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Post 0

Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 4:42pmSanction this postReply
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It is not "good" and "bad" ideas which cause so many of the problems in our world. It is over attachment to any kind of idea. Being willing to kill for an idea, sacrifice yourself for an idea, waste your time worrying about and debating ideas etc.

Attachment to "good" ideas leads to the same suffering as attachment to "bad" ideas.

Look at the troubles caused by people who had the wonderful idea of "brotherly love" or "compassion".

Why - because compassion is a bad idea? I don't think so. Because they became so attached to the idea that tey could no longer see the world? I think that is more likely.

This applies to all ideas - even objectivist ones!

Love,

Mary

Post 1

Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 7:18pmSanction this postReply
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Mary, I don't believe it's a waste of time to worry about and debate ideas. Ideas are the force that moves the world; ideas determine the course of history; ideas are what determine the kinds of government that different countries have, which has an enormous impact on the quality of life of the citizens of those countries.

For example, one idea is that "communism is good." Another idea is that "capitalism is bad." Given the enormous destruction caused by communism in the twentieth century--and the enormous advancements in quality of life that have been made under capitalism--I would say it's crucial to debate, worry about, and really understand those two ideas. Which ones are right, which ones are wrong, and for what reasons.

Another idea is altruism--the idea that a person is morally obligated to sacrifice his own well-being for the sake of others, and to serve others. It seems that this idea has been used as the justification for most of the worst tyrannies in history. For example, in Nazi Germany, there was a lot of propaganda about how a citizen must live for the state, and must be willing to sacrifice himself for the state.

So, I would say it's crucial to spend time worrying about and debating the idea of altruism--is it good, or bad, and what exactly are the reasons why?

If an idea is correct, I believe you should attach yourself to it completely, 100%, with no compromises. For example, I think the idea that "people should be free" should be followed completely; to compromise on that idea, would be to advocate partial freedom, partial slavery. (By "free", I mean free from physical coercion and fraud.)

In order to achieve the most success in my own life--and in order for anyone else to do the same--I believe it is crucial for us all to identify which ideas are correct, and then attach ourselves to those ideas completely, with no compromising.

Have you read "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" It's an essay by Ayn Rand that argues that philosophy is more important than most people realize.

Post 2

Wednesday, December 31, 2003 - 9:02amSanction this postReply
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Mary,

That is preposterous. Your contention seems to be that nobody should really beleive in anything or it will only result in bad things happening. Or maybe you mean we should only beleive in things some of the time, when its convenient? You should really reconsider your ideas.

Ethan

Post 3

Friday, January 2, 2004 - 3:37pmSanction this postReply
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When I read things like:

"If an idea is correct, I believe you should attach yourself to it completely, 100%, with no compromises"

A chill goes down my spine. I can almost feel the rabid froth spraying from your mouth. Almost feel the jackboots shaking the wooden floor as the chant in time to your uncompromising views. I was sure of one thing in my teens, another in my 20's and yet another now...if I has 100% committed myself to each with no open mind, no room for the idea I may be wrong - where would I have ended up?

But a lot of people agree with you. I am sure suicide bomber's commander would say to him: "If an idea is correct, I believe you should attach yourself to it completely, 100%, with no compromises"

Ethan: I do not say you should not believe things, nor do I say you should not act upon these beliefs - but becoming so fanatical that the ideas become of prime importance, more important that people, more important that your family, that is dangerous. I have seen fanatical Marxists, fanatical skinheads, and fanatical "Libertarianz" (the New Zealand variety).

They scared me equally - not because they shared too many views, but becasue they were all so certain of their beliefs that all others were seen as (how would Perigo put it---Oh yes) "maggots in human form".

This level of faith and obedience to a set of ideas is as much slavery as the same level of faith and obedience to and master with a whip.

Love,

Mary

Post 4

Friday, January 2, 2004 - 4:42pmSanction this postReply
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Mary:

The suicide bombers chant over and over to themselves that they are right, it's true. They have a blind fanaticism that is indeed scary beyond measure. It would be false to categorize all fanaticism as evil, however. Fanaticism is just another word for passion, and to have passion for the just, good, and beautiful is no vice.

You think that because some confused people out there will kill themselves over a God they have never seen that all people who believe they are 100% right on something MUST be wrong about it. Pantalaimon is right: to compromise on the right only advocates the wrong.

