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A Forgettable Friday

Friday, December 28, 2012

Not much accomplished today; still recovering from the holidays.

I.

In the transition from Christmas Eve to Christmas I hauled around a five-gallon bucket of liquid.

Several days later and my back has finally reached peak pain; it should start feeling better over the weekend. I know not to lie too much, but only certain sitting postures are comfortable.

As Ms. S. works a strangely scheduled evening shift -- coworker had to go to an uncle's funeral, but on top of that said coworker suddenly quit last night and now the place is down to two regular employees and the manager to cover all the shifts --, I hoped to be highly productive around the house this Friday. Alas, my back is a bit distracting. Walking around vacuuming aided things a big. Plus, the apartment is cleaner now.

But while reading and writing I did manage to rewatch the end of season three of 'BSG.' It's a show I really wanted Ms. S. to watch with me, but she couldn't maintain any interest past the mini-series; I should have started us with season 1, episode 1, "33." One of the joys of the show is its season-ending cliffhangers, each perhaps better than the last in WTF-itude.

At least I'm close to 'back on track' food-wise after the past few days. The chocolate is mostly gone (only the 'good stuff' remains ... and that will be consumed slowly, deliberately).

II.

I've given up most of my pet peeves; I've set them free.

No longer do I care that much about "between you and I," though it still grates. Less vs. fewer? Ambiguity does not ensue; I can cope.

If they were meant to be ... my peeves would return to me.

But one peeve I've retained the employment of the naturalistic fallacy (see also: G. E. Moore) as well as people ignoring the is-ought problem. Closely related but not identical is the appeal to nature (that which is 'natural' is inherently good, that which is unnatural is inherently bad/wrong [phrasing here stolen from Wikipedia]).

And when it comes to food the appeal to nature is all over the place, and my motivation for this was coming across it again (and the same such appeal that I see all the time) today while reading a blog post at NPR's 'The Salt,': "An Evolutionary Whodunit: How Did Humans Develop Lactose Tolerance?" ( www.npr.org/blogs/thesal
t/2012/12/27/168144785/an-
evolutionary-whodunit-how-
did-humans-develop-lactose-tolerance
).

Joann Flora, among others, in the comments argues "Nobody needs cow's milk, except if you're a calf. It is not now, nor has it ever been, a 'normal' human food." The argument often goes hand-in-hand with the idea that no other species except humans consumes (a) milk past childhood or (b) the milk of another species.

So?

No other species uses language as we understand it (though others have forms of communication), no others wear clothes, no others ferment foods, and so. Flora's point goes further, that we do not 'need' a given item, and should therefore abstain; likewise she employs 'normal.' Teleology is also invoked, "Perhaps we were never meant to drink cow's milk beyond childhood."

I'm not interested in making an argument here, but for my own sake I'm interested in pointing out the various strategies employed to derive an 'ought' here. Curiously enough, none of them fits into deontological, utilitarian, or even virtue ethics; they're not even ethical arguments (nor are they political or economic, if we're dealing with traditional divisions of practical philosophy).

There's more there tied to notions of the "natural," and in particular to anti-modern and reactionary approaches to life, as exemplified by the previous comment by Alice Martin, "[...] Modern science is the culprit, as pasteurization. The milk at your supermarket is not the same as the traditional raw dairy." It's another non-argument, merely an appeal.

But I digress. The comments do not interest me that much. More fascinating is the blog post's content, and it is a decent read.

III.

Elsewhere I came across Gerald Vision's "Re-Emergence: Locating Conscious Properties in a Material World" (The MIT Press, 2011), a nice little monograph. It's divided into two sections, "Emergentism of the Mental Described and Defended" and "Orthodox Alternatives" (the latter providing three chapters, "Physicalism," "Representationalism," and "Non-Reductive Physicalism and Pure Token Identity").

What disappoints me is that several of my favorite figures are missing from the text and index, in particular Kant, Dennett, and Hofstadter. Both of the latter are contemporary, and their contemporary, John Searle, does appear (as do Chalmers and Chomsky, as well as John Conway). Given Conway's appearance in the Epilogue, I'd have expected Hofstadter and 'strange loops' or similar. Kant is not represented, but Hume and Leibniz (and Locke) are; it suggests to me that the author is familiar with a more analytic tradition in philosophy. One gets to Leibniz via Chomsky and Bertrand Russell. But no Kant? Sigh ... there's much to recommend on that front.

IV.

In addition to finishing season 3 of BSG, I decided, after vacuuming, to put on "The Corbomite Maneuver" from season 1 of ST:TOS, which Ms. S. won't watch with me. As a quick note or two: Clint Howard is in it; and in a way it's the rational/optimistic version of TNG's "Encounter at Farpoint" (at least the Q parts).
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