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Thursday, February 2, 2006 - 6:29amSanction this postReply
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Have never understood the vitriol Os direct toward those who hold reality as God and reason as their Bible.  Deists are good example, Unitarians another. 

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Post 1

Thursday, February 2, 2006 - 6:43amSanction this postReply
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I think Objectivists would simply say why obfuscate things.  If one's beliefs are truly that, then use the words "reality" and "reason".   It's hard not to suspect that there is really bootleg religion behind doing such linguistic contortions.
(Edited by Jody Allen Gomez on 2/02, 6:45am)


Post 2

Thursday, February 2, 2006 - 7:01amSanction this postReply
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Thank you, Neil, for this careful article.

It has always seemed to me that Kant's statement about making reason small(er) in order to make room for faith was a sop thrown to religion. He had other, more philosophically serious reasons for contracting reason from the scope given it by most of his colleagues and predecessors in Germany. The soundbite he was throwing to religion was to the purpose of protecting science and humanistic, secular philosophy from the religious mob and the political powers.

However, my Lutheran minister in early college had a very favorable view of Kant. He appreciated that Kant had put an end to rational theology. All proofs for the existence of God are invalid. Ditto for the immortality of the soul. So much the better. Get some balls. Stand on faith.

Still, I think my minister and I would agree that Kant was himself, and in his philosophy, no fidiest.

Stephen 

Post 3

Thursday, February 2, 2006 - 1:28pmSanction this postReply
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Neil:

     Interesting article, definitely...but...

     The only sensible point of engaging in any 'dialogue' with anyone is to learn-from or teach-to another re whatever the casual/important subject (other than kill time discussing weather/etc of course).

     It's unclear as to what an O'ist would find worthwhileness in re expending effort to 'understand' Shinto-ists, Scientologists, Muslims, Christians (of whichever of the multi-varied stripes) more than is already known, re 'explaining' something to them, or (yeah, right) expecting to 'learn' anything from them. --- If you could clarify the 'Why Bother?' aspect, you're article (sequel, maybe?) would probably be fascinating. --- In other words, it's not clear where the 'fruitfulness' would be...or for whom.

LLAP
J:D

(Edited by John Dailey on 2/02, 1:52pm)


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Thursday, February 2, 2006 - 4:07pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks for the kind comments.

Robert, you make an interesting point.  Objectivists have a high opinion of Enlightenment thinkers and the founding fathers.  Yet most probably expressed some belief in God, so what's the big deal?


Post 5

Thursday, February 2, 2006 - 4:48pmSanction this postReply
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Neil,

I strongly agree that is a highly effective tactic to find common intellectual ground with people who hold other beliefs if you wish to get them interested in Objectivism. I see history (even history of ideas) or ontology as having limited value, though, as it will only appeal to well-read intellectuals.

If you really want to get the fire stoked, discuss moral principles or politics. Be careful about finding common ground with ethical principles, though. This causes strong kneejerks on all sides. People vastly prefer to fight about morality than discuss it. (And fighting about morality is a way to get to the politics real quick)

Michael


Post 6

Thursday, February 2, 2006 - 7:06pmSanction this postReply
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I think the Judeo-Christian concept of "one god" is an extremely important breakthrough in man's conception of the unity of nature. I think perhaps Abraham had this insight , and in his time could only express it by saying "There is only ONE god". Perhaps he didn't believe in God at all. But that concept was so foreign to the people of his time that he is remembered as having espoused ONE god.

Post 7

Thursday, February 2, 2006 - 9:04pmSanction this postReply
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Mike,

The one god idea in the face of polytheism is usually thought to be started by Akhenaten in ancient Egypt.

Michael

 


Post 8

Friday, February 3, 2006 - 6:25amSanction this postReply
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Michael,

The biblical Abram, later Abraham, predates Akhenaten by at least 250 years.  If he really existed and if he traveled to Eygpt as described in the Old Testiment, he may have been influential in speading the monothestic message in that country.


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Friday, February 3, 2006 - 6:34amSanction this postReply
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Jody,

I think Objectivists would simply say why obfuscate things.  If one's beliefs are truly that, then use the words "reality" and "reason".
In the examples cited they do actually use those words.  Whether you call reality God or the 'final arbitor' is a difference that makes no difference.

 It's hard not to suspect that there is really bootleg religion behind doing such linguistic contortions.
A paranoid suspicion of the motives of others makes outreach impossible.



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Post 10

Friday, February 3, 2006 - 6:49amSanction this postReply
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A belief in a supreme caretaker and a life after death brings a sense of inner peace and security to millions of people.  Exploring those emotional payoffs could prove interesting and educational in learning how best to spread our own message.  Notice that the religionist's "sense of inner peace and security" has nothing to do with objective reality and everything to do with his own mind-created "reality."  Attack his source of inner peace and security and he will literally defend it to the death rather than let it go -- unless, of course, you convincingly show him a better way to experience inner peace and security without relying on imaginary friends.

EDIT: This site offers moderated live opportunities for such dialogues:

http://www.garrison-martineau.com/

From the site, the stated purposes of the projects are:
  1. Educating the public about the human experiences of believers and nonbelievers by facilitating dialogue and promoting understanding between believers and nonbelievers
  2. Improving the level of civic discourse by enabling individuals across the ideological spectrum to talk with and learn from one another.
 Perhaps Neil would like to test this opportunity and report his results.

