Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. Everything has been figured out, except how to live. One always dies too soon or too late. And yet, life is there, finished. The line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life. There is only one day left, always starting over. It is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk. We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are, that is the fact. When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell a story: the plausible disappears at the same time as the friends. You let events flow by too.Suddenly you see people appear who speak and then go away; you plunge into stories of which you can't make head or tail. You'd make a terrible witness. It is true that people who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends. Luckily, I only have a few...

Dr Shaw is a lecturer in Further Education at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. She also offers philosophy courses at the School of Continuing Education, Lifelong learning, at the University of Liverpool. In 2015, she has completed her Doctorate in philosophy with a focus on existentialism, the equilibrium doctrine and narrative. She has worked as a teacher of English and Comparative literature and Philosophy at The American University in Cairo, Egypt where she also obtained her BA (Hons). Dr Shaw has an MA in Philosophy and Literature from the University of East Anglia where she also taught on a number of humanities subjects. Whilst working in North Wales in Further education, she gained a PGCE aimed at teaching in FE and HE sectors. Dr Shaw moved to Liverpool in 2010 where she now resides.

Interests: Existentialism, Narrative, Comparative Literature, Feminist Thought, Public Speaking, Arab Existentialism, Philosophy of Education, Art, Music, Film and Theatre, Greek Mythology, Existential counsellor and psychotherapist.


Monday, 4 July 2011

Revolution Aftermath: Why the Egyptians are still waiting.

Host: Bassem Youssef- Show, Episode 7 - (باسم يوسف شو الحلقة ٧ (مش هتشمت فينا يا ريس
One of the most interesting clips I have just seen on Facebook is this clip. Bassem Youssef, according to my younger sister who resides in Cairo, is a respectful surgeon with a sense of humour. (Made me think of Harry Hill here in UK)

Mr Youssef analysis of the aftermath of the revolution reveals how the Egyptian society is split between various voices, opinions and political groups. The confusion is so much that you cannot stop two people in the street to ask them the same question and have a totally different answer. This clip actually made me laugh- but I wasn't sure why I was laughing as it is something that I take no pride of- but in fact a disaster...My mum always said to me whilst working as a teacher for a while- if you want to confuse people, give them choices. Since then, I'd never give students too many options otherwise there will be no work done. That is exactly what is happening and is still ongoing. Apparently elections are taking place in September 2011, I predict that the results will be shocking and the people of Egypt will not be able to avoid creating another Pharaoh who thinks he owns the people and is God on earth. We give those who rule us so much power to the extent of putting our own lives in their hands and then we complain. I have always thought that a Parliament of all the best men in Egypt will at least ensure that all voices are heard and that no one gets away with doing what he/she likes due to limitless power. But Egyptians wouldn't allow a parliament- let along sharing opinions (only God knows why we are like that).

Mr Youssef makes fun of all the groups and sides that are trying to confuse people more than actually help. Using religion to sway people is for sure one old trick that is evident throughout our history. One would have thought that we would have learnt from the past mistakes, but no we still fall in it blindly.

I can only wish that some sense comes out of the crazy situation we are in. Al my friends living in Egypt who I have spoken to- who are in the age range of 21 till 30 years old see no hope in Cairo anymore and are totally fed up of being messed about. In fact if all the immigration rules relaxed this minute, Egyptian youth will be the first out. Those who say what a shame and the excellent youth who are in prominent positions now abroad should come back to the country are all people who lived in Cairo at a time where people actually cared and loved each other. These days changed and are not coming back. Today, everyone cares only for himself and would do anything to have money and an important position. Those who ask the youth to go back to Egypt should actually take a closer look home and make a list of all the things they hate and the things they love, I guarantee that the outcome will show that there is nothing to stay for (apart from family and loved ones). If I could move all my family to UK today, I would and probably will not go back again to Cairo. This is the harsh truth that everyone is sentimental about and trying to tell him/herself otherwise. 

Bassem Youssef's final message in his clip is for Egyptians to remember the power they had during the revolution and take more action to guarantee that things are going to be better for all in Egypt. He hence suggested that people put this image as their profile picture on their facebook profile to show their support of his campaign.

Well I am flying back to Cairo on Thursday 6 am and will be there by 2 pm and my excitement is not because of the country, the heat and unavoidable pollution, but it is to see the family and be with them- regardless of the place. Egypt has changed from when I was 7 years old and I cannot say that I do like this change. I am proud of the revolution but I was hoping it would have happened ages before. I still remember being in high school and wishing for a revolution back then when I saw the poor getting poorer and the rich richer and more thieves emerging as business men, praised and honoured! 

Someone once asked me in UK why all Lebanese singers go to Egypt and other singers from Arab countries who never made it in their own country come to Egypt and make it big time, I grinned and said- it is because we cannot even agree that the singer is crap! We are a nation of habit so make us listen to the crap song over and over, and it will be our no 1 favourite and make it to top charts. 
The funny thing is we always wonder why others' want to take advantage of us and find us easy targets...our denial is limitless and we love the drama rather than taking more action. The revolution was only one day, but what about every day since?!

Read more on this links: 

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Perceiving Other's Minds_Friday 1st July Conference

A conference organised by Manchester University at Arthur Lewis building by Dr.Joel Smith.

The question asked and discussed in this conference is how do we have knowledge of Other's minds and mental features. The simple answer is through perception. Perception secures us some- if not all- knowledge as we use seeing and hearing to come to know they have minds and what is on their minds accordingly. Some say that perception could only give us information about other bodies and bodily  behaviour, i.e. frown, grin, smile or a look of terror. This could be used to show that, through these observations, we could come to know of other's mental features and what goes on in the mind.

Papers given in the conference suggest that there is a "more recent proposal which states that the transformation of this bodily information might come by way of a mental simulation or empathic connection. However an alternative is that information about other's minds and mental lives can itself form part of our basic evidence; that we might perceieve other's minds or some of their mental features."

One of the papers that interested me the most is by Will McNeil, University of York, who presented the following on his handout which sums up what he had basically on the power-point presentation.

Perceptual Hypothesis: [PH] It is sometimes possible to see other's mental features
Perceptual Hypothesis*: [PH*] it is sometimes possible to see- non inferentially or directly- other's mental features.

Question is....Do we say "I saw his anger or I saw his anger in his face?"
and How is embodiemnet suppose to help ?

Embodiment hypothesis:
[EH] Some mental features are (just) partly constituted by outward bodily features
[EP] Embodiment Perceptualist: PH* is plausible, but only when the mental feature is embodied.

Strategy: understand the first disjunct of the dilemma in such a way that does not entail behaviourism.

Opaque Seeing
[R1] by identifying some particular kinf of facial expression, you come to identify O's disgust
[R2] you identify O's facial expression as being one of disgust; you identify O's disgust 'in' their facial expression.

Transparent seeing: 3 things to transparent seeing DOESN'T automatically deliver:
1) Seeing O by seeing part of O
2) Seeing any particular feature of O
3) Seeing any particular feature of O by seeing some particular part of O

Image Source: http://prof.irfanessa.com/1994/08/30/dspace-at-mit-analysis-interpretation-and-synthesis-of-facial-expressions/
[C1] The EP needs some explaination of why seeing mental features is like seeing icebergs, rather than seeing woods.
[C2] The relationship between a feature and its parts seems more like that between the wood and a component tree than an iceberg and its tip.
[C3] We should not model the seeing of features on the seeing of objects.

Other Minds: How Humans Bridge the Divide between Self and Others