Archive for the ‘Puzzles’ category

Symbol, Intent, Consequence, Knowledge

August 10, 2006

As mentioned in an earlier post, we all engage in the activity called mapping. This activity allows us to designate symbols that guide us towards our expectations and provide meaning to the world. The symbols we use are only symbols, the intent and knowledge that gives them force is the relationships we are able to recognize and connect within them.

Symbols have multipurpose roles, all of which can be in play at the same time, which is why they are so difficult sometimes. They are bridges between the world and the self, and the nature of the self is remotely tied into their meaning. Subjective or objective, context or content, transparent or cryptic, are just a few points involved in the formulation and interpretation of symbols.

This lack of stability in formulation and interpretation leads to a problem for those who try to push too hard on language, because if one part of it is exclusively analyzed the whole edifice collapses. Therefore, Hume devastates the idea of real knowledge by showing matters of fact as synthetic impressions associated by blind faith. Sartre destroys the concept of identity by stopping it in the process of transcendence. I declare a pox on both their houses for trying to define an inherently incomplete system.

Consequences are the primary measure of determining how closely our intent compares to the world and the map we are using. When the consequences do not match our intent, it is time to gain more knowledge.

Knowledge is the result of our map quest. What we do with that knowledge becomes another symbol, intent, and consequence.

Update: After looking at the post a second time, the next to last paragraph could use some clarification. What I want to say is that when there is a disconnect between our intentions and the consequences of those intentions, we need to stop and figure out where the mistake is. It may be that our intention was wrong in part or in whole, it may be some variable that we were unaware of is influencing the outcome, it could be any number of things. The point is simply that we should always be open to a “reality check” to modify things when they are not working.

Just War Theory

May 8, 2006

I have been reading and rereading a book, The Just War, by Peter Temes. He gives an overview of the history behind the traditions, evolutions, and teachings that define the current theory.

He proposes three major principles and a proper framework to view them in:
1) A Just War sanctifies human life and treats all life as equally precious. Casualties should be kept to a minimum on both sides when possible.
2) A Just War is about the future and not about historic grievances. This does allow the right to self-defense, since that is an immediate grievance.
3) A Just War preserves and strengthens the principle of individual rights, based on the notion that a legitimate government is derived from the consent of the governed. This permits revolutions to occur against a tyrant.

The framework he suggests is that innocence be recognized and valued, naming our enemies as human, and acknowledging that war is the business of death and destruction.

A very short book, barely over 200 pages, yet filled with great insights about war, individual rights, social stability, and justice.