Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Category

beauty

March 1, 2007

What is Beauty? Is it individual or universal? Why are some faces more beautiful than the others? Why some people who have no physical beauty still radiate and shine beauty in opinion of many? Is beauty just in the eye of the beholder, or there is more to that definition? Where shall we start…I searched in Wikipedia first.

Beauty is a quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (such as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (such as personality)

Interesting how they said it. Intense pleasure or deep satisfaction. And I agree, there are satisfactions of subtler kind that are not pleasure, so hence the distinction. But why just to the mind? As if there is no other instrument in us to perceive beauty, like heart. But I guess it is from rational heritage of western philosophy. As if the whole world is just on the west. Oh well.

golden ratio line

But this definition does not explain why beauty is beautiful. I know that painters and sculptors speak about Sectio Aurea. That is proportion -> a:b=(a+b):a They found beauty and harmony in that proportion. It has something to do with human anatomy too. For example your belly button should be located according to this proportion, meaning on 61.8% of your body height. I actually measured height with the tape in my case, and interestingly it is so.

Luca Pacioli and Leonardo Da Vinci were among the first to notice golden ratio in human anatomy and apply it to art. The Pythagorean school in ancient Greece noticed that objects proportioned according to the golden ratio seemed more attractive. That would never occur to me to think about geometry law in aesthetics. It is genius who discovered such phenomena.

But what is the connection between beauty and culture? Is it different when you are born in Norway where everybody is blonde with blue eyes, and in Turkey where everybody is black haired with black eyes, for example? How much are we conditioned to perceive the beauty in this or in that way by civilization we live in? Remember those african women with rings around their necks. And what about social and political system? And what about time factor, century we live in? Does consumer society affect aesthetic sense? Unfortunately, it does.

A friend of mine told me -I want to put silicone in my lips- I was surprised since I think there is nothing wrong with her lips at all. -Yes I know- replied she -but I want them to look like as if they were stung by the bees- :-) Oh my!

Is physical beauty so important issue? Today I wrote about beauty in physical world, but there are other types of beauty, so in next posts I will pay attention more to questions like connection between beauty and ethics, mental and inner aspects of beauty.

Be what it may, I was told that I was very cute when I was lets say in primary school. But ever since I grew up, I seriously consider pressing charges on Ugly Duckling for theft of part of my life story and using it to film cartoon, in..umm…reversed way. Uh huh :-) (J/K)

What do you think about outer beauty, what is your definition? Be sure to check out Face Research too. Interesting site.

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compassion and love to animals

February 5, 2007

lion_hug.jpg
Who says that animals do not feel sublime emotions? We sometimes think that humans are superior beings, but in what plane are we concretely superior now? It is because we have mind, but mind is also responsible for some of the worst atrocities and oppressive social systems. Animals kill because such is their animal nature, but look what so called humans can sometimes do. I am not saying that in the future human beings will not be better than now, I wish that we all manage to discover more and more hidden treasures that everyone of us carries deep in one’s own heart (I am assured that then we will be more caring about animals). But now we must not think that we are so superior to animals, so that we think they have no rights. Sir Paul McCartney decided to become vegetarian when he and Lady Linda were eating lamb meal and at that moment they saw lambs outside in fields. I am not preaching to anyone to become vegetarian, such kind of decision everyone needs to take very consciously. In my case, I am vegetarian but I do eat milk, eggs and honey. Also my opinion is that you should let your children eat meat until they grow up to certain age. But to speak whole truth, once I was chatting with one programmer from India. He is follower of Sri Vaishnava spiritual path, and he told me that in his family nobody tasted meat for centuries ago!!! I was delighted to hear that such people actually exist and can live without meat – it is not true that meat is absolutely indispensable. But if we do not wish to give up on meat, at least we can do for our little animal brothers and sisters is to stop wearing fur and leather. My friends often tell me that we should not think so much of animal rights, when in today’s world nobody cares so much for human rights. But for me this does not follow. Are we civilised or not? Are we still going to fool ourselves that animals do not have such sublime feelings as we do? Next time when you see a cow, look in her eyes, look very carefully in her eyes please. In India they say: cow is giving us milk, therefore we regard her as our mother. What enlightened opinion! Browsing on the internet I managed to find a painting in oil where Krishna and Balarama are milking cows. Cow is considered in India to be holy animal. I applaude for that level of civilized atitude! (Painting is taken from collection on Vrindavan Art gallery) milking_cows.jpg

is that so?

February 3, 2007

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parents went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.

After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else the little one needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”

story taken from 101 Zen Stories

the north wind and the sun

January 30, 2007

The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.

