Sunday, May 25, 2014


An OPEN LETTER from ONE SKEPTIC to ANOTHER
 a man who, apparently, believes  in nothing that can't be weighed, measured, and palpably perceived by the senses.
Modern Man enthralled by Science


You appear to have no faith in anything other than data people other than yourself believe they have proven using the "scientific method." You appear not to believe such things as imagination, insight, intuition, inspiration have much-if-any value.
Now, that may not be true, but because it appears that way to me. and I believe it to be true, given our numerous exchanges over a period of years, that puts us continually at odds.
It isn't that I don't respect Science, I do. It has made awe-inspiring discoveries and astounding, brilliant, life-changing developments –– particularly in the past two centuries. However, its apparent absence of a moral compass [It never seems to consider the ramifications of what it is doing, it just keeps on and on like The Sorceror’s Apprentice regardless of any possible consequences], or consideration for human needs and feelings coupled with its abundant self-congratulatory nature causes doubt that Science could possibly be The Be All End All phenomenon –– The One and Only Road to the Ultimate End of Human Striving –– it believes itself to be.
I believe from the little I know of you you practically worship "facts." I am here to remind you once again, though it fall on deaf ears, that FACTS are NOT synonymous with TRUTH.
A great deal more is required to make good chicken soup than a bird, a quantity of water, salt and pepper, carrots, celery, onion and possibly a hint of garlic. Why some people can put those ingredients together to great good effect, and others cannot is a mystery that may never be solved, despite the pervasive mediocrity of mass-produced products such as Campbell's Soup, but the differences do exist –– and persist. To that I can only say, "thank God!"
Wonderful achievements are nearly impossible to reduce to mere formula. "Something Else" is needed. If Science ever provides a satisfactory explanation for what that Something Else really is, I may start to worship Science. Until then I remain as skeptical of your god as you are of mine.


A modern concept of Divinity


56 comments:

  1. So, where would YOU draw the line at stopping knowledge, at ending the inquisitive search that continually provides the human race with more?

    Sciences advance the human race, faith holds it back, as history has shown.

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  2. So science need no restraints, right RN?

    "Dr. Mengele, your next patient is here to see you."

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  3. ....in other words, "more" and "good" are two completely different concepts.

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  4. Les, you're a bigot pure and simple. [Look up the word. It doesn't mean what most people think, if "most people" may be said to think at all.]

    It is you not I who has the closed mind. You have no understanding whatsoever of what I'm driving at. That's because you are forever in a defensive mode, which you express by going on the attack.

    You, apparently, cannot see past the end of your nose. I am not angry about it, but I think it's pathetic -- and very tiresome. It prevents genuine dialogue from developing.

    I speak with asperity, because I don't appreciate being rudely challenged with assumptions about facts not in evidence merely for asking questions implicitly while attempting to explicate my views.

    Take a good long look at Finntann's excellent post today. It discusses the same topic albeit from a different angle, and he makes his points with greater clarity than I, because is style is less expansive and more matter of fact.

    Whitman's observation makes an excellent motto all should heed:

    "BE CURIOUS NOT JUDGMENTAL."

    Now, you may say, "But YOU have just judged ME," in tones of outraged indignation, and continue to push us farther apart, OR you could stop this nonsense, and stop accusing me of wanting to halt the advance of human knowledge, and see if you fan find any possible merit or value in what I said in this open letter.

    Our purpose here should be not forever to OPPOSE, but to see if there might possibly be something we could LEARN from one another.

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    1. 1) I am curious, always have been. Explains why my views are what they are.

      2) I am not judgemental at all. Everyone has has the right to their beliefs and I welcome and advocate that. In fact encourge i

      3) Indeed we should learn from each other.

      4) People who live in glass houses FT shouldn't throw stones.

      My appology for "challenging" you. I forgot how much that irritates you.

      Oh, I haven't saved this for publication and discusion @ RN USA should you choose not to delete this comment. I can reconstruct it if neccessary.

      Enjoy the Memorial Day Holiday in solemn remembrance.

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  5. Good point, FJ. Thank you.

    BTW, do you agree with the prevailing position insisted on by most of the Jews that whatever the Nazis discovered during their obscene "experiments" should be SUPPRESSED -- even if it might prove beneficial to future generations?

    I consider that a very important question. I know what I believe, but would be most interested to hear what others think -- and particularly WHY.

    Naturally, I hope to avoid the usual barrage of mindless name-callong, and canned, doctrinaire rhetoric, etc. but still hope for a measured response from as many as care to give a serious, cinsiderate response.

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  6. Did you ever read Frank Herbert's "Dune" series or Asomov's "Foundation" series, FT? Every scientist alive wants to become the Kwisatz Haderact/ Harry Seldon. While the aspiration may be noble, the result is usually destruction on a "galactic" scale.

    No, I believe in "limits" to the aspirations of men and societies. The limits drawn in Constitutions and other social contracts. Limits that can contain the overall harm that any group, even a non-outlaw group, can do.

    Nothing, IMO, can justify the action of the NAZI's. No "good" can "redeem" their actions or lessen the horror of someone ever attempting to replicate their activities in the future, for hope of justification and/or exoneration. As for their research, I say "burn it". And that goes for their weapons research as well (but of course, we didn't and will pay the price in the future for it).

