Social ethics: how to end Filipino self punishment

[Photo source: pixabay, creative commons license]

By JoeAm

This is the third article in a series about what we think about how we think.

I remember a course in high school, a subset of physics, that was entitled “statics”. It was required for anyone planning to become an engineer. The discipline was to measure forces on various structures, bridges, for instance. Gravity is the most obvious force, pulling on the bridges directly and on the vehicles or people passing over them. There is wind, and waves if pillars are in the water, and rain. There is the strength and pliability and angle and interworking of the bridge materials, which provide the opposite force to elements seeking to collapse the bridge.

We drew lots of vector arrows along the bridge components to indicate which direction the force was coming from, so that we could plan an opposite force to hold it up. It quickly got complicated as we had to transfer horizontal forces on the cables into vertical forces on the pillars. Angles have a lot to do with it.

I bring this up because it seems to me that we, as individuals, are physical structures that have a whole lot of intricate forces being applied to us daily. They are infinitely more complex than the forces on a bridge because we have a hard time seeing some of them (psychological forces). We do know our muscle capacity and weight, but we are moving every which direction at different times.

Perhaps the most prominent force, somewhat like gravity on a bridge, is the force applied upon us from people around us. Arguments, judgments, praise, a slap upside the head. Teachers teaching. Government leaders leading. Preachers preaching. Kids kidding.

We get a lot of forces from outside. And we learn to deal with these forces.

The forces in some countries are different than in others. For example, in the Philippines, apology is a sign of weakness and success often provokes jealousy and behind-the-back criticisms. In western nations, apology is a sign of strength (acceptance of accountability) and success inspires praise and incents others to do the same.

I’m not aware of any government that tries scientifically to understand or teach the public about these forces. Businesses and governments do in a basic way by crafting standards of performance aimed at preventing illegal or unfair acts, or acts that reflect badly on the business. The standards form a system of ethics. Rules to keep people behaving well together.

Ethics are very loose in the Philippines. Mocha Uson is an ethical abomination by most business standards, reflecting very poorly on government with her lies and slanders and her refusal to separate personal and government interests. Senator Sotto chairs a Senate Ethics Committee that never meets. He was made Senate President, I suppose in part for his ability not to point fingers or hold anyone to account for anything. Legislative turncoating (betrayal of principles) is a way of life in the legislature.

It’s loose, as I said.

The strange thing is that people seem to like it that way.

Well, it is self-destructive, as we can see by looking over the troubled Philippine history. So I suppose it falls to us “do gooders” to try to do something a bit more constructive.

I propose tightening social behaviors up by defining a field of study called “Social Ethics”. You can google that term and get a variety of articles about the subject, but it does not seem as orderly and regimented as I think it could be. For example, I think if we think about it harder, we will be able to identify the social behaviors in the Philippines that are damaging to the nation and Filipinos, and then better create an opposing force to moderate or end the self-destruction.

Here are the sources of some major forces on our thinking and behaviors:

  • Emotions and the related study of psychology which could provide relief from pressure.
  • Our thought constructs based on knowledge and logic; most of us follow fallacious patterns.
  • Government bossing us around, making us stand in lines, do paperwork, and pay taxes.
  • Businesses setting the prices for goods and serving us well or poorly, mostly poorly.
  • Family, wow, all kinds of pressures and some nice incentives.
  • Friends, more of the pressures, but we are not as emotionally bound to obey as with family.
  • Schools which unfortunately teach obedience rather than inspire us to knowledge.
  • Churches and other moral institutions which are humanly imperfect.
  • Employers who may or may not be ethical, may or may not be compassionate, may or may not be competent.

There are others. All the force vectors are almost impossible to draw.

That’s where principles and ethics come into play. They are rather like the bridge cables that connect with everything else and bear the forces of wind, weight, cars, and bird guano. It is a metaphor for life, I think. If they are strong, they can withstand a lot.

The Philippines does not have such cables, or they are very weak.

For example, legislative turncoating would not happen if legislators were ethically required to be true to their oaths and party principles. They ought to be true to ideas they promote to the public, not support democratic ideals one term and go with a dictator the next.

Ethical politics would require that political parties have principles and not just meaningless motherhood words and personal loyalties.

But even in our personal lives, I think we need strong cables, or core principles. One of them ought to be the idea that we have to take care of ALL of us in the Philippines, not just ourselves. We have to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and avoid putting plastic and raw poops into the ocean. It hurts our neighbors. Moral institutions like churches have clearly failed at inspiring such principles, so it falls to the State to impose them, I think.

What other ethical principles or ethical rules might we want to emphasize to make the Philippines a better (kinder and more prosperous) place?

