Individualism vs. Collectivism

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RCSaunders
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Sun Sep 29, 2019 6:59 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:48 am
Here's how what you mean by seeing is different from what I mean. You seem to mean that what you see is not complete, that in some way, everything that is before your eyes is either not captured or not included in your final conscious, "picture," of what you are seeing.
Oh, I think that's evidently true. There are many and very simple tests that show that it is the case.
Well, IC, there really is not much more we can discuss here, I think. If you believe there is any test that can actually expose another individuals conscious experience, that's fine with me, but for me that's tantamount to mind reading. One whole objection I have to all of psychology is the idea that anyone's testimony is evidence of anything other than what they say, because there is no way to know what is truly in someone else's consciousness. I do not regard the fact that people forget things, misinterpret things, or are even unaware of their own experiences as evidence of anything at all, even if they are telling the truth.

It would be good for you, I think, if you understand, even if your conscious experience is exactly as you have described it, that does not mean that is what anyone's else's conscious experience is. That is exactly why I do not defend my experience as the same as anyone else's. It is, frankly, quite apparent to me, others do not have the same experience I do, based on their own testimony, if they are telling the truth.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:48 am
There are matters in which any individual's knowledge is not presently sufficient to enable good judgment.
Of course. Most people's knowledge is not sufficient to make good choices. It's not a necessary condition, however. They just will not make the effort to learn and think as well as they can.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:48 am
There are simply too many things to be known in this world.
Here's that, "if you are not omniscient, you don't know enough," idea again. No one can or needs to know everything there is to know. Anyone can know all they need to know to make right choices in their life. If one knew everything, they might as well be dead. The whole point of living is to continuously experience, discover, and learn new things.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:48 am
Out of curiosity, does it concern you in any way that I do not accept any authority whatsoever and that I regard any belief based on authority as credulity or gullibility?
Concern? No, not really. For it does not affect me, of course. But I do say I find it a bit radical, excessive and, if I may say so without creating offence, irrational. There are good authorities and bad ones...and the axiom about babies and bathwater springs to mind.
I am definitely a radical. Of course you would think my views are irrational just because they are different from your own based on your own best reasoning. I find nothing offensive in that.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:48 am
But, if I am unable to know something, how am I able to know who does?
Well, why do people go to universities?
Good question. Our answers to it would be quite different. I'll only say, from my research into the lives I consider historically the most, "positively," important, the creators, discoverers and innovators of the world, (not the dictators, tyrants, and spoilers), mostly did not go to a university or dropped out as soon as they realized they were wasting their time and money there. For the few that actually completed degree programs, whatever success they had was in spite of their, "education," because they were truly polymaths and autodidacts who had a high resistance to academic brain washing.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:48 am
I really never had a desire to visit Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, or Nicaragua. Considering the potential, the history of Central America is very sad.
Yes, true. But I really wasn't there as a tourist. And many of the people, particularly the poor people in the villages, are quite lovely.
That has always been my experience, too. I think it is because most people, who have not been influenced by "wealth" and unearned advantages, are just themselves, seeking only to live and enjoy their lives, their friends, and families, doing all they can to make the most of their lives. They live without any false expectation that life is supposed to be easy and trouble free, and learn that, in spite of any difficulty, life is worth living enthusiatically.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:48 am
El Salvador is like a sauna bath, it's true...but Honduras has altitude, so it's cooler. And it's really a pretty country, despite the sadness of poverty and politics there.
I know most people would prefer Honduras on that score, but personally, I love the tropics. It can never be to hot or humid to suite me.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:48 am
We eat a lot of Mexican food too, and do our very best to make it authentic. But there are limits to the quality and freshness of some ingredients available to us where we live, so we have to make some substitutions, alas. And that's just too bad.
When I was first discovering the different foods of the world, I was very concerned with, "authenticity," and that did help me to understand and appreciate the uniqueness of the different flavors that predominated the food from different parts of the world. These days, I know what I like most about different cuisines, and how most of the unique flavors I like are achieved, and I'm not too worried about whether my version of those dishes would be considered authentic or not. I've also learned, there is almost no dish that is not prepared a little differently by every cook in the world, so, "authenticity," is pretty hard to pin down. The only important thing, I believe, is that however you prepare something, if you achieve the flavor and texture you like, it's authentic. ("Authentic" American style Chinese has recently become very popular in China.)
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:48 am
Here's an interesting thing: artichokes. Have you ever eaten them? I don't mean pickled, or just the hearts, or in a salad...I mean sitting down and figuring out how to eat all that's edible there. I know few people who know how to do that outside of the southern US, but it's really an amazingly good vegetable. It just takes some technique.
I'm quite sure I would not know how to "eat all that's edible," from a whole artichoke. I have eaten them, fresh, when I was very young, because my grand parents and aunts ate them, and I was served them, but I don't remember that very much. More recently, I have had them in a few other dishes, but not by themselves. I like the flavor and would very much like to try them whole again.

We also had what are called, Jerusalem artichokes, when I was a boy, but they are a totally different animal; actually, the tuber root of a kind of sunflower. Like Grape Nuts, which are neither grapes or nuts, or English Muffins, which are neither English or muffins, Jerusalem artichokes are not from Jerusalem and are not artichokes. Funny language, English.

As Victor Borgia used to say, "it's your language, I'm just trying to use it."

