lunedì, novembre 27, 2006

Youth hostel

Cari amici, per ragioni che non sto qui' a spiegarvi, fino al 20 dicembre posso mettere a vostra disposizione una camera singola arredata, con tanto di cucina e servizi, a 5 minuti a piedi dal centro di Dublino.
Se volete farmi visita, posso ospitarvi senza problemi.
First come, first served.

giovedì, novembre 23, 2006


Sempre a proposito di gatti, eccovi Catster, il social networking felino.
Make your cat a free webpage now! Share cat photos, tell cat stories, make cat friends!

Quello che vedete nella foto di chiama Angelo e ha pure gli occhi azzurri.

mercoledì, novembre 22, 2006

What Philosophy Can Tell You About Your Cat

Call for Abstracts

What Philosophy Can Tell You About Your Cat

Please circulate and post widely.

Steven Hales, Editor (

To be published by Open Court Publishing Co.

Submissions should be aimed at the intelligent pet owner, someone who cares about cats and is interested in what philosophy can say about it. This is not the place for piles of footnotes and citations, but for insights and reflections on pets that will prompt a reader to think. The essays should be written for the readers of Harpers, TLS, and Atlantic Monthly, not the readers of Mind and Nous. Original argumentation is good but not essential. The application to cats of classic arguments, positions, and theories, or the thoughts of canonical philosophers, is perfectly fine.

Here are some possible themes and topics. This is not an exhaustive list, however, and creativity is welcomed:

1. Does your cat really love you, or is it just stimulus-response?

2. Do you own your cat, or is the human-pet relationship one of guardianship, like that of parent to child?

3. Anthropomorphizing.

4. The thoughts of the great historical philosophers on whether animals are ensouled or mere automata.

5. Animal companionship and the possibility of being friends with your cat.

6. Cat euthanasia: is it morally preferable to human euthanasia?

7. The ethics of domestication.

8. Will cloning bring back Ginger? Identity of cats through time.

9. Philosophical issues in animal training/obedience.

10. What can cats teach us about love and friendship?

11. Is animal communication a language, and if not, what kinds of thoughts and beliefs can your cat have?

12. Would it be morally acceptable to clone cat breeds that are endangered due to inbreeding?

13. Cat worship and the nature of the divine.

14. Is there an appropriate ethic of cat breeding?

15. Philosophical issues involving training and showing cats for agility, beauty, temperament.

16. A presentation of theories of vagueness using cat breeds as the key example.

Contributor guidelines:

1. Abstract of paper (approx. 150 words), submission deadline: December 1, 2006.

2. CV or résumé for each author and co-author

3. Submission deadline for first drafts of accepted papers: May 1, 2007

4. Submission deadline for final papers: September 1, 2007

5. Final papers should be between 3500-5000 words

6. Abstracts should be submitted by e-mail (Word attachment).

7. Accepted contributors will receive an honorarium upon modest sales of the book.

Two books will be simultaneously published: one on dogs and one on cats. Please make clear in your abstract which book you are submitting for.

Send by e-mail to: Steven Hales (

domenica, novembre 19, 2006

Waltz #2

first the mic then a half cigarette
singing cathy's clown
that's the man she's married to now
that's the girl that he takes around town
she appears composed, so she is, I suppose
who can really tell?
she shows no emotion at all
stares into space like a dead china doll
I'm never gonna know you now, but I'm gonna love you anyhow
now she's done and they're calling someone
such a familiar name
I'm so glad that my memory's remote
'cos I'm doing just fine hour to hour, note to note
here it is the revenge to the tune
"you're no good,
you're no good you're no good you're no good"
can't you tell that it's well understood
I'm never gonna know you now, but I'm gonna love you anyhow
I'm here today and expected to stay on and on and on
I'm tired
I'm tired
looking out on the substitute scene
still going strong
XO, mom
it's ok, it's alright, nothing's wrong
tell mr. man with impossible plans to just leave me alone
in the place where I make no mistakes
in the place where I have what it takes
I'm never gonna know you now, but I'm gonna love you anyhow
I'm never gonna know you now, but I'm gonna love you anyhow
I'm never gonna know you now, but I'm gonna love you anyhow

sabato, novembre 18, 2006

Piccoli e grandi

Cari lettori, sapete bene quanto tengo alla vostra crescita spirituale ed intellettuale. A riguardo mi permetto di raccomandarvi la lettura quotidiana dei pensieri del Piccolo Zaccheo, noto frequentatore di questo indegno blog.

