new photo blog

i started this blog in 2006, and it's shifted along with my interests through the years. it's been witness to a lot of learning for me...

still, i feel that i need a home for my photography -- so from now on, i'll be posting my pictures on the journal on my reworked website. if you like my photos, you might decide to follow me there!

my first post is here -- check it out!

as for this blog, i'm not sure what will happen. i don't think i'm willing to let it go, and certainly i'll keep it as an archive, but i need some time to figure it out.

for those of you that pop in from time to time, thanks for the visits and encouragement.

Monday, September 20, 2010

christopher hitchens on preparing for life and death

part 1 of 5, on divine impulses, on the washington post.
part 2 on tuesday.

EDIT: two more parts linked/embedded here.

via daily hitchens


  1. interestingly the God that he speaks of Helen doesn't work in that way,or so they say,you have free will...believe or not,simple as that.Interesting read..On Death and Dying Dr.Elisabeth Kübler-Ross..he touches base on similar thoughts she speaks of. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak. Preparation,grief,
    acceptance...the video..he seems at one with it.I hope the treatment works.being in the medical field I often smile when they say the "practice" of medicine...yes...practicing.
    I will look forward to the rest of the interview.

  2. theresa, i don't know how 'they' know how 'he' works.

    they don't, do they... they're making it up.

    here's a giggle:

    question: 'do you believe in free will?'
    hitchens: 'i believe we have no choice'

    and then,

    'but i'll tell you something i'm sure of: you cannot be given free will.'


  3. that does makes me smile..I cannot say how "they" know...I know what I was taught,not necessarily what I believe.No choice? we do have choices,we make them everyday,were we give this spiritually as a right? I cannot say yes...and I cannot say no...I am the one who does not far as diseases...then sadly,we do not have a choice in that matter;genetics,viruses,eating red meat or using teflon pans? who can really say. I believe in science...and the proof that it contains;and I am always open to the opinion and beliefs of others.

  4. Questions without answers! — worth asking because the responses are so Peter from Anchorage says...I read the article~

  5. there are those who support that we are in a highly complex system, and our actions and behavior seem to be something we decide, but, in reality, there is no way we could act or decide differently.

    neurological studies have been published that show the body beginning an action even before the brain has registered the decision to take that action.

    so nothing is certain... and the word spiritual is a one-size-fits-all term.

    when facing such difficult issues, sometimes it's more honest to say i don't know, but maybe i can find out.

    isn't it better than, i'll make up a story that makes me feel good ?

  6. thirdphotoreceptor22/9/10 09:53

    "neurological studies have been published that show the body beginning an action even before the brain has registered the decision to take that action"

    One of the authors of those studies is a friend of mine and when his work started getting a bit of press a couple of years ago, I noticed an article discussing its implications for free will which drew comments from people like Daniel Dennett, so I forwarded it to him. The core of his response was "we never said we rule out free will, that's a distortion by the press."

    I would agree that whether a decision is initiated before or after we become aware of it would only mean that if the term 'free will' has any coherent meaning, it is not something that originates in consciousness, but in subconsciousness (at least for the kinds of decisions that were being studied).

    My personal view on free will is pretty close to the version that Dennett presents in Freedom Evolves, except that he concludes that there is such a thing as free will and I don't. That would seem like the only difference that matters, but in this case it's only a difference in the way we define the term. His notion of 'free will' is neither rooted in dualism of mind and body, nor incompatible with determinism.

  7. thirdphotoreceptor22/9/10 09:55

    I always think of something else I want to say right after I submit a comment, but are the other parts of the Hitchens interview online somewhere?

  8. @thirdphotoreceptor

    thanks for the comment.

    you notice i said, nothing is certain. these are questions that we're still far from answering, but my point is that the existence of free will is not a given, and it most certainly cannot be used to support the existence of a supernatural deity, nor to excuse conclusions that are, in fact, based on personal comfort than the reality we commonly share.

  9. thirdphotoreceptor22/9/10 10:11

    I agree with everything you said, but I'd add that much of the fire behind the issue of 'free will' is about its alleged consequences for our concept of personal responsibility, the fear being that if there is no such thing as free will, then we could no longer justify sending a criminal to prison and so on. I think that fear is misguided, but it's definitely a part of the comfort aspect you mention.

  10. i understand that many people struggle with responsibility.

    but think of this:

    you're in a shop with glass and porcelain and, through no malice in intention, lose your balance and destroy some merchandise.

    you will, in any case, be responsible for the damage, will you not?

    then there's the whole issue of how criminals should be dealt with: in prison or in service...

  11. thirdphotoreceptor22/9/10 10:26

    Well I can tell we will AGREE fiercely about this! ;)

    Yes, I agree, and the same applies when people do really nasty things if we view punishment in terms of deterrence and rehabilitation rather than some woolly economic metaphor like an eye for an eye. If it is the consequences of punishment that matter, then it makes as much sense to impose punishments when we know what the determinants of criminal behaviour are as when we don't. Punishment is something that could determine whether someone commits a crime in the first place and if it's geared towards rehabilitation then again, it acts as a determinant of future behaviour.

  12. then you have, of course, seen that the netherlands are closing their prisons, for lack of criminals.

  13. thirdphotoreceptor23/9/10 16:21

    I always think of something else I want to say right after I submit a comment, but are the other parts of the Hitchens interview online somewhere?

  14. i just added two more parts here: