I believe in those exchanges my point could be summarized succinctly as this:
"Everything is relative" is an intrinsically absolute statement.
So my point was simply that absolutism is unavoidable & that relativism does not provide an escape as it is often peddled. You have not disproved this point as my personal faith has no relationship.
Similarly, my point with the above paragraph is:
"I have no faith & depend only on knowledge" is a position of self-contradiction by definition as no system of thought (never mind any practioner) has all knowledge so faith is required in order to take any action or position upon incomplete knowledge.
Again, you have not disproved this point as my personal faith has no relationship.
So while my personal faith may be distinguished from your own (or anyone else's), that does not invalidate the universality of the existence of personal faith (an absolute value in your terminology), which is my primary point as it undermines the common athiestic refrain & implicit posturing of intellectual superiority due to their self proclamations of the "absence of faith & reliance only upon on known facts". In fact, I hold athiesm in even less regard intellectually than any other religious system due to it's lack of self-awareness & intellectual integrity to admit the inescapable reality of faith for any belief system due to the inescapable fact of the incompleteness of knowledge (http://www.pieofknowledge.com/about.html) for all systems of thought, including itself, & the deceptive attempt to establish itself as the moral superior to any & all theist or alternative systems of thought through false advertising of a greater intrinsic rationality as its basis despite the factual evidence to the contrary such as the faith-based essential core positions (crystals, alien intelligence, non-causal force, etc...) required to explain the origins of life, the origins of the universe, etc.... as is clearly presented in this movie by the self-proclaimed & well-known evangelists of the athiestic gospel such as Richard Dawkins, as well as other books by such noted athiests as Carl Sagan (my own reading). More often than not in everyday life & discussions, such essential core beliefs are never explored or discussed in any level of concrete detail as it unequivocally unmasks the disingenousness of the system relative to its aspirations for self-proclaimed rational superiority, supposedly devoid of the existence of essential core positions of unprovable faith. Based on the presentation of the most prominent & learned practitioners as presented in the movie, it appears to be a system primarily for those pursuing unbridled hubris as a formal system of thought despite the factual reality of the pie of knowledge. Even if it is correct (ironically, an eternally unknowable conclusion by definition for athiesm), I find that approach to knowledge & system definition highly undesirable, contrary to the reality of the pie of knowledge, & not morally equivalent to any theistic or alternative intellectual position conceptually which transparently admits its lack of complete knowledge & the inescapable need for faith to fill in the gaps & allow us to cross the unavoidable intellectual chasms encountered in life.
Anyhow, I have a more formal position of my own thoughts on athiesm I'd be glad to share if you were interested. It's not overly long, focusing only on the philosophical essence in my assessment. For my part, I would value a formal critique by a philosophy professor who I trust to provide contributory input, rather than a rubber-stamp or a dismissive handwave.
thanks & best regards,
Last edited by Pedal2Metal; 04-14-2012 at 01:55 PM.
In a stand-up comic routine...
The comic claims to be the Devil and declares to the audience that they are all dead!
(The routine is lengthy and funny, but to the point...)
He starts to divide the audience into "sin" categories... Murders, Adulterers... Lawyers!
"Now, Atheists form a line here... and march by all of us"... the comic shakes his head and says...
"Don't you feel stupid now...? You could have claimed Agnostic, but oh no you were so sure!"
As a last quip, he says "Christians... Yes you too, it seems the Jews were right all along...!"
but atheism in its modern forms is more rational than any theistic philosophy i know because it is mostly based on evidence whereas all dominant religions reject evidence and logic as a basis for truth. atheism exists in accordance with science, religion as an antithesis to it. the idea of god was made out of thin air and is not evidence based.& the deceptive attempt to establish itself as the moral superior to any & all theist or alternative systems of thought through false advertising of a greater intrinsic rationality as its basis despite the factual evidence to the contrary such as the faith-based essential core positions (crystals, alien intelligence, non-causal force, etc...) required to explain the origins of life, the origins of the universe, etc....
did you mean that religion seeks to dogmatically defend its absolutist conceptions of truth and historically tries and mostly still tries to violently enforce those on the public and perhaps all of the world? in that case, i would agree with you.Even if it is correct (ironically, an eternally unknowable conclusion by definition for athiesm), I find that approach to knowledge & system definition highly undesirable, contrary to the reality of the pie of knowledge, & not morally equivalent to any theistic or alternative intellectual position conceptually which transparently admits its lack of complete knowledge & the inescapable need for faith to fill in the gaps & allow us to cross the unavoidable intellectual chasms encountered in life.
