Knowledge, Ideas, Words, and all sorts of horsepucky

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Tiassa, Jun 11, 2002.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Up front, I should establish that the inclusion of this topic in the General Philosophy forum is deliberate and also a fine distinction. I'm not necessarily after the politics, but more a reflection of the human thought process in relation to the scale of ideas.

    The following is excerpted from Jack Cady's The American Writer. A couple of notes: (1) I recommend this book for anyone with an interest in American history or literature, as it is an excellent perspective on both; (2) this excerpt definitely pushes copyright laws to the edge, at least. I often forget to mention when I'm blowing such laws out the window, but there really is no good disclaimer, is there?
    Cady, Jack. The American Writer: Shaping a Nation's Mind. New York: St. Martin's, 1999. pp. 163-164.

    ° A note from Tiassa: It is worth pointing out, for reasons far too abstract to explain without a major digression, that the comparative violence of the slave's life and the worker's life is, in fact, still held up today by bigoted romanticists who play the role of apologist for American slavery. Interesting, that.


    This idiot-simple alphabetic code is merely part of the point that I don't want in play yet. It's my way of putting it on the table without actually doing so. The equivalent of Oscar night: it's my envelope in a mayonnaise jar at Price-Waterhouse Cooper.

    It seems to me that throughout American society at least, and, daresay, Western society, there is a tendency among people to be very forthright in their neuroses. That is, when considering any general idea, people tend to personalize it and thus show their hand.

    For instance, imagine yourself on a commission and the above text is part of the report put in front of you and your fellow commissioners. What happens when Commissioner X from County Y contests the report. It's not accurate. It's political. It's a biased indictment ... and so on. Meanwhile Commissioner G from County H snaps back that X is just another child-hating, misogynistic ... and suddenly you might as well be at home staring at Crossfire and wondering whether to get another beer or switch the channel first.

    So if the commission gets right down to it, you're faced with a choice of accepting or not or whatever degree in between the information before you. Honoring X's complaint, the group discusses the frequency of such ill conditions. Honoring another issue from elsewhere, the group discusses the comparative result of other systems (e.g. slave/worker). In either case, once it becomes apparent that the ills of the workers were more than the equivalent of the psychopathic stalker--that is, once it is accepted that there existed at least a trend--the commission might then undertake the question of what is an acceptable degree of human abuse. It might at first stand well enough for Commissioner X to establish that abuse of the worker only happened to 20% of the workers (an intentionally and ridiculously low number), but when you cover the years in question, that applies to a over a million people sacrificed to the deified economy. (The number, I remind, is still quite low.) So inherent in choices the commission makes is the dimension of whether or not there is an acceptable threshold of people you (or anyone) can abuse. Politics are "of the people", and a mutual effect takes place between politics and the minds that consider politics.

    And that part of the thought process is what I find so fascinating at the moment. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the myriad errors of scale and perspective so strongly affecting the politics of human interaction, and, therefore, the human endeavor itself.

    Quite frankly, Cady's theoretical points of argument are, while simplistic according to his needs at the time, somewhat representative of a common process I have witnessed and participated in. And I can't figure it out: when an idea is put before a person, the result is commonly a complex diversion. Regardless of what direction it goes, the argument is designed to flank the point instead of address it directly. Some invoke the "facts" related to them through vested interests, some invoke concepts and comparatives that presume much. We might, at this point, look to the comparison of the slave versus the worker. A white supremacist might, indeed, point out that slaves were generally treated better than the workers of the Industrial Revolution, but I guarantee you that supremacist works and lives under conditions guaranteed by law to be better than either condition. The point of the supremacist seems undermined by its inherent qualification that the lesser state of existence--or, to the point, the greater of the compared states of existence--is appropriate for any number of people. It does not meet the most direct point of the race/slavery issue--that nobody should be treated that way. There is, indeed, a greater investment in the slave, because the slave is owned. In addition to the expense of housing and feeding (compared to wages) there is the initial purchase expenditure as well. One can hardly compare the protection of an investment to, say, human sympathy. By comparing one unacceptable condition to another, the supremacist avoids the direct point of human dignity, and accepts in the meantime that such division of and regard for people are, a priori, proper.