  • I think success should be admired, not denigrated. Get that seated as a way of life and there’d be a lot more success.
  • Mistakes ought not be the kiss of death, either. They ought to be accepted under an ethical rule of TAKING accountability . . . and learning . . . rather than blaming or excusing it away . . . and learning nothing. Problem-solving would get a whole lot better.
  • Kids ought to be seen as cherished stars, not servants. If that mindset could be achieved, rote teaching would be seen for what it is, spirit-killing. The opposite of inspiring.
  • Government is in business to serve, not demand citizens serve agencies or officials.

I’ll end here, as this is exhausting work. And I’m sure you have the idea by now. Perhaps you have some ideas of your own to share about the core ethical principles that ought to be emphasized by a State that is interested in improving the well being of its citizens by improving the core social values that can make a nation strong.

I hope so.

 

Comments
84 Responses to “Social ethics: how to end Filipino self punishment”
  1. Sup says:

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  2. karlgarcia says:

    First: We discussed if we are smart enough to survive.
    We do win a science and math contests abroad because of outliers.
    Some of those with high Emotional intelligence uses it for the wrong reaasons like emotional blackmail, deceit,etc
    We had a discussion to overhaul our educational system.
    Now we come to Social Ethics.

    Change can’t happen overnight, we can only manage what we can measure so they say, or it is written somewhere.

    For me for self-flagellation to stop, is suggests by Joe in the IQ article.

    Problem solving, which does not mean mindless calculations.
    It all stars with knowing. In knowing it may begin with rote, but I suggest the rote part must be limited to 30 percent or even less. The remaining 70 percent eill be allowance for creativity.

    Francis enumerated the stages in life, which maybe or not easy as falling in love.

  3. NHerrera says:

    The poster picture for the blog article,

    Right >>
    << Left

    brings out a third item to me:

    ^
    ^ Who Cares?

    the upward arrowheads to go with the third group of people who knows what is right and what is wrong, but does not care.

  4. It starts with the children. Assuming the worst, that they take drugs at the age of 10, isn’t good.

    But it is symptomatic of a larger “mindset of malice” that assumes the worst of even oneself.

    It strangely assumes that Sereno’s purchase of an official car was wrong due to formalities.

    While seeing no conflict of interest in Calida’s security agencies protecting the government.

    Or the Tulfos earning money from their sister’s department. “We’re all crooks” is assumed.

    Of course such a mindset also hates real success. It is about leaving the mental ghetto.

    Mistakes only are the kiss of death for those who dare “think they are better than the rest”.

    Those who act “normal” – meaning crooked as opposed to “hypocritical” may make mistakes.

    PCOO, Tulfos, Calida. One just has to wallow in original sin. Accept the serpent as saviour.

    • Or do things the Chinese way as a desperate rescue from Christian guilt.

      Sell the apple for Christmas and cook the snake as a Chinese dish.

    • I think it has to start with the children, yes, except for ethical standards for government officials. If there is no sense of ethical propriety there, what is the use? Just toss the kids out with the bath water.

      • Yes, what if those playing strict “parens patriae” (national parents, Duterte’s own words) are not truly well-meaning? If the agenda is simply to erode the young people’s own sense of goodness and make them part of an evil machinery – if they survive the treatment?

        But as John Nery recently wrote, the Filipino inability to see man as the likeness of God might be the root many things. You need people who truly uplift, the likes of Leni Robredo. But with so many serpents around, naivete is something nobody can afford.

        • Duterte needs enemies to get to martial law. He is making them across the country, NPA, poor people, jeepney drivers, fishermen, loitering teens, 10 year old drug suspects, the Catholic Church, women and human rights advocates, Boracay, Marawi. He provokes the unrest and then has his reason to REALLY clamp down, so that what is written in these pages, even, becomes subversive. It is a tad frightening, actually. Many suspect China is behind it. And the Gatchilians and Poes and Rectos of the world blithely aid and abet . . .

          • So Duterte is not a stupid God. The snake works for him.

            Eat the apple and he can declare Martial Law.

          • NHerrera says:

            THE GRAND STRATEGY — A WORK IN PROGRESS

            Heads I win; tails you lose.

            or

            Lagaring Hapon.

            • karlgarcia says:

              NH,
              I googled jaoanese saw and I keep on getting that it is only a pull saw.
              My understanding of lagaring hapon is that it can work by pushing or pulling.
              Please assist me on this, NH.Thanks.

              • NHerrera says:

                You got it karl, that saw works by pulling or pushing, my metaphor to the pain that is inflicted either way:

                * Continue to do the harsh measures, such as war on drugs, among others, to further the ends via instilling fear even the SC Justices succumb to — with the one exception of being very servile and giving away the house treasures to the guys and the leader way up North — with extreme obscenity or blasphemy, an increasing crescendo of normally contemptuous behavior, added to the mix;

                * Thereby possibly provoking a harsh or violent reaction, if a group takes the bait [ref, Joe’s comment],

                in which case you may just get Martial Law imposed, and thus,

                Heads I win; tails you lose.

              • karlgarcia says:

                How many suckers born every minute still fall for that?

