Categories
Culture

Journal: The Player of Games – Chapter 1

I’ve decided to take on Iain M. Banks classic series The culture. The series which follows the post-state society called the Culture, where minds and machines live in harmony, and sickness is defeted. In The Player of Games we are introduced to this world through the eyes of a player of Games named Gurgeh.

The world Banks has created is at first glance very different from our own. Humans have genetically enhanced themselves to rid them of sickness and death. They’ve created drug-glandes with which they can change their brain chemistry after their needs. A person may change body if they are badly injured and they may change sex multiple times durring their lifetime.

The author has made the well weighted decision to let us meet this very different world through Gurgeh, a simple and classic man, who has never changed sex, is heterosexual and doesn’t like to travel. He has a small villa close to a fjord. He is a character we can recognise and sympathise with, in a world so different from ours.

The main character is as far as this chapter goes a friendly face, that might remind you of a relative in their forties, questioning their place in the world. We meet his insecurities and will to find new challenges. As he’s at an age of 300 he has mastered most classic games there is to master. Of course there are people better than him, but few who are so good at so many games as he is. But we feel with him, the will to face novelty which brings the feeling of stamping in one place.

Even though he is of quite an old age, he has never had any longer relationships and we get to observe Gurgeh trying to searching for love in a younger woman, who doesn’t reciprocate his love. There is an aura of loneliness around him, which brings you into the book in a very immersive way.

To conclude

I believe that Banks did a great job of building up the first chapter of the book. His strange world may seem to much or to different to our own to understand, but by giving us Gurgeh, a simple man with relatable problems, we find ourself captured by the beauty of the Culture. We are eased in to this story, and I can’t wait to see how the next chapter pans out.

Categories
Projects

JSU By-laws revision

Jönköping Student Union (JSU) is an association at Jönköping University (JU) in Jönköping, Sweden. It represents and defends the students cause at the university, as-well-as acting as an umbrella organisation for all student life on campus.

Attached documents: By-laws proposition | Old by-laws (2019)

The problem

The old by-laws had a number of problems. The document was first written in Swedish, then translated into English, leading to a number of language errors, as certain Swedish legal jargon does not make sense when translated to English. There where also language inconsistencies as some positions and documents have changed names over the years. The new document solves these problems.

One of the biggest flaws of the old by-laws is rooted its many iterations. Because of the lack of chapters the document has become unorganised and hard to follow. There has also been changes made which has not been correctly changed in the by-laws, for example removing parts of the organisation and still referring to them in parts of the by-laws.

Besides this there has also been uncertainties in how to enforce parts of the by-laws. This is rooted in old principles related to how the organisation worked many years ago. By moving most of the organisational regulation to a new document managed by the JSU Board, we hope to solve these kinds of issues, whiles keeping up organisational stability. This change also makes it easier for the board to solve problems that arise within the organisation.

The changes

Most of the by-law has been rewritten to better suit the English language. Spelling and grammatical changes has been made to better align with British English.

Chapters

The by-laws has been decided up into chapters to make it easier to find the correct information. This also helps readers to easier follow what the by-laws is trying to tell them. The new chapters are as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Steering framework
  3. Democracy
  4. Financials
  5. Appendix

Organisational and steering matters

A new document called the JSU Organisational rules has been created to collect all organisational rules and policies including delegation orders and similar documents. Plenty of organisational matters has there-by also been moved into this document.

To help make the steering of the organisation easier a new steering framework chapter was added to make steering aspects of the organisation easier to grasp with. It contains information about what the JSU Organisational rules is, in which order documents shall be interpreted, how to interpret documents and similar things.

Another big change was the formalisation of the organisational memory. As a student union is an ever shifting organisation it is hard to keep track of decisions. To make this task easier and more formal, the organisational memory was set to five years (including the current organisational year), meaning that the board has to review all decisions (policies, etc.) every five years. This keeps the documents up to date and guarantees that old forgotten documents does not create any unnecessary trouble for the steering of the organisation.