    We might look to the industrial apologist who points out that people lived better because of the Industrial Revolution. Well, yeah. But not the ones who suffered and died to make it happen. Their lives never got better. You haul sixteen tons, what do you get?

    In the large run, though, an examination of labor conditions goes well beyond the politics of supremacy, capital, and market-share. It goes beyond prices and "standard-of-living".

    It is, however, entirely possible that such a manner of behaving is also bad for humanity. In fact, it seems to be demonstrative. To wit: while it would, indeed, take a hell of a lot of nuclear meltdowns to actually render the whole of the Earth inhospitable to human life, and while I would imagine we would (and did) figure it out eventually, I can guarantee you that the nuclear disasters we've endured could have been reduced save not for a lack of knowledge, but for an excess of greed. Every new industry is dragged kicking and screaming into safety conventions. We might even look over to the consumer side where, while claiming that cel-phones are "not dangerous", multiple phone companies hold design patents on various "brain shields" intended to protect your brain from the radiation of a cel-phone. On that count, it sounds a little like the cigarette companies, but this is beside the point.

    We might look to the generalization of "greed" for an explanation, and it suffices well enough. Desire for excess has demonstrably interfered with safety conditions and even conditions of basic dignity; such things are simply too expensive.

    Typically, when defending something accused of inciting greed, a person will present a condition that merely reinforces the notion of greed. To wit: capitalists generally advocate what capitalism gets the individual. In other words, it should be important to me because it's me. There is, in the abstract, nothing to object to in self-awareness.

    But an apologist for modern industry will point out that working children in Nepal at least get to help support their families. The last time I heard this argument, I countered with the political statement that the kids should be in school except that the companies don't pay enough into the economy to finance schools. The apologist advises that our standard of living would decline if we paid better wages abroad. Now, if we're talking about basic economy, that's one thing. Necessities. But I put aside, for instance, a vegetarian argument pertaining to the amount of grain and water needed to create meat when I consider the tons of grain that never makes it anywhere, rotting in the east half of my own state, much less the excess of the nation. If we were talking about there being no other grain, sure, I can see the waste of raising cattle. Likewise, if the apologist for capitalism is putting forth our standard of living in relation to necessities, that we would be unable to afford necessities, then perhaps he has an argument. But the particular apologist that last put the idea to me was the same apologist who, owning two houses, five boats, four cars, and a business, dared tell me he was poor.

    Nonetheless, the process frustrates me because I can't quite get hold of what it does. On the one hand, it generally, though not always, appeals directly to the individual perception of the person receiving the argument--e.g. capitalism and wealth, tradition and honor, convention and innocence. To the other, it relies heavily on presumptive comparisons--e.g. worker/slave/prostitute--for justification of the favored option. The whole thing seems a transmutation of idea in relation to self, and a common device of accepting what would otherwise be rejected merely because it accommodates the political idea shows the weight of the self in that relationship.

    The sealed envelope ... the sealed envelope. I had to look up at my own foolishness in order to see the point clearly again. Amazing, that.

    It seems a basic method of Western thought, at least. Part of it was that I was just a few minutes before starting this outside smoking and reading through the aforementioned Cady volume. Having spent a good part of the morning discussing with an associate the relationship between people and information, Cady's bit on labor and economy struck me specifically because, while I'm already sympathetic to the political aspect of it, I noticed immediately when he looked to the inference of an argument. Maybe it has something to do with writers, but just as a visual-media artist I know ("I am not a painter!" says he) looks beyond the object itself in his perspective, those close to the written word know that the words themselves are superficial. It's what you do with them.

    Those inferences reflect many facets of sentiment. Brust, in his Taltos novels--and, I'm sure, a good, good many writers before and after him--occasionally mentions that the gangsters generally learn more from what isn't said and isn't shown. Any skeptic worth a whit knows to always read between the lines.

    I'm tempted to ask if we all read between the lines when looking in the mirror, but I know better than to provide such a digression, and besides, it's a horrible mixing of metaphors.

    But has anyone ever touched something so cold it felt hot? Searing, burning cold?