              • NHerrera says:

                I hope none. Unless the foolhardy fellows succeed, in which case the cure may be worse than the ailment.

  5. chemrock says:

    What an excellent article Joe.

    You are paraphrasing the ‘bridge principle’ logic where evaluating reasonings meet practical purposes. The ‘cables’ you seek are the normative inputs best suited to the desideratum or desiderata which is the end forms of behaviour desired.

    My introduction to the ‘statics’ mentioned was in a short sappers course in the army. For those not familiar, sappers operate as a subunit of engineers — helping to set up bridges or blow them up. Unlike Joe, who learnt the weak parts of the bridge in order to find means to make them stronger, we determine the weaknest part in order to place the detonating charges to blow them up. So the evaluating reasonings may be the same, but the desiderata is different.

    I hope Filipinos can take heed from Max Ehrmann and go ” Go placidly amid the noise and haste..” and crystalise the bridge principles Joe enumerates here, and many ore left unsaid.

  6. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. This was a thought-provoking series.

    2. My reaction to the first in the series, “Are We Smart Enough To Survive?’, was to extend the question. And it was: “Are we smart enough to survive with kindness?”

    2.1. My answer to the original question was, “Yes, man can survive.” In a paraphrase of Faulkner, man will not merely endure, he will prevail as the caveman he once was.

    3. My reaction to the second in the series, “Brains, Ability, Character, and Drive,” was: what a grand conception of education! The essay in itself was an answer to the question raised in the first part: with proper education, we can be smart enough to survive.

    3.1. At the back of my mind was the question, “Who will do the teaching?”

    4. And now, here in the third and last of the series, we find the answer to the above: the government will do the teaching because religion has failed.

    5. While the thought put in the second part was perhaps a greater effort in terms of conceptual design, this last part, to my mind, is more thoughtful. For sure, it is more striking in a literary sense, in particular in its use of the metaphor of bridges. I like the trope that the strong cables that hold up bridges are the principles that will uphold the moral superstructure of our lives.

    6. In a sense, this last part circles around to my extended question in the first part with this question: ”What other ethical principles or ethical rules might we want to emphasize to make the Philippines a better (kinder and more prosperous) place?”

    7. But… but I do not think that government doing the teaching of social ethics is completely the right answer. For several reasons.

    7.1. Ethics, never mind social ethics, is a minefield. There are almost no absolute ethical rules, and the government does not, and cannot, deal with uncertainties.

    7.2. In the past, governments integrated with religion to teach absolutes. What we had were theocracies that suppressed human rights and freedom.

    7.3 The role of government is not to impress a code of morality upon the people… because if it does, it will impose the code with heavy hands. We see this happening right now. No, the role of government is to allow codes of morality to flourish within certain perimeters.

    7.4. The government can do this by generally teaching the norms of equality, freedom, diversity, respect, and kindness. And good manners and right conduct.

    7.5. The post is also right. The government can legislate and introduce certain norms that have been enumerated: banning turncoatism, dynasties, pollution, etc. And it can absorb and practice what true public service means.

    8. I am at a loss as to what the overall answer is. In my youth, I would have said we need a new religion. But this always creates a caste of priests that are not subject to what they preach.

    8.1. I would say that 7.4 is the answer. But if a government does not walk the talk, then it is useless. As @Josephivo says, children will watch your feet and not your lips. Well, perhaps not totally. The lessons may indeed be internalized by such students as Florin Hilbay, Jozy Acosta-Nisperos, and Jover Laurio. But we need several battalions of Florin’s, Jozy’s and Jover’s.
    *****

    • I think the presumption that government must teach with a heavy hand is laid to rest in part in 7.4, it must be done with compassion, and in part in 8.1, that if government does not do it, it does not get done. I imagine a scenario that goes something like: (1) the people recognize that Duterte is destructive to what they want, (2) Leni Robredo is elected president, (3) President Robredo sees the failing of the Aquino administration, that good deeds laid atop a bitter populace can only fail, and (4) President Robredo sets out to inspire the populace with a limited number of legislative initiatives, such as making problem-solving the purpose of education, requiring large businesses to provide careers as the fundamental business model rather than contractual employees, and banning turncoating and other unethical practices.

  7. karlgarcia says:

    Pressure, whether it is peer pressure, parental, institutional,etc involves stress in meeting some deadlines and you get rattled by multiple tasks.

    You can’t avoid tasks whether you are an order taker, order giver or the proactive type.

    Some suggest prioritizing, knowing how to multi task, knowing how to destress, time management,etc.

    One last thing and it is about over thinking.
    You over think and you can’t answer direct questions. I am guilty of this.
    Overthinking is the primary reason for excuses.
    You can’t even say you don’t know in one second.

  8. karlgarcia says:

    How do end Filipino self punishment when the president’s daughter, tells us not to listen to her father?

