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Insomniac's Dreams
20 most recent entries

Date:2008-01-06 18:27
Subject:A Dream About Resurrecting People
Security:Public

I’ve had a pretty weird dream lately:

I was travelling through some beautiful green valley surrounded by extremely steep mountains on both sides. The weather was great: blue sky, bright sun, just a gentle cool breeze coming from the direction to which we were going. I was travelling with a group of people, many of whom were my fellow students from the Philosophy MLitt program.

Suddenly we were attacked by some anthropomorphic mole-like blind creatures who came from the ground. They were small, stood on two legs, and carried spears and machetes in their clawed hands. We chased them away, but they managed to severely wound one of the girls in the group. Moments after she died. Somehow I knew that I can bring her back. I asked everyone to step away. They formed a circle around us. I set on the ground holding her body in my arms, caressing her hair. Apparently I really needed to feel a kind of love for the person to bring her back from the dead. I liked her, yet it was not enough. I needed to awaken some deeper feelings for her. The fact that she was quite pretty helped.

I kissed her lifeless lips and at that very moment I was able to establish a connection with her soul that had departed her body. We were floating towards the place where all the dead go. Everything around was shimmering blue. I held her hand and pleaded her to stay. As her soul was so disconnected from the world, she was no longer sure whether she should, whether there are people who care enough about her there. (Apparently all soul start to forget in this way when they leave the world). I said that that there are people who care for her out there. If anything, I cared for her and wanted her to return. And so she did.

We continued our journey. From now on I stayed close to this girl, who was carried on stretches. I remember thinking that now I’ve formed this bond with her when our souls touched, yet it is in a way unnatural. Having it when we can communicate our feelings directly is one thing, but when we are “trapped” inside our bodies and can communicate only indirectly using words and gestures is totally different. This may cause a lot of disappointment and uneasiness. In a way I even regretted forming that bond in such a way.

I’ve also talked to Hans (another MLitt student), speculating that Jesus Christ was able to resurrect people effortlessly in exactly the similar way, because, unlike me, Christ loved everyone strongly and equally, and this love never burdened him.

Our group arrived to the final destination – a monastery, which looked like a Buddhist one. There a good friend of mine, Kamil was ready to meet us (who is pretty religious and quite wise in real life, so I guess no surprise that I’ve seen him in this role in the dream). The last things from this dream that I remember: Hans went to study Christianity with Kamil, the girl got better, I went to play golf in the big monastery garden. That was a pretty long, complex and strange dream.

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Date:2007-09-19 03:54
Subject:The Original Sin
Security:Public

The rain and the wind seem to cry out with me in chorus tonight. As if the world in itself was filled with pain, melancholy and loneliness at this particular moment. This deep resonance is staggering. I know that I probably won’t sleep this night, and likely tomorrow and the day after tomorrow as well. So, not finding any more productive or pleasurable use of this midnight time, I will write down one more interpretation of the biblical fall.Collapse )

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Date:2007-09-11 09:20
Subject:History
Security:Public

I thought I was not going to have insomnia during this visit to Tallinn. Yet when the future comes it relentlessly reveals those parts of our expectations which are just mere hope. I wonder whether the sound of traffic coming from the streets plays the decisive part in ruining my sleep, or it’s something rather more psychological, like the sense of purposelessness?

Anyway, I’ve watched a short lecture by Chomsky, which I found somewhere on my hard drive, entitled “Distorted Morality - America's War on Terror?”. Well, the fact that hypocrisy is spread far and wide in politics and especially American politics was no discovery for me. The lecture was more like a collection of facts illustrating the American terrorist activity even according to their own definition of terrorism. Some of the facts were new to me, still they did nothing to change the picture I already had.

It got me thinking, however, about how essentially selective history is. Collapse )

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Date:2007-08-27 14:56
Subject:Phideuax
Security:Public

For the past several days I’ve been listening to Phideuax, a musical project (rather than a band) by Xavier Phideaux and Rich Hutchinson (on drums), with a large number of other musicians collaborating. I’ve listened to three albums already: “Doomsday Afternoon”, “Ghost Story” and “Fiendish”, and I have nothing but praise for all three of them! The music is absolutely great and I would warmly recommend it to anyone who likes rock, or even more melodic metal compositions. Phideuax has some “folky” elements, the music is quite smooth and relaxing (or that’s my experience of it in any case). It is influenced by Jethro Tull, as almost all the reviews on Progarchives.com noted, yet this should not put off those who (like me, really) don’t particularly like Jethro. Phideuax is not as “folky”, and generally it’s much more accessible than some other prog bands, say, Genesis!