    The words, or the ideas, are merely superficial.

    I'll open the envelope later. And no, I didn't put any effort into the alphabetic code. It's quite simple.

    thanx much,

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  3. Fukushi -meta consciousness- Registered Senior Member

    yes: My ex-girlfriend *gigle's*
    sorry Tiassa,....but I think the whole article is true and I strongly agree with you,....

    about those brain shields:
    did you know they also banned microwave-blockers from being freely available,...what are they projecting into us?

    why do the microwave antenna's work at brainwave frequency's?
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  5. kmguru Staff Member

    "Cady describes his volume as a guide for young writers and artists, a road map through the wildernesses of American literature and storytelling; its also conceived as an excursion into how literature has contributed to the development of a national consciousness. If this unwieldy contraption is any type of map, however, it unfortunately directs the reader to nowhere fast, to destinations murky and obscure."

    I have a similar feeling with this post. There is a lot of stuff but I am lost trying to hang on to a particular branch...

    And that part of the thought process is what I find so fascinating at the moment. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the myriad errors of scale and perspective so strongly affecting the politics of human interaction, and, therefore, the human endeavor itself.

    I am having trouble too...are we talking about worker/slave/prostitute - their working and living conditions and man's inhumanity to fellow man...

    BTW, as I was reading this, I was watching Hardball and saw the forced prostitution of females in Kosovo and other Eastern Europeans nations where Mafia has taken over. The UN personnel are a party to this business, unwittingly perhaps...
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  7. Fukushi -meta consciousness- Registered Senior Member

    isn't it that:

    The UN personnel are a(t a) party from this business,...

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  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Everyone's a critic and then some ...

    Where ever did you find that review?

    And part of the reason I ask is that I have the privilege of being acquainted with Mr Cady and having studied under him. I'm curious, in that sense, to see how the reviewer is approaching the book. Beyond that, I won't comment on the review until I've read it.
    Indeed, but who ever said that history was simple? Part of a general problem that frustrates me about history is that people largely say, "No, you're wrong, you're viewing it too simplistically" (e.g. "the American Civil War was about slavery", "Communism was bad because it was anti-American"), but when faced with the deeper issues of history, we do have a tendency to back away from its complexity.
    It is, at this point, all one idea. Like I said, it's hard to wrap my head around it.

    For now, it is well enough to say that if the issues never really seem to change it's because, for all its efforts, humanity never really deals with those issues.

    Oh, and the scrambled sentence merely reads, What do we do with the knowledge? If one prefers idea or information instead of knowledge, I won't argue.

    The question of what we do with it is right there.

    In fiction, moral questions are often presented and addressed, and the audience resolution is often a value judgment that is exceptionally immediate and therefore narrow.

    I'll haul up Brust's Teckla, if my copy is still in the house, which has a great bit about Communism in it (written by a Trotskyist sympathizer).

    But if we look at any issue and watch the data become political--what is it that compels people to that transformation?

    I'm more interested in what we do with the idea or knowledge, and, in the larger picture, how that contributes to such ideas as man's inhumanity to man. The thought process is what I'm after; anything else and this belongs in Ethics, Morality & Justice.

    In the long run, what I'm wondering about is the process of why or how we take an idea and make it into what we make it.


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  9. ubermich amnesiac . . . Registered Senior Member

    christ tiassa, your skating on thin-ice posting like this, for one thing few are willing to sift through what would turn out to be a 10 tenpage reply in paper, and even fewer will understand it, and even fewer will have the energy to reply. you must be bored, or really irked, because these thoughts are generally for the confines of your head.

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    . . .