    This time it is about religion, what’s next, eveything he said before?

    • NHerrera says:

      karl,

      You may have the more complete info on this “blasphemy” conundrum. Was the blaspheming utterances confined to the Christian God and the Prophet and one in the Trinity, Jesus, and his 12 disciples? Because if he did similar utterances on Islam, he may have to contend with a fatwa, similar to that made on the writer, Salman Rushdie. If not he lacks the cojones, typical of a bully — not daring those who can fight back in equal terms or worse.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Maybe nothing on Allah, I can recall, but the 42 virgins to boost tourism is an insult.

        • NHerrera says:

          Thanks for the response. May be a disappointment but not quite an insult if the reference is “72” virgins awaiting in Paradise (compared to the 42). But quite a boost if the reference is “7” virgins; after all, 42 is 6 times that number — and the Paradise is PH, a land of continuous beauty contests, with quite a few winners in Miss So and So and counting.

          • Sup says:

            No virgins for Duterte because the church is in a destab plot….

            COPA’s Saycon links Duterte’s outburst vs. Catholic Church to destab plot
            Published June 28, 2018 11:31am

            President Rodrigo Duterte’s outburst against God and the Catholic Church may have something to do with alleged efforts to remove him from office, a member of the committee he formed to dialogue with church leaders said Thursday.

            Interviewed on News To Go, Pastor Boy Saycon said Duterte believes some leaders of the Catholic church are involved in a plot to oust him.

            “The destabilization plot is real. The effort to remove him from office is something he attributes to leaders of Catholic church,” said Saycon, secretary general of the Council for Philippine Affairs (COPA).

            Saycon is part of the three-man committee tasked to hold a dialogue with the Catholic Church and other religious groups amid Duterte’s intense criticism against God and teachings of Christianity. The other members are presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella. —KBK, GMA News
            http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/658491/copa-s-saycon-links-duterte-s-outburst-vs-catholic-church-to-destab-plot/story/?just_in

        • NHerrera says:

          karl,

          The link below contains paragraphs on Duterte not blaspheming Islam as he did Christianity, for your reading if you have time.

          http://bworldonline.com/would-duterte-dare-to-insult-islam/

          My earlier post is mirrored in Greg B. Macabenta’s opinion column.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Thanks NH,

            I read it just now.
            In addition to not attacking Islam per Makabenta,Duterte won’t dare attack China and FVR.

            • http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/seguridad-ni-duterte/

              He is also on the prowl for criminals he wants to catch in the act.

              Parekoy: Propaganda. Digong is a coward. He makes sure that the petty criminal is caught first by his goons then his goon calls him and for media mileage he shows how tough he is kuno by slapping the petty criminal when the tipped media is present. Sarah Duterte learned from her father in abusing people in front of the public for they know that the poor guy can’t fight back who is scared shitless surrounded by Digog’s death squad.

      • It is being spun into “against Catholicism only”, but don’t all Christians have the same Bible?

        In fact Genesis as part of the Torah is also part of the Jewish and Muslim religious heritage.

  9. “This blog is a collaboration by people interested in the well-being of the Philippines. It is a place to think and discuss, to teach and learn.”

    This is actually not the case. At least not with whoever is running this website’s twitter account. Trying to have a discussion about culture and how it is the root cause of all the problems in the Philippines? BLOCK! Trying to have a discussion about how the Philippines has been morally bankrupt and corrupt before Duterte? BLOCK! Telling Joeam how corruption laws have been around since the 50’s and that the Sandiganbayan is THE FIRST COURT IN THE WORLD dedicated to corruption and was the only one for 30 years? BLOCK!

    I am not really sure whoever runs this site is interested in thinking, discussing, or learning. Seems like it’s jut the flip side of GetRealPhilippines.

    Sad.

    • karlgarcia says:

      How did you get blocked 3 times?

      • I only blocked him twice today, for persisting with anti-Filipino remarks that I found offensive and racist. I asked him to leave my timeline and he returned with another offensive comment. So I blocked him. He then returned to call me ‘immature’. I blocked him again. How he got around my initial block to comment again, I have no idea. I’ve written a blog for Monday that addresses this and related matters.

          • No problem. It is a good question, actually. How does a person get blocked three times? There has to be scheming there somewhere. And the truth is it was only two times, and the reason for the blocking is not correctly conveyed by PF. A little aside, at one point in our brief dialogue, I told him I didn’t like his screen name. But he didn’t comment on that. I think he has a lot invested in the idea that anything Filipino is going to fail.

