Sunday, January 8, 2012

On Community

It's not just my favourite TV show.

Every year I teach the prisoner's dilemma to social science students.  The upshot of the dilemma is, if a person can reduce his/her own problems by screwing over someone else, what will they do.  The best option collectively is for both to take care of each other, but the best option individually is for us to be selfish. And, we can never be sure that other people will take care of us in return.  That the big stopper to  many acts of kindness - a concern that the kindness will not be returned.  But with an expectation of return, that's not so much kindness as a covert bargain without a clear agreement established.  But even if there is an agreement, "I won't rip off you if you don't rip off me," sometimes people lie. And then we get burned.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

On God Our Invisible Parents

A couple of years after Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud wrote Future of an Illusion to clarify why so many people believe in God and why this is a problem for society.  All through the book he's guided along by a clever imaginary critic questioning him at every turn to ensure he presents a solid argument against religion.  He has no concerns with the book harming people by suggesting God is a hoax because those with unshakable faith will remain steadfast, but he is briefly concerned that people will write off all his theories, and all of psychoanalysis, because of his atheism. It's funny that he didn’t at all foresee that people might instead write him off for his perceived obsession with sex.  His atheism didn't become as commonly known.