    (before i go on, i just have to say i like this jack cady's style: wry, witty, bordering on sarcasm but not quite rude. mustve been a blast learning from him.)

    i say these are for your head only because they have no answer. you're dealing with human nature here, and i think what you're addressing are just innate ideas that don't conform to logic and especially do not heed the pathetic attempts by man to control them.

    thats kinda funny, reminds me of leftist literature critical of the machiavellian nation-states deifying self-interest and political/economic gain assuming militarist and misogynistic means. all that critical geopolitics stuff. which, as i understand from your topic, is the same phenomena youre having trouble wrapping your mind around, just in the more general, corporate context.

    as im sure you know, these authors criticize the cold and calculating irreverence for the worker/man juxtaposed with the deification of "hollow" values of economic or political gain over the competition, which you call "greed." its just a matter of opinion and perspective though.

    again, im reminded by critics of our nuclear-oriented, mutually assured destruction obsessed national governments that in the context of nuclear weapons such thinking/discourse has been labelled "technostrategic discourse." its what you're saying, only more in the nationstate game. our chiefs of staff, nuclear strategists, conventional weapons specialists, the up and ups of military intelligence--they mask racist/sexist/dehumanizing assumptions in their military calculations and political rhetoric. Its not about the dignity of iraqi autonomy, but rather which bunker-buster --the BLU2835 or the BL38208-- will maximize the destruction of military installations while minimizing collateral damage.

    Ultimately, however, in this case and the case of your racist white supremacist, it seems to me that the trouble we have wrapping our minds around these arguments stems from the fact that each of us operates on fundamentally different values, which i believe is my answer to your question. (ethics morality and justice here we come) you yourself acknowledge this:

    why?because capitalists are so enthralled and absorbed in their ideology that it has become their assumption. the necessary facets of capitalistic economics are their a priori truths. personal greed-why of course it exists! it's the sh*t man!

    with your white supremacist, however, im not quite sure i understand your point. i see how you believe he is skirting the issue of human dignity, taking for granted the fact that human beings in our capitalist society can be treated as industrial commodities that must be calculatingly exploited to the most precise degree for the utility of the corporation--or the slaveowner. and from that he addresses the comparative violence between the industrial worker and the slave, and not the undergirding ailments within societal conceptions of these titles.

    personally, however, call me an apologist if you will, i think it comes down to the fact that some people (like your white supremacist) can stomach the nature of the world while others cant. and i mean that in the most unoffensive manner. perhaps im just a pessimist, but i really dont see our violent economic system, seeing how its even creating multiply-snakeheaded supranational organizations like the WTO and the IMF to feed it little third world nations, dying anytime soon. oppression will happen, lets move on.

    this reply could really go on for several hours, but i have to go . . .
    but i do have to say that you cant fix this problem. were hardwired to be bastards.

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  10. kmguru Staff Member

    Re: Everyone's a critic and then some ...

    New science has/will replace philosophy as the direction of such discourse. From a new science POV, ideas, knowledge create artifacts that mutate to a higher order. This creation is the process - thought process of individual and community. Majority of the contribution comes from the basal instinct generated by man that creates the inhumanity. Countering at that level is difficult if not impossible. (Look at Catholic priest fiasco...)

    That is in a nutshell....
  11. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Ubermich ... finally

    In a nutshell, that pretty much covers it. "Feisty old codger" is the phrase I'd use

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    Well, hopefully, it'll ... well, yeah.
    Yet they are strangely attractive ideas.

    The topic is one step shy of accusing the general trend in thought of being thoroughly useless. I really don't understand it; when put to the question, few people if any would ever admit that, for instance, money is more valuable than life. Few people, if any, would ever look at their profit margin and say, "Yes, children need to die so that we can get more money." Yet, in accord with the example, we see that, in fact, children do need to suffer/die for wealth. Though this condition seems past in both US and UK, it does exist in the world, and the US, at least, does foster it. But the political argument is a side note that belongs in a political forum.

    What I'm more interested in doing here is figuring out the criteria of priorities.

    It would be well enough to call it greed and walk away, but that is somehow insufficient. I actually know people who approve of child labor but don't see working people into starvation in order to reduce product costs as greedy. They actually do have feelings to hurt, apparently, and that was it's own learning experience. But I don't understand how people arrive at that state. What are the priorities? What is the comparative value? When we have the data, the knowledge, or the idea, what do we do with it?

    One could easily point to the idea of Woodstock (the original concert), and then wonder what people did with that idea that ended in the 1990s with people tearing the concert grounds to shreds.

