theses on humanity

iwbiek's picture

i cannot claim complete originality with any of these ideas.  these short statements comprise my general worldview after a humble thirty-one years of existence.  i post them here to invite comment and also to clarify and systemize these thoughts for my own convenience.

1. everything that a human is capable of exists in him already: just as matter can neither be created nor destroyed, no part of human nature can be created nor destroyed.  external stimuli may serve as catalysts, though said stimuli will not be catalysts for the same reactions in all humans, and in many humans said stimuli will not be catalysts at all.  these reactions are possible to predict only in the most general way, and even that only after great effort and with no small measure of talent.  regardless, at base, every human is capable of every possible act.

2. nothing is more important for the greater part of humanity, subjectively speaking, than preserving as much human life as possible.  there being no more logical standard of determining "right" and "wrong," this standard is the most expedient to adopt.

3. clarity in communication is the most important factor in moving toward a world that is generally more tolerable.  it is also difficult to obtain because it requires a great deal of both effort and humility, two things of which humanity is in chronically short supply.

4. there is no ground of being, there is no center, there is no indivisible particle, there is no ontology.  complexity always conceals greater complexity.  this makes the human mind responsible to nothing but itself, and leaves the human mind nothing to blame but itself.

5. "rights" do not exist.

6. no abstract idea is worth even a microbe's life, much less a human's.  to die for the sake of the formulations of our psyche is the utmost absurdity.  no idea is more dangerous than when it is the only one a person has.

7. extremity in anything inevitably leads us further from equilibrium in everything.  that being said, only an approximation of equilibrium can ever justifiably be expected by even the most moderate human.

8. until humans learn to deal with individuals and only individuals, with individual occurences and only individual occurences, putting aside the notion of categorizations as reliable indicators, they cannot be taken seriously when they talk about "truth."

9. absolutely everything is relative.  absolutely everything is equally relative.  there are no absolutes, not even by degrees (a paradox, anyhow).

10. we are never right.  we are only more or less accurate, either by perception or inference, in a given situation.

11. objectivity does not exist.

12. there is no fundamental problem of existence.  everything exists precisely as it should, precisely because "should" is meaningless.

13. "big questions" are what make us human.  answers to these questions cannot exist because they would mean the negation of humanity.

14. you must accept humans as they are or cease to live with them.

15. everything we can say about the idea of god we can say about ourselves.  the very fact that we can conceive of god's cruelty proves that that cruelty exists in us.  in this way, the ontologicsal argument is true.  god exists; god influences us--just as our own compulsion to scratch an itch or swat a fly exists and influences us.  it's true that no man can see god's face and live, because no living human has ever turned completely inward, into that great infinite depth that resides in all of us, and remained among humanity.  if you truly want to escape god, blow your brain to bits--or meet god, and request a leave of absence, but only a very few have the strength for that.  ramana maharshi was one, but only due to some psychological anomaly.

16. the rational human is an anomaly.  that is why humanity has a horror of him.  his kind has no more evolutionary hope than the albino or the mule.

17. consistency in a human is the surest sign of a dangerous psychosis.

18. my atheism has made me love god more than i ever could before.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

ProzacDeathWish's picture

  #14 "You must accept

  #14 "You must accept humans as they are or cease to live with them."

 

                            I would exclude all 7+ billion from my life without a second thought.  Typical human nature is an abomination to me.

 

 

 

I'm a right wing atheist because I enjoy being hated by everyone.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaE66cl4Bz8

iwbiek's picture

ProzacDeathWish wrote:  #14

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

  #14 "You must accept humans as they are or cease to live with them."

 

                            I would exclude all 7+ billion from my life without a second thought.  Typical human nature is an abomination to me.

 

 

 


i didn't put these in any particular order but i probably should have put that one first, because they all boil down to that one.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

Beyond Saving's picture

iwbiek wrote:2. nothing is

iwbiek wrote:

2. nothing is more important for the greater part of humanity, subjectively speaking, than preserving as much human life as possible.  there being no more logical standard of determining "right" and "wrong," this standard is the most expedient to adopt.

This is probably the point I disagree with most, because it seems to assume that we should give a flying fuck about the greater part of humanity and what is best for it. Since what is best for the greater part of humanity is often not what is best for you, your family, your local community and the things you care about, it is not expedient to worry more about the subjective standard for humanity- which for the most part you will never interact with- over the subjective standards of the part of humanity you come in contact with on a regular basis.

 

iwbiek wrote:

3. clarity in communication is the most important factor in moving toward a world that is generally more tolerable.  it is also difficult to obtain because it requires a great deal of both effort and humility, two things of which humanity is in chronically short supply.

QFT

 

iwbiek wrote:

5. "rights" do not exist.

I agree in the sense of some mysteriously derived fundamental "natural" rights, which I think is what you meant. Rights exist in exactly the same way religion, language, value, borders and other constructs of the human mind exist.

 

iwbiek wrote:

8. until humans learn to deal with individuals and only individuals, with individual occurences and only individual occurences, putting aside the notion of categorizations as reliable indicators, they cannot be taken seriously when they talk about "truth."

I'm not sure it is possible to deal only with individual occurrences as our minds have nothing to draw from aside from previous similar experiences and I'm not sure we could avoid drawing from those no matter how hard we try. If it could be done, I would still be suspicious of anyone peddling truth. 

 

iwbiek wrote:

14. you must accept humans as they are or cease to live with them.

My life has certainly become far more pleasant since I came to this same realization.