            • I did not say i was blocked three times. I understand how that can be interpreted but that is not what I meant. I was blocked because I gave you facts and you did not want to listen. You want to know about my name? Philippine fails? Read the blog. It’s a joke. Like Epic fail. You have seen “epic fail” pics right? On my blog are pics of trash and bad drivers and people standing in trucks as they drive along and spilled sugar cane trucks and polluted rivers, etc etc. Like it or not the culture of the Philippines is captured in those pics. And if you don’t want to listen to me you can read this from 30 years ago:

              https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1987/11/a-damaged-culture/505178/

              As for racism you don’t seem to understand the interplay between culture, race, and how that makes a nation or people group what it is. Not all races of men are the same and therefore not all cultures are the same. That is rather obvious. The Philippines is what it is because of its culture. Same with the West. Same with China. Same with all nations and people groups. There is nothing racist about that.

              And yes your blocking of me was 100% immature just like when Macapagal changed independence day to June 12th because the Americans declined to give a 70 million dollar payment. If he, and the country had been more diplomatic then such an outburst of misplaced price would not have happened. That money came a few months later.

              There are other things on my blog besides fail pics that are very political that NO ONE in the blogosphere or the media wants to touch. Like the Duterte administration’s prior knowledge of the Marawi attack. Watch that 30 min video I sent you of government officials saying “We knew.”

              So there is a lot more going on with my blog than you realise and your simple dismissal of me as a racist Chinese troll is a fail.

              • I’ve put you into the moderation queue as you seem insistent upon asserting your personal issues and platform and are not really participating in discussions in a manner that builds a respectful discussion forum. I’m sure if readers wish to engage with you, they can visit you at your blog. Or you can join discussions here, if your comments are in the manner required to pass editorial muster.

                Kindly let readers know your nationality, location, and interest in the blog so they can understand where you are coming from with what seems to me to be a lot of hostility.

              • I declined to post your addional comment that does not contribute to constructive dialogue. Thanks for clarifying that you live in the Philippines. I get the sense that you are not Filipino, but you did not say one way or another. You should know, as I have stated before in discussions here, I don’t really have a lot of patience for foreigners who judge Filipinos or the Philippines harshly as if having a moral platform next to God. I really think you ought to stick to your blog and leave this little society to its ways.

              • I have further declined to publish your post from “The Society of Truth” that continues the hostile personal assault, is devious for the fake screen name, and refers to a link that shows a partial rendition of the twitter dialogue but omits your own posts there, which I found offensive, and my responses to you.

                Look, I don’t know what your problem is. This is not an open forum where you can exercise your angers or keep coming after my character. It is a respectful place that addresses Philippine topics and seeks to contribute to thinking in a constructive manner. You aren’t doing that. You have your own blog. Run it as you please. Leave mine in peace. That is what I asked on Twitter before I had to block you to make you stay out of my space.

    • Sup says:

      Strange…I do hope you saved those ¨discussion items po…. Love to read that.

      • Hahaha, you probably went to all the fistfights in school, too. 🙂

        • Sup says:

          “It’s more fun in the Philippines” hehehe

          https://www.rappler.com/nation/205969-wanda-teo-duty-free-tourism-funds-audit-report-2017

          MANILA, Philippines – Resigned tourism secretary Wanda Teo spent P4.143 million to buy merchandise at Duty Free, pay for a consultant for Duty Free, and ship Duty Free goods all using the profit share of the Department of Tourism (DOT), according to the Commission on Audit (COA).

          State auditors said these expenses violate Republic Act (RA) No. 9593 or the Tourism Act.

          As an attached agency of the DOT, the Duty Free Philippines Corporation (DFPC) is required to remit some of its profits to the department to help fund tourism programs and projects.

          Instead, Teo used a total of P4.143 million for merchandise and a consultant.

          Merchandise

          According to COA’s audit report on Duty Free for 2017, Teo used P2.5 million of the DOT’s profit share to buy merchandise.

          “The withdrawn merchandise consisted of toiletries, kitchen wares, beddings, appliances, canned goods, branded bags, luxury brand cosmetics, chocolates, and others,” COA said.

          These were all released to Teo, state auditors said.

          Of the P2.5 million, there were merchandise worth P346,000 which were not even recorded in the Duty Free book of accounts.

          “The assorted items were authorized to be withdrawn from the DFPC stores thru various memoranda of the DOT Secretary and the Undersecretary for Administration and Special Concerns, requesting the issuance of gate pass slips (GPS) for the release of various merchandise from the DFPC stores,” said COA.

          Other expenses

          Duty Free Chief Operating Officer Vicente Pelagio Angala also hired a consultant for P1.6 million “to provide assistance in the assessment and promotion and/or related projects to the [DOT] and Duty Free.”

          Instead of charging this consultancy fee to the Duty Free budget, the consultant was paid using the DOT’s profit share.

          An amount of P22,893 was also deducted from the DOT’s profit share to pay the cost of shipment of goods “for various DOT donations.”

          The total amount for the questionable expenses is P4.143 million.

          Contrary to law

          “Duty Free’s authority to make deductions from the share of DOT from its net revenues is confined to the recoupment of over-remittances as specifically provided under Section 106 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA No. 9593,” COA said.