    Cady's argument happened to be right there in front of me, helping formulate the topic, and, furthermore, seemed so based in what appeared to be a one-sided principle that it would be easy to isolate the problem (e.g. Commisioner X) and wonder what is so important to him that he might advocate such a terrible condition. On the one hand, it's hypothetical and biased toward the terrible; to the other, it's not much of a stretch from the US in the last thirty years. Certes, we're not working children to death for coal, but we do seem, in the face of our values of right and wrong, to consistently elect our actions according to other criteria.

    At the individual level, this must necessarily be an interesting conflict. I'm curious as to its nature.

    Like I said, I could call it greed and walk away, but that helps me none ....

    And so I'm stuck with a hefty topic on the off-chance that someone has an answer. And in the meantime, any input whatsoever can only help.
    You're close if not actually on it. But I can't figure out the individual thought process that contributes to it.

    Like the "mob mentality". It's easy enough to use the phrase, and while it's easy enough to mosh with hundreds or thousands, what of lynchings (in history) or patriotism (contemporary) or other conflicts of people vs. princple?
    You're absolutely correct. It's merely a matter of opinion that a lump of coal is worth more than a human life. How one arrives at that opinion is more the question at hand.
    To stay with the melodramatic, a starved, dead child is a starved, dead child in any culture. However, to use that as a springboard back toward reality (if you can believe that), what about our common values? And why violate those?
    Cannot capitalism be taken to the point that it harms itself? To wit, an illustration from religion (didn't expect that, did you?

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    An thou harm none, do what thou wilt. The Witches' Rede basically prescribes a certain freedom: don't hurt people, but do what you want.

    Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. The Law of Thelema is, in fact, the same law. Crowley's way of putting it, however, makes a certain presumption against harm. Harming another will result in harm to the self, so don't. Excess of pleasure can bring harm, so don't.

    "The sh-t", as we saw in the 1980s, involved a number of people intentionally breaking laws in pursuit of their Capitalism, and then wondering publicly why they were being hauled into court. Capitalism may be the sh-t, but unchecked it can harm the Capitalist.
    I'm actually accounting for a couple of paragraphs here, but you struck straight after the mark with this.

    The supremacist in this case is a bit of a bozo, and I hope to demonstrate.

    The supremacist, when justifying slavery by comparing it to the indignity of the working man, either fails to recognize the difficulty, or accepts the postulation that at least one of the two standards is inherently acceptable. Perhaps the supremacist can stomach it, but it's quite easy for the modern supremacist (per example). There's a number of melodramatic blows I can strike here, but it seems overkill because you are, in fact, reflecting the point. But if I may be entitled one over-the-top melodrama--if a woman is being raped she ought to be thankful that she's not getting it in the ass at the same time. Neither case, however, is acceptable when we get right down to it. Technically, I think I'm compelled to include that for the benefit of anyone who's following our conversation with any interest. It may be the case that there are rapists, but that doesn't justify them. (And watch, I'll try to climb out of this crater I've managed to dig for myself ....)

    Likewise, perhaps the supremacist can stomach "the way it is", but I'm not entirely sure that the "way it is" is necessary. If the supremacist can stomach an elective injustice ....

    That is, I understand that the world is cutthroat.

    But as long as that's all anyone ever does, it's all we'll ever have to work with.
    If you're me, they sometimes do. But it's not like it's a neatly-packaged idea we're after here ... as long as it's worth the pursuit, we have all the time in the world.
    If I object to that, it's merely on the observation that, well, we've made it this far.

    It's kind of like another tidbit of theology: The Devil cannot be purely evil, else it would necessarily destroy itself in the process.


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  12. ubermich amnesiac . . . Registered Senior Member

    hi tiassa


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    i saw your pic on the pic thread. nice.

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    and btw, (not causally related to my seeing your pic) did you protest the WTO in seattle? sorry, i had to ask. it looks as if this stuff really hurts you, or at least intrigues you. i find it interesting too, but ive given up on man's ability to change.

    you know, ive never heard and/or thought about that. the devils always just been an icon, the binary opposite of god and his 'infinite benevolence,' more a passive, absence of good than anything aggressive. i see what youre saying though. dont rule out the prospect of unexpected characteristics: like goodness in the devil, or the ability for an incorrigible, corrupt race to change.

