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Wayne Nirenberg
Fledgling

15 Posts

Posted - Jan 07 2009 :  06:39:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This used to be an argument sent to the argument thingy but by the time I finally finished it I found out that I couldn't send it on my e-mail. So I figured that putting it here is better than wasting it.

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______________________________________________(ha-ha...perrtty lines)
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The human condition is such that there's always missing information, keeping inductive decisions vulnerable to conflicting truths.

There aren't any inductive premises that can be shown to be inexplicable by way of deduction, if all of the information were to be considered.

On the contrary, if all truths were considered, all arguments would be deductive both because every deductive conclusion would be a truth and because there wouldn't be any other kind of argument left that could be contextually applied.

There aren't any premises (inductive or deductive) that can argue in support of a nondeterministic existence.

Instead there are an overwhelmingly many inductive premises that argue in favor of a deterministic existence.

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If existence is deterministic then human ideas are the culminated current and imitated experiences of the human creating the idea.

Innovation and creativity is therefore built from a system that's situational.

Premises are built from human situations.

Human situations, (although not necessarily recognized deductively) are limited to the deductive existence that lays within the human experience.

Arguments then, are guided by the human experience.

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The human social experience plays a dominant role in defining premises.

Academic philosophical discussion is dominated by flailing protestant, capitalist societies.

These societies are built from systems, woefully designed around the respect of people who work for material goods, and save other systems necessary for their survival that contradict this work ethic, the work ethic model dominates the human social experience within these societies.

Philosophy within academia then is greatly guided by a respect of people who work for material goods.

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As before mentioned the human condition is such that there's always missing information, keeping inductive decisions vulnerable to conflicting truths.

The statistically predominantly deterministic existence, if it is what it seems to be, would hold many systemic situations apart from the human experience.

Human academic philosophy limits the situations considered to those that support the respect of people who work for material goods and is primarily concerned with the concepts of respect, people, work, material goods and all their respective combinations.

I care a great deal for creative and innovative premises that lead to interesting explorations that go beyond my personal human experience.

If a philosopher is a lover of wisdom then one can't be wise and without knowledge of respect, people, work and material goods.

I care more for creativity and innovation than respect, or people, or work, or material goods.

Therefore, I don't care for wisdom.


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...and lawyers suck. :c)

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I guess this is part just commentary cuz' I find the fact that most people who study philosophy because they want to become lawyers, very sad. And the fact that schools mostly cater to these people out of financial necessity leaves me feeling desperate and hopeless.

I barely made it through my dump of a Tech high school. ...and I'm not exaggerating. The problem wasn't that I didn't like to learn. If there was just one teacher out there who cared enough about philosophy to take me under his or her wing I would have gone on to college and selfishly bathed in it. Instead I was treated as if my way of thinking was a worthless way.

When I was 10 I took the trumpet. A year later I couldn't take it anymore. I can't help but think that if my band teacher were to get me interested in Coleman Halkins, Miles Davis, or Louie Armstrong instead of wasting my first year with learning notes the appreciation I would have held for those icons would have sunk deep enough in me that I would have stuck with it well after he would'av wanted to be rid of me.

Philosophy is like that. Without its stars its one of those out of touch things that only brainy people do. It seems unimportant until you say something like.......................................World War II started with Immanuel Kant. From Kant came Schopenhauer and Hegel. From them came Nietzsche and Marx. From them came Communism and Fascism and Hitler and Stalin.

Socrates was a rock star in his time. Why the heck isn't Nick Nolte playing him in a zillion dollar movie like Charlton Heston played Moses? Plato was a computer analyst. Thales was Conan the Barbarian. Hume was Einstein and Spinoza was Jesus. Okay, now I'm starting to sound deluded but hopefully you get the point.

I’m obviously no Existentialist but even things like Phenomenalism, Existentialism and Catholic ideas that are based on very arguable, dogmatic premises are interesting to understand because people like Aquinas and Sartre had its back; sharing their passionate reasoning like Star Trek geeks.

The philosophers today are morons lost in rhetoric and public opinion, incapable of leading the masses down a truly original or interesting path. We need more popular knowledge of philosophy than we ever did. People think that if it's worth knowing, it's science and beyond that they don't even know how to search for wider visions. They just follow the same dogmatic path that their religious leaders tell them to and make the same decisions as their parents and their parents, parents. We've reverted to where we were a thousand years ago. We need the age of enlightenment plus.

I guess my argument is that this web site seems dead and somebody should do something about that. (Somebody who's not that chick that put that mile long evangelistic book in the forum.)

Science and metaphysics are my only escape from the real world. The screwed up thing about that is, that it shouldn't make any sense.

Sorry to get all uptight and angry but I figured that for one reason or another, I'm just talking to myself anyway.


Tom Trelogan
Forum Admin

1420 Posts

Posted - Jan 08 2009 :  09:34:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Wayne, the part of your argument that especially intrigues me is this part:
  1. One can't be wise...without knowledge of respect, people, work and material goods.
  2. I care more for creativity and innovation than respect, or people, or work, or material goods.
  3. Therefore, I don't care for wisdom.
Well, that coupled with (a) the obvious corollary, that if philosophy is the love of wisdom, then you are not a philosopher in that sense of the word, and (b) the fact that you are such a passionate defender of philosophy in what must be some other sense of the word.

If you want to reject the idea that philosophy is the love of wisdom, what do you want to put in its place? What is the thing of which you say we need more popular knowledge?

