Nuance and Shades of Hue

Triangle, Background, Abstract, Mosaic


Real life is beyond mere clichés –

Full of subtle nuance and shades of hue:

A general – that a great battle won –

Then debated himself defeated –

For having lost a man or two


“I am happy to see you”

But is that smile – an expression true?

Is “What a lovely dinner,”

Costumed code for thoughts inner –

Known but to you


A “white lie” or deception grand –

Are these not the one and same thing?

“Being kind” – “Sparing pain”

Noble intents

No matter the consequences – they bring?


And if hatred is to be disdained –

For love – is the splendid ideal?

Those things that we oft “Love to hate?”

Should we love them or hate them?

What do these about us reveal?


Real life is beyond mere clichés –

Full of subtle nuance and shades of hue:

Is what may be right for me –

Be the correct action for you?

“Live and let live,” is it true?




Palenque, Table, Painting, Triplets, Costume


Well Heraclitus, it is funny that you should ask.

The “You” of which “You” speak is “Me.”

That “Me” may well be an older “Me,” a fatter “Me,” and hopefully a wiser “Me” than the “Me” I used to be.

But that “Me,” you see, is still the “Me” known by my family.

So it’s plain to see, that when it comes to “Me”, my “Me,” is an ever changing constancy.

I hope “You” will agree.




Fandango’s Provocative Question:

Is the concept of “you” continuous or does the past “you” continually fade into the present and future “you”? Considering that your body, your mind, and your memories are changing over time, what part of “you” sticks around?






copyright Padre’s Ramblings

What is an education?

Just the things that you should know?

Or is it more than that –

All the things that help you grow?

Knowledge and wisdom

Are the quite the same things

Knowledge is but the fact

Wisdom understands what it brings

What is an education?

What is it really for?

It’s not mere programming

It’s about makes us “more”




FOWC with Fandango — Education



I Never Knew

Detail of The School of Athens -Wikipedia

Sticking to the theme of philosophy, Devereaux Frazier and Beth Amanda from Go Dog Go Cafe challenged us to write a piece using the words, “I never knew.”   What a great prompt to get philosophical with!


I never knew –

Such depths to ponder –

I had no clue –

As my mind did wander


Is it all just shadows on the wall?

Did Plato make – any sense at all?

Are ethics just a thing we make?

A response to society’s past mistakes?


I never knew there was so much to take in –

I’m finding it hard to even begin –

Aristotle, Spinoza, Hobbs, and Hume –

Makes me want to hide in my room


But big questions I’ll find – even there –

Is time relative – or the same everywhere?

Does the image I see in the mirror –

Make my understanding of self any clearer?


I never knew

How hard it could be –

So I’ll just give up –

And watch TV




Tuesday Writing Prompt:  “I never knew” 






Home Philosophy Kit

The Thinker, Rodin, Rodin Museum


I was trying to come up with a suitable gift for a truly amazing young woman.  I first met this lady over a decade ago when she was a struggling single mum with little or no support system.  My wife, Dianne took her under her wing and the friendship followed.  Far from being a stereotype, this young lady has not only entered and graduated from university, but is presently enrolled in a postgraduate course in philosophy, and is considering a career in education.  If this is not impressive enough on its own, I need to add that she has suffered from a chronic illness since she was about fourteen.  I am always impressed by her positive attitude, and willingness to go the step beyond to make her life, and that of her daughter better.

As I said, I was trying to come up with a suitable Christmas present and the idea of a novelty “Home Philosophy Kit,” struck me.

I spent a little bit of time constructing it, but it includes a 3D model of The Thinker (“The Philosopher’s Stone”), a small set of balancing scales (“The Balance of Probability”), a double headed coin (“The Ethical Dilemma Coin”), an inflatable set of antlers set up as a ring toss  (“The Horns of a Dilemma”), and a disposable razor (“Occam’s Razor”).  The set was boxed up and the following instruction sheet attached:

Home Philosophy Kit

Say welcome to your new home philosophy kit.  Once it is completed you will have everything you need to become the most profound thinker on your street.  So let’s begin.