Al momento il nostro zaccheino e' impegnato in una interessante discussione con Bernardo, altro personaggio degno di nota. Date un'occhiata ai commenti.

venerdì, novembre 17, 2006

The Ethics Of Human Commodities

Advertising executives have long insisted that "the body sells," at least in our sex-driven society. But now this old adage has taken on new meaning. A quartet of miscreants in the New York City area was recently charged with theft, forgery, and enterprise corruption. The 122-count indictments involved removing body parts from cadavers in nearby funeral homes and forging documentation that the organs and tissues were donated voluntarily. The ring allegedly pilfered heart valves, tendons, skin, and bones. They even crudely stitched up cadavers after inserting PVC plumbing pipes to replace stolen bones. Other corpses remained truncated or were simply cremated. Furthermore, some of the purloined materials transferred to medical patients may have been tainted or contaminated.

The longsuffering American public was pushed over the edge by this ghoulish scheme, and both the law enforcement and media response was swift and decisive. "I think we can agree that the conduct uncovered in this case is among the most ghastly imaginable," declared Rose Gill Hearn, the commissioner of the local Department of Investigation. Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes echoed, "This case is unique in the utter disregard for human decency." He compared the incident to "something out of a cheap horror movie." CNN news referred to the "macabre scandal" of "looting." The Associated Press recounted the "grisly case" in which corpses were "plundered." And ABC News highlighted the appalling character of the "body-part theft plot."

In another recent scandal, Dr. Hwang Woo-suk, an eminent professor from Seoul National University in South Korea, metamorphosed from a stellar scientist into just another falling star. His research team became internationally famous after announcing the successful cloning of human embryos for the sake of "therapeutic" uses (the harvesting of biomedical materials). After the Scientific American hailed Hwang as "research leader of the year," Hwang was dubbed "the Pride of Korea." Prof. Hwang became a celebrated hero and national icon. At one point, 15,000 fans belonged to an "I love HWS" online community.

But then ominous clouds began to gather over his scientific breakthrough, and it started to rain on the biomedical party. News broke that the good doctor had paid women to donate eggs, in violation of professional ethics and international guidelines. Some of these women suffered severe side effects from chemically produced hyper-ovulation. Hwang had even compelled junior researchers on his own scientific team to become egg donors. Moreover, his experiment was far more inefficient than first claimed. According to the Korea Times, he utilized 2221 eggs from 119 women, rather than the 427 ova originally reported.

Yet the media treated these allegations with kid gloves, and the scholarly world continued to defend and laud him. The allegations constituted a "personal tragedy" but didn't "sound like a hanging offense," insisted University of Chicago law professor Richard Bernstein. After all, Hwang "didn't fudge any scientific research." Or so the gullible public assumed. But the unraveling continued, and eventually the fabric of his research lay in tatters, as authorities discovered that the entire experiment was a brazen sham. Dr. Hwang's research team could not prove that they had ever successfully produced any cloned human embryonic stem cells at all. They had even fabricated photographic images and DNA fingerprints to mask their monumental failure.

The buttresses of academic and media support began to crumble. The New Scientist declared that the hoax ranked as "one of the biggest scientific scandals of recent times." The Scientific American affirmed, "We respected that the ethics of accepted practice in this area of science were still somewhat murky, and we declined to judge him too quickly. However, scientific fraud is an unforgivable offense against the enterprise of research." When Dr. Lee Wang-jae, a fellow Korean scientist, learned of the disgrace, he waxed Rooseveltian in his public response: "We can declare today as a day of national infamy." The president of Seoul National University apologized for the research team's "unforgivable academic crime" that left an "indelible stain" on science.