“We shall have a contest,” said the Sun.

Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.

“As a test of strength,” said the Sun, “Let us see which of us can take the coat off of that man.”

“It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat,” bragged the Wind.

The Wind blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat.

Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The man on the road unbuttoned his coat.

The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter.

Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.

“How did you do that?” said the Wind.

“It was easy,” said the Sun, “I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way.”

taken from www.storyarts.com

I adore shopping!

January 29, 2007

Who says that I object shopping? In fact I like shopping, I only don’t like it in periods when I don’t have money. In fact even then I like it, but I like it infinitely more when I can buy something too. Well, when I see Britney with her friends on MTV going to shopping, I just close my eyes and think that I went also to buy new running shoes (actually I bought silver-black Reebok leather ones few weeks ago, the wisest thing to do is to get running shoes when it is winter discount!)

It is just that shops in Belgrade don’t have always what I want…

So I can only dream how beautiful would it be that I enter in shop one day and say

-Good day, my beloved friends!-
-Good day, mister Dejan, what do you wish to buy today?-
-I just want to greet you with a smile, and to buy few things by the way-
-You are always very welcome, just say!-
-Oh well, I need 300 gr of happiness, half a kilo of pure joy, hmmm, what is that there on discount? aha, inner peace, well, that’s good – give me 2 kilos of that…How about selfless love, hmm, okay, give one litre of that. Do I need to mix it with water, or I can drink it like that?
-No, you can drink it like that. But if you want to mix it with water we have concentrated one too!-
-Okay, give me that concentrated one, and what is that over there…forgiveness, give me that too, and two bars of bliss and delight. What, box of pleasures, no, I don’t need it, I have already bought pure joy, and if it won’t be enough I will drop by this evening to buy half a kilo more. And please wrap it all up well, I don’t want to lose anything of it-
-No problem, here I will wrap it in special paper of humility that can contain it all-
-Thank you, how much money do I owe you for that?-
-Come on, why do you ask, we know that you are close friend of the shop owner. So everything is free for you!-
-Ok, thanks very much. I just thought it would be polite to ask :) Good-bye dear friends!
-Good-bye mr. Dejan, and please come again!-

But perhaps this is not mere dream. Perhaps the name of this shop is created Universe. And what is the way to become very good friend with the Owner? Nice topic to think about…

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

Albert Einstein

One thing is sure, if such shop exists you do not say ‘Give me’ no, it is not proper. Proper word is ‘Take me’ (make me Your friend, never to part)

Enjoy your shopping!

who is alive, and who is not?

January 25, 2007

As I mentioned in previous post, my little niece came to visit us last week with her grandma who is my aunt.

She is 8 years old, and very sweet child. Unlike me, she adores to dance and is very good at it. I always say that she is new Brittney Spears. So, my aunt is a bit of overeager choleric personality. Most importantly she believes that her way is the only way, but at the same time she has a very, very kind heart.

You know sometimes there is such difference between mind and heart. I believe it is so even in my own humble presence here in this world – I really feel bored when I am living inside my limited mind. But if I manage to intoxicate the mind with the simplicity and peace that I sometimes spontaneously feel deep inside the heart – heh, that is another matter.

Now, my aunt is teaching my little niece this and that, and helping her with school. She teaches her everything, except to think with her own head. Love that grandmothers have towards grandchildren is always great, and my aunt is a bit overeager to teach child what is right and what is wrong, that she fails to see that we have to teach child the value of freedom first. Freedom is something about which we have to sing always and always, through our poems, music, paintings and art in general, and our philosophy and way of thinking. Remember Mel Gibson at the end of movie Braveheart. -Say mercy William- -Freedo0o0o0om!-

I even had a chance to experience how it is like when bombs are falling down all around, my beautiful Belgrade was bombed in 1999 by NATO (without prior permission of UN Security Council, the only international body who can give legitimacy to such action. Iraq was attacked also without such permission). Believe me, if there is no war we should be grateful. From 1991 to 1999 there were 4 wars in different parts of former Yugoslavia. More than 250 000 people were killed, and now what happens – all former Yu republics, now independent states want to go to integrate in EU. But that could be done with big Yugoslavia without war before. Why stupid people want disintegration first, and afterwards again integration? Wars are led because of lack of vision. Look at the history of Europe, remember Hundred years’ war? And now those countries are living united in EU. God bless the uniting aspect of European Union!