many scientists would pull their hair out in the face of this statement as it is science which tests hypotheses, accepts, and rejects truths and is always prepared to challenge the truths it had previously established. it is in many ways relativistic. e.g., not even the theory of gravity is considered absolute. it may be disproven in the future.
before you attack me personally, keep in mind that i am not an atheist and don't have a problem with religion as such. i just find most forms of religious behavior, opinions, and truths i am exposed to quite damaging, eerie and absolutistic whereas the science/atheism approach makes a lot more sense to me. i probably agree with you that every "knowledge" requires belief but that doesn't make all knowledge equally valid. i can have very strong faith in the existence of a chair in front of me and you can have the same strength of belief in the existence of god. however, while we can logically deduce and, in scientific terms, "prove" that the chair exists, god is not only unprovable but there is no scientific indication of his existence whatsoever. this is the difference between evidence based knowledge and supernatural belief.
i myself believe that many truths may transcend science and that science can't have the answers for everything, i.e. that science is not absolute. and i probably agree with you in that many atheists are fundamentalists by assuming that science is absolute. also, when they assume that science will some day answer all the questions (as many do, e.g. richard dawkins) this is a form of religious faith in my opinion. but when religious people try to win a debate against scientists in the world of science, by trying to prove and to disprove, they will inevitably lose. if they just kept to their own field, philosophy and experience, they could not be damaged by the scientific attacks.
zef, you bring my ideas to the very brink of defense. however, my caveat is that the society i am envisioning is very far away and thus defending its key characteristics is not as easy as discussing today's society. what we have here and know is a lot less obscure and a lot more accepted. thus, my standard is not to be able to accurately define any aspect of my idea.
1. human nature is inherently plastic and thus there is no human nature at all in the strict sense. what discerns us from other animals is that we can transcend our biology. in other words, anything we do and create "artificially" is a product of human nature, which would include tyrannies and authoritative human conduct. any soul destroying, genocidal, mass polluting society we've ever seen would be natural as well as all societies of enlightment, liberalism, and technological advancements. in that case, i would argue that some of these forms of conduct (e.g., violence, hatred, discrimination) are "unnatural" because they result in a diminished net human happiness, based on my assumption that happiness is humanity's most constructive state which is why it is desirable. it would be a relative definition of human nature.
2. some laws of human conduct are hard-wired, such as fairness, reciprocal altruism, inclusive fitness, etc. this would most often be the position of science and it is also the one i am inclined to present when you ask which laws precede human constructions. humans thus naturally, for example, do not like to give when they receive nothing in return (alluding to the individual who chooses not to pay taxes to the collective).
it would, however, also mean that humans favor people who look more like them over others by nature which may pose a threat to my argument. i would mostly argue, in accordance with point 1, that humans are able to transcend their biology and abolish this human characteristic even though it will perhaps often return as a challenge. in accordance with your argument that not all natural human traits are desirable, i would thus argue that humanity can make an effort to maintain some (i.e., the basics of fairness) and abolish others (racism). of course, in that case i have made no argument proving any laws preceding human construction at all. it would still all be a construction and that's probably my core belief here.
3. there is no natural human conduct which we can define. there is only the perhaps spiritual notion that there is some sort of nature which pervades us all and always will. it is not something "we cannot escape" but something which defines our very human essence and which we wouldn't want to escape from.
this human nature, which can not easily be defined, is always present and is a force that would "naturally" guide humans in a society without institutionalized authority.
as you can see, it is quite hard for me to answer your questions as my thoughts on what is nature and what isn't are not settled at all. quite some contradictory theories buzz in my head.
you give very good answers to your own questions. when it helps the truck driver to be accustomed to a particular vehicle let him choose that one most of the time. there might also be one or two others persons using the same vehicle. at the same time, it would never become "his" so there would still be no property.As far as "car sharing" goes, it could only work where there is a shortage of cars. I worked as a delivery driver at an autoparts company, there were 6 drivers, counting me, and 6 trucks. Even though non of us owned any of the vehicles, we all had our "own" truck. Ownership will naturally develop. Another problem is smaller, more personal items, like cloths or jewelry. It would be very hard to have a society where people couldn't own these things. Even if this society could be set up, there is one question that I really need an answer to. Would there be a community toothbrush.
