Sunday, May 10, 2009

00 The Introduction

25 Adventures in Thinking
Become a philosopher yourself ! Classes are every Tuesday and Thursday at 1.00 PM PST.
That equals 22:00h European time. You'll find some info about me on My resumee you'll find by clicking on the photograph at the homepage.


1. Where does the Universe come from?
2. Do you really think gaysex is wrong?
3. Aren't we just a brain in a jar?
4. We can travel in time, can't we?
5. Did the relativist win?
6. Can my computer think?
7. How reasonable is it to believe in God?
8. How do I know, that you have a mind too?
9. Why don't they call my painting Art?
10. Can there be ethics without religion?
11. Is Creationism science?
12. We should improve the human being by genetic manipulation, ...or not?
13. Is my brain my mind?
14. Why do you believe, that the sun will rise tomorrow again?
15. Is it justified to punish people?
16. How can a word mean something?
17. Can we justify the killing of other people?
18. Why does mathematics work?
19. What is knowledge? Hihi...I do't know!
20. How do we know that something is wrong?
21. Is it allowed to eat other creatures?
22. Am I still the same person after all these years?
23. Do miracles exist?
24. How do I discover fallacies?
25. Aren't paradoxes fun?

Before we start, you may be tempted to ask, "Well, what of it?" Is it really necessary for us to bother about complicated questions of philosophy? To such a question, two replies are possible.
If what is meant is: do we need to know about such things in order to go about our daily life, then the answer is evidently no.

But if we wish to gain a rational understanding of the world in which we live, and the fundamental processes at work in nature, society and our own way of thinking, then matters appear in quite a different light.

So the condition for participating in The Philosophy Class is that you feel an interest in gaining a rational understanding of the world in which we live.

Last week I had the following converstation:

[2009/04/23 16:28] Marya Blaisdale: (Saved Thu Apr 23 23:22:24 2009) Hi Herman - just a quick question - are you basing your 25 adventures in thinking on Stephen Law's book, the Philosophy Gym?

[2009/04/23 16:31] herman Bergson: hello Marya, if you look at you can see in my profile/project description that you are correct. That book is real fun to use
[2009/04/23 16:32] herman Bergson: after two on 100 philosophers and another on 25+ women philosophers

[2009/04/23 16:32] Marya Blaisdale: The wording caught my eye as I took part in a short course with Oxford Uni based on this book - and am in touch with Stephen as well. Stephen is going to be one of the speakers at our event on Saturday on Science & Religion, which might interest you :)

[2009/04/23 16:33] herman Bergson: This is a small world ^_^
[2009/04/23 16:33] Marya Blaisdale: lol, yes it is :)
[2009/04/23 16:33] herman Bergson: amazing :-)

This means that I run the risk that the Master himself might be looking over my shoulder everytime. Let me introduce him to you. He is on youTube.

youTube MOVIE:

When you look at the list of questions, you may notice that there is actually no relation between the individual questions. They are all stand alone topics.

I have no specific plan regarding how to treat each question. Some may be dealt with in one session of our class, others might require more sessions.

My startingpoint is in fact question Zero: Does science answer all our questions or do we still need a philosopher's help?

Some people hold the view of science as if it were capable of describing all reality and knowledge, or as if it were the only true way to acquire knowledge about reality and the nature of things.

We have 25 adventures ahead to put this view to the test. Next Thursday we'll start with an easy one: Where does the Universe come from?

There is one thing you should keep in mind. This is The Philosophy Class with the emphasis on CLASS. It means that this is not a free debating group.

The goal of the discussions is to learn something more than how smart each of us is. We have a question and we want an answer.