Financial matters

One part of the document which lacked guidelines was financials. Therefore a new chapter called financials was created to collect this kind of regulation. Three new points where added, now requiring the organisation to have an active investment strategy and emergency reserves. Further developments to this are is expected in the future.

To conclude

The by-laws contained plenty of problems making them hard for the board to enforce. By dividing the by-laws into chapters and rewriting big parts of the by-laws the major readability and interpretation problems where solved. To help make to organisation easier to govern my the board, organisational matters where moved to a new document called JSU Organisational rules and two new chapters called Steering framework and Financials where added.

Credits

Eric Gustafsson:

  • Project leader
  • Structure and rewriting of the by-laws
  • Main writer

Sophia Fröberg Liljenberg (JSU President):

  • Cover letter (main writer)
  • Reviewing and advice
  • Assistance in writing

Jenný Jensdóttir (JSU Vice President):

  • Reviewing and advice
  • Language clarity and consistency
  • Assistance in writing
Categories
Philosophy

Exploring: Totality

The concept of Totality and the totalitarian are important concepts to understand. The played an important durring the 1900’s and continue to effect our world in often horrible ways. Today few people question that persons who lose their humility tend to do horrible things.

Totality, put simply is the absolute undisputed truth (sometimes also referee to as Truth with a big T). A person who is totalitarian is simply a person who claims to act in the name of Totality or who claims to have found Totality. The first kind is normally perceived to be dangerous, the second is usually perceived to be crazy.

Totality is defined differently depending on if you are religious or secular. In most religions the Totality is a sentient entity called a God, in a secular life stance it is the world in itself which holds the totality. That which differentiates a totalitarian life stance from a regular life stance is the view of the human in relation to the Totality. In a regular life stance the human is seen as a seeker, endlessly searching, but never reaching true knowledge. In contrast a totalitarian life stance perceives the group as holding or understanding the Totality.

Totalitarian actions

Totalitarians can most often be identified by their will to silence people and burn books. This move is often seen as evidence of their underlying evilness. It is however here important to believe that they themselves do not see themselves as evil, they believe themselves to do something good.

If you believe yourself to hold Totality, logically you know what is true or not. If you hold such a belief it is simple to see how one may be tempted to want to protect ones people from misinformation. Therefore leading to censorship and book-burning.

This is what makes totalitarians so dangerous. Totalitarianism can be seen as a form of god complex. The persons who believe themselves to know Totality in a way see themselves as gods, able to do as they please without judgement.

To conclude

Totalitarians are dangerous because they believe themselves to be on the right side of history, and that they have Totality on their side. This is dangerous idea to believe in, causing for example censorship of competing ideas.

Categories
Philosophy

Myndig: The philosophical basis of Swedish society

In light of the current Corona crisis I’ve seen many people baffled by the Swedish approach to handling the crisis. One aspect nearly all of this reporting is missing is the philosophical concept of being myndig, which is the basis of Swedish society. There is no straight over English translation of the word, but the consequence of being myndig is acting of age, but it is important to understand that these are still two very different things.

Defining myndig

Myndig is a Swedish term referring to the ability to consider the consequences of one’s action and make a decision based on it. Self-control is an essential part of being Myndig. The Swedish state recognises everyone beyond 18 years of age as Myndig meaning that it expects all of its citizens to be able to face the consequences of their action, leading to the states right to punish people who do not take Myndig decisions or even in some cases take back their recognition a person as Myndig.

Observe that the Swedish state never claims that the person is myndig, they just recognise (expect) a persons myndighet.

Myndig in Swedish society

In Swedish society the concept of being Myndig goes way further then this. It is possibly the most important concept to understand if you want to learn about Swedish society. Because all are expected to be and act Myndig, society also punishes those who do not show the ability to recognise the consequence of their actions or those unable to make Myndig decisions. Leading to a society which expects people to give motive for their actions.

