Reciprocity between agent and patient

Reciprocity between agent and patient, is one of the most bizarre categories in the Critique. Some of them aren’t so bad; like modality (possibility, necessity, contingency). But…reciprocity of agent and patient?

Lets consider this ‘phrase’, or better still, the notion of reciprocity in some non-cognitive or non-Kantian (I assume) sense.

Well, I’m considering the normal usage, or at least the most frequent of usages. Reciprocity (def) is the return of one’s sentiment towards another.

I wonder how important the role of reciprocity is towards relationships. Many would hold that reciprocity is some key part of a relationship, to be civil, and have civility returned. To love an object, and have the object return such sentiment to the subject.

My prima facie case concerns loving those who cannot return their feelings. Children, or those, for one reason or another cannot by virtue of incapacity, cannot return the full extent, or even any response of compassion, or nurture, or affection, or understanding to the subject.

We might immediately dismiss the case of children as being a counter-case, why? Because of their potentiality to love and care for the parent subject in the future. Okay, then lets stipulate some case where it is nomologically impossible; brain damage or variance of emotional functioning (e.g. those interesting cases like P. Gate).

Many say it is some key component of interpersonal relations for reciprocity to obtain. The commonsense phrase that such relations must be two-way. Seems prima facie like some interesting ideal.

If a loving relation were to be one way; perhaps some may not even say it was a relation at all, but some one-way process. My old theological education is reminding me of the notion of perichoresis; which may be analogous in all human relations, but finds the paradigm case in the relation between Christ and God the father. The notion of reciprocity, and ideals of human relations towards the normative development of character seems a very important part of the furniture of our lives. Not so much as a metaphysical notion, but in how we live our lives, and the meanings imbued in life.

Maybe Kant was onto something for saying it was a condition for experience, it may be, our condition of understanding other people, in some more primitive way than I address, or, further still, some primitive of the ideal of how we shall live.

But why does it irk us?

Michael and Antisophie

Buridan’s Ass

The situation 

Imagine an Ass (Donkey!), who has two stacks of hay, which are equally distant from him, and he has to choose either stack. While the reasons for the choosing of one stack over the other are exactly the same (such as distance to the stack, size, shape, type of hay etc.) What will the ass do?

Let me elicit two options:

  1. The ass will make a decision
  2. The ass will starve

Let me also elicit some assumptions

  1. This is not a real situation (P), or
  2. This is a real situation (Q), and
  3. This is an issue of rational deliberation (R), or,
  4. This is an issue of arbitrary decision making (S)

So, we can say, of this situation, ((P v Q) & (R v S)) & (P–>¬(R v S)) v (Q –>(R v S))

Just how varied is Annette?

I must admit that I like the new approach of the new vocalist of Nightwish; Annette Olzon. She can do songs quite differently from Tarja’s more classical soprano style; while I appreciate Tarja’s style very much, and I do deem it the more superior, both technically, ideologically and idiomatically, it does get old, and Nightwish is a band of variance, of balances; between the (I’m talking putatives, here) overtly masculine Marco, and the more tender of sentiments. Between the strong keyboard parts and fairly prominent guitar work (although I must admit the guitars could be better…).

Some songs during the Tarja period were simply perfect; the song Nemo, for instance, which is about isolation, lonliness, works very well in terms of the keyboard parts, Tarja’s wonderful forte passages which are made to appear as if a mezzo forte; the modal tonality of the melodic line is a chilling counterpart to the keyboard part insofar as it seems to almost have an echo in one’s soul, indicative of the resonance one has as the Nemo (meaning loneliness) character, and the pumping bass (this is an instance where I say Marco’s vocals would have been unhelpful!). This is the perfect kind of song for a vocalist like Tarja…see video

Now, here’s a good song from the Annette period; Amaranth.

It’s poppy, but much more explicitly so than Nemo; it’s major key, quite unusual for a metal song; again, the keyboards form a wonderful prominence here, with the pumping bassline. This would be something Tarja would uncomfortably do, such as some of the tracks on Once were a bit of a strech for her vocal style. It’s the kind of thing that standard Nightwish fans like: that is; 8 year old girls and guys who don’t have girlfriends (that’s a famous Nightwish association about the fans…not my own view…although I do think it’s near to the truth!). What is important about the Nightwish balance is that it moves away from the conventional heavy metal-ness of a band such as Tarot by the female singer and orchestral parts; but also does the standardly metal songs, and some complete oddball songs (such as The Islander – an acoustic piece sung/written by Marco). The problem with Annette is when she tries to do the old songs…

In particular, I address the song “Higher than Hope”. This is one of those songs that Nightwish should cautiously play live. The song was about a Nightwish fan suffering from cancer (who later died), who found a lot of comfort in Nightwish songs; it has a serious gravitas, even not knowing that; the chorus is very powerful, both harmonically and in terms of the vocals. Like Ocean Soul; Higher than Hope is one of those Nightwish songs which are to be taken quite seriously insofar as it is a very individualistic and inspiring and important song for its fans.

