After spending most of the day cooking, we went north to suburbs to spend the afternoon with two other families from Church. It was a nice visit.
Pascha, however, always makes me a bit homesick for Ohio. When my wife and I were received into the Orthodox Faith, our sponsors flew down from Alaska. After spending the weekend with us, they told us how fortunate we were to have such a parish. We didn't really understand what they meant until we moved and started trying to find a new place to call home.
A woman that went to the same high school as me has her own web site on which she wrote a pretty interesting commentary on Ashley Judd's recent tirade about the media. She was one of the regulars in the "alternative" crowd that I hung out with. I'd always hoped that I'd get to know her better but never did. She found me on Facebook. Every now and then we swap links on zombie movies, socialism, or the like. This opinion piece is worth reading
For those who say Barack Obama is Bush III, read Mitt Romney's 2008 Q&A with the Boston Globe. Pay close attention to issues over signing statements, the unitary executive, torture, et cetera. The absolute best case you can make is that Obama tries to do secretly what Romney would do openly. This link comes via aphrael (I think). He linked to it during the 2008 election cycle. The whole series, where Charlie Savage interviews various candidates on the scope of presidential powers, is pretty interesting. I was reminded of it when I saw a clip of John McCain taking Romney to task for his position on torture. McCain effective ripped Romney a new one on the issue during the 2008 presidential debates. Apparently, Romney does not think that water-boarding is torture and, even if it is, thinks that the chief executive has the power to lawfully order such if he thinks that the security of the nation is at stake.
Friends of mine from Ohio have registered for a contest. The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association is running a promotion for national mobility awareness month. They're giving away an adapted van. Please vote for my friends in the contest.
The NY Times reports that scientific papers are being retracted more frequently.
The DC HuSi meet came and went and, I think, a good time was had by all. I would have like a little more time, or perhaps just a slightly less noisy environment. Nevertheless the chihuahuas scale of crazy is brilliance. I could easily see myself hanging out more often with everyone in the HuSi crowd were it not for the distances involved. One evening's dinner is not really enough time to get to know people. It's barely even enough time to start to get to know people.
And, I'm not certain if I should say this, but my wife thinks Toxicfur is incredibly hot. She's now officially jealous. She wants smokin' hot imaginary Internet friends too.
Apparently, yesterday was `ask an atheist day.' One of the atheists in my circles on G+ offered to take any all questions so I asked a few.
The guy that offered to take questions posted some thoughtful and interesting answers. But before he did someone else in his circle posted that he had written a long response which was eaten by a browser crash to sum up, ``your questions are pretty much semantically null.''
- Are you also a strict materialist? And, if so, does either atheism or strict materialism have priority in that one can be reduced to the other? Would you say that one necessarily implies the other?
- Are you a hard atheist (i.e. you would assent to the proposition ``God does not exist'') or a soft atheist (i.e. you would only assent to the proposition that ``there is no sufficient reason to believe in God'')? And, if you're a hard atheist, would you exclude soft atheists from being truly atheists? And how do you feel about agnostics?
- Were you always an atheist or is it something that you grew into or decided to become? If it is something that you became, what would you say was the primary motivating factor?
- Disregarding the question of whether atheists can be moral, would you ever apply your reasons for being an atheist to goodness itself in addition to applying them to God? If not, what makes such concepts as goodness (and perhaps love) fundamentally different than concepts such as God?
Way to perpetuate stereotypes there, guy. I can see how some people may think that there isn't anything really at stake in the first two questions. But I'm not really certain how asking how someone came to be an atheist can be declared to be devoid of meaning.
Mostly, I was just trying to understand the ground being staked out by one particular atheist.
You see, I've had a couple of minor epiphanies.
In one course I'm taking this term, on necessity and essence in analytic metaphysics, the professor has a hang up about pre-philosophical language and thinking. The point he brought up in class is that everyone has a certain number of pre-philosophical intuitions about the way the world is. And if a philosophical theory can't be explained in ways that due justice to those intuitions and, perhaps, be explained in language that is comprehensible to pre-philosophical language speakers, that is an indication that you've might have gone off the tracks so to speak.
This brings up a related point, some HuSites have made about my tone and diction, namely that it's condescending. This is not exactly the same thing as my professor was getting at but there is a commonality. My best guess is that the commonality is that a speaker ought to try to speak the language of the person(s) to whom he (or she) is speaking.
Sometimes, however, that is nigh impossible. On Facebook, a very conservative Christian friend of mine linked to an article about a pro-life atheist group setting up a booth at an atheist convention. One thing that struck me was the reaction of conference attendee, ```I disagree with you but I’m impressed with you,' said one young man after a lengthy discussion. `This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone defend [the pro-life] view with reason and rational arguments.'''
I don't know what arguments were presented but I have a hard time believing that the young man in question had never heard those arguments before. (Although, such is possible.) Rather, I think that what likely happened is that this was the first time that he heard the arguments presented in language that he could take to heart.
For example, one argument is that embryos share human nature with adults and, consequently, should be afforded all the legal and moral rights that all humans deserve. But, put like that (and coming from a Christian like myself), what many atheists hear is something more along the lines of ``there is this mystical thing called human nature, that even though it is immaterial, it is supposed to be somehow real, and this mystical and undetectible and immaterial thing somehow connects us to the invisible sky giant who although invisible and immaterial and eternal is also somehow material and a physical human person and therefore embryos are just as much in the image and likeness of the invisible sky giant as you or I.'' The intuitive response to that, I think, for someone who rejects the existence of God is, `whatever, you're not even making sense.'
But this same person who denies anything supernatural might have a different reaction if the comment to an atheist that embryos are just balls of tissue and meets the reply, `yeah, dude, what are you if not an oblong mass of tissue?'
The implied argument is that there is something the same in both cases. This something is what it means to be human. This is really the same argument that the Christian made but, since one atheist makes it to another, is heard far differently. Even if the atheist who hears the argument doesn't agree with it, the reaction is quite different. The argument is seen as something worth considering rather than something to be rejected out of hand for just being silly nonsense.
Probably the most difficult place where this sort of language game goes on is between parents and children. There are many things I say to my daughters where the emotional and psychological baggage of who I am overshadows what I'm trying to say even if I'm trying to use language that I think is common between myself and two teenagers. But then they hear the same thing I've been telling them for years from someone else and they come home, `hey Dad, did you know that ...''
Lesson learned, I suppose, is that I need to look at how I use language and that, in some times and places, even that will not be enough because of who I am.
I did a paper that I quite like. I think I managed to stumble across a significant error in method made by a number of commentators on Plato's Statesman. Once I get it back with comments from my professor, I think that if I clean it up some and expand a couple of portions that I may be able to get it published.
The Statesman is a pretty unique work. It's ostensibly about politics, how to determine how to recognize a true statesman. But three quarters of the way through the dialogue, an axe is taken to the roots of almost all ancient, medieval, and modern political philosophy. The rulers of all actual regimes are identified as being a great crowd of ``sophists of sophists'' and ``shapeshifters'' and ``sorcerers'' who have managed to fool everyone into thinking that they are statesman but, in fact, who do not know anything about ruling. Moreover, all the classical division of regimes based on the number of rulers (one, few, and many) is shown to be irrelevant and other divisions (with consent, under law) are shown to be meaningless.
Why Plato does this is pretty controversial. In fact, even taking the text plainly and exceedingly literally is controversial. No one has a good answer. I don't have a good answer either. But I've made an observation that, I think, allows rules out many of the most recent answers. I'm looking forward to seeing what my professor thinks.
That is all. There is nothing more here to see. Please move along.
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