An example: WWII. Was everyone involved just a bunch of fanatics? Were they all wrong? No. Only Hitler's army was wrong. Those who fought him were right, and they were "fanatically" right too, since they were willing to die to stop him.

Mary, as a last question, are you 100% sure about your idea that "fanaticism" is bad?

Tommy

Post 5

Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 12:06amSanction this postReply
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Mary, maybe there is some misunderstanding between us about what it means to "attach yourself completely" to an idea.

I didn't mean that, if you believe an idea to be correct, then you should launch a holy war against anyone who disagrees with you, or fail to respect their rights, or start treating them meanly.

My main point was just that ideas are very important, ideas shape the world, and it's crucial for us to figure out what the correct ideas are; for example, we've got to figure out what the best kind of government is--and we've got to disprove all the incorrect ideas which are used to "justify" the tyrannies that exist in the world.

Post 6

Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 1:37pmSanction this postReply
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"This level of faith and obedience to a set of ideas is as much slavery as the same level of faith and obedience to and master with a whip."

By this, Mary, I take it you overestimate or are confused about the level of commitment one can have to ideas based on faith.

Faith does not signify commitment. And most here do not rely on faith. The ideas I enjoy and discuss are ones that have been belabored by my own reason. ~That~ is commitment. Blind faith takes no part in the decisions I make or the ideas I bear.

Those who stick to an idea with out checking its validity--the Faithful--are not committed to ideas...they're committed to whim and mysticism, and so to a slow and painful intellectual (sometimes physical) death, of themselves and others. Comparing absolute certainty--(of all ideas, not just bad ones) to the staccato of jackboots is laughable and lacking any depth of insight.

J

Post 7

Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 2:15pmSanction this postReply
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"The ideas I enjoy and discuss are ones that have been belabored by my own reason. ~That~ is commitment. Blind faith takes no part in the decisions I make or the ideas I bear. "

I think you believe that. But all of our ideas are influenced to some degree by our emotions and prejudice. To say you base your ideas COMPLETELY on reason is either a lie or a delusion.
Accepting this is very important. It helps to stop the dangerous fanatisicism which would see tou all become "maggot slayers".

Don't forget that all Marxists rely "entirely on reason" as did Hitler with his "Scientific Racism" and as does Bush these days....in fact you seldom meet a person who will say that anything OTHER than reason influenced them. Are you so different?

("oh yes" you say "i'm someone who really follows reason....not like those others"...the problem is they all say that ... lol)

Mary

Post 8

Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 2:52pmSanction this postReply
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Hello!

Believe it or not, I think we can establish some common ground. I think all of us believe, with absolute certainty, that if one wants to live, then it's a BAD idea to step out in front of a speeding bus.

If you doubt the degree of certainty that reason dictates, then I suggest that you really doubt the evidence upon which the reason is based. Doubting certitude in the evidence is something I would expect every good scientist to do. However, the Scientific Method does yield results, else we could never obtain the confidence that an airplane can fly, or that a spacecraft can be launched to the moon.

Certainty in one's reasoning IS possible.

Sincerely.

Post 9

Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 3:56pmSanction this postReply
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Hello!

Believe it or not, I think we can establish some common ground. I think all of us believe, with absolute certainty, that if one wants to live, then it's a BAD idea to step out in front of a speeding bus.

If you doubt the degree of certainty that reason dictates, then I suggest that you really doubt the evidence upon which the reason is based. Doubting certitude in the evidence is something I would expect every good scientist to do. However, the Scientific Method does yield results, else we could never obtain the confidence that an airplane can fly, or that a spacecraft can be launched to the moon.

Certainty in one's reasoning IS possible.

Sincerely.

Post 10

Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 4:28pmSanction this postReply
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Um - and.....? WHat's your point?

Post 11

Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 4:48pmSanction this postReply
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There are many rather interesting amd important insights in this article -- and in the previous ones on related subjects by Joe Rowlands. My own gloss on the topic is as follows:

At some point, ~all~ of us have foolish notions and false beliefs which don't stand up to scrutiny. Socrates would probably say these are entirely a product of ignorance and erroneous thinking -- of cerebration which lacks sufficient clarity, precision of definitions, and logical consistency. Most Objectivists would probably say human depravity of some type is the chief factor. And many others would somewhat jocularly observe "such is human perversity." I thing all three explanations are helpful.