Is there any relationship between these New York City and South Korean cases? To be sure the legal transgressions and professional breaches differed in the two instances. Nevertheless, there may be an underlying connection. Our generation has turned human components into commodities to be bought and sold. In New York, compliant funeral directors notified Mastromarino when "they had a body that they could cut up without anyone knowing." After he paid them $1,000 a corpse, he turned around and collected an average of $7,000 from each "investment."

In the Korean case, the national government generously financed the research team, hoping for economic benefit and international acclaim. "There is tremendous pressure to be first," explains Adil E. Shamoo, a biomedical ethicist at the University of Maryland. "If you do something first, all the money and fame will come to you. All that is an obvious seduction for doing something like this." Prof. Hwang received over 381 million dollars from state and private sources, and the substantial monetary incentive led to undue pressure and eventually to the fraudulent misappropriation of funds. "The government is most responsible for creating the Hwang idol," claimed Jang Sung Ik, chief editor of Environment and Life. "It gave people an impression that Hwang's technology was a goose that lays golden eggs."

If one analyzes the two scenarios objectively (apart from emotional ties attached to the deceased), one recognizes that the looted individuals in New York were only competent decision-makers in a previous, ante-mortem state. And cryogenically frozen human embryos could theoretically exhibit such a conscious will in the future. Yet neither cadavers nor zygotes are currently capable of deliberative self-determination or neurological sensation of pain, and a corpse is manifestly more "lifeless" than a developing embryo.

Therein lies the irony. The commissioner of the city Department of Investigation claimed that the New York case "was shockingly callous in its disregard for the sanctity of human remains." Exactly. Everyone agrees that the New York tissue vultures were hovering over the lifeless remains of those who were already dead. The "therapeutic" gleaning from cadavers involved those who-by all accounts-were only previously living persons. Meanwhile a debate rages within our contemporary society concerning whether human embryos qualify as full "persons." On a scientific level, they are undeniably growing and maturing-they are biologically "alive." Embryonic stem cell harvesting includes the discontinuation of this biological life as a necessary prerequisite.

Human embryos are merely unfolding the genetic blueprint for full maturation that they have possessed since fertilization. The "therapeutic" utilization of embryos involves the dissolution of a homo sapiens at a specific stage of development that is simply one phase along a universal continuum that all human persons must equally traverse. As Dr. Günter Virt has argued, "Human embryonic stem cells and also embryonic stem cell lines are excluded from patentability because we cannot get embryonic stem cell lines without destroying an embryo and that means without use of embryos. This use as material contradicts the dignity of an embryo as a human being with the derived right to life." In the case of cloning, these human embryos are being industrially and commercially produced solely as instrumental means to a utilitarian end for the benefit of others.

By Paul Anthony
Nov 16, 2006, Post Chronicle.

giovedì, novembre 16, 2006

Voltaire alla Business School

Io la buona volonta' ce l'avevo messa tutta. M'ero ripromesso di aggiornare questo blog non dico quotidianamente ma quasi ma ecco che alla sfilza di impegni se n'e' aggiunto uno nuovo.

Lunedi' pomeriggio mi chiama Brendan, uno dei lecturer del nostro dipartimento: Angelo, uno degli insegnanti di filosofia della DBS s'e' ammalato gravemente e hanno bisogno di un sostituto. Ti va di fare qualche lezione?
Potevo dire di no?
Chiamo la direttrice della DBS e chiedo spiegazioni: Si tratta di due corsi, uno sull'Illuminismo e uno su individuo e societa'.
Bene, dico io, quando?
Stasera alle 6.
Insomma volete che in un paio d'ore mi prepari due lezioni di un'ora e mezza su un programma che neppure conosco. E chi sono io Babbo Natale? (Quest'ultima questione non e' stata posta direttamente ma ha occupato la mente del sottoscritto per diversi minuti)
Mi rendo conto che ha poco tempo ma spero capisca che questa e' un'emergenza.
Potevo dire di no?
No. E cosi' ora mi trovo a dover preparare altre due lezioni a settimana, fino a meta' dicembre.
Lunedi' prossimo Illuminismo francese e Hobbes.
San Voltaire, aiutaci tu!