PS: Things have been pretty dead here in the Agora for a good long while. Here's hoping that you're the somebody who can do something about it! What is this philosophy of which you think we need more popular knowledge? I agree with you that we need more popular knowledge of philosophy, but I'm not sure I share your diagnosis of the current state of academic philosophy. I guess I'm not yet convinced by your argument that we need to alter in any very radical way what philosophy has become.
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Wayne Nirenberg
Fledgling

15 Posts

Posted - Jan 08 2009 :  8:25:40 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Tom,

Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately I've had a really hard week and my brain feels like smoke. I tried coming up with a good quick reply but couldn't bring myself to put it down here. I work two jobs. One on the weekends and I don't have access to the net there sooooo I'm gonna' have to get back to you next week. Sorry. Again, thanks for the reply and you'll see me here next week some time for sure. :o)
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Wayne Nirenberg
Fledgling

15 Posts

Posted - Jan 12 2009 :  8:06:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Tom for your reply. :o)

I was wondering if I might even find myself kicked out of the forum.

The lover of wisdom part was me being sarcastic. I am the proud owner of a witty sense of horror. I don't know if you read through the earlier part of what I was saying but the part where I said "If a philosopher is a lover of wisdom then one can't be wise and without knowledge of respect, people, work and material goods." was a little weak. The argument leading up to it doesn't claim that respect, people, work and material goods are all that people think makes philosophers. I just tried to insinuate it and then jumped to the claim. I was just tired and at that point felt like flinging my hands up in the air. Sorry.

But I didn't reject that a philosopher is a lover of wisdom either. I only tried to point out that at least from all the perspectives that my limited access can gather, most academic philosophy is “pop philosophy” and the prospectus is dictated by the people learning it, (who neither know about it nor care to know about it for its own sake), rather than the people innovating it. I was also trying to say that it’s important enough that it should be accessible to the Everyday Joe. The few people that love to think, that I’ve met seem to love more to talk above other peoples heads. Strict logic and other types of philosophically technical language can make a person deaf in the mind where colloquialisms add body language. It's about communication.




"I'm not sure I share your diagnosis of the current state of academic philosophy. I guess I'm not yet convinced by your argument that we need to alter in any very radical way what philosophy has become."



Okay…ummmm. Where do I start? I think society would be better off to alter that current state in how, what and who we teach. I also feel that we should be proactive in altering societies' perceptions about what is worthy of respect and what isn't. I think in many ways acedemic philosophy is self depricating. And I believe that if we alter the way we practice philosophy, the rest will follow.

In order strengthen the societal power of various philosophical ideas we need to first support the whole. Academic philosophy should be changed in two ways:
• in who learns it.
• in how we consider it valuable.

My biggest argument for this is that the average American Joe doesn't even know what philosophy in the western tradition is. The more people that support it the more politically powerful will its practitioners be. Other practices such as religion, science, music, politics etc... all have more influence over most of the people in the world which means there's less room for philosophical ideas in peoples lives and therefore it brings itself less attention. Mankind is primarily social and the kind of political power that western philosophy looses is therefore also being lost in individual thoughts and decision-making.

Okay.......so what, right? What if western philosophy is a menacing force?

Western philosophy is the predecessor of almost every other Western practice. It's been a guiding force in making forward steps that have benefited all mankind, not only those that practice it. Being about wisdom its forward path flows and ebbs with power of the wise. A philosopher king is more human than machine and he's subject to all the emotional and selfish baggage that accompanies any other human being. The fact that one can be unkind and unhelpful to humanity doesn't mean the idea is a bad one. Western philosophy has also supported pacifism and empathy and richer perspectives. It's been used by the likes of Ghandi to bring people less wise down without violence. It's been molded into science and government standards. But I'm talking in a forum for it so I think I'll stop telling you good things. The fact is, whatever the search for wisdom is, it's useful for good and bad. The only question then is how to support an environment where the good can get the steak while the bad pays the check.

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If a philosopher is a lover of wisdom,

and wisdom is a generalization of efficiently functional knowledge with respect to the support of subjects who desire favorable outcomes, (the most detailed definition that I could come up with on the fly)

and there’s both accommodating, and unaccommodating philosophy out there for each task,

it seems to me that that wouldn’t make philosophy, wisdom incarnate,

but rather it’d make the study of philosophy a means to many ends for which philosophers generalize and name “wisdom”.

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Everybody knows different stuff, and some of it here and there works, and some doesn’t. One of the first things you observe while studying the history of ideas is that there aren’t any wise guys wearing beards and togas on a hill with all the correct answers, just a bunch of screaming monkeys, on the tallest trees they could find, trying to hurl the largest, messiest cake of poop. As a matter of fact the idea of picking through the rubble of ideas instead of praising or condemning individuals is what turned philosophy into what it became; an evolving throng of competitively tested thoughts.

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If the study of philosophy is a means to an end rather than an end unto itself

and philosophy’s ideas are brought about by way of competing attacks among ideas as they relate to specific tasks

then ideas that didn’t compete will have gone little if at all noticed by philosophers and it’s conceivable that there are ideas for improving the efficiency of tasks that consistently have been overlooked.

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This means that a large part of what this collective is, came about through a specific part of society (namely the strongest guys on the tallest trees with the most, messiest poop). And that means that a guy can have all the grossest, most disgusting, gag-able poop on Gds disgusting brown earth, but if he’s not going to climb a pretty tall tree, the guy with rabbit pellets is the one that everyone’s gonna’ get dumped on by. Maybe he couldn’t climb the tree because he had too much of the stuff and wasn’t strong enough. We’ll never know because politics squeezed him out of history. :c) …excuse the puns

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Ideas can be about anything. There are many, if not more, ideas about ideas in philosophy than there are about materials. I would even suggest that the reason we single out philosophy from other forms of knowledge is because most of it revolves around ideas about ideas.

Ideas about ideas include new branches of philosophy.

If there are ideas that couldn’t compete and of those ideas there were ones that may have turned into new branches of philosophy then some branches of study may have been missed by philosophers. The more uncompetitive branches there were, the more will have been missed.

