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Ben Palmer

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  1. Charles Darwin proposed a theory that was brilliantly simple, and yet seemed to explain the vast complexities of the variations of life on our planet. His observations on the similarities of different species and the differences of similar species existing in isolation (birds on an island have different characteristics than the same types of birds on mainland) led him to believe that there was a progression to the development of species complexity. The theory of evolution is well known, and well researched now, so I will spare the details of the theory, and instead pick out the important parts to my philosophical analysis. The key philosophical components are differentiation and sustainability, explained in further depth below. Differentiation. In order for evolution to work, there must be different entities existing which contain specific properties. These specific properties interact with the environment, and the ones most likely to be beneficial will survive. This is the survival of the fittest phrase; Whatever animal has the traits that fit it’s environment the most will be most likely to survive. However, this on it’s own is not enough to create the progression of the proposed evolution. If an infertile being was perfect at surviving, then it would remain a survivor, until it finally dies, at which point it’s survival traits die wit it. In order for the trait to continue, there must be a transmission of that trait, IE: genetic or epigenetic transmission of traits from one generation to the next. The proposed ideation differentiation in traits comes from genetic mutations, creating random differences that are more or less fit to the environment. Research is starting to show that it may not be as random as we think, as specific environmental factors can change our DNA, as if reacting to the environmental stimulus. Regardless of the method by which the traits are changed, there must be a way of creating these differentiations in order for the theory of evolution to be effective. Thus, for the theory of evolution to be applied, it must have some form of differentiation in which new (or old) traits can appear in something in which it did not exist before. To put this into simpler terms, camouflage can be a very fitting adaptation to the environment, but it would not be able to exist if animals could not change their skin color from generation to generation. Sustainability Survival of the fittest is a common term, usually paired with evolution. It is a simple phrase that astutely points out why certain animals exist today, and certain animals don’t. I would like to boil this phrase into its essential nature, so that it may be applied in more cases than the survival of species. Survival of the fittest shows that if something is better at lasting longer, then it is more likely to exist after a long period of time. The other side is that things that are not likely to last long will not remain after a long period of time. I call this effect, the sustainability effect. Imagine this scenario: A fleet of airplanes fly 10,000 ft in the air. Each of these airplanes holds a random assortment of objects found on earth. Together this fleet holds nearly every object we know, big or small, heavy or light. As the fleet flies overhead, it drops these random objects at the same time. With this setup, imagine it is now the instant after everything is dropped. If we were to analyze the objects in the air, we would say there is a whole lot of objects in the air, and there would be no useful conclusion. If we allow a minute to pass, and we analyze the objects again, we would see that the more dense objects fall quicker. An astute observation, but still holds no use to us really. If we allow an hour to pass, we would observe that everything falls, and the more dense objects will be much closer to the ground over time, and the less dense object will remain in the air. After a long period of time, we would only see the less dense objects in the air. The conclusion would be that having low density leads to better “survival”. Thus these less dense objects were more sustainable in their environment, and after a while, are the only things existing in their environment. This thought experiment shows how the sustainability effect can be applied to more than evolution. If we apply the sustainability effect in other areas, then we can create hypotheses as to why some things are the way they are. Using these Components Using these philosophical ideas is relatively simple. If something exists today, then it most likely started with many different things that are similar, and it is good at sustaining. Let's take an example like morality. Most likely, the human race started with little moral knowledge. It probably contained most animalistic tendencies we now consider inhuman, like killing, raping, stealing etc. over time, humans developed different sets of morals. The morals that lead to a higher survival rate persisted. I remember hearing a study on why humans have lifelong partners. The romantic view is that this gives humans time to raise their children, and work together to survive. In actuality the most likely reason, according to that study, was that before humans were lifelong partner, the male would go from female to female. This seems like a good thing for survival, however, if a female had a child, the male would kill the child so that it could mate with that female. This meant the males that stayed with one female longer had a higher success rate of their children surviving. This meant their children were more likely to stay with the female longer, creating a succession leading to lifelong partners. This is a clear example of the theory supporting the evidence. It started with different tendencies of how long the mate would stay with one female. Then the mate that stayed longer had a higher success rate, so a better sustainability. The differentiation, and sustainability are laid out in simple terms, but the main impact is on how we view love. Love is idolized as a meta-conceptual essential nature of human life, where this theory shows us that love is most likely present because of the sustainability effect in those that feel better when they share a long time with one mate. Same goes for procreation, it is very beneficial to the species if procreation feels better, thus sex feels really good to most people. I will be taking this theoretical approach in most of my discussions of topics. To me, logically, it gives a lot of reasonable answers to in depth questions, and the stance that whatever is more sustainable will survive longer is not very controversial. If you have any opinions, critiques, or questions, leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks, Ben Palmer
