Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tapping Summary: Competition

Wow. What a night. I'm still recovering even 3 days later from the amazing tapping that just happened. Wow. Best tapping EVER? Maybe.
  • First we started talking about competition in terms of sports, which brought up issues of rules, fairness, and cheating. I tried to set up some conditions of possibility for competition to occur, such as a plurality of actors, rules, fairness, etc., but others wanted to talk about competition was in itself. Some felt that in a competition cheating was inherent to the system, and that in a certain sense the rules are made to be broken. This insight was interesting because in a way it absorbed cheating dialectically into the phenomenon of a competition itself. Others were none too thrilled with this idea, because the whole idea of a competition was for there to be an aspect of fairness at work.
  • At this point people began to talk about survival of the fittest, evolution, nature, social darwinism, etc. The main line of thought here was that animals compete for limited resources, but there's no concept of fairness at work. Spencer claims this kind of competition, which drives the evolution of animals, is at work in the evolution of the human being, and what is good for the best of the human race is good for the species as a whole.
  • In order to prevent ourselves from spiraling into Spencerian confusion, I pointed out that we were disscussing two different types of competition. The first type of competition is governed by the physical laws of nature, and the second type of competition was artifically constructed by humans based on the principle of fairness. I thought that the first type of competition was simply a struggle of opposing forces, where in the second case brought in questions of humanity, intentionality, and interpretation. I also thought that the second case was more relevant to our day to day lives, and I encouraged a discussion of these.
  • Once the dust was settled around the competing definitions of competition, Rory spoke up about how in contemporary society competition functioned essentially as a distraction from questioning the values that are offered, with Ryan likening competition to a drug of self affirmation. I countered that organized capitalist competition resulted in material gain, including increasing the standard of living, literacy rates, and life expectancy. However, others also cited the increasing social inequality that occurs as a result of competition. I noted that if a competition was supposed to be operating on a principle of fairness, that this was not always at work within the system of capitalism, which essentially promoted exploitative relationships. Prosch also mentioned the game of monopoly, in which actors don't really see themselves at fault, but merely competing on the terms of the rules of the game. The game itself is problematic because configures the players to behave in a certain way, and they may not be this way inherently.

Tapping Philosophy: Competition

Hi Tapping,
Thanks to everyone who came out last week for voting, both actual and theoretical. This week's topic will be competition, as written by Michelle McNamara. Of course, tapping philosophy will take place at Yeat's pub at 8:00, meeting for rides at Connelly around 7:30.

The topic:

Competition, is it beneficial to society? To humanity? To the world economy? Is competition rational?

Is competition a never ending struggle or strife between two opposing forces? Does competition end if there is a victor? Or can it continue in another form?
Is competition necessary to life? To survival? Darwinism believed that competition leads to improvement through evolution. Is this necessarily a good thing? If something is becoming extinct, is that good?

Adam Smith thought that competition created incentives for efficiency, but do we lose something critical in the process of competition? Are the ends worth the means?

"Co-operative competition" is a form of competition in which everybody wins ie: Adam Smith's invisible hand. Is this aspect of mutual benefit or gain an aspect of all competition or is having a winner and loser necessary to life? How might we differentiate the competition operative a conception of life success, from that of the competition operative in evolution or even progress? Is it possible to have competition within these categories as mutually beneficial?

Can an individual compete within him or herself? Is it necessary to have separate actors for a scenario to qualify as competition? Is internal competition necessary to self-improvement? What other motivators are there for improvement among people? What other incentives does a person have for self improvement besides competition?

We talked about competing ideologies at one of the earlier tappings, are competing ideologies a positive thing for people? Can this be destructive for people to have two contending ideologies?

Competition originates from the Latin word "competere" which means "to strive together" or "to seek together." The latin word from which we derive competition seems not to have a loser and victor as a necessary aspect of its definition. Can this form of competition be successfully applied to all types of competition?

Can there ever be a victor in sports competition or is competition in sports a never ending attempt to achieve excellence?

Are we driven to compete internally? Is competition always instinctive? Take the example of two people isolated from society with ample resources. Will they compete if their basic needs are provided for them?

"With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to smallpox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed." - Charles Darwin

"Competition is a sin" - John D. Rockefeller

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tapping Philosophy: Loretta bashes theory

Hey Frank,

Indulge me. I want to finish my point. It is inappropriate to see science as the epitome of rational thought and all speculative "narrative" thinking as a sad imitator that cannot uphold scientific rigor. Science, as practiced today, makes the positivistic claim that nothing can be considered true unless is can be proven empirically. Yet, for science to be conducted at all there must be starting point- premises that are merely accepted (without proof otherwise the line of cause and effect would extend backward forever and there would be no way to make an approach.) In math these premises are called axioms. A good example is the fact that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. There is no mathematical proof for this statement. It itself is taken as a given on the basis of which other claims can be proven (nearly all of Euclidian geometry is extrapolated from this fact.) This axiom, while not proven, is rationally compelling. It is self-evident. At the base of math (called the pure science by some) is the human capacity to apprehend realities without empirical proof. Science's claim to deal merely with empirical realties is self-contradictory. Science must affirm the capacity to apprehend self-evident realities. This ability to be moved by rationally compelling statements is what we use when we conduct speculative thought about non-physical realities. While science also depends on this capacity, it typically narrows it view to the merely physical in order to avoid error. It accepts existence because it has to, not because it can prove existence. Likewise it can neither prove nor disprove anything that cannot be defined in strictly physical terms, ie. God, the soul, etc. Since both science and speculative philosophy have a basis in the immediate apprehension of reality, I submit that they are both valid. I would further submit, that since speculative philosophy attempts to understand what science merely accepts, it is in fact the more important study, and must not be confined to the evidential limits of science.

Forgive my spelling errors. All add as epilogue, (since I can hear your objection) that speculation is not nearly so neat and tidy as science, not because it is deficient, but because while there are many things that are rationally compelling, human reason can only process them so fast. Often, under examination, apparently contradictory statements can be reconciled. Heidegger called this circular logic, not to imply that it didn't get anywhere, but point out that one must often retread the same path each time getting a clearer understanding of something that is in many ways too big for human reason. The fact that the question is never closed is what makes it worth asking in the first place.