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I think it was about 15 years ago that I was on the internet looking for lovers of wisdom to annoy when I came across a post that asked the age old question “Is the unexamined life worth living?” Why whoever it was asked this question went right over my head. It’s a bit like playing “Desperado” at an open mike. Everybody digs the song but it’s been so done, it’s campy. To my surprise though, there were many goo-goo-eyed responses and nobody…………that is not one single person………..said, “No”. I was flabbergasted. Isn’t “I know nnnothththing!!!” Socrates 101? Or was that sergeant Schultz? …Anyway…Nobody asked “What is the examined life?” Nobody asked “What isn’t the examined life?” This was the early days of bulletin boards. Here we had at least fifty or more regulars that stretched between new students and life long professors and not one went against the grain even just to be different. Now given, College students aren't rebelious now-a-days. They're mostly kiss-asses desperate to please their parents and get a job. And these were people from all walks of life, some of them Christians who wouldn’t give evolution a second thought. But I guess what I wasn’t getting was how anyone that DOES lean that way, wouldn’t also understand how, in that context, a one celled organism’s life has value. I mean even if you don’t think that what led to it gave it value, you have to at least think that what it leads to, does. Even Schopenhauer attributed to it the mundane value of the Will. And what about aliens with super intelligence, so super-duper amazing that it makes our intel look like that of a one celled organism? Are we then worthless? Should WE be okay with being discarded like bugs? Maybe they all were in some kind of secret consensus that amoeba’s examine things. If they were, I never saw any of the arguments.

What’s more, here we had an isolated group of philosophers who for obvious reasons put a high price on examining things about people that don’t. These are people that want to see through subjectivity to a more objective position about mankind in general. But when it came to themselves, (a part of mankind) they were driving a rig like Helen Keller. I personally know many more people who put more value in NOT examining, than in examining and they all seem to be pretty happy with their choice. Now, I don’t know any but they say that the Amish lead a humble existence that’s the happiest in the world; a utilitarian wet-dream. Who’s to say who’s right? In this case these philosopher’s aren’t just ignoring evolution, they’re ignoring subjectivity.

The idea that the unexamined life is worth living will always be unexamined by the people who live by it. Even Buddhists have to understand their problem before they correct their mistake. This is one example of a team with a lot of poop and little willingness to climb. Very often the innovators of many practices come from somebody unqualified to do things the “right” way. And too often the “right” way is based on forces that have nothing to do with what makes something right. You just have to look at the history of music to realize that. How many more such ideas are going unnoticed because they don’t have a voice? How many softer voices are being held down by loud voices with nothing new to say?

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I’ll have to first point out here that I live for that sense of realization you get when something hits you that you’ve never considered before and it all comes together. For me it’s like a drug that I’d sell my children for.

What is that project that uses everybody’s computer to search for life on other planets? SETI? I forgot. I know it’s not PETA. …It’s not PETA is it? Anyhue, my point here is simple. The more minds we have looking around the cerebral ether, the more ideas they’ll find us to look at.

Promoting the idea that more people should be using philosophical thought means potential fun for my future.

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There isn’t much I can add here. Just that I’ve realized for years that the first step to recovery is admitting that I have a problem and so far it hasn’t done me squat.

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A group acts on conciliatory decisions, not necessarily beneficial to the interests of the group.

The general population of a group have an unparalleled role in forming decisions of the group as they, together, make up that group more completely than its other constituents (sub-groups, individuals with more money, or other types of power).

The general population also more accuratly represent their individual situations than the groups sub-groups.

Sub-groups of a group have a greater ability than individuals to express themselves and censor others to the general population because they have both more money and man-power.

More ideas in all areas among a group’s general population potentially provides the awareness of more choices among both the group’s individuals as well as its sub-groups that in more ways represent the each individual's situation.

The more of the general population, who have more ideas, the more potential the group has to form conciliatory decisions that benefit the group and its individuals.

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I really don’t want to get into politics cuz’ I’ll slip from analysis to preachy-sis-ness. I guess I’m just going to make some key points. Sometimes I bore myself. I hate wondering what I’m doing to other people.

The way I see it we live in a partly socialist, mostly capitalist republic, where the only rules that our elected officials have to follow are the ones dictated by good advertising.

As unrealistic as it would seem the best form of government is one that has an infinitely wise, non-abusive, well meaning king (or queen) because he’ll want to do what’s right for his people, he’ll know what it is he’ll need to do, and he’ll be able to get it done at the appropriate time.

Our form of government, on the other hand, is prone to being packed to the gills with self serving opportunists who don’t know what’s good for their country even when they do care, and needless red tape.

(To be fair, incase I have to qualify myself, they are all there for a good reason; keeping it real. …well that and the fact that the idea that we’re always somehow going to find the perfect leader with magically reaching powers of observation, when we need it, is ludicrous.)

So the trick is how to get the best of the king scenario without the world falling apart every time we need a new king. That’s where things get sticky. (see “To be fair…” a couple paragraphs up.) There’s the “philosopher king” idea but a poop throwing monkey in a tree seems to contradict everything I know about royalty. …and I mean that metaphor, metaphorically. Besides, it was tried and failed once and that’s a one hundred percent failure rate. Not good. Any way you put it a king is a human being, subject to imperfection. He’s gonna’ screw up. So if he’s gonna’ screw up anyway why not come up with another idea, along the same lines, but more applicable to the world we live in? We’re supposedly living in a democracy, it’s not one, but supposedly I'm an idiot. We should use that to our advantage. (not that I'm...nevermind, you get me.) Even if they can’t put their ideas into the system they are the individuals that empower that system because they follow it. Thoreau was the dude. Our people aren’t just pawns they’re also voters. We could go all John Dewey on their ass, except in a practical way, that works. People are always going to act in ways that hurt other people for various reasons, but guns and greatness are more likely to be used when they’re sitting in your hands. Give them ideas and they’ll think with them.