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:05 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 6:59 pm
If you believe there is any test that can actually expose another individuals conscious experience, that's fine with me, but for me that's tantamount to mind reading. One whole objection I have to all of psychology is the idea that anyone's testimony is evidence of anything other than what they say, because there is no way to know what is truly in someone else's consciousness. I do not regard the fact that people forget things, misinterpret things, or are even unaware of their own experiences as evidence of anything at all, even if they are telling the truth.
I wouldn't suggest that tests absolutely reliably expose an individual's consciousness to scrutiny by others. Not at all. However, it's not accurate to go extreme the other way, and to suggest they expose nothing. Every time a person opens his or her mouth, he or she exposes something of what's inside. And while our interpretations, and those of psychologists, too, must remain suspect, they also are significantly revealing. For we live in social groups, and depend very much on externals to know the inner states of others. To ignore all that would make oneself a social cripple, an incompetent in negotiation, and a liability in any social arrangement. And for all our failings, that is not what most of us are.

So we do find it unavoidable to use "tests" and "observations" of various external kinds in order to detect the inner life of our companions. And since you are married, you know very well how true that is.
It would be good for you, I think, if you understand, even if your conscious experience is exactly as you have described it, that does not mean that is what anyone's else's conscious experience is.
I haven't said that it is. But unless our common humanity is sufficient basis for us to extrapolate some rough estimates of others inner states, we cannot live together. So we are forced to presume that's possible, and to act accordingly. There's no other way to be...unless one is content to be a hermit.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:48 am
There are matters in which any individual's knowledge is not presently sufficient to enable good judgment.
Of course. Most people's knowledge is not sufficient to make good choices. It's not a necessary condition, however.
It is necessary. Because without specifying WHICH items of knowledge each individuals cannot have, we can be quite certain it's impossible for any of them to have them ALL (even if humanity collectively had them all, which they do not). So the point carries: we are all dependent on "authoritative" opinion by others in some matters of life. There are no exceptions, because there is no human who is omniscient or eternal.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:48 am
There are simply too many things to be known in this world.
No one can or needs to know everything there is to know. Anyone can know all they need to know to make right choices in their life.
If what you were saying was true, nobody would make mistakes, or ever have to operate from incomplete information. However, you have already insisted that our information about the internal states of others is incomplete...and that's just the start of the problem. We could all use a lot more information than we have, and we often lack information we wish we did have.
I am definitely a radical. Of course you would think my views are irrational just because they are different from your own based on your own best reasoning. I find nothing offensive in that.
Well, good. That's fine, then.
Funny language, English. As Victor Borgia used to say, "it's your language, I'm just trying to use it."
Yeah, that's for sure.

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RCSaunders
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:23 am

IC, we are not going to agree on these things
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:05 pm
... For we live in social groups, and depend very much on externals to know the inner states of others. To ignore all that would make oneself a social cripple, an incompetent in negotiation, and a liability in any social arrangement. And for all our failings, that is not what most of us are.

So we do find it unavoidable to use "tests" and "observations" of various external kinds in order to detect the inner life of our companions. And since you are married, you know very well how true that is.
You believe you must, "know the inner states of others," or, "detect the inner life of your companions," before it is possible to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with them, socially or commercially, or any other way. I do not.

I do not need to know what anyone else's inner-most feelings, convictions, thoughts, motivations, or desires are to deal with them honestly, successfully, and benevolently to our mutual satisfaction and enjoyment. In fact, I regard the desire to know such things about others as intrusive, a very dangerous and anti-social attitude.

I'm not sure what you mean by living, "in social groups." If you mean there are other people almost anywhere one lives, that's obvious enough, but if you mean individuals in some way belong to, or are members of, some collective of other individuals, that is only true of those who choose to be identified with some group, and is a very bad idea that is at the heart of all racial and social prejudice.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:05 pm
But unless our common humanity is sufficient basis for us to extrapolate some rough estimates of others inner states, we cannot live together.
If you and others, "cannot live together," or maintain civil relationships with each other without having an estimate of each others, "inner states," that might work with those who wear their hearts on their sleeves and spend their time on social media revealing to the world that they have lately changed their underwear. I do not know how much success you, or anyone else, will have in your social relationships with those who value their privacy and integrity and would prefer, when it comes to their, "inner states," that you would mind your own business.

Successful social intercourse depends on individuals being able to deal with one another at all levels, from personal relationships to business and financial relationships, with respect for each other's individuality, privacy, and integrity, without censure, especially of their motives, beliefs, or innermost private interests and feelings. The only basis for judging others at all, is what they actually do and have made of themselves, and then only when who and what they are has some direct relationship to one's self. Otherwise, how or why others choose to live their lives as they do is no one else's business, and certainly not mine.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:05 pm
... Most people's knowledge is not sufficient to make good choices. It's not a necessary condition, however.
It is necessary.
I am sometimes accused of cynicism and pessimism, but I could never be pessimistic enough to believe that all of humanity is condemned to unmitigated ignorance that makes it impossible for them to know what they need to know to live successfully in this world. If it were not possible for individuals to know enough to live successfully, failure would be inevitable and no one would be responsible for their choices.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:05 pm
There are no exceptions, because there is no human who is omniscient or eternal.
Thank goodness for that. When there is nothing else to experience and learn, there is nothing left to live for. Nothing is omniscient or eternal.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:05 pm
No one can or needs to know everything there is to know. Anyone can know all they need to know to make right choices in their life.
If what you were saying was true, nobody would make mistakes ...
Well, I didn't say every choice would be right, but they can make right choices, and enough of them, as I said, "to live successfully in this world." I really do not understand this negativity about life. Of course we make mistakes, it's part of the learning process and how we gain the knowledge we need. The right view is Thomas Edison's: "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work." Someone with your view would say Edison made a mistake each time he tried a new filament for a light bulb he thought might work but didn't. Whatever you call it, I call it success. In spite of thousands of mistakes made during his life, and he made some very big ones, Edison's life was eminently successful.

