Friday, December 29, 2006

New Species in 2006

It appears that 2006 was a bountiful year in the discovery of new species on this planet. Read about it here.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Philosophy and Uncommon Sense V2.2

Well its the end of 2006 and coming to a new 2007. Malaysian Mensa had its small year-end bash last weekend and I attended my only function for the year. Mr Ismail Omar suggested the revival of a Philosophy SIG over here. I'm quite sure they are many similar SIGs in other Mensa chapters all over the world though I'm not certain as yet. I'm all for the revival of this SIG but unsure how many participants we could get. The mere mention of Philosophy frightens most people.

Many however do not realise that the practice of Philosophy is a daily endeavour for humankind. Nearly everyone if not everyone with their thinking faculty still intact practices some form of Philosophy everyday; from decision making to making logical choices, arguments, admiration of beauty in whatever art form etc.

Making a new year resolution has never been my annual practice but here are my wish list for the future for everyone out there:

i) People should use their grey cells deeper and more often; think more rather than talk
ii) Always question; never believe whatever is reported or published without going back to (i)
iii) Politicians, people in authority, religious officials, public personality should be subjected to the highest level of scrutiny by the public; remember this, they are there because of us. They owe their existence to us.
iv) Always read the fine print first before anything else
v) Spend less of material items, our needs are very basic and we'll be much happier with less
vi) Never compare, we are all individuals in our own right and each of us have our own distinctive purpose/role
vii) Everyone can make a difference (I don't watch much TV, but I caught James Stewart's "It's a Wonderful Life" again last week)

I'm sorry if I sound like some "self-help" guru out there but these are unlike your "positive thought" crap dished out by these gurus as I do not have any interest in selling videos, books, tapes or seminars!

Have a good 2007 to everyone here!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Philosophy and Uncommon Sense V2.1

I'm merely 1/4 into J Saul's 600 pp Voltaire's Bastard over the weekend. Heavy and slow reading I must say.

This weekend I encountered something on education which I've encountered twice so far in my self learning journey into Philosophy.

On pp 147 of this book (Penguin Canada, 1993), "Jefferson, founder and patron of University of Virginia, never allowed his university to give degrees. He considered them pretentious, irrelevant to learning and unconnected to the preparation for responsibility....."

My earlier encounter about non-degree awarding universities was in chapter 16 of Pirsig's Zen & AMM:

"..... Schools teach you to imitate. If you don't imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade. Here, in college, it was more sophisticated, of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A's. Originality on the other hand could get you anything...from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.

He discussed this with a professor of psychology who lived next door to him, an extremely imaginative teacher, who said, "Right. Eliminate the whole degree-and-grading system and then you'll get real education.""

BTW, I believe Uni of Virginia today awards degree like any other degree awarding institution of higher learning.

The concept of a non-degree awarding university whose primary goal is to educate and allow people to learn as much as they can I believe is something beyond the average persons grasp.

Why attend uni/school then? Isn't the goal to get a degree?

I always thought so, but now I believe the real goal is educate oneself, learning is its primary objective; not to get a degree, a job etc.

Also, do note that the word carefully "institution of higher LEARNING" not "institution of higher teaching"...think about the system in our part of the world.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Memories define us

An interesting piece on short and long term memories and how they define us. See this.