April 29, 2014 § Leave a comment
It would be contrary to Common Sense to deny that the distinction between any one individual and any other is real and fundamental, and that consequently ‘I’ am concerned with the quality of my existence as an individual in a sense, fundamentally important, that I am not concerned with the quality of the existence of other individuals: and this being so, I do not see how this distinction is not to be taken as fundamental in determining the ultimate end of a rational action for an individual.
— from the concluding chapter (The Mutual Relations of the Three Methods) of The Methods of Ethics, Henry Sidgwick
April 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
The emphasis on frugality and a simple life does not mean that an environmental ethic frowns upon pleasure, but that the pleasures it values do not come from conspicuous consumption. They come, instead, from warm personal and sexual relationships, from being close to children and friends, from conversation, from sports and recreations that are in harmony with our environment instead of being harmful to it; from food that is not based on the exploitation of sentient creatures and does not cost the earth; from creative activity and work of all kinds; and (with due care so as not to ruin precisely what is valued) from appreciating the unspoiled places of the world in which we live.
— Peter Singer, Practical Ethics (second edition, Cambridge University Press, 1993). Excerpt from chapter 10: The Environment.
April 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
In a letter to Mr. B. P. Blood, Tennyson reports of himself as follows:—
“I have never had any revelations through anæsthetics, but a kind of waking trance—this for lack of a better word—I have frequently had, quite up from boyhood, when I have been all alone. This has come upon me through repeating my own name to myself silently, till all at once, as it were out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being, and this not a confused state but the clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words—where death was an almost laughable impossibility—the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction, but the only true life. I am ashamed of my feeble description. Have I not said the state is utterly beyond words?”
Professor Tyndall, in a letter, recalls Tennyson saying of this condition:
“By God Almighty! there is no delusion in the matter! It is no nebulous ecstasy, but a state of transcendent wonder, associated with absolute clearness of mind.”
— Memoirs of Alfred Tennyson, ii. 473.
April 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
In 1889, when he was 17, [Cossack officer Dmitri] Peshkov rode his pony across Siberia. For 9000 kilometres. In winter. He did it, says photographer Matthieu Paley, to show Tsar Alexander III how strong and valuable the small native horses of Siberia were. “They were being killed at the time to make sausage for the troops building the railroads,” Paley says. The horse was a Yakut, a now-rare breed resembling a large Shetland pony. Yakuts are a hardy breed adapted to the extreme cold and are able to forage even when there is deep snow cover. Peshkov’s epic journey was re-enacted for the 2006 film Serko – named after Peshkov’s horse. In this photograph, shot by Paley as filming was taking place, the actor playing Peshkov is riding across the frozen surface of Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and oldest lake.
— extract and photograph taken from New Scientist, no. 2964
April 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.
Kant, Immanuel; translated by James W. Ellington  (1993)
April 14, 2014 § Leave a comment