P.S. Oh, yes. It’s an American project, yet I think it doesn’t sound anything like the latest American prog bands. It has a “more European” sound.

UPD. I've even bothered to upload a couple of songs to Progarchives.com for streaming!

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Date:2007-08-25 04:00
Subject:Bioshock
Security:Public

Actually, it is not too hard to become paranoid about the governments or corporations manipulating us for their own gain!!! There are tons of silly attempts at “psychological” advertising. Car manufacturers halt any transition to electrical cars in order to shield their profits. Tobacco is SEXY!!! (as well as big engines are)! And now bloody PC game developers, like the ones behind the newly released Bioshock, refuse to support video cards with less than Shader 3.0, even though the game would run just fine on the SM 2.0 cards. It really looks like there are deals being made (e.g. between the game developers and hardware manufacturers) somewhere behind the curtains, and we, the consumers, are constantly in the dark, with no access to the information about the real world!!!

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Date:2007-08-21 00:02
Subject:Home Coming :)
Security:Public

For a while I’m back in Tallinn. And this means “a world” to me, for example, according to ESTER no library has even a single copy of Kant’s first critique in Kemp Smith’s translation, a lot of contemporary (and not yet translated) authors, like Frankfurt whose essays I’ve been currently looking through, cannot be found anywhere in the city. This complicates things a bit.

Anyhow, since I’m here, would any of my few local Friends care for a beer?

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Date:2007-08-19 18:36
Subject:Continuous Creation
Security:Public

In "Continuous Creation, Ontological Inertia, and the Discontinuity of Time" Harry Frankfurt talks about time and its divisibility, about instances, as if forgetting that according to Descartes time is also one of God’s creations, and so it also needs to be “continuously” created whatever that means. Moreover, God apparently operates outside of time, and so it might be nonsensical to talk about God needing to maintain something in time.

Frankfurt reaches (I think) the right interpretation of Descartes’ meaning: “Just as those things that are created must be created because they cannot (as God does) derive their existence from themselves, so they must be created continuously…”. I just think that a much simpler reasoning might be at work here:

Everything that is (and is not) is by God’s will. There is no point in time, or outside time (whatever that means) that something is not according to God’s will. To create some state of affairs God just needs to will it, i.e. creating and willing is the same thing for God as there is absolutely no effort involved for Him. So when He wills that there still be anything, He re-creates it or continuously creates it. God’s willing is obviously not discontinuous, i.e. He does not “will in impulses”. At least that is how I understand the spirit of Descartes argument.

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Date:2007-08-16 23:43
Subject:
Security:Public

I've been thinking about the usefulness of the phrase "ceteris paribus".
Take, for example, a quote from one of Chekhov's plays, Uncle Vanya, that "Everything in a man should be (or should better be) perfect (great): his face, his clothes, his mind...", etc. ("Всё в человеке должно быть прекрасно..."). The phrase is a load of bollocks unless you add "other things being equal" to it (then it just becomes common sense).

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Date:2007-08-10 17:46
Subject:Economics :)
Security:Public

A man: "How are your children?"
An economist: "Compared to what?"

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Date:2007-07-27 03:02
Subject:
Security:Public

Holy shit!! Killer Russian Squirrels!!!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4489792.stm

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Date:2007-07-25 13:37
Subject:
Security:Public

Is God male? Not likely! I just can't imagine God sitting up there and thinking about sex all the time!

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Date:2007-07-07 04:27
Subject:Transhumanism
Security:Public

Today I have for the first time encountered one interesting term - "transhumanism"! The meaning turned out to be no less curious than the word itself. Here is all about it:
http://www.transhumanism.org/resources/faq.html

Now, I really have some mixed feelings about such ideas. I do like the guys who are not afraid to temper with nature, improve the future, etc. Yet I think that they are quite mistaken about the nature of rationality, for example. I think rationality is instrumental and depends on reasons or motives (ends which it serves), and these make us human. So hardly any enhancement would make as not human - those would be just smarter, stronger, immortal humans. So the talk about the rights of the artificial intelligence are a bit wacky.

P.S. And I have got my exam results, by the way. I finished my BA with 2:1. Which sucks, because I wanted a first! But I had it coming. And it still gets me to St. Andrews, where I start in October this year. I just have to hope that this 2:1 won't f@*ck things up for me when I'll be applying for D.Phil. in two years time.

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Date:2007-06-24 22:33
Subject:The first line of "Mending Wall" in quantificational logic :)
Security:Public
Mood: blank

Ex (-Rxa)

Interpretation:
D(x): anything
R - …loves___
a – a wall

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Date:2007-06-22 16:22
Subject:Science
Security:Public

I think it might be useful to think of science, in the modern understanding of the word (i.e. empirical natural science), in the following way:

Science is axiomatic. If we take only the self-evident a priori as the axioms of science, then it can arrive at its conclusions only by induction (while philosophy attempts to arrive at its propositions from the same a priori axioms, but using deduction). If, however, science arrives at its conclusions using deduction, then not all of its axioms are self-evident a priori.

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Date:2007-03-06 20:52
Subject:AHRC funding. How badly do I want it!
Security:Public

Well, just as I had expected, Oxford rejected my application, though they did take their time considering it. I was probably on their “reserve” list of applicants that are not too bad to be rejected straight away, but not too good to be accepted straight away either. Cambridge is still not answering, I’m probably still on that “reserve” list there. Americans probably tore my application into tiny pieces after seeing my GRE results – Miami was the first to reject me, and because it’s far from being the strongest university that I have applied to, I expect a lot more rejections to come from the New World (though it might have been because of the paperwork – I forgot to send them my bank statement).

In any case, I will accept the offer from St. Andrews. The next step is applying for the AHRC funding (Arts and Humanities Research Council). If successful, they’ll pay me a full award – all tuition fees and a maintenance grant of about 9, 000 pounds. It would really be a dream to completely forget about funding and work, for a year at least.

I wrote this statement of support for the application (below). Could you perhaps take a look at it and give me some comments. Would appreciate it. My course director at St. Andrews said it was OK, but I should be more explicit about why exactly St. Adrews is the place for me.
Also for the particularly altruistic friends (if there are such), here are the notes saying what the statement should look like, pages 17 and 18:
http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/images/RPM_application_form_2007.doc


Supporting Statement for the AHRC hereCollapse )

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Date:2007-01-31 00:33
Subject:Education
Security:Public
Mood:mildly stoned, slightly drunk

I've stopped writing here, because I returned to UK, and my sleep returned to me. And so I would probably be a relatively rare guest on the LJ pages (... who knows, though?), i.e. posting once a week on average.

But I absolutely must share my joy with you - I got an offer to read for the MLitt in Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews. Yes, that means I'm likely going to Scotland next year. I'll drink whiskey, eat haggis and listen to bagpipes. Well, I'll wait until Oxford makes a decision on my application. But apart from that, St. Andrews is considered to have the second best philosophy graduate program in the UK (the first being Oxford's). And is among the best in the world. According to the Philosophical Gourmet, anyway, though I agree completely. In fact I would prefer St. Andrews to Cambridge for the kind of research that I'm planning to undertake.

I botched my GRE, so I'm likely not going to the USA. And getting an offer from Oxford is quite hard, as it's such a top university. Therefore, I guess my future for the next year at least is taking shape, the "shape" of Scotland. And it's not a bad thing as well. Do congratulate me!

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Date:2007-01-12 16:24
Subject:Organising a Philosophy and Arts society in Tallinn
Security:Public

I wanted to start a “Philosophy and Arts” society while I was in Tallinn on vacation time, for the benefit of Tallinn students and for the sake of discussion of art and philosophy. The reasons are described in the previous entry.

