Digital citizen

My question on citizenship. Is a human = a citizen?

Is een mens een burger en niet meer dan een burger?

Stephen Downes: My citizenship begins with, and is defined only by, my actions.

Question: is the city only a group of humans called citizens or is a citizen defined as a subject, a person under the power of the city? Or is a citizen a free person.
Is citizenship a democratic phenomenon? In history it was, but in the words I feel a kind of collectivism. Maybe my feeling is not right?

Vraag, is een stad een groep mensen die burger genoemd worden, of is een burger een onderdaan? Of een vrije persoon?
Is digitaal burgerschap een demokratisch fenomeen? Vroeger was een burger van een stad een vrije. Maar in digital citizen of burger proef ik iets kollektiefs, minder vrij.

I don’t understand why they are using the term “citizen” at all – it’s really not clear to me that my relationship with the various places online that I visit or inhabit is that of a citizen at all., Nomadwarmachine.


Wy stay, why not go and live in a better place?


My question is this. In the 19th century some of my mothers family went to America. They lived here in a poor and remote corner of our country. They escaped to a new country.

How come so many people do not leave the rust belt, the dying city? Why not escape from a poor and backward place?  USA has a history of immigration and going West…

Some more questions:

Do people know when they are going down the hill? You need to be aware of a threat before you even think of an escape.

Do poor circumstances and a bad  economic or political situation make people active or passive? Do some people believe in a nearb better future? Do they wait for someone to save them from poverty?

Do people know of or are aware of possibilities elsewhere?

What are costs of moving versus costs of staying? Money, emotional cost, etc.
(You will need to sell your house and nobody will buy, no money for transport and living)

Do people believe they have a change to improve, at home or elsewhere, their situation?

Look into literature about why did not the Jews escape from Germany? why do other people not escape their fate?

Are people afraid to change, afraid to live in other parts of the world, afraid to leave their family, friends, neighbors? Afraid of the unknown?





Moral relativism Steven Lukes

In Moral Relativism of Steven Lukes, he writes about the right description of the meaning of words as important. He gives examples ( p. 74 ) of acts which are different.  In A Daoist theory of Chinese thought Chad Hansen writes about the importance of the right ming (names) in moral conversation.


image:  Door Wouter Engler – Eigen werk, CC BY-SA 4.0,

A blackface in USA is regarded as  morally wrong.  In the Netherlands the ‘Zwarte Piet’ with a black face by some people  is regarded as wrong. Discussion is about if both black faces are the same phenomenon and thus both wrong, or if they are very different
Is this morally sensitive en emotional discussion an example of moral relativism or moral universalism?
Or do the different opinions about this black face … point to the distinction between a shared moral principle and divergent factual believes. (Lukes p. 80)?
(we share a moral principle on racism but our views on facts about both phenomena are different)

If we want to change an habit on moral grounds, is naming and shaming the right and effective way to change that habit? Naming and shaming causes strong counter reactions, and very often no cooperation or change of habits at all. (Except maybe between parents and children, superiors and underlings )

Is the word (noun) culture a useful category? Inside a culture differences are as great as outside cultures, personal and family cultures differ from the group cultures and the national cultures they ‘belong’ to. The name ‘Muslim culture’ is clear and useful as long as we do not look into the culture. I know too much different Muslims, that makes it  really impossible to see a common Muslim culture in all these very different people.

Culture is a category with the Platonic disease, we do believe something as a culture exists because the name ‘culture’ exists.


Stillness and self



The theory of narrative identity postulates that individuals form an identity by integrating their life experiences into an internalized, evolving story of the self, which provides the individual with a sense of unity and purpose in life.(McAdams, D (2001). “The psychology of life stories”. Review of General Psychology 5 (2): 100–122. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.5.2.100.).


Thinking about the concept of “self” could make one very confused. Because who is thinking about this self? When I am thinking about my self, who is thinking?

Be aware of the metaphysical concept of the self. It does not exist in the physical world. The self is a concept, it is part of a story about humans.

Self as context is another way to talk about self. It is not about identity, but about observation and experiencing.



and the shift to this perspective of experiental self needs attention.

Thinking and Language as social and connected events

babyThinking is a social event: No thinking without words, no words without language, no language without humans around us. This is a very short answer to my reading of Putnam. He uses the Brains in a Vat story to defend his statements about meaning outside the head. Putnam and others try to find the connection of words and meaning of the words. Is meaning in your head or outside?
The short answer of Putnam, Meaning is experimental and outside), it is not in your head.
I want to argue that meaning has a strong social aspect. Listen to and watch young children, they learn by asking “Why??” they want to see and hear and use things to learn. Children want to see what is inside things to get to know them.
Think of the way little children learn words and meaning. They experience the world and try to add words to their experiences. They do need time and practical experiences for learning to use the right words.
Their thinking grows with the acquisition of language and experience in a social context.

Now Reading Laurence Thomas

Self-Deception as the Handmaiden of Evil. There is no human capacity that contributes more to evil in this world than the capacity for self-deception, which is the wherewithal to hold as true that which one knows as (s=t?) some very significant level simply cannot be true.