The fundamental difference in our views is a difference in our ideal of life and existence.

The present world, just as it is, and my life in that world is my ideal of life and existence. It is a very difficult world to live in, ruthless, demanding, and unforgiving. Nothing is given in this world. From one's survival to one's wealth everything must be earned or achieved by one's own choices and effort. But choice necessarily means the possibility of making wrong choices and mistakes. It is a very dangerous world, and there are no guarantees, and there is risk in everything. I would not have it any other way if I could.

The great romantic adventure of life is achieving and becoming all one can possibly achieve and be, where every day, there are new challenges to meet, new things to learn, experiences to have, and work to be done. What makes it an adventure is all the danger and difficulty living successfully in this world one must meet and overcome. Nothing worth living for is easy, and the more valuable a thing is, the more difficult it is to acquire or achieve in this ideal world.

It seems to me your ideal world would be one where there are no difficulties to overcome, no disappointments to surmount, no problems to solve, no mistakes to correct and learn from, no possibility of growth, development, and improvement, where there is nothing new to discover, learn, or achieve, a world where nothing is at stake, where pain and loss are not possible, and where essentially nothing matters, because negative consequences are not possible.

Perhaps I have misunderstood what your ideal is, I have only what you have said to extrapolate from. If it is anything like I have described, you will regard it as eternal bliss, I'm sure. For me it would be a perpetual inane ennui.

I have been reluctant to make these comments, IC, because they might easily be interpreted as censorious, but I assure I am not judging you for your views. I'm sure you regard my views as both mistaken, and heresy, which in your view they must be. I hold my views with great conviction. I am a radical when it comes to truth and brook no compromise on principles, but those standards are mine, I do not apply them to others. Just so you know, as strongly as I disagree with you, it is completely without antipathy or animosity.

RC

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:23 am
IC, we are not going to agree on these things
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:05 pm
... For we live in social groups, and depend very much on externals to know the inner states of others. To ignore all that would make oneself a social cripple, an incompetent in negotiation, and a liability in any social arrangement. And for all our failings, that is not what most of us are.

So we do find it unavoidable to use "tests" and "observations" of various external kinds in order to detect the inner life of our companions. And since you are married, you know very well how true that is.
You believe you must, "know the inner states of others," or, "detect the inner life of your companions," before it is possible to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with them, socially or commercially, or any other way. I do not.
I think you do.

You're misunderstanding what I'm pointing to. I'm not pointing to anything " intrusive, a very dangerous and anti-social." I'm talking about the very simple, natural and pro-social practice of caring what other people think and feel. It's empathy...sympathy...compassion...fellow-feeling. Nothing could be more necessary to relationship, or more healthy. Those who can't do it, we diagnose as "emotionally insensitive," or "socially inept."
I'm not sure what you mean by living, "in social groups." If you mean there are other people almost anywhere one lives, that's obvious enough,
That's all. And living with them means we have to negotiate their wants and interests with our own. It doesn't mean they "own" us, in any sense. But it does mean that we are social creatures, and to fail to actualize that nature is not a sign of individualism and maturity, but rather only of selfishness and immaturity.

I detect neither of these undesirable qualities in you. And that fact that you've remained married assures me you are not unable to intuit the emotional states of others.
I do not know how much success you, or anyone else, will have in your social relationships with those who value their privacy and integrity and would prefer, when it comes to their, "inner states," that you would mind your own business.
I did not speak of nosiness or anything that invades privacy. I was speaking only of normal human empathy.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:05 pm
No one can or needs to know everything there is to know. Anyone can know all they need to know to make right choices in their life.
If what you were saying was true, nobody would make mistakes ...
Well, I didn't say every choice would be right,

Right.

But if that's the case, then the point carries...we all are obliged from time to time at least, to operate on incomplete information, or else to trust the knowledge and expertise of some others. And that's a deferring to "authority," but not a sinister one. It's very natural and necessary.
The fundamental difference in our views is a difference in our ideal of life and existence.

The present world, just as it is, and my life in that world is my ideal of life and existence. It is a very difficult world to live in, ruthless, demanding, and unforgiving. Nothing is given in this world. From one's survival to one's wealth everything must be earned or achieved by one's own choices and effort. But choice necessarily means the possibility of making wrong choices and mistakes. It is a very dangerous world, and there are no guarantees, and there is risk in everything. I would not have it any other way if I could.

The great romantic adventure of life is achieving and becoming all one can possibly achieve and be, where every day, there are new challenges to meet, new things to learn, experiences to have, and work to be done. What makes it an adventure is all the danger and difficulty living successfully in this world one must meet and overcome. Nothing worth living for is easy, and the more valuable a thing is, the more difficult it is to acquire or achieve in this ideal world.
I thought that perhaps something like this would be your view.

However, if I can say this without offence, I think perhaps your way of describing it is rather one-sided. This sunny characterization actually has a huge downside. And I'm reluctant to describe it, lest you think I'm merely mocking it -- or worse, gleefully enjoying the Nihilism it entails. What I'd rather do is simply describe this downside, admitting that I find it quite revolting. I think you will, too.

And it reads like this:

You are the late product of an accidental process called "The Big Bang," and nothing more. You came into life some seventy-something years ago, perhaps...knowing nothing. You built up resources and had experiences, but these count for nothing; because shortly, you will return to the chaos from which your existence accidentally emerged. You will die. And all your "learning," your "experiences," and your "work" will soon come to absolutely nothing -- if not instantly, then when this universe arrives at its final state, known as Heat Death, in which it shall persist in absolute cosmic silence forever. The same fate awaits all your companions, too, and the entire human species.