    2 quick points tiassa:

    1) people learn from experience not reason. thats why philosophy is such an interesting phenomenon. its characteristically un-human. no one reasons, they learn not to touch a hot stove because it burnt them and that hurt. case in point: take your proverbial wife beater. many of these men grow up in our society, have been to church, know the ten commandments, know what we and god expect of them, yet they still beat their wives. more importantly though, most watch their fathers batter their mothers day in and day out, and part of them emulates that powerful, destructive figure. however, im sure that they wouldnt promote "violence" against the defenseless if you asked them point-blank. what does that mean? obviously, they have no compunction about belieing ostensible christian beliefs that have no real meaning to them. same with your corporate pigs. they are "christian," yet can voluntarily turn a blind eye to the needy. in both of these cases, priorities are built on conditioning. okay, so maybe you dont just want to simplify the picture and label executives of international corporations exploiting third world nations as "greedy." but whatever you want to call it, i believe they learned it from somewhere perhaps their fathers were businesssmen who upheld the same values, or perhaps in their desire to amass wealth they became immersed in these corporate values and undertook them, just to be called successful by their peers. and because of human nature, they dont look inside themselves to discover their contradictions.

    more importantly, though (and i say this constructively):

    2) i think its very, very, very ironic that you're criticizing greedy capitalists and apologists for slavery when you assume a christian value system. i dont mean theres an inherent contradiction in christianity, but it seems that youre criticizing those who don't uphold life as the highest value (as christianity does), and instead idealize race/wealth/power. from my standpoint: it seems that you're wondering why people don't see the world the way you do. all of your examples assume man is equal and that we should work to preserve life. there are millions of examples from contemporary society wherein people value life at the expense of other values . theres the debate between which is more important for the elderly: longevity or quality of life. dont think i dont value life or wish to eliminate poverty. of course i do, but i realize thats a personal priority, and its definitely not the right way to see things. i dont think theres any clear cut value you can uphold above all others. if you realize this, as im sure you do, then you MUST extend this "gray area" on the spectrum of values to include those that allow the destruction of life in the name of wealth/betterment of one society. theres no quantitative difference with these. any difference you establish will assume christian values, which you must step outside of to understand how priorities are really created.

    one last example: your rape dilemma (and im probably digging myself into a bigger whole than you are.) okay, so what if someone says "be glad you're not getting it up the ass, b*tch." i agree, its repugnant. but why do i believe that? i dunno. let me see. well maybe these are reasons:

    1) christianity-again, assumption
    2) value in human autonomy- what about the autonomy of the rapist? why must autonomy be a right, instead of a privilege to the strong?
    3) suffering of others negates any pathway to your own happiness why? why? why? why must we believe that people are created equal, and have certain unalienable rights? why must we protect them if they cannot protect themselves? and how do you quantify one's suffering against another's pleasure?

    again, a lot of people pull out the golden rule and say, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. like an existentialist look at the consequences: what would happen if everyone did this? i dont understand why we hold ourselves to that standard. mundanely, its not going to happen that 7 billion other people will sin this way and live it like a creed. and moreover, to be redundant, why assume that we must all act equally?

    i know youre gut reaction may be to recoil from these statements, but i think these questions are just as valid as those that you apply to the rapist and the racist.

    again, very ironically, just as corporate executives and politicians consider how not if to exploit third world nations, christians consider how not ifwe should work to create a utopia.
  13. %BlueSoulRobot% Copyright! Copyright!! Registered Senior Member

    Eek. *gulps*

    I see I have stepped into something too deep for a shallow dweller like me. I just came because I was attracted to the word 'horsepuckey'

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    -%Le Robot Bleu avec une âme% (translations no work good)
  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Ubermich--okay, it's been a while, but ....

    Having not read enough manifestos to find one that told me I needed to be in the streets with the protesters, it did not seem a wise idea to stay downtown in bad shoes when expecting the police to be stupid. By the time I got home, the police had decided to be stupid. At that point, I drew a line in the sand: I would stay out of the battle until a civilian was killed. At that point, I would have marched out to stand the line in better shoes. Perhaps the only thing I can say to SPD's credit is that nobody died.
    What do they do with that experience? Without reason, logic, or rational consideration, what is that experience worth?
    On the one hand I'm afraid I don't follow you. To the other, I think I might.

