Category: Philosophy


centipede

So…I’ve decided to stop killing bugs (actually a few months ago). I’ve never been one for killing spiders unless it was coming right for me and there was no other choice. Even then I’ve always said some sort of prayer after, it just doesn’t seem right. Especially since some insects are so big that you can’t imagine them not having a consciousness. Now, though, what I’ve come down to is that they all have consciousness, even the tiniest of tiny bugs really aren’t worth killing. Also, why are we killing them? Is it the ew factor? I realized I had some sort of fear that my apartment was going to get overrun by insects if I didn’t kill them all, but now I just don’t care (or I take them outside) – let them crawl all over me if that’s what’s necessary because I will no longer be their killer. Before I had the epiphany I’m going to describe below I even somehow knew this in my bones because it was before this that I made the decision to stop and I’m really proud of myself.

As bugs get bigger, they get harder to kill (as seen in the above photo!). That photo is of a rather large centipede that one of my friends recently found in her house and posted on Facebook. It is freaky looking, but I can’t stop staring at it because it is also freaking gorgeous! I am in awe of all things beautiful and this one is for sure delicate, just like the rest of us (and everything else on the planet). Once you get into macrocosm the microcosm of it all comes into perspective, which leads me to my next point.

COSMOS

I was watching the pilot episode of the Fox’s TV show COSMOS and I was in awe at the end when they pulled back from our earth, into our solar system, into our galaxy, into our cluster of galaxies, and then it pulled back even further for you to see what the whole universe may look like. We are just a milli-spec on a gargantuan dust cloud, merely a grain of sand in the eye of God! That made me realize there’s a commonality between all of us, everything on earth, and the rest of the universe. Everything, (no matter what it is) both is made up of smaller parts and is also a part of a bigger whole. From that distant perspective of the universe you can’t tell the difference between us as individuals and our planet as a whole. Just like all of the cells in our body make up what we think of as our identity, we as people make up the planet and what it sees as its identity. We are people, we are also atoms, we are also a planet. In that way we are the planet – we all make up the planet earth. This includes bugs and all of the smallest organisms. We are all made of the same substance (atoms), and we all make up the same substance (the planet), therefore we are one.

What I am advocating here is basically reductionism. In philosophy, the reductionist theory states that “entities of a given kind are collections or combinations of entities of a simpler or more basic kind. …The idea that physical bodies are collections of atoms…is a form of reductionism.” (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica) A famous reductionist Physicist Richard Feynman once wrote “Everything is made of atoms…everything that animals do, atoms do. In other words, there is nothing that living things do that cannot be understood from the point of view that they are made of atoms acting according to the laws of physics.” Everything can be reduced to smaller parts, and there is a threshold where its identity seems to change for some reason (this is all perspective). If you take away certain parts of a chair when does it stop being a chair? When you take the back off of it doesn’t it become a table? We need to honor all of the parts of our “chair”, meaning mother earth, because once we start determining on our own that certain parts aren’t needed then we are going to be living in a “table” world. I don’t know what that means for us as humans, do you? Do we have the right to act as creators to give and take away life? Do we know what we are doing here? Are we smart enough to be making these decisions?

Interestingly, here is a reductionist quote by Carl Sagan (fitting as he narrated the original COSMOS TV series) “The astonishing fact is that similar mathematics applies so well to planets and to clocks. It needn’t have been this way. We didn’t impose it on the Universe. That’s the way the Universe is. If this is reductionism, so be it.”

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

spider

To me it is undeniable that spiders have a consciousness of some sort. The main reason I stopped killing spiders in the first place was because I noticed that they could tell when I was looking at them. That might sound crazy to you, but I dare you to try it yourself. Next time you see a spider running away, focus your attention on it without making a move toward it and I bet you it stops running. Somehow it knows you are watching it and it seems to think that if it stays still maybe you won’t see it (which is very smart, actually, like playing dead). This is why I started feeling really sorry for them after killing them. How are you going to kill something that is so scared of you that it has to freeze up, and then feel ok about it after? So I had to start saying a little prayer, and then one thing lead to another, and now here I am writing this blog.

All bugs seem so much happier with me now, or maybe I’m happier with the bugs and so the feeling transfers to me. Yesterday a wasp, a smallish innocent bee-type thing (maybe it was a fly but it had yellow on it’s back), and a huge flying beetle all flew right by me and it was no big deal – in fact, I was honored that they felt safe around me. I live in the city so there isn’t much nature here. Crickets are lovely too, they have a really delicate hop-walk that I’ve been analyzing. It’s really funny that they can’t walk in a straight line ever! Crickets are a good example of letting yourself get over-run by insects because they might as well be crawling all over me outside of my place! There is nothing I can do about it and I am fine with that, they sing me to sleep and it is a beautiful song.

Beetle collage

About a month ago I was visited by the coolest beetle ever, it looked like an Egyptian scarab beetle with a very distinct “heart shape” on it’s back and I felt so blessed! (See the above photo I took of it on the left). It was about an inch long and I had seen some similar big beetles around my house recently, but all of them were brown and this one was a light green. (See the above two photos of the others I’ve seen on the top right). I was really honored to have the big beetle around so I left it there. It stayed in front of my doorstep all night long and every time I came out to look it was facing a different direction (N-E-S-W). I found out later it is a type of June bug that is much larger than normal June bugs, and in fact, all June bugs are members of the Egyptian scarab beetle family. If you are not familiar with June bugs they seem to only come out in June and they are very innocent creatures. (See the bottom right photo above for an example of what one looks like). They do eat plants (what else are they supposed to eat?) – so you will want to keep them out of your gardens, but please leave them alive!