    Our societies needs to figure out how to coexist, not sacrifice one segment for the "good" of the remainder. There are no "blemishes" to be erased, scapegoats to be sacrificed.... except those we make of ourselves through self-sacrifice.

    I'm a classical liberal of the Isaiah Berlin school. The one great horror that could destroy western civilization is making people do things that if they realized the end, they would recoil from. (letter from George Kennan) Even Don Quixote has a right to pursue his OWN ends. People are NOT the means to ends. And as Berlin say's, we should NOT surrender to the Grand Inquisitor a single victim, even if it meant an eternity of future goods, in violation of our principle.

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  7. Now, having said all that, if ten of us are trapped in seacave and a fat guy gets trapped at the entrance with the tide coming in, and there is no way of moving him short of killing him, give me the knife and I will gut him like a trout before the skillet.

    Our survival as individuals and/or as a species does NOT depend upon exploiting NAZI war camp research.

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  8. My principles due not extend so far as those in R v. Dudley and Stephens, but then I'm no Richard Parker either.

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  9. ...and to be honest, in the sea cave scenario... if it's JUST me trapped by the fat guy (and not ten others, too), I'd still gut him. But if I'm standing at a train switch as a speeding train barrels down the tracks and can pull a single lever to save seven children instead of just one, I wouldn't do it.

    Yep, it's all me, me, me.

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  10. ...I suppose that this explains why I'm not a Christian.

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  11. from Zizek's "Censorship Today"

    In his The Cattle Truck, Jorge Semprun reports how he witnessed the arrival of a truckload of Polish Jews at Buchenwald; they were stacked into the freight train almost 200 to a car, traveling for days without food and water in the coldest winter of the war. On arrival all in the carriage had frozen to death except for 15 children, kept warm by the others in the centre of the bundle of bodies. When the children were emptied from the car the Nazis let their dogs loose on them. Soon only two fleeing children were left:

    The little one began to fall behind, the SS were howling behind them and then the dogs began to howl too, the smell of blood was driving them mad, and then the bigger of the two children slowed his pace to take the hand of the smaller... together they covered a few more yards... till the blows of the clubs felled them and, together they dropped, their faces to the ground, their hands clasped for all eternity.

    One can easily imagine how this scene should be filmed: while the soundtrack renders what goes on in reality (the two children are clubbed to death), the image of their hands clasped freezes, immobilized for eternity - while the sound renders temporary reality, the image renders the eternal Real. It is the pure surface of such fixed images of eternity, not any deeper Meaning, which allows for redemptive moments in the bleak story of the Shoah. One should read this imagined scene together with the final shot of Thelma and Louise: the frozen image of the car with the two women "flying" above the precipice: is this the positive utopia (triumph of the feminine subjectivity over death), or the masking of the miserable wreck the car IS in reality at that time? The weakness of the final shot from Thelma and Louise is that the frozen image is not accompanied by the soundtrack depicting what "really" went on (the car crash, terrible cries of the dying women) - strangely, this lack of reality undermines the very utopian dimension of the frozen image. In contrast to this scene, our imagined filmed scene from Semprun would fully assert the Platonic duality of temporal empirical reality and eternal Idea.

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  12. Somehow, you read "exoneration of the Nazis" into my question FJ.

    Not what I meant at all.

    Let me put it another way. What I had in mind would go more along these lines:

    If someone you absolutely detested on moral grounds, and because he was igly and had an abrasive, odious personality, offered you ten million dollars tax-free to invest or spend any way you'd like -- no strings attached -- would you accept or decline the offer?

    A preposterous example, I know, but it serves the purpose adequately nonetheless.

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  13. A minor quibble before I read the rest of the article:

    Having faith in something means you believe in its existence WITHOUT data or hard evidence. If you have evidence or data to support the existence of something, then you don't have FAITH in its existence, you KNOW it exists.

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  14. FT,

    I'm often find myself confused when you rail against science and facts, because you have often used facts and data to support some of your ideas and beliefs.

    It seems to me that the only time you tell your readers that "facts are just facts, and they're not synonymous with the truth," is when your readers present facts that call into question your beliefs.

    But perhaps this is how a lot of people operate at the intellectual level. I get the sense that people who go on about how "science isn't the end all be all," and "science isn't always right," are the same people who are afraid of their faith and beliefs being challenged and potentially proven to be unfounded.

    What I have found is that when presented the possibility of believing in a truth that is unsettling, most people would prefer to believe whatever makes them feel comfortable with life--even if the facts and data squarely contradict their long-held faith.

    True: facts by themselves are not the entirety of truth, although to be a "fact" as we understand the concept, it has to be a truth. Facts lead us to conclusions about Truth with a capital "T", so why shun facts and science simply because it does not support your worldview?

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  15. FT, I don't see you as someone who desires to squelch inquiry into accepted truth either accepted scientific or spiritual truth. You openly encourage questioning of the accepted, especially in the realm of 'what one is expected to accept and believe', particularly Politically Correct rote acceptance of what one is expected to believe.

    To me that is exactly what freedom of thought and expression is all about.

    Apparently some accept the doctrinaire approach of say, Ayn Rand, as being in the realm of the untouchable and unquestionable. The onset of stultifying spiritual and bodily ossification, IMO.

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  16. Strawman arguments, Jack -- and Les too. You are arguing against points I did not try to make.