"The rest," as Hamlet says, "is silence."

But there's no glory, there's no tragedy, and there's no greatness in the death that awaits you. For there will be no one to tell your story, and nobody for it to be told to. We will all vanish like vapour...forever...and the universe will neither know nor care that we existed at all.

What makes this sort of description so revolting is this: you know, in your heart, that your existence DOES mean something. But on your own account, how can it mean anything? You come from nothing, and you go to nowhere. What, then, is the value of all this noble-feeling struggle between the womb and the tomb? It was this kind of realization that prompted Bertrand Russell to comment,

“That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the débris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

However, with all deference to Mr. Russell, there is no "safety" in this view, since there is neither "soul" nor a "habitation" for anyone that survives this view. It's pure Nihilism, with an attempt to rescue it at the end by means of nothing more than high rhetoric. Even Russell himself could not look honestly into the Abyss he had dug. He had to bail out with that last line, to infuse some gratuitous hope. Because, in sum, his view was ultimately unliveable...even for him.

This is indeed the difference in our perspectives. Except that, in your heart of hearts, if I can speak honestly, I really think that you believe my view more than your own. Because you insist on attributing ultimate value to that which, by your account, cannot have any ultimate value.
It seems to me your ideal world would be one where there are no difficulties to overcome, no disappointments to surmount, no problems to solve, no mistakes to correct and learn from, no possibility of growth, development, and improvement, where there is nothing new to discover, learn, or achieve, a world where nothing is at stake, where pain and loss are not possible, and where essentially nothing matters, because negative consequences are not possible.
Not at all.

I could say much about this, and will be happy to; but perhaps we should look first further into the view you were describing.
Perhaps I have misunderstood what your ideal is, I have only what you have said to extrapolate from. If it is anything like I have described, you will regard it as eternal bliss, I'm sure. For me it would be a perpetual inane ennui.
Indeed, this is not at all my view of the ideal. If I can say so, I think maybe it's a vision more conditioned by cartoonish depictions of a "Heaven" of harps, fluffy clouds and white robes than evoked by any theology. In any case, this is not what I'm thinking of at all.
I have been reluctant to make these comments, IC, because they might easily be interpreted as censorious, but I assure I am not judging you for your views. I'm sure you regard my views as both mistaken, and heresy, which in your view they must be. I hold my views with great conviction. I am a radical when it comes to truth and brook no compromise on principles, but those standards are mine, I do not apply them to others. Just so you know, as strongly as I disagree with you, it is completely without antipathy or animosity.
No, no...please don't hesitate.

I was not at all put off, RC. And I trust you can see that I also interrogate your own view in the same spirit: not one of contempt, but of desire to seek our where it leads, and see if that's a point we want to go to. I have, without animus, been fairly blunt in saying that I feel your view to be romantic rather than realistic, and yet I have no contempt at all for your for holding it. I think a lot of people do. I simply think they don't look at the dark implications of their view. And I point them out not to be unkind, but that we may both examine where our views might lead us.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:12 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm
You believe you must, "know the inner states of others," or, "detect the inner life of your companions," before it is possible to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with them, socially or commercially, or any other way. I do not.
You're misunderstanding what I'm pointing to. I'm not pointing to anything " intrusive, a very dangerous and anti-social." I'm talking about the very simple, natural and pro-social practice of caring what other people think and feel. It's empathy...sympathy...compassion...fellow-feeling. Nothing could be more necessary to relationship, or more healthy. Those who can't do it, we diagnose as "emotionally insensitive," or "socially inept."
The only human beings who are truly socially competent, are those who know how to associate and deal with others to their mutual benefit and enjoyment no matter what they, or others, think and feel. Nothing is more destructive to any social relationships than the intrusion of feelings and sentiments in one's dealings with others. Almost every social problem is the result of individuals allowing their feelings and emotions to influence their behavior, or reacting to what they think other's feelings and emotions are.

All these words mean the same thing. They mean, to feel with: compassion: [com (with) passion (feeling)]; sympathy: [sym (together) pathy (feel)]; empathy: [em (with) pathy (feel)]. They all mean having feelings that are the same as or like someone else's feelings, but they almost only ever pertain to feelings of human failure like suffering, sadness, grief, misfortune, and despair. You will not find any words that describe, "feeling with," or, "sharing the joy of," the successful, the happy, the achievers, the normal, the healthy, and the triumphant.

It is not possible to know what anyone else is feeling, much less to able to have the same feelings. These pathetic feelings are nothing but sentimentalism. One dictionary definition of sentiment is: "A thought, view, or attitude, especially one based mainly on emotion instead of reason." Dictionary definitions are often inaccurate, but this one is perfectly correct. Sentiment is based solely on feelings, not reason.

Empathy, compassion, and sympathy are promoted as some kind of virtue that makes those that have them superior to those who do not have the, "right kind of feelings." But their feelings are worth exactly nothing to anyone else, or even to themselves. Nobody's compassion ever fed the starving, nobody's empathy every relieved the suffering of the sick, and nobody's sentiments ever provided a product or service of any real value to anyone.

I ran across an article some time ago that asked the question, "Don't you want nurses to be compassionate?" I was suddenly aware of what is wrong with this whole sentimental question of compassion. The right answer is, "NO! I want any nurse who tends to me to be competent, knowledgeable, and efficient." The nurse's "feelings" are absolutely worthless to me. The nurse may be positively dripping with compassion and empathy, but if that nurse screws up my IV, I'm dead.