Hand in hand with physical freedom goes freedom of thinking. Look what kind of thinking freedom Albert Einstein had! Really I do not understand how could he be so smart when he was only 25 years old. What happens when you are travelling in speed of light and at the same time a mirror is travelling parallel with you. What would you see
when you look in the mirror? Gee, I would never even dare to think to ask myself such question! How could I even formulate something like that?

The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.

Albert Einstein

To my understanding the best thing you can do to teach children the value of freedom is to cut jokes and to laugh. Why? Kids already have more freedom in their hearts than we adults have. Nothing should be assumed too serious, especially not the school. I was joking so much that my little cousin told me one day that it would be very good for me to work in the circus. What a compliment she gave me! I was so happy to hear that.

My father’s and my aunt’s father, my grandfather who died before I was born. He was transported to Paris during the WWI and he lived there 9 years. When he came back to Serbia he married, got children, and one day he desired to teach them French language. But my grandmother did not allow him to “spoil” her children. That is why I my father does not speak French, and why I do not know today that beautiful language of diplomacy and love. And it could have been different.

So, my aunt wanted to show us all what my little niece knows. So she asked her to explain what is the difference between living beings, and things that are not alive. That is the kind of things they teach kids in second grade of primary school.

-Great!- responded I -that question is still unclear to me. Even great Nikola Tesla mentioned that some people believe how pearls on necklace are living beings, and that they become more beautiful in time as woman wears them.

-What the heck are you rambling about?!- interrupted me my aunt, -what is there to be unclear, living beings are those who breathe, is it right so Sarah?

-But what then with anaerobic bacteria?- exclaimed I somewhat jubilantly, which gave my doctor sister a good laugh. Sarah laughed too, though she had no idea what I was talking about.

No need to mention, aunt went with Sarah to another room. To save her from the wrong spoiling ideas of her crazy-pseudo-scientific cousin. Uh huh.

logic and intuition

January 22, 2007

How do we know that we are right? Yes, I’ve heard about syllogisms, enjoyed to make examples of false syllogisms which sound nice, but I really did not even presume that logical thinking is so complex before I found out that there are, no more no less, than 42 informal logical fallacies. A formal fallacy is contrasted with an informal fallacy, which has a valid logical form, but is false due to one or more of its premises being false. Oh great!

You know what this means, it means that there are 42 ways that you can reach wrong conclusions even if think logically right. What powerful weapon in hands of people who like to deliberately deceive another people. And you know lie is a lie, but half-truth can be more dangerous than a lie – I am refering to verbal communication, when someone deliberately launches half-truths as for example in politics (I was not speaking of cognitive domain where we cannot perceive complete truth because our minds are imperfect, so it is also half-truth, but we can call it constructivism in learning theory; we are making constructs which help us to seek for truth, it is different than when someone make false constructs to influence other people according to some selfish manner or aim)

Presume that you are professor or a teacher – someone who can give grades to students or pupils? What would be your criteria for giving grades? I believe that human brain is natural neural network (isn’t it obvious from medical anatomy) so the best thing is to regard intellect as not analogous to computer memory (be it hard disc, CD, DVD, or RAM) but analogous to ANN’s (artificial neural networks) which never contain information, but just some kind of changing weight function for every neuron, so to put it more simple – you have input, you have many neurons unaware of each other, and you have output. So knowledge is just like an echo to an impulse – we do not have to “store” knowledge in brain, rather we have to train our neurons to respond correctly to external stimuli. In another words – teachers should value more the correct way of thinking and especially ability to organize knowledge than mere capacity to “store” knowledge like a parrot. Human race has Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica for storing purposes.

Yes, I know…artificial neural networks were invented because scientists were inspired by the natural neural network – brain. It is funny that I am using now vice versa analogy – but what can I do? I cannot find better analogy – it seems that we created something, and then that something helped us to understand more about ourselves. And what if there is someone in us who created our mind and senses and heart and body to understand oneself more fully? Funny idea, huh, but we know so little about ourselves. To put this metaphorically – it is our intellect that creates prose, but who is he who creates poetry?

Question is – do we need knowledge of logic to get to know ourselves better? Is logic our friend which will intorduce us to ourselves? Will it bring a human closer to himself/herself? Will it make us feel we are at home? What do you think about that? In my case, sometimes it is friend, sometimes it is obstacle. When I feel joy in aesthetics – for example when I watch beautiful sunrise, I need no logic to feel beauty and become closer to myself. No, I need not even thoughts.

In this post I was speaking about intellectual knowledge. But how limited it is compared to intuitive knowledge. I feel peace when I read about Ockham razor. And it seems to me – house of Truth is Simplicity.

And what about those 42 ways thanks to which you could be deceived? Don’t worry – your own sincerity is your greatest protection.