          “Likewise, it must be informed that funds of DOT representing its share of the Duty Free profits recorded under a trust liability account pursuant to RA No. 9593 are still subject to/not exempt from the budgeting process to be approved by the legislative body upon recommendation of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).”

          State auditors recommended that Duty Free bill the DOT for the expenses and “stop the practice of directly charging from DOT’s share in Duty Free’s net profits.”

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        It would be interesting to conduct a debate with each argument limited to 280 characters.

        Each argument would have to be an arrow – a sally.

        I cannot imagine how I would do it. I know Irineo might. NHerrera would be able to reduce points to a formula. But Francis would be at a complete loss.

        NB. The above 3 paragraphs consist of 292 characters with spaces, and 237 without spaces. I understand the Twitter limit of 280 characters includes spaces.

        Francis, sorry, that was not meant as a gibe (jeer) to cramp your style. It was meant as more of a jibe (agreement) with the elegance of your style and the meatiness of your content.
        *****

    • I run the blog and Twitter account, and if you continue with the degrading remarks about Filipinos in this forum, or resist my editorial requests, you will be quickly out of here, as well. Be respectful and you can join the discussions. JA

    • As I frequently do for visitors who seem to arrive with agenda, would you kindly let readers know of your nationality, location, and purpose for visiting the blog?

      I would also advise you that making personal aspersions against anyone here is a quick ticket out of this forum. I’m giving you a freebie here today because you have evidently not visited here before and may be ignorant about the discussion guidelines.

  10. josephivo says:

    Vacation is over 😦 and plenty of time to reflect again 🙂

    Good old Roman arch bridges, truss bridges, suspension bridges and so many more. Each with completely different set of interplaying forces and thus design rules. The selection of the best type of bridge depends on the situation, the available budget, esthetics and the available knowledge. Just the static and dynamic (temperature expansions, swinging modes…) calculations are the easy part, especially with the current available software.

    Somewhere the forces end up in rock, loose sand or anything in between. Most often strong foundations are vital. “Nurture” somewhere has to connect with “nature”, we all have different genes and different wiring patterns in our brains. (Often the variation within groups much larger than the variation between groups.)

    The next level is the main structure to support the essence of the bridge, the deck,. Societies have their structural “stories”, intangible, defining beliefs as religions, economic beliefs, the concept of nations etc. Historically there seems to be an arch from simple clans and their surrounding spirits towards rational science, sophisticated abstract religions, interwoven economies, global institutions. Not all nations are at the same point in time yet (and some are sliding back fast).

    The deck is the last, the essential part, but with fewer degrees of freedom, it can only exist in a sound structure with sound foundations. The individual has to live with the hardware he got from his parents and within a given society.

    Inequality. Surviving in a strong pack is easier, and thus accepting a strong alfa male is baked in our gene code. On the other side the natural way of thinking is zero-sum thinking, for me to have more, others have to have less and I need more to keep the group healthy. Fascism and a strong man surrounded by oligarchs is a more natural structure than a true democracy.

    Scratching away the veneer of civilization is an easy thing, building up unnatural win-win interactions requires very wise wo*men (=women and men using a new German spelling proposal).

    • karlgarcia says:

      Hope you enjoyed your vacation, Josephivo. 🙂

    • Nice extension of the bridge analogy. No computers when I took the statics class, although I did have a protractor and slide rule. A few years later, I was studying Fortran trying to do a program to find the middle between any two random numbers. Then I blinked my eyes and was in an army tent using a special slide rule to calculate the forces on an artillery shell trajectory, like spin, humidity, number of bags of powder, and such. Then computers happened and, wow, soon the machines will take over.

      Fascism is more natural, I agree. I tweeted a tweet the other day that said something like “We ought not make the mistake of concluding, that because democracy is messy, autocracy is neat.” It is the rational discipline of democracy that is its charm, and today’s failures to maintain that discipline reflect a kind of intellectual, psychological, and moral dumbing down of humankind. Brought to us by THE MACHINES.

    • Francis says:

      Yet—didn’t Aristotle imply that the nature of man was that he is rational; to be the best human being, is to be the best thinking being.

      We may be just specks of dust in the grand scale of the universe—but we are conscious specks of dust, specks self-aware. Personally, I favor an interpretation of human history as a non-linear—sometimes zig-zagging, with not just one line but many lines per every person, every tribe, every empire, every nation—stumbling towards an increasing self-awareness, an increasing consciousness, an increasing realization of our nature as consciously thinking beings.

      This is not mystical; at least, for me—this is grounded in a materialist view of the world. An interesting to glance at human history is to observe amount of energy that we have grown to harness, an amount that increases with technology—that exponentially increased with the industrial revolution; an “energy graph” of sorts. With this—I wonder how another graph will look like, the graph of the amount of information harnessed by humanity—imagine the paper and written language to be the answer of this graph to the “energy graph’s” agricultural revolution, and the usage of the printing press and rise of mass media as the answer of this graph to the “energy graph’s” industrial revolution.

