of God’s creation, the temporary home of god-like creatures who, after death (and judgement), will be united with Him (or not) in another deathless realm.

            5.3. Arguably, there are other dimensions of Earth, such as spiritual planes and intermediate planes between the material and the spiritual planes. (Refer to 6.2)

            6. The limitations of Science

            6.1. It will be noted that, while Religion has devoted itself to ultimate ends (teleology), Science has devoted itself to beginnings and observable natural phenomena. (Philosophy and Mathematics are separate from these two.) Ultimate ends are not within the scope of Science. It might speculate about the death of the sun and the collapse of the universe as purely natural phenomena, but it can never speculate about purpose. It can establish cause but not purpose.

            6.2. Science has also neglected to investigate parapsychological phenomena which are beyond physical explanations.

            6.3. Currently, I gather there are two major schools of thought in Science: materialism and pluralism.

            6.3.1. From Wikipedia: “Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all phenomena, including mental phenomena and consciousness, are identical with material interactions.”

            6.3.2. From Wikipedia: “Pluralism is the view that some phenomena observed in science require multiple explanations to account for their nature.”

            6.4. I tend towards pluralism. I find the approach of scanning the brain to find an explanation for spiritual feelings and ideas to be reductionist. Yes, poking certain parts of the brain may stimulate spiritual bliss or orgasms, but pinpointing mere brain loci does not explain the “reality” of the phenomena.

            6.5. My conclusion is that Science has a long way to go to be an acceptable path to understanding the universe; it will never be able to establish it’s purpose. With Religion, one ostensibly understands the universe, but because the understanding is limited and not universal and because, as a consequence, it engenders strife… it is neither acceptable.
            *****

            • josephivo says:

              Understanding the universe”. Does it really matter if the sell popcorn at the back of the moon? (our moon we have been, select an other moon)

              Tend to be more pragmatic. Simpler models, easier to verify. And the “simple” models are already plenty difficult for me and impossible after a second beer.

              • edgar lores says:

                *******
                I like pragmatism. I think pragmatism would work if most people were similarly minded.

                In an office environment, where there is a product to make and to sell, and ideas and ideals that do not pertain to product do not affect office life, pragmatism would be perfect. If there is a problem, accept it and try to find the best solution.

                Real life is not like that. There are many models and products, and groups of people selling these models and products. Each group will say, “Buy our model! It is the simplest, it works, and it will make you happy!” And one could indeed be happy with most any product being sold and bought.

                The problem is most people are beyond pragmatic. They attach conditional ideas and ideals to their products.

                One group will say, “My product is good. You will have to subscribe to it, and pay regular fees.” And one could indeed be happy with the product, the subscription and the fees.

                And another group will say, “Our product is the best. You will have to subscribe to it, pay fees, and bow North seven times a day. Also, you cannot buy another product. If you do, we will kill you.” And one could indeed happy with the product, the subscription, the bowing, the fees and the warning.

                Then there will come a time when these different groups will attack each other for various reasons, but mainly to have the sole right to sell a product of this kind. And one’s pragmatism will force one to join the fray… because one’s life, family, goods, and way of life are under threat of being forfeited and lost.

                The simple, pragmatic choice was not simple nor pragmatic after all.
                *****

              • Religious ideas have become part of our modern ethical framework. Stuff like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would not exist without our Christian heritage.

                – thou shalt not kill… why don’t we just sacrifice innocents like the Mayas did before? Maybe we should make an exception and throw Secretary Abaya into Taal volcano.

                – monogamy – should we go back to the polygamy of the Egyptians the Jews fled from? Anthropologists say that monogamy made life easier for the “non-alphas” among us – in older societies it was Pharaohs and others who monopolized the women for themselves, even in medieval Europe the ius primae noctis was common. But it is also proven that monogamy helped increase population, and advantage for the Jewish nation to survive…

                – pork ban – made sense in the hot Middle East of the originals Jews and Muslims. Pig if not prepared properly – knowledge not yet available then – can cause terrible diseases. Before the FDA and food hygiene rules, religion had to take care of these matters also.

                – infidelity ban – also made sense in the days before scientific knowledge of venereal diseases existed. Sodom and Gomorrha led to syphilis and gonorrhea. What was not yet explainable via scientific mental models was explained as coming from God’s wrath. And human passion and jealousy is a possible force of disorder. How much happened in Sodom and Gomorrha – or around the Golden Calf – because of “thy neighbor’s wife”?

                – veiling women – a woman’s hair is now scientifically proven to be an erotic factor. Shaving a woman’s head was a punishment for women seen as cheap in Southern Italy before. Freud made it clear that civilization was about taming the human “id”, including sexuality. Look at 17th century Dutch paintings, women all had their hair covered. Somehow in Europe they managed to tame sexuality and do away with that with self-control, which is something many North Africans still lack, as proven by the New Year’s Eve attacks…

                – monotheism – the idea of one God was probably invented by Pharaoh Echnaton, who decided to worship only the Sun God, Amon or Aton. Moses for all the Biblical stories of his having been a foundling probably was a member of the Egyptian elite. Mses or Moses is simply a suffix of a typical Egyptian royal name – Thutmosis, Ramses, and Moses may just have been a renegade member of the Egyptian elite who decided to go with slaves, and preach to them the remnants of monotheism the traditional Egyptian priesthood hated – who knows Moses may even have been a heretic Egyptian priest for all we know, a real slave would not have the boldness to challenge a God-King or Pharaoh like he did. From monotheism, the idea of one set of moral rules evolved. What morals did Egypt have? Cleopatra’s dynasty was totally incestous. She was married to her brother at a young age, and had him killed later. Practically no concept of good and evil if one looks seriously.

                The major forces that shape today’s world: USA, EU, Russia, Islam, China – and possibly Southeast Asia, India and Latin America in the coming decades – all have distinct ways of seeing the world. Especially the balance between state, religion and the individual.

            • Micha says:

              Thanks for the reply edgar. You’ve covered a lot of ground there.

              I have no problem with the Gaia hypothesis. I think it’s a spiritual explanation on the nature of the planet more than anything else. It is a living organism because it is hospitable to living organisms.

              I guess my question has more to do with competing theories on the nature/characteristics/description of the planet. What if some nutcracker comes up with an explanation that the earth is, for example, actually a trapezoid and that it revolves around venus or mercury? Surely the post modern movement would reject such a claim, no?

              Also, you seem to be very engrossed about the purpose of the universe. What if there is no purpose? What if it’s perfectly alright to be conscious in a universe that has no purpose? Or, for that matter, what if we can figure out that purpose as we go along even if it may indeed be indecipherable at this moment?

            • Micha says:

              I wold just add that as far as the “truth” in describing the nature and/or characteristics of our planet is concerned, it is monolithic. Competing explanations that are so very obviously out of whack is not, and could not possibly be, equally valid.

              • edgar lores says:

                *******
                Micha,

                Thank you for clarifying your question. When you say it has more to do with competing theories on the nature of the planet, my interpretation would then be that you are posing a problem in epistemology. How do we know what we know? And how do we know that what we know is true?

                Philosophy has been grappling with this problem for ages.

                Science, of course, has this answer: We know by direct observation, and we know what is true by hypothesis, experimentation, confirmation and prediction. Direct observation would include the evidence of the senses and of the instruments we invent to extend our senses.

                Thus, we know the Earth is a sphere and not a trapezoid, and it revolves around the sun and not around Venus. We are able to calculate when the sun rises and when it sets, and we are able to predict the seasons.

                Direct observation (data) leads to inference (or knowledge by reason).

                Another way of knowing, outside the scientific paradigm, is innate knowledge. The basis of innate knowledge is consciousness. We do not know what consciousness is yet, but we are aware that we are aware. The knowledge we gain from innate knowledge is not from direct observation but from self-awareness, and this knowledge is self-evident. I think, therefore I am. I do not have to see, smell, hear, taste, and feel my body to know I exist.

                Innate knowledge also leads to inference, but where direct observation mostly deals with concretes innate knowledge deals with abstracts.

                A third way of knowing is intuition. It differs from both direct observation and innate knowledge in that this knowledge is neither from our senses nor innate. Neither is it inferred. It just enters our consciousness ex nihilo. Intuition can be true or false, and requires verification.

                I am certain there are other ways of knowing such as memory, emotion and faith.
                *****

              • Loresian Epistemology 101.

              • josephivo says:

                Edgar, you know my point, but once more. Doesn’t all (also truth) have to do with models, one always needs a set of unverifiable axioms to make a point. I can think of a model where the earth is a trapezoid circling around Pluto. This model might have still unknown force that influences my instruments when I survey the earth, the mathematical formula to describe the trajectory of the earth around Pluto will be extremely complex, Newton’s laws will have to be reformulated and will not be linear anymore.

                Luckily I am lazy, so the model I choose doesn’t need these strange assumptions/axioms or complex mathematical formulas. The trajectory around the sun just a simple circle or a little more correct an ellipsoid. That is my choice, a choice a share with many others. But if you insist that your model is correct, that is fine for me.

                What is the better model? Something that is coherent, doesn’t need miracles to explain events, is predictive, has the smaller set of axioms and is elegant. (elegant as quality, something easier to feel than to explain rational.) So as soon someone gives me a better model, I’ll change my belief, my truth.

              • edgar lores says:

                *******
                Joseph,

                I was going to argue for complexity in models in that you have mentioned simplicity is more pragmatic.

                If we look at evolution, per Chapter 16 of “God’s Debris”, the trend is from simple to complex life forms. Why? One can posit several reasons such as that is the organizing principle of evolution. However, let me just put up three reasons, apart from price, that we use when buying a car: looks, durability and functionality.

                A top-of-the-line car will have great looks, prolonged durability, and not only have better functionality but more functionality.

                Evolution does not care about price because the price for creating complexity is time… and evolution has all the time.

                I will agree with you on simplicity in this way: Elegance is complexity designed to look simple.

                Example: a smartphone like the iPhone 6. (I don’t have one and am not promoting!)

                So, really, even in the evolution of products, complexity in terms of increased features, life and functionality is the order of the day.

                But that is not my main point. Like you, I admire simplicity in products and as a way of life. Austerity is simplicity.

                The point I would like to make though is that the test of a system is not simplicity but that other word you used — coherence.

                A system — like a smartphone, or a software application, or a dam, or a theory — can be incredibly complex. But if the system coheres — that is, provides the best explanation or performs efficiently and produces the expected results with a minimum of maintenance — then it is a good system.
                *****

          • chempo says:

            Micha, I like the question you pose to Edgar. I like to see his unique brand of disposition.

            As regards Irineo, let’s live and let live. I don’t think there are any hard rules as to who can comment to any comment. We’ve tolerated MRP, let Irineo be. If there are any comments you don’t like, simple scroll past it.

            Peace Micha

        • “Truth” as a mental model of outside reality (old philosophies understand that the map is not the territory, that what can be spoken about is not reality itself) serves two purposes:

          1) to understand things better for whatever purpose.

          2) to make people or groups do something in certain way.

          Shamans, philosophers, thinkers, high priests, scientists and experts all have been through defining “truth” either for understanding or for influence throughout the millennia.

          Now I think josephivo wants to 1) understand the present state of humanity better, because at this stage our global civilization is inhuman and unnatural and 2) find a way to influence the world to make life more humane and natural using the Filipino experience.

    • Micha says:

      Or, for that matter, what part, what aspect, what feature of the universe that has, in your view, polylithic truth?

      • This was the Neolithic truth… or spelling bee…

        This was hieroglyphic truth.. or spelling bee..

        please define polylithic, is it something like polymeric… or rather composite materials?

        • Micha says:

          Polylithic is Edgar-speak for non-uniform, as opposed to monolithic. All things being equal, all perceived “truths” are, according to post modernist narrative, valid.