    Both of you don't really seem to understand what I said in my "open letter," which started out as a response to Jez at another blog. If you did, you'd couch your questions and responses in a friendlier, more curious, politely inquisitive tone.

    Sorry to be testy, but thats the way it strikes me, and I'm so fed up with perpetual combativeness, I'm easing myself out of blogging more and more by posting less frequently.

    If I'm "railing" against anything, it would be militancy, obstinacy and closed-mundedness. I dont like it when it comes from Christians, Atheists, Democrats, republicans, Liberals, Conservatives or the criminally insane.

    I consider assertions that ine myst "prove" the existence of God using the Scientific Method" to be sopohmoric, because it cannot be proven either way by that criterion.

    Getcha later. ...



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  17. I wasn't implying that you were exonerating them. I was implying that future generations might weigh the benefits and create apologetics.

    And no, there is nothing I want from an odious source. Nothing. Keep your millions, or better yet, give it to me so that I can burn it, and deprive you of its' future use.

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  18. If you have evidence or data to support the existence of something, then you don't have FAITH in its existence, you KNOW it exists.

    You KNOW, eh? Ever see the movie "The Matrix"? How do you KNOW? Was Socrates just being "ironic" when he would say that he must be wiser than other men only in that he knows that he knows nothing?

    Cogito ergo sum, eh, what?

    Gnothi seauton!

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  19. Actually, you "think" you "know" IF you can link a "cause" with its' "effect". And as Nietzsche said in his "Gay Science" “We say it is "explanation" but it is only in "description" that we are in advance of the older stages of knowledge and science. We describe better we explain just as little as our predecessors. We have discovered a manifold succession where the naive man and investigator of older cultures saw only two things "cause" and "effect " as it was said we have perfected the conception of becoming but have not got a knowledge of what is above and behind the conception. The series of "causes" stands before us much more complete in every case we conclude that this and that must first precede in order that that other may follow - but we have not grasped anything thereby. The peculiarity for example in every chemical process seems a "miracle " the same as before just like all locomotion nobody has "explained" impulse. How could we ever explain We operate only with things which do not exist with lines surfaces bodies atoms divisible times divisible spaces - how can explanation ever be possible when we first make everything a conception our conception It is sufficient to regard science as the exactest humanizing of things that is possible we always learn to describe ourselves more accurately by describing things and their successions. Cause and effect: there is probably never any such duality in fact there is a continuum before us from which we isolate a few portions - just as we always observe a motion as isolated points and therefore do not properly see it but infer it. The abruptness with which many effects take place leads us into error it is however only an abruptness for us. There is an infinite multitude of processes in that abrupt moment which escape us. An intellect which could see cause and effect as a continuum which could see the flux of events not according to our mode of perception as things arbitrarily separated and broken - would throw aside the conception of cause and effect and would deny all conditionality.”

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  20. Truth with a capital 'T'.

    lol!

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  21. As Plato stated in his Parmenides dialogue, "If one is not, then nothing is." THAT is the ONLY "Truth with a capital 'T'".

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  22. Thersites,

    You bring up the "brain in the vat," argument and then immediately present Descartes' refutation to that idea? A strange tactic.

    And no, Socrates was not being ironic . . . nor was he being literal. All I did was point out the difference between faith and knowledge. Faith means you believe in something with no real evidence, and knowledge means you you know that something exists based on evidence. If you can't understand the difference, then I'm not sure why you even bothered to respond to me.

    FT,

    I hate to repost what you wrote in the article, but here it is for a frame of reference:

    "A great deal more is required to make good chicken soup than a bird, a quantity of water, salt and pepper, carrots, celery, onion and possibly a hint of garlic. Why some people can put those ingredients together to great good effect, and others cannot is a mystery that may never be solved"

    Here, you are implying that people like myself--or Jez, I suppose--lack imagination simply because we like to live in the realm of the tangible. Or that we just look at things very plainly without trying to understand their underlying meanings or connections to other things.

    How is someone like me NOT supposed to take that as insulting or inflammatory? I directly quoted you saying "facts are not synonymous with truth," and I refuted your statement. So please tell me how I was arguing against points you didn't make?

    "Facts are not synonymous with the truth." YOU said that. That was a point that YOU made, and I argued against it.

    I wasn't being aggressive in my response to your letter. All I did was express confusion.

    If your statement "facts are not synonymous with the truth," wasn't a point you were trying to make, then why did you say it at all?

    I'm pretty certain I have a decent understanding of what you were trying to say in this open letter because you stuck to the same point throughout the letter, and it's essentially the same message you've been saying for a long time. I'm also fairly certain that I'm not a dolt, and I'm a human of at least average intelligence who can read an article and determine its meaning.

    This is not meant to be an attack, but it feels like that whenever anyone--not just me--refutes a point that you've made in your writing, you quickly dismiss the reader as someone who "missed the point."

    Is it that we're all morons who just don't understand you, or are you being intentionally evasive?

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  23. You bring up the "brain in the vat," argument and then immediately present Descartes' refutation to that idea? A strange tactic.

    And no, Socrates was not being ironic . . . nor was he being literal. All I did was point out the difference between faith and knowledge. Faith means you believe in something with no real evidence, and knowledge means you you know that something exists based on evidence. If you can't understand the difference, then I'm not sure why you even bothered to respond to me.