La fine della Monarchia in Italia - Milano

Il Circolo Reale "San Maurizio" di Milano, domani, venerdì 17 novembre alle ore 20, presenterà il libro di Francesco Bottone "La fine della Monarchia in Italia – Il referendum istituzionale del 2 giugno 1946" – Marco editore, 2006.
La presentazione avrà luogo al Circolo della Stampa (Palazzo Serbelloni, corso Venezia 16 – Milano) e rientra nel programma delle iniziative promosse per il 60° anniversario del referendum istituzionale del 2 giugno 1946.
Relatore sarà il Prof. Massimo de Leonardis, Ordinario di Storia delle Relazioni internazionali e direttore del Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche dell’Università Cattolica del Sacro cuore di Milano.
Introduzione di Sergio Boschiero.
Presenzieranno l’Editore e l’Autore.

Unione Monarchica Italiana
Ufficio Presidenza Regione Molise e Vallata del Trigno

lunedì, novembre 13, 2006

Time is contagious, everybody’s getting old

Le tante cose da fare si accumulano confusamente.
Impegni, scadenze, incontri, appuntamenti.
Non potendomi fidare della mia precarissima memoria, ho trovato un sistema affidabile.
Molto semplice: durante la giornata, man mano che mi vengono in mente, mi appunto le cose da fare il giorno successivo.

Adesso devo trovare un sistema per ricordarmi dove ho messo la lista delle cose da ricordare.

domenica, novembre 12, 2006

Io non posso restare seduto in disparte ne' arte ne' parte non sono capace (mannaggia a 'sta tastiera senza accenti)

Sarebbe ora di finirla. O meglio, sarebbe ora di ricominciarla.
Ci siamo presi una lunga vacanza ma il blogger che abita in noi scalpitava ed allora eccoci qui ad accontentarlo.

Vi piace il nuovo template? Qualcuno mi ha gia' detto che il nero e' triste, io invece lo trovo elegante e poi si addiceva al video di Regina Spektor. No?
A proposito di Regina, prima di proseguire con la lettura cliccate qui ed alzate il volume dell'amplificazione.

E' stato, ed ancora lo e', un periodo pieno di impegni e di cambiamenti. Di buone e cattive notizie.

La discussione della tesi e' prevista il 1 dicembre.
Il corso su Newman e' quasi concluso e mi ha dato molte soddisfazioni.

Continuo a lavorare come tutor per il mio dipartimento.
In questo semestre mi hanno dato due classi di Introduzione alla Filosofia Antica Orientale e Occidentale del I anno, una classe di Filosofia Tardoantica e Medievale del II anno, due classi di Filosofia Antica del II anno e quattro classi di Fenomenologia del III anno. Inoltre per un paio di settimane ho fatto il supplente di Etica kantiana del III anno e Hume & Kant del II anno. Ad ottobre, insomma, c'e' stato poco tempo per pensare ad altro. Meglio cosi'.

A proposito di filosofia, qualche giorno fa e' stato pubblicato il Philosophical Gourmet Report 2006, ossia la classifica dei migliori dipartimenti di filosofia del mondo anglosassone. In realta' la classifica comprende solo USA, Regno Unito e Australia, per cui l'Irlanda non e' stata presa in considerazione.
Pero' il nostro dipartimento e' stato segnalato per quanto riguarda la categoria Filosofia Continentale del 20esimo secolo, che e' effetivamente un po' la nostra specializzazione.

giovedì, novembre 09, 2006