          • different mental models – like written below – the truth is the reality and the mental model is how we order that reality in our heads. I can think the sun goes around the earth because that is what I see, or I can know more based on what science has found out etc…

            I can believe that God brought problems upon Sodom and Gomorrha, or I can postulate they got syphilis and gonorrhea and started killing one another out of greed and passion.

    • josephivo says:

      Like 1 to 5.

      6.2 nonduality? As in yin-yang? Light needs the dark to shine?

      6.3 Best? What are the criteria to define good, better, best? Are they universal or individual, or my model dependent option? Is it a weighted average of all models, utilaristic, from the viewpoint of the universe?

      6.4 Not so sure there is an end point. Certainly not related to the sun. 100.000 years Homo sapiens… we will evolve into something else. Or decided by nature, luck, in the next 100,000 years. But more likely by ‘intelligent design’, intelligent human beings manipulating our DNA in the next 100 years (modified DNA, or cyborgs, or artificial intelligence, or -most likely- a combination of all 3.)

      7. A dramatic shrinking of the population, voluntary or involuntary, seems more likely to me. Our choice or nature might at the end outsmart us or our successors (as in the loss of Easter Island’s last tree, the tragedy of the commons?)

  4. NHerrera says:

    Thanks. Quite a feast already even at this point. Interesting expansive thoughts. Just what is needed as a timely, refreshing break from a politics focused or influenced topics. After viewing from the top however, one has to go down to pick and examine the pieces for a re-appraisal according to our individual framework or way of viewing things — analyze and synthesize the pieces of ideas. I don’t know if I will succeed even to my own satisfaction.

    • Everything we have in our minds is a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_model, i.e.:

      A mental model is an explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world. It is a representation of the surrounding world, the relationships between its various parts and a person’s intuitive perception about his or her own acts and their consequences. Mental models can help shape behaviour and set an approach to solving problems (akin to a personal algorithm) and doing tasks.

      A mental model is a kind of internal symbol or representation of external reality, hypothesized to play a major role in cognition, reasoning and decision-making. Kenneth Craik suggested in 1943 that the mind constructs “small-scale models” of reality that it uses to anticipate events.

      Sometimes I don’t even have a mental model in my mind, just a supermodel.

      Or Marian Rivera, then I guess mine and Edgar’s mental models might coincide.

      • What josephivo is writing about is how communities shape their common mental models.

        The goal is to be more effective as a community in ensuring one’s own survival.

        I would say that the larger the communities became the more complex the mental models.

        My evolution of order article is about that how certain ideas helped groups in organizing.

        It is in itself a mental model in that it simplifies a lot of things to make them comprehensible.

    • josephivo says:

      So now and then divergent thinking is helpful to try to see the whole field, to get more alternatives. The one should do some convergent thinking to narrow it down and eventually select some actionable priorities.

      My big fear is that generals always prepare for the last war. What good are nuclear submarines in fighting a few terrorist in Paris? (Virginia class at a cost $2.7 billion a piece, 100million Filipinos would have to pay more than PH1000 each, 48 of them in the pipeline. Upcoming Ohio class at $4 billion.) Same in politics, although there a lot of problems of the past are not solved yet, but why look at solutions of the past? How will the future look like? Where do we want to go? What should be our priorities?

      • The approach of having strong police has also been proven to be a stopgap measure. After Paris the French tightened up on their Arab migrants, especially North Africans who can be particularly “wild”. A lot of the men involved in the harrasment of women in Köln on New Year’s Eve were apparently North Africans, there are letters to the editor in some German newspapers that mention how some Algerian migrants etc. from France were in Köln for New Years Eve because they didn’t want to celebrate in France, even some from Lyon who told people “we’re here for the chicks”. Now you have two different mental models or attitudes clashing here. The Western attitude that women are free to do as they wish, and the traditional attitude (used to be the same in Spain, Portugal, Southern Italy, in Yugoslavia and Greece it is still common in rural areas) that women out on their own, especially at night, are cheap. In a smaller world, different attitudes clash. The TGV speed train takes you from Paris to Köln (Cologne) in just a few hours via Belgium, no borders. The distance from New York to LA is much further than from Damascus to Munich. Just this summer I stood on the plaza where the ISIS did a suicide bombing a few days ago. Like I told LCPL_X here in September, out of 100 thousand 0.1% bad eggs are enough…

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      NHerrera,

      Your approach of personal integration is correct.
      *****

      • NHerrera says:

        edgar, thanks for the note.

        As a take off point in this current post, I use Irineo’s wikipedia link (thanks Irineo for that) which treated of mental models. Among the notes there, what I find useful is the cautionary note in the critique on mental models:

        Scientific debate continues about whether human reasoning is based on mental models, versus formal rules of inference (e.g., O’Brien, 2009), domain-specific rules of inference (e.g., Cheng & Holyoak, 2008; Cosmides, 2005), or probabilities (e.g., Oaksford and Chater, 2007). Many empirical comparisons of the different theories have been carried out (e.g., Oberauer, 2006).

        It is perhaps an evolutionary thing for all of us, especially as we age, that we evolve in our use or integration of the mental tools or models that we use. What strikes me in the quote above are the following words:

        mental models; rules of inference; probabilities; empirical. (I will add to these — heurestics, mnemonics; non-rigidity in our models or beliefs.)

        I am particularly attracted to these because my mind seems to use concepts associated with them — sort of dancing around the thoughts those concepts stimulate with not a clear outline of what my mind concocts. I admire the ability of Josephivo, yourself, Irineo, among others here, in being able to articulate in writing their thoughts, I suppose, after having arrived at some conviction.

  5. chempo says:

    Woh Josephino, the rapid fire reminds me of Billy Joel and his “We did’nt start the fire”.
    You scanned the world through the ages but seems to me it’s more one dimensional, from your western education and Christian background.
    I know there’s something deep there, will take me a while to digest.
    And thanks to Edgar, for a really good display of great wisdom..

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Chempo, I had the exact same song in mind, which I can render in videoke with vocal alacrity. Hmm, mental alacrity best describes Joseph’s, Edgar’s, Irineo’s, Mocha’s NH’s jumping into one thought process. Perhaps that is the zeitgeist (thanks, Joseph), that we can think and speak as though in different levels, but can actually understand each other, why? Because to give in to our differences is to die, to mine the depths of our eclectic natures is to survive and attain happiness in a complex yet increasingly simplified world. It does boil down to love, the Filipino’s ascendancy.

    • josephivo says:

      Chempo. Yes with western education and Christian background, but jealous for a lot of Filipino ‘wisdom’ that is not in my ‘genes’. I have an intuitive feeling what this ‘wisdom’ is, but I cannot name it and I think that it will be important to cope with the upcoming changes in technology, power balance, climate….

      How to make this ‘wisdom’ explicit and sell it to the world?

  6. Bill in Oz says:

    I realse that this cuts across what Josephivo has outlined and the comments so far..But I am deeply influenced by a book written recently by Matt Ridley called “The Evolution of the universe, Morality, Genes, the Economy. Technology. the Mind, Personality, Education, Population. government, Religion, Money, the internet : EVERYTHING”
    If you see it is well worth getting.

    • http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/16/the-evolution-of-everything-matt-ridley-review – one review… my favorite book on the evolution of civilization is this one:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel

      Diamond argues that Eurasian civilization is not so much a product of ingenuity, but of opportunity and necessity. That is, civilization is not created out of superior intelligence, but is the result of a chain of developments, each made possible by certain preconditions.

      The first step towards civilization is the move from nomadic hunter-gatherer to rooted agrarian society. Several conditions are necessary for this transition to occur: access to high-protein vegetation that endures storage; a climate dry enough to allow storage; and access to animals docile enough for domestication and versatile enough to survive captivity. Control of crops and livestock leads to food surpluses. Surpluses free people to specialize in activities other than sustenance and support population growth. The combination of specialization and population growth leads to the accumulation of social and technologic innovations which build on each other. Large societies develop ruling classes and supporting bureaucracies, which in turn lead to the organization of nation-states and empires.[2]

      Now look at the Philippines. It’s simple organization when foreigners chanced upon it was enough for its own living conditions. The first to chance upon the Philippines were Hindus. Then a few hundred years later Muslims, then Spaniards, then Americans… In Australia it was even more extreme, the Aborigines had their simple life for millenia and a highly organized society came and pushed them aside… in NZ the Maori and Anglos have found their balance because the Maori were already more warlike to say the least.. very warlike. Or the movie Instinct with Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding…. it was the “TAKERS” who started civilization. Or Diamond who postulates that every form of rule started as a form of kleptocracy. But we can’t go back to hunter-gatherer, that way of life is unsustainable with the population density we have in the world now… so a new balance must be found, or else the world meaning the humans on this world will destroy their own present civilization… the world will go on even without people or very few stragglers left on it… that is the real issue.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Irineo, The Guardians reviewer ( John Gray ) is a grumpy old bugger and a left winger to boot..And this her has inherited the marxist tendency to explain everything via a theory. Ridley’s book is not at all theoretical..Ridley explores & describes what happened and sees everything as examples of evolution…

        There are bits where I disagree with Ridley. Privatisation of education & Social welfare being 2 of them. But in general I agree.

        When Jarred Diamond published his book Guns Germs & steel years ago, I was impressed. But time has moved on and I have read his subsequent books with interest. I wonder what Diamond makes of Ridley’s book ?

    • josephivo says:

      Bill. I only know Matt Ridley form the “Rational Optimist”. Ireneo’s link to the Guardian gave a glimpse of his new book. The mechanism of social evolution seems different from Darwinism indeed. I tried to describe the influence of a small group of ‘philosophers’ and paradigm shifts.

      Can meme or thoughts develop more independently than cells in an organism? Can one think of a destination and steer in that direction? Intelligent design?

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Memes & thoughts quickly acquire a life of their own ! Consider Karl Marx and his various ideas about the victory of the working class in the 1850’s.. Clearly he had a destination and an ‘intelligent’ design. But what happened ? The Soviet Union and it’s collapse; Communist China and it’s capitalist path; socialist Venezuela & it’s descent into chaos.

        Here is Ridley’s first paragraph Josiphivo
        “The word evolution originally meant ‘unfolding’. Evolution is a story, a narrative of how things change. It is a word freighted with many other meanings, of particular kinds of change. It implies the emergence of something from something else.It has come to carry a connotation of incremental & gradual change, the opposite to revolution. It is both spontaneous & inexorable. It suggest cumulative changes from simple beginnings.It brings the implication of change that comes from within, rather than being directed from without.It also implies change that has no goal, but is ‘open minded’ about where it ends up. And it has of course acquired the very specific meaning of genetic descent with modification over the generations in biological creatures through the mechanism of natural selection”
        Prologue, page 1.

        • If you look at the subsequent evolution of what Marx postulated – his analysis was partly right, but one should not forget that he also saw stock markets as a way of collectivizing…

          If one looks at modern Latin America – the President of Uruguay, former revolutionary, or the President of Ecuador who is an MBAer with a social agenda, or Raul Castro who is very open to business coming into the country now that society has stabilized and the sugar plantation owners power no longer is – EU companies are all over Cuba now… or new ideas within mainstream capitalism like inclusive growth and social enterpreneurship…

          Hegel called it dialectics – thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis… Marx also studied Hegel. In the end it is about balancing interests – capital and labor – so that you have a win-win.

          Soviet Communism was state capitalism based on Field Marshall Ludendorffs war economy methods and copied by Lenin. National Socialism was hardly much different from Stalinism in its implementation – present-day China is that plus some neoliberal stuff.

          So stuff evolves. Neoliberal theories had their justification as well, in taming some of the abuses of big government – but they also went too far and led to the Asian crisis of 1997 and the big crash of 2008/9. So instead of ideologies, pragmatic adjustments rule today.