It was morality that burned the books of the ancient sages, and morality that halted the free inquiry of the Golden Age and substituted for it the credulous imbecility of the Age of Faith. It was a fixed moral code and a fixed theology which robbed the human race of a thousand years by wasting them upon alchemy, heretic-burning, witchcraft and sacerdotalism.-H.L. Mencken

iwbiek's picture

Beyond Saving wrote:iwbiek

Beyond Saving wrote:

iwbiek wrote:

2. nothing is more important for the greater part of humanity, subjectively speaking, than preserving as much human life as possible.  there being no more logical standard of determining "right" and "wrong," this standard is the most expedient to adopt.

This is probably the point I disagree with most, because it seems to assume that we should give a flying fuck about the greater part of humanity and what is best for it.

"seems" is the operative word there, since i detest "shoulds" on principle.  the problem is, whether we like it or not, societies will always exist and these societies will make laws.  laws are inevitably based on some sort of presupposition (e.g., "it's wrong to kill"--this statement is purely axiomatic).  these presuppositions are often religiously based and, contrary to some other contributors to this site, i argue that religion and politics are at base (note the emphasis) totally unrelated phenomena which react together like matter and antimatter, i.e. destructively.  it's my contention that the preservation of as much life as possible, perhaps also taking into consideration a certain basic minimum quality of life, to the exclusion of any other abstract principle, particular any related to the notions of "sacred" and "profane," is the starting point for legislation that is most likely to cause the least mischief.

i also think now, as i review my statement, that i should have written "nothing is more important to the greater part of humanity" than "for the greater part."  by "subjective," of course, i meant human life is no more inherently worth preserving than anything else.

BeyondSaving wrote:

iwbiek wrote:

5. "rights" do not exist.

I agree in the sense of some mysteriously derived fundamental "natural" rights, which I think is what you meant. 

correct.  anytime i use the verb "to exist" in a philosophical context, i mean possessing some sort of absolute ontological status, and, as i have stated at various times on this site, i do not believe in any absolute ontology at all.  to me, the first line of the declaration of independence is one of the biggest loads of crap ever written.

BeyondSaving wrote:
 

iwbiek wrote:

8. until humans learn to deal with individuals and only individuals, with individual occurences and only individual occurences, putting aside the notion of categorizations as reliable indicators, they cannot be taken seriously when they talk about "truth."

I'm not sure it is possible to deal only with individual occurrences as our minds have nothing to draw from aside from previous similar experiences and I'm not sure we could avoid drawing from those no matter how hard we try. If it could be done, I would still be suspicious of anyone peddling truth. 

well, i've always given perception priority over inference.  of course, the human mind's very real need to classify and draw analogies can never be completely overcome, nor probably should it, but with a little effort and practice, i've found it is possible to train one's self to focus more on details without automatically resorting to stereotypes.  the problem, as always, is that not only does this take effort, but it also leads to shouldering the responsibility of puzzling out the correct course of action to take in each new situation, and human nature abhors both effort and personal responsibility. 

incidentally, this is one reason why i find brian's constant harping about species disturbing: it's just resorting to another abstraction--an abstraction related more closely to observable, empirical reality, sure, but still an abstraction.  ultimately, i argue, along with many indian traditions, most notably the sautrantika school of buddhism, that the only thing we can safely assume is not an abstraction is the individual moment, and the implications of that idea are troubling to anyone who understands it and gives it more than half a minute's thought.

i admit, i used "truth" ironically, an irresponsible indulgence of mine.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

ProzacDeathWish's picture

    Instead of "theses"

 

                                                      Instead of "theses" on humanity I prefer "feces" on humanity.   People are full of shit.

 

 

 

I'm a right wing atheist because I enjoy being hated by everyone.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaE66cl4Bz8

Brian37's picture

Quote:seems" is the

Quote:
seems" is the operative word there, since i detest "shoulds" on principle.  the problem is, whether we like it or not, societies will always exist and these societies will make laws.  laws are inevitably based on some sort of presupposition (e.g., "it's wrong to kill"--this statement is purely axiomatic).  these presuppositions are often religiously based and, contrary to some other contributors to this site, i argue that religion and politics are at base (note the emphasis) totally unrelated phenomena which react together like matter and antimatter, i.e. destructively.  it's my contention that the preservation of as much life as possible, perhaps also taking into consideration a certain basic minimum quality of life, to the exclusion of any other abstract principle, particular any related to the notions of "sacred" and "profane," is the starting point for legislation that is most likely to cause the least mischief.

i also think now, as i review my statement, that i should have written "nothing is more important to the greater part of humanity" than "for the greater part."  by "subjective," of course, i meant human life is no more inherently worth preserving than anything else.

Um no, you already stated the fact in the OP that that which is in our human nature is already there. But saying that religion isn't a part of it is nonsense. Our human actions are based on evolution, both our capacity for cruelty and compassion, and the ability to make factual discovery and the ability to pull shit out of our ass. Religion isn't an invisible or separate "Phenomena". It is merely a reflection of our own childish ignorance and ego. You are blowing out of proportion our natural behavior of believing false things.  There is nothing to it other than our evolution produces a very wide lack of understanding that human perceptions are notoriously flawed. All evolution's goal is to get to the point of reproduction. It doesn't matter if a society is successful in doing that while basing it on a falsehood.

This "matter anti matter" analogy might as well be out of a Star Trek episode.

 

However I do agree that societies will exist and laws are how we organize. I also think it is wise to have a minimum quality of life for the most.

 

I do however agree that we hurt ourselves as a species by not increasing a minimal quality of life for more people. You have to have some inequity to provide motivation and you will always have a top and bottom. But the more the bottom drops the worse it gets for more and eventually when given the chance and numbers, the affected bottom will react.

