Print Story Pascha was low key this year
Diary
By lm (Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 10:10:16 AM EST) (all tags)
Highlight of the service: John 1 read in Bulgarian, Romanian, Greek, French, German, Tagalog, ASL, Russian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Swahili, and English.

MLPs also included. And observations on language games. A tiny bit on the DC HuSi meetup. Hints at something significant in Plato's Statesman.



The service took longer than normal this year. I dunno why. When it let out at 3am, we didn't stick around for the Paschal banquet where families bring baskets of all the foods they missed during Lent.

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.

An argument that the US Council of Catholic Bishops is acting against the common good.

No more bugs in your Starbucks.

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
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.''

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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Pascha was low key this year | 38 comments (38 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Is your sister hotter than Ashley Judd? by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #1 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 10:32:14 AM EST
I remain skeptical, but I had to ask.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

I'll let you decide by lm (2.00 / 0) #2 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 10:43:05 AM EST
A picture of my sister and her husband

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
That answers my shallow question, thanks. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 10:55:16 AM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
jargon and nomenclature by garlic (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 11:20:32 AM EST
speaking to the level of your audience is definitely key. And even 'pre-philosophical' sounds a little condescending, like those of us who haven't studied philosophy deeply are not as evolved, or as modern as those who have.

some of this you are probably aware of from the tech field, trying to help a non-computer user troubleshoot or use their computer.


That's a great point by lm (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 11:43:01 AM EST
It's a bit ironic, too. Pre-philosophical thought and speech is being held up as prior to and normative for philosophical thought and speech. This implies that the pre-philosophical is superior to the philosophical in some ways because it grasps the way things are in a way that the philosophical may not. But the jargon being used to say this sounds condescending to non-philosophers.

The comparison to techies and non-techies is pretty apt. Although,  when I'm in the world of IT, I suspect that I usually sound more condescending to other techies than I do to non-techies.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
No more bugs in Starbucks by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 11:37:30 AM EST
I don't understand why the coloring was an issue. OK, not Kosher, but is there really a high demand for a kosher frappucino? (And why would a bug be non kosher?)

It's non-toxic, organic, and has been used for centuries!

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

blame the vegans by lm (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 11:44:02 AM EST
They don't want to think that beetles died for their brew.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
But the frappucinos are still non vegan by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 11:51:44 AM EST
All that cream.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's true by lm (4.00 / 1) #9 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 11:58:17 AM EST
FTFA

Starbucks made the original switch away from artificial coloring in January, when it aggressively moved away from the use of any artificial ingredients in its food and drinks. Starbucks has worked diligently to improve the quality of its menu. But the backlash came just a few months later, when a vegan Starbucks barista alerted a vegan blogger of the change. [my emphasis]

So, under pressure from granola types, Starbucks moves away from artificial colors only to find themselves pissing off vegans by using dead animal based dyes.

I think that maybe some dead old guy may have once wrote a fable about their predicament.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
uh. by R343L (2.00 / 0) #19 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 02:25:28 PM EST
Perhaps you're being facetious, but most Starbucks drinks can be made with non-dairy (and vegan) milks. Are frappucinos different somehow?

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
[ Parent ]
I thought they came as a mix by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #22 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 04:29:14 PM EST
With the dairy, sugar, and 5000 calories pre-measured.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
It is a partial mix by R343L (2.00 / 0) #27 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 07:51:45 PM EST
But since 2010 reformulated so the milk/cream is added separately so you can choose soy.

I've never had one but given the market I'd kind of assumed there were vegan options for most drinks (all local competitors here have vegan milks). I'm a bit surprised it's only since 2010 for this concoction.

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
kosher. by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #29 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 09:28:08 PM EST
have you read the kosher laws?  1% of them make sense ( pork, I get, cuz like ppl were dying) the rest?  odddddd

--
I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock
[ Parent ]
telephone/chinese whispers by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #30 Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 01:13:58 AM EST
Basically start out with stuff like no pork (plus a heap of similar superstitions/fallacies from the iron age). Follow blindly. Update the law to be whatever the last generation did (possibly several generations, or at least living memory). Continue for a few thousand years. This is what current Kosher law is.