things like jewelry and other items of personal worth are a hard issue. primarily, i would probably argue that this sort of commodity fetishism is also a product of our current society and would vanish when a communist society is instilled. though, i am not entirely convinced. i am inclined to say that people are not barred from "owning" any such stuff, though they cannot expect institutionalized help when it is "stolen". i'd argue that psychologically healthy people would not take away something another people finds very important and since there wouldn't be many ill people in communism, the risk of this would be reduced. also, jewelry would be of no objective value in communism, so any potential thief would not gain anything objectively, like enriching himself.
as to the toothbrush, it is the only item i would want to institutionally be protected to be used by no same individual more than once and to be used at least 100 times before being disposed of. breaking this law would be a capital offense.
the society characteristic that would completely abolish this problem is resource abundance because nobody would have to work in that society. almost all work would be done by machines. if i'm not mistaken, marx argues that resource abundance is a prerequisite of communism.The biggest problem with communism is that not everyone will put forth the same effort. Lets say that 25 people decide to set up a commune where evrything is equally shared, and those that can work takes care of those who can't. Of the 25 citizens, 5 can't work due to age, handicap or any other reason. That leaves 20 people doing all the work. Each worker should do 5% of the work, but this obviously wouldn't happen. Lets say the 5 hardest workers do 40% of the work, the next 10 do 50% (the share they should do) and the final 5 do 10% of the work. The top 5 workers are carrying the bottom 5, yet they get the same exact share of goods as everyone else. Don't you see how communism punishes the hardworking while rewarding the lazy. It won't be too lomg until the hard workers realize they are doing much more work, this could cause them to slow down out of frustration. The lazy workers, seeing thier work is getting done by others, might relax even more, and do even less. If the workers in the commune are allowed to come and go as they please, the hard workers are being incentivised to leave, where they can get the full benefit of thier labor. That's why you need the 20th century style tyrants, to hold people in line. You could never get everyone in an entire country to agree to enter into communism voluntarily
if i act on the assumption that we aren't there yet (though, i'm not sure of that) i would argue that the psychology in your example goes against healthy people's natural morality and conduct. most people working less than others would start to feel bad and increase their outcome. those who won't, yet are psychologically healthy, would need feedback from the others and would doubtlessly get it at some point. those who are not healthy need help.
this is also dependent on the extent to which resources are available. even if there is no resource abundance, it's easy to imagine a society in which everyone has worked enough when he has worked 10 hours in one week. add to this the many people who would voluntarily work more because they love what they do or because of some other mental mechanism, and 10 hours would not even be required.
another issue is work that most people do not enjoy (such as cleaning) and other more challenging work. people could set up agreements equally dealing out the unsatisfactory work to everyone. note that these are voluntary rules, no institutionalized ones. other forms of work would more readily be taken care of.
again, i cannot lay out all traits of that society in detail because i can only see it from a distance. what i can confidently do now is argue for the psychological and social foundations of that society.
the kind of advertisement we have today is in gross violation of the ideology of capitalism and libertarianism which assume that people are individual agents making rational choices in a market system. but we aren't able to make free judgments at all. we are forced to consume all kinds of corporate propaganda called advertisement.
deleted, was a double post
if you look at the early lives of manson and bundy, you'll find that neither one's were very pleasant. that goes for most serial killers and mass murderers.
no, but most. something like jewelry or anything else of personal value to somebody could also be stolen because of jealousy or the like but otherwise theft will mostly be for enriching oneself.Not all theft is motivated by monetary gain.
But here is where you can correct me if I am wrong, because if I am not wrong then I see a problem. There are some views which are absolute in the sense that they necessarily exclude other interpretations of the world, particularly relativistic interpretations. If you believe in the commandments of God, for instance, then it's quite possible that you (or someone else) also believe that these commandments must be followed: they are not open to relativistic, post-modern, ironic interpretation. They are issued forth from the timeless will of God.
If that makes sense, then I have a problem. That's because the belief in absolute, timeless values precludes today's "open-minded," multi-cultural, liberal mindset. At least when it comes down to God's commandments. These commandments are not relative to culture or individual personality. And that's exactly why it seems strange or self-contradictory to me to defend such absolute values from the perspective of personal faith or personal values, since the latter two versions of morality are basically admissions that the supreme justification for these so-called absolute standards is nothing more than a made-up fabrication of the mind or ego, thereby reducing their sacrosanct nature to the relativism of our modern, hedonistic times. If I believed in such high standards I would try to plant them in firmer ground.
I look forward to your always in-depth analysis...
I remember when I first entered graduate school in the 90s. I told one of my professors that I disagreed with a certain philosopher because I didn't believe in absolute knowledge. He responded that nobody worth anything in academia did, and that therefore my sceptical doubts weren't all that interesting---they were beside the point. In that way I learned that my relativism could be seen as a red herring as it didn't really touch any of the true debates.
