Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Aristotle and D&D

I just got back from another great Triangle Ethics Circle. Each month, for some reason, I sort of dread heading out to the Durham or in this case Chapel Hill for the Ethics Circle. For some reason I think it will be less interesting than it really is. Today was a great one. C.D.C. Reeve did the paper for tonight, on Aristotle and Practical Reason. Good stuff.

I love a good conversation about Aristotle. I don't agree with Aristotle. I don't really think his politics or ethics are quite right, and yet, there is something about his work. It brings to mind a well crafted novel, or in my case a really cool D&D campaign world.

He imagines sorts of people, parts of their souls, how they ought to live, the sorts of problems they are likely to face. And honestly, these people he describes seem quite alien. Or rather, they are familiar enough, that I can think I understand what he means. They need courage, sure I know was courage is, so no problem there. But then, there are elements that are very odd, and there is a lot of... well this would only apply to this sort of a society, or ideally, or consider the Greeks thought this. And the upshot is, it isn't clear his theories mean anything to us, and may not have meant much to the Real Greek of his day.

But, there is his world. And it is incredibly well thought out. He paints a picture of the man and the polis, engaged in a sort of stewardship, over himself and his society (use of the masculine is intention here). It is quite remarkable. There is a certain clockwork appeal to it. I wouldn't want to live in Aristotle's ideal polis, at least I am pretty sure I wouldn't. But it has it own internal logic and sense. The wisest, most virtuous, and most rational run things, they deliberate on matters of difficulty and importance, but for the most part, well thought out laws guide the behavior of the common person. If there are such people, these aristocrats would, I think, make the best decisions. it seems almost a tautology. If there are virtues of thought, and correct ways of behaving, deliberating, reasoning, then those who possess those virtues, who are best able to reason through things, really ought to make leaders, in the sense that Aristotle imagined. Of course, as Woody Allen parodied, it is not so much the idea of their being philosopher kings that is troubling, it is that when you say it that you point to yourself and cough.

When I look at the things in my own gaming worlds that I like. It is when there is this kind of falling to place of the elements: the societies, or histories, or planar alignments that seem to fit together nicely, one explaining the other. I think Aristotle has the same sort of appeal. I like the way his thoughts seem to fit together so nicely, and the paradoxes he introduces, the puzzles, are so interesting, and dramatic (eg. Book 10 of the Nicomachean Ethics).

I remember writing on one of my grad school applications, how my approach to philosophy was one of 'appreciation' rather than criticism or addition. I think that remains true today. go figure.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Yeah team!

This is not about the St. Aug Falcon's winning their homecoming game.
This is not about the impending peril of a Redsox-Astros world series... think about it.

This is about politics. I have a theory for why for most partizans the debates are little more than an opportunity to exercise their clapping hands. In fact is seems that for most people, the arguments, the issues, the characters are not important.

When you go to your team's sporting event, does your team's performance really matter?
Of course, you want to win. I mean you want them to win. Slip is intentional.

As a person who cares little or nothing about sports, i lthink I can give some objective observations about sporting events.

1. Referee errors are an afront to humanity, if they rule against 'your team'.
2. Referee errors are an understandable slip (or not even errors) if they rule against 'your team.'
Compare this to the reactions people have to little things in politcs.
3. If your team makes a big mistake (fumble, error, etc..) you groan and redouble your applause.
Compare this to the reactions people have to debate miscues.
4. If the other team does something spectacular, or really cool, it just angers you. You might grudgingly admit to the prowess of 'your' opponent, but that is as far as it can go.
5. The reason a team is "your" team is often just geographic proximity, it was yoru parent's team, your school's team, the people around you like them etc.. It rarely is based on the merits of the team. And when it is, it is usually just because they (a) win a lot, or (b) have come from behind, and have gotten a lot media attention for that.
6. Some teams you hate, simply because they are the rivals of your team.
7. Very little will get you to change teams. Moving to a new area, finding yourself among people who don't like them, or maybe some sort of scandel involving something personally offense (stadium politics, drugs, sex, etc..) And even then, you tend to continue to support the team, and see some as villains who've taken over.
8. There is little wrong your side can do. If they are accused of drug use, rape, violence, they are being targetted by jealous opponents, if they commit nasty fouls, they are being aggressive, Anyway, they ought to be accorded greater leeway than you would allow your own children.
9. If someone doesn't have a favorite, (like me) he is likley to root for the underdog, or the team with the best uniforms, or the team that does something impressive early on in a game. While we'd like to think we have good reasons for our choices, they are probably less than rational.
10. We tend to exaggerate the importance of our teams losses and victories. In realty things remain pretty much the same. The games are just like the ones last season. A new star will show up to replace the old one. The team that is winning this season might start losing next one.

Hmmmm. This doesn't make me feel better about politics.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Too Fast

So Sophie is growing and learning in leaps and bounds.
I already blogged about the clapping. In addition she is already taking several steps to get from place to place. She is standing up on her own, now without needing anything to pull herself up. She is climbing. She is a very good climber. And that worries me, because she is still a little wobbly, so I worry she will climb something, then take a nose dive. She is starting to mimic behavior. Today she made the democratic thumb-fist. (The one all democratic candidates since Clinton make, when they are trying to make a forceful point). Her verbalizations are getting more articulate, although still not entirely clear.
I want her to slow down a little.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

If you are happy and you know it.....

Yesterday I came came home and Carly told me Sophie had learned a new trick.
Once she woke from her nap, Sophie was playing as usual and practicing standing up (she is very close to walking). Then out of no where, she starts to clap her little hands.
Pretty soon we were all clapping, smiling, and some of us might have been crying.
It was pretty amazing.

Parent's back me up on this one.


It is pretty cool.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Busy busy busy....rest

So I graded too many paper last week. Had my father-in-law visit, then my parents, then a cousin's wedding (congratulations Jen and Rob), and a weekend's worth of related activities, the min-van died and w had to take it in last week. Yeasterday, I was hoping to rest up, but instead was trapped in the bathroom with stuff coming out in both direction (food poisoning? stomach flu?). Today I managed to come to school and do my class. THough I might leave a little early.