          Duterte’s economic policies are very mainland Chinese BTW – even with special zones… but one only has to look at how mainland China treats its labor force to see it isn’t good. One has to add agriculture, nature, MSMEs to the balance between labor and capital.

          • Bill in Oz says:

            He foresaw a working class that transcended national boundaries, that would overthrow the capitalists and then proceed to abolish government with the emergence of communism..
            It was a pritty poor bit of crystal gazing if you ask me…

  7. “Shared beliefs are needed to unify, to make it possible for us, advanced apes, to live, to cooperate in “unnatural” large groups, to create our competitive advantage. To achieve this, some developments were breakthrough-events: the discovery of abstract concepts probably some 30,000/40,000 years ago, later our “fiat” (commonly accepted) deities and more recently our “fiat” money.” Common mental models or “truths”. Common organizational models. Fiat God and fiat money to restrain the ape in us: from doing bad things to strangers or cheating in trade.

    “The Philippines has many implicit answers to many of the above questions. They know how to make society happier, more sober, more in sync with nature. If we just could combine the Filipino smile with American assertiveness and Chinese foresight . . .” the most basic thing that keeps people from treating one another badly is EMPATHY – this is something Filipinos can have in smaller groups, because human beings have that as their nature… it is biological programming.

    Lao Tzu said: when goodness is lost, it is replaced by morality. He has an important point. Because basic goodness of simple people did not need morality – but I doubt human nature is programmed to think beyond the Stone Age group, or beyond the 150 people our mind by nature is able to know: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/mar/14/my-bright-idea-robin-dunbar – so John Lennon’s “Imagine” will remain a dream. We can only humanize the organizations that make it possible to live in such a complex and advanced way – or go back to hunter-gatherer, which may have been nice too, but could be nasty, brutish and short depending on the situation.

    • “They know how to make society happier, more sober, more in sync with nature.”

      My sarcastic addition to that is: except in Metro Manila… isn’t that the whole conundrum?

      Confusion is usually a phase to attaining a new big picture… a new mental model of things.

  8. karl garcia says:

    If there is an age of reason,there must be an age of pilosopo.

    I look at the definition of modernity in Wikipedia,it seems that it is what I thought it to be,it adapts with the times, Before it is just from the point of view of humanities,then now modernity is almost about anything new.Anything new is Modern.

    This is a tribute to David Bowie.

  9. Commercialization of all spheres of life – joseph

    True…after Christmas and all the commercial ads tempting everyone to part with their hard earned salary, 13th month and bonus, here comes Valentines day, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Grandparents’ Day, your special days and yours’, all for consumerism.

    Nothing is reserved for savings to answer for emergencies, income replacement fund in case something happens to the sole or partner bread winner, or even for the next utility bills. Living for the today, because it’s the “in” thing to do, and bahala na si batman (to borrow karl’s favorite saying although not in this aspect) when tomorrow comes.

    • In the old days, everyday should be Christmas day, everyday you should express your love and appreciation for your mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, friends…little things that mean a lot…(ah,that’s a song, I think)…no need to spend a fortune, unless you have one (a billionaire who has oodles and oodles of money to do the work for you)

      austerity living again….

    • chempo says:

      Sectary’s day…we have this in Singapore. It’s the day you take the personal secretary away from her keyboard to a nice restaurant, and the wifey does’nt mind.

    • I used to hate it, but I have come to like that shops are closed on Sundays in Germany.

      In fact it is part of the Constitution, something like Sunday is a day of rest and recovery, and both Catholic and Protestant churches would make sure that will never be changed.

      Just like shop closing laws which were liberalized somewhat in the 1990s, it is actually a product of an alliance between Christian Democrats (especially their village constituencies, including small shopkeepers who want to keep big retailers from ruining their business) and Social Democrats (especially their trade union constituencies, who want to protect working hours for retail workers AND keep big retail stores from hiring too many temps, here only temps who work under 40 hours/month are exempted from social security, actually not anymore since a few years but the employer has to pay the entire sum, not 50-50 like with normal workers, to discourage misusing the temp system) since the 1950s.

      Yes, shop closing… I remember the days when shops had to close at 6.30 p.m. sharp, since the 1990s it is a state matter. Now Bavaria is the most conservative state so shops here have to close at 8 p.m., usually the evening shift is manned by more temps because the professional salespeople have the 9-6 job, as a freelancer I prefer to go in mornings if I can because if I really want professional advice the old-fashioned way I get it easier then. At night and Sundays only train stations (some are almost like malls with some rails) and gas stations are allowed to sell stuff. Sundays are quiet, less traffic sound, better sleep.

      And big malls – there are some, but zoning keeps them from becoming too many and destroying the small shops that are conveniently at walking distance. For the daily stuff they are all chain stores now, but at least in the city you don’t have to drive to get there. Older cars are banned from city centers in most European cities via anti-pollution laws, and most parking lots will be too small for SUVs anyway – which have a higher vehicle tax also.

  10. Chivas says:

    This book God’s Debris by Scott Adams which the author gives for free and I cannot explain it in any best way possible, here are some chapters I can relate with the topic. These are merely thought experiments, and not intended to preach or teach, but rather, take a peek on people’s perception of reality.

    ##########

    CHAPTER 11 – GOD’S MOTIVATION

    ##########

    “If you were God,” he said, “what would you want?”

    “I don’t know. I barely know what I want, much less what God wants.”

    “Imagine that you are omnipotent. You can do anything, create anything, be anything. As soon as you decide you want something, it becomes reality.”

    I waited, knowing there was more.

    He continued. “Does it make sense to think of God as wanting anything? A God would have no emotions, no fears, no desires, no curiosity, no hunger. Those are human shortcomings, not something that would be found in an omnipotent God. What then would motivate God?”

    “Maybe it’s the challenge, the intellectual stimulation of creating things,” I offered.

    “Omnipotence means that nothing is a challenge. And what could stimulate the mind of someone who knows everything?”

    “You make it sound almost boring to be God. But I guess you’ll say boredom is a human feeling.”

    “Everything that motivates living creatures is based on some weakness or flaw. Hunger motivates animals. Lust motivates animals. Fear and pain motivate animals. A God would have none of those impulses. Humans are driven by all of our animal passions plus loftier-sounding things like self-actualization and creativity and freedom and love. But God would care nothing for these things, or if he cared would already have them in unlimited quantities. None of them would be motivating.”

    “So what motivates God?” I asked. “Do you have the answer to that question, or are you just yanking my chain?”

    “I can conceive of only one challenge for an omnipotent being — the challenge of destroying himself.”

    “You think God would want to commit suicide?” I asked.

    “I’m not saying he wants anything. I’m saying it’s the only challenge.”

    “I think God would prefer to exist than to not exist.”

    “That’s thinking like a human, not like a God. You have a fear of death so you assume God would share your preference. But God would have no fears. Existing would be a choice. And there would be no pain of death, nor feelings of guilt or remorse or loss. Those are human feelings, not God feelings. God could simply choose to discontinue existence.”

    “There’s a logical problem here, according to your way of thinking,” I said. “If God knows the future, he already knows if he will choose to end his existence, and he knows if he will succeed at it, so there’s no challenge there either.”

    “Your thinking is getting clearer,” he said. “Yes, he will know the future of his own existence under normal conditions. But would his omnipotence include knowing what happens after he loses his omnipotence, or would his knowledge of the future end at that point?”

    “That sounds like a thoroughly unanswerable question. I think you’ve hit a dead end,” I said.

    “Maybe. But consider this. A God who knew the answer to that question would indeed know everything and have everything. For that reason he would be unmotivated to do anything or create anything. There would be no purpose to act in any way whatsoever. But a God who had one nagging question — what happens if I cease to exist? — MIGHT be motivated to find the answer in order to complete his knowledge. And having no fear and no reason to continue existing, he might try it.”

    “How would we know either way?”

    “We have the answer. It is our existence. The fact that we exist is proof that God is motivated to act in some way. And since only the challenge of self-destruction could interest an omnipotent God, it stands to reason that we…”

    I interrupted the old man in mid-sentence and stood straight up from the rocker. It felt as if a pulse of energy ran up my spine, compressing my lungs, electrifying my skin, bringing the hairs on the back of my neck to full alert. I moved closer to the fireplace, unable to absorb its heat.

    “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” My brain was taking on too much knowledge. There was overflow and I needed to shake off the excess.

    The old man looked at nothing and said, “We are God’s debris.”

    ##########

    CHAPTER 12 – GOD’S DEBRIS

    ##########

    “Are you saying that God blew himself to bits and we’re what’s left?” I asked.

    “Not exactly,” he replied.

    “Then what?”

    “The debris consists of two things. First, there are the smallest elements of matter, many levels below the smallest things scientists have identified.”

    “Smaller than quarks? I don’t know what a quark is, but I think it’s small.”

    “Everything is made of some other thing. And those things in turn are made of other things. Over the next hundred years, scientists will uncover layer after layer of building blocks, each smaller than the last. At each layer the difference between types of matter will be fewer. At the lowest layer everything is exactly the same. Matter is uniform. Those are the bits of God.”

    “What’s the second part of the debris?” I asked.

    “Probability.”

    “So you’re saying that God — an all-powerful being with a consciousness that extends to all things, across all time — consists of nothing but dust and probability?”

    “Don’t underestimate it. Porbability is an infinitely powerful force. Remember my first question to you, about the coin toss?”

    “Yes. You asked why a coin comes up heads half the time.”

    “Probability is omnipotent and omnipresent. It influences every coin at any time in any place, instantly. It cannot be shielded or altered. We might see randomness in the outcome of an individual coin toss, but as the number of tosses increases, probability has firm control of the outcome. And probability is not limited to coins and dice and slot machines. Probability is the guiding force of everything in the universe, living or non-living, near or far, big or small, now or anytime.”

    “It’s God’s debris,” I mumbled, rolling the idea around in both my mouth and mind to see if that helped. It was a fascinating concept, but too strange to embrace on first impression. “You said before that you didn’t believe in God. Now you say you do. Which is it?”

    “I’m rejecting your overly complicated definition of God — the one that imagines him to have desires and needs and emotions like a human being while possessing infinite power. And I’m rejecting your complicated notion of a fixed reality that the human mind can — by an amazing stroke of luck — grasp.”

    “You’re not rejecting the idea of a fixed reality,” I argued. “You’re saying the universe is made of God’s debris. That’s a fixed reality.”

    “Our language and our minds are too limited to deal with anything but a fixed reality, regardless of whether such a thing exists. The best we can do is to update our delusions to fit the times. We live in an increasingly rational, science-based society. The religious metaphors of the past are no longer comforting. Science is whittling at them from every side. Humanity needs a metaphor that allows God and science to co-exist, at least in our minds, for the next thousand years.”

    “If your God is just a metaphor, why should I care about him? He would be irrelevant,” I said.

    “Because everything you percieve is a metaphor for something your brain is not equipped to fully understand. God is as real as the clothes you are wearing and the chair you are sitting in. They are all metaphors for something you will never understand.”

    “That’s ridiculous. If everything we perceive is fake, just a metaphor, how do we get anything done?”

    “Imagine that you had been raised to believe carrots were potatoes and potatoes were carrots. And imagine you live in a world where everyone knows the truth about these foods except you. When you thought you were eating a potato you were eating a carrot, and vice versa. Assuming you had a balanced diet overall, your delusion about carrots would have no real impact on your life except for your continuous bickering with others about the true nature of carrots and potatoes. Now suppose everyone was wrong and both carrots and potatoes were entirely different foods. Let’s say they were really apples and beets. Would it matter?”

    “You lost me. So God is a potato?” I joked.

    “Whether you understand the true nature of your food or not, you still have to eat. And in my example it makes little difference if you don’t know a carrot from a potato. We can only act on our perceptions, no matter how faulty. The best we can do is to periodically adjust our perceptions — our delusions, if you will — to make them more consistent with our logic and common sense.”