Pretty good article in the NYT today on Taxmageddon. Looks like the beginning of next year will bring about a lot of change one way or another, either through increased taxes, spending cuts, or probably both. Many Americans' lives will be affected of course.
And it was interesting to be reminded that in the 60s many of the rich were being taxed at much, much higher rates---from 44.4% to 71.4%. While tax rates have dropped for the extremely rich to about 34.2%, their change in real pre-tax income increased by 528%. I suppose democrats will argue this shows they can afford higher taxes, while those on the right would see this as a sign that lower taxes helped to increase income.
Graphs in this article also showed that it is the rich who benefit most from tax breaks. For instance, the top 0.1% received 6.3% of all exclusions, 13.3% of itemized deductions, and so forth. Those on the right and the left probably use this as a reason to reform the tax code, but such reform will of course cause pain to everyone at some level and thus once again DC may not reach a worthy compromise no matter who is elected in the fall.
I read somewhere that the earth is to the universe what an atom is to the earth. Does that make you feel really insignificant or what? Here is part of an article I was reading, really makes all of our troubles and worries seem pretty stupid.
Nothing really proves how insignificant our planet is in the sea of stars and dust that makes up the known Universe, than the famous "Pale Blue Dot" photograph of the Earth, taken by Voyager 1, then located four billion miles away.
This picture shows Earth as a dot suspended in a beam of sunlight, situated against the backdrop of the Solar System. The saddest thing is that voyager was only its vantage point on the edge of the solar system.
If you're already depressed by now, I leave you with a quote from astronomer Carl Sagan, who wrote a book inspired by the photo:
"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you know, everyone you love, everyone you've ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines. Every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."
I usually don't post in here cause I am not informed enough about most of the political topics, but I can comment on the earth/universe stuff:
Why would that make you depressed? I do not need to feel like the center of the universe or the coolest planet in the universe in order to feel good about myself or life. What does it matter to you that there are billions of other stars and planets out there? All that is important for your personal life, well-being etc. is what you can grasp and interact with on a somewhat regular basis. You can be the happiest person out there, not knowing anything about many things, but being totally fine with how you are integrated into your family and circle of friends and at work etc.
Who cares if there are more significant things in the universe than you or earth? Does not matter to you until you actually have to interact with them or take them into account. What is important and significant is totally subjective and depends on the context.
I am not saying that humans should not do research or venture into space. But from an emotional, well-being, self-confidence point of view, don't let that get to you that earth is not the center of everything.
i agree with the guy, though, that many of our evolutionary adaptions are nowadays no longer supportive and rather hindrances, xenophobia being a perfect example. genetic evolution cannot keep up with cultural and technological evolution. (however, with genetic engineering perhaps it could because it is evolution which has bestowed us with the cognitive abilities that would make this possible.) anyway, i think we're able to transcend our biological limitations otherwise. we have proven to have the means to do so by being conscious, reflective beings. as i argued before, i think group formation based on more or less superficial traits will probably never totally subside but can be channeled to more useful conflict and challenge than racism.
american conservatives have little to worry about. in france a socialist will be elected. in norway, a socialist is already in power for quite some years. you guys will be able to keep to your guns, bibles, and poverty for a long time to come.
As for poverty, there evidence that shows anti-poverty programs tend to keep people in poverty, because you have to be poor to get the benefits. Poverty rates were steadily declining after World War II until Johnson passed his "great society" anti-poverty programs from 1965-1969. Since then poverty has remained constant, with some flucuations (lower in good economies, higher in recessions).
Link here showing rates: http://www.economicsjunkie.com/us-po...d-its-decline/
i don't want to engage in another link war for now as it costs too many cognitive resources.As for poverty, there evidence that shows anti-poverty programs tend to keep people in poverty, because you have to be poor to get the benefits. Poverty rates were steadily declining after World War II until Johnson passed his "great society" anti-poverty programs from 1965-1969. Since then poverty has remained constant, with some flucuations (lower in good economies, higher in recessions).
however, i live in two countries which provide comparatively generous benefits to all kinds of people and poverty simply doesn't exist to the same extent here. the idea that people stop working in accordance with greater welfare must be some great american delusion. it's one of these arguments that you barely ever here outside of the US. it would probably be very easy for me to look for links which show that there's no correlation between welfare and unemployment rates, e.g. in denmark and germany. also, according to your argument unemployment would have to soar in scandinavia while it's probably lower or not significantly higher than in the US. and who in their right mind would stop working when the benefits for the unemployed are raised from 400 to 500 dollars anyway? again, this just seems like an argument of those who want to keep as much money as possible for themselves.
thus, i would argue that whatever fluctuations in the history of american poverty might support your argument must largely be due to other factors unless americans are simply genetically different from europeans.