Your kit contains:

  • Philosopher’s Stone (some assembly required)


  • Ethical Determinate Coin


  • Set of Horns of a Dilemma


  • Balance of Probability (with easy to follow Mandarin instructions)




  • Occam’s Razor


Step one is to assembly your Philosopher’s Stone.  If you have difficulty, weigh the possible pieces on your Balance of Probability.  If still uncertain go for the best two out of three with your Horns of a Dilemma.  If it all becomes too much for you, you can consider applying Occam’s Razor, but before you do you must get two tails flip results on your Ethical Determinant Coin.   Once assembled, use the items in the kit to solve all of life’s big questions, like “What are we going to have for dinner?” and “Is reality over-rated?”

I was pleased that she appreciated the gift, and I hope it gives her a little bit of a diversion from her studies. As a side note, this lady is not only the inspiration for this kit, but inspired the character Maya in my Dunes Wars novels.




Woman, Haematoma, Fight, Black Eye, Pinch, Bruising

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

Fandango has posed the question: “Do you believe that honesty is always the best policy? Is there is ever a time or circumstance when dishonesty (lying) is justifiable? Please elaborate.”

This is another ethical question debated by my students.  Where does honesty eclipse compassion, and vice versa?

In the first instance is the issue of degree and risk.  If a friend you are shopping with asks you, “How do I look in this?” you have to consider your response.  You can be “brutally honest,” and say “You look awful.”  This creates a situation in which the feelings of the person can be hurt.  You can be more exact in your wording and say “It looks awful,” but the nuance might be missed and harm still done.  You can lie and say, “It’s good,” but this creates a situation where for the moment the person feels validated, only to risk ridicule by less tactful commentators later.  Again hurt results.  Tact and honesty,  however can still go hand in hand with the statement, “The last outfit (hat, make up, etc) was better.”  In each case the degree of harm is emotional, and seldom “life-changing.”

On the other hand there is the scenario of: You are sitting at a bus stop and a young woman comes staggering towards you.  She has a black eye just starting to form, her blouse is torn, and she is carrying one broken shoe, and the other is missing.  As she nears you, she holds one finger to her lips, and makes a shhh sound as she climbs behind a nearby hedge.  A few moments later a man, his knuckles bruising, approaches you and asks if you had seen a woman of her description.  You can lie and say “No, I haven’t.” This may be a noble action.  You can be truthful and say, “Yes,” this however, opens up the conversation and the follow-up question, “Which way did she go?”  Here you can lie and say “I don’t know,” or even give a false direction.  This compromises your own previous honesty.  Or you can say, “She is behind the bush.”  Here you are merely stating facts without regard to future consequences – a “morally neutral” stance – as you do not know what the future hold, only the past.

On the other hand, you could treat the initial question as to whether you have seen her in an honest, but closed ended way.  “I saw her, but I don’t know where she is now (a true statement since she is out of your sight).”  Even this has risks based on you assumptions rather than your true knowledge.  Is this man the cause of her injuries?  You do not know for certain.  Yes, the evidence suggests that her black eye and his bruised fist have a link.  You may then conclude that you are protecting her by any obfuscation you offer.  Consider the alternatives, however.  What if this questioner is not her attacker, but a rescuer?  Might this be her brother, who has just given her abusive boyfriend a thrashing?  Is your lie (well-intentioned as it might be) delaying her rescue or even medical treatment?

I have stated in the past that I lean to an absolutist view of morality, and shun relativism.  So for me, honesty remains the best policy.  But I must acknowledge that it does not come without its own risks.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #38

Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Image result for bribery

image: Mises Institute

Fandango wrote: For this week’s provocative question, I am asking about means and ends. I have often heard people say that “the end justifies the means.” Conversely, I’ve heard others say that “the means justifies the end.” So what about you?

One way to approach this is to phrase it in a slightly different light.  With my ethics students, we seldom stick with merely “do the ends justify the means.”  Instead we focus on intention versus consequences.  What are the intentions of your actions?  Are they ethical?  Do you seek to bring about a positive result, and if so can this be achieved by less that ethical actions?  Do such actions in turn corrupt the end?

I want to get an “A,” is my desired “end.”  I can study, and review, and practice until the topic is mastered; or I can make a “cheat sheet,” or devise a code with a more able student to feed me answers.  Both actions get the end result.  But what about the real life application of knowledge I don’t actually have.  Might I lose a job because I am not up to it, etc..  Or consider bribery to meet a political or corporate end, is it in the public interest or only your own?

