Harmonia Philosophica on Science in the era of COVID-19: The need for common logic!

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Harmonia Philosophica has been around for decades, writing articles about science, religion and philosophy. Many times, we have been overly critical about the dogmatism inherent in the above fields, especially science. This has been mistakenly used by some people to promotie anti-scientific views regarding the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The purpose of this article is to make things clear enough for everyone to understand that criticism on something does not mean denial of common sense.

Surely, science and scientists have many times been dogmatic about the truthfulness of some of the assumptions they make. And it is the work of every scientist and philosopher alike to pinpoint those assumptions so that the people using them can acknowledge them on their own and potentially question them. Harmonia Philosophica has been working hard on that field for along time now.

However!

Being critical on something (e.g. science as we know it to-day) does not mean that we deny it! To the contrary, every criticism conducted, is based upon scientific evidence and scientific methodology. Questioning the interpretation of the Michelson Morley experiment for example, does not at any point mean that someone is questioning science per se! The criticism made is made in the context and with the scientific tools at hand.

Criticism against science is done with the goal of improving science to the heights it once reached. In the same way that criticism against today’s materialistic philosophy is conducted with the goal of freeing modern thought so as to let it reach its past glory or an era where we thought without first thinking.

(Can you ever criticize what you do not love?)

Surely science has flaws and inherent limitations.

But it is what it is. And it is what we have.

And what else can we do but work with what we have?

There is no non-scientific way to analyze a virus or to analyze the pandemic and propose potential measures to cope with it. There is no non-scientific method to develop vaccines or analyze their efficiency.

By denying science we fall into the same trap that those who deny religion have fallen: Dogmatism! Harmonia Philosophica has been saying that for many many years now: we need both science and religion to reach the truth, if such thing ever exists. And it requires wisdom (and sometimes self-imposed discipline) to know when to use what. Yes, science may have inherent limitations. And we will move forward with them. Towards a slightly better world. Day by day. Article by article.

Science can and has been used the wrong way.

But this means that it can also be used the correct way.

As it has been many times in the past.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a time where we all need to be pragmatic and real. There is an enemy out there and we need to fight it. Criticising the only weapon you have available against it is the only certai way of losing…

Oh, and something else.

Philosophy is great.

But at the end, there comes a time when decisions must be made.

And at that point – where we currently are – endless philosophical discussions about this and that are of no use. To the contrary, they might be proved deadly. During an actual crisis, there is no point in pointing out the obvious (e.g. that “not all experts agree”) or in discussing over and over again epistemological issues not solved for centuries. At some point, whether we like it or not, reality comes into play. Surely our philosophy will play a role in the decisions we will take. But we must not allow it to hinder the making of those decisions on the pretext of ‘thinking’. For even philosophy, as science, is not immune from criticism.

Apologies for the dull article.

For me it is one of the most important ones I ever wrote.

Happy thinking. Stay safe.

Harmonia Philosophica

Post-Covid philosophy: The illusion of Freedom. (And why you are addicted to it)

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In the face of the Covid pandemic (coronavirus) many countries imposed nation-wide lockdowns. We are now at the phase of easing those lockdowns. Businesses start operating gradually again and life is beginning to regain its momentum.

During one of the previous days and as part of this ‘going back to normal’ phase we are all in, I visited an electronics shop. I needed something to buy and I had postponed it a long time now. While I was walking in the store I suddenly discovered many other nice things I could use and I was immediately tempted at buying them. It was only after careful recollection and – I must admit – due to my degraded consuming reflexes because of the two-months quarantine, that I decided at the end not to buy them.

I returned home only with what I wanted. And it felt weird. I really felt like a junkie who had just denied himself the most exquisite of drugs just because – for a funny weird reason – he just did not want them?!

What had happened to me?

Why did I change like that?

Well…

As in all great questions, the question itself was wrong!

I should better be asking…

What had been happening to me all this time before?

Because you see…

I was already changed!