    Um, at the point that the basic Christian worldview accords with mine, very few, if any Christians would stand there. However, having grown up in the United States, and something I did notice during my atheistic period, all Americans tend toward a certain amount of Judeo-Christian behavior or psychology. At that point, even an atheist is "Christian". It's an obscure degree, Han Solo has a greater effect at that degree.
    Well, that equality is codified into my nation, and it's one that I spend a good deal of time considering.

    I do extend the gray area to actions like murder. However, I ask simply this:

    What is the purpose of society?

    Or, more specifically: Why do humans come together in society? Is society a fraudulent concept created specifically for human dominion?

    For instance, I generally assert that the purpose of life seems to be species perpetuation. What makes murder or warfare interesting in that sense is that I cannot show that murder or warfare are not beneficial to the species, a form of selection. Of course, that also means considering conditions whereby Ted Bundy was an advanced human being, and I think you see people's diverse morals and ethics balk at the thought that Night Stalker Ramirez or what about the time they botched that execution in the south? Had to shock the guy for 37 minutes and I don't think that even killed him. A very unfortunate incident, but who wants to consider that the incestuous, mentally retarded product of a union that rises up to murder its parents might be an advancement in the human ethic?

    We come together in society; it would seem that this is not designed specifically to extinct human beings.
    I've asked that question a number of times. However, it comes back to the fact that someone would need to establish why the rapist has autonomy and not the raped.
    To use an old phrase, we seek unalienable rights and equal protection for people in order to secure the "blessings" of peace, and to ensure domestic tranquility.
    When the golden rule advocated by Christ--do unto others--is put before me, I like to remind people of a much more genuine expression of it, from Rabbi Hillel: Do not do unto others as you would not have done unto you.°
    Act equally?
    They're quite fair questions.

    But again, I ask, For what reason do humans come together in "society" or "civilization"?
    Remember, though, that the Christian utopia comes at the end of the world.

    Aside from that minor detail, I believe I hear you knocking.

    So ... we haven't extincted humanity yet. I wonder why this is?

    Or to be more specific: We humans come together in collectives because there is strength, safety, and progress in numbers. Without collectives, we're still random hunters roaming the savannah with a spear, a stone, or some such. What we are not includes mighty armies, markets/bazaars, stably housed, regularly fed .... It's what puts the whole of society into question: it seems we only wish these benefits for some human beings. Perhaps a form of natural selection? Since we have the power to opt out other cultures, we ought to?

    In addition to building churches and government buildings, human collectives have also learned to build granaries and other storage structures all the way up to supermarkets and the infrastructure to operate them. That people, having established ways to provide for necessity, start fighting over ownership or control of that provision is interesting.

    The point of if/how to create a utopia is very valid. But the counterpoint to offer you is what you think the better thing for yourself is. Not what you would prefer to be doing, but what is, in your judgment, the better condition for you to exist in:

    • The condition whereby you must wander the savannah, put a stick into an animal, find someplace to settle in for the night and, if you can't manage fire because of the conditions, rip apart and consume the animal.

    • The condition whereby you might, should you so prefer, sit and eat pizza or chips or swill a beer while you're posting to Sciforums.

    Can you show me anywhere in existence a species that exists solely to destroy itself? Or how about a species that is so totally independent in the world that it has no need for any other species of life?

    How nihilist should we get?

    I mean, species seem to work to perpetuate themselves. It's an observable, reasonably-consistent principle in life, wouldn't you say? You've heard, I'm sure, of herds of animals isolating one or two of the weaker organisms in order to "protect" the herd; that is, when the predator strikes, it will be taking down a weaker organism removed from the primary herd. Why is this? It's a sacrifice, to be sure, except that most animals don't have a clue what the word means in that or any context. But in addition to satiating the beast that threatens the herd, the weaker organism is no longer in the breeding stock, and, furthermore, the young and strong of the herd have been protected by isolating the attack. I watched walruses recently coming ashore on some nature special. When the bear attacked, the group moved back into the water and one older female stayed on the beach; the predator focused on her while the more viable members of the herd moved back into the water. Incidentally, the old walrus kicked the crap out of the bear anyway and made it to the water in time to save her own life. Not bad for a baggy ol' walrus, eh? But it was interesting watching the species protect its most viable reproductive force.