Myndig and liberty

A person in this sense is entitled to liberty because they are Myndig and it is society in large which holds the responsibility to raise children to be Myndig individuals. If a person would interfere with their child’s growth process like for example overprotect their child so that they do not become an independent Myndig person, they will be shunned by society. It is seen as taking a way the child right to freedom, because a person isn’t really free if they cannot understand what the effect of their actions are. A non-myndig person is in this sense a “slave” to their surroundings. This is why alcohol is heavily regulated in Sweden, something supported even by a lot of libertarian leaning people. Because under the effect of alcohol a person in not Myndig and their-by also not free.

To force a person to consume drugs or put a person into a situation of addiction is by this way of thinking a criminal removal of the individual’s right to freedom. This also applies to all other forms of forcing a person into a state of being non-myndig. There is an old Swedish saying that goes “do your duty, demand your right.” To remove one’s ability to do one’s duty, you also remove the respect and rights that comes from doing your duty. Liberty here is seen as a higher goal. It’s seen as a right rewarded for those who can act myndig. Therefore you should help a person to become Myndig so they can fend for themselves and be free.

You may draw the conclusion from this that one may never be allowed to drink alcohol, this is however not the case. Because people are expected to act in a myndig fashion you are free to consume alcohol within the level you can handle. You cannot be drunk in public or drink in public as you have to be or strive to be Myndig when you interact with other people. It is not uncommon for people that have drank too much to be put in drunk cells in Sweden.

However, a kid can be alone in public even if they are not Myndig yet, since freedom is needed to learn the lessons of life that make you Myndig. There-by a person with potential to reach a Myndig state of mind must be given the freedom necessary to reach a full state of Myndig. Society as a hole holds the responsibility to guide to a Myndig state of mind.

The difference between a person drinking to much and a child striving to become a myndig adult is that the drunk has misused their trust. They have gone beyond the level of alcohol consumption they can handle. They should have known better, and therefor society can punish them for it. A child however, hasn’t reached the state of being myndig yet, and can their-by not expected to be as myndig as an adult, however society still gives children much freedom, so they can learn from their own failures.

Myndig and the Corona crisis

Durring the crisis the Swedish government has treated its population like a Myndig population. That is a population able to understand the consequences of their own action and able to weigh pros and cons with acting in certain ways. We’ve seen a lot of civic courage in Swedish society and people have in large done their fair share to help stop the crisis, whiles at the same time keeping society rolling.

The outlook for how to best act in this situation has depended a lot on where in the country you are. In bigger cities like Stockholm people need to act differently from minor cities like Simrishamn. The government has strived to give current and scientifically based recommendations and information so that the population itself can self regulate its behaviour to what is needed in their region.

Sweden has gone more socialist than usual durring the crisis (which is expected, as crisis normally require coordination). But at the same time it has remained and in many ways even moved further towards libertarian ideals. Because everyone expects everyone else to act myndig, social coercion keeps society going quite stable.

To conclude

To be myndig is probably the most basic part of Swedish culture. Because we have this inherent expectation of the people around us, we foster a mutual trust which can be used to govern the country in a fairly libertarian fashion even if in situations where great coordination and socialist interventions are needed.

Categories
Philosophy

Defining: Philosophy, Art and Science

When starting university I realised that definitions of philosophy, art and science where not as obvious as I first had thought. In many cases people use these words more for a marketing coolness than a meaning driven purpose. My goal was to try to connect the words to each other, in a meaningful way.

Philosophy

The human thought in itself. Organised in doctrines and ideologies.

The idea that gravity exists is an example of philosophy. It belongs to the philosophy of physics. The idea that humans can fly if we just flap our arms enough is also a philosophical idea. But in contrast to the idea of gravity, it is not as credible. How come? We will discuss this further down in the section on science.

The philosophers goal is to describe a certain idea in a meaningful manner. It is however not the art of conveying meaning in itself. To learn about how to convey philosophical thought to a listener you should turn to the art of rhetorics (not to be confused with sophistry).

Dogma

To achieve this goal the philosopher must chose a set of dogma to ground their arguments in. A dogm is a foundational presumption which the rest of the argument is built upon. The dogm is special because it is the only part of the argument without a need of motivation. The dogm gets this exemption because if the philosopher was forced to motivate all their dogmas in every text, they could continue in finitum.