 

 The "anti matter" to me is our flawed perceptions that drive us to set up bad priorities being our artificial constructs we call politics and religion, but those really are nothing more than our evolutionary strive for resources and we use them as excuses to gain control over resources.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Brian37's picture

And let me add, part of that

And let me add, part of that "which is already in us" is the ability to change. Clinging to old myths only provides comfort, not knowledge.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

iwbiek's picture

Brian37 wrote:Quote:seems"

Brian37 wrote:

Quote:
seems" is the operative word there, since i detest "shoulds" on principle.  the problem is, whether we like it or not, societies will always exist and these societies will make laws.  laws are inevitably based on some sort of presupposition (e.g., "it's wrong to kill"--this statement is purely axiomatic).  these presuppositions are often religiously based and, contrary to some other contributors to this site, i argue that religion and politics are at base (note the emphasis) totally unrelated phenomena which react together like matter and antimatter, i.e. destructively.  it's my contention that the preservation of as much life as possible, perhaps also taking into consideration a certain basic minimum quality of life, to the exclusion of any other abstract principle, particular any related to the notions of "sacred" and "profane," is the starting point for legislation that is most likely to cause the least mischief.

i also think now, as i review my statement, that i should have written "nothing is more important to the greater part of humanity" than "for the greater part."  by "subjective," of course, i meant human life is no more inherently worth preserving than anything else.

Um no, you already stated the fact in the OP that that which is in our human nature is already there. But saying that religion isn't a part of it is nonsense. Our human actions are based on evolution, both our capacity for cruelty and compassion, and the ability to make factual discovery and the ability to pull shit out of our ass. Religion isn't an invisible or separate "Phenomena". It is merely a reflection of our own childish ignorance and ego. You are blowing out of proportion our natural behavior of believing false things.  There is nothing to it other than our evolution produces a very wide lack of understanding that human perceptions are notoriously flawed. All evolution's goal is to get to the point of reproduction. It doesn't matter if a society is successful in doing that while basing it on a falsehood.

This "matter anti matter" analogy might as well be out of a Star Trek episode.

 

However I do agree that societies will exist and laws are how we organize. I also think it is wise to have a minimum quality of life for the most.

 

I do however agree that we hurt ourselves as a species by not increasing a minimal quality of life for more people. You have to have some inequity to provide motivation and you will always have a top and bottom. But the more the bottom drops the worse it gets for more and eventually when given the chance and numbers, the affected bottom will react.

 

 The "anti matter" to me is our flawed perceptions that drive us to set up bad priorities being our artificial constructs we call politics and religion, but those really are nothing more than our evolutionary strive for resources and we use them as excuses to gain control over resources.

 

 

 

kindly let the adults have a fucking discussion for once.

 

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

Brian37's picture

After all that your last

After all that your last bullet point is:

Quote:
my atheism has made me love god more than i ever could before.

That's a shame that you would value a utopia over reality even if you don't personally believe in it.

All your posturing trying to be the schoolyard savior and all you are really saying is that you want to save the world yourself.

Please tell me what is to value about our own species reflections of our own selfish desires in the form of god/s?

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

BobSpence's picture

iwbiek wrote:1. everything

iwbiek wrote:

1. everything that a human is capable of exists in him already: just as matter can neither be created nor destroyed, no part of human nature can be created nor destroyed.  external stimuli may serve as catalysts, though said stimuli will not be catalysts for the same reactions in all humans, and in many humans said stimuli will not be catalysts at all.  these reactions are possible to predict only in the most general way, and even that only after great effort and with no small measure of talent.  regardless, at base, every human is capable of every possible act.

Our behaviour, our reactions/responses to any experience or observed event can certainly change over time as we accumulate memories of past events and learn new ways to respond to things, so I don't see any meaning in the statement that "no part of human nature can be created nor destroyed". Our reflexes and existing pattern of responses are not rigidly fixed and unchangeable in any kind of analogy to the creation or destruction of matter. BTW, matter can be utterly changed in its nature, e.g. into pure energy.

I agree that it is true that reactions can vary a lot between individual.

iwbiek wrote:

2. nothing is more important for the greater part of humanity, subjectively speaking, than preserving as much human life as possible.  there being no more logical standard of determining "right" and "wrong," this standard is the most expedient to adopt.

I don't agree - it is much more important to focus on minimising pain and suffering and maximising positive experiences. Are you seriously proposing that keeping a million people alive with minimum resources per person just above starvation) is better than using the same amount of resources to support fewer people in much more pleasant conditions?

iwbiek wrote:

3. clarity in communication is the most important factor in moving toward a world that is generally more tolerable.  it is also difficult to obtain because it requires a great deal of both effort and humility, two things of which humanity is in chronically short supply.

No fundamental disagreement here, not sure it is the most important factor though.

iwbiek wrote:

4. there is no ground of being, there is no center, there is no indivisible particle, there is no ontology.  complexity always conceals greater complexity.  this makes the human mind responsible to nothing but itself, and leaves the human mind nothing to blame but itself.

Meh!, mostly empty philosophical crap here.

iwbiek wrote:

5. "rights" do not exist.

I may agree here, in that "rights" are a very subjective concept.

iwbiek wrote:

6. no abstract idea is worth even a microbe's life, much less a human's.  to die for the sake of the formulations of our psyche is the utmost absurdity.  no idea is more dangerous than when it is the only one a person has.

Not even any of your own ideas expressed here, including this one?

iwbiek wrote:

7. extremity in anything inevitably leads us further from equilibrium in everything.  that being said, only an approximation of equilibrium can ever justifiably be expected by even the most moderate human.