Another point to make is that many say Annette shouldn’t be compared to Tarja, I do resist this as much as possible; but if you do one of the older songs of the Tarja period, you don’t avoid comparison, you invite it. Annette’s voice is significantly weaker in terms of dynamics to Tarja, so often, there is a duet with Marco to support her voice. For this song, it doesn’t work; this is a perfect Tarja song, and due to its seriousness it should not be pop-performed in the way that Annette tries to.

Here’s the original 

 Here’s the Annette version

Antisophie and Destre say I should do less philosophical posts, so here is my attempt!


Rational deception

I will elicit two cases of actions which involve an action being enforced in the future. The first one comes from Michael himself, and the second one comes from the TV show, House M.D.; which, I must add, is a great show…if you ever wanted to know what Antisophie is like, watch House!

Instance one

“I have a problem remembering things”, Michael tells me, he also tells me that he tries to get up early in the morning but always says “five more minutes”…and you know how this goes; he gets up 2 hours later, a few expletives later; Michael concocted a plan.

1. Set all of his main timepieces AHEAD of standard GMT by say, 20-40 minutes.

2. Set alarm clocks

3. Michael’s default situation is that he will sleep a bit more and say “just another 5 minutes…”

4. A little while later, Michael finds that he has only properly woken up at the “later” time than he actually wanted to..

5. BUT! The timepiece he looked at was AHEAD of time, so Michael is either early, or just in time.

6. Michael will either wonder why the watch is ahead of time, or he will ignore this fact and just be happy he wasn’t late for his morning.

7. Michael, due to short term memory problems, will forget this

8. Michael, only sometimes, will realise that he purposely do this, but most other times, will be occupied with philosophy, or other things in normal everyday life.

Michael told me that a friend commented on this habit, after the former realised this strange deception ritual, and the latter said “that is irrational utility!”, and the fellow, as Michael pointed out, made the tacit assumption that rationality is linked to a pursuit, or possession of true beliefs. I’m not so sure about that, but it is an up-for-grabs question: what is a rational action? What connectives do we draw it towards? Rationality is a highly enigmatic concept; Michael seemed to work around his forgetfulness through this very bizarre practice, and in doing so, he isn’t always aware he does it, but the utility of it (being late) works for him.

Father Thomas taugh us similar tricks; he taught us that sometimes we need to be inventive to deal with a problem. For example, in the famous axeman problem of Kant’s ethics, the problem being that, if it is wrong to lie, what shall we do when an axeman asks us if we know where a certain person whom which we are hiding is; it is, on the one horn of the dillemma; bad to break a promise to protect; but on the other hand, it is bad to lie. For a more sophisticated Kantian answer, read Korsgaard; but one of the answers we learned from the old Collegium is to say “I don’t see [x] here!”, and that is neither lying or promise-breaking…but anyone other than a Jesuit or a smart-alec isn’t that clever; I certainly am not!

The moral of the story is this, sometimes, loving actions need to involve some fairly inventive decision-making; especially for those who are difficult to deal with, or to put it in more formal terms; we need to engage in rituals of deceit insofar as to achieve utility, but in very, very subtle ways. The Michael example can be put in conditional, or counterpart terms; If Michael wants to wake up at a certain time, but is ritually late; then Michael* needs to manipulate the situation to make him think he is late, while not being late, so as to get him up at the desired time.

Michael’s memory loss and his subsequent methods of working around it are profoundly interesting; there are other bizarre things as well that he concocts to remember things…he really does impress me!

Instance two

In the show House, in one episode, there was a young boy around the age of 14-16, who was legally incapable of looking after himself; and had to be sent to social services; who was otherwise looking after his mother with a mysterious brain condition which made her normal functioning severely limited; the first guess of her condition was some kind of brain damage and cognitive impairment and she speaks a lot of gibberish and the like. Anyway, one of the things that happened in the episode was that social services found out about the boy, who, because of his incapable mother, needed to be in social services (state regulations, you see), and someone tipped off the social services about the boy.

We then find out that, it wasn’t House, or the irritable, yet attractive Hospital manager, who told the SS (no pun intended…) about the boy; it was the boy’s mother! Once House realised this, he found this as evidence of rational behaviour, which in turn had some impact on the diagnosis, which suggested that it wasn’t brain damage, but some random illlness like iron poisoning in the blood.

I liked the end, when the boy, who was angry at House, thinking that he told SS about his situation; never found out that it was his mother, because, House respected the important bond between the two mother and child; that he allowed the mother to continue such a special bond and just purposely mislead the boy about who really told SS.