On a ~simple~ level, people seem to believe bad ideas -- untrue and immoral ideas -- for the following related reasons:

1) Because they think the ideas are actually good.

2) Because they don't know a superior alternative.

3) Owing to self-deception, such as a psychologically-comforting delusion.

4) Owing to habit and inertia.

5) Because they're so popular and accepted, currently or historically, people trust the minds of their coevals.

6) Because of the belief that they as individuals are weak or failed or evil, but the ideas and ideals they ascribe to are still good.

Ultimately, the more plentiful and powerful our ideas, the happier we will all be. But the ideas have to correspond to reality and conform to the truth -- both cosmologically and personally.

Post 12

Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 5:26pmSanction this postReply
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"Um - and.....? WHat's your point?"

Mary is saying that it's not possible to be certain of an idea; that many people who have been certain of their ideas have been proven to be wrong. (She mentioned Marxists and Hitler.) I'm simply demonstrating that certainty is a requirement for life. If we want to live, then we have to act, and we have to act with certainty. We have to find food. We have to find shelter. We have to earn our living, and we have to act with certainty when we do, else we might step in front of a speeding bus, or eat food which has been poisoned, or build a home which collapses when occupied. Moreover, technological advancement demonstrates vividly that we can acquire knowledge, as demonstrated when a plane flies, or when a spaceship lands on another planet.

So, why can we not be certain that humans have Rights, and that Capitalism is the correct economic system for mankind, since we use the same method to acquire knowledge when we validate these ideas, as we do when we learn how to boil an egg?

Our knowledge comes from the same place -- Reason.

Sincerely.

Post 13

Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 6:10pmSanction this postReply
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Mary,

"("oh yes" you say "i'm someone who really follows reason....not like those others"...the problem is they all say that ... lol) "

Right...just like those people who say "mine is the true faith not those others."

You are being a hypocrite because you are doing the same thing. I'm right and your wrong ha ha. Tell you what, You throw god at me and I'll throw some of those stones you mentioned in the other thread at you. Lets see how reality asserts itself then. Just think, you could tell your friends that you were stoned for your faith, just like another named Mary.

Post 14

Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 10:04pmSanction this postReply
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If person A asserts with absolute certainty that the sky is green, not blue, the error lies in the untrue nature of his assertion, not his certainty of it.

Person B can assert with equal fervor in his voice that the sky is, in fact, blue. Both can be entirely certain of their statements, but only one of them is correct.

Mary (correct me if I'm wrong, Mary) regards reason as just another kind of "faith." I know of many people who have the same mindset as Mary. Their entire faith can be summed up with this single, contradictory phrase "The only absolute is that there are no absolutes."

Post 15

Sunday, January 4, 2004 - 2:08pmSanction this postReply
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Quote: 'Their entire faith can be summed up with this single, contradictory phrase "The only absolute is that there are no absolutes."'

Tommy, while the phrase you mentioned is contradictory, that hardly means anything, because it can be rewritten in this form which isn't contradictory: "There is only one absolute, the fact that only one absolute exists."

You'll need a better refutation than that.

Post 16

Sunday, January 4, 2004 - 4:45pmSanction this postReply
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"Tommy, while the phrase you mentioned is contradictory, that hardly means anything, because it can be rewritten in this form which isn't contradictory: "There is only one absolute, the fact that only one absolute exists.""

What about the fact that "There is only one absolute, the fact that only one absolute exists?" It's not so easy to escape from infinite regress.

Post 17

Sunday, January 4, 2004 - 6:04pmSanction this postReply
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True. It is circular and can't prove itself, of course.

Post 18

Sunday, January 4, 2004 - 9:01pmSanction this postReply
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" "There is only one absolute, the fact that only one absolute exists.""

Regardless, it is still an assertion backed up with no evidence.

Post 19

Monday, January 5, 2004 - 12:06pmSanction this postReply
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It's completely a fabrication for sure. I just wondered at your calling it a contradiction, I figured you meant in the original form, the explicit contradiction.

It is definitely crap, because 'existence exists' must be an absolute. Consider this matter closed.

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