    Wow! You really can redefine terms to suit your arguments. Proofs become refutations and knowledge occupies a position on a Divided line, instead of the line itself with "belief" constituting a partial segment. So why argue at all, if you only accept your own definitions, and not common ones or those of others MUCH more qualified to define them?

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  24. ...and by the way, until the "scientific" and "evidence-based" global warming models become reliably "predictive", they fall into the knowledge category of "opinion/ belief".

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  25. Let's all sing new Hymns to the scientific and evidence-based communities... starting with the a Hymn to Acxiom!

    I wouldn't wish to worship ANYTHING that wasn't "evidence-based" KNOWLEDGE.

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  26. Sorry, you guys. This was not addressed to anyone in particular -- not even Jez, though his apparent philosophical orientation motivated it.

    Of course I've said again what I 've often said in the past. It defines a good part of my world view. I say it, because I believe it, just as you believe what you believe.

    I may be wrong, but I sense a distinct aura of antagonism in the way the two of you respond. I apologize for letting it irritate me. I shouldn't do that.

    If you think you have "refuted" anything I've tried to say, it would only be in your own minds.

    The chicken soup analogy may have been poor, because it seems entirely possible from the way both of you go at things that you may not be able to discern any difference in various versions of basic chicken soup, and that you probably don't care about it, so why would you wan't to bother exploring the possible implications of the question?

    That holds true for innumerable things for all of us. There are so many things I know nothing about and can't discuss intelligently I couldn't begin to count them. I admit that.

    The difference I see between us lies in your apparent feelings of omniscience or at least a certainly that you possess superior knowledge and greater wisdom, and the resultant need for you to march in both guns blazing to dismiss or "refute" what I offer, instead of wondering how or why I could come up with such cockamamie notions.

    Jack, I may be wrong, but you seem to see it as all cut and dried -- tedious -- deja vu -- old hat -- passe -- been there and done that -- tried it and found it wanting, so lets get off it and move on.

    That was the sort of thing the Democrats said about Ronald Reagan -- same-old, same-old -- stale ideas -- not very bright -- offers nothing innovative -- tired cliche-riden rhetoric, etc., etc., etc.

    Many of them still cling to that point of view, because he was so unsympathetic to the blandishments of the Left, and leftists -- like any individual or faction with a passionate, doctrinaire point of view -- can't tolerate opposition of any kind.

    I'm looking for a show of interest in responding to the origins and nature of such things as Aspiration, Imagination, Insight, Intuition, Inspiration.

    What motivated primitive men to produce the cave paintings? What motivated the creation and development of the Acropolis, and the brilliant intellectual clture f ancient Athens? How did Music enter human experience? Why were men motivated to build temples, cathedrals, universities, theaters, palaces, mansions, parks, gardens, refined cuisines?

    How could we account for the urge to risk life and limb to explore the world? Why the Golden Age of Pericles of such short duration? Whast caused a few to do everything possible to preserve the knowledge of the ancient world during the Middle Ages? How did the Renaissance emerge from the the poverty and depredations of the Dark Ages? What gave us the Enlightenment? H could we account for emergence of protean figures like Shakespesare and Johamn Sebastian Bach?

    Why IS it that “Man does not live by bread alone?” What could that MEANt? What might it imply?

    What might have caused us to start wondering in the first place?

    There are THOUSANDS of questions we OUGHT to ask ourselves instead of assuming a posture of certainty thus sealing ourselves off from further understanding by assuming we know -- or even have the capacity to know -- anything at all?

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  29. George CumerbundMay 26, 2014 at 12:21 PM

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  30. Thersites,

    At no point did I deviate from the common acceptance of the difference between "faith" and "knowledge." There is a difference between "knowing" that something exists and having "faith" that something exists, and all I did was use the common definition of those ideas. Can anyone here tell me what it is I'm missing? Is there some sort of secret meaning to these words that I'm not aware of.

    Anyway, back to FT.

    I really wish you wouldn't see me as being antagonistic, because that's not my intent. Since you like analogies and what not, let me give you one to illustrate my point.

    Let's say you meet a friend for lunch. Your friend is typically very well put-together--his appearance always seems deliberate, clean, and neat. You meet your friend and he is uncharacteristically dissheveled. If you were to ask your friend, "is everything alright? You look terrible," would that be antagonistic? I think not. It would be showing genuine concern and curiosity in something that you don't understand.

    "The chicken soup analogy may have been poor, because it seems entirely possible from the way both of you go at things that you may not be able to discern any difference in various versions of basic chicken soup, and that you probably don't care about it, so why would you wan't to bother exploring the possible implications of the question?"

    FT, if you read what I said in my argument, you would see that I understood your example perfectly. Here is what I said in reference to your chicken soup example:

    "Here, you are implying that people like myself--or Jez, I suppose--lack imagination simply because we like to live in the realm of the tangible. Or that we just look at things very plainly without trying to understand their underlying meanings or connections to other things."

    And then, you go on to say that I have some air of ominscience about me and my approach, as though I think I have superior intellect. But FT, it's usually you who have that air. You have been implying, this entire time, that people like me lack insight beyond facts and data

    My quibbles with you rarely ever have to do with what you and I actually know or don't know. It's not about knowledge, or facts, or imagination, or whatever. It's almost entirely about logical consistency. The great thing about logic is that you don't really need to have a vast breadth of knowledge or even life experience.