Rationalism

Depending on which dogma you chose the following text will have to conform to different rules. Most philosophical argumentation is to some level connected to the rationalist school of thought. Which means that it has to keep to its own internal logic. However this does not mean it is correct. There are plenty of philosophies without ground in reality that manages to uphold an internal logic. If you’ve read a fantasy book like Harry Potter, you have provably noticed this, as it may be logical for Harry Potter to fly on a broom, even though it’s not grounded in reality.

For more about rationalism: rational vs. reason

Art

How to implement things into the real world and reach real goals. For example the art of engendering or the art of war.

Art is to some level the most fundamental of the three different academic disciplines. The basic idea of art is not to elaborate on why or how, but rather to teach the practicals of a subject. The obvious arts are music, theatre and painting, but it is also an art to tie once shoes or to do your book-keeping.

Many of the practises of art we’ve built up through out the ages can according to our definitions be described as philosophies, and we can prove the usefulness of different artistic schools through science. Probably the area of art where this has gone the furthest is within the art of engendering, which heavily relies on the philosophy of physics, based in the result of scientific testing.

It is not improbable that the pursuit of philosophy was born out of the creation of artistic schools, just as science was born out of or accumulating knowledge of philosophy and art.

Science

The conduct of comparing the results of art to the philosophy that guided their action. In other words things like empirical testing of hypothesis.

Science has sprung form art and philosophy. In a way, conducting science is an art. Doing measurements and analysing is a big part of science. However the reason why we can trust science lay in the philosophy of science, which ironically cannot be proven to be true.

What a scientist tries to do is to test if a philosophical idea hold true. Therefore the scientist creates a hypothesis. For a hypothesis to be valid, it must be testable. You cannot for example test the idea that god exists or not with any current measures. First you would need a philosophical framework which makes claims about how god can be found or would react. Then you could test those claims. However even then you would not be sure about the existence of god.

Positivism

Most science conducted is based in the positivistic school of philosophy. The idea behind the positivistic school is that humans are flawed in our perception of the world, we believe things not because we have good grounds for it, but because of other reasons. Further more it is very easy to get stuck in a curtain way of looking at the world. If we believe gravity to not exist, then we will find proof of that belief and ignore the evidence against our belief.

Instead of trying to prove that a hypothesis is right, positivism tries to show that all other possibilities are more imposable. Therefore positivism lacks absoluts in its positive description of the world, but rather works with what is probable. This in aggregate partly solves the problem of us wanting to prove ourself right.

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

Sherlock Holmes, A.C. Doyle

Positivism tries to bridge the gap between rationalism and empiricism. Where compared to empiricism it allows us to elaborate on possible reasons for why something happens, it gives up some assurance about what we can measure.

Empiricism

Another popular school of philosophy within science is empiricism, which claims that we can only know what we can observe, but we cannot understand it. Within the empirical framework we could make a claim about which direction the hammer is falling, but we could not deduct why, since as Hume put it:

You cannot derive an ought from an is.

David Hume

Meaning not only that in empiricism we cannot deal with matters of ethics, but also that we cannot deal with matters of how we ought to think the world is. We can according to empiricism know that it is 10 degrees celsius, but not what it means. Or in simpler terms, if you cannot measure it, you cannot know it, and you cannot measure why.

To conclude

The philosopher comes up with an idea. The artist implements the idea in reality. The scientist tests how well the idea transfers to reality, which leads to knew philosophical explanations, and the circle continues.

Sadly many people commit to strongly to their own part of the trinity, not seeing the importance of the others. Scientists looking down on philosophers thought experiments and looking down on artists expressions. Philosophers looking down on scientists self-importance and artists never-ending will to build without researching. Artists looking down on scientists overcomplicated testing and philosophers lengthy books.

If we want to have a comprehensive understanding of a subject, we need to explore the art of doing, the science of proving and the philosophical schools to guide us. It is today true that no single person may understand the intricacies of their subject, however it is the proof of mastery to be able to handle all three parts with grace.

Categories
Projects

Common Swedish Meeting Procedures

I’ve attended a couple of annual meetings and wanted to pin down some common meeting procedures. Mainly because I’ve been looking for this kind of documentation myself and have not found any good drafts to start off with. I thought that I might as well share it here.

Scroll down for PDF versions.


Online version (current version)

Common Swedish Meeting Procedures

By Eric Gustafsson | FP: 20191004 | Rev: 20191101 | CC by-sa 4.0

§1 Procedures for Decision Making

§1.0.1 Voting rights

For eligibility to vote please refer to the by-laws. This document will refer to every person with voting rights as a delegate.

§1.0.2 Simple majority

Simple majority is used for decision making as long as the by-laws does not say otherwise. This means that the option with the highest number of votes wins.

§1.0.3 Voting method order for all questions besides election of people

  1. Open acclamation
  2. Open vote count
  3. Ballot voting

§1.0.4 Counter-propping

When voting for a proposal, motion or other decision where the board has uttered an opinion, the boards proposal should first be counter-propped first. The only exception being if it’s an election of a person.

§1.0.5 Claims

To leave a claim one must write it down on a piece of paper. For it to be eligible it must mention who wrote it (number or letter on voting slip) and what question on the agenda it regards.

§1.1 Voting methods

§1.1.1 Open acclamation

The standard method of voting for all questions besides the election of a person is open acclamation. This means that the delegates raise their voting slip and says yes for the option they support.

§1.1.2 Open vote count

All delegates hold up their voting slips and the vote counters count the result.

§1.1.3 Ballot vote

The standard method of voting for all elections of persons. Ballots are handed out to all delegates and they write their vote on the ballot. The ballots are then collected folded over, in a bowl, by the vote counters. The vote counters count the votes and makes sure that the number of votes corresponds to the number of present delegates.

§1.2 Election of a Person

§1.2.1 Voting method for personal elections

Voting in elections of persons should always be done by ballot vote.

§1.2.2 Procedures for election of person

  1. All candidates nominated for the position currently discussed should exit the room.
  2. The candidates will enter the room one at a time, and hold a 5 minute presentation about themselves.
  3. After every presentation the nomination committee shall ask a selection of two questions from the interview to the candidate. The same two questions have to be asked to all candidates.
  4. After the nomination committee has asked their questions the audience can ask general and personal questions to the candidate.
  5. After all candidates present (or on link) have presented themselves it is time for debates. For rules, please read debate conduct.

§1.2.3 Definitions:

  • General questions: a question applicable to all candidates running. All general questions must be asked to all candidates running for that position.
  • Personal question: a question only applicable to that one candidate. This question does not have to be asked to any other candidate.

§1.2.4 Debate conduct

One is not allowed to speak against any one candidate, only for another candidate. In case a person holds information that demonstrates the direct eligibility of a candidate or that a candidate is a threat to the organisation this information should be relayed first to the meeting presidium which will call a paus of the meeting and assemble the nomination committee.

§2 Interactions with the meeting

§2.0.1 Matter of fact questions

Matter of fact question is a question with the purpose of dubbel check a factual statement durring the meeting.

§2.0.2 Procedural questions

A procedural question is directed to the presidium including operational controllers and shall refer to meeting procedures.

§2.0.3 Speak or debate

To speak out on a question one raises ones voting slip.

§3 Eligibility of decisions

§3.1 Motions and propositions

In accordance with organisational praxis the meeting shall not take decisions on behalf of other organisations. If a motion or proposition is improperly written the motioner should be given the option to reformulate the motion so it is properly written.


PDF Versions

Current: https://a.gustaf.xyz/191101CSMP

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Categories
Kultur med Eric och Axel

#2: Musikfilmer

Sammanfattning

I denna efterlängtade uppföljare så får vi följa med på Eric och Axels spännande äventyr till biografen. Vad har de sätt denna gången? Jo, Endgame och Detective Pikatchu! Det bjuds även på goa diskussioner om musikfilmer, vad mer kan man önska?