      Is it possible that with our growing use of energy, came our growing use of information? A virtuous cycle—technologies invented with rising information fed a rising demand for energy fed more technological innovation?

      On the subject of cycles—man’s increasing utilization of energy (and information) shaped and is now shaping the environment. The environment that shaped our ancestors to become us—is now something that we are shaping. We have factories spewing CO2 and global warming happens—and the climate refugees start coming? I poke something and this something now pokes at me, so I poke some more. Anthropocene, they call it.

      Add in CRISPR. We are starting to increasingly know everything about our biological selves. Add in the big data in the hands of Facebook and Google. We are starting to increasingly know everything about our social selves.

      When humans know about something—it isn’t too long before they start poking a stick at it.

      In a few generations—it is possible that human nature may itself be open to change by our hands. We may literally gain the ability to rewrite the rules of the game—or at least, those applying to ourselves.

      Human Nature is no longer Nature—or something fixed. It is now in our hands, or will be.

      In the social, mental and cultural aspects of human nature—I think this situation is called postmodernism. In the biological aspect of human nature—I think this situation is called transhumanism. Two sides of the same coin.

      Is it any surprise that populism is surging right now? It is fear—we are going beyond the “usual” rules of game, so to speak. Beyond where we are now—there is no precedent. Society—the complex arrangement of social constructs that have powered our dominance over the world—has become too complex for the ones who created society (that is, us) in the first place. The future is uncertain.

      I was inspired though, after listening to a video of a talk by this interesting guy from Silicon Valley—Lanier. His thesis in the talk was, I understood things correctly, that virtual reality would be revolutionary because it would change our perception. He implied, if I remember correctly, that a situation like being trapped in something like a Lotus-Leaf Matrix had a flaw: it assumed human perception as static. I never paid much heed to virtual reality, but it got me thinking.

      If this world is becoming too complex for “human nature” as meant for hunter-gatherer folk, then why not shift human nature to adapt to the increasing complexity of the world we live in? We have the tools—or will have the tools, soon.

      One might say, “What about those who will abuse the tools?”

      To connect this comment (even in a tangential sense) to the spirit of Joeam’s article—we need a new morality to come with this new world. The reason I am quite suspicious of Silicon Valley and China is that I don’t think they think of this concern—they just see all these new technologies and (cash or power) opportunities to milk from said technologies.

      One might say, “What if we are no longer human?”

      What is human, anyway? It is a word game. One definition could include Homo Erectus. Some definitions—thankfully not widespread or popular—could exclude certain segments of society. Aristotle’s take is something I find intriguing: Man is a rational being. We can think. We are aware of ourselves and the world.

      Yet, I find myself drawn to a deeper definition than Aristotle’s; one day, I will find the time to truly read this philosopher and not just rely on third-hand sources and snippets—but this particular philosopher’s take (or my sloppy interpretation of it) is, I think, most apt for this postmodern/transhuman future.

      Everything is being. Man is being—but what makes him distinct is aware of the fact that he and all else is being. It is therefore the nature of man to understand. Man is the understanding being. Man is the “meaning-giving” being.

      One might say, “Is this even human?”

      And I will say, so what. Isn’t it beautiful, regardless? That on some distant star somewhere—a being with five legs and six arms, an alien may have a completely alien biology, history, society and culture compared to us. But technological and philosophical progress will mean that they will come to the same logical conclusion as us, that their nature is subject to change just as our own nature is.

      That universally—all sapient beings are the fundamentally the same in spirit? I know it may not be as easy as I put it now, but it is something quite beautiful to ponder and reflect on.

      (This is why I occasionally mutter about the importance of creating “transmorality” or beginning to view morality not from the perspective of humans and human nature, but from a pansapient perspective.)

      Fascism—with its “go back to the way things were” rhetoric, looks quite plain, boring and ugly from this vantage point. It is also not destiny.

      Destiny is what we make of it.

      • Francis says:

        Addendum on Lanier:

        Implications—we will never get bored, because our increasing ability as a species will only increase our “horizons” and horizons have no limits…

      • Total diversion from your philosophical observations, but I just read about the Oxford study that recently concluded that there are no other intelligent life forms in our universe.

        https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/space/its-likely-that-we-are-alone-in-the-universe-depressing-study-finds/news-story/5ae12af47d52738491dbe590896c7cb3

        It is hard to get the right composition of matter together to get sentient, and even if it happens, it does not last long.

        That’s about the most depressing thing imaginable, considering our own intelligence is not so very intelligent, and we are on the way outta here starting in about 100 years according to Stephen Hawking. We blew it. So don’t think too hard because it is futile, and find time to play around because life is precious, such as it is.