    ##########

    CHAPTER 13 – GOD’S CONSCIOUSNESS

    ##########

    “What makes things do what they do?” he asked. “What makes dogs bark, cats purr, plants grow?”

    “Before today I would have said evolution makes everything do what it does. Now I don’t know what to think.”

    “Evolution isn’t a cause of anything; it’s an observation, a way of putting things in categories. Evolution says nothing about causes.”

    “Evolution seems like a cause to me,” I argued. “If it weren’t for evolution I’d be a single-celled creature in the bottom of some swamp.”

    “But what makes evolution happen?” he asked. “Where did all the energy come from and how did it become so organized?”

    It was a good question. “I’ve always wondered how something like a zebra gets created by a bunch of molecules bouncing around the universe. It seems to me that over time the universe should become more screwed up and random, not organized enough to create zebras and light rail systems and chocolate chip cookies. I mean, if you put a banana in a box and shook it for a trillion years, would the atoms ever assemble themselves into a television set or a squirrel? I guess it’s possible if you have enough boxes and bananas, but I have a hard time understanding it.”

    “Do you have any trouble understanding that a human embryo can only grow into a human adult and never into an apple tree or a pigeon?” he asked.

    “I understand that. Humans have different DNA than apple trees or pigeons. But with my banana in the box example, there’s no blueprint telling the molecules how to become something else. If the banana particles somehow stick together to become a flashlight or a fur hat, it’s a case of amazing luck, not a plan.”

    “So you believe that DNA is fundamentally different from luck?”

    “They’re opposites,” I said. “DNA is like a specific plan. Probability means anything can happen.”

    The old man looked at me in that way that said I would soon doubt what I was saying. He didn’t disappoint. As usual, he began with a question.

    “If the universe were to start over from scratch, and all the conditions that created life were to happen again, would life spring up?”

    “Sure,” I said, feeling confident again. “If all the things that caused life the first time around were to happen again, the result should be the same. I don’t know what you’re getting at.”

    “Let’s rewind our imaginary universe 15 billion years, to long before the time life first appeared. If that universe’s origin were identical to our own, would it unfold to become exactly like the world we live in now, including this conversation?”

    “I guess so. If it starts out the same and nothing changes it along the way, it should turn out the same.” My confidence was evaporating again.

    “That’s right. Our existence was programmed into the universe from the beginning, guarenteed by the power of probability. The time and place of our existence were flexible, but the outcome was assured because sooner or later life would happen. We would be sitting in these rocking chairs, or ones just like them, having this conversation. You believe that DNA and probability are opposites. But both make specific things happen. DNA runs on a tighter schedule than probability, but in the long run — the extreme long run — probability is just as fixed and certain in its outcome. Probability forces the coin toss to be exactly 50-50 at some point, assuming you keep flipping forever. Likewise, probability forced us to exist exactly as we are. Only the timing was in question.”

    “I have to think about that. It sounds logical but it’s weird,” I said.

    “Think about this,” he continued. “As we speak, engineers are building the Internet to link every part of the world in much the same way as a fetus develops a central nervous system. Virtually no one questions the desirability of the Internet. It seems that humans are born with the instinct to create it and embrace it. The instinct of beavers is to build dams; the instinct of humans is to build communication systems.”

    “I don’t think instinct is making us build the Internet. I think people are trying to make money off it. It’s just capitalism,” I replied.

    “Capitalism is only part of it,” he countered. “In the 1990s investors threw money at any Internet company that asked for it. Economics went out the window. Rationality can’t explain our obsession with the Internet. The need to build the Internet comes from something inside us, something programmed, something we can’t resist.”

    He was right about the Internet being somewhat irrational. I wasn’t going to win that debate and this was not a place to jump in. He had a lot more to say.

    “Humanity is developing a sort of global eyesight as millions of video cameras on satellites, desk tops and street corners are connected to the Internet. In your lifetime it will be possible to see almost anything on the planet from any computer. And society’s intelligence is merging over the Internet, creating, in effect, a global mind that can do vastly more than any individual mind. Eventually everything that is known by one person will be available to all. A decision can be made by the collective mind of humanity and instantly communicated to the body of society.

    In the distant future, humans will learn to control the weather, to manipulate DNA and to build whole new worlds out of raw matter. There is no logical limit to how much our collective power will grow. A billion years from now, if a visitor from another dimension observed humanity, he might perceive it to be one large entity with a consciousness and purpose, and not a collection of relatively uninteresting individuals.”

    “Are you saying we’re evolving into God?”

    “I’m saying we’re the building blocks of God, in the early stages of reassembling.”

    “I think I’d know it if we were part of an omnipotent being,” I said.

    “Would you? Your skin cells are not aware that they are part of a human being. Skin cells are not equipped for that knowledge. They are equipped to do what they do and nothing more. Likewise, if we humans — and all the plants and animals and dirt and rocks — were components of God, would we have the capacity to know it?”

    “So, you’re saying God blew himself to bits — I guess that was the Big Bang — and now he’s piecing himself back together?” I asked.

    “He is discovering the answer to his only question.”

    “Does God have consciousness yet? Does he know he’s reassembling himself?”

    “He does. Otherwise you could not have asked the question, and I could not have answered.”

    ##########

    CHAPTER 16 – EVOLUTION

    ##########

    “Let’s get back to evolution,” I said. “With all your talk about God, do you think he caused evolution? Or did it all happen in a few thousand years like the creationists believe?”

    “The theory of evolution is not so much wrong as it is incomplete and useless.”

    “How can you say it’s useless?”

    “The theory of evolution leads to no practical invention. It is a concept that has no application.”

    “Yeah, I hear what you’re saying,” I said. “But you have to agree that the fossil evidence of earlier species is pretty compelling. There’s an obvious change over time from the earlier creatures to the newer ones. How can you ignore that?”

    “Imagine that an asteroid lands on Earth and brings with it exotic bacteria that kills all organic matter on Earth and then dissolves without a trace. A million years later, intelligent aliens discover Earth and study our bones and our possessions, trying to piece together our history. They might notice that all of our cookware — the pots and pans and plates and bowls — all seemed to be related somehow. And the older ones were quite different from the newer ones. The earliest among them were crude bowls, all somewhat similar, generally made of clay or stone. Over time, the bowls evolved into plates and coffee cups, and steel frying pans.

    The aliens would create compelling charts showing how the dishes evolved. The teacup family would look like its own species, related closely to the beer mug and the water glass. An observer who looked at the charts would clearly see a pattern that could not be coincidence. The cause of this dishware evolution would be debated, just as we debate the underlying cause of human evolution, but the observed fact of dishware evolution would not be challenged by the alien scientists. The facts would be clear. Some scientists would be bothered by the lack of intermediate dishware species — say a frying pan with a beer mug handle — but they would assume it to exist somewhere undiscovered.”

    “That might be the worst analogy ever made,” I said. “You’re comparing people to dishes.”

    The old man laughed out loud for the first time since we began talking. He was genuinely amused.

    “It’s not an analogy,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “It’s a point of view. Evolution is compelling not because of the quality of the evidence but because of the quantity and variety of it. The aliens would have the same dilemma. There would be so much evidence for their theory of dishware evolution that opponents would be mocked. The alien scientists would theorize that forks evolved from spoons, which evolved from knives. Pots evolved from bowls. Dinner plates evolved from cutting boards. The sheer quantity and variety of the data would be overwhelming. Eventually they would stop calling it a theory and consider it fact. Only a lunatic could publicly doubt the mountain of evidence.”

    “There’s a big difference between dishes and animals,” I said. “With dishes, there’s no way they can evolve. Logic would tell the aliens that there was no way that a non-living dish could produce offspring, much less mutant offspring.”

    “That’s not exactly true,” he countered. “It could be said that the dishes used human beings in a symbiotic relationship, convincing us through their usefulness to make new dishes. In that way the dishes succeeded in reproducing and evolving. Every species takes advantage of other living things to ensure its survival. That is the normal way living things reproduce.

    You believe, without foundation, that the alien scientists would see a distinction between the living creatures and the non-living dishes, and classify the dishes as mere tools. But that is a human-centric view of the world. Humans believe that organic things are more important than inorganic things because we are organic. The aliens would have no such bias. To them, the dishes would look like a hardy species that found a way to evolve and reproduce and thrive despite having no organic parts.”

    “But the dishes have no personalities, no thoughts or emotions or desires,” I said.

    “Neither does a clam.”

    “Then why do people say they’re as happy as a clam?” I joked. He ignored me.

    “Does it strike you as odd that there isn’t more evidence today of the mutations that drive evolution?” he asked.

    “Like what?”

    “Shouldn’t we be seeing in today’s living creatures the preview of the next million years of evolution? Where are the two-headed humans who will become overlords of the one-headed people, the fish with unidentified organs that will evolve to something useful over the next million years, the cats who are developing gills? We see some evidence of mutations today, but mostly trivial ones, not the sort of radical ones there must have been in the past, the sort that become precursors of brains, eyes, wings and internal organs.

    And why does evolution seem to move in one direction, from simpler to more complex? Why aren’t there any higher life forms evolving into simpler, hardier creatures? If mutations happen randomly, you would expect evolution to work in both directions. But it only works in one, from simple to complex.”

    He continued. “And why has the number of species on Earth declined for the past million years? The rate of new species was once faster than the rate of extinction, but that has reversed. Why? Can it all be explained by meteors and human intervention?

    And how does the first member of a new species find someone to breed with? Being a new species means you can no longer breed with the members of your parents’ species. If mutations are the trigger for evolution, the mutations must happen regularly and in such similar ways that the mutants can find each other to breed. You would think we would notice more mutations if it happens that easily.”

    “I have the same problem with religion,” I said. “It seemed like there were all sorts of miracles a long time ago but now we never see them. With evolution, it looks like most of the mutating is petering out just when we get smart enough to study it. It does seem a bit suspicious, as if there was a point to it all and we’re nearing it.”

    “Come back to the coin for a moment,” he beckoned. “If by chance you flip a balanced coin and it comes up heads a hundred times in a row, what is the probability that it will come up heads again on the next toss?”

    “I know this one. The odds are 50-50 even though it seems like the coin is overdue for a tails. It doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s what I learned in school.”

    “That’s right,” he said. “Or to put it another way, the coin’s past has no impact on its future. There is no connection between the outcomes of the prior coin flips and the likelihood of the future ones.

    The rest of the universe is like a coin. The events of the past appear to cause the present, but every time we pop back into existence we are subject to a new set of probabilities. Literally anything can happen.”

    He shifted in his chair and began again. “Every creature has a tiny probability of becoming a different species with each beat of the universe. A duck can be replaced in whole by a woodchuck. The odds of this happening are so small that it probably never has and never will happen, but it is not precluded by the nature of the universe. It is simply unlikely.

    A more likely result is that a creature’s DNA experiences a tiny variation because two bits of God-dust tried to reappear in the same location and had to make an adjustment. That adjustment set in motion a chain reaction of probabilities that affected the fate of the creature.

    When you flip the coin, it almost always lands either heads or tails, even though it could possibly balance on its edge. If we did not have experience with flipping coins we might think coins regularly land and stay on their edges. The edge of a coin has perhaps ten percent as much surface area as either of its sides, so you might expect that coins come up ‘edge’ routinely.

    But probability avoids in-between conditions. It favors heads or tails. Evolution also avoids in-between conditions. Something in the nature of the God-dust made growing two eyes likely and growing two heads unlikely. More to the point, there is something about eyes that supports God’s inevitable reassembly.”

