Notes from the Library

20 Apr 2011

Wed, 20 Apr 2011

I recently discovered that my long term savings account, which is where I put things like 50% of the money I earned with my part-time job in the sixth form, had dropped to 0% interest (or thereabouts) because I hadn't touched it for long enough. It seems they require you to go in and change things up every so often, so I did this today and I now have four(!) separate accounts with Santander. Seeing as I recently discovered I have an old savings account in France with a few euros in it that I am now trying to close, that brings my total number of bank accounts to eight (inc. SilentFlame's). Yeah. Shame all these accounts don't have very much money in them!

One of these four new accounts is a bond, and this reminds me of a bond I saw when I was last doing this organisation two years ago before I left for university at 5%, or maybe even 6%. A few weeks later everything crashed and burned and so I'll get nothing like that now and so I feel annoyed with myself for losing out on the chance of 2% extra interest or whatever. But this feeling is so stupid. The fact I have savings at all makes me more fortunate than many other students, and on the other hand if I had superrich parents I'd probably have more savings earning piles of interest seeing me through my degree, which I don't have either.

What I'm trying to say is that money, especially long term savings, has to be seen as functional. So long as I am able to lead my life and those savings I do have are not languishing doing absolutely nothing, then everything is fine. I would have thought that I would have found this easy to accept because I am so unmaterialistic, but I do end up feeling weird about not getting that 5% or whatever from time to time. But now it's locked away in accounts with no card or even passbook (just a piece of paper) and I can forget about it again and get on with things, which is good.

You might ask why I save at all. The answer is because I want to be a humanities graduate student in a few years time and that is going to be painful in terms of how little gvmt support there will be. This is also the reason why I live as minimally as I can so that I have some student loan left over at the end of the year to put into savings and since that is basically 0% interest, try to make some money out of. Urgh I hate capitalism.

Just finished reading Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals which is a good overall flavour of Hume's position on ethics. I found though that it's very repetitive and spends a lot of time illustrating the same point over and over before moving on, which can be frustrating when the references are for another age.

The interesting thing was how I continually found myself thinking of the Humeans in my A-level philosophy class, the main voice being someone now off studying natural sciences. I imagined the cool, confident agreement from middle-class intellectuals who see Hume as putting to bed all the major questions with his simple appeal to agreeableness to individuals and utility to mankind for ethics, and to the principle that we just can't help but use induction in epistemology. It justifies the material aspects of their lives and desire to keep pushing society in the direction of a bunch of secular humanists practising natural science and being happy with that.

At the end of the book we see the characters of Pascal and Diogenes brought out and described as being much admired in their ages yet being very opposite in their views. Hume calls them out as exceptions that we can't consider in common morality, with Pascal showing the excesses of religious superstition and Diogenes of what he calls 'philosophical enthusiasm'. I would like to know more about Hume's opinion of both of these. I suspect he'd see me as a victim of philosophical enthusiasm.

The Chernobyl deniers use far too simple a measure of radiation risk | Comment is free, the Guardian

Just read this. My immediate thought is that surely an average dose is the right way to go when we're talking about risks to civilians who get an average rather than swallowing alpha emitters? But then this is probably wrong because there are alpha emitters in the air from disaster zones flowing into them?

What this shows is that this debate is ridiculously difficult to have (and also that I can't remember any of my A-level Physics).

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