Showing posts with label Philosophy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philosophy. Show all posts

Friday, November 29, 2019

Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, and Ayn Rand


Steve Ditko is Johnstown, PAs most famous author and illustrator.  He co-created Spider Man with Stan Lee in the 1950s.  I admit I had never heard of him until I started my book.  According to his Wikipedia page he was born here in 1927 and died in 2018 in New York City at age 90 which was a few months before Stan Lee passed away.

His page says that he split with Lee in the 1960s and did not speak to him for years.  Ditko seldom did interviews but his page says he was influenced by Ayn Rand's objectivist ideas which he expressed in his comic Dr. A.  She was interviewed by Phil Donahue in 1979.



It seems to me that Spiderman is at odds with Ayn Rand's objectivism.  I confess I'm not an avid reader of Spider-Man but in the movie with Tobey Maguire, Peter Parker (Spider-Man's alter ego) is told that "with great power comes great responsibility" by his uncle.  Spider-man becomes very altruistic leaving a note after his escapades saying "from your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man."  

I don't know Stan Lee's philosophy but many of his other comic book heroes could be thought of as altruistic.  I never read Mr. A but Ditko's page says he embodies Rand's philosophy.  Is Ayn Rand the reason Ditko and Lee parted ways?  Neither of them really ever said or ever will.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Citizen Science



Last week I watched a special live broadcast by the PBS show Nature titled American Spring.  It was a three night event with the first episode discussing birth and rebirth, the second covering migration. and the third was on connections. You can see episode 1 above.  The series chronicled the efforts of citizen scientists in the Spring to gain valuable information about wild life.  

All sciences started out with citizen scientists such as Ben Franklin dabbling in electricity.  Philosophy is the mother of all the sciences.  It began with people (usually elite people who didn't have to worry about surviving) pondering the nature of the universe.  As science progressed by building off of what came before, it became increasingly elitist.  Likewise as scientific equipment becomes more advanced, the cost of conducting science became more and more prohibitive and dependent on government funding.

The sciences have become more and more ivory tower as the funding for it has become harder to come by and jobs have likewise become harder to maintain.  This is what I suspect is driving the call for amateur citizen scientists to get involved in the process.  This call for volunteers is to help fill the gap in funding for professional scientists.




Certainly getting involved in the process can be rewarding when people have the time to do it.  I still find it rewarding to pursue my brand of citizen science on this blog after eight and a half years though I've made little money off of it.  As science becomes more and more automated we all may be citizen scientists, though not always by choice.  


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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

An Essay on Human Rights



 This is an essay I wrote for admission to a Masonic lodge.
               Opinions differ about what human rights are.  The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was championed by Eleanor Roosevelt, has 30 articles.  The Declaration of Independence famous statement that “all men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” has been the sacred statement of human rights for Americans since 1776.  The rallying cry of the French Revolution was “Liberte`, Egalite`, Fraternite`” or “Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood.”  Exactly what Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness or Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood mean has been the subject of debate ever since 1776.  Do rights mean that one’s life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should eclipse other’s pursuits?  What is exactly the amount of life, liberty, happiness and equality that is sufficient for humanity?  This debate is an important one to have and is one that could never be fully resolved as new situations arise and as knowledge of the human condition improves.
                Definitions of what human are can be boiled down to basic principles just as Jesus states that all the laws of Moses can be boiled down to two phrases: “Love God with your whole heart, whole mind and whole soul and love your neighbor as yourself.”  For me the question of human rights boils down to a question of justice.  Like human rights, definitions of justice vary from topic to topic.  An early definition of justice is attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Plato in The Republic which was his vision of the ideal state.  He stated that justice is the harmony between the needs and abilities of individuals and the needs of the state.
                We are all created equal but we are not all created alike.  There are basic human rights that everyone needs such as freedom of speech, freedom of expression, access to health care, education, and information with which to make informed decisions about how to fulfill one’s own rights and the rights of others. 
      There also things that certain individuals need to correct for past injustices such as those which were done deliberately to other individuals such as through racism, sexism or almost any other -ism or those that occur through a mishap of nature such as a natural disaster or through a genetically inherited disease or those that occur through some combination of nature and deliberate actions by other humans.  Correcting these injustices is difficult as people may disagree on what the appropriate corrective measures are.  The debate about appropriate corrective measures should continue as no one individual has access to all of the necessary information that is needed to provide these measures.  This debate should proceed with respect to others with the goal of finding the truth that allows for the appropriate corrective actions to take place.

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