      • chemrock says:

        Francis, I like to read your thoughts after you have added another 40 years and look like Joe’s icon or Socrates. Hope I will still be around to read it, probably possible with the assistance of new technologies yet to come. I’m an optimist – it makes me feel better.

        As regards your “What is human, anyway?”, my simple answer is “Free will”. That’s what make us humans. In the context of this blog, free will make us either want to control, or be controlled.

        • sonny says:

          Francis, ditto to the things chempo said, especially being human is having free will. I don’t know your academic background but your metaphor of human history as zig-zagging lines is so on-the-nose. As a chemist the image brings the Brownian zig-zag motion of molecular particles in a chemical system as the behavior of human beings in society. Do carry on.

  11. edgar lores says:

    *******
    Re energy use, we are not even Type I civilization according to the Kardeshev scale.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale
    *****

  12. I think I know why Duterte has a problem with Original Sin. He was Cardinal Sin’s grandfather.

    Cardinal Sin ousted Duterte’s idol Marcos.

  13. ethan chua says:

    Last night was the fiba game of Philippines and Australia that end up in a wild brawl. As I look at the news and social media majority of the filipinos are supporting what had happened. I personally was laughing how the filipinos beat up the aussie. I did not felt shame of it but proud. Also the selfie they took pang asar na nakakatuwa ang reaction ng international community kasi asar na asar sila pati ang mga aussie well majority of the filipinos are happy some comments would say nangigigil. Nagusto bumanat ba sa mga puti. Then I ask myself bakit nga ba ang mga filipino laging gigil pag nakikicompit sa ibang lahi? ako nanakatira sa ibang bansa lagi kung pakiramdam na dapat ko assert ang cultura ko ang alam ko. Na ako ay pilipino hindi papaapi hindi papasiil. laging babawi magaling at proud sa bayan ko. Minsan naman may pang kukutya sa kung ano ang dapat na ginagawa sa pinas na ginagawa sa ibang bansa. Lagi lagi aking narerenig sa mga kapwa pinoy pag na uusap usap na pakiramdam ay api. Marahil nga api ang na tanim sa utak natin. Inapi ng mga espanyol, mga amerikano, mga hapon, ng kapwa filipino ng mga instik. Lagi lagi pakiramdam api. mahirap api ng mayaman. Mayaman api ng sasabihin nilang magulang na mahirap. Bakit ganon? kaya nga lagi lagi ang pakiramdam ng filipino nakikibaka. NPA nakikibaka, Kapatid na muslim nakikibaka, mga sundalo nakikibaka. Mga militante nakikibaka. ang laging sigaw makibaka. para tuloy tayong laging galit nangigigil pero sino ba talaga ang kaaway? sino ba talaga ang ng aapi may ngaapi ba talaga?nag papaapi ba talaga tayo? oh iniisip lang natin na tayo ay api kayo ang reaction natin ay laging api?

    Sabi ng commentator tayo daw ay hospitable. Pero di daw papayag na apihin sa sariling bahay. Wala ako sa laban ng basketball o sa bench maari nga na ganon o maari din naman na pakiramdam lang. Ako ay supporter ng liberal sasabihin ko lang naman pauna kasi baka mamaya mapagbintagan ako na troll. Minsan iniisip na ganon nga ang pag iisip ng pinoy parang si duterte. makikipag asaran kayo mali ang paraan ok lang basta aasar talo ang kalaban. kahit mapahiya wala pakialam basta asar talo ang kalaban. Dahil ang laging pakiramdam minamahina, nakikibaka, inaapi at may kalaban. Minsan pag inisip mo nakakapagod nakakatulig. Parang isang labyrinth sabi nga ni Nietzche na walang kataposan. Sa gravitiy lang nag kaiba pero ganon at ganon pa rin na exprience.

    Maari nga na naimbed sa psych ng filipino na ang dayuhan ay mapanglinglang at magulang. Aabosuhin at gagamitin lang ang mga pinoy. Kagaya ng pang gugulang ng mga espanyol sa kasunduan. Nila Sulayman at mga sina una pang mga rajah gaya ni humabon at ang mga espanyol. Ng mga Amerikano kay Aguinaldo at ni Aguinaldo kay Bonifacio. Ng mga hapon sa mga filipino na makabayan laban sa mga makabayan na filipino na maka amerikano. ng mga Politikong pilipino sa mga mahihirap na pinoy. at mayamang pinoy sa mga magulang na mahirap na pinoy.

    Paano kaya ito mahihinto. Kung ito ay nakabaon na sa atin. at isang pagulong gulong at ulit ulit na cycle ng aktibidad? Di ko paalam ang kasagutan kasi anong philosophy o theology na aking nag papagaralan ay hindi angkop ang sagot sa ating pakiramdam. Dahil tayong mga filipino ay concreto ang concepto. Nawa mabulungan ako ni Roque Ferriols ng masagot ko ang tanong na ito.

    NRS<OSJ

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