This is where encouraging people to collect ideas like they collect music and follow icons like movie stars comes in. There are respected forces out there that don’t want people to think for themselves and we need people to not feel as threatened as they do when they consider ideas that may go against the beliefs they or their friends already have. Going in like gangbusters and expecting the world to change in one or two generations isn’t possible. But there are NEW generations that want to freak out their parents. And they'll keep coming and coming and if they know abstract ideas from very early in life one day they'll use it as a weapon against them. Like Adam Smith, we use human nature to better the human state.

There’s this prejudice that pervades both intellectual and anti-intellectual circles that deep stuff is only for some people. People who stop teaching their kids because they’re “not ready” forgot who the first ones in the family were to master the last clunk of technology. I still don’t get this father, son and the holey ghost thing but there are seven year olds out there who live by it every day. The concepts of democracy, language, capitalism and monotheism are very complex ideas that only seem second nature to us because we learned about them so early and they’re so fundamental to everything else we know that we’ve based on them. How many thousands of words have we memorized in our lives. Each one is a different concept that you had to wrap your head around before you could use it. After a while that concept becomes so second nature that we forget and don’t care what it means and just use it appropriately instinctively. For example; describe “do” or "the" without using the word. Now do it with the limited vocabulary of a four year old. Four year olds do it all the time.

Philosophy shouldn’t be a prescription for living, handed down by past generations. It should be more like a guided tour of the history of perspective. I don’t believe that most people aren’t capable of getting even something like Hegelian thought if it came to them early enough.

Our country, because of the way our government is set up, makes bad decisions frequently. Citizens who don’t have ideas that would gain them perspective can’t use them. Too often ideas are shown to them by a party whose only goal is political gain in an attempt to bias them toward their cause. Philosophy is much more important than the Art and Music courses that schools are always dumbly dropping and yet you never see it in the preschool curriculum and see it in high school only rarely. I think Western Philosophy should be an ingredient in preschool, high school and college that’s as required as English and Math. Everybody knows who Jesus was. Everybody should know who Socrates was too. And they should be taught to enjoy thinking abstractly as much as they enjoy People magazine.

This kind of thing requires some drastic changes in how accessible philosophy has become. It requires a reevaluation on the part of the people practicing it as to why more people are interested in science, which itself is only enjoyed by a select few. It requires the earned respect of people who can make the difference. It requires that philosophy be made a focus in pop culture like sports or music. …and here, I’ve only touched the most general changes I can think of off the top of my head.

The only way a new practice becomes relatively permanent in a culture is if it's recognized by that culture's conservative element. Conservatives are like brick walls and if you're lucky to get through one there's always 59 thousand behind him to go. The only way to change the culture this way is to start like Rockn' Roll started. It was adapted by the young, then it was a shock, then it was delt with, then it led to new and interesting ways of using it, then it started to be woven into the background of society, then, after all the old people died off, was defended by conservatives.

The people need to be shown that western philosophy is everything. It's government, science, religion, education, computers, architecture, art, and the list goes on and on. People need to realize this, they don't, and so the system that teaches it is badly broken.

When I tell somebody I work with that I like philosophy they don't think I'm pragmatic, they think I have my head in the clouds and believe in spirits and tarot cards.

Now, I don't have any college. I don't associate within philosophical circles.....mostly because I don't know how to find them, and I don't think they'd have me even if I did......so it's true that I don't know what's going on in your part of the world. Still, I don't have to, to know that if you think acedemic philosophy is a successful, you don't know my part of the world. The fact that your part is somewhat affected by my part (politically, economically) would make me think that the view I have would be important to your part. But most professional philosophers are like professional doctors which are like human beings.....they know what they know and they don't care about what they don't because they don't know to care.

Like Global warming, none of this is super important. The way of life that we have today will fade one way or another. Things will die and other things will be. It isn't super important, that is, if you don't care how the world turns out.

For someone who doesn't believe in free-will I'm feeling very existential today.
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Tom Trelogan
Forum Admin

1420 Posts

Posted - Jan 13 2009 :  09:19:01 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Aha! A fellow populist of the intellect! That, I very much admire.

I couldn't agree more that philosophy ought to be at least as much a part of people's lives as sports and music, but I'd put the emphasis on the words "at least." After all, most people just listen to music and watch sports. What I would like is to see all of them actually playing. And the same thing goes for philosophy. What I'd like is to see everyone actually doing philosophy, not just collecting ideas the way they collect music or adding philosophers to the ranks of all those pop icons. It'd be wonderful if philosophy and philosophers were more highly valued, but it wouldn't be enough. Actually, I suspect we're in agreement about this too. After all, you yourself suggest that what's crucial is getting people to think for themselves.

And yet I think that this is a point worth stressing. Suppose we did make philosophy a required part of the curriculum. I'm all in favor of this, but there's a very substantial danger that if we do, what people will get for the most part is what I call philosophy appreciation courses, and that they still won't be encouraged to get actively involved in the practice of philosophy themselves.

Philosophy does have a dismally low profile in our culture, but it needs more than a higher profile. It needs to be made a part of people's lives. So I'd go further than it seems to me you're going when you say that "[philosophy] should be...a guided tour of the history of perspective." People need to be encouraged to become philosophers themselves, not just tourists of the philosophical realm.

By the way: do you know anything about the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children? If not, take a peek and tell me what you think. It's certainly not a panacea, but it's a very interesting project.

PS: Absolutely nothing you've said so far makes it the least bit likely that you're going to get kicked out of this forum. That's not something you ought to be worried about.
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Wayne Nirenberg
Fledgling

15 Posts

Posted - Jan 13 2009 :  6:16:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Okay, so I agree with a teacher of philosophy that everyone should learn philosophy. Not a great surprise. Now for my next magical trick!!!!