If you where raised in a Protestant tradition, it is hard to wrap your mind around another tradition that takes a written holy work so seriously (a Torah has to have every single character correct or it can't be used) and then ignore how those laws are written down in favor of tradition. Of course, once you hang around Jews for a little while, the importance of tradition (anything done once is a tradition, anything done twice is a sacred tradition) is less surprising.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
The service let out at 3am? by Captain Tenille (4.00 / 1) #10 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 12:57:44 PM EST
I didn't realize you had apparently become an Old Believer when you became Orthodox. Eeek. 

---------

/* You are not expected to understand this. */


That's a pretty normal time by lm (2.00 / 0) #11 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 01:04:42 PM EST
Matins starts in most congregations at 11:30pm. Depending on the size of the parish and the speed of the chanters, it will last from half an hour to an hour. Since part of the service is a procession around the Church building, if you've got a packed house, that takes longer. Then comes the liturgy which generally lasts 90 minutes to two hours. Again, size of the congregation is large factor. Only the clergy can distribute communion so with all the Easter Orthodox in attendance, it can take a while to distribute communion to the whole parish.

Some of the traditionalist groups have even longer services.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
procession around the Church building by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 01:12:28 PM EST
After midnight? In that neighborhood? I hope it was a quiet procession, otherwise the neighbors would get irate and do something annoying.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Maybe by Captain Tenille (4.00 / 1) #14 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 01:21:39 PM EST
all the big Greeks and Russians scared them off. 

---------

/* You are not expected to understand this. */


[ Parent ]
They've been doing it for decades by lm (4.00 / 1) #16 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 02:16:25 PM EST
I'm not exactly when they moved into that building, but I believe it was before the turn of the millenium. To my knowledge none of the neighbors have ever complained about the midnight Paschal service.

But one side of the property has that retaining wall and the other side is wooded. So I don't know if the choir singing gets back into the residential space very much.

Now, if this were the old country, and the parishioners were setting off fireworks and discharging guns into the air while the Church rang its bells ...


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I can just imagine the reaction by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #18 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 02:24:06 PM EST
of the Montgomery County Police to that!

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
I'm in Cyprus right now, by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #21 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 04:21:42 PM EST
And although I flew over on Pascha, when I went to vespers on Bright Monday, there was still some pretty heavy cardboard artillery lying around the outside of the church.

And yeah, our service in the UK finished at about 3am, too.

[ Parent ]
Indeed. by Captain Tenille (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 01:19:23 PM EST
I read somewhere that Old Believer services last seven or eight hours. Keep in mind that with my Mormon upbringing I expect church to last three hours or so, but seven or eight hours seems a bit excessive. Die Meistersinger is nowhere near that long.

One annoying thing actually with the UU services the wife and kids have been going to is that it lasts roughly an hour or so, so it's not even enough time to get a whole lot done. If it were three hours long or so I could get all kinds of things done, but an hour (+ coming and going time) isn't all that much.


---------

/* You are not expected to understand this. */


[ Parent ]
on occasion by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #15 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 01:52:41 PM EST
we (as in husi) will be discussing some current event and you'll chime in with "Plato said x" and mostly leave it at that. If it extended to "Plato originated this belief/myth which still informs our beliefs today and I see it here in your argument" or attempted to unpack the beliefs behind your argument along with the argument you are replying to and making a case for which set of beliefs is better suited for working through this issue - that would good. If it's just "Plato said x" then it's no different than any banal science/religion or team A / team B debate (if not a lot more cordial).

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

I agree with that assessment by lm (2.00 / 0) #17 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 02:20:49 PM EST
9 times out of 10, if I mention Plato or Aristotle, I'm only trying to point out a historical curiosity.

I think it's interesting to note how long certain ways of thought have been around especially if those ways of thought are usually considered to be modern or the invention of some group (such as the Catholic Church).