Don’t squash unless you want to be squashed. Everything has smaller parts and also makes up something bigger; just like there will always be someone bigger, stronger, prettier. We are not here to compete; we are here to be a collective. When we compare ourselves we loose our greatness, our sense of wholeness with each other. Each of us, no matter how small, have our own gifts to give because we all make up this planet/universe and all of its beauty. Shine your light and it will be significant, whatever your capacity will be appreciated and that is exactly what will make you remembered. Your signature is unique and therefore perfect. We are all grains of sand, each as beautiful, each as important, each as necessary. If you are interested in really “going green”, then love your mother (your mother earth), and that means all things on it (bugs, too!) – not just what you choose to appreciate but everything.

IMG_1325

I had the wonderful opportunity this last weekend to attend Lightning in a Bottle, which is an amazing music festival thrown every year by my good friends at The Do Lab. This year volunteered in exchange for my ticket, and I got to work all weekend at Temple of Consciousness stage where mostly spiritual speakers and music were going to be heard. This was my fourth year attending, and due to my good fortune I have been a part of this experience since the early years of the festival. I went to the third LIB in 2002 when I first started hanging out with the Orange Kids (parts of that group later spawned off to become what is now known as The Do Lab).

IMG_1306

The highlight of the festival (for me) was to see my favorite DJ, The Human Experience, who I heard was to spin at the Temple stage. Once I got there I found out he would spin at 5:30am on Saturday morning so I stayed up all night (unenhanced) just to be able to hear his set. I was really bummed when I got to the Temple and found out that the cops had just shut down all of the speakers because of a neighborhood complaint. Sadly, I returned to my tent so that I could get some much needed sleep to work again at the Temple later that day. Once I woke up I found out that The Human Experience did indeed play a set that morning, albeit an acoustic one, that was about an hour later than originally scheduled. Apparently he likes to play the sunrise set, and I assume it is because his music really resonates well during that time of day. I caught parts of his sunrise set on New Year’s Eve 2012 at Hummingbird Ranch and it was spectacular!

The Human Experience CD cover

I never got to see The Human Experience play at Lightning in a Bottle, so I jumped at the chance when I got the invitation to his CD release party (for his CD “Soul Visions with Rising Appalachia”, linked above) at King King this last Tuesday. The universe works in mysterious ways, because what I saw when I arrived made my heart sink. I had been standing less than ten feet from this person the entire weekend while I was working at the Temple stage of the LIB festival! I didn’t realize until that moment that I never really knew what this DJ looked like in-person (when I saw him previously he was spinning with another person), and I was now full of regrets that I unknowingly bypassed an incredible opportunity to (at the very least) show my appreciation. Everything all started to make sense as bits of information I had previously heard started flashing through my mind. The Human Experience is a person named David Block, a fellow Do Labber. Of course he was working closely with the festival. With all of my experience working for celebrities and top producer/director’s in Hollywood, one would think I would’ve learned my lesson by now – act with grace and humility toward everyone around you as you really don’t know who they are or what they will become. Lesson learned!

Terminator

At first it just seemed like a really great Sci-Fi movie, but I know right away people started thinking…maybe this could really happen?  Honestly, it is hard to deny that THE TERMINATOR’s scenario would be everyone’s worst nightmare if Artificial Intelligence (AI) machines were to take over society, but apparently for some reason modern day science still wants to see how close it can get.

Thankfully, the UN has stepped in and is now demanding more ethical research into the matter before they will allow military use of AI to proceed, and a moratorium on use of AI in the military has now been put into place. “War without reflection is mechanical slaughter.” Said human rights expert Christof Heyns at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which was covered by BBC news last Thursday in the video I have linked below (the original link I saw on MSNBC is now not working for some reason.):

BBC_ROBOTS

During my Cognitive Science and Philosophy of the Mind coursework, I studied this topic of AI’s potential future role in the military and it is a topic that I am very serious about. I even contemplated going to grad school to study technology ethics so that I may join the philosophical conversation on this particular issue. 1) AI machines are man-made, but their “minds” are not programmed by humans to react in certain ways; they learn how to do this on their own and are autonomous. 2) I believe we as humans have a mind with a consciousness that does not exist in this physical world.* 3) Therefore, I believe that it is impossible to manufacture a “man-made mind” that is in any every way similar to a human’s mind, let alone one that can exist in an AI machine. Because of this I do not believe that an AI machine can possibly make the paramount ethical decisions that are required for military use, namely the decision of who to kill and who not to kill.

I don’t think that mainstream society understands how often THE TERMINATOR film is mentioned regarding this particular issue, because philosophers bring it up all the time! We may think of it as an imaginary scenario, but I probably talked about it every day and in more than a handful of classes when I was studying philosophy of science for my bachelor’s degree.

The above photo is cropped from an original TERMINATOR poster that I got while I was working at Pacific Western Productions (now Valhalla Motion Pictures), the production company that brought us the first 3 films in THE TERMINATOR series. Despite my distaste for AI in the military, I really love all of the movies from this saga…I’ll be back!

*It should be noted that this is not the view of mainstream science.

**Also a little credit should be given to Pink Floyd for the majority of my article title.

Robin

Yes, it’s true. This meme changed my life…thank you Robin Williams. This quote made me realize that life’s not all about finding someone and locking it down. Life is about being happy and finding that within yourself. If you aren’t happy first, then nothing anyone else does (or even doesn’t do) is going to make you happy. And above all else, nothing is worse than being with someone that prevents you from finding that happiness. So no matter what the expense, if you are in an unhealthy relationship, my advice is that you open your eyes and see if it is time to say sayonara.

LIFE

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