Here's the thing though.......I do disagree a little with you being so idealistic. Earlier on I mentioned that what I was suggesting would take generations, and during those generations we'd have to be feeding the stuff to a mostly unwilling population. Also, I didn't start at square one. My main point was that philosophy needs to change in a very big way. The general population today doesn't think that it's as important people like us who value it. And even if the blanks of the evolution of public awareness were filled in to my end point, there is no guarantee that a high enough population of brains are suited to become addicts like me that we could even imagine a "population of philosophers". And of course there are always going to be the people who will stick out and just not like it even though everyone else does. Now, with that aside there's other things to consider. We live in a capitalist regime. You can't just sit back and enjoy your life, you have to work for it. If you already have money and don't work, you'll be considered an outcast. (this is what I was trying to say before) This means that whatever the next trend down the road is, it's never going to come to light unless it follows the rules of capitalism. One rule of capitalism is that you don't inappropriately argue with your coworkers..................................................If you don't see the problem I'll point it out in another reply.

I'm not saying that everybody shouldn't be pushed in that direction. I'm just saying that I think if all our eggs are in the impossible basket, we might fall short of the possible one.

People like "cool". You don't have to have any depth to like what everyone else likes. I think it's a much more reachable goal to brainwash people into collecting philosophy like baseball cards than it is to expect them to become philosophers. You force anything rather than see how it fits in the puzzle, you'll get a lot of resistance until you break the puzzle.

I'm an atheist. It befuddles me how this God thing won't just go away. The fact is, there are many things in culture that won't go away. We need to tap into what ever that is, and stick philosophy in there.

Thanks for the Web-site. I'll check it out. I never heard of it. :o)
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Da5id
Journeyman

52 Posts

Posted - Mar 11 2009 :  4:27:35 PM  Show Profile  Send Da5id a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wayne Nirenberg

I'm an atheist. It befuddles me how this God thing won't just go away. The fact is, there are many things in culture that won't go away. We need to tap into what ever that is, and stick philosophy in there.



I was just thinking about that as I read through this.

http://www.positiveatheism.org/mail/eml9663.htm

I think the popular notion that people "naturally" accept ideas like gods, the afterlife, the supernatural, etc. may be mistaken.

If we can get people to ask themselves "Why is life meaningless simply because, like everrything else, it begins and ends?" we might make some headway against the afterlife thing. A word means what I mean by it when I say it; my life means what I mean by it when when I live it. It will still mean something to those I affected after I'm gone.

Can we persuade people that they don't, as adults, need a father in heaven. who (according to Jewish and Christian scripture) wants them to see themselves as children in relation to him? Should we want to remain children?

I think the way to counter the argument that atheists have no morals is to point out (to Christians, at least) that the Bible presents God as one who commits genocide (Gen. 6, 7) and one who commands it (First Samuel 15:3). He's also racist; he rewards the descendents of Abraham, even though Abraham (Gen. 22) is willing to murder his son (which God orders him to do!), by making them his "chosen people." If one race is chosen and others not, that's pure racism. God condemns the descendents of Canaan (Gen. 9), because Canaan's father Ham accidently saw his father (Noah) naked (because he passed out drunk, while drinking naked), to be servants forever. American slavery advocates were justified in saying that the Bible defends slavery!

Furthermore, we do have a moral instinct (explainable by evolution) that can serve as the basis for our ethics. (Yes, there are those who take pleasure in the suffering of others, but we don't consider psychologically healthy; we call them sociopaths.)

We don't need Gods to explain anything or to help us with anything.

David
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Wayne Nirenberg
Fledgling

15 Posts

Posted - Mar 12 2009 :  5:39:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
David,

I agree. It took me a long time to get to this point but I think we do have to confront them head on. I mean, we can't be fanatical. We have to respect America's vision of separating church/atheism and state in that we don't do anything to make people suffer and we don't support changing a law like that. But at the same time we have to hurt their ideas by showing them that not taking responsibility for your opinions leads to avoiding the guit of being wrong.

As I said it took me a long time to develop this opinion and I don't take it lightly. I was brought up to respect all beliefs by standing back and letting them think that way. Then I got angry because everyone was attacking my atheism and I wasn't allowing myself to attack back. Then I looked at other atheist who did debate the issue and thought that they should act on their anger but show themselves to be model people. But all forms of christianity seem to work like viruses, spreading in the minds where ever they touch. I believe confronting the issue is the only antireligiotic we got.

Everything you mentioned.......right on the money.
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Da5id
Journeyman

52 Posts

Posted - Mar 15 2009 :  3:15:52 PM  Show Profile  Send Da5id a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
In any case, we're entitled to defend ourselves against against prostelitizing. I'm not interested in becaming a missionary of atheism, but I do cast some doubt now and then by mentioning the horrors of Jewish/Christian scripture. Questions that cast doubt occur to us all the time once we break free. It's natural to ask these questions once in a while.

I know one atheist father who questions his son's occasional references to things like an afterlife. I think he's entitled to do that.

As a classroom teacher, I try to talk about religion, when the subject comes up naturally in the discussion, in a way that reveals no judgement at all. It's important to me that children (and right now I'm substitute teaching mostly elementary students) feel that the religion they bring from home (or lack of it) is just as respectable as anyone else's.

Dawkins considers religious indoctrination of children to be child abuse, even when it's done by parents. Many parents do wait until their kids are adolescents before exposing them to religions. There's something adictive about many religions. Realistically, in this country, I don't we can stop parents from indoctrinating their kids. However, I can keep my own instruction informative about religions and atheism, without trying to persuade the kids to my viewpoint. At least, that's my goal.

David
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Wayne Nirenberg
Fledgling

15 Posts

Posted - Mar 16 2009 :  8:19:59 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

David

First, I just reread what I had written before and I gotta' say I'm a little embarrased. It's one thing to mispell a few words but it's like an attack of huns in there and I never want to have to read it again. I was in a rush and just spit out the first things that came to me. I hope you got me.