Some truth here.

iwbiek wrote:

8. until humans learn to deal with individuals and only individuals, with individual occurences and only individual occurences, putting aside the notion of categorizations as reliable indicators, they cannot be taken seriously when they talk about "truth."

Yes, over-classifiation and excessive use of and reliance on labels can get in the way of real understanding. Reality is inevitably more complex than can be captured by any simplistic such system.

iwbiek wrote:

9. absolutely everything is relative.  absolutely everything is equally relative.  there are no absolutes, not even by degrees (a paradox, anyhow).

Not sure I can find much wisdom in this.

iwbiek wrote:

10. we are never right.  we are only more or less accurate, either by perception or inference, in a given situation.

Reasonable.

iwbiek wrote:

11. objectivity does not exist.

"objectivity" can be a very elusive concept, it is true.

iwbiek wrote:

12. there is no fundamental problem of existence.  everything exists precisely as it should, precisely because "should" is meaningless.

As meaningless as that statement itself.

iwbiek wrote:

13. "big questions" are what make us human.  answers to these questions cannot exist because they would mean the negation of humanity.

Nonsense.

iwbiek wrote:

14. you must accept humans as they are or cease to live with them.

Not necessarily. Depends.

iwbiek wrote:

15. everything we can say about the idea of god we can say about ourselves.  the very fact that we can conceive of god's cruelty proves that that cruelty exists in us.  in this way, the ontologicsal argument is true.  god exists; god influences us--just as our own compulsion to scratch an itch or swat a fly exists and influences us.  it's true that no man can see god's face and live, because no living human has ever turned completely inward, into that great infinite depth that resides in all of us, and remained among humanity.  if you truly want to escape god, blow your brain to bits--or meet god, and request a leave of absence, but only a very few have the strength for that.  ramana maharshi was one, but only due to some psychological anomaly.

The "ontological argument" is the dumbest argument ever. "God" is ultimately an empty concept, or  at best a reflection of our own thoughts. Truly a 'psychological anomaly' itself.

iwbiek wrote:

16. the rational human is an anomaly.  that is why humanity has a horror of him.  his kind has no more evolutionary hope than the albino or the mule.

A purely 'rational' human would indeed be an anomaly, rationality is something individuals can exercise to varying degrees, imperfectly at best. But it is what allows us to transcend the limitations of our animal nature to the degree that we can, both for good or ill. It has definitely evolved, a vital part of what makes us what we are. 

iwbiek wrote:

17. consistency in a human is the surest sign of a dangerous psychosis.

An obsession with consistency is indeed a problem, but some consistency is essential.

iwbiek wrote:

18. my atheism has made me love god more than i ever could before.

Not sure I can make sense of this statement...

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

iwbiek's picture

BobSpence wrote:Our

BobSpence wrote:
Our behaviour, our reactions/responses to any experience or observed event can certainly change over time as we accumulate memories of past events and learn new ways to respond to things, so I don't see any meaning in the statement that "no part of human nature can be created nor destroyed". Our reflexes and existing pattern of responses are not rigidly fixed and unchangeable in any kind of analogy to the creation or destruction of matter. BTW, matter can be utterly changed in its nature, e.g. into pure energy. I agree that it is true that reactions can vary a lot between individual.

i am aware that matter can be converted into energy, but then does anyone still bother calling it “matter”? if human nature were to be fundamentally changed, we would be dealing with a different animal entirely. my point was we all draw from the same storehouse, if you will, of possible actions and reactions. i did not feel it necessary to state the obvious: that we are not all equally capable of every act, and capability depends greatly on conditioning.

my real point in this thesis was that ideologies reflect what is already present in humanity, and can sometimes be responsible for drawing certain reactions out, but can never instill something that was not already there (if that were the case, we would be faced with the conclusion that ideologies come from some place other than the human mind).

if you think this statement obvious, fine, but several people, including a person on this site, have told me they had never looked at it from this point of view before, and that it cleared up considerable intellectual difficulties for them. but, as i said, i claim no originality.

BobSpence wrote:
iwbiek wrote:
4. there is no ground of being, there is no center, there is no indivisible particle, there is no ontology. complexity always conceals greater complexity. this makes the human mind responsible to nothing but itself, and leaves the human mind nothing to blame but itself.
Meh!, mostly empty philosophical crap here.

fair enough, bob, but just as your knowledge of the natural sciences far eclipses mine, i am willing to wager my knowledge of ideologies is at least a notch or two above yours, and i am telling you that the idea of a basic ontology, a ground of existence, is the primary assumption of most harmful ideologies, particularly the worst religious ideologies, which is why i insist on this point so strongly. if it seems asinine to you, fine. most astrophysics seems pointless to me.

as for “philosophical crap,” philosophy at its best concerns intellectual clarification and only intellectual clarification. if you knock philosophy for any other reason, you’re not knocking philosophy (or at most you’re knocking bad philosophy). if you knock intellectual clarification, however, or subordinate it in importance to the natural sciences (as your signature seems to imply you do), then you make the assumption that the human physiology is more important than the human psyche (and categories of importance are philosophical abstractions in and of themselves, and poor ones at that).

now, it is absolutely true that the human psyche is dependent upon the human physiology and not the other way round; nevertheless, it is a fact we must all live with and work in that the human mind has an ingrained tendency to set up a mind/body dichotomy—this is inescapable. otherwise, we would all find fulfillment and emotional satisfaction in reading biology textbooks, and this is simply not the case for most people. so should those intellectuals with no natural attraction to the sciences, yet who care deeply about intellectual clarification, try to force themselves to become biologists or chemists? or should they merely bow to the superiority of science, awaiting its judgments on their ideas, hat in hand?