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 2/03, 6:55am)


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Post 11

Friday, February 3, 2006 - 10:48amSanction this postReply
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It seems to me that Kant wanted to secularize mystic faith. His view that formlessness and violence are the highest expressions in aesthetics dovetails nicely with force so huge that it is beyond our comprehensionĖhence "does violence to our imaginations." What would be similar with Christian mystics or any other mystics is the idea that there is a higher bigger force guiding us.

Neil: "Christians and Objectivists might profitably discuss why the ideas and influence of Kant are viewed so differently."

Ugh? The man is almost impossible to read, especially when his content is about the power of the voidĖit pretty much becomes anything you want to interrupt. For instance I have never found common ground with Fred Seddon and yet, Stephen Hicks and myself hold virtually identical and independently arrived views on Kantís aesthetics. (I donít have knowledge of Kís philosophy in general, so I canít comment on that, hahahah, I would even say I donít have to clue to what Seddonís philosophy is.)

I donít see how there is any benefit to discussing humanities if the parties are not in agreement that the humanities are man-madeĖmysticism has no place or value in the view that human knowledge is the ultimate guide in moral issues. Though I do think it is important to know how Kant came to have such influence I donít think there is much value in the work of man who was in awe of nothing.

Michael


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Post 12

Friday, February 3, 2006 - 4:24pmSanction this postReply
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Robert-
A paranoid suspicion of the motives of others makes outreach impossible.

When others use the term "God", it is not paranoid suspicion to think that they mean something other than "reality."  This abuse of language is merely a way that they can flip the coin when they're caught trying to smuggle God somewhere that they know he will not be tolerated.  Until further notice from the OED, and from damn near ten out of ten people who currently define the word as more than mere reality, I'll accept its meaning, remain paranoid and take people at their word.  It's not my fault, nor my problem when people are this negligent and imprecise in their use of a word.  Of course, as I said before, it's done on purpose-for the purpose of bootlegging-which actually makes it a rather malicious practice.  It's kind of like the maliciousness involved in trying to bootleg creationism in by using the euphemism "Intelligent Design." 


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Post 13

Saturday, February 4, 2006 - 7:24amSanction this postReply
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Jody,

You appear to have a monolithic view about what constitutes a 'religious' person.  In truth those you call 'religious' are an amorphous lot; they are not as you believe all 'bible-thumpers' or creationists.  

As I have pointed out before there is a world of difference between Ayn Rand and Madelyn Murry O'Hair and bearly any difference between Rand and Thomas Jefferson.  Virulent atheism, blind Pavovian anger at the mention of God, is irrelevant.  If you could eliminate the word God from the vocabulary of world, you would accomplish nothing.  You would not have won the battle of faith vs reason and the world would still be full of irrational people. 


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Post 14

Saturday, February 4, 2006 - 10:11amSanction this postReply
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Robert,

This is not presented in the spirit of being contrary for the sake of arguing only, but the very first essay I ever read criticizing Objectivism was precisely about the Rand-Jefferson misunderstanding. Seven essays by Eyler Robert Coates, Sr., to be exact. Apparently there were great differences between her and Jefferson. I just looked the essays up again, so you can find them here:

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7842/otjindex.htm

I haven't read them in years, but I just might reread them, as I remember finding them thought provoking at the time.

Michael

Post 15

Saturday, February 4, 2006 - 10:40amSanction this postReply
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Robert-
If you could eliminate the word God from the vocabulary of world, you would accomplish nothing.

I never said I wished to eliminate the word from the vocabulary.  I was just asking that people use the word correctly, and when they don't, to not be surprised if they are misunderstood.


Post 16

Saturday, February 4, 2006 - 3:32pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

Thanks, but my point was Jefferson is closer to Rand than O'Hair.  I suppose a more recent reference would be Michael Newdow.

(Edited by Robert Davison on 2/04, 3:34pm)


Post 17

Sunday, February 5, 2006 - 8:58amSanction this postReply
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Michael,

I have had a chance to look at the essays you referenced.  They are anti-Rand pro Jefferson, highly subjective and inaccurate.

When Objectivism is defamed as it is here, nothing of value can come of it:

Unfortunately, in her eagerness to stamp out all subjectivity, she erred in the other direction, and in declaring reason an absolute, in fact raised it to a level of trustworthiness that cannot be sustained. Reason became to her an absolute because it is the only valid means of comprehending reality. But reason itself is highly unreliable and can only be viewed as an absolute through an abstract process which is as separate from reality as any subjective concept. What Rand apparently failed to include as a part of her philosophy is the fact that reason, however indispensable, is itself flawed in its real-world uses. It can be as wily and slippery as an eel, and will only become a path to self-deception if thought of in any way as an absolute.


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Post 18

Sunday, February 5, 2006 - 12:11pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

As I said, it has been years. However, I have the habit of glossing over this kind of discourse to look at the historical part. What you posted was merely that guy's opinion. The interesting part of his essays to me is and should be where Jefferson's thought is in conflict with Rand's.

I will reread the essays in light of my own rereading of much of the Objectivist literature this last year (and my new interest in writing) and get back to you. My essential reading of Objectivism before that was a couple of decades ago, when I read and reread the available literature many times over. So I will probably see these essays in a vastly different light this time around.

Still, I think my approach, which is take the historical part and throw out the personal opinions, is the correct one.

Michael


Post 19

Monday, February 6, 2006 - 9:53amSanction this postReply
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Michael,

If the approach is an attempt to compare Jefferson and Rand, but the author does not understand Rand how can the comparison be of any value?  How can one even be sure he understands Jefferson?


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