Rational deception?

 I find the notion of rational deception very interesting; on one part, whether it is genuinely rational and what it says about the nature of rationality, and secondly whether it is loving. This sounds like a wishy-washy term; but very often those that love us seem to decieve or do thing that would putatively harm us in some effort towards our wellbeing…I am troubled by the implication of these cases.

Sinistre (and Antisophie)

Aphorisms on character

1. I’ve found a weird thing. The more you are intimate with others, the more mysterious we become to them. It seems, that our isolation makes us more definitive, more distinct, less composite, and more defined. But, what is the price?

2. When I indulge into too much of something, I find it becomes stale. What a dirty thing it is to take for granted the one you love the most. We who are happy, appreciate the least, but we who are despairing, have lost the capacity to feel. Yet another irony of the human condition.

3. One of the easiest ways to escape a new solution is to go to an old problem. This works well for philosophy, but not in life. Regress is irresistable, but detracting from progress


Our Hero [A Canadian teen show]


Probably about 5-6 years ago, I used to watch this show called ‘Our Hero’ which showed on Channel 5. [UK] It brings warm memories; I felt infatuated by the show, as if it were a pretty girl, or that I felt some kind of dependence on it. I really loved the show. I hope I’m able to communicate this weird feeling; feeling drawn to something, that teenage infatuation where everything is all rose-tinted and the like.

When I was watching ‘Our Hero’; I just came out of secondary, and I was first introduced to the opposite sex in a slightly more significant way than being in an all male environment susues; I used to have these really embarrassing crushes on girls and a stupid idea that everything will be alright (have things really changed?[!])

Anyhoo, I really liked this show, starring actress Cara Pifko. Let me elicit the context:

Our Hero

Our Hero is presented in the form of a zine; a zine is quite a 90’s things, the show was made in the tailend of that period, 2000, in fact. A zine (I’m going to give an unconventional definition – I’ll be the first!) is kind of like a progenitor of a blog; it is a low-quality publication, often made by hand, copied by a photocopier, and given out to people; virtually anyone who can find it; sometimes people send it to fans abroad, or they find a stack in a coffee shop. The idea of a zine (like a blog) is that it is made not for profit, and also; it concerns the relative interests of a person; just like how there are blogs about all sorts of diverse subjects…politics, pop culture, sex, more sex, even more sex, and antique china dolls. Zines are tiny little things, and made out of love.

I don’t think I’ve seen a zine, like ever. But I have heard a lot about it; its a nice quaint and “go-go nineties” idea; but the age of bright tracksuits and optimism about “global warming” (now its called climate change) is over…

The topics of Our Hero

What I loved most about the show was how refreshingly different it was to all the saturday morning droll. Yes, while I used to enjoy watching Yu-Gi-Oh and various pseudo-anime that was on TV (God I miss being a ‘youth’…) that characterised saturday mornings for the masses; I wasn’t emotionally mature to enjoy the ‘teen stuff’; but anyhoo, I did enjoy Our Hero. The show is about a 17 year old Kale (who was very cute!) in high school, who endured various issues of the day.

These issues included:

inter-racial dating (which actually wasn’t a big issue for her and her family…but is for many in multicultural Europe and North America);

homosexuality (namely, that of her friend);

divorce (her brother);

abusive boyfriends, drugs, sex and STI’s (this was quite a challenging story);

religiousity in the contemporary world (Kale had a Catholic friend who was really conservative, yet there were hints that she really liked boys all the same!);

adultery, or when relationships go bad (Kale’s parents are discovered to have had a problem about an extra-marital relationship in the distant past…it was a most uncomfortable scene)

Now here are a few issues that I found really chilling, they really affected me when I saw them; as my old collegium environment was very safe, and isolated and stale…

Mental Illness – in one episode we meet someone who is seen as, well, ‘crazy’, we then find this person gets hospitalised and Kale wants to understand more about this person. Right at the end of the episode, we have a very sensitive depiction of mental illness (it were as if, it were ‘off camera’ when the man was speaking…not as an actor, but the man behind the face…which is what the show often did). That was something that disturbed me greatly, how dejected he was, and how realistic the depiction was for his life incarcerate.

Cancer – Kale has a long term friend who eventually dies….what is sad is that he lived a very full life until his cancer came in; and his life, his friends, and everything around him deteriorated; until he had only a visitor, Kale, to look out for him. It was a very touching episode, and I have to admit I cried. It was so sad that he died; and so real.

Now thinking about this series 5 years on…I feel like all the things in my childhood and teens are coming back, all merged together, all the best things I learned put into one entity, as I unconsciously synthesis, but now am slowly coming to realise each atom of this thing. I say that, our hero of this issue is…Kale Stiglic :). Thank you Kale, for teaching me how to write…

Michael (with assistance with Antisophie)