Shownotes

Categories
Philosophy

Reason and rationality: Thoughts about Humanism

Humanism is often falsely portrayed as unreasonably rationalistic. This critique is to some level justified as it is easy to forget to act reasonably towards a situation. In his article I will explore reason and rationality further.

Three humanist ideals:
Reason, responsibility and consideration.

Humanists Sweden

What is rational?

Something is rational when it abides to an internal logic, and any one part is deductible or predetermined from its other parts.

Ideology

The simplest and most coherent form of rational thinking is the ideology. Where Ideo- means idea and -logy means subject matter or teaching. An ideology is characterized as a rational teaching, often with a political or economical goal, without openings for new nuance. Meaning that the teaching is in some way set and focuses on its own characteristics. Most interpretations of ideology’s change over time and follow the popular thought of the time. However it more or less stays consistent with the basic goal and beliefs of the ideology.

Doctrine

There are also rational doctrines, an internal logical coherent systems which build on the aggregated pursuit of knowledge. These are more complex and because of their greater size and lack of inherent goal, often contain logical fallacies or parts which do not fully match each other. This however does not have to constrain the doctrine. Because doctrine becomes too broad to interpret in a singular manner, ideology often arises to explain which parts of the doctrine is most important for example evangelism.

Rational systems do not have to be easily defined into an ideology or doctrine. However this way of organising thought lends itself well for rational systems since they strive for internal order.

What is reasonable?

Reason is the ability to weigh knowledge and experience against doctrine and ideology. A reasonable action is that which takes ground in your life experience and understanding of the world, but which is colored by the doctrine and ideology of your preference, in such a manner that you do not inherently hinder others pursuit of daily life and carries respect and understanding for the actions of others. There should also be a certain element of Metta (loving-kindness) to the respect given.

Metta (loving-kindness)

Metta is a practise in which you wish good fortune to the other person. To act with Metta means not only to act with good intent, but also too really wish it.

Metta can be a practised reaction. Strive to wish people you meet, no matter who or how they treat you, happiness and that they avoid suffering.

To conclude

Reason is different from rationality. Reasonable action is often not rational and rational action is often not reasonable. There is a pragmatism of life to true reasonable action which there just is not in rational action.

A humanist believes in the fallacy of human action and understanding. There are for example things that are not true, but are useful and can therefore be reasonable grounds for thinking and acting without being actually true. In a simply rationalist framework, handling such concepts is hard.

For example the idea that the world is alive is not very connected to the truth, but because of how humans think it can be a reasonable way of thinking of the world. The idea of an eternal judge could also be conceived as reasonable if it helps a person better adhere to their ethics, not because it is true, but because it influences the way we act.

Human thought may never be complete and the art of thinking always be bettered. How to think rationally is important for understanding our world, but to act reasonably is just as important.

Categories
Projects

Kultur med Eric och Axel: We’re launching a new podcast!

 Photo: E. Gustafsson, 2017
Photo: E. Gustafsson, 2017

A new culture podcast in Swedish!

Me and a friend, Axel, is lunching a new podcast in Swedish. It is about one of our favorite things, culture! Why lunch a podcast you say? It’s easy, we missed a talky and chill culture podcast, so we made one.

Check out the podcast here!

Currently the podcast is just in its early days and we are slowly but surely moving towards a more stable format. Though we will probably keep the fika-feeling. We hope you enjoy it! If you have any questions, feedback or other ideas for the podscast, please don’t be shy! Inform us, in form below 😛

With regards!

Eric Gustafsson

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Categories
Kultur med Eric och Axel

#1: Pilot — Trailers och Storyline

Sammanfattning

Testning testar, i detta pilotavsnitt så introduceras vi till Eric och Axels kulturpodd! Det diskuteras om den nya Star Wars-filmen, vad som utgör en bra trailer, Eric bringar kontrovers genom att anklaga alla Avengersfilmer för att vara likadana och mycket mer!

Shownotes