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Haha! by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #20 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 03:29:49 PM EST
I'm definitely flattered. It's not often that I can say that I was eye candy when I'm out with friends... I had a fantastic time, and I agree that it would've been nice to have had longer to hang out. Even better if everyone lived closer - like on technician's fabled husi compound... I'll post further reflections after I get hom and get some rest.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
Shapeshifters? by dmg (2.00 / 0) #23 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 05:06:50 PM EST
How come when Icke mentions this he is derided, but when a so called 'philosopher' does it it's suddenly OK?
--
dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
I could be wrong, but ... by lm (4.00 / 1) #26 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 05:42:16 PM EST
... it's probably because Plato meant it metaphorically, that all actual politicians are like minotaurs and satyrs that go back and forth from one form to the other depending on the time of day.

After all, when was the last time you've heard of a politician sicking to her guns for her entire political career?

But, on the other hand, in the Statesman, the Eleatic Stranger tells a myth of alternating ages of Zeus and Chronos. During the age of Chronos, we all spring from the ground fully formed and age backwards until they turn into infants and then disappear into nothingness.

I'm not certain what to think of such a Mork & Mindy approach to the foundational myths of a government.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Atheist answers by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #24 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 05:11:10 PM EST
I'm intentionally answering before reading further in your post.

"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?"

Yes.  I don't think either has "priority" really other than that I don't think either is compatible with a belief in God.  I'd say both spring from the same thing.  (See next question.)

"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?"

"There is no sufficient reason to believe in God" is closest to my beliefs.  Same reason I'm a materialist.  In both cases, I think the alternative is just increasing the complexity of the explanation while not doing anything other than moving the problem.  (e.g. "What created God?")  Also (don't read if it will cause offense) In both cases, the explanations strike me the sort of convenient explanations that people want to believe because they mean the world is more to their liking, much the way kids can fight against the truth of Santa Claus because having a magical present giving man makes them feel good.  In my opinion, any idea that is convenient when true should invite particular skepticism because they are ripe for self delusion.

As to labels, I think labels are a convenient thing to argue about.  I prefer not to label myself and rather just say what I believe and let other people argue about what team color that means.  In a similar fashion, I don't really give a damn what other people call themselves.

"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?"

There was certainly never any atheistic epiphany.  Neither of my parents (or my stepfather) were religious, though they both went to a religious school.  The family history on my father's side is full of Unitarians and free thinkers back to the 18th century.  None of my grandparents when to church until my grandmother became religious when I was in my twenties.  I can count on one hand the number of times I set foot in a church in my childhood.

I had some negative experiences, but none of them severe.  Mostly instances where religion had a negative impact on the world.  With all honesty, in all cases, this is really due to certain American evangelical sects.  I'd be lying if I said this had anything to do with my beliefs, though.  I've assumed there's no God since I can remember thinking about it.

That's probably the best way to state my belief in one sentence.  It's not really about belief.  I assume there is no God.  That's the premise I operate on.

"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?"

It depends on what you mean.  My reasons for being an atheist is because that's the way I think the world is.  I suppose this applies to goodness itself in that the way the reality actually is applies to the best way to operate in it.  But to me, that question is like asking how I apply the reasons for my belief that the sun will rise tomorrow to goodness itself.  It just doesn't apply.

As to where morals themselves come from: I think science is getting better at elucidating exactly that.  Most morals are biologically driven.  There are a number of fascinating thought experiments where a moral choice that nearly everyone would make can be shown to be fundamentally illogical.

Given that, goodness itself is what we are programmed to think goodness itself is.  Fundamentally, "good" and "evil" are concepts that only makes sense in relationship to people.  They are words we use to describe how parts of the world relate to us.  If the human race did not exist, you could not apply those words to anything in the universe.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

Dude! That was totally unexpected! by lm (2.00 / 0) #25 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 05:38:27 PM EST
But I appreciate that. I like to get a glimpse of where other people are coming from.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I want to met more Husites. by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #28 Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 09:14:47 PM EST


--
I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock
ohh comments: by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #31 Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 03:17:37 AM EST
"Pascha, however, always makes me a bit homesick for Ohio" While I have family in Dayton (and Cincinnati) I can't say I've spent much time there since 1980. I still have trouble understanding how a non-Protestant or German Catholic parish managed to grow in Dayton. Montgomery County probably has every faith you could ask for.