But even positive intentions are problematic.  The blind man and the manhole scenario is one of these.  You see a person with a white and red stick crossing the road.  The stick indicates both hearing and sight problems.  You with your 20/20 vision note an open manhole cover.  You shout a warning that is unheard.  You therefore intervene, and pull the person away from the impending fall.  As a result they stumble and break a leg.  You motive, and even initial action were positive, but with a negative outcome.  Does this make it a bad deed?  In this case the end was because of a means.  Should in hindsight you not even have tried.

So the answer to Fandango’s Provocative Question is, it depends.  It depends on your philosophical outlook.  Are you an absolutist?  Then always act based on pure intent.  Are you a relativist? Then let the individual situation be your guide.

Remember Spock – the greatest good for the greatest number.

Now that I have philosophically waffled long enough, I personally hold that the means must be as worthy of you as the end result.  Honour is as honour does.



Fandango’s Provocative Question #36



On The Nature Of Others’ Beliefs



Fandango’s Provocative Question #29: Thomas Jefferson said, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to tell me there are 20 gods or no gods. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”   The question therefore is: “Do you agree with Thomas Jefferson that it doesn’t matter or hurt you if people believe in many gods, in one god, or no gods? Why or why not?

Fandango’s question must be addressed with a nuanced response.  I will therefore approach it as a two-parter.  Does it matter? Yes.  Does it ‘hurt’ me? It depends.

As to the first part: does it matter?  In a pluralistic, liberal society which celebrates difference and diversity – no.  It does not politically or “socially” matter.

On a more philosophical level – socially it does have some relevance.  Community cohesion and shared social values can be strengthened by shared beliefs and values.  Human beings are quick to detect perceived difference.  Jesus had said “the poor are with you always,” but so too is the “other.”  The other is subjective.  Be it appearance, origin, or belief – people “notice” the “odd one out.”  If our absolute social goal is pluralism, then belief may be personal, but then to “new other” is the one that cannot accept the beliefs of others, therefore division emerges.  Shared belief in a deity removes this philosophical division.

Theologically it does matter.  Not necessarily to the beholder.  But to the one holding to the polytheistic or atheistic belief.  If there is one truth.  One God, one faith, and one baptism, then there is an imperative for people to live up to that standard.  It is their salvation that is at risk.  For the atheist, this may not be of any concern.  They expect nihilism (in the Roman sense, that existence ends with the last breath) anyway.  But if Pascal’s wager is correct, they are playing a dangerous game.

I as a Christian minister, hold that it does matter in an eternal reality.

The second part is equally important.  Does it hurt me?

Fundamentally, it does not effect me.   The belief of others does not in and of itself have any direct impact on my own belief or faith.  Does it affect me?  Yes, I am afraid it does.  As a monotheistic believer, it saddens me that any might turn their back of the free gift or grace of a living God.

But should I act?  After all it isn’t effecting me.  But as a Christian believer, I have been called to teach the gospel.  So it does require action on my part.  An action of example, teaching, and loving concern (not necessarily acceptance) of others’ beliefs.

In the US Navy Chaplains Corp there is a motto: “Cooperation without compromise.”  Put simply – support people of belief or none, but never at the expense of your own belief.  This is a good starting point.

Militantly opposing others’ beliefs, and definitely imposing one’s own on others is truly a problem.  If a monotheistic people violently impose their views, in the name of defending God, we have a problem.  Jesus never called for forced conversion, and Muhammad initially called for respect to be shown “to people of the Book.”

A person’s lack of belief is not an attack on Me.  It is an attack or at least slight on God. Let’s stop there for a moment.  An omnipotent God, does not need us to “defend” him.  So we must evaluate our actions and motives.  Are we showing the love and compassion the scriptures call for?  Are we teaching, not fighting?  Are we loving, not imposing?

For me then:  Love all.  Teach those who will listen.  Live as an example.  Fight none.

So in the final analysis was Jefferson right?  Socially – Maybe.  Philosophically – Probably. Physically – Yes.  Emotionally – No.  Spiritually and theologically – he had a lot to learn.