  2. Dear readers, This first blog post is to describe a little bit about myself, to show why I am interested in philosophy, and to give some personality to my work. If you are more interested in my philosophical musings, then you may skip ahead. I was born in Socorro, New Mexico. There has been not much importance in my upbringing from there, as I do not remember much from before my family moved. The key things I do remember are incidental, such as slamming my sisters fingers in the door on accident, or the time my sister and I were looking for bugs under rocks, and flipped a giant rock over onto my foot. When I was 7, my family lifted its roots and moved to Missoula, MT. I did not have many qualms about moving, as I was not too attached to the town, but I remember the move being difficult for my sister, who is four years older than me. Even up through 5th grade, when I was 10, I do not remember much of my memories. There are vague memories that come to mind when I think about it. I think about my friend Josh Morris, who would come over and we would play in a giant dirt pit behind my house. We would etch off part of the dirt over the edge of a 5 ft "cliff", so that there was enough soft dirt down there to jump off of the so called cliff. One time we built a fort on the hill, with pieces of wood and scrap we found lying around. We covered the fort in dirt, would have a fire out there, and even stayed the night out there in the cold because we found it exciting. One day, the fort was broken, and we immediately blamed the jocks who lived on the other side of the field. I also remember my friend Blake, in fifth grade, sitting on the swing in the play ground having a personal discussion with me. He had told me he was sad, and that he did not know what to do. Being 10 years old, I did not have any sympathy or knowledge on the matter and was not very understanding. I remember distinctly the words "you don't get it, sometimes I just want to die". My response, which haunts me to this day, was "yeah, me too man". It was a quick way to dismiss his problems by saying that we all had depression and he should just get over it. I am sure he does not remember this moment though. We moved to Australia when I was 11. My dad is a world renowned chemist, and every seven years he gets the opportunity to travel to another country and live there for a while to exchange information with other people in his field. We were living in Tasmania, the small island below Australia which Australians qualify as being a bit weird. I learned a bit about the culture while I was there, which alerted me to the fact that I could be an outsider. I was never left out for being the American, and though it was my first experience in being bullied I wasn't targeted. Unlike the American bullying system, where the larger and more insecure children take their frustration out on weaker children who are unsure of themselves, Australians seemed to take turns bullying each other. Though there were some people who got bullied more frequently, it generally changed daily who was bullying and who was getting bullied, so I wasn't targeted. I had a good friend Max from the Caribbean who I would hang out with regularly. We would go to the graffiti riddled skate park that was in the middle of the woods, and practice our scooter tricks. I remember joining the gymnastics club there, and not being a fan of the team mates. They seemed like they were too cool to have normal civil interactions for some reason. I also remember my first crush being in Australia. Every time she was near enough to me, I would get sick to my stomach, and light headed. It took me a very long time to get the courage to ask her out. She Was sitting with her friends during class, and I was near enough by to decide this was the moment. I held back the fear bubbling in my belly with every step, walked directly up to her and said the words "will you go out with me". She gave me a funny look and said, no. Upon returning to the US I really learned what it was like to be outside the cultural progression. I had spent sixth grade in Australia, which was a strange time to be gone from my school progression. In Missoula, children have a choice of which middle school and which high school to go to. This meant at the beginning of sixth grade, all my friends had spent time deciding where they wanted to go, IE which friends they wanted to be with. Upon returning to the states in seventh grade, I knew Josh, and Caden. Both of these friends I knew from gymnastics. Josh had a unique quality where he did not fit in to the social cliques, and yet somehow fit in to all of the social cliques. Every recess he would walk from group to group, making people laugh and being friends with everyone. I was always in amazement at the ability he had to flawlessly slip in and out of these situations. I would follow him around, learning about the goths, jocks, nerds, band nerds, sexually exploring, sexually sheltered, and everything in between. Later on I told Josh that I had always looked up to him as he was growing up, and to my surprise, he told me those feelings were reciprocated. My philosophy started in these years. I do not know if it was the experience of going to another culture, or seeing the interplay between the different social groups, but I started wondering what the point of it all was. I would come up with different theories as to what we were meant to do here, and each one seemed to host a different sort of depression. I though maybe the point of it all was to make people happy. Of course, this meant every night I would criticize my actions, and ruminate over all my conversations till I cried. I thought maybe it was love, so I grew an immense dependency to love and being loved, which created unhealthy relationships. By the time I