BobSpence wrote:
iwbiek wrote:
6. no abstract idea is worth even a microbe's life, much less a human's. to die for the sake of the formulations of our psyche is the utmost absurdity. no idea is more dangerous than when it is the only one a person has.
Not even any of your own ideas expressed here, including this one?

precisely. did i imply otherwise?

BobSpence wrote:
iwbiek wrote:
9. absolutely everything is relative. absolutely everything is equally relative. there are no absolutes, not even by degrees (a paradox, anyhow).
Not sure I can find much wisdom in this.

i never once used the term “wisdom.” i wrote this in order to put down my scattered ideas with as much clarity and precision as possible, more for my own edification than anyone else’s, but I do appreciate most comments. obviously, i was not successful with all of them, particularly the last one, but i would never use a term so vague as “wisdom.” one man may find wisdom where another finds only banality. one may find wisdom in a bazooka joe comic, if one is so inclined.

as for myself, i find the above statement banal, precisely because i feel it should be obvious to everyone. however, it is precisely because it seems not to be obvious to the vast majority of humanity, and i find that extremely troubling, that i felt it worth mentioning.

BobSpence wrote:
iwbiek wrote:
12. there is no fundamental problem of existence. everything exists precisely as it should, precisely because "should" is meaningless.
As meaningless as that statement itself.

any statement about existence is meaningless because existence is meaningless. yet, as the name of this blog post implies, i wrote these theses on humanity and thus they are in part a response to humanity. and just as ontology is a fundamental presupposition that, in my opinion, has led to some of humanity’s greatest mischief, so the other is teleology. i have seen teleological tendencies in thinking from atheists and theists alike and i find it pernicious, so i bother to write such paradoxes. if you took no meaning from it, you’re probably not someone i would worry about.

if such things are not worth mentioning, then it would not occur that, when i wrote on another thread several weeks ago, "there is no fundamental problem of existence," a fellow contributor, and an atheist no less, responded immediately with, "YES THERE IS!"

BobSpence wrote:
iwbiek wrote:
13. "big questions" are what make us human. answers to these questions cannot exist because they would mean the negation of humanity.
Nonsense.

nonsense in what way? i’m talking about the “why” questions. are the questions nonsensical? i never said otherwise—quite the contrary. do you deny that we ask them? that would be nonsense, so i won’t suspect you of it. do you deny no answers can be found? neither science nor philosophy nor religion can ever offer a definitive answer for the “whys” of existence because the question itself is flawed, yet this flawed question is an integral part of human nature. or is that assertion what you deem nonsense?

or is it that you object to my use of philosophical terms like “negation”? that would be like me objecting to your use of terms like “species.” be so kind as to respect my field and i’ll be so kind as to respect yours. if you find the terminology puzzling enough to express impatience with it, you should learn it.

BobSpence wrote:
The "ontological argument" is the dumbest argument ever. "God" is ultimately an empty concept, or at best a reflection of our own thoughts. Truly a 'psychological anomaly' itself.

you basically just paraphrased my point, in a mangled way. i’m not agreeing with anselm. i’m saying he was talking about things he didn’t understand. to draw a very loose analogy (and i’ll probably regret drawing it), i’m attempting to do with anselm what marx did with hegel. how could i give discursive credence to the ontological argument when i admit no ontology?

BobSpence wrote:
A purely 'rational' human would indeed be an anomaly, rationality is something individuals can exercise to varying degrees, imperfectly at best. But it is what allows us to transcend the limitations of our animal nature to the degree that we can, both for good or ill. It has definitely evolved, a vital part of what makes us what we are.

i can only disagree with you based on my constant, intensive reading of history and observation of current events. as far as i’ve been able to observe, evolution or no evolution, humanity’s basic behavioral pattern runs contrary to its preservation, and i can only classify that as irrational by any workable definition.

BobSpence wrote:
An obsession with consistency is indeed a problem, but some consistency is essential.

i don’t see that as an objection. that particular point was polemical anyhow, but i saw no real need to give context.

BobSpence wrote:
iwbiek wrote:
18. my atheism has made me love god more than i ever could before.
Not sure I can make sense of this statement...

it’s linked to my criticism of the idea of god (and, i admit, something approaching an alternative idea) in #15.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

harleysportster's picture

iwbiek wrote:my real point

iwbiek wrote:

my real point in this thesis was that ideologies reflect what is already present in humanity, and can sometimes be responsible for drawing certain reactions out, but can never instill something that was not already there (if that were the case, we would be faced with the conclusion that ideologies come from some place other than the human mind).

if you think this statement obvious, fine, but several people, including a person on this site, have told me they had never looked at it from this point of view before, and that it cleared up considerable intellectual difficulties for them. but, as i said, i claim no originality.

That person might have been me Smiling

I had never considered that politics and religion are a reflection of the society and not the other way around.

I had thought about "idealized aggression" before and how the propensity for violence is already present in people who would commit an inhuman act in the name of a cause or religion (the snowtown murders in Australia would be a prime example) so the conclusion to me should have been obvious, but I had not really taken it any deeper than that.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno

iwbiek's picture

harleysportster wrote:I had

harleysportster wrote:
I had never considered that politics and religion are a reflection of the society and not the other way around.

neither had i for the longest time. one of our greatest hangovers from plato is that we tend to elevate concepts to the level of the truly existing. of course, i will not indict plato for this, because this tendency too is nothing more than a natural human psychological phenomenon (which is redundant, since basically everything is a "natural phenomenon").

in religions like christianity, of course, this kind of thinking is not a problem, because revelation springs from the mind of god, and thus it is more truly existing than we are. those who hold that revelation is not possible, however, among them not only western (in the sense of european or europeanized) atheists, but also buddhists, jains, and most hindus, can brook no such assumption. still, so many of us in the western atheist community still carry this handicap with us from christianity (and our tendency toward it probably drew us to serious practice of christianity in the first place). even those western atheists who were never religious at all often cannot so easily escape this tendency, as they cannot so easily escape 2,500 years of european thought.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

Brian37's picture

Quote:my real point in this

Quote:
my real point in this thesis was that ideologies reflect what is already present in humanity, and can sometimes be responsible for drawing certain reactions out, but can never instill something that was not already there

 

You don't need to create needless philosophical fluff to state the obvious.