And as weird as it seems, that big change, the coronavirus pandemic, the lockdowns and the overall slowing down of life itself, had simply led me (and many others, as I understand) back at what we once used to be.

Just wander for yourself.

Did you always drink coffee in the morning? Were you always addicted to cell phones? Did you always need to login into dozens of sites to read news? Were you always addicted to buying things just because you have money to do so?

Our life is not our own.

And yet, we claimed ownership a long time ago.

Trying to impose our self on us.

The greatest illusion of them all – the greatest conspiracy in which we all abide, is the illusion that we are free men. Free to do as we want. Free to buy or not buy things. Free to sell things. Free to find a job, free to quit a job.

But we are not.

We do buy coffee every morning. Not because we want it, but because we have learned to do so. We do buy more and more things every day. Not because we will die if we don’t, but because we have been trained to do so. We sell things when we wish so. But only because of wishes that have been imposed on us by others. We are “free” to get a job. But only the jobs we have been told that are the ones worth it.

Many people have wrongly attributed the lockdowns to a global conspiracy to keep us at home. But this is the opposite of the greatest conspiracy unfolding before our very eyes: The conspiracy to be out and wander free, doing whatever you want.

Because feeling free is the greatest drug of them all. And when you take it, you never think that you might be not. The freedom is not what you really need. The illusion of grandeur that you feel is your true drug.

But remember Zen.

Seek less, to have more…

Staying at home.

Not buying things.

Being with family.

Those things that seem like ‘nothing’.

Are the ones which are everything.

These are the things that we used to do back in the days when we did not know that we could do “whatever we want”. And inside our “prison” we did feel happy. With no obligation to do things we did not want or to buy useless things that just make the void in our soul bigger. For while a “free” man can buy a coffee he doesn’t need and then come out of an electronics shop with two bags of things he “wants”, a a man in prison can dwell on the outer skirts of the universe by reading a book…

Now we will start going out again.

The “prison” doors are open.

But don’t be so happy being miserable.

Just ask the obvious…

– Sir, would that be a single or double espresso?

With respect to the dead… [The Coronavirus Sweden example]

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Coronavirus crisis has helped in revealing the true nature of people and of states. Crises of such proportions do have the tendency of doing so.

Within the crisis people feared death, people laughed at death, people showed ignorance of epic proportions for basic scientific facts, others just chose to worry about everything while some of their friends were totally cut off from the crisis itself while sipping coffee.

And while dancing in the shadows.

Each man showed his real face…

States over the world similarly exhibited varied reactions to the coronavirus, with some imposing strict lock-downs, others doing nothing and then imposing lock-downs, while others imposed no or very limited measures whatsoever.

And while dancing in the shadows…

Some states revealed a monster.

And unlike fairy tales, monsters in this case were beautiful and clean. Even happy. One could never believe they are monsters anyway. Unless they hear the silence beyond their laughter…

Sweden once again startled the world. By choosing not to impose any measures or general lockdown (with the exception of banning big gatherings/ large events). Sweden and Swedes believe that their strategy was great and successful. They claim that they have managed to keep deaths at a low while not imposing a devastating lockdown which would collapse the economy.

First of all, the claim that they kept deaths low is wrong. The deaths in Sweden due to coronavirus per million are much higher than comparable nations which did much better at containing the new virus (e.g. Greece). Secondly, there is a price for keeping the economy happy. That price is death. And Sweden has a long tradition in doing so.

In the case of the coronavirus, the price is paid not by the people going out for coffee or drinks (without keeping safe distances by the way – no, the cause of the “success” is not in the obedience or the responsibility of the Swedes), but by the elderly. They are the ones who die in the nursing homes for the rest of Sweden to be able to go out and cry “Success!”…

This is not a secret either. It is known to everybody. It is just that there seems to be a prioritization of the economy over life, especially when that life is the life of a person in his late 70’s. As a restaurant owner said “With respect to the people who died, life goes on”.

