Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 3rd, 2015

Aux enfants des militaires martyrs

Ce matin, il a ouvert ses deux petits yeux
Il en veut à tout le monde, il en veut à Dieu
Il s’impatiente trop, il attend le retour
De son père qu’il n’a plus vu depuis des jours

Légende photo : Fils du sergent Ibrahim Zahraman tombé au champ d'honneur le 1er février 2013 lors d'une embuscade contre l'Armée Libanaise à Ersal

Légende photo : Fils du sergent Ibrahim Zahraman tombé au champ d’honneur le 1er février 2013 lors d’une embuscade contre l’Armée Libanaise à Ersal

Il regarde la lune, il s’adresse au soleil
« Pourquoi papa n’est-il pas là à mon réveil ? »
Il perd patience, il veut à tout prix le voir
Il l’attend le matin, à midi et le soir

Il joue avec ses chars et ses soldats de plomb
L’ennui le ronge, le temps lui parait si long
A chaque seconde, à chaque bruit lourd de pas
Il se réjouit et pense que c’est son papa

Son costume bariolé aux couleurs de terre
Semblable à celui que portait son brave père
Il le porte chaque jour, il en est si fier
Fier de l’uniforme auguste des militaires

Les bras du héros qui le portait tous les jours
Son sourire, son regard, ses mots, son amour
Les contes du Liban, des soldats, et des tanks
En un mot, la présence de son père lui manque

Il court se réfugier dans les bras de sa mère
Il pleure, des larmes ferventes et amères
Il cherche des yeux son père, mais ne le retrouve
Elle lui dit qu’il viendra, mais rien ne le lui prouve

Il ne sait pas encore que des quidams ignobles
Ont lachement tué des hommes des plus nobles
Qui effectuaient leur devoir envers la patrie
Et que son père est parmi ceux qui sont partis…

Marie-Josée Rizkallah
Artiste-Peintre. Écrivain, Poète

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“Suicide. Yes? No?” Beware of binary logical traps

Binary questions have nothing to do with real life situation.

The French author Albert Camus once wrote: “The only viable life question is: Suicide. Yes? No?

Would you approach a physically healthy young person who is going through a life existential mental problems and state: Suicide. Yes? No?

Would you exhibit your philosophical talent on a friend suffering from terminal illness and say: In your dire condition, I would ask myself: Suicide. Yes? No?

What do you think would be the reaction of your friend to your sad-assed conversation?

Suppose a friend who has been active in euthanasia issues and aided many terminally people or totally paraplegic individuals in extending practical means for dying comfortably and surrounded with friend said to you: “I am closely familiar with situations like you. If you need my services I’ll be care for all the details for you. I’ll take you by the hand through all the turmoil and procedures…”

Past the first horror reaction, you probably would appreciate greatly this pragmatic help, coming from someone ready to confront the legal problems on your behalf.

In your condition of total detachment, you are unable to focus on anything, much less to make any worthwhile decision. You need a down-to earth friend ready to stay by you and support you in everyday hassles.

Logic has nothing to do with real life, particularly binary logic.

If you are cornered in any discussion to choose between two aspects, avoid it by all means. There is nothing worth gaining from such a discussion.

If you are enamoured with binary logic, at least have the decency to expound on the topic from all its aspects before venturing on a yes or no closure.


Inside the Neanderthal mind

How science can inform ethics
magazine cover

Why is it wrong to enslave or torture other humans, or take their property, or discriminate against them?

That these actions are wrong, almost no one disputes.

Why are they wrong?

A Moral Starting Point published February 2015 by Michael Shermer 

For an answer, most people turn to religion (because God says so), or to philosophy (because rights theory says so), or to political theory (because the social contract says so).

In The Moral Arc, published in January, I show how science may also contribute an answer.

My moral starting point is the survival and flourishing of sentient beings.

By survival, I mean the instinct to live.

By flourishing, I mean having adequate sustenance, safety, shelter, and social relations for physical and mental health.

By sentient, I mean emotive, perceptive, sensitive, responsive, conscious, and, especially, having the capacity to feel and to suffer.

Instead of using criteria such as tool use, language, reasoning or intelligence, I go deeper into our evolved brains, toward these more basic emotive capacities. There is sound science behind this proposition.

According to the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness—a statement issued in 2012 by an international group of prominent cognitive and computational neuroscientists, neuropharmacologists and neuroanatomists—there is a continuity between humans and nonhuman animals.

And sentience is the most important common characteristic.

The neural pathways of emotions, for example, are not confined to higher-level cortical structures in the brain but are found in evolutionarily older subcortical regions.

Artificially stimulating the same regions in human and nonhuman animal brains produces the same emotional reactions in both.

Attentiveness, decision making, and the emotional capacity to feel and suffer are found across the branches of the evolutionary tree. This is what brings all humans and many nonhuman animals into our moral sphere.

The arc of the moral universe really is bending toward progress, by which I mean the improvement of the survival and flourishing of individual sentient beings.

I emphasize the individual because that is who survives and flourishes, or who suffers and dies, not the group, tribe, race, gender, state or any other collective.

Individual beings perceive, emote, respond, love, feel and suffer—not populations, races, genders or groups.

Historically, abuses have been most rampant—and body counts have run the highest—when the individual is sacrificed for the good of the group.

It happens when people are judged by the color of their skin, or by their gender, or by whom they prefer to sleep with, or by which political or religious group they belong to, or by any other distinguishing trait our species has identified to differentiate among members instead of by the content of their individual character.

The revolutions for the rights in the past three centuries have focused almost entirely on the freedom and autonomy of individuals, not collectives—on the rights of persons, not groups.

Individuals vote, not genders.

Individuals want to be treated equally, not races.

In fact, most rights protect individuals from being discriminated against as individual members of a group, such as by race, creed, color, gender, and now sexual orientation and gender preference.

The singular and separate organism is to biology and society what the atom is to physics—a fundamental unit of nature.

The first principle of the survival and flourishing of sentient beings is grounded in the biological fact that it is the discrete organism that is the main target of natural selection and social evolution, not the group.

We are a social species, but we are first and foremost individuals within social groups and therefore ought not to be subservient to the collective.

This drive to survive is part of our essence, and therefore the freedom to pursue the fulfilment of that essence is a natural right, by which I mean it is universal and inalienable and thus not contingent only on the laws and customs of a particular culture or government.

As a natural right, the personal autonomy of the individual gives us criteria by which we can judge actions as right or wrong: Do they increase or decrease the survival and flourishing of individual sentient beings?

Slavery, torture, robbery and discrimination lead to a decrease in survival and flourishing, and thus they are wrong.

“You can’t just say, ‘This is the way it is, therefore it ought to be that way.’ You’ve got to have good reasons,” says Michael Shermer, referencing the common “is-ought fallacy” most famously explained by David Hume.

(David Hume is the same ironic philosopher/scientist who replied to the social contract of John Locks’s related to government:

” Is this contract applicable to the peasants and artisans who barely can survive of their miserly income and are unable to leave the country?” )

“Well, I claim that we do have good reasons: Democracies are better than autocracies. Free markets are better than tyrannical, top-down economic systems. There are certain things we know work. You can measure it!”

(What about social State systems that value fairness among all the citizens? And provide a minimum level of dignity to survive, preventive health care, affordable education… You can measure it?)




March 2015

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