 

Again if our behaviors are wired into us, it is because of evolution. Life in reality is messy.  But our core common existence is to get resources to allow us opportunity to create offspring.

 

 

Our artificial constructs such as religion, politics, race and nationality distract our species from the fact that we never ceased to be the same species, as you admit in the quote above. We are all the same on the inside, both in our capability to be cruel or compassionate.

 

Read "The New Atheism" By Victor Stenger. He goes into scientific detail as to why science DOES have something to say about the existence of god/s And he also addresses our common morality as a species.

 

 

 

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Brian37's picture

 Quote: one of our

 

Quote:
one of our greatest hangovers from plato is that we tend to elevate concepts to the level of the truly existing. of course, i will not indict plato for this, because this tendency too is nothing more than a natural human psychology

HELLO!

Dawkins who would agree with this statement wrote "The God Delusion". But he does place blame on Plato.

And maybe you are not aware, attacks Platonic thinking as being single handedly the biggest pitfall humans have suffered from since. He would indict Plato for it! Preface to "The Greatest Show On Earth" Dawkins blasts Plato and for far too long Plato was my hero, until Dawkins rightfully jolted me out of seeing him as such. I cant blame Plato because he didn't have modern tools, but his flawed perception has since had a negative impact on human thought.

But where you get off claiming that all atheists suffer from this is bullshit.

Just because something is natural, meaning we do observe it, does not mean it is always good for us. Again, volcanos make land and provide nutrients in soil, but you don't want to be around them when the blow.

Ignorance is understandable when people don't know better, but once better data is in it is sad that you'd rather coddle the insecurities of "Platonic thought" in elevating concepts as "truely existing" as you put it. It is precisely because we don't challenge our own claims that allows ignorance to retard progress.

 

If all that is going on is "human psychology" and I agree, then you do a disservice to your fellow human by not spreading that reality to them. You keep them in their intellectual chains.

 

It is natural that people believe stupid things, yes, but it is not ok to ignore it or never challenge it out of some well intended sense of empathy.

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

iwbiek's picture

Brian37 wrote:But where you

Brian37 wrote:
But where you get off claiming that all atheists suffer from this is bullshit.

i never in my life said "all" people do anything, you twat.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

iwbiek's picture

Brian37 wrote:needless

Brian37 wrote:
needless philosophical fluff

typical dismissal of something one doesn't have the tools to understand.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

BobSpence's picture

iwbiek wrote:BobSpence

iwbiek wrote:

BobSpence wrote:
Our behaviour, our reactions/responses to any experience or observed event can certainly change over time as we accumulate memories of past events and learn new ways to respond to things, so I don't see any meaning in the statement that "no part of human nature can be created nor destroyed". Our reflexes and existing pattern of responses are not rigidly fixed and unchangeable in any kind of analogy to the creation or destruction of matter. BTW, matter can be utterly changed in its nature, e.g. into pure energy. I agree that it is true that reactions can vary a lot between individual.

i am aware that matter can be converted into energy, but then does anyone still bother calling it “matter”? if human nature were to be fundamentally changed, we would be dealing with a different animal entirely. my point was we all draw from the same storehouse, if you will, of possible actions and reactions. i did not feel it necessary to state the obvious: that we are not all equally capable of every act, and capability depends greatly on conditioning.

my real point in this thesis was that ideologies reflect what is already present in humanity, and can sometimes be responsible for drawing certain reactions out, but can never instill something that was not already there (if that were the case, we would be faced with the conclusion that ideologies come from some place other than the human mind).

if you think this statement obvious, fine, but several people, including a person on this site, have told me they had never looked at it from this point of view before, and that it cleared up considerable intellectual difficulties for them. but, as i said, i claim no originality.

If a quantity of matter is converted to pure energy, we don't call it matter any more, it is now energy! D'uh! The 'unconverted' matter is still matter!

There is NO 'storehouse' of possibilities, in any real sense, for us to 'draw out' certain reactions. I don't see this as a useful analogy. The range of possible reactions to any particular situation is indeed constrained by our 'nature' and our individual development history. It can be modified by conscious training and further experience, but within certain bounds. I don't see it makes useful sense to say any enhanced skills or understanding we may achieve were somehow 'already there', except as abstract possibilities.

Of course, any discussion of things from different points of view may indeed help someone feel they understand something better.

iwbiek wrote:

BobSpence wrote:
iwbiek wrote:
4. there is no ground of being, there is no center, there is no indivisible particle, there is no ontology. complexity always conceals greater complexity. this makes the human mind responsible to nothing but itself, and leaves the human mind nothing to blame but itself.
Meh!, mostly empty philosophical crap here.

fair enough, bob, but just as your knowledge of the natural sciences far eclipses mine, i am willing to wager my knowledge of ideologies is at least a notch or two above yours, and i am telling you that the idea of a basic ontology, a ground of existence, is the primary assumption of most harmful ideologies, particularly the worst religious ideologies, which is why i insist on this point so strongly. if it seems asinine to you, fine. most astrophysics seems pointless to me.

as for “philosophical crap,” philosophy at its best concerns intellectual clarification and only intellectual clarification. if you knock philosophy for any other reason, you’re not knocking philosophy (or at most you’re knocking bad philosophy). if you knock intellectual clarification, however, or subordinate it in importance to the natural sciences (as your signature seems to imply you do), then you make the assumption that the human physiology is more important than the human psyche (and categories of importance are philosophical abstractions in and of themselves, and poor ones at that).