I like your goal. It sounds noble. Part of me wonders though if you don't think that way because anyone going against the grain, to say nothing of a furvent atheist teacher, would be kicked out on his ass pretty fast. The guy in Boulder had the wrong opinions at the wrong time and that's exactly what happened. Denver's a little too close to Colorado Springs. Also, part of me believes that you're a teacher, have a responsibility to be as neutral as possible and that you also probably subscribe to that belief.

It doesn't change the facts though. I'm not saying that atheists should evangelize. I'd never say that. In fact some of the most dogmatic people I've met have been atheists. When I'm in a crowd of people with blind faith in scientists or doctors I have exactly the same problem.

Spelled correctly, I said “We have to hurt their ideas by showing them that not taking responsibility for your opinions leads to avoiding the guilt of being wrong.”

I sounded too angry but I was trying to be direct. I meant exactly what I said in a strategic sense. The way I look at it people suffer pain, lack of freedom, confusion, fear etc…Ideas don’t suffer like that. With knowledge they either evolve or go away. Knowledge, like the environment, is in constant flux and so the question is in WHAT WAY are ideas going to evolve. I don’t want public opinion to evolve into Atheism any more than I want them to evolve into Christianity……..IF it means it’s submitting to actions so conservative that they dampen the abilities of people like myself who would discover its structure. This kind of thinking helps us, in so many different ways, to help ourselves. It could be used for good, or bad, whatever that is but whatever it does, it helps us do what we want or need to do. Dogmatic thinking like religion, on the other hand is a powerful force to put most of humanity under the will of few individuals who, to serve their egos, and hold their power, do everything they can to stop new ideas from hardening into something useful. Religion is a powerful mobilizing force and can be used to get us to help ourselves but it’s a tool that’s used much more often to hurt ideas that would help people than to help those people.

The ideas I want to hurt aren’t whether Christ was God or not. If you believe that there is no God you can’t believe that Christ was God. If you believe that there’s nothing spiritual out there then you can’t believe in a personal God. If you believe that nothing is exempt from study you can’t believe in a coexistent spiritual world. If you believe that we should strive to break taboos by considering them rationally you can’t believe that there’s nothing that can’t be studied.

An example:
The idea that the world is based on chaotic probabilities where a particle can be in two places at once is ridiculous. It’s a preemptive strike against determinism argued with the strictly dogmatic subject of math by smart spiritualists and the people who idolize them. How can I go out on a limb and say something like this? One has to look at what’s going on and what their argument is. First, thanks to the theory of Uncertainty we’re screwed. We can’t know all because things get smaller than the tools we have to look at them. So the sad fact is that everything beyond a scale is a guess. In comes the concept of probability. A very cool approach to learn how likely something is to happen even though we can’t know positively. So we can’t know what’s going on but we can know how likely it is that something is going on, right? No. Probability is completely dependant on how much information the mathematician has to work with. A zillion causal facts are floating around out there a scientist has two hundred of them and because of a dogmatic convention he feels confident that he can make a good guess that this or that is going to happen. The fact here is that nobody knows what they don’t know. We can only study things to the best of our ability and part of that ability is limited by our awareness. I believe in determinism which means that I don’t believe probability is anything more than a measure of what we know compared to what we don’t. The idea of entropy is based on probabilities. I’m not the brightest crayon in the box but it seems to me that a person has to accept the idea of probability to believe that the world is in any way unorganized. The world isn’t in any way unorganized and so probability has to be something other than an explanation of the world. Again, I come to that it’s nothing more than a comparison of two perspectives; what we know compared to what we don’t. If, people were to get that probability is nothing but a measure of what we know compared to what we don’t know the world stays organized and the only thing in question is what we don’t know about it. God doesn’t play dice. He plays three card Monty.

So this is a problem among physicists. Even people of science are blinded by light. It’s almost as if it’s a personality trait and the philosophers were pushed out of the way to make room for the technologists. The people that invented it don’t have as much to say as the people that went to school and learned it well.

The ideas that I believe we have to hurt are the ones that allow people who learn well accept what they’re taught out of their nature rather building the skill of skepticism and weighing their ideas. Right now, this type of personality isn’t only accepted, it’s encouraged. The better these people can do what comes to the skeptical personality naturally the more likely they’ll come to there not being a God on their own. And the less likely they’ll contaminate culture and science with a perspective they feel they’re allowed to have. I was lousy at school. I really wish I had whatever it is that makes them like they are. I just feel that what I have is more important when you’re waiting at the fringes of what you know, for a real idea to show it’s face.

I really hate ethics. They’re so subjective and never make sense. I don’t think teaching one’s kid about religion is child abuse. But I can see how putting one’s little girl into a beauty pageant when she’s so young and impressionable, may be construed as being harmful to her future self and from there whether it’s actually child abuse or not becomes a little foggy. There are a lot of practices that may not be in her best interest though. The thing that makes one such practice different from another is how obviously wrong it is. Nobody’s going to blame an ignorant person for making a mistake. But NOWADAYS nobody’s going to disagree that religion isn’t ALWAYS a good influence on our children either. Is forcing a baby to suffer getting part of his penis cut off abuse? Is limiting a child’s knowledge base in order to keep her from understanding biology and natural selection child abuse? Is forcing a little person to do nothing but dedicate his whole being to a leader until he’s not able to have a will of his own child abuse? The way I see it the suffering is the same. A kid learns to be a sex doll or a soldier. The two are pretty indistinguishable. The only difference as far as I can see is what the intension is of the parent. Is the act obviously wrong to the perpetrator? I guess it wouldn’t be to a believer. But a person who knows how to weigh the facts skeptically is less likely to make these kinds of mistakes. I don’t think pushing your way of thinking on a kid is any more child abuse than forcing the kid to learn piano, math, science, philosophy or English. But if that way of thinking filters other ways of thinking and makes her dependant on opportunists who promise they’ll be able to make decisions for her I think it’s crippling and to stand back, not caring whether it’s technically abuse or not.