Real virtue is difficult. Growing, transporting, and marketing food requires very hard work. Discovering and producing drugs, providing real medical services, and performing life-saving operations require the kind of discipline and acquired knowledge that is impossible to mere sentimentalism. Those who produce the products and provide the services that truly benefit human beings frequently have little feeling for those who benefit from their efforts. What they feel strongly about is their achievement and accomplishment, which is what any who benefits from their ruthless dedication to principle ought to really appreciate.

It is much easier to "feel" than to "do," and pat oneself on the back because one, "cares about others," while being absolutely worthless to themselves or anyone else.

Allowing feeling, emotions, or sentiment to control or replace reason is always wrong. It is wrong in one's own life and leads to self-destruction, and it is wrong in dealing with others, because it attempts to short-circuit others' rational judgement.

There is only one moral method of social intercourse, especially when one is attempting to persuade another. That moral method is appealing to another's ability to think and reason. No matter what the objective, convincing a prospective customer to purchase your product or use your service, convincing another to take some action or abstain from that action, encouraging others to support your cause or view, the only moral way to persuade someone else is to demonstrate by clear reason why your product or service is to their advantage, why the action or inaction you advocate is morally or practically right, or why your cause or view is objectively correct in a way they can rationally understand.

Any other method is both deceptive and immoral. Any attempt to persuade someone with appeals to anything other than their ability to reason, such as appeals to feelings, emotions, sentiment, desires, fears, superstitions, gullibility, or ignorance, are appeals to the irrational. It is an attempt to bypass reason and to produce an emotional response, without, or even in defiance of rational understanding.

These are the methods most employed by advertisers, religionists, various scam artists, advocates of political ideologies, promoters of various diet, health, and psychology fads, and a million other popular movements that have no objective rational basis. That which is objectively and rationally true does not have to be promoted by appeals to irrational feelings.

Our feelings and emotions are our means of experiencing and enjoying life. The are the result of our beliefs, values, thoughts and choices. To reverse the order, to allow our feelings to influence or determine our beliefs, values, thoughts, and choices is both practically and psychologically disastrous.

A young mother who loves her children more than life will be filled with feelings of love for those children, but it is her love that causes the feelings. When she is tired, or ill, or the children are being particularly cantankerous, she may not "feel" very loving toward her children at all. Unless she confuses her "feelings of love" with "love itself", she does not love her children any less, just because she does not feel very loving. Unfortunately we are living in an age where everyone is taught rational values are trumped by feelings and that feelings can determine for us what to value and what to choose. The daily news reports the consequences of that view.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm
I'm not sure what you mean by living, "in social groups." If you mean there are other people almost anywhere one lives, that's obvious enough,
That's all. And living with them means we have to negotiate their wants and interests with our own. It doesn't mean they "own" us, in any sense. But it does mean that we are social creatures, and to fail to actualize that nature is not a sign of individualism and maturity, but rather only of selfishness and immaturity.
Every living organism except human beings has a specific nature that determines how it must live to live successfully as the kind of organism it is, and those organisms are provided with a pre-programmed pattern of behavior that guarantees they behave as their nature requires. That pre-programmed pattern of behavior is called instinct. That is exactly what human beings do not have. Human beings do not have a nature that determines for them how to live. Instead, they have a nature that requires them to discover how to live and then to choose to live that way if they are to live successfully. They do not have an instinctive nature, they have volitional minds.

Some organisms are "social" in nature, like ants, bees, and grazing animals. Some organisms are predators like cats, raptors, and snakes. Some organisms are parasites living off the productive lives of other organisms. Human beings do not have a pre-determined nature like the animals and are no-more social animals than they are predators or parasites and must choose the kind of life they will live. Human beings do not have some kind of pre-determined nature to "actualize."

There are many advantages to living where there are other human beings from specialization and trade, the availability of knowledge discovered by others, the pleasures of social interaction, to finding a mate, among them. But other human beings are not an unmitigated advantage, because many human beings are just the opposite, not productive traders but thieves or parasites, not a source of knowledge but con-men and deceivers, not socially enjoyable but emotionally unstable and constant threats. Like everything else in the real world, one must discover which things are truly of value to pursue, and which things are truly worthless, or, dangerous, and should be avoided. Unfortunately most of today's societies are predominantly the latter.

For the record I am radically selfish. Everything I think, choose, and do is with the single objective of living and enjoying my own life. Whenever someone accuses me of being selfish I have discovered they believe that my pursuit of my own self-interest in some way automatically means it is at some cost to someone else. That is very revealing to me. It means they believe an individual can actually gain something of true value in life at someone else's expense. That, to me, is an immoral view of the relationship between human beings. The only gain that is possible to me from any relationship with another is one in which we both mutually benefit. While the benefit of others is never a prime motive for anything I choose to do, my pursuit of my own self-interest can never harm anyone else, and can only benefit them if it affects them at all.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm
You are the late product of an accidental process called "The Big Bang," and nothing more. You came into life some seventy-something years ago, perhaps...knowing nothing. You built up resources and had experiences, but these count for nothing; because shortly, you will return to the chaos from which your existence accidentally emerged.
I really have little use for what I call the "origins pseudo-sciences" which are nothing but sophisticated guesses about where everything came from (cosmology, evolution). I also have no idea what you mean by chaos. I'm sure you don't mean, "chaos theory," which is a very rigorous mathematical phenomenon, so you must mean, "confusion," or, "disorder." "Things" cannot be confused, only human attempts to understand things can be confused, and there can be no, "disorder," unless someone has decided what order is. The universe is decidedly disorderly and could not exist if were not. If you truly understood the second law of thermodynamics you would know that entropy is not a move toward disorder, but a movement toward perfect uniformity, in particular, the uniform distribution of energy.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm
You will die. And all your "learning," your "experiences," and your "work" will soon come to absolutely nothing -- if not instantly, then when this universe arrives at its final state, known as Heat Death, in which it shall persist in absolute cosmic silence forever. The same fate awaits all your companions, too, and the entire human species.
Everything dies. Everything has a beginning and end. But I'm not dead and things only matter to the living while they are living. Nothing matters before we are born or after we are dead.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm
But there's no glory, there's no tragedy, and there's no greatness in the death that awaits you. For there will be no one to tell your story, and nobody for it to be told to. We will all vanish like vapour...forever...and the universe will neither know nor care that we existed at all.