Repertoire:
When choosing a particular repertoire for the society, I think that a more general philosophy society is much more appropriate than a specialised, say, meta-ethics society. Reasons: it would be hard to find people for such a specific topic; there are no other societies whatsoever, so the more inclusive you can make it the better. I also believe that if there are no separate societies for the discussion of art, it would be great to take art “on board”. Philosophy and Art are quite strongly interlinked. After all, every enquirer must also be a perceiver. (I talk mainly about philosophy because it’s my area of expertise: ethics, epistemology and phenomenology to be exact).

Activities:
I think the minimal activities are discussions and colloquia. Just bringing students together and expecting that they will start a philosophical discussion might not be enough, as my experience shows. Arbitrarily selecting topics on the go might also be difficult. The best way would be to choose a topic with the society members in advance, and get someone to prepare a small talk to start things going. There might be all sorts of activities, like organising conferences, publishing journals, etc. But it is important to get people together first and to discuss with them what exactly do they want and can they do. Reading groups are also great, but a bit time consuming.
That being said, there is no need to make things look “formal and serious”, people should really feel at home with others in the society, and not afraid of talking and expressing the wackiest of the opinions. So a friendly atmosphere should be preserved, how to do that would also largely depend on the time of people in the society.

Getting people together:
The most typical way for the UK societies is to email an invitation through the university mailing lists to the students, then register those interested on a mailing list of your own, choose some time and topics for the first several meetings/seminar/activities and then take it from there according to the situation. So I attempted doing the same thing in Tallinn. I have sent the emails to the 1. Estonian Academy of Arts (Kunstiakadeemia), 2. Estonian Music Academy, 3. TTU humanities department (or centre, or faculty, I don’t remember the exact name), 4. Baltic Film and Media College, 5. Nord University, and 6. Tallinn University. I also asked the 7. Tartu University Philosophy Department to forward the email to the recent alumni. Afterwards, when I received only three responses to the invitation, I enquired at those address where I’ve originally sent the emails to, whether they were forwarded to the students or not. So far, I know for certain that the students of the 1, 4 and 7 received the emails. I did not receive any response from the rest of the institutions. (Three people, two from 1 and one from 7, is still a very low participation even for those three institutions).

I clearly did expect it to be easier and the universities to be more responsive. I am leaving tomorrow, but I hope that perhaps those who are still in Tallinn and interested in having a society would try something more to organise one. Unless you know the email address that will respond for sure, I suggest you can forget about emailing the rest of the universities and give them a call instead. You can perhaps take a minute or two and talk to students vis-à-vis after or before the lecture. The easiest way, I think, is to talk to the lecturer and ask him to sacrifice a small amount of time for your purpose. How to contact non-university audience is not so clear to me. Perhaps placing an advert or a notice in a newspaper, or on the web if there is a place like the BBC Action Network (http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/actionnetwork/ - a great idea, I think) in Estonia, sticking posters to lampposts imho is a bit too much, but may help. Only after trying your best can you be sure that it is just the apathy of the people and there is nothing that can be done.

So please, if you have tried something, or are about to try something, or are just interested in the matter, do post your comments, suggestions, etc. here.

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Date:2007-01-12 16:16
Subject:
Security:Public
Mood: tired

We, humans, are not solitary animals, quite the opposite – we are social and in every moment of our lives we live and perceive ourselves in society with others. Our being is necessarily being-among-others, even if we perceive the absence rather than the presence of others.

There are always things that we value, things we care about, think about, dedicate our lives to, those are things our relation to which defines our mode of being, let us call it our existential mode. Now, when our existential mode differs from the existential mode of the society that we live in, we find ourselves in a kind of a disharmony with that society. Putting it simply, the people around us do not really care about the things that we care about, do not find thoughts that we engage in worth thinking, do not talk about or do anything that we would find significant, e.g. a philosopher who enquires about the nature of being would find himself at odds with, say, military men who do not really care about such things as the nature of being, but rather care how to prevail over their opponents. And so the person in such a disharmony does not fully interact with the society, and the stronger the disharmony, the more of an outcast the person is, the less he belongs.

At least when it comes to philosophical thought, isolating oneself in the Ivory Tower can be helpful, as you will be able to immerse yourself in your thinking and will not be pulled out of this philosophical mode of being by others whose mode of being is different. However, by doing so you will not be able to test your thoughts against the objections of others, and so are more likely to go into great errors; you will not be able to benefit from fresh ideas and approaches, and so are more likely to stagnate. Furthermore, these are often the thoughts of others that provoke your thoughts, i.e. it is easier to start thinking about something after the discussion with someone than after your own monologue with yourself.