This is more of an existential question, cuz’ letting that kid become crippled, when you know you could make things better for her without a doubt would be neglect for convenience sake. Is neglect child abuse? Not necessarily. Maybe you think you’re promoting tolerance. I hate ethics, you can’t ever prove anything. I could probably put a whole lot of garbage in here about how Atheists and the other religions are victims of the Christians who sell their most sacred beliefs like used cars. But I don’t care about religion, the hereafter or ethics. I care about getting people to make the world a better place to live in. Child abuse or not, it offends the life style that I want the future earth to live in.
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Wayne Nirenberg
Fledgling

15 Posts

Posted - Mar 17 2009 :  06:20:07 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Again.....that was poorly written. I apologize. You're points should get the respect they deserve. It's just that the only internet access I have is at work and it's the end of my work day when I write this stuff so I'm exhausted and being interupted constantly which makes it hard for me to keep my focus.

To sum up. I think unless Atheists confront faiths intelectually with at least close to the same ferver as people who take pride in believing that we shouldn't know anything (pride in faith), we'll always remain a small minority and our world will always be in danger of succumbing to the self destructive wills of these people.
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Da5id
Journeyman

52 Posts

Posted - Mar 20 2009 :  09:43:11 AM  Show Profile  Send Da5id a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Interesting.

I don't actually believe in determinism. If you click on the "Da5id" next to this post, you can look my other postings here in this forum. You'll see that I've debated this issue quite a bit.

In short (and I have to gloss over some difficult issues to keep it short), I believe that conceivable occurrences fall into 3 categories: impossible, inevitable, and possible. The determinist disagrees with me about that third category. I would point out that nothing in present-day physics proves or even suggests that I must mistaken about this. Finally, I should add that I'm still open to the possibility that I could be wrong about this.

I highly recommend Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great. Religion really is poisonous. However, many believers don't study their own religions well enough even to know about the worst of their religions, much less believe the worst. E.g., most self-described Christians have never really thought about the moral implications of God-ordered genocide. Many of them would rebel against an order from God to commit genocide (e.g., First Samuel 15:3) if they believed they'd received it. However, a great many wars, past and present, are justified to the fighters on religious grounds. Religion has proved effective in overcoming moral scruples to get people to behave immorally.

My approach to ethics/morality is recognize the existence of a moral instinct (explainable--there's been a lot written recently--in terms of evolution). I think we should follow this instinct. Doing so benefits our species and, in the long run, ourselves as individuals. I would even, in the spirit of this thread so far, suggest that it is to overcome the moral instinct that some religions and political philosophies are developed and defended.

Back to the subject of education. I would rather my students didn't believe in any sort of supernatural anything, but it seems (to me) an abuse of my position as teacher to advocate my own points of view over others in the classroom.

This is actually, potentially a big problem. I can't, and won't, fail to ignore gross immorality. I will not, for example, show the slightest respect for Holocaust deniers. I will also not present evolution as anything but settled science. I think it's a possibility that some day I might be fired from a teaching job for doing what my moral instinct tells me I must do.

David
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Bill Wiltrack
Apprentice

20 Posts

Posted - Mar 21 2009 :  03:21:54 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Really great posts Wayne,

It was a pleasure reading the original and your follow up opinions.



quote:

I guess my argument is that this web site seems dead and somebody should do something about that.


-maybe you just did?
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Wayne Nirenberg
Fledgling

15 Posts

Posted - Mar 24 2009 :  06:46:31 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm not so sure about that Bill, but thanks for the compliment.
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Wayne Nirenberg
Fledgling

15 Posts

Posted - Apr 02 2009 :  9:05:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Hmmmm........where do I start?

I realize you've gone over this before, in other posts...but it would help me out a lot if you'd defend "possibility" just a little, so I can get what your arguement is.

As far as making a claim that:

quote:
Originally posted by Da5id
nothing in present-day physics proves or even suggests that I must mistaken about this.



I'm not sure why you're looking to physics for justification or why, if you're right, that you think this is even a decent argument. Physics can't prove that the universe doesn't sit in the mouth of Mickey Mouse either. It's awful dark out there. Mickey's head is all black. Things decay, there's a lot of wet stuff and some parts smell pretty bad. I personally don't see the stretch.

Determinism can't relate subjects physically because causes aren't strictly physical and determinism is strictly causal. It's causal and systemic. Physics, on the other hand, is religion for pragmatists. The theoretical physics world, especially as of late, has been open to every bias known to man. It supports some of them, rejects others and leaves some untouched. The reason for this is because it NEVER claims that anything is absolutely true.

quote:
Originally posted by Da5id
I will also not present evolution as anything but settled science.



That's a good thing, because it isn't.

The sad fact is we don't know everything and we never will because we can't be everywhere within the deterministic framework. That leaves a lot of causes not accounted for, of course our search for truth is going to be somewhat skewed. Physics will never be able to prove you wrong. That doesn't mean that your belief in "possibility" has any merit. I hope it doesn't seem tacky to quote myself. I'm just too lazy to put in the effort of spelling this out again.

quote:
Originally posted by Wayne Nirenberg
Probability is completely dependant on how much information the mathematician has to work with. A zillion causal facts are floating around out there a scientist has two hundred of them and because of a dogmatic convention he feels confident that he can make a good guess that this or that is going to happen. The fact here is that nobody knows what they don’t know. We can only study things to the best of our ability and part of that ability is limited by our awareness. I believe in determinism which means that I don’t believe probability is anything more than a measure of what we know compared to what we don’t. The idea of entropy is based on probabilities. I’m not the brightest crayon in the box but it seems to me that a person has to accept the idea of probability to believe that the world is in any way unorganized. The world isn’t in any way unorganized and so probability has to be something other than an explanation of the world. Again, I come to that it’s nothing more than a comparison of two perspectives; what we know compared to what we don’t. If, people were to get that probability is nothing but a measure of what we know compared to what we don’t know the world stays organized and the only thing in question is what we don’t know about it. God doesn’t play dice. He plays three card Monty.