"This opinion piece is worth reading" Unfortunately, the standard opinion piece in the US requires that the writer bring as much evidence to the piece as possible and ignore any issues that such a truth might bring. If Hollywood (and the celebrity "culture" has decided to eliminate "enhanced" actresses from casting, it likely simply shifts the available actresses to genetically gifted and younger actresses, and has a higher turnover as actresses get to old for any but the dreaded "older woman" roles. One flashback I had while reading that piece was a discussion we had at dinner about haircuts (I couldn't bring up my goal of simply keeping my hair out of sight of people due to the fairly tall crowd) and Toxicfur's comment about the unusual control of hairstylists over how we look and the difficulty in getting a good haircut out of them: I could only imagine that in Hollywood one talks such a way about plastic surgeons (and would also peg the needle at 12 chihuahuas).

"scientific papers are being retracted more frequently" Once again, they leave out any critical information to analyze such a thing. This without a similar graph of the number of papers published is worthless. I would assume that starting in 1990 or so for both would give a more clear picture of things. I am also struck by Feynman's gripes about scientific rigor especially comparing his physics with other experimental disciplines. I'd hate to have to write up the grant request to check some non-sexy result from n years ago. It would be even worse if I needed that grant for my career. I also don't believe that physicists have any better record (although in the US this may be due to Feynman's being dead).

"Are you also a strict materialist? And, if so, does either atheism or strict materialism have priority". Unless you insist that strict materialism includes idolatry, I have to agree that this is semantically null.
"Are you a hard atheist" The idea of an atheistic gnosis would be seem unbelievable except that it appears to exist. Since this appears to be as good as any definition of a "hard atheist", the difference between a "soft atheist" and an "agnostic" appears where they would lay odds on which gods might exist. There was also a recent Husi diary concerning the various trek films. While trek V might be otherwise forgettable, the question of how a mortal might determine whether some advanced entity qualified as "God" or not seemed to be buried with the rest of the movie. Just how a mortal is supposed to have the magic power of gnosis (or how any entity is supposed to provide it) is certainly a related question.
"Were you always an atheist or is it something that you grew into or decided to become" If the number of atheists is growing (it appears to be, but it might just be a feeling that the Christian Right is making God look sufficiently bad to come out of cover) it appears that it is grown into. I will admit to being preached at by a neighbor as a very young boy and being upset that I understood that I had no idea how "to let Jesus into my heart" (and I understood that concept then as well as I do now). I wonder if it is a matter of dropping the doublethink of childhood in favor of one or more beliefs than a specific binary shift from one to another.

"Disregarding the question of whether atheists can be moral". Here is another semantically null question. Typically, moral systems are either humanistic or theistic (PETA would have to come up with some sort of animalistic system). For an atheist, theistic systems are right out. For a humanist, theistic systems are right out with or without the existence of a god. If somehow the Westboro Baptist Church was found to be preaching the 100% Word of God, a humanist would be still revolted at their preaching (once when I was introduced to a Unitarian minster, I corrected my introduction as a "secular humanist" to merely a "humanist". It may have been somewhat misleading in that the difference wasn't so much a stating a disbelief in God, but an indifference in such a beings influence on morality.)

"pro-life atheist group" The arguments might be similar, but the theist has the advantage that he only need prove God's opinion on the matter. The atheist needs to prove that both his opinion and that of his eventually converted audience is superior to the mothers' whose choice he wishes to override. I can only suspect that the conference attendee is sufficiently young that he (I didn't need to check the gender, did I) hadn't heard those arguments before. I suspect that he is also full of the idealism of youth and has learned to doubt the world but not himself.

"managed to fool everyone into thinking that they are statesman but, in fact, who do not know anything about ruling" I have to wonder about the translation here and how Plato defined "Statesman". I suspect it is sufficiently the same as in modern time. He appears to be claiming that politicians work best by faking being "statesman". This might work well in his books, but I have to wonder if voters in ancient democracies or modern Republics (and Constitutional Monarchies) would really prefer statesman over effective (or even electable) politicians of their particular faction. I think the career of Jimmy Carter (the one I instantly thought of "sticking to [his] guns for [his] entire political career") would show this pretty well.