The Discussion

[13:22] Laila Schuman: :-)
[13:22] Alarice Beaumont: sorry.. crahsed
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: sl
[13:22] herman Bergson: Anyone has a question???? ^_^
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: not yet
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: will you conduct the class as before??
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: lecture first and then discussion??
[13:23] Vladimir Apparatchik: Daniel Dennett in answer to your question said that philosophy is what you do when you don't know what question to ask . Do you think this is so Herman?
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes...the system will be the same...unless someone comes up with a better idea of course..
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: i think not
[13:25] herman Bergson: philosophy is what you do when you don't know what question to ask ???
[13:25] Paula Dix: Isnt science a branch from philosophy?
[13:25] Alarice Beaumont: no.. think science is the underlaying / proof of philosophy...
[13:25] Alarice Beaumont: and if there is proof.. no longer philosophie
[13:26] Vladimir Apparatchik: Yes, Once your are clear on the right questions then you can do the science. Philosphy helps you to clear up what the right questions should be
[13:26] herman Bergson: Well..there will be a big fight I think...about science and its place in our knowledge system
[13:26] Alarice Beaumont: :-)
[13:26] Paula Dix: lol
[13:26] herman Bergson: I see...that is what Bertrand Russell already said...
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: i think so
[13:27] herman Bergson: When a question gets an answer it moves over to the realm of science
[13:27] herman Bergson: But as Paula said..isnt science an branch of philosophy?
[13:27] Samuel Okelly: what are plato and socrates discussing in the school of athens behind us?
[13:27] Paula Dix: hmmm but the answer can be changed, so more thinking is always in place
[13:27] Vladimir Apparatchik: OK Thanks Herman
[13:28] Laila Schuman: science is fulll of unanswered questions... they are called theories... and many of the answers we THINK we have... end up with other answers
[13:28] herman Bergson: The weather, Samulel...just the weather
[13:28] Paula Dix: lol
[13:28] Laila Schuman: like now they think...maybe no dark matter at all...
[13:28] Samuel Okelly: well i DO see someone pointing to the heavens ;-)
[13:28] Paula Dix: thats why he is pointing up! :))
[13:28] Paula Dix: lol
[13:29] Laila Schuman: for example
[13:29] herman Bergson: Generally Aristotle's forcast is pretty good :-)
[13:29] herman Bergson: Which make me miss Aristotle today too :-)
[13:30] Alarice Beaumont: yes.. really a shame
[13:30] herman Bergson: Well...our underlying question will be...makes philosophy still sense under the rule of Science..
[13:30] herman Bergson: Dont answer it now....we fisrt have to do our 25 questions ..:-)
[13:31] Laila Schuman: science is not perfect... it is a quest... a journey... not the answer
[13:31] Alarice Beaumont: ah .. good :-)
[13:31] herman Bergson: You are the wrong know the answer..:-)
[13:31] Samuel Okelly: IS / OUGHT problem ????
[13:32] herman Bergson: But yet I hope we'll enjoy exploring the other 25 questins
[13:32] Alarice Beaumont: this sounds good Laila :-))
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: i see some battles coming already
[13:32] Samuel Okelly: isnt that the fun and exciting side to philosophy gemma? ;-)
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: lololl
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: sometimes not!!!!
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma...Aristotle's weatherforcast tells us about coming thunder :-)
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:33] Alarice Beaumont: llooll
[13:33] herman Bergson: Oh yes Samuel..I really look forward to this me it is fun
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: well you love a new challenge
[13:33] Vladimir Apparatchik: Herman - do you recommend reading Stephen Law's book? And before or after your sessions?
[13:34] herman Bergson: The book is a joy to read....that is for sure...and fun too
[13:35] herman Bergson: I will follow the book,,,Stephen Law saved me a lot of work btw...and I will try to elaborate on the issues....finding new arguments and so on
[13:35] Laila Schuman: yay
[13:36] herman Bergson: At least the book is worth reading...before or after class
[13:36] herman Bergson: Before it helps you focus, after it helps you put pieces together...
[13:37] Vladimir Apparatchik: OK Thanks
[13:37] herman Bergson: But without reading the book you'll enjoy class equally, I think
[13:37] Pippistrello Bonetto: and are you sure we will find the missing puzzle piece?
[13:37] herman Bergson: Hmmm...
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: i doubt it
[13:38] Laila Schuman: lol
[13:38] Alarice Beaumont: then it wouldn't be called "philosophy" ^^
[13:38] herman Bergson: I guess at the end you may be puzzled yourself
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: after all the classes we came to we stil have the same questions
[13:38] Qwark Allen: eheheheh
[13:38] Qwark Allen: what is reality?
[13:38] herman Bergson: I wouldnt agree with you Gemma...