What makes this sort of description so revolting is this: you know, in your heart, that your existence DOES mean something. But on your own account, how can it mean anything? You come from nothing, and you go to nowhere. What, then, is the value of all this noble-feeling struggle between the womb and the tomb?
Is any of this supposed to worry me? Why would I care what happens after I die, only what happens while I'm alive matters to me. I certainly don't care if anyone, "tells my story," while I'm alive, much less after I'm dead. Of course my existence means something but it only means something to me and only while I exist. Of course, "We will all vanish like vapour...forever...and the universe will neither know nor care that we existed at all." The universe doesn't care now. So what?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm
This is indeed the difference in our perspectives. Except that, in your heart of hearts, if I can speak honestly, I really think that you believe my view more than your own. Because you insist on attributing ultimate value to that which, by your account, cannot have any ultimate value.
You have no idea what I truly believe, and it certainy isn't what you believe. Something only has value to some goal or objective, that is, to beings capable of having goals and objectives. So long as I live and have chosen my objectives, everything that helps me achieve my objective is a positive value, and everything that interferes with my achieving my objective is a negative value. There are no other values.

For the record: The only purposes there are, the only values there are, and the only things that matter are the purposes, values, and interests of individual human beings while they are alive. There is no meaning, purpose, or value to that which does not exist. There were none before I was born and there will be none after I die. Before I was born the fate of the world, of mankind, or anything else in life mattered not at all to me. It will be exactly the same after I am dead.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm
It seems to me your ideal world would be one where there are no difficulties to overcome, no disappointments to surmount, no problems to solve, no mistakes to correct and learn from, no possibility of growth, development, and improvement, where there is nothing new to discover, learn, or achieve, a world where nothing is at stake, where pain and loss are not possible, and where essentially nothing matters, because negative consequences are not possible.
...
Indeed, this is not at all my view of the ideal. If I can say so, I think maybe it's a vision more conditioned by cartoonish depictions of a "Heaven" of harps, fluffy clouds and white robes than evoked by any theology. In any case, this is not what I'm thinking of at all.
I actually did not have the, "after-life," in mind at all. I based my thoughts on your expressions of pessimism about human knowledge, the necessity of mistakes, and the inevitability of human failure, as well as the fact that you seemed to indicate nothing short of omniscience and infallibility were sufficient. I thought I was describing what would be opposite those things you regarded as negative in the present real world.

Since you say my guess is not at all your view of the ideal, I'd be very interested in what your ideal is. I have a question for you I think you may never have been asked and have never asked yourself, but I'll wait to see what your view of ideal existence is first.

RC

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:12 pm
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm
You believe you must, "know the inner states of others," or, "detect the inner life of your companions," before it is possible to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with them, socially or commercially, or any other way. I do not.
You're misunderstanding what I'm pointing to. I'm not pointing to anything " intrusive, a very dangerous and anti-social." I'm talking about the very simple, natural and pro-social practice of caring what other people think and feel. It's empathy...sympathy...compassion...fellow-feeling. Nothing could be more necessary to relationship, or more healthy. Those who can't do it, we diagnose as "emotionally insensitive," or "socially inept."
The only human beings who are truly socially competent, are those who know how to associate and deal with others to their mutual benefit and enjoyment no matter what they, or others, think and feel.

No, no. That's what I'm talking about. Didn't you read where I also said:

...living with them means we have to negotiate their wants and interests with our own. It doesn't mean they "own" us, in any sense. But it does mean that we are social creatures, and to fail to actualize that nature is not a sign of individualism and maturity, but rather only of selfishness and immaturity.

I care no more about mere "feelings" than you do. I care about negotiation, social cooperation, co-working. And doing that means that you have to understand not just your own objectives and perspectives, but to have some reasoned understanding of the objectives of others.

As for the sentiment stuff, I agree...it's a waste of time. See P. Bloom's book, "Against Empathy." He makes the case well.
Every living organism except human beings has a specific nature that determines how it must live to live successfully as the kind of organism it is, and those organisms are provided with a pre-programmed pattern of behavior that guarantees they behave as their nature requires.

That sounds like mere Determinism.

If it is, it fails to recognize the causal contribution of individual will. Some people take that position, but not on evidence -- it's an ideological belief. Determinism cannot be either proved or disproved, because the Determinist accepts no evidence as indicative of human volitional causation. Everything is simply reduced to another "determined" reaction.
For the record I am radically selfish.
If that were true, you would soon be divorced, I suspect. :wink: Wives are terrific for teaching one the necessity of coming to learn how to negotiate with someone whose feelings and intuitions are quite different from one's own.

And really, that sort of "empathy" is what I am talking about. I'm not speaking of mere sentiment....far less of imaginary sentiment.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm
You are the late product of an accidental process called "The Big Bang," and nothing more. You came into life some seventy-something years ago, perhaps...knowing nothing. You built up resources and had experiences, but these count for nothing; because shortly, you will return to the chaos from which your existence accidentally emerged.
I really have little use for what I call the "origins pseudo-sciences" which are nothing but sophisticated guesses about where everything came from (cosmology, evolution).
That's fine. You've cut off the tail, but you've still got the dog. :wink:

You see, it matters very little, if you presume that material causes are why you are here. If you do, then the story inevitably plays out exactly the same way as I have described it.
I also have no idea what you mean by chaos.