"That is all. There is nothing more here to see. Please move along." ok. Posting.

Wumpus

I'm not certain what you mean by idolatry by lm (2.00 / 0) #32 Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 08:54:05 AM EST
"Are you also a strict materialist? And, if so, does either atheism or strict materialism have priority". Unless you insist that strict materialism includes idolatry, I have to agree that this is semantically null.

One might believe that supernatural things exist, things outside the scope of empirical investigations, but not believe that one of those things is God. I suppose that you could categorize that as 'idolatry' but if there is no worship (no latreia) then it is hard to see how it would be idolatry.

A special case of this would be a mind/body dualist who thinks that human beings are both spiritual and physical creatures. A strict materialist would reject such a view out of hand. Although such a materialist might allow that people perceive themselves that way.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
It just seemed like a likely combination by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #35 Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 01:32:33 PM EST
a material god: idol.

As for the supernatural, if it exists it is not supernatural. No claims that the universe is only affected by the four known fundamental forces or that what is commonly called "supernatural" doesn't exist (at least one time I have been certain that enough coincidences defied traditional reality).

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
okay, I see where you're coming from now by lm (2.00 / 0) #36 Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 01:35:34 PM EST
Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate that.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Plato's Statesman by lm (2.00 / 0) #33 Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 09:05:45 AM EST
Your point about the preferences of the people is well taken. In fact, Plato addresses this and argues that consent is not necessary for the true statesman. He argues that consent and rule of law are important to actual political regimes because they are limiting factor on rulers who fall well short of being statesmen. In that view, without such limiting factors, the end result is more often than not quite painful for the ruled.

And there is a rather disturbing passage in the dialogue where the true statesman is compared to a doctor. It is argued that if a doctor truly knows what is good for the patient, he or she will treat the patient even if the patient does not give consent. And this is well and good because it is what is truly good for the patient. So the true statesman is not limited by the requirement of consent or even the rule of law. But, if any ruler in an actual regime were to try to govern that way, he or she would be horrible to live under.

Fifteen hundred years later, al-Farabi would eventually combine these two points. The unpleasantness of being forced into what is good against one's will combined with the freedom taken for granted in a democracy means that if a true statesman were to arise in a democracy, the people would either drive him or her out of the city or simply kill that statesman. If you consider Jimmy Carter to be an honest politician who sticks to his guns, and as such is a true statesman, I think you could make a fair argument that Farabi's analysis pretty much describes what happened to him.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
They made Socrates drink the hemlock by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #37 Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 01:36:10 PM EST
but not Plato? While I understand that Plato did not approve of tyrants (Greek definition), this still seems like a call for all good citizens to assassinate non-statesman leaders. For the good of the polis, the non-statesman leader must be non-consensually removed.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
Plato wasn't associated with a coup by lm (2.00 / 0) #38 Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 01:46:28 PM EST
Two of the youths `corrupted' by Socrates grew up to stage coups against the democratic regime in Athens, Alcibiades and Critias. In the popular mind, Socrates was directly associated with the violent overthrow of democracy.

Plato, not so much. I believe that the only political shenanigans that Plato ended up being involved in was in Syracuse. So he wasn't a threat to Athens.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Evidence of God by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #34 Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 12:36:45 PM EST
The idea of testing a powerful being for being "God" is of course all wrapped up in the definition of what "God" is.  But I think the best way to for me at least to consider what evidence of God would be compelling enough for me to change my mind is to look at the past.

In 1780, there were no viable ways to explain the world without God.  There was no viable theory about how life arose, no viable theory of how planets arose, etc.  In this situation, God was the simplest theory and it made since to accept it as the base assumption.  (This, of course, has no relation to the Christian/Jewish/Muslim God, which is not the simplest theory.)  In other words, in 1780, I'd have been a deist.

In theory, such a situation could exist again.  But some old guy with a beard throwing lightening bolts would not be enough for me to call him God.  I'd just assume he's just some powerful material being.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
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