LT is critical on Kant, about Kants “You shall never tell a lie” Kant was wrong, sometimes telling the truth is even a crime.
When in WOII German soldiers asked my grandmother if my future father was in the house she lied. If she had not lied, my father and other people would been killed for sure. And my grandmother would have been also in part guilty on their deaths (Kant would say she was not).

Fact ? Feiten ?

waarheidIn Amsterdam had Descartes een relatie met een dienstmeisje, Helana Jana van der Strom. Ze hadden een dochter, Francine die in 1635 in Deventer is geboren. Descartes doceerde toen aan de universiteit van Utrecht. Toen Francine stierf huilde Descartes om haar, hij schaamde zich niet voor zijn emoties. “Echte mannen huilen wel” was zijn mening.
Dit sterfgeval maakte dat Descartes ging zoeken naar de grote antwoorden, in plaats van de medische wetenschap. (Russell Shorto, Descartes’ Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason ISBN 978-0-385-51753-9 (New York, Random House, October 14th, 2008)
Aan het begin van zijn filosofie staat de twijfel aan alles. Alleen zijn eigen bestaan erkent hij als onmiddellijk gegeven. Hij vergeet dan de emoties en de liefde van Francine en Helena Jans. Je moet de eenvoudige duidelijk feitelijkheden uit je eigen leven niet als twijfelachtig tussen haakjes zetten.

Descartes, in Amsterdam had a relationship with a servant girl, Helena Jans van der Strom, with whom he had a daughter, Francine, who was born in 1635 in Deventer, at which time Descartes taught at the Utrecht University. Unlike many moralists of the time, Descartes was not devoid of passions but rather defended them; he wept upon her death in 1640.[22] “Descartes said that he did not believe that one must refrain from tears to prove oneself a man.” Russell Shorto postulated that the experience of fatherhood and losing a child formed a turning point in Descartes’ work, changing its focus from medicine to a quest for universal answers.(Russell Shorto, Descartes’ Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason ISBN 978-0-385-51753-9 (New York, Random House, October 14th, 2008)
This Descartes said the only reliable truth, the only fact he could be sure of was his existence. From there he went on to develop his philosophy. He was so wrong, because he forget the facts about his Helena Jans and his daughter. A man should not forget the simple facts of life.
Maar wat is een feit dan? Een eenvoudige waarheid is dat ik nu een stukje aan het schrijven ben. Die feiten zijn niet zo ingewikkeld, je kunt het gewoon waarnemen. Maar dat het gezond is om water te drinken, is dat ook een feit? Het zijn deze meer ingewikkelde feiten waarover we het hier hebben.

What is a fact? Is it some simple fact like: I am writing a post now. This kind of facts are easy, it is a fact you can see happening.
But what about the fact that water is a healthy drink? Is that always true for everybody? These facts are at stake here.
Spinoza begon zijn filosofie niet met twijfelen. Hij sprong omzichtig om met feiten en meningen, maar hij nam die simpele feiten in tegenstelling tot Descartes voor waar.
Spinoza did not build his philosophy on this skepticism. Spinoza was careful about facts and opinions, but he never questioned the existence of truth and simple facts as thoroughly as Descartes.
Tegenwoordig zijn nogal wat filosofen nogal in de war als het over de waarheid en de feiten gaat. (J-F. Lyotard, La condition postmoderne)

In modern philosophy some are very skeptic about the truth and about facts. (J-F. Lyotard, La condition postmoderne)

Volgens mij is het verstandig om de meeste feiten als feit te accepteren. Het leven zou onleefbaar zijn als we bleven twijfelen.
Het is iets anders als we wetenschappelijke feiten moeten accepteren of verwerpen. We zouden daarbij ook onderscheid moeten maken tussen gewone simpele feiten en de meer ingewikkelde uitspraken)

In my view it is wise to accept most facts as fact because life would be unbearable without this believe in the truth of facts. But how about accepting scientific findings as true facts? (We should make a difference, a fact is not always a simple fact)

En over deze wetenschappelijke feiten wil ik verder nadenken. Het bestaan van mijn vrienden en familie betwijfel ik niet, en ik weet dat hun liefde echt is. Maar als een wetenschapper met feiten en algemeenheden komt dat is er iets anders aan de hand.
Wetenschap is moeilijk. Sommige wetenschappelijke uitspraken zijn zo ongelofelijk, er is meer nodig om die te geloven. Bij dit soort feiten mogen we best sceptisch zijn.