One of the definitions of "chaos" is : "the formless state prior to the generation of the universe." A state of no order.
If you truly understood the second law of thermodynamics you would know that entropy is not a move toward disorder, but a movement toward perfect uniformity, in particular, the uniform distribution of energy.
I do understand that. But it's "chaos" in the sense that it has no order...no particular arrangement. Because when matter and energy are equally dispersed, there is no sense in which we can any longer speak of anything "existing." All things are nothing, with no distinction. It's as "formless" as the void before the universe was. And it's every bit as meaningless. If Heat Death is indeed the ultimate end of all things, it will literally not matter, at that point, that the universe ever existed.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm
You will die. And all your "learning," your "experiences," and your "work" will soon come to absolutely nothing -- if not instantly, then when this universe arrives at its final state, known as Heat Death, in which it shall persist in absolute cosmic silence forever. The same fate awaits all your companions, too, and the entire human species.
Everything dies. Everything has a beginning and end. But I'm not dead and things only matter to the living while they are living. Nothing matters before we are born or after we are dead.
Well, this makes your situation even worse. You won't have to wait for Heat Death for things to mean nothing. In fact, you won't even have to wait for your death, (which is just another meaningless redistribution of atoms anyway, according to Materialism). It means life means nothing right now. And any supposed meaning is a mere delusion.

That's what Russell was saying. Like I said, though, not even Russell could live with that.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:11 pm
But there's no glory, there's no tragedy, and there's no greatness in the death that awaits you. For there will be no one to tell your story, and nobody for it to be told to. We will all vanish like vapour...forever...and the universe will neither know nor care that we existed at all.

What makes this sort of description so revolting is this: you know, in your heart, that your existence DOES mean something. But on your own account, how can it mean anything? You come from nothing, and you go to nowhere. What, then, is the value of all this noble-feeling struggle between the womb and the tomb?
Is any of this supposed to worry me?
No. It's supposed to alert you to the implications of a belief you may or may not hold. That's all.
Why would I care what happens after I die, only what happens while I'm alive matters to me. I certainly don't care if anyone, "tells my story," while I'm alive, much less after I'm dead. Of course my existence means something but it only means something to me and only while I exist. Of course, "We will all vanish like vapour...forever...and the universe will neither know nor care that we existed at all." The universe doesn't care now. So what?
That's the point. You've got it.

If Materialism, in any of its forms (Evolutionism, Physicalism, whatever) is true, then everything is just a "So what?"

That doesn't make it necessarily untrue, if Materialism is true. But what if that feeling we all have, that something meaningful is going on here, is not merely an odd and inexplicable obscuring of materials, but is actually telling us something? What if we are about something? What if there is meaning?

If there is not, and you believe there is, then so what? You're no worse off than somebody who believes there is not.
But if there is a meaning to this place, and to us, and we are not attending to it -- if this intuition we all have that there is meaning and moral significance in our existence is not some kind of accident, but a real thing -- then failing to respond to it could be very, very costly.

And what if death does not end all?

Blaise Pascal was right: there are some wagers that are never worth taking at all.
So long as I live and have chosen my objectives, everything that helps me achieve my objective is a positive value, and everything that interferes with my achieving my objective is a negative value.

I was expecting this response. I've seen it before, whenever I point to the logic of Materialism. Somebody says, "Well, I make up my own values, and this means I have value."

However, the amphiboly error in this retort is plain. It mistakes the claim, "I imagine values," for "There are real values." If there are no real values, then the fact that you imagine some is merely a contingent delusion. And your happiness or sense of achievement in reaching them means nothing -- because life means nothing.
There are no other values.
It's interesting that you say it with such conviction. What's the basis of your certainty of this? Because some people think there are objective values. I wonder how you know they're wrong...

Is it that you take for granted that you are, as I have described, merely an accident of materials? But if you are an accident of materials, what real value is there in you having an imagining of what you call "values"? You're only then deluding yourself. Your values are not, so to speak, objectively valuable. What does the indifferent universe care for your values, or for your value as a conscious entity?
I based my thoughts on your expressions of pessimism about human knowledge,
You mistook me for pessimistic? :shock:

I'm not at all. I see nothing dark in the honest admission that all our knowing is probabilistic rather than absolute. It's just the facts. It doesn't make me feel down or negative at all.

Besides, it's a wonderful opportunity. Think about it: we do not know everything. :D That is why things like exploration and creativity are possible to us. It's how learning happens. It keeps us humble, and challenges us to find whom and what to trust. It makes relationships necessary and possible. We can grow and develop because we do not know everything. It's a very positive thing, really. In fact, I can think of nothing that would reduce our existence to complete blandness of the type you described in your last message, as the having of complete and absolute knowledge. :shock:
Since you say my guess is not at all your view of the ideal, I'd be very interested in what your ideal is. I have a question for you I think you may never have been asked and have never asked yourself, but I'll wait to see what your view of ideal existence is first.
Hmmm...I'm no longer quite certain what you mean by the phrase "ideal existence." You're not thinking of any kind of cartoony "heaven," nor are you thinking of our present state, I suppose...so what are you thinking of?

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:54 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
I care no more about mere "feelings" than you do.
Then why do you write:

"In other words, I'm speaking probabilistically, but with such astronomical odds in my favour that I'm feeling quite secure in that estimation."