With respect to the dead…

Sweden kept on doing business with Hitler during WW2, while other countries paid a huge death toll while fighting against the… business partner of Sweden. (See “Allies trading with Hitler – Economic games during World War II” for details)

With respect to the dead…

Sweden had eugenics long before Hitler even considered them. (Check “Evil Sweden strikes back… (or: How to sterilize “inferior” people)” for details)

With respect to the dead…

Sweden chooses to put a price on human life and leave everything uncontrolled because anyway it is the elderly who will die. Elderly who are anyway in nursing homes, so why care right? (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

Because at the end what is under question here is not the effectiveness of that measure of the other, but something much more fundamental: The value of human life itself. And Sweden has chosen to answer that question. No, don’e be fooled. It is not that the answer Sweden has given is wrong. The problem with questions is that they contain the answer as Aristotle said. And when you ask the value of human life, you will inevitably give an answer somehow. And this answer will have effects.

And measures will not be taken.

And the elderly will be left alone.

And the businesses will keep on working.

And people will keep on laughing.

While an old man dies alone.

Tell me, young man.

With respect to the people who live…

How can you put a price on the dead?

PS. This is not an anti-Sweden article per se. Sweden just gave a perfect example of how modern civilization measures the value of human life in money today. There are many other nations which think the same way as Sweden. For example in Gernamy Wolfgang Schäuble advocated for a more even calculus between public health and the economic and social consequences of a prolonged shutdown, fearing an overload of state capacities. He also disagreed with subordinating all other concerns to the goal of saving lives, claiming “this in its absolutism is not correct,” as the German constitution’s right to human dignity “does not exclude the possibility that we must die”. (source) That is a great line by the way. If only it was told by the man dying…

Do you believe in your Faith?

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We have a lot of discussion today about the “persecution” of Christians. Modern “Christians” feel persecuted because the churches are closed, because they do not open together with the… other businesses, because there are no religious events while other events perhaps are allowed, because they will put a chip in us and the Antichrist will come, etc. All this – at least some – are legitimate questions that need to be addressed. However, there is a fine line between what concerns us as Christians and what is really important. And equally important is the way we express our concerns. A post? Two posts? Crying out loud (online) about upcoming doom? Because anxiety is good to have in moderation if needed, but a lot of anxiety eventually becomes funny.

Christianity will not die because COVID-19 has come. Not even because of the lockdown. Christianity has survived – to be more precise, it had FLOURISHED – in times of great persecution. If today’s concerned “Christians” were living in the times of the great persecutions, they would probably have died on the spot from a stroke before they had time to worry (or they would have changed their minds and denounce Christianity). Because, unfortunately, hypocrisy, like stupidity, seems to have no limits. From the time when some people went to church, we have now reached to a time when online hordes of Christians protest because the churches were closed. Not because they are anxious about Christianity per se. But because they are anxious that they do NOT appear to be Christians. And in today’s era phenomena are not just important, they are all we have left.

Hey you. You, who are protesting …

How many times do you pray at home? How honestly do you believe in God? How much do you need others to know that you believe?

I’m sorry to say it, but the comparison with Muslims is heartbreaking. No, I am not in favor of Islam as you (might) know. I am a Christian. But let’s be honest. While we are anxious and afraid that Christianity may be destroyed by “persecution” on Earth because due to a sudden WORLD VIRUS OUTBREAK and in the middle of GENERAL LOCKDOWN the churches are closed, the Muslims simply continues to believe and pray wherever they can.

No, Christianity is not going to die because of quarantine. It has already died inside you a long time ago…

Against Trump (but everyone else too). Why politics is dead.

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The recent coronavirus crisis revealed many things which remained safely hidden under the comfort of our everyday routine.

As usual, a crisis of such proportions exposes the real self of men (and women). And what emerged from those ICU beds, the agony, the fear, the irony and the disbelief (of those who do not believe in the virus – as if its RNA strands are part of a system of belief) was something ugly.