  11. Bert says:

    “Also, you seem to be very engrossed about the purpose of the universe. What if there is no purpose? What if it’s perfectly alright to be conscious in a universe that has no purpose? Or, for that matter, what if we can figure out that purpose as we go along even if it may indeed be indecipherable at this moment?”—Micha to Edgar

    Now, now, for such a simple question we are going out of this world when we ought not to. Why not we just look for the answer to the question, “What is the PURPOSE of life on this earth we live in?”, rather than go out to solve the same unsolvable and more complex question out there?

    Can we, please?

    Micha: “…what if we can figure out that purpose as we go along even if it may indeed be indecipherable at this moment?”

    My take on that: Scientifically it cannot be done as finding the purpose of life here on earth cannot be done.

    If it can be done, I would be very glad to know how and what.

    • josephivo says:

      THE purpose of life on the earth we live in?” Can’t we keep it simple, I’m not so concerned for some bacteria deep in the earth or one butterfly in the Amazon. Why not just look at the question “What is my purpose?”

      With all my sympathy for the American founding fathers, “Pursuit of happiness?”

      • Bert says:

        Pursuit of happiness, hmmmn. That’s all there was to it, eh, Joseph? And then we die? What then? From fertilization to death… the end of life…for what…what was the purpose of that? To feed the worms? And when the worm dies, what? Was the worm happy? Life…happiness…sadness…death, end of story. And for what purpose? Is there happiness after death?

        • karl garcia says:

          from fertilzation to fertilizer.

          • karl garcia says:

            If fossil fuels means fuel out of the remains of beings that lived thousands of years ago,Then that is what we will become, Diesel.

            • Or we can power vehicles while still alive. These bicycle rickshaws are considered pretty cool in Munich, tourists like them. But I have already seen some quarreling with the driver over the fare, it is not cheap at all but the usually young students who do it need to earn…

              Strange how some of the stuff considered low-class in the Philippines is cool again here, just like Lambanog has reached some of the coolest bars, displacing Barcadi Rum?

        • josephivo says:

          Bert. Can we keep it simple? One life at a time, starting with the one we are living?

        • Joe America says:

          You are wrestling with the great dilemma expressed by Camus when he posed the fundamental question, “Why not just commit suicide?” The answer, of course, is that life is rich, whether painful or pleasant, and the wending of one’s way through it is enriching, one way or another. What exists after death is a mystery, but one ought to be in no hurry to explore it, I think.

          I think the pursuit of happiness is rather self-involved and limited, as a warring soldier would find fulfillment in causing a great deal of pain, death and destruction. Perhaps it is to do our best, and we define “best” with a great deal of thought and compassion.

          • josephivo says:

            The perfect world with only perfectly balanced individuals is not there yet. With the ‘intelligent design’ of DNA in the coming decennia and with the perfection of our education system (with the help of our computers friendly intelligence) we might soon be able to tune all human beings to expose only balanced behavior. In the mean time we will need some rules and regulations to keep the less adjusted exceptions in check such as the soldier you mentioned.

            For most people helping others, e.g. their children, is one of the greatest joys in life. We know that seeing achievement in the rear mirror creates the deepest happiness. In this rear mirror the success of others has a larger surface than just your own achievements. People are defined by other people, not merely by themselves. I think that Sister Theresa had a good feeling at the end of her life, with the only sorrow that she could not help more people. So I still believe that the founding fathers in the US where not that stupid.

            • Doc' & CJ says:

              @ Joseph & “The Rest”

              I’ve spent the better part of the last 3 days reading over a small portion of what is archived here on Joe’s blog, including this article. The comments/conversations are as impressive as the articles themselves, I find myself humbled, enlightened, and admittedly overwhelmed.

              But after reading this particular article I felt compelled to offer just these 2 things:

              1. Reality is singular and unchanging. What was true in the beginning, will always be true in the end.

              2. “I reckon the very best a man can hope for in this life, is to truly love a good woman and be truly loved by her in return. All things begin and end there.”

              Everything else is just background noise.

              Life is short Gentlemen.

              • edgar lores says:

                *******
                1. Disagree. Reality is mutable. We are agents of that mutability. The universe is open-ended; it is not pre-determined.

                1.1. Perhaps you mean that reality is singular and unchanging with respect to the laws of the universe. This is Einstein’s “God does not play dice with the universe.”

                1.2. Do you believe in miracles? Miracles would be a suspension of the laws of the universe.

                2. Tend to agree. You must be one of the lucky ones.

                2.1. Women are miracles, no?

                2.2. If you agree, you have just contradicted and shattered your first thesis.
                *****

              • Doc' & CJ says:

                Hello Edgar,

                1. Perception does not necessarily equate to reality, the only exception to that rule would be if/when perception is employed correctly. If a rock is perceived to be a rock (no matter the size, shape or color) then that perception is a true and accurate translation of reality. Contrarily, if a rock is perceived to be anything other than a rock, then perception becomes deception. Human behavior often involves many forms of mutability, but reality itself remains constant and unchanging. A rock is still a rock. And pigs don’t fly. It is humans themselves who are mutable, and thus, prone to altering perceptions, but entirely incapable of altering reality.

                (A personal observation: In my experience, those who have difficulty accepting reality (often centered in internal conflict) do often have altered perceptions that provide them with a false sense of security. Although not the only cause, this is often directly attributable to a psychological self-protection mechanism that kicks in as a result of mental and/or physical trauma. It’s natural function is designed to provide the time and ability required for the mind to recover or “reset” before returning to normal, rational functions. This is usually a temporary condition.However, this temporary self-protection mechanism can, and often does, become a long-term or even permanent state of mind if/when additional trauma is experienced during the recovery period. Additionally; trauma experienced during recovery may also be derived from self-perceived threats rather than actual events. When left unaddressed, this altered state of functionality often becomes the primary state of being and affects all other aspects of their lives. By this means, although diminished, the survival of the individual is ensured. Survival is the primary function of the mechanism.)

                1.1. Although your argument is too broadly termed and generalized, I will try to answer. If you are referring to mankind’s ability to influence the duration of our own existence within the universe, then yes, I believe we do (in a limited way) hold our own future in our hands. I believe it is by design left “open ended” as you call it, to allow for the existence and function of free will. We could for example, end all human life tomorrow by annihilating ourselves with nuclear war. Or we may, as Joseph seems to hope, survive far into the future and become much more evolved and “enlightened”. In either event, I believe the outcome is left largely up to us to determine. It’s all a matter of choice. Will we choose to be good stewards of the earth? Will we choose to embrace a “new age of enlightenment” as Joseph ponders in this article? Or will we choose to destroy ourselves completely with nuclear weapons? It’s all about choices, and these choices my friend, can only be made by humans who have the free will to do so.

                Regarding the continuity and infinite nature of “the universe”; I tend to believe God’s creation is indeed infinite and eternal. I further trust that as part of that creation, we humans will also continue to exist eternally. But not in physical form. Life is a gift, and as such it is as eternal as the God who granted it to us. But eventually, we will all pass from the visible, known, physical dimension, into the unseen and unknown spiritual dimension. And the world as we know it, shall also cease to exist.

                After we cease to exist in physical form, WHERE we eternally exist is again a matter of the choices we make as individuals. This I believe, is the primary purpose and function of free will. Our choices ultimately decide whether we will eternally reside close to God (what we call Heaven) or eternally distant from God. (otherwise known as hell) Both are far removed from an earthly existence.

                We humans are indeed “agents” of our own mutability, and we are often victims of that fact, and we may even have effects on our environment or those around us; But in the end resolve, these are all matters of choice made possible by free will. In reality, perceptions are still often altered, but the reality of the universe is still the same as it was when it was created. Humans are still human, the earth and the planets still revolve around the sun, and pigs still can’t fly. What was true in the beginning, will always be true in the end.

                My position remains unchanged.

                ***************

                In a real sense, Einstein was right, “God does not play dice with the universe”. God designed His creation extremely intelligently indeed, with everything being inter-connected, and layer upon layer upon layer of complexity that will forever remain obscure and untraceable to our best and brightest minds. The design (like God) is literally perfect and does not require improvement. Einstein himself constantly marveled at the elegant design of the universe, and he greatly struggled with the idea that humans cannot even conceive of the complexity involved in intelligent design. He emphasized this many times during his life, as in these examples;

                “I see a pattern, but my imagination cannot picture the maker of that pattern. I see a clock, but I cannot envision the clockmaker. The human mind is unable to conceive of the four dimensions, so how can it conceive of a God, before whom a thousand years and a thousand dimensions are as one?” ~Albert Einstein~

                “We know nothing about God, at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. Possibly we shall know a little more than we do now, but the real nature of things, that we shall never know, never.” ~Albert Einstein~

                Regarding the “unseen, unknown, spiritual dimension” and more directly related to the crux of our conversation; Stephen Hawking is on record as saying;

                “Thus, the future of the universe is not completely determined by the laws of science, and its present state, [as Laplace thought.] God still has a few tricks up his sleeve.” ~Stephen Hawking~

                Although these quotes may seem to be taken out of context, I believe they do still lend support to my position. Truth be told, for a couple of brilliant, atheistic theorists, I believe both Einstein and Hawking have done more to prove the existence of God, than they ever have to disprove it. The same could be said about the static nature of the reality of the universe. Although they may be unwilling to publicly admit it, much of their own research has come full circle and produced results that verify the very facts they attempted to deny. As I have maintained, it seems the truth is singular and unchanging.

                Sorry my friend, but in view of such evidence, I find your claims to be flimsy at best, as well as unsubstantiated.

                *****************************

                1.2. “Miracles” as you call them, are simply abstract terms used by humans to describe what we cannot otherwise explain. I do believe in the possibility of divine intervention, but it must be an extremely rare occurrence, I cannot cite any personal examples myself. However, God does indeed have a plan for everything and everyone, and we are not privy to it. Again, choice becomes the determining factor. We can cut ourselves off from God’s plan for our lives by making wrong or poor choices for ourselves. But as with reality, God never changes His plan for our lives. We may abandon God, but God never abandons us. This is another function of free will.

                2. I don’t believe in “luck” per say. I do however believe that in my case, I was somehow able to make enough proper choices for myself (Now THAT may be a miracle!) that I was Blessed with the opportunity to meet and Marry my precious wife. Of all the women in the world, there is no doubt in my mind that she was literally and specifically, created for me alone. As crazy as that may sound, I am convinced it is a fact. Which simply verifies and strengthens my faith and belief in God. And trust me Brother, based on MY history, there can be no other explanation! Happily, she feels and believes that I was created specifically for her. I always knew exactly what I wanted and needed to truly be complete, but I didn’t believe she existed; Until I met her. God always had a plan for my life, He just had to wait for me to accept it. God is good my friend, even when we don’t deserve it.

                2.1. No. Women are no more a miracle than a man is. In fact, some women are the antithesis of a miracle!

                If miracles really exist on this earth, True Love is the best proof of it.

                And if you need proof that God actually exists, Love is that proof.

                I challenge you or anyone else to scientifically replicate, or even begin to explain the stuff that Love is made of. Much less where it comes from.

                Love IS a miracle my friend.

                2.2. Not Applicable.

                Sincerely,
                Doc’

              • Edgar Lores says:

                *******
                Doc, thank you.

                1. Partly agree. Perception NEVER equates to objective reality. We do not know what is “out there.”

                1.1. I am not a theist. I may be a deist along with Einstein. Different religions have different cosmologies. My position is I don’t know what the ends of universe are, if any. My belief aligns with that of Einstein’s in your second quote. But since I believe in a moral universe, I believe we participate in the creation of the ends of the universe. But I also believe that what you believe in is valid and true. This goes for all religions.

                1.2. I believe in miracles. Life is a miracle.

                2. Ahaha! Come on, admit it: your life is a miracle. As I said, you are one of the lucky ones.

                2.1. Ahaha! I might have to agree with you that some women are not miracles. Totally agree that love is a miracle.

                2.2. Ahaha! I say partly applicable… because you have admitted that some women are miracles.
                *****

              • josephivo says:

                Some related thoughts.

