Risto Juola
Ab absurdo, ad libertatem.
2014
12
February

A while back, I happened across the Atheism Resource's "Rational Debating" flow chart. The goal of this flow chart is to familiarize readers with rationality, and the chart is certainly useful in helping us reflect on how we can facilitate rational discussion. However, the termination points in this chart -- "This is not a discussion. I will not talk to you about this topic." and "You cheated. The discussion is terminated." -- are problematic, because they terminate discussion entirely, when the given rules of rational debating are not observed. This makes rational debating an ends, rather than a means.

2013
1
August

Although the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was dissolved as a political entity in 1991, no definite consensus has emerged regarding the relationship between Lenin, socialism, and the USSR. Investigation of this relationship remains important however, as consensus agrees the USSR was totalitarian; and, if Lenin was a socialist, then socialism may have been the primary source of the USSR's totalitarian bent. This matters today because Leninist-style, single-party communism remains a political force in China, Cuba, and Vietnam, and many observers insist these countries have totalitarian inclinations. Furthermore, popular support for communist and socialist ideas appears to be growing, and if socialism is innately totalitarian then modern socialists are effectively praying to Shiva, misdirecting social energies that should be aimed at reforming capitalism rather than replacing it with a system that could prove even worse. For these reasons, the question remains: was Lenin a socialist?

2012
22
May

What is the relationship between biology and politics? This question emerged even before biology and politics were well-defined fields, as political leaders and natural philosophers ruminated on the nature of knowledge, and the connection between human society and the universe. The question came into sharper relief during the nineteenth-century, and in particular after the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859. Darwin's theory provoked reactions and developments in a number of fields far removed from biology, and in connection to politics, the most conspicuous development was social Darwinism.

2012
2
March

What are the foundations of mathematics? Early answers to this question were closely related to geometry, and historically, the philosophy of mathematics and the mathematics of geometry maintained a unique connection for more than two thousand years. During this period absolute certainty reigned, and here we shall survey major developments in the evolution of geometry and metamathematics in relation to certitude. We will begin with the origins of the belief in mathematical certainty in Classical Greece, then survey its connection to science through to the seventeenth-century. In closing, we will examine the decline of certainty in the early nineteenth-century, when the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry forced uncertainty on to mathematics and philosophy.

2012
27
January

What is Facebook, and what are its implications for the authenticity of Dasein? Here, Facebook itself replies, declaring; "Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life," in pursuit of its "mission ... to give people the power to ... make the world more open and connected." (Hereafter, Facebook is referenced as FB.) Thus FB describes its relation to Dasein using the characteristics: "helps"; "connect"; "share"; "open"; and "power." Structurally speaking therefore, FB believes it "helps" facilitate "open" relationships between people, and positions itself as "the power" that "helps" "connect" "life" on "the world."

With respect to physical extent, FB's claims are accurate, as its digital community involves over 800 million users, and those users span the entire planet. However, these details are not ontologically illuminating, and we observe that FB's response to our question is decidedly ontical, and offers little more than a categorical enumeration. Furthermore, additional investigation of the FB web site reveals no deeper answer, but yields only an expanded feature list. Therefore, the self-descriptions of FB do not open a path towards the answer we seek.