So long as a particular 'philosophical' analysis or discussion does indeed lead to a degree of 'clarification', that is fine. But Philosophy itself does not lead to real knowledge in itself, but it may point the way for science to uncover such new understanding. Most Philosophy is little more than juggling with ideas and different ways of looking at reality - essential precursor to coming up with new hypotheses, to be followed by testing to see if the new ideas really do represent an advance in understanding.

No way do I make any such assumption that human physiology is more important than the human mind or 'psyche'.

iwbiek wrote:

now, it is absolutely true that the human psyche is dependent upon the human physiology and not the other way round; nevertheless, it is a fact we must all live with and work in that the human mind has an ingrained tendency to set up a mind/body dichotomy—this is inescapable. otherwise, we would all find fulfillment and emotional satisfaction in reading biology textbooks, and this is simply not the case for most people. so should those intellectuals with no natural attraction to the sciences, yet who care deeply about intellectual clarification, try to force themselves to become biologists or chemists? or should they merely bow to the superiority of science, awaiting its judgments on their ideas, hat in hand?

By characterising 'science' by reference to physiology, biology, and even chemistry, you seem unaware of the major scientific advances relevant to this sort of discussion, namely in Neuroscience and brain scanning and related areas. IOW, REAL 'clarification' requires actual empirical investigation of the subject, i.e., Science, not just Philosophy. Knowledge requires more than just thinking about the subject - it is necessary, but by no means sufficient.

That has to be enough for now, I'll address other points in a future post.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

iwbiek's picture

BobSpence wrote:There is NO

BobSpence wrote:
There is NO 'storehouse' of possibilities, in any real sense, for us to 'draw out' certain reactions. I don't see this as a useful analogy. The range of possible reactions to any particular situation is indeed constrained by our 'nature' and our individual development history. It can be modified by conscious training and further experience, but within certain bounds. I don't see it makes useful sense to say any enhanced skills or understanding we may achieve were somehow 'already there', except as abstract possibilities.

Of course, any discussion of things from different points of view may indeed help someone feel they understand something better.

well, that's the funny thing about analogies, they never work for everyone. my concern with writing this point was purely social and historical. it seems to me that the most dangerous points in the history of any society are reached when people start to believe they are incapable of making the same mistakes or doing the same terrible deeds in the same circumstances as previous instances. i was compelled to write this statement after revisiting hannah arendt's concept of the banality of evil that she writes about in "eichmann in jerusalem," a book i highly recommend.

BobSpence wrote:
By characterising 'science' by reference to physiology, biology, and even chemistry, you seem unaware of the major scientific advances relevant to this sort of discussion, namely in Neuroscience and brain scanning and related areas. IOW, REAL 'clarification' requires actual empirical investigation of the subject, i.e., Science, not just Philosophy. Knowledge requires more than just thinking about the subject - it is necessary, but by no means sufficient

i am not completely unaware but i would not call myself informed.

philosophy is not about finding knowledge but giving us the tools to think and interpret experiences properly, or explain how the mind works. philosophy is a tool, not an act of production. the practice of science in and of itself owes a great deal to 20th century philosophers, karl popper in particular--not because they "added" anything to scientific knowledge, but because they clarified what science precisely is and the foundations of its methodology.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

BobSpence's picture

Philosophy can definitely

Philosophy can definitely contribute to interpreting our experiences, but it can be wildly wrong, in the absence of reference to relevant research results, very inadequate to explaining 'how the mind works'. That is the subject of real research in Neuroscience and the functioning of the brain, and the better designed psychological studies, where the way people actually respond to various experiences is recorded, not how they think they would respond, which can often be very different.

Actually I do tend to agree that things like the Philosophy of Science can and indeed have made very real contributions to how Science is done, e.g. Karl Popper. I just don't think Philosophy has much of a useful role in the actual study of the Mind (or any other aspect of reality) 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

iwbiek's picture

BobSpence wrote:Philosophy

BobSpence wrote:

Philosophy can definitely contribute to interpreting our experiences, but it can be wildly wrong, in the absence of reference to relevant research results, very inadequate to explaining 'how the mind works'. That is the subject of real research in Neuroscience and the functioning of the brain, and the better designed psychological studies, where the way people actually respond to various experiences is recorded, not how they think they would respond, which can often be very different.

Actually I do tend to agree that things like the Philosophy of Science can and indeed have made very real contributions to how Science is done, e.g. Karl Popper. I just don't think Philosophy has much of a useful role in the actual study of the Mind (or any other aspect of reality) 

pardon me, i added a clause to one of my sentences in the wrong place when i was editing. i meant to say that philosophy is not here to bring us new knowledge or show us how the mind works. philosophy is not psychoanalysis and certainly not neuroscience.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

BobSpence's picture

 I was quite 'into'

 I was quite 'into' Philosophy well into my twenties, and I read Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy". Russell is still one of my favourite philosophers. Historically, I quite like David Hume. Among current philosophers, I really have a lot of time for Daniel Dennett.