                Reality has so many definitions, are real numbers real? So I tend to take a lazy stand and see all as perception. With my multitude of perceptions and with the even greater testimony of perceptions by minds I trust, again my subjective selection, with all these I try to build a “model” that I call reality. Everyone can build his own model. When I compare models I have my individual set of criteria. I accept your model/beliefs even if in my thinking it misses some of the elegance of simpler scientific ones.

                From spirits in everything, over supremacy of spirits of ancestors, many deities in a polytheistic supernatural world, dualistic Gods, one God with supernatural helpers, up to one absolute, eternal and omnipotent God. Whose definition of this God is correct? What will be next development?

                What if can build an artificial “computer” that can store all your thinking and memory? (Working until the next brown-out  .) Still a long distance to go, especially the power consumption. Our brain consumes 20W, the largest computer, still many orders of magnitude smaller and consumes 24MW! But QDCA (quantum dot cellular automata) and carbon nano tubes are promising as are more biological inspired approaches to mimic a brain. Assuming we keep improving input/output devices and robotics, called “embodiment”, (at the current improvement speed 30 to 100 years) what then? The conscience you in your human body gone, but what to do the individual, independent thinker in this computer?

      • Too much pursuit of happiness can end up like LA or Metro Manila with their traffic jams.

        Bert’s simple life on an island is probably worth more than all the luxury in the world.

        One of the first things that led me to watch more what Governor Salceda of Albay is doing is how he reacted an FB post of a young person who envisioned an Albay like Manila: “this is the kind of progress we do not want”. Bikolanos tend to be nicely conservative, Governor Joey is LP but in Europe he might have been a typical Christian Democrat. Nothing wrong with certain modern amenities, but I admire how in Bikol the old Spanish churches still stand, the fiestas are still celebrated and the old hospitality still is practiced.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          Having spent time in Bicol on two occasions Irineo, I completely agree with you about Bicol…I do wonder how Bicol would go as a state in a Federal Philippines. Probably very very well…

          • Albay is doing very well now. It’s the place my father’s folks come from. Bert lives there.

            Camarines Sur is where Leni Robredo – and Will Villanueva – come from. Leni is in my opinion the one who will bring balance to the Force for the Filipino nation.

            • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

              Ah, Bicol. Maybe the subject of a blog?

              • josephivo says:

                Yes, and what makes them different? Where are they best in class? What beliefs should be part of our new philosophy?

              • Bill in Oz says:

                I would love to read a blog about Bicol..My lady comes from there ( originally Barcelonita ) and so I am trying to learn as much as I can about this region of the Phillippines. I have a book on Naga city published some years ago which I think included an article by yourself.
                And there is a book by Normal Owen published in Manila in 1999 called “The Bicol Blend : Bicolanos & their History” But it is out of print and a second hand copy from Amazon costs $178.00 US..Way beyond my budget..

    • chempo says:

      What is the purpose of life?
      Only Buddhism offers an answer, whether it’s correct or if you agree with it is besides the point. Your purpose in life is to gain experience And you go through a. cycle of death and rebirth until you achieve enlightenment or Nirvana.

      • Always look on the bright side of life… if one looks at it Biblically, how many of the madding Filipino crowd are calling “Crucify the Abnoy!” and “Release Binay!” today?

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Not sure about the ‘only’ Chempo….The insights offered in some Buddhist traditions do offer this insight…But it is also present in other paths..Some teachers in what is called Hinduism have this insight…Echardt Tolle also..I suspect that the Bahai path does as well…

        Christianity on the other hand has always interpreted ” I am the truth & the light ” as I am the ‘only’ truth and the light.. And proceeded to kill non believers to encourage them to accept this truth..And then at times proceeded to kill each other over trivial differences of doctrine..Only the secularisation of the West since 1900 has diminished it somewhat. Not a good track record !!

        And by the way..Islam now does this even more claiming to be inspired, instructed, guided by the same god..Ummmm !

  12. Bill in Oz says:

    OK Josephivo this is my simple take : We share a planet. The planet is unique.It’s called Earth. After 50 years deep space searching we have not found another which has any of it’s unique features. The Earth is our home and we share it with thousands, actually millions, of other species.I think it is pretty sensible to take care of the planet which is our home and to look out for all the neighbours ( other species ) as well…That is a pretty good ‘purpose’ in my thinking.

    • josephivo says:

      The Earth is our home and we will share it with thousands, actually millions, of other species… in a zoo?

      That’s what we are doing, we dominate already 10x more biomass than all “large” wild animals together (large = chicken size and larger, elephants and whales included.) I don’t know the figures for plants, but in a few years’ time all fertile land will be covered by our crops to feed the 10X animal biomass above. (2002: Philippines consuming carcass-meat at 36kg/person/year and rising, US at 126kg/p/y and rising)

      P.S.: Thank you Wikipedia for 15 years of educating us

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Exactly Josephiva !!! That’s why I said ” I think it is pretty sensible to take care of the planet which is our home and to look out for all the neighbours ( other species ) as well…” To date we have done pretty horrible job of it & risk pondering the mysteries of lost life from the windows of our ticky tacky condos

      • sonny says:

        “… the Age of Solar System Colonization must precede the Age of Interstellar Discovery. Doh!” — edgar

        *****
        “The Earth is our home and we will share it with thousands, actually millions, of other species… in a zoo?” — josephivo

        New Age of Enlightenment? Economics, Philosophies, Behaviorals –> New civilization?

        Yes, to all the above. But wait, is all this toward amelioration or more of the same? All this, new economics, new philosophies, new behaviorals, etc., make up the software of the human race. With mere coincidence, it seems even as Joseph’s tour de force begs pause and good, deep reflection, a big radical change in the human race’s hardware (food, technology, and natural resources) is rearing its possibility and will render many aspects of our civilization, moot. All configurations will still be new but in ways and forms entirely different. The change will radically affect the face and environment of all humanity. How and why will this change come about?

        The legacy of 77 billion human beings that have been born into this planet could be ‘forced’ to a second cycle of beginning for the human race, by an act of God. On 15 Feb 2013, a meteor zoomed across the Russian skies at 42,000 mph and burned out brighter than the sun. The shock waves generated did palpable but not catastrophic damage to the town of Chelyabinsk. The energy released by the meteorite was 20 to 30 times the energy of the Atomic bomb at Hiroshima. The blast was followed 16 hrs later by a near miss of earth of the Duende asteroid. The exploded meteor was 20 meters in diameter, Duende was 30 meters in diameter. If the meteor that exploded came in at steeper angle and a few degrees off, it would have taken out a city like Washington DC and vicinity. Duende’s flyby path was known and tracked by Spanish amateur astronomers. The exploded meteor was not detected by any earth stations. There are no plans presently to do anything about it. A dedicated space-positioned detector operating specifically to look for threatening meteors on collision courses to earth are needed. We must know of meteors similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.

        • Russians often use dashboard cameras – because it is the most reliable way to secure evidence in case of accidents, and there is a lot of lying in that country…

          The Tunguska event in 1908 may even have been worse… but it was not filmed live…

          The forces of nature are inspite of so much science still barely known to us. The Gulf of Mexico may be the rest of a giant hit on the earth… there will be a real event sometime somewhere that became Noah’s Flood… the Red Sea parting and then flooding sounds like a tsunami before and after… what insurance companies do not insure, calling them acts of God, are what the ancients who had less science than we do call the same… finally Julius Caesar believed in only one God, Fortuna, blind luck. Was he a gambler like Erap?

          • sonny says:

            PiE, watch the movie METEOR (1979) on youtube. It was based on Project Icarus, put out by Massachusetts Inst of Tech to counter a meteor on a collision course w/earth. Critics bad-mouthed the movie only because of bad special effects; the story was solid.

            I’m also linking the PBS Nova documentary on the Chelyabinsk meteor of 2013, for important details of the event.

            I imagine many would not be concerned because of the low probability of this event to happen. To me the probability increases as long as detection capability is not addressed. The Chelyabinsk meteor literally crept up on us. We need all the time available. Much of Space money is spent on cosmological knowledge objectives. We do need those. A proportionate budget should also be targetted to local space access and survival.

  13. OT:

    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/01/being-drafted-during-the-vietnam-war-also-hurt-your-descendents.html

    In the context of the Philippines what are the possible experiences that affect your progeny controlling for most things?

    Can this be shown for Martial Law Human Rights Victims?

  14. Caliphman says:

    The basic assumption in discussing an age of enlightenment is that it is emerged from a past of darkness, chaos or that is filled with void. The problem with that is the history of mankind, societiies and civilization has not been a linear progression from bad to better, if not good. Instead as the eminent historan Arnold Toynbee once observed in his monumetal study of past and present civilizations, development and progress (and the concept of enightenment) are illusions as these instead are caught in an endless cycle of death, birth, flowering, and decay.

    Not unlike the quality of governance in the Philippines which has cycled into a relative heyday during the Pinoy regime. Now the news today has SWS releasing its latest poll with Binay now showing a lenghtening lead over the hapless Poe, soon to be disqualified with the help of distant third placer Roxas’s supporters. Even worse, the threat of a dark age deepens as this survey shows Marcos reaching for the lead in the VP race and widening his lead over Robredo and the other also rans.

    When it rains, it pours…

    • Bert says:

      And over there at Raissa’s, the people there are still continuing their relentless attack on a hapless Poe while hating Binay and Marcos all at the same time. It’s a strange world over there.

      • caliphman says:

        Its mob psychology at work, the members whipped into a frenzy of hate, unable to change direction or purpose, even after the latter has lost all meaning.

      • Bert, people are discussing the DQ cases, and the misrepresentations done by Poe in her submission to to the Bureau of Immigration as discovered in the evidences she herself submitted, why then blame supporters of Roxas? People are allowed to react to stimulus, this time on perceived dishonesty of Poe, is that hatred? Binay and his people are the ones who have initiated the DQ, filed them in appropriate courts, Mar’s supporters are reacting, and Poe and her supporters are barking at Mar and his supporters? Has the world gone mad, where is enlightenment there?

    • Then forget the new Enlightenment of the Philippines.

      A New Age of Entitlement could be on its way.

  15. I wonder how much of the self-defeating views of people in Metro Manila are due to:

    1) sleep deprivation (how much do people actually get to sleep)

    2) sleep quality (how is the quality of sleep, with all the noise and pollution)

    3) insufficient vacation (how much vacation do typical employees have per year)

    Karl used the analogy of a maze, now to get out of a maze you need to be clear in the head.

    Getting heads clear just a little bit would be the first step to simple enlightenment, the rest later.

    • sonny says:

      After all we have organic-type hardware (our bodies). 🙂

      • This is interesting – Straits Times is from Singapore: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/far-from-a-first-world-school-system – about the most vital aspect of enlightenment:

        “We understand the need to transition to K-12, but the question is: Are we ready? In terms of budget, no. In terms of preparation for the basic needs of the pro-gramme like teachers, classrooms, equipment, no,” said Ms Castro.

        At San Rafael, school officials have had to print instruction materials for students in Grades 7 to 10 because no textbooks or reading material for several subjects were printed for the new curriculum under K-12.

        As for the education authorities’ idea of an online library that students could access anytime they wanted, the school’s principal, Ms Joji Fernando, 55, said this assumed that students had computers at home. “Most of the students don’t. Most of them are poor… So, we had to print the materials ourselves.”…

        Since President Benigno Aquino took over in 2010, the government has built over 67,000 classrooms and purchased some 2.9 million chairs, clearing a backlog left behind by his predecessor.

        It has also hired more than 103,000 teachers, and endorsed Bills in Congress raising teachers’ pay by at least 2,000 pesos.

        But despite such efforts, the government is falling short.