    It doesn't take much to understand that 2 + 2 does not = 5, and that's essentially all I've been trying to point out to you.

    No, I don't think I know it all. I am keenly aware of my intellectual limitations. I don't think in terms of who is wiser than who, or who is more knowledgeable about x than y. But as I said before, I know that I'm not an ignoramus or a dolt. I know that I'm at least intelligent enough to see the irony in you telling me that I'm close minded and then following with this:

    "If you think you have "refuted" anything I've tried to say, it would only be in your own minds."

    Right, because THAT doesn't sound like someone who thinks he's intellectually superior . . .

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  31. George CumerbundMay 26, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    Of course he thinks he's intellectually superior to anyone who disagrees with his fussy little rants. If you don't see life exactly as he does, which often means being disgusted at everything in contemporary culture, then you definitely are intellectually inferior. He knows what's superior you and you don't.



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  32. There is a difference between "knowing" that something exists and having "faith" that something exists, and all I did was use the common definition of those ideas.

    ...and all I did was offer a more "expert" definition, one that exposes some "nuances" inherent in the term "knowledge". And before you again discard out of hand the utility of "faith", perhaps I can introduce you into another "nuance", that of the concept of "Right Opinion".

    from Plato's "Meno"

    Soc. But when we said that a man cannot be a good guide unless he have knowledge (phrhonesis), this we were wrong.

    Men. What do you mean by the word "right"?

    Soc. I will explain. If a man knew the way to Larisa, or anywhere else, and went to the place and led others thither, would he not be a right and good guide?

    Men. Certainly.

    Soc. And a person who had a right opinion about the way, but had never been and did not know, might be a good guide also, might he not?

    Men. Certainly.

    Soc. And while he has true opinion about that which the other knows, he will be just as good a guide if he thinks the truth, as he who knows the truth?

    Men. Exactly.

    Soc. Then true opinion is as good a guide to correct action as knowledge; and that was the point which we omitted in our speculation about the nature of virtue, when we said that knowledge only is the guide of right action; whereas there is also right opinion.

    Men. True.

    Soc. Then right opinion is not less useful than knowledge?

    Men. The difference, Socrates, is only that he who has knowledge will always be right; but he who has right opinion will sometimes be right, and sometimes not.

    Soc. What do you mean? Can he be wrong who has right opinion, so long as he has right opinion?

    Men. I admit the cogency of your argument, and therefore, Socrates, I wonder that knowledge should be preferred to right opinion-or why they should ever differ.

    Soc. And shall I explain this wonder to you?

    Men. Do tell me.

    Soc. You would not wonder if you had ever observed the images of Daedalus; but perhaps you have not got them in your country?

    Men. What have they to do with the question?

    Soc. Because they require to be fastened in order to keep them, and if they are not fastened they will play truant and run away.

    Men. Well. what of that?

    Soc. I mean to say that they are not very valuable possessions if they are at liberty, for they will walk off like runaway slaves; but when fastened, they are of great value, for they are really beautiful works of art. Now this is an illustration of the nature of true opinions: while they abide with us they are beautiful and fruitful, but they run away out of the human soul, and do not remain long, and therefore they are not of much value until they are fastened by the tie of the cause; and this fastening of them, friend Meno, is recollection, as you and I have agreed to call it. But when they are bound, in the first place, they have the nature of knowledge; and, in the second place, they are abiding. And this is why knowledge is more honourable and excellent than true opinion, because fastened by a chain.

    Men. What you are saying, Socrates, seems to be very like the truth.

    Soc. I too speak rather in ignorance; I only conjecture. And yet that knowledge differs from true opinion is no matter of conjecture with me. There are not many things which I profess to know, but this is most certainly one of them.

    Men. Yes, Socrates; and you are quite right in saying so.

    Soc. And am I not also right in saying that true opinion leading the way perfects action quite as well as knowledge?

    Men. There again, Socrates, I think you are right.

    Soc. Then right opinion is not a whit inferior to knowledge, or less useful in action; nor is the man who has right opinion inferior to him who has knowledge?

    Men. True.

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  33. btw - Are you married, Jack?

    If you are, does your wife love you? Do you KNOW, or do you merely have "faith" that she does? Science is very good at finding bits of evidence to prove the existence of "gravity" (Higgs Bosons, Higgs Fields, etc.), but very bad at proving its' logical correlates in the Humanities, ie -"love". But then again, perhaps there is no such "thing" as love. I mean, you can't "prove" its' physical existence, can you?

    And to claim that "science" is more important and should always take precedence over the "humanities"... would be an arrogant position, don't you think? To say that the humanities weren't weren't good for anything sincew they aren't "evidence" or "fact" based would also seem a bit 'hubristic", don't you think?

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  34. It's almost entirely about logical consistency.

    That G_d:Love::Higgs Field:Gravity isn't logically consistent?

    Who knew?