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:39] herman Bergson: I think that the questions arent the same anymore
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: that may be true yes
[13:39] Marya Blaisdale: sometimes the questions need to change, in order to find the right answers, maybe :)
[13:39] herman Bergson: I mean..before you had only the question..
[13:40] herman Bergson: after you had the same question with a number of arguments related to it
[13:40] Vladimir Apparatchik: As Dennett/Russell said, Marya
[13:40] Marya Blaisdale: Nice that such famous people quote me then ;)
[13:40] Vladimir Apparatchik: :)
[13:40] herman Bergson smiles
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well..I think you now all know what is awaiting you :-)
[13:41] herman Bergson: Is there any question left unanswered? ^_^
[13:41] Alarice Beaumont: hmm..let me think ...
[13:42] Alarice Beaumont: ^^
[13:42] herman Bergson: Ok..keep thinking Alarice ^_^
[13:42] Alarice Beaumont: lol
[13:42] Alarice Beaumont: no... if it is ok.. i rather listen to you lol
[13:42] herman Bergson smiles
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:42] herman Bergson: Ok...
[13:43] herman Bergson: Then I thank you for your participation and look forward to see you on Thursday
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: ok thank you herman
[13:43] Pippistrello Bonetto: a last question
[13:43] Pippistrello Bonetto: was raffael a philosopher, as bruce nauman said the true artist is helping the world by revealing mystic truth?
[13:43] Samuel Okelly: thanks herman :)
[13:43] Paula Dix: it will be fun :))
[13:43] Marya Blaisdale: Thanks Herman
[13:43] Pippistrello Bonetto: oke thats art
[13:43] herman Bergson: He is known as a painter only Pippi
[13:44] Pippistrello Bonetto: i know
[13:44] Paula Dix: hmmmm as an atheist artist i protest the definition :))
[13:44] Pippistrello Bonetto: i know also its another theme
[13:44] herman Bergson: what definition Paula..that he was a painter?
[13:44] Thoth Jantzen: how about changing 'mystic' with 'deep'.
[13:44] Laila Schuman: artists DO have subject matter... sometimes it is trivial... sometimes they tackle even the taboos of a society
[13:45] Paula Dix: true painter reveals the mystic truth
[13:45] Pippistrello Bonetto: nice
[13:45] Laila Schuman: in is the mentally ill and the artists who are allowed to touch the taboos
[13:45] Paula Dix: yes, deep or subjective
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: hmmm
[13:45] Laila Schuman: one because they don't know better... the other because it is their role
[13:45] Thoth Jantzen: well, not always subjective. ;o)
[13:45] Laila Schuman: so some artists are philosophers... but not all... each should be examined separately
[13:46] Pippistrello Bonetto: right
[13:46] herman Bergson: I worked 20 years in an Academy of Fine Art....I know painters ;-)
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:46] Pippistrello Bonetto: per kirkeby is an artist , a philospher, a scientist,....
[13:46] Pippistrello Bonetto: see
[13:46] herman Bergson: Some artists are philosophers..yes...but not because they are artists
[13:47] Pippistrello Bonetto: because they are human?
[13:47] Paula Dix: ive seen a nice definition, philosophy and art are two separate mountains, but from the top of any you can see the whole
[13:47] Pippistrello Bonetto: the whole...?
[13:47] herman Bergson: I dont like that romanticism about artists..:-)
[13:47] Thoth Jantzen: except for the other side of the neighboring mountains. ;o)
[13:47] Paula Dix: "whole" :)
[13:47] Laila Schuman: if you look at pure science... and pure art... you can see that both are doing the same journey... to seek ... to push the boundaries...
[13:47] Paula Dix: lol or under the mountain
[13:48] herman Bergson: in the 16ht century the famous painters were just craftsmen.
[13:48] Laila Schuman: philosophers too... and others
[13:48] Marya Blaisdale: What is 'pure' art?
[13:48] Pippistrello Bonetto: right herman
[13:48] herman Bergson: Nothing philosophical about them
[13:48] Paula Dix: Yes Laila, thats what i think, we all deal with the same things
[13:48] Laila Schuman: that is true herman... they were commercial artists
[13:48] Laila Schuman: leonardo and mike... commercial artists
[13:49] herman Bergson: I dont agree with your idea about art Laila...
[13:49] Samuel Okelly: not all artists have something of value to say
[13:49] herman Bergson: It is a specific interpretation of art
[13:49] Thoth Jantzen: that'd make the mona lisa the Marlboro Man of her day? hmm...
[13:49] Laila Schuman: is ok herman... then we have something we can discuss
[13:49] Thoth Jantzen ponders that one.
[13:49] Pippistrello Bonetto: hmm look at leonardo's scetchbooks
[13:49] Paula Dix: an history of art guy said there is no bad art, only people that dont get this or that work
[13:50] Pippistrello Bonetto: pure scientism
[13:50] herman Bergson: But to prevent that we end up in the famous SL continuous debate...Class dismissed
[13:51] herman Bergson: We are discussin question 9 already ^_^
[13:51] herman Bergson: Bye GEmma
[13:51] Pippistrello Bonetto: lol herman
[13:51] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye Gemma&quark :-)))
Posted by herman_bergson on 2009-04-29 07:46:29

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