        Its education budget – nearing 500 billion pesos and making up the biggest chunk of the pie – accounts for just 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product, not even half of the 6 per cent recommended by the United Nations.

        Last year, the education department said it spent about US$366 (S$525) per student. By comparison, Japan spent at least US$5,000, and Thailand about US$900. Singapore spent US$1,800 in 2009, according to the World Bank.

        • Joe America says:

          You can’t do a comparison. The Philippines is poor and it is astounding to me that kids get the education they get here. The school system is fabulous, a top priority for sure. But when families with income less than P10,000 per month have eight kids and your economy is thin, and the poor represent a huge chunk of the population, you get what we have. A morality that prizes life, such as it is, over goods and even foods.

          • Runaway population growth is a factor, and the RH bill is one of the best measures…

            But the fact – stated in this good Singaporean article, which is refreshing to read compared to all the partisan stuff the Philippine media reports, since it deals in numbers – that education is a major slice of the budget (Popoy’s cake) but still is just 2.5% of GDP and not the 6% recommended by the UN, points to something still fundamentally wrong. Seems that government is not getting the share of GDP that it should inspite of more efficient tax collection. What exactly is missing, why does the government still lack pesos?

            Taxes on employees are high, Pacquiao and Wurtzbach are made to pay their taxes too. Are the oligarchs not paying “enough”? Or are they investing a lot, which is a good thing, meaning they are able to deduct a lot of expenses? Do they do a lot of philanthrophy like Henry Sy (thanks chempo for that info) and therefore deduct that from taxes as well?

            As for population growth, it has gone down slightly since some years, I read somewhere. But still children are the gamble to somehow have a safety net in old age – well if SSS is still underfunded because of past abuses, no wonder. And how many does it truly cover?

            Advanced social security and pension fund systems in Europe had too much of a good effect, because people had too little children as a result – migration is the result of this. Anyway a good thing about the SSS controversy is that the Philippine body politic is starting to discuss hard numbers, beyond just the blame games which you will have in any country. Guess the Philippines is getting a bit more enlightened, but remains passionate. The maturation process of the country moves on, it ain’t easy, but what maturation is?

            • Bill in Oz says:

              Irineo does the 2,5% include private expenditure on education ? My guess is that it does not..

            • Joe America says:

              Here are two charts that show the 2016 budget allocations. The first shows allocations by sector, and we see how social services dominates expenditures. It also shows the changes from 2015 to 2016 by agency. The second shows how the agency budgets are allocated. I think many would argue for a different slicing of it, but the President has more information than anybody, and Congress gets its inputs, too. The Philippines is the Philippines, not Singapore, and I think the budgeting is well considered and reasonable. So many needs . . .

              • No question, they have improved the budgeting process enormously.

                But if education is just 2.5% of the GDP and 26.7% of the national budget, then the national budget is 10% of the GDP. Let us compare some of international figures.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_spending#As_a_percentage_of_GDP

                Philippines 12.3
                Singapore 13.8
                Indonesia 11.8
                Mexico 10.6 (drug trade 25%, who knows?)
                Syria 10.4 (ISIS 50% for all we know)

                Thailand 16.2
                Vietnam 21.1

                Uruguay 27.2
                United States 25.1
                Turkey 25.0
                Papua 25.8
                Cuba 24.4
                Australia 25.6

                Poland 31.3
                Romania 28.0
                Estonia 32.8 (Romania and Estonia have world-class Internet access)
                Canada 31.0

                Germany 37.1
                France 44.2 (plenty of state-run industries there)
                Denmark 48.1 (Scandinavian welfare state)

                Bill on Oz correctly mentions private spending as a possible “dark figure” not in the statistics of Singapore. Another “dark figure” is education enabled by 4Ps/CCTs. The expenditures for UP which has its own charter, autonomous of DepEd, must be high also.

                Private schools as we know are often of high quality. K-12 is doing a lot to bridge the public/private gap. There are development assistance programs like Germany’s K-12+: http://www.k-12plus.org/, and who knows what NGOs/charities add to the entire picture.

                The question remains: do the oligarches pay enough taxes? If they are funding all kinds of infrastructure, these are useful private investments (PPP?) that deserve tax breaks, if they are funding charities that help in many sectors also. This is part of the picture that I miss.

              • Joe America says:

                The impression I have is that the oligarchs pay little in taxes, but their companies pay a lot. That requires more research to confirm. They are hazy recollections from reading.

              • Joe America says:

                Well, for sure the corporations are paying big taxes then. Individuals are not small, but combined aren’t in the big billions. I don’t see anything in either list that makes me think something is wrong. It would be instructive to look at all taxes and how they are sourced. I may do a blog on that. Get Customs in there, VAT. Consider who is NOT paying like they are supposed to (professionals like doctors and lawyers).

              • Thanks, Karl, this is very informative. So one can see Roxas is not THAT rich, he does not even make it into the Top 500 taxpayers. But quite remarkable are the following:

                1st: Pacquiao
                16th: Kris Aquino
                19th: Sharon Cuneta
                20th: Wowowee Revillame

                above even the “usual suspects”:

                26th: Jaime Zobel de Ayala
                27th: MVP
                71st: Henry Sy Jr.
                85th: Henry Sy Sr.

                now figure in the investments of Ayala, MVP, Sy and the philanthrophy of Sy, Ayala, Pacquiao- don’t know about Kris and Sharon, with Wowowee I doubt both humanity and philanthropy…. then you have a clearer and fairer picture of the rich and their contributions to the country.

                The philanthrophy of the Aboitizes is also remarkable (formerly Basque shipping dynasty) and that the Lhulliers (also Basque in origin) are still up there among the big taxpayers but do not figure much in philanthrophy, but Manny Villar, even Danding Cojuangco – where is Imelda?

                There is a Juliette Romualdez, No. 47 philanthrophist, and Jorge Araneta, No. 26 in the list.

              • Mixed up the philanthropists and billionares list I think… but the philanthropy of Sy and Gokongwei is mentioned, and the investments of Ayala clear even in helping UP research.

                Aboitiz (the Onassises of the Philippines) would have seriously surprised me as philanthropists.

              • Now Mar Roxas has a declared net worth of around 200 million pesos. He is not in the Top 50, so the computation criteria of Forbes are probably different.

                But his contribution to the country in terms of organizing whatever he got as a job in the government is more than anything he could give in terms of just money.

                If we dibay-dibay 200 million among 100 million Filipinos, that is just 2 pesos per person – now how much is a bottle of San Miguel beer nowadays, is that even enough?

              • Thanks, good to know that… Aboitiz was often the contrabida because of sinking ships…

                https://ncaleadershipjourney.wordpress.com/about-us/ncaf-profile/ – also good to know is the NCAF (Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation) which is a partner of international NGOs including Munich’s Hanns-Seidel Foundation – now I know how the Germans audit based on bad experiences before, so it is a stamp of quality that they are working with them… charitable organizations just like public companies are always vulnerable to scams and accusations.

                As for Philippine migrant associations and their initiatives, there have been these problems:

                1) some have very probably scammed, even with some local partners or connections

                2) some were accused of scamming even if innocent – also a typical Filipino problem

                3) trust issues regarding liquidation in the Philippines (fakes are probable) hamper work

                If transparency and credibility of Filipino institutions and sources increases 3) will decrease, and it will be easier to work cleanly without being accused of 2) and 1) will die a natural death.

              • The focus on classrooms and computers is laudable.

                I wonder where real stats are available on the condition of classrooms all over the country.

                How well are they equipped, how many pupils/teacher? Is there something like LGPMS for classrooms, something to measure how well they meet certain standards, like what Robredo initiated for LGUs and Roxas continued? Because this is one major Filipino construction site.

              • Joe America says:

                Classroom size too large, textbooks poor, classrooms worn, teacher skills vary. Some still sell grades. But one only needs go to the mall on weekends and appreciate how many young people there are. Swarms. A tidal wave coming through the schools.

            • butod says:

              I suppose big businessmen don’t figure prominently among the highest tax payers because their source of individual earnings come less from income (which is taxed highest at 32%) and more from stock options of their listed companies (for taxation purposes, unloading is booked as sales tax at just 12%).

              • Then the Philippine tax system still has its weaknesses. The German tax system also has VAT – usually 19%. Enterpreneurs can charge VAT, and deduct VAT from their expenses as well.

                BUT all individual income no matter what source is subject to the same progressive income tax, it is summed up at the end of the year, with a number of possible deductions, but finally the rich do pay a lot of taxes. The maximum tax rate (Grenzsteuersatz) is 42%. Somebody earning very good money, say 90 thousand a year, pays 35% tax, good but average incomes (entry-level programmers) earning 50 thousand a year pay 27% tax, a store manager in clothing retail may earn around 32K and pay 20% tax, a retail worker may earn 20K pay 13%, someone earning only 12K a year meaning 1000 per month, these are the low-end jobs similar to endo jobs pays around 5% tax. So considering that a cheap apartment, 40 square meters (social welfare apartments for low income groups) costs around €450/month in Munich, not that easy for them.

                But the high taxes (add to that medical insurance and social security which are shouldered 50-50 by employers and employees) are because of the high “state quota” in Germany, meaning state budget as percentage of GDP – already reduced from 50% in past years to 37%.

                Leftist groups including the Democratic Socialists (ex-Socialist Unity Party of East Germany) and THE LEFT (Oskar Lafontaine, ex-Social Democrat and his young hot girlfriend, half-Asian East German Sarah Wagenknecht – a sexy representative of modernized Communism) called the reforms of the past decades “neoliberalism”, which is an all-purpose cuss word among many, even among neo-rightists, some of whom love to stress the involvement of international financial capital and Goldman-Sachs in Uber… they can’t say Jewish internationalists anymore.

                It finally boils down to arithmetic. Not even algebra or percentages. Simply addition, subtraction, multiply and dibay-dibay. Percentages to some extent, because a too high state quota has been found to be bad. The sweet spot I guess is at 25-30%, Germany’s still too high. Because too high state quota leads to lack of competitiveness, too low state quota leads to less equal opportunities. Because those born poor may have talent, might be industrious. Those born rich may also need a kick in the ass to use their talent, which is partly inherited… Inheritance tax is one matter Germany has not touched… the fortunes made after the war are now changing hands and that group is a political group not even the Social Democrats touch, but their money will go back into the economic cycle, measures to contain money going to Switzerland will keep it in Germany. If they are stupid they will spend it, if they are smart, invest.

  16. http://www.eccp.com/publication-page.php?catalog_id=175&category=73 – from the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, more enlightenment:

    Zero Sum or Win-win?: The Philippines Faces Up to the ASEAN Economic Community

    Will the Philippines be a winner or a loser with the advent of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015?

    Clues that might yield a final answer to this key question can be found in two Scorecards published over the last three years by the ASEAN Secretariat based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The scorecards track the Philippines’ readiness for the AEC and those of the nine other ASEAN member states. There will be four scorecards until 2015.

    So far, the Philippines did its part to ensure the free trade that underpins the AEC. It performed quite well by ASEAN integration standards in the second scorecard, which is for the period 2010 to 2011.

    Of the 19 categories that grade progress in this monitoring mechanism, the Philippines implemented all its targeted measures in nine categories and implemented half of the targeted measures in a further nine.

    • http://www.eccp.com/articles-page.php?category=2&article_id=1726#details

      Philippines is next big investment hub in Asia – ECCP
      News – January 08, 2016
      By: Richmond S. Mercurio

      The exit of investors from China has marked the entry of the Philippines as the next big investment hub in Asia.

      The foreign business community in the Philippines sees the country as the apple of the eye in the region among investors despite persistent hurdles in infrastructure, Internet access and policy instability.

      “An opportunity which is not to be dismissed is the trend being seen with investors leaving China due to rising costs, increased regulation, and an economic slowdown in search of greener pastures. Although until now many investors have turned toward other countries in the region, if the Philippines plays its cards right by addressing major market access obstacles and business bottlenecks, there is major opportunity to benefit from this trend and attract a significant percentage of the investors who are leaving China,” European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) president Guenter Taus told The STAR.

      The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., for its part, said interest in relocating to the Philippines is strong, with about 20 Japanese electronics companies in China keen on moving their operations to the Philippines this year amid higher wages in China.

      • Joe America says:

        It is clear that the Philippines could make hay in the sunshine if it would work harder at infrastructure supporting businesses, and getting rid of red tape. A most interesting read, thanks.

        • Yes, and if some people in the country could stop thinking so short-term, meaning in terms of scamming foreigners or raiding social security, the future would be truly bright.

          They could EARN big bucks tomorrow legit, instead of stealing cents like they do today.

    • http://www.eccp.com/articles-page.php?category=23&article_id=1727#details

      I like this, it is a weekly digest of what happened in the Philippines, for business people.

  17. Bing Garcia says:

    As I suggested above, however, I have a hard time making the numbers for that kind of catastrophe work. Yes, China is a big economy, accounting in particular for about a quarter of world manufacturing, so what happens there has implications for all of us. And China buys more than $2 trillion worth of goods and services from the rest of the world each year. But it’s a big world, with a total gross domestic product excluding China of more than $60 trillion. Even a drastic fall in Chinese imports would be only a modest hit to world spending.

    What about financial linkages? One reason America’s subprime crisis turned global in 2008 was that foreigners in general, and European banks in particular, turned out to be badly exposed to losses on U.S. securities. But China has capital controls — that is, it isn’t very open to foreign investors — so there’s very little direct spillover from plunging stocks or even domestic debt defaults.

    Paul Krugman

  18. karl garcia says:

    Scientific thought countered the dark side of religion ,my own definition of dark ages;spread of fake catholic priests,before that muslim christian wars as in the crusades,questionable papal decrees/dogma. That lead to protestant movements…..Then age of enlightenment, for catholics Vatican Two emerged…..Fast forward.

    there is now ways to make jurassic park a reality,though not the dinosaurs, the wholly mammoth can be de-extincted. dinosaurs from chicken experiments.
    study if the salamander for regeneration in humans.
    Algae that can kill cancer cells with out harming the healthy cells.Nanotechnology to cure cancer.
    Many scientific discoveries and new technologies that can even conclude that we are all just part of one big hologram.

  19. karl garcia says:

    Pursuit of happiness.There are parodies/spoofs of post happily ever after of snow white and cinderella.
    Goals of dream families,dream vacations,some end in disappointments some make the most out of it. So like is what you make of it.
    memes,tweets ,quotable quotes=instant philosophy.
    Is this the new thinking paradigm?

  20. karl garcia says:

    “DAVOS, Switzerland — Implantable mobile phones. 3D-printed organs for transplant. Clothes and reading-glasses connected to the Internet.

    Such things may be science fiction today but they will be scientific fact by 2025 as the world enters an era of advanced robotics, artificial intelligence and gene editing, according to executives surveyed by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

    Nearly half of those questioned also expect an artificial intelligence machine to be sitting on a corporate board of directors within the next decade.

    Welcome to the next industrial revolution.

    After steam, mass production and information technology, the so-called “fourth industrial revolution” will bring ever faster cycles of innovation, posing huge challenges to companies, workers, governments and societies alike.

    The promise is cheaper goods and services, driving a new wave of economic growth. The threat is mass unemployment and a further breakdown of already strained trust between corporations and populations.

    “There is an economic surplus that is going to be created as a result of this fourth industrial revolution,” Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft, told the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos on Wednesday.

    “The question is how evenly will it be spread between countries, between people in different economic strata and also different parts of the economy.”

    Robots are already on the march, moving from factories into homes, hospitals, shops, restaurants and even war zones, while advances in areas like artificial neural networks are starting to blur the barriers between man and machine.

    One of the most in-demand participants in Davos this year is not a central banker, CEO or politician but a prize-winning South Korean robot called HUBO, which is strutting its stuff amid a crowd of smartphone-clicking delegates.

    But there are deep worries, as well as awe, at what technology can do.

    A new report from UBS released in Davos predicts that extreme levels of automation and connectivity will worsen already deepening inequalities by widening the wealth gap between developed and developing economies.

    “The fourth industrial revolution has potentially inverted the competitive advantage that emerging markets have had in the form of low-cost labor,” said Lutfey Siddiqi, global head of emerging markets for FX, rates and credit at UBS.

    “It is likely, I would think, that it will exacerbate inequality if policy measures are not taken.”

    An analysis of major economies by the Swiss bank concludes that Switzerland is the country best-placed to adapt to the new robot world, while Argentina ranks bottom.

    Winners and losers

    There will be winners and losers among companies, too, as new players move into established industries with disruptive new technologies.

    That is something uppermost in the minds of Davos attendees such as General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who is confronting the threat of driverless cars – another science fiction that has become science fact – or bank boss Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase, facing competition from digital “fintech” start-ups.

    Such innovations, coupled with the rise of robots in both the manufacturing and service sectors, could automate vast numbers of jobs. Oxford University researchers predicted in 2013, for example, that 47 percent of U.S. jobs were at risk.

    Such fears about technology destroying jobs are not new. The economist John Maynard Keynes famously cried wolf in 1931, by issuing a warning of widespread “technological unemployment”.

    The question is whether this time will be different, given the speed to change and the fact that machines now offer brain as well as brawn, threatening professions previously seen as immune, such as entry-level journalism or routine financial analysis.

    Pessimists fear this will hollow out middle-income, middle-class jobs on an unprecedented scale, with the WEF itself predicting that more than 5 million jobs could be lost in 15 major economies by 2020.

    But ManpowerGroup CEO Jonas Prising is more upbeat for the long term. “If history is any indicator, we’ll have more jobs being created in the end than are going to be destroyed,” he said.

    However, beyond the Davos talking-shop there are doubts about how well business leaders will actually plan for the future.

    “When you have these very big levels of disruptive change you need some pretty serious thinking and action,” said Ian Goldin, professor of globalization and development at Oxford University.

    “But the CEO who really looks years ahead and looks at broader social issues is rare, even in Davos.”

    http://www.interaksyon.com/infotech/here-come-the-robots-davos-bosses-brace-for-big-technology-shocks

  21. karl garcia says:

    But how can their be new enlightenment if our planet will be eaten by plastic.

    “DAVOS, Switzerland – Plastic rubbish will outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050 unless the world takes drastic action to recycle the material, a report warned Tuesday on the opening day of the annual gathering of the rich and powerful in the snow-clad Swiss ski resort of Davos.

    An overwhelming 95 percent of plastic packaging worth $80-120 billion (73-110 billion euros) a year is lost to the economy after a single use, said a global study by a foundation fronted by yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur, which promotes recycling in the economy.

    The study, which drew on multiple sources, proposed setting up a new system to slash the leaking of plastics into nature, especially the oceans, and to find alternatives to crude oil and natural gas as the raw material of plastic production.

    At least eight million tons of plastics find their way into the ocean every year — equal to one garbage truckful every minute, said the report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which included analysis by the McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment.

    “If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050,” it said, with packaging estimated to represent the largest share of the pollution.

    Call for plastics revolution

    Available research estimates that there are more than 150 million tons of plastics in the ocean today.

    “In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish,” it said.

    “This report demonstrates the importance of triggering a revolution in the plastics industrial ecosystem and is a first step to showing how to transform the way plastics move through our economy,” said Dominic Waughray of the World Economic Forum, the hosts of the annual talks in Davos who jointly released the report.

    “To move from insight to large-scale action, it is clear that no one actor can work on this alone. The public, private sector, and civil society all need to mobilize to capture the opportunity of the new circular plastics economy,” he said.

    A sweeping change in the use of plastic packaging would require cooperation worldwide between consumer goods companies, plastic packaging producers, businesses involved in collection, cities, policymakers, and other organizations, said the report.

    It proposed creating an independent coordinating body for the initiative.

    “Plastics are the workhorse material of the modern economy with unbeaten properties. However, they are also the ultimate single-use material,” said Martin Stuchtey of the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.

    “Growing volumes of end-of-use plastics are generating costs and destroying value to the industry,” he added.

    Re-usable plastics could become a valuable commodity in a “circular economy” that relied on recycling, Stuchtey said.

    “Our research confirms that applying those circular principles could spark a major wave of innovation with benefits for the entire supply chain,” he said.

    http://www.interaksyon.com/article/123003/1-garbage-truck-of-plastic-produced-every-minute-to-outweigh-fish-in-oceans-by-2050-study

    • karl garcia says:

      I have read about this for a couple of years now,but they make it look like new news.

      —–

      “In line with the objective to aid the country’s looming power supply crisis and garbage woes, an international firm is set to construct numerous plasma plants, which processes municipal solid wastes (MSWs) through gasification into energy.

      Quantum Asia disclosed its plan for plasma gasification facilities in a statement to the media. It said construction of these plants would be as early as next month.

      “This would drop the cost of electricity in half on a national basis. It would also eventually eliminate all the current landfills,” said Quantum’s CEO and Director for Operations Al Johnson, adding he is still totally committed to seeing the Philippines with 20+ Plasma facilities to be completed within five years.

      “This would drop the cost of electricity in half on a national basis. It would also eventually eliminate all the current landfills,” Johnson assured.

      He announced also that Quantum is entering into agreements with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for possible plasma operations to address maritime pollution.”

      Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/quantum-plans-plasma-plants-throughout-ph-to-solve-energy-and-trash-woes/#cSY0IVGHJBC34D0e.99

    • josephivo says:

      Related:

      What do we teach our children? Sitting in rows, listen, repeat and learn by heart, things robots do so much better. Shouldn’t we concentrate on things robots can’t do yet, convince, coach, care, create, solve complex problems…?

      4e Industrial revolution. Uber, Airbnb… network aided sharing. Farmers markets, bitcoin, Wikipedia, TripAdvisor… all new forms of doing business. The Cloud, 1000 Amazon clones, virtual reality (starting with porn?)…. tomorrow will look different. Will the mega-banks and mega-companies be able to fight back?

      Human (intelligent?) design of crops, livestock, artificial intelligence, babies (?)… or the super speed computers will develop new products and services via trial and error, who will win?

      • “Shouldn’t we concentrate on things robots can’t do yet, convince, coach, care, create, solve complex problems…?” correct – K-12 is on its way to doing that, the curriculum looks good.

        I have been professionally involved in a major wave of change – Accounting Shared Service Centers. I don’t want to think about how many old-school accountants who were just better typists lost their jobs because of my projects – new-school accountants are even more important to be able to deal with the complex stuff computers can’t handle, and to supervise and coach on how modern accounting software is adjusted. 1999 was my first SSC project with a Japanese firm, I was just the techie then – the corporation, being Japanese, just told people what to do and they ran around like crazy to do it only domo aregato was missing. In other more conservative firms change management and transformation mattered more and I got more involved in this – adjusting the work to the software and vice versa, gradualistic change.

        Uber did not suceed in Germany because taxi operators were faster with smartphone apps…

    • Bill in Oz says:

      Here in South Australia we have a 10 cent ( ~ 3.00 pesos ) deposit on all dink cartons plastic, metal… Thus collecting all these items fro recycling is one of the jobs that kids, the unemployed and the poor elderly do for pocket money..People check all bins and rubbish points for these items and take them to recycling centers where they get paid for their efforts.. Or households can collect containers themselves and take them back . It is a simple thing to do ..And the amount of rubbish is enormously reduced.
      Bill in Oz

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  1. […] this an extension of Josephivo’s recent think piece about “The Age of a New Enlightenment”. Think of our work here as an application of the mind to the idea that the Philippines is not the […]



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