And at the end of the day, what is the point of writing articles and books, keeping online journals, what is all of this if not the engagement with the society regarding the things you find significant.

When one finds that his inner thoughts are in disharmony with the outer interests and activities of the society, one can seek to associate with others like him, in order to create and an outer environment where he would be in harmony with others. Create a society within the larger society. This can be a circle of friends or it can be a slightly more open and formal social network to which people can join. I found that in UK there are such networks, like student societies, interns’ networks, third sector organisations, etc (quite imperfect, but still are). In Tallinn, my place of birth, however, I struggled to find anything of the sort, while I was there during the vacation time. I did not really have a circle of friends with whom I could easily engage in conversations about philosophy or politics, and so I tried looking for existing social networks that I could come in contact with. I found none, and so believe that there are none. This really is a disappointing fact, for I think that Tallinn students would have found it much easier to engage in philosophical discussions if there were formally existing philosophical societies. And so I thought that it would be a great thing to organise some such society.

In the next journal entry I will describe what little I have tried in order to initiate such a society, and suggest what more can be done. I would invite anyone interested to discuss the matter.

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Date:2007-01-09 08:00
Subject:The meanings of words
Security:Public

The only usefulness that words have is in having a common meaning for two or more people, because their sole purpose is relaying that meaning from one person to another or others, otherwise they would have no usefulness at all and be just sounds or series of lines. The only way for a word to have a common meaning for two or more persons, is through the common reference, i.e. the reference to one and the same thing by both people. Direct transfer of meaning from mind to mind is impossible, and that is why the words were needed in the first place. So the common reference, and hence the meaning, is realised through the common comportment and usage, e.g. when I point to a cat black cat and say “a black cat”. But the other person who observes the action can only infer (rather then deduce) what the words “a black cat” mean for me. He has to infer my meaning from my comportment, and so he can think that “a black cat” refers to the action of pointing rather then the object pointed at, etc. Because of this imperfect way in which words acquire their meaning, the particular meaning of each word to every individual would vary, but there must still be some more general commonality of meaning among individuals.

Now let’s look at what Virve (substitute Virve for Jane, or Bob without the loss of generality) has said. She said that she’s a bad girl because doesn’t love anyone. True that the word “love” (or indeed the word “bad”) has quite an ambiguous common meaning which actually changes according to the situation in which it is used (the situation is not specified in Virve’s case). So we would indeed be hard pressed to understand the exact meaning of Virve’s phrase, and what she means by “love” here. But still we do have some commonality of meaning of “love” among us, for example I am sure as hell that it doesn’t refer to “a black cat” or “the act of pointing”. So we can infer at least the most general meaning of Virve’s phrase from this general meaning of “love” that we have, i.e. “love” being a certain strong positive attitude that one may have towards someone or something, we can easily understand that Virve doesn’t have some kind of such attitude towards anyone. What exact kind, e.g. like the love between men and women, we cannot know, but only speculate on her previous posts and other information about Virve that we have available (in order to get a situation). I’ll keep such speculations to myself, though.

Furthermore, even though we cannot understand the exact meaning of the phrase, Virve still means something, hence there IS an exact meaning that she knows. So it is not about words but about the meaning. And unless Virve is very confused with her feelings, she must know exactly what she means by love when she pronounces the phrase.

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Date:2007-01-07 21:41
Subject:
Security:Public
Mood: pissed off

Warning! Baleful cursing, depressed and disappointed mourning is contained here! ... You know, it’s just one of those days…Collapse )

… *calming down and setting his hat straight*… OK, for those LJ Friends of mine that are from Tallinn (who seem to be the majority out of the small number of Friends that I have): the is going to be a series of lectures at the Von Krahl Teater on the topic of Post-Capitalist Society, starting with the lecture by Jakon Von Uexkull this coming Tuesday (the 9th) at 19:00. Would any of you be interested in joining me and going to this lecture?

See this webpage for more details:

http://www.vonkrahl.ee/et/nb04/loengutekava.html

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