I have found far more real 'meat' in science-based articles and commentary, so I have lost interest in following the speculations of philosophy in general.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

BobSpence's picture

iwbiek wrote:BobSpence

iwbiek wrote:

BobSpence wrote:
iwbiek wrote:
13. "big questions" are what make us human. answers to these questions cannot exist because they would mean the negation of humanity.
Nonsense.

nonsense in what way? i’m talking about the “why” questions. are the questions nonsensical? i never said otherwise—quite the contrary. do you deny that we ask them? that would be nonsense, so i won’t suspect you of it. do you deny no answers can be found? neither science nor philosophy nor religion can ever offer a definitive answer for the “whys” of existence because the question itself is flawed, yet this flawed question is an integral part of human nature. or is that assertion what you deem nonsense?

or is it that you object to my use of philosophical terms like “negation”? that would be like me objecting to your use of terms like “species.” be so kind as to respect my field and i’ll be so kind as to respect yours. if you find the terminology puzzling enough to express impatience with it, you should learn it.

The initial part of the proposition is reasonable, as far as 'what makes us human'. It is what follows that goes off the deep end, AFAICS. If a "why" question is 'merely' seeking the causal chain behind something, that is fair enough. But if it is after something more like 'what is the 'purpose' behind of something, that in most cases will have no definitive answer, it may not even represent a sensible question. I have no quarrel with the assertion that this sort of questioning is fundamental to much human thought, but to go to that stuff about 'negation of humanity' seems a little crazy. 

BobSpence wrote:
BobSpence wrote:
The "ontological argument" is the dumbest argument ever. "God" is ultimately an empty concept, or at best a reflection of our own thoughts. Truly a 'psychological anomaly' itself.

you basically just paraphrased my point, in a mangled way. i’m not agreeing with anselm. i’m saying he was talking about things he didn’t understand. to draw a very loose analogy (and i’ll probably regret drawing it), i’m attempting to do with anselm what marx did with hegel. how could i give discursive credence to the ontological argument when i admit no ontology?

OK, but I think Anselm was talking about things which had no coherent content, i.e. were things which were so poorly conceived as to not be worth trying to understand.

iwbiek wrote:

BobSpence wrote:
A purely 'rational' human would indeed be an anomaly, rationality is something individuals can exercise to varying degrees, imperfectly at best. But it is what allows us to transcend the limitations of our animal nature to the degree that we can, both for good or ill. It has definitely evolved, a vital part of what makes us what we are.

i can only disagree with you based on my constant, intensive reading of history and observation of current events. as far as i’ve been able to observe, evolution or no evolution, humanity’s basic behavioral pattern runs contrary to its preservation, and i can only classify that as irrational by any workable definition.

Our patterns of behaviour may indeed be not in our long term best interests, but that is not a failing of rationality as such, more a failure to apply our thinking with sufficiently broad and long-term perspective. It has obviously worked for a long time, which has helped to lead to the current threats to our future. When people attempt to argue against these threats, such as over-population and climate change, then you point to irrationality.

BobSpence wrote:
An obsession with consistency is indeed a problem, but some consistency is essential.

i don’t see that as an objection. that particular point was polemical anyhow, but i saw no real need to give context.

BobSpence wrote:
iwbiek wrote:
18. my atheism has made me love god more than i ever could before.
Not sure I can make sense of this statement...

it’s linked to my criticism of the idea of god (and, i admit, something approaching an alternative idea) in #15.

OK, so I probably not try to make sense of them in isolation.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

Cpt_pineapple's picture

Sounds like a Liberal Art

Sounds like a Liberal Art grad's thesis.

iwbiek's picture

Cpt_pineapple wrote:Sounds

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
Sounds like a Liberal Art grad's thesis.

well, i graduated from a liberal arts college (though the "liberal arts" major didn't exist there), and my thesis was a helluva lot more focused and specialized than anything i've written here.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

iwbiek's picture

BobSpence wrote:I have found

BobSpence wrote:
I have found far more real 'meat' in science-based articles and commentary, so I have lost interest in following the speculations of philosophy in general.

sure, well, you know what they say about one man's meat.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

iwbiek's picture

BobSpence wrote:but to go to

BobSpence wrote:
but to go to that stuff about 'negation of humanity' seems a little crazy. 

i think "crazy" is overdoing it a bit...

BobSpence wrote:
OK, but I think Anselm was talking about things which had no coherent content, i.e. were things which were so poorly conceived as to not be worth trying to understand.

i'm not trying to understand anselm, i understand anselm perfectly well. there's nothing particularly difficult about anselm's thought. i'm simply suggesting an alternative interpretation, one he himself would no doubt repudiate, where instead of positing that god exists precisely because we can conceive of him (the basic crux of the ontological argument), we recognize that for some people god might as well exist because he exists as an idea in their minds, and thus his influence on our world is very real. if anything, i argue, not that god is anything more than a figment of the imagination (on this i have always suspended judgment), but that it is a harmful attitude to dismiss god (as some but not all atheists do) as a MERE figment of the imagination, as if figments were altogether impotent things.

BobSpence wrote:
Our patterns of behaviour may indeed be not in our long term best interests, but that is not a failing of rationality as such

of course not. there is no such thing as "rationality as such"; one can hardly assign praise or blame to an abstraction. i'm merely contending that the human animal will never become mostly rational, and those that are mostly rational will never have any considerable influence, just as a wolf pack would never follow an albino.

i do not consider this pessimism because coming to terms with reality can only be helpful.

BobSpence wrote:
OK, so I probably not try to make sense of them in isolation.

i'm not making the last point in any polemical way, though i do admit the language is intentionally inflammatory, to rankle the dogmatic on both sides of the theist/atheist divide.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen