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Philosophical lessons learned these days

As my embedded philosophical attitude is hard to die, after long days in shock and shut eyes, I try now to consider some lessons learned directly from my experience.

First, people were irrational in the past and they are still irrational in the present. No matter of what we tell to ourselves in this “technological” age, there will be still irrationality among us. This is true everywhere but it is especially true in places in which there is no way to ground a rational open debate without getting out with fear of being considered a dinosaur. Irrationality is the plague of our time, the time of the human beings. We should fight it with all our intelligence but the reality is that intelligence is not much, artificial or human, especially when a certain threshold of spread fear and panic are already inside most of the minds. There is no way to consider numbers and facts because the behavior is so far from logic that the only thing you can do is to try to keep calm, breath and think clearly that life is not in your hands. Therefore, others’ life is not in your hands either. 

Second, stoics, epicureans and, maybe, skeptics (the old skepticism) were right. It is often said that their moral thought was ground because the ordinary man/woman was left outside the politics and the big Imperial apparatus took politics for itself. There is something true in this but still… still they were all right when they theorized that the only thing in your hands is barely your own life. And, to be more precise, a very limited portion of your mind. All the rest depends on something else and it is only about (wrong) expectations and reliable concurrent events that we start to believe that “If I do this it is mechanically, automatic that I gain that“. This is true only in a very specific set of circumstances, where ordinary rationality, rule of law, good economy etc. are all the case. How feeble is this tale! It takes just a light breath to fall the card castle down. And then, after all the craft, stoics & epicureans start to smile again. They didn’t tell us to be passive. But they told us that what we should do is to be rational, which is the only thing we can be if we are under control of ourselves. The rest is beyond our reach not because we should be passive but because we should be patient.

Third, the fairy tales about artificial intelligence is more apparent to me as ever before. There is no artificial intelligence otherwise we would have not reacted as in the middle ages (quite literally looking to the procedure endorsed). In fact, artificial intelligence are just two words that, if applies at all to something real – and we can debate for days about this -, are not changing the world as much as many thought. When I search for something really changed the landscape of the human life (quite literally), I search for steam engine, I search for tractors that free the human time from breaking the shoulders and backs plowing with an horse (if rich) or with an ox (if as everybody else) a hard piece of land good to give few goods never payed much. My grandfather still knew the very notion of tiredness and of the scent of the wet being him light (he was quite a slim person) because fat was still considered a scarce, quite valuable commodity. Artificial Intelligence is not changing the world because the world is intelligence resistant or, maybe, because A — I are just – mainly – two still useless letters whose meaning is in the mind of God or nobody.

Forth, I don’t see an intelligence policy and story telling whatsoever. Being good citizens is still important because we are still who can make the difference between craziness and rationality. But still we should take in mind that we are not born with mathematical calculus, with philosophical understanding, creativity and ingenuity. The discipline of the mind is what it is: a discipline of a lazy organ naturally set to try to minimize energy… for good reasons! Energy is a scarce commodity in nature and it must be saved for something really important, that is usually the gut reaction able to save us from the tigers and lions. This does not require much effort but still requires energy available. However, we don’t live anymore into the bushes. Human race is already living more in big cities than in the countryside that, many of us, never saw once in a life. So, intelligence is about us and we should start again to spend our time to think that education has a fundamental, basic value. A good nation and a good union is based on common understanding, common values and… rationality. Without rationality there is understanding and there are no common values as far as without rationality the only thing left is our own, little emotional point of view. Emotions could be important but they do not allow much agreement.

Fifth and finally, death is a part of life but we will still not want to accept it in principle. Then, when there is the awareness of it – there is the panic. Panic is not something healthy and it is not something we should strive for. Reasonable preoccupation is needed to find the right way to answer a concrete problem. But still, panic is not an excuse, panic and fear are just diseases of the mind which unable us to think rightly. They are childish reactions over something we don’t understand and we do our best to stop the best part of our mind to take over and start to live again. Death is death and we have to live with it. In a universe dominated by natural entropy in which nothing come back and everything transforms, it is our moral duty to be fair with us and accept our destiny, which is limited in time and, maybe, this is not even a bad thing because it reminds us that life is precious and we should do something good with it not wasting it. We should help our friend citizens toward the best parts of themselves. We have a duty toward everybody else in being good with them as we should be with us. Death could be the reason to remember that we are worthy to live in this planet, besides everything else, trying to not lose our time but helping us and other people in living their lives well and fully.

If there will be any reader finally arrived to this point, he/she needs my apologize. I apologize with him/her for not being to shut up myself, as I always do about my personal concerns about life and death. I always try to stand toward my instincts to find a reasonable way to face a problem. In Scuola Filosofica I never posted something about what I consider something flowing in time to give only what I consider the better. In this case, I remember that once Spinoza was outraged because of the craziness of his contemporaries so much that his householder had to lock him inside his room to spare him from the outraged crowd that killed two friends of him beating them to death – not a pleasant way to die. Spinoza was a philosopher whose positive message, human politeness toward anybody and rational calm is so exemplar that nobody could complained about him even in times in which being a pantheist could cause an exemplar public auto da fe. I am far to being a Spinoza, but I had the same necessity to try to speak what I considered my arguments hoping soon to see again the best of myself and my fellow citizens. Unfortunately, I don’t have a housekeeper or householder so careful with me to not allow me to write this message!

Giangiuseppe Pili

Giangiuseppe Pili è Ph.D. in filosofia e scienze della mente (2017). E' il fondatore di Scuola Filosofica in cui è editore, redatore e autore. Dalla data di fondazione del portale nel 2009, per SF ha scritto oltre 800 post. Egli è autore di numerosi saggi e articoli in riviste internazionali su tematiche legate all'intelligence, sicurezza e guerra. In lingua italiana ha pubblicato numerosi libri. Scacchista per passione. ---- ENGLISH PRESENTATION ------------------------------------------------- Giangiuseppe Pili - PhD philosophy and sciences of the mind (2017). He is an expert in intelligence and international security, war and philosophy. He is the founder of Scuola Filosofica (Philosophical School). He is a prolific author nationally and internationally. He is a passionate chess player and (back in the days!) amateurish movie maker.

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