had moved to high school, I had enough torture over not being able to satisfy what I thought was the whole reason to be alive. I had reserved myself, wore big ugly jackets to cover the muscles that I developed in gymnastics, ate mainly alone or quietly with a group of friends, and let the world pass its time. I remember how monotonous the world got, and I would take a different set of staircases to each of my classes to add some variety. I remember everyone being surprised by who I really was, the smart kid though I always slept in class, The sensible one though I always goofed off in history, The cool kid though I was a socially reserved gymnast. No one really knew who I was, and I liked it that way. I did not want people to see the failure to resolve this pressing issue which I thought everyone had solved. Though I did not get answers from these primitive philosophical ponderings, I am grateful for the contribution to my further studying of philosophy it provided. I was used to having no answer, and to thinking long and hard on a question that brings existentialism into suspect. It often surprises me that people do not want to bring up philosophical topics, because they fear their knowledge is wrong and all the suffering is for not. To me, it seemed that the suffering was for not, unless you could figure out why you should suffer. Since then, most of my friends have been held because they are asking the big questions of why and how. Thank you for reading the summary of my formative years. Since then, I have developed an interest in music, and have graduated with a mechanical engineering degree. I have been interested in philosophy consistently, and think of new revelations every once in a while. I am hoping for this blog to have a weekly or monthly posting of an idea I have about philosophy, along with the questions I have. If you would like to be a part of this discovery, and have some meaningful conversations, then follow my blog and comment your ideas. Thanks again, Ben Palmer
  3. Sounds great! I would love to hear some analysis of the books as you are reading them, and recommendations on who would be interested in those books!
  4. Hello everyone! I am an amateur philosopher, and love pondering the vast questions that sometimes have no defined answers, and sometimes have too many defined answers. I have tried my hand at reading various philosophers, Plato, Nietzsche, Aristotle, Jung, Humes, and whatever else I come across. The only problem is that I am generally a pretty slow reader. For this reason, I have found podcasts to be incredibly useful. Podcasts march along at a steady pace, and are laid out to hold your attention till the end. If anyone else has trouble finishing a book within a month, I would recommend the podcasts listed below; the History of Philosophy Without any Gaps. -This podcast does an excellent job of clearly laying out, as close as possible, all the philosophical theories that have existed through the whole world since philosophy began. This is a great podcast for people who are getting interested in philosophy and don't know where to start. It is also a great resource for people who know some philosophy, but would really like to know more of the history behind their favorite philosophical theories. Though the narrator can be a bit dry in his explanation, he does a great job of going in depth on the thoughts of the philosopher, the reactions of other philosophers, the relevant culture of the time, and why the idea is important to the progression of philosophy. Philosophy for our Times -A podcast held by the institute of art and ideas. This is my favorite philosophy podcast, as they usually discuss current topics that I am really interested in. The layout of the podcast is the most professional I have come across as well, so it has been consistently a great source of information. The layout of the podcast generally follows this progression: 1. The topic is introduced with some key reasons why the topic is controversial. 2. The speakers are introduced. The speakers are usually world leaders in their field, which is relevant to the topic. 3. The speakers give an opening statement, summarizing why they take a certain position on the proposed topic. 4. The host picks some key part of the heard arguments, and questions people about that specific part, allowing for rebuttals and more in depth discussion. etc. The reason I love this podcast is because it brings leading minds together to discuss a single topic. From these well researched individuals, you get to hear very nuanced positions and see well fleshed out sides to an argument. There have been many times I started the podcast with an initial position on a topic and switched my position on the topic by the end of the episode. I would recommend this podcast for anyone who likes to think deeply about current topics like biological determinism versus free will, post modernism, physics influence on world perception and it's merits, moral philosophy, and much more. Intelligence Squared Debate - Intelligence squared is a company in support of civil discourse. They create podcasts that allow for people to voice their opinions in full, so that hopefully their side of the argument is more understood. Intelligence squared debate is very similar to philosophy for our times (PFOT), in that they bring in leaders of a certain field to discuss a certain topic. The difference is that the layout is designed to be more like speech and debate, than a discussion. Like PFOT, each speaker has an initial statement on the topic, then a rebuttal. However, the topic is posed as a resolution, 'fast food is detrimental to United States Citizens', on which the debaters must say why the are for or against the resolution. Afterwards the mediator then breaks in to two or three subtopics of the specific debate. Each debater gives a closing statement, then opens up to questions from the audience. This podcast provides the same benefit as philosophy for our times, but the topics are not always critical, the debates are not always as well held, and the atmosphere is more competitive. Those are the main three I am subscribed to. If anyone has thoughts about these podcasts, or recommendations for other podcasts to listen to, I would love to hear your reply!
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