"And I think, therefore, that when we say 'I know the existent of concept X exists,' what we really mean is, 'I have something in my "bank" that corresponds to X, or have assimilated it so as to give it place in my "bank," and so feel I can relate to the idea."

"One has no knowledge, but only a vague feeling of having encountered something one doesn't really grasp."

"I'm talking about the very simple, natural and pro-social practice of caring what other people think and feel. It's empathy...sympathy...compassion...fellow-feeling."

"What, then, is the value of all this noble-feeling struggle between the womb and the tomb?"

"I have, without animus, been fairly blunt in saying that I feel your view to be romantic rather than realistic,"

"If that were true, you would soon be divorced, I suspect. :wink: Wives are terrific for teaching one the necessity of coming to learn how to negotiate with someone whose feelings and intuitions are quite different from one's own."

"But what if that feeling we all have, that something meaningful is going on here,"

"It doesn't make me feel down or negative at all."

I would never use the words feel or feeling as you have because I regard feelings as totally non-cognitive which are not guides to anything and have no meaning except as responses to what one thinks, believes, and does.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
Every living organism except human beings has a specific nature that determines how it must live to live successfully as the kind of organism it is, and those organisms are provided with a pre-programmed pattern of behavior that guarantees they behave as their nature requires.

That sounds like mere Determinism. If it is, it fails to recognize the causal contribution of individual will.
Perhaps you missed it. I wrote, "Every living organism except human beings ..." All animal behavior is pretty much determined by instinct, which is what distinguishes them from human beings. None of human behavior is determined and must be consciously chosen.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
For the record I am radically selfish.
If that were true, you would soon be divorced, I suspect.
Then your values are very different from mine. How could my pursuit of the most important value my life be a cause of dissension between me and the object of that love?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
If Materialism, in any of its forms (Evolutionism, Physicalism, whatever) is true, then everything is just a "So what?"

That doesn't make it necessarily untrue, if Materialism is true. But what if that feeling we all have, that something meaningful is going on here, is not merely an odd and inexplicable obscuring of materials, but is actually telling us something? What if we are about something? What if there is meaning?

But if there is a meaning to this place, and to us, and we are not attending to it -- if this intuition we all have that there is meaning and moral significance in our existence is not some kind of accident, but a real thing -- then failing to respond to it could be very, very costly.
First of all I assure I have no such, "feeling," or, "intuition," that, "something meaningful is going on here," or that there is, "meaning and moral significance in our existence." I doubt that anyone has such feelings, (and there is no such thing as intuition), until someone comes along and teaches them such things. Meaning and purpose begin and end with human interests and if there were no human beings there would be no meaning or purpose to anything.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
And what if death does not end all?
What if it does?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
Blaise Pascal was right: there are some wagers that are never worth taking at all.
Well, Pascal was willing to buy a pig in a poke. I am not. I'm not going to waste my resources of life, time, energy, and mind pursuing what, "might be," (and I have no reason to believe is) when there is the certainty of present life and existence, which one has only one shot of making a success of. I regard sacrificing present sure opportunity to pursue some, "might be," out of fear of the unknown, a kind of paranoia, not a wise gamble.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
I was expecting this response. I've seen it before, whenever I point to the logic of Materialism. Somebody says, "Well, I make up my own values, and this means I have value."
Do the words, "chosen," and, "make up," mean the same thing to you? Why do you presume they mean the same to me? The values I have chosen are those that conform to the requirements of my nature as a human being and the nature of the world I live in to be able to live successfully, achieving and being all I possibly can. They are objective, not made up.

Only values based on the requirements of the nature of the world and one's own rational volitional nature are objective. Physical reality determines what is physically possible, our rational volitional nature determines the kind of behavior that is required for human survival, success, and happiness. Since those values are not arbitrary but determined by objective reality, like all other knowledge they must be discovered and then chosen.

I have no idea what a value is that has no relationship to the success or failure of one's own life.

You seem to mean whatever is not contingent on something else for its existence must then just be an accident. Certainly you don't hold that as a principle, do you? That would mean that God had to either be contingent on something, or a mere accident. (Actually, if you believe in God, I do not see how it is possible to evade the latter conclusion. If there is the kind of God most Christians believe in, God simply exists without cause or reason, i.e. by accident.)
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
Hmmm...I'm no longer quite certain what you mean by the phrase "ideal existence." You're not thinking of any kind of cartoony "heaven," nor are you thinking of our present state, I suppose...so what are you thinking of?
I'm not thinking of anything. That's why I'm asking. Existence, just as it is, is ideal existence to me. All that I could possibly live for is made possible by my present life in this world, just as it is. Unless I'm mistaken, the world you presently live in is not ideal, else why would be looking forward to a better one. You might answer my question by explaining how a different or future "life," "world, " or both, would be better than the present one.

Is that a fair question?

RC

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:49 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:54 am
I would never use the words feel or feeling as you have because I regard feelings as totally non-cognitive which are not guides to anything and have no meaning except as responses to what one thinks, believes, and does.
Well, if I can say, I think that's a mistake. It misunderstands the implications of the word "feel."

The word "feel" can mean many things, not merely "have emotions about." In different contexts, it can mean things like "intuit," "sense," "be aware of," "touch," "reason," and so on. Context is important to knowing which one is intended. In sum, the word "feel" is too generic to be objectionable, and too useful to be disregarded. So to suppose that any reference to one "feeling" something is the same is just incorrect. Sorry to say.

Thus, when I wrote, "I'm feeling quite secure in that estimation," I mean to convey, not "I have secure feelings," but "I'm strongly convinced I'm right about that." And I can assure you that when I wrote, "I feel your view to be