Starting with Trump, it was made evident beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is nothing beyond economy for the current president of the United States. And when we say nothing we mean nothing. There is nothing there. He only sees money and… well, more money. Nothing more. His decisions are dictated by money. He dreams of money. And that was why he was so much feeling outside his game during this crisis which hurt the most valuable thing of them all: the US economy.

That is why he decided not to close the country because “We never closed the country for the flu”. (But then measures were taken) That is why he insists day after day to announce when the country will open again, as if the lives of the Americans can be measured in dollars. (And as if he cannot print more money when he needs to) That is why in the midst of a global crisis he withdrew from the WHO on the basis on… how much the US pay to the organization. (By the way, leaving more room to the Chinese to make the organization more… Chinese – something for which Trump accused them in the first place)

These are just the latest signs of Trump seeing nothing more than money. He is now infamous for his ban of the largest Chinese mobile phones company, a move which no one could even consider even as a story for a fiction novel. Or for imposing tariffs on goods from China and Europe, making the world go back 1000 years in the world trade history where people used to pay taxes for every city they entered. Or for even considering decommissioning a US aircraft carrier because… it costed too much (!), ignoring years of US foreign policy and power projection strategies only to make the ledger look better. (No, Trump is not worried about global democracy, he is just worried about the ledger of his country; whatever you see as American power projection is a remnant of his predecessors)

Beyond economy, Trump is good at uttering great lines against political correctness (this is good), however only to gain votes and not out of any philosophical disposition against political correctness. And this is even worse than saying nothing.

But let us move on to the story and to the other protagonists of the US political scene. And while doing that, see the problem: That there are no other protagonists. Trump, with all his problems and misconducts, seems to be the best available choice. Not only from the Republicans but from the Democrats as well. Amazing as it is, there seems to be no contender to challenge him on equal terms on the politics scene. This does not imply that there are no people who are better than Trump as people, I am just saying that there are no politics better than Trump.

So here we are, facing the greatest problem of the philosophy of politics. Who should we vote?

The obvious answer would be “the least bad” (or ‘evil’, but evil is a heavy word; after all, it is just about money). But that is a bad answer on its own. Even if Trump looks better than the other current candidates, this does not justify his selection let alone praise for anything. He is a bad choice per se. Inherently. Essentially. And there is no way around that dead-end.

The last time people chose between the lesser evil in the Germany in the 1930’s things didn’t end up well. Politics should not be about imposing problems. It should be about proposing solutions to choose from. And when there is no solution evident, then solutions should be found.

But how can you find solutions in politics if politics is only about what to do and what to do not? How can you justify voting for one or the other when it all comes down to “Who gets things done”? Trump is good in US economy. Others are good at foreign policy. Others may be good at not jailing C-executives of foreign big companies (just saying). Would that suffice to choose who to vote? Whatever negative things one could say for Trump, he could easily say for other politics in the US for various other reasons. It is all a matter on where you stand politically, on what are your interests, on what things you are in favor of or against.

And right there, in the midst of the greatest dark, is when we will remember that there was once a bright light shinning in our life. A light we have forgotten because we chose to forget it. Philosophy used to play an important role in everyday life. People used to ask Why. (The important Why’s, not the type of “Why did we not have profits this year”) Now we just ask How. And our life is more successful than ever. And our life is empty. Because we have forgotten the most simple yet difficult teaching of philosophy: When the answer is difficult, perhaps the question is wrong. Politics is dead. Not because we killed it. But because it was never alive anyway. Don’t you see? The only cases when politics produced something useful was when they acted as non-politics.

And that is why Harmonia Philosophica will never write politics articles. Except to remind you that there is no need to be involved or be interested in politics. The real problems of the cosmos are problems with our very nature. Problems related to our existence. Problems stemming from our own Being as such. How can a politic ever answer these?

Who am I going to vote?

What a weird question.

For someone who is already running the world…