And it is only this question of truth of facts in science that I want to think about. I do not want to question the existence of my friends and family, I do believe their love is true. But when a scientist tells us about some scientific facts and generalizations then something special is at stake.
We know science is difficult. We know some facts in science are unbelievable. Here we want more warrants of truth. We want to be skeptical, or critical.
En hierbij komen allerlei vragen op, want sommige uitspraken over feiten zijn waar, maar we kunnen geen garantie geven voor die waarheid. Als X vertelt dat er leven is op planeten in het heelal en Y vertelt dat de aarde de enige planeet met leven is, dan spreekt een van beiden de waarheid. Maar we kunnen (nog) niet weten welke van de twee de waarheid spreekt. (David Miller, Out of Error)

And right here are some questions.
Because some facts are true, but we cannot be ultimately sure of their truth. If dr. X tells us that on some planets in the universe is life and dr. Y tells earth is the only planet with life than one of them is telling the truth. But we do not know (now) who is right. (David Miller, Out of Error)
In de wetenschap moeten we sceptici zijn. Sceptisch over de uitspraken, niet over het bestaan van de waarheid. Wetenschappers proberen de waarheid te vinden. Maar het is logisch onmogelijk om het uiteindelijke bewijs te leveren voor wetenschappelijke uitspraken. (dat zijn vrijwel altijd meer ingewikkelde feiten, algemene uitspraken)
In science we should be skeptics. Skeptic about facts, not about truth. Scientists try hard to find the truth. But it is logically impossible to proof the ultimate truth of scientific facts. Being complicates facts and ‘laws’. (Popper, falsificationism)

Next post about fact or opinion.

Diskworld and facts , truth and knowledge

diskworld Diskworld as anybody knows does rest on three elephants who are standing on a huge turtle. You should read the books of Pratchett to learn more about this.
Diskworld staat op drie olifanten die op een reusachtige schildpad staan. Lees er de boeken van Pratchett maar op na.

diskworld 1
Every child knows our world is standing on a little table.
Zelfs een kind weet dat onze wereld op een tafeltje staat.

Everybody knows that our knowledge is based on facts? Or, that is what we like to think. But these facts where are they standing? On a little table, or on a turtle? Thinking about the grounds of our knowledge is rather confusing.
Iedereen weet dat onze kennis gebaseerd is op feiten? Tenminste dat denken we graag. Maar waar staan die feiten dan op? Op een tafeltje of op een schildpad? Denken over de grond van onze kennis is tamelijk verwarrend.

What about truth? When facts are not standing on a solid bottom, how to guarantee the truth of our knowledge? Different asnwers on this question. In a next post more about this.
Wat bijvoorbeeld betekent dat voor de waarheid? Als de feiten niet op een solide grond staan, hoe kunnen we dat de waarheid van onze kennis garanderen? Meer over deze vraag in een volgende post.

Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered

politicalSysOnline text of the book of E.F.Schumacher

Schumacher on evil (he uses irony) ” That things are not going as well as they ought to be going must be due to human wickedness. We must therefore construct a political system so perfect that human wickedness disappears and everybody behaves well, no matter how much wickedness there may be in him or her. ”

This perfect political system is not a democratic system. It will be an autocratic political system because it will regard oppositional voices as wicked voices. With that autocracy the Law of Acton applies  “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”(Letter of John Dalberg-Acton to Bishop Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1887 published in Historical Essays and Studies, edited by J. N. Figgis and R. V. Laurence (London: Macmillan, 1907)

The perfect political system will become an evil system because of corruption, abuse of power, and because perfection is impossible in political systems. (and elsewhere).

One of the sources of failure of the perfect political system will be the planning failure: Planning is the continuation of chaos by other means (variation on Carl von Clausewitz ). That is why big planning causes big troubles. Planning does involve predicting the future and that is very difficult.

But the people inside the perfect system will be convinced that the errors in planning and in abuse of power are caused by evil people who must be corrected by the system.

Without critical comment and struggle against the agents of power, every system will grow towards a monstrosity.

An other search engine? Why

Letter to a new student in #rhizo15 or the next course

Confucius_Tang_Dynasty不要緊,你怎麼去慢慢地,只要你不停止。 (It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.Confucius)


Remember, the only student at Unseen University anybody remembers and likes is Rincewind. And you know what? He failed his exams. Rincewind is a wizard with no skill, no wizardly qualifications.

What do you think of that?


Dear student,

Now is the big moment.
As a new open learning or Mooc student you will need these:

Gumption & perseverance

Because the start will be disappointing and the fellow students will not seem very helpful (you need to know and consider they are also new to the course). You need passion and commitment. Remember in dark and depressing moments why the course is funny and why you want to learn. Write a blogpost about your passion and commitment and gumption and perseverance to remember in hard times.

Surprise us with your skills and knowledge, your jokes and music and poems.
Knowledge and skills of social media. The internet is loaded with courses and help pages about almost anything. You could help fellow students improve their skills.
Know the facts. write down the course URLs and hashtags, know the places and times. Put the facts in a blogpost to remember them.
Asking Questions. Ask questions. If you do not ask questions you will fail.
Be your own master and teacher. Open learning is for grown-ups, for independent humans. If you are in doubt, start and try, this will be a new learning theme for you in this course. Write and publish something about that.
Connect to fellow students, retweet; use hashtags; answer tweets even from students you do not know. You know that a comment on your blog or an answer on twitter or facebook  is a pleasure and a reward, be generous with comments and answers. You are not alone and you do really need these fellow students. And do connect to people outside the course, make them join. Discuss the course with people around you.
Publish. Blog and reblog, write comment on blogs. Leave your web address on blogs. Publish your blogpost on twitter or facebook or any other platform. Because learning is connecting.