    But then as far as logic is concerned:

    Nietzsche, "Gay Science" Origin of the Logical. Where has logic originated in men's heads? Undoubtedly out of the illogical, the domain of which must originally have been immense. But numberless beings who reasoned otherwise than we do at present, perished; albeit that they may have come nearer to truth than we! Whoever, for example, could not discern the "like" often enough with regard to food, and with regard to animals dangerous to him, whoever, therefore, deduced too slowly, or was too circumspect in his deductions, had smaller probability of survival than he who in all similar cases immediately divined the equality. The preponderating inclination, however, to deal with the similar as the equal - an illogical inclination, for there is no thing equal in itself - first created the whole basis of logic. It was just so (in order that the conception of substance should originate, this being indispensable to logic, although in the strictest sense nothing actual corresponds to it) that for a long period the changing process in things had to be overlooked, and remain unperceived; the beings not seeing correctly had an advantage over those who saw everything "in flux." In itself every high degree of circumspection in conclusions, every skeptical inclination, is a great danger to life. No living being might have been preserved unless the contrary inclination - to affirm rather than suspend judgment, to mistake and fabricate rather than wait, to assent rather than deny, to decide rather than be in the right - had been cultivated with extra ordinary assiduity. The course of logical thought and reasoning in our modern brain corresponds to a process and struggle of impulses, which singly and in themselves are all very illogical and unjust; we experience usually only the result of the struggle so rapidly and secretly does this primitive mechanism now operate in us.

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  35. Thersites,

    When did I discard the utility of faith? There are some things you simply cannot know, and if one wishes to have faith in the existence of something he cannot know, then that is certainly his prerogative. I have absolutely no issues with anyone who chooses to have faith in something.

    The issue for me is two fold when it comes to faith.

    1. I find it ridiculous when people cling to an idea despite a preponderance of evidence that suggests said idea is false.

    2. It is monumentally ridiculous when two people who hold faith in something believe that their faith is somehow more true than anyone else's. Take theists and atheists for example. If you actually understand the concept of faith--that is, you understand that to have faith in an idea means you have no actual evidence that the idea is true--then the faith in the existence of God is equally as possible as the faith in the non-existence of God.

    Why? Because since no one can prove or disprove the existence of God, that means that no human is capable of actually knowing the truth. Therefore, to say that somehow faith in God is more true or more correct than non-faith in God is entirely baseless. If you have faith in something, you have to actually be willing to admit that you can be completely wrong, and that's something that BOTH theists and atheists are generally not prepared to do.

    As for your example about love, you've screwed your argument in a couple ways.

    First, the existence of "love" has been physically proven. What we identify as "love" is a chemical response in our brain to particular stimuli. It is our brain releasing dopamine when we come accross a person we are attracted to physically and/or emotionally. It's a brain function, no different than any other emotion. So in your scenario, if one was able to hook their spouse up to an MRI, you could actually prove whether or not the person loves you based on active brain activity when presented with the appropriate stimuli. At least, you would be able to prove that the person loves you in the physical brain chemistry sense.

    Secondly, on the philosophical level, Descartes--whom you quoted earlier in the discussion--accounts for the different ways in which things exist. Things can exist in reality or they can exist fictitiously, i.e. things can exist only in the mind. Take Santa Claus for example. Santa isn't real in the sense that he does not physically exist, but Santa is real in that the concept of him exists. Santa Claus, like many fictional things, exists fictitiously.

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  36. Well how about that! By proving the existence of love, you have inadvertently proven the existence of G_d! You ARE good! ;)

    Emerson, "Conduct of Life, On Beauty" The spiral tendency of vegetation infects education also. Our books approach very slowly the things we most wish to know. What a parade we make of our science, and how far off, and at arm's length, it is from its objects! Our botany is all names, not powers: poets and romancers talk of herbs of grace and healing; but what does the botanist know of the virtues of his weeds? The geologist lays bare the strata, and can tell them all on his fingers: but does he know what effect passes into the man who builds his house in them? what effect on the race that inhabits a granite shelf? what on the inhabitants of marl and of alluvium?

    We should go to the ornithologist with a new feeling, if he could teach us what the social birds say, when they sit in the autumn council, talking together in the trees. The want of sympathy makes his record a dull dictionary. His result is a dead bird. The bird is not in its ounces and inches, but in its relations to Nature; and the skin or skeleton you show me, is no more a heron, than a heap of ashes or a bottle of gases into which his body has been reduced, is Dante or Washington. The naturalist is led from the road by the whole distance of his fancied advance. The boy had juster views when he gazed at the shells on the beach, or the flowers in the meadow, unable to call them by their names, than the man in the pride of his nomenclature. Astrology interested us, for it tied man to the system. Instead of an isolated beggar, the farthest star felt him, and he felt the star. However rash and however falsified by pretenders and traders in it, the hint was true and divine, the soul's avowal of its large relations, and, that climate, century, remote natures, as well as near, are part of its biography. Chemistry takes to pieces, but it does not construct. Alchemy which sought to transmute one element into another, to prolong life, to arm with power, — that was in the right direction. All our science lacks a human side. The tenant is more than the house. Bugs and stamens and spores, on which we lavish so many years, are not finalities, and man, when his powers unfold in order, will take Nature along with him, and emit light into all her recesses. The human heart concerns us more than the poring into microscopes, and is larger than can be measured by the pompous figures of the astronomer.

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  37. btw - Science "generally" admits that at any moment, it can be proven wrong. And if it can't be proven wrong, we'll then, it's just not "science".

    And if people of "faith" are loathe to admit this fact, people who claim to follow "science" seem to be in complete denial of it.