What we think of as "possibility" is understandably only the way we perceive the world. On the other hand, it's existence outside of that context leaves a ton of questions like.........how the hell could it exist? If it's only the way we perceive the world then the world is deterministic which makes logical sense all around. Stating that the world isn't deterministic is the same as stating that there are truths out there that are illogical. You may as well believe that Mickey Mouse is suckin' us down his gullet, right now. The idea that a person could decide that there's no God without believing that the world fits together logically seems
Hmmmm........where do I start?

I realize you've gone over this before, in other posts...but it would help me out a lot if you'd defend "possibility" just a little, so I can get what your arguement is.

As far as making a claim that:

quote:
Originally posted by Da5id
nothing in present-day physics proves or even suggests that I must mistaken about this.



I'm not sure why you're looking to physics for justification or why, if you're right, that you think this is even a decent argument. Physics can't prove that the universe doesn't sit in the mouth of Mickey Mouse either. It's awful dark out there. Mickey's head is all black. Things decay, there's a lot of wet stuff and some parts smell pretty bad. I personally don't see the stretch.

Determinism can't relate subjects physically because causes aren't strictly physical and determinism is strictly causal. It's causal and systemic. Physics, on the other hand, is religion for pragmatists. The theoretical physics world, especially as of late, has been open to every bias known to man. It supports some of them, rejects others and leaves some untouched. The reason for this is because it NEVER claims that anything is absolutely true.

quote:
Originally posted by Da5id
I will also not present evolution as anything but settled science.



That's a good thing, because it isn't.

The sad fact is we don't know everything and we never will because we can't be everywhere within the deterministic framework. That leaves a lot of causes not accounted for, of course our search for truth is going to be somewhat skewed. Physics will never be able to prove you wrong. That doesn't mean that your belief in "possibility" has any merit. I hope it doesn't seem tacky to quote myself. I'm just too lazy to put in the effort of spelling this out again.

quote:
Originally posted by Wayne Nirenberg
Probability is completely dependant on how much information the mathematician has to work with. A zillion causal facts are floating around out there a scientist has two hundred of them and because of a dogmatic convention he feels confident that he can make a good guess that this or that is going to happen. The fact here is that nobody knows what they don’t know. We can only study things to the best of our ability and part of that ability is limited by our awareness. I believe in determinism which means that I don’t believe probability is anything more than a measure of what we know compared to what we don’t. The idea of entropy is based on probabilities. I’m not the brightest crayon in the box but it seems to me that a person has to accept the idea of probability to believe that the world is in any way unorganized. The world isn’t in any way unorganized and so probability has to be something other than an explanation of the world. Again, I come to that it’s nothing more than a comparison of two perspectives; what we know compared to what we don’t. If, people were to get that probability is nothing but a measure of what we know compared to what we don’t know the world stays organized and the only thing in question is what we don’t know about it. God doesn’t play dice. He plays three card Monty.



What we think of as "possibility" is understandably only the way we perceive the world. On the other hand, it's existence outside of that context leaves a ton of questions like.........how the hell could it exist? If it's only the way we perceive the world then the world is deterministic which makes logical sense all around. Stating that the world isn't deterministic is the same as stating that there are truths out there that are illogical. You may as well believe that Mickey Mouse is suckin' us down his gullet, right now. Far beit from me to defend God but the idea that a person could decide that there's no God without believing that the world fits together logically seems deafly hypocritical to me.

Oh....umm....thanks for the suggestion. I'll get the book. :c) I have an aversion to the politics of the whole thing. I prefer to have my head in the clouds than come up with a good argument against these crazy people and it's nice that there's someone who thought it out for me.

quote:
Originally posted by Da5id
Back to the subject of education. I would rather my students didn't believe in any sort of supernatural anything, but it seems (to me) an abuse of my position as teacher to advocate my own points of view over others in the classroom.



I'm really torn here. I agree with you wholeheartedly, but I don't like that I do. But then again, I don't like that I don't like that I do either. No, wait. I think there's another way to look at this. Do you really believe that it's ethical for you not to philosophically challenge your students? How are they going to become philosophers if they can't come up with rational arguments? Many moons ago, (I wasn't born yet) Thales said that the world was made of water. If he didn't do that nobody would have been able to argue with him and all the philosophical movements as we know them wouldn't exist. Is asserting yourself about God, while allowing others to argue back, really unethical? Or is it just scary? Now that I think about it, as a philosophy teacher, NOT asserting yourself, about any subject that you've been over in your head again and again is unethical. You're supposed to be turning sleeping beauties into deep thinkers. Also, I always look forward more to learning something myself from hearing another point of view. Maybe I'm being idealistic. You'll have to tell me. But every once in a while don't you discover a shiney and original soul caked in all that greasy complacent dogma?

The Holocaust denial really bothers me too. I'm Jewish and was shown the people throwing corpses on piles of bodies very early in life. I became a vegetarian for 25 years mostly because of that experience. But (You had to see the "But" coming.) But I once had a workout partner who believed that the whole moon landing was a government hoax. I guess, like Holocaust deniers there's a bunch of these people out there. And there's no talking to them. They can't explore the idea with any degree of objectivity. They just like holding on to this ridiculous idea. Anyway, after trying again and again to get him to listen to reason I eventually ..........you know what? He was an idiot. I agree. Get rid of the bastards. :)
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