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Category: Misc

The ‘other’ always needed in any classification.

Carbon Guilt and Frantic Justification

Generally we are pretty ‘right on’ as a family. We live in town in a two bed flat with all A-rated appliances – a condensing boiler etc. The building is old but we don’t have much external wall space and we have argon filled double glazing and draft proofing in most of the old sach windows. We are in a conservation area so can’t change them to anything else.

We are vegetarian though not vegan and we don’t fly for recreation. I have to fly for work sometimes and one day I will take the kids on a plane somewhere just so they have the experience. They are the only ones in their classes at school who haven’t been on an aircraft and some of their class mates don’t believe them when they say so.

Identifiers, Identity and Me

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The nice thing about blogging is that you get to mix-n-match your thoughts together in a way that you couldn’t do in the constituant parts of your life. This post brings together the notion of Globally Unique Identifiers (GUIDs) from my world of work and Buddhist notions of identity. It isn’t really acceptable to talk Buddhist spirituality in biodiversity informatics meetings and bringing up techie stuff when talking to Buddhist friends doesn’t help communication much either but here I can bravely attempt to mash the two together and I hope  shed light on both.

Buddhism is widely and erroneously believed to propose the notion of anatman meaning ‘no soul’. Atman figures big in Hinduism and in Abrahamic faiths as ‘soul’. Buddhism has a different spin on the soul and this is where the error often comes in. Generally different-from-having-something is considered to be not having it. Therefore it is concluded that there are no souls in Buddhism – but this is confused thinking.

“Do you have a soul?” is a loaded question. It assumes firstly that the world can be split into things, secondly that these things can have possessive type relationships and thirdly there are two things ‘you’ and ‘soul’ that may have this relationship. If you have a problem with any of these assumptions it is difficult to say anything in response to the question. Any notion of a self or even a thing is totally contingent on everything else in space time. Buddhism finds it difficult to locate ‘you’ and ‘soul’ and so impossible to express an opinion on their relationship.

This is exactly where we arrive at biodiversity informatics and the problems we have with GUIDs.