    What about humanity is different? Why should we destroy ourselves entirely? It doesn't make sense that we should, and while I recognize the theoretical presence of the principles you've pointed out, I must point first to life itself and also to the notion that we do, in fact, come together in collectives, from the family or clan to the tribe to the nation, common cause is shared among groups of humans, and common cause is often shared between those groups.

    There comes a point where the argument becomes bogged down by accretions; I cannot speak to how the mine owners' need to work children to death helped humanity. I cannot speak to how a representative (and therefore subjective) economy ends up being designed to be more vicious than life.

    In the meantime, can any one person demonstrate objectively that they are any more important than another person? The fundamental necessity of equality derives from the all-too-human habit of coming together in collectives. For what reason did Sparta abandon its young who were deemed to be not up to standard? The benefit of the collective.

    Let's take that example to the abortion debate: Although we now find the Spartan practice repugnant, Americans do still allow abortion. Now, technically, it's a fine line for the political stand for me.

    But certain forms of human destruction have been determined to be bad for society; among them Spartan practices. It is a crime in the US, for instance, to leave a newborn on a hilltop, or in a dumpster, or abandoned in the bathroom at Disney World with the intent of revoking one's parental duty.

    Unlike the anti-choicers, I'm not going to protest abortion.

    Rather, what I would work toward is a condition of enlightenment among humans in which abortion is not necessary.

    In the meantime, does abortion actually serve the same purpose as the Spartans sought? Maybe, maybe not. The accretions of sentiment and principle that have built up over the years might cloud a certain fundamental connection 'twixt Sparta and abortion.

    Accretions of sentiment and principle: Well, sexual intercourse seems pretty natural doesn't it? A fundamental need to reproduce, ad nauseam? Now, BDSM, oral sex, watersports, menage-a-oodles ... accretions of sentiment and principle.

    What is the difference between two tribes, during bad times, fighting over water or food because they don't understand they can share it? Or what if there's legitimately not enough to go around?

    Accretion of sentiment? Well, show me a war in the last 100 years, at least, that was, strictly-speaking, necessary. (That includes all parties; certes the invaded country "had to go to war", but what truly required the invasion?)

    Very few human necessities are truly necessary. But we have come together in collectives, and if striving toward the most beneficial collective possible is inappropriately utopiate, what is the point of the collective? If the collective and its benefits are inappropriate, well ... what is the point of survival in the first place? And if survival is unnecessary, why does life exist in the first place?

    We can fairly take our cues from "lower animals" on this one. How many species intentionally and willfully extinct themselves? What living organism comes about sheerly by accident and does not attempt as part of its life cycle to reproduce? I can theorize "an accidental lifeform", I suppose, but that's hardly sufficient.

    I think the reason that we don't idealize the race/wealth/power triune is that it does not promote the benefit of our species. It does not promote the progress of our species. It narrows and restricts the gene-pool (based on a subjective idea of superiority), sets life (and therefore species) as expendable (e.g. working to death), and narrows the focus of the species to itself (after all, I know of few independently wealthy canines, for instance); humans have the power to extinct entire species, and from time to time we do. What happens when wealth & power are so much the focus that one renders the area unlivable and there's nothing left to fight for? Holding life as the highest value means that the living balance of the planet/universe/environment will continue and possibly progress. It seems to the benefit of the species to hold life as the highest value.

    And one need not be Christian in order to see that. In fact, I tend to believe that it helps to not be Christian. Not just in seeing that, but also in terms of the progress of the species.


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    Hillel: According to legend, a student had occasion to ask the Rabbi to recite the Torah while standing on one foot. The Rabbi thought for a moment, and then said, "Do not do unto others as you would not have done unto yourself. This is the whole of the Torah." While I've never had cause to argue against Judaism in the same way I do Christianity, I would say that such an idea is part of the reason why not.

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