The following link shows what people have paid in income taxes at fixed income levels about a fourth of the way down the page
anyway, when i googled this the first link i found was this one:
this is a chart showing the percentage of a population living below the nationally defined poverty line. i don't know if you've actually looked at it but it shows that there are fewer poor people in china, kazakhstan, and vietnam than in the US, germany, and denmark. china has a poverty rate of 2.8% for god's sake. this says very little about how many poor people there are and how poor they are. it basically shows how countries evaluate poverty.I also don't know where you are getting your numbers from, but from what I've found the poverty rate in Germany is actually higher than the United States. The following link shows German poverty at 15.5% United states at 12% and Denmark at 12.1%
i failed to find any data in how countries define poverty comparatively even though i looked for a long time. i can't believe there is no adequate statistic on this. anyway, what i found is that it's often unclear what poverty thresholds reveal and that they're sometimes controversial as is the case in the US.
now, i can't prove for now that more people in the US are poor because i can't find adequate data but doesn't that just make sense even to conservatives? would you not instead argue that poverty is acceptable versus having a socialized state that steals from the rich in order to prevent poverty? furthermore, you guys have such huge inequality that, naturally, one would assume that many poor people exist. in fact, this has been all over the news lately as you hit the 15% rate. of course, this was also based on the national threshold so they could've said the same about germany or denmark. i can only assume that the american threshold is more indicative of actual poverty than other western ones OR that all media is completely biased.
but my own life experience also supports my views. it just seems that there is a lot more misery related to poverty in the US while i barely even notice something like that where i live now. though, that may be different in bigger cities.
secularism is what the west and its freedom is founded on. it means that religion doesn't dictate anymore how we shall live our lives as it has done for 1500 years in western history. secularism is enlightment, the french revolution, and religious freedom but in the 21st century conservatives declare that it one of their many enemies.You say they are anti-secular, the secularist are anti-christain! The secularist are the ones who declared war on christmas. They are also the ones who want to outlaw Christianity in public places, but they have no problem with Islamic, Jewish or atheistic displays. It is obvious by your post that you have never even watched O'Rielly, I have, and I've never seen any discrimination come out of him at all. I think you have been getting to wrapped up in the liberal media way too much.
war on christmas? really? "secularists" want to outlaw christianity in public? but they have no problem with jewish, muslim or atheist displays? oftentimes i'm speechless in the face of your opinions. what is one to respond to such absurdity? clearly, you have watched a lot of o'reilly (and so have i, trust me).
today's discrimination and racism is no longer expressed by burning crosses or directly arguing for white genetic superiority. this is now done indirectly. the same goes to fundamentalism. for example, i remember a show by o'reilly where he complains that two girls have been kissing on some highschool degree photography or something akin. he never said that he just doesn't like it when girls kiss but argued some crap about how other people "just don't want to see this". i'm not sure if he's just dishonest or actually believes what he says. i remember when he argued that old people in the netherlands are scared to go to hospitals because they are sometimes euthanized against their will or that it is common practice in denmark to supply free heroin to heroin addicts paid by tax money.
he is also a firm believer in anti-diplomatic and anti-democratic discussion. if he disagrees with his counterparts he consistently interrupts them and when he doesn't he lets them speak. he even interrupted obama several times during their interview. he also like to tell people to shut up when they challenge his views with facts. it's actually quite hard to stand out as the winner against o'reilly in a debate unless you make use of a similar rhetoric style.
one more absurd story is when o'reilly argued that a gay teacher in some school (as if that was of any relevance, but to o'reilly it is) promoted taking ecstasy in front of a class. the conservatives' hunt on and fear of drugs is ridiculous to incredible extents. anyway, as it turns out the guy never did this in any remote fashion and when this was pointed out by a pupil on live tv, o'reilly shrug him off quickly.
i could go on and on. the fundamentalism and homophobia of o'reilly and the likes is underlying, not on the surface. they're all implicitly racists, fundamentalists, and homophobic. to what extent they're aware of this i don't know but someone like o'reilly is probably not very aware.
Of course, some news is more objective than others. I find the NYT and WSJ to be light years ahead of either MSNBC or FOX. And the Economist, at least from my perspective, seems even more straightforward and objective than the NYT and the WSJ.