    And I don't make any claim at all that "my" faith is truer than anyone elses. My faith generally makes ME feel more powerful. And according to Nietzsche, whatever makes me feel more powerful, MUST be "the truth" (see below for confirmation).

    People "select" the evidence that they are willing to consider. People of "faith" select it. People of "science" select it.

    For example, you state that "I find it ridiculous when people cling to an idea despite a preponderance of evidence that suggests said idea is false."

    So why do you cling to the idea of "logic" and "equality"? Nietzsche (above) has proven the idea "false"... the snowflake should be your example... as no two snowflakes are exactly alike. You simply choose to "selectively ignore" certain differences and equate them. Isn't this illogical? Or are the differences simply "too slight" to warrant consideration?

    Nietzsche, "Will to Power"

    493 (1885)

    Truth is the kind of error without which a certain species of life could not live. The value for life is ultimately decisive.

    534 (1887-1888)

    The criterion of truth resides in the enhancement of the feeling of power.

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  38. Now the philosopher Slavoj Zizek (a Lacanian) believes that human beings often hold contrary views and ignore conflicting evidence (in the form of a 'fetish'). This doesn't merely apply to people of "faith". It's very common. For we are inundated in ideology... much of which is "false" but gives us "feelings of power". Some of these "truth suspension activities we employ for short durations to avoid immediate pain, others which we choose to repress "permanently".

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  39. I know that x is true, but...

    Fetishist disavowal.

    The revolutionary rational which justified the colonial split from Great Britain was a universalistic ethic of brotherhood: “All men are created equal” and “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” However we are constantly confronted with the glaring inequalities which have existed since the very foundation of the nation. Slavoj Zizek asks, “Is even the most universal ethics not obliged to draw a line and ignore some sort of suffering?” According to Zizek this ignorance which sustains all universalistic ethics is called fetishist disavowal: “I know it, but I refuse to fully assume the consequences of this knowledge, so that I can continue acting as if I don’t know it.” (Violence, p. 53) Furthermore, the more universal the ethic – for instance the insistence that all men are created equal – the more violent the fetishist disavowal must be in response (p.54). Thus, ironically, it was not until after the Revolution that ontological violence which ensured the inferior treatment of blacks became truly engrained. Before and shortly after the Revolution, Southern leaders such as Jefferson and Washington did not doubt that their black slaves were of equal intellectual capacity. However, by the time Andrew Jackson and John Calhoun began speaking publicly black inferiority was a thoroughly established fact. In order to adopt the post-Revolutionary ethic that all men are created equal and therefore entitled to the same rights – while at the same time indefinitely perpetuating the institutions which denied these rights – Southerners, and US Americans, had to engage in fetishist disavowal. By constructing slaves as something Other, they could be ignored. Ralph Ellison’s book the Invisible Man makes real the theory of fetishist disavowal.

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  40. He preached upon “breadth” till it argued him narrow,—
    The broad are too broad to define:
    And of “truth” until it proclaimed him a liar,––
    The truth never flaunted a sign.

    Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence
    As gold the pyrites would shun.
    What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus
    To meet so enabled a man!


    ~! Emiy Dickinson (1830-1886)

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  41. Those addicted to dispute
    And seek forever to refute
    Will from the earth reap bitter fruit.


    ~ Tillie Oylen Segal

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  42. Okay, but who are you going to believe? Your own inner voice, or the taunting giant opposite?

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  43. ...cuz out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of Truth! - Casting Crowns, "Voice of Truth"

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  44. ”Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”

    “A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.”


    ~ C. S. Lewis

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  45. "Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting."

    "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

    "Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think."


    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  46. Quite honestly, polygamy 

    Is all over the Bible.

    To say the ancients lived like beasts
    
Isn’t any libel
    .


    There's little thought or talk of love, 

    Since women were just chattel.
    
Men were free to fornicate,
    
While girls were bred like cattle.



    There is no way that we can say 

    What's best for everyone.

    What's right for me might poison thee

    Or take away your fun.
    


    Oh how I wish we could be free

    To live life as we choose,

    And cease all consternation
    
Over other peoples' views!


    ~ FreeThinke

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  47. " ... who are you going to believe? Your own inner voice, or the taunting giant opposite?"

    I have earned through lng experience to trust my hunches, and respect my perceptions, so I must say, "I tend to believe whar my Inner Voice tells me about the nature,character, value and and motivation of "The Taunting Opposite."

    I am not, however, so conceited, so adamant or so dense as to be cocksure that I am always right.

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  48. "Well how about that! By proving the existence of love, you have inadvertently proven the existence of G_d! You ARE good!"

    For me this was never about proving or disproving the existence of God, but no, nothing I said proves the existence of God, unless:

    you're admitting that God does not exist in reality, and that God only exists fictitiously i.e. as an idea that only exists in peoples' minds.

    So unless you're admitting that God exists only fictitiously, then you should probably not use my arguments. Because while there is evidence showing that love exists in reality, there is no evidence that shows God exists in reality. Given that you seem to be on FT's side of the theist camp, my guess is that you're not trying to prove that God does not exist in reality.

    And just like science, I readily admit that I can be proven wrong, it's just that you haven't done a very good job at proving me wrong.

    Lastly for you, Thersites--because I'm fairly certain that at this point you've exhaustedall of your means to argue against me--what self-respecting philosopher ever quotes Nietzsche except as an example of philosophy gone wrong?

    Why, when Nietzsche first articulated and supported Nihilism, would you ever use him in an argument about evidence and truth? In the same work that you've been quoting this whole time, Nietszche says this about God:

    "God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?"

    Sure, by uttering the phrase "God is dead," one admits that God must have existed, but then at that point we would have to redefine what God is. Surely, Nietzche could not have believed in the Thomas Aquinas version of God--that which there can be nothing greater--because then Nietszche could not posit that God is even capable of dying. Nietszche has been disproven, superceded, and tossed aside by every respectable 20th century philosopher--so why would you EVER quote him: the man who's unrelenting nihilism and unrepentant belief that everything is meaningless spawned a whole host of attrocities and horrors in the 20th century?

    Sounds to me, Thersites, that you need to broaden your library of philosophers. Go read some Camus or even some Arendt, and stop throwing out wild ass assertions that my refutations of everything you've said somehow prove your points. Because they don't: they just show that your thinking is illogical, poorly based, and mostly irrational.

    I'm finished arguing with you, because even if you said to me "2 + 2 = 5" and I showed you that "2 + 2 = 4," you would simply say that I somehow proved your point that 2+2=5. In other words, arguing with you is pointless.

    (No doubt you will see this as some sort of intellectual victory on your part. I'll merely have to take solace in the fact that there are assuredly plenty of people reading this who are just as baffled by your ineffective debate tactics as myself.)

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  49. I define God as Truth -- among several other wholly incorporeal, intangible but absolutely essential phenomena.

    Keats sad, "Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty" -- and that's all we can know, and all we need to know.

    Assuming that is true, we find God in Beauty.

    Defining Beauty adequately could -- and doubtless has -- filled volumes.

    Beauty is not mere prettiness anymore than peace is the absence of conflict or health the absence of disease. Beauty is not always mild and agreeable. Often it is poignantm and sears our conscience. Beaty is not meant to be "easy." Often it requires considerable spadework to be able to appreciate it. Beauty is touching, transformative. but always nourishing as it requires more and more of us.

    At any rate, I don't presume to know God, but I made a conscious decision to seek "Him," because ardent pursuit of The Highest Good has brought a greater measures of serenity, benignity, a more salubrious state of mind, and greater coping skills into my life than I would otherwise enjoy.

    It's really a very selfish thing this pursuit of God, if you want to take the cynical view. I don't look at it that way. I see it as pragmatic -- eminently practical.

    Unlike Fundamentalists, on whom I look with wonder and pitying contempt, I try not to be adamant about anything. I know just enough to know there is no end to knowing.

    I see the same sort of mulish intransigence in mlitant atheism as I do in fundamentalism. I see it in the Left, just as I see it in the Savonarolas and Cromwells of former times.

    Lastly -- for now -- a notable lack of humor and an apparent lack of any capacity for merriment sends ip red flags, and causes my hackles to rise immediately. Likewise a show of undue preoccupatiion with Self.

    The level of anger, derision, conceit and hyper-defensiveness -- hubris if you prefer -- I see in the approach to discourse these days is beyond appalling. It is alarming and uncivilized.

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  50. _____________To a Louse ____________

    Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
    Your impudence protects you sairly;
    I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
    Owre gauze and lace;
    Tho', faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
    On sic a place.

    Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
    Detested, shunn'd by saunt an' sinner,
    How daur ye set your fit upon her -
    Sae fine a lady?
    Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
    On some poor body.

    Swith! in some beggar's haffet squattle;
    There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
    Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle,
    In shoals and nations;
    Whaur horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
    Your thick plantations.

    Now haud you there, ye're out o' sight,
    Below the fatt'rels, snug and tight;
    Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right,
    Till ye've got on it -
    The verra tapmost, tow'rin height
    O' Miss' bonnet.



    My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
    As plump an' grey as ony groset:
    O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
    Or fell, red smeddum,
    I'd gie you sic a hearty dose o't,
    Wad dress your droddum.

    I wad na been surpris'd to spy
    You on an auld wife's flainen toy;
    Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,
    On's wyliecoat;
    But Miss' fine Lunardi! fye!
    How daur ye do't?

    O Jenny, dinna toss your head,
    An' set your beauties a' abread!
    Ye little ken what cursed speed
    The blastie's makin:
    Thae winks an' finger-ends, I dread,
    Are notice takin.

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An' foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
    An' ev'n devotion!


    ~ Robert Burns

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  51. Hi,
    looks like I've arrived late for this, however I have replied to your comment at westernhero wherein I clarify my position on the relative importance of facts and intuition, place limits on the domain of science, discuss how best to achieve consistently good chicken soup, and wonder what good is science for producing art.

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  52. Here's my view....

    Faith is faith, and science is science. Therefore, there is no way that science provides a satisfactory explanation for what that Something Else really is.

    Sometimes I can reconcile the two, sometimes not. So what? Life is filled with paradoxes of all kinds.

    Besides, scientific "facts" often change.

    Case in point: Galileo discoveries defied the science of his day.

    Another case in point: medical experts have now discovered that women have been overdosed on Ambien for decades because it is an error to say that women and men metabolize drugs in the same way. See this recent finding, and the sex differences apply to more than Ambien.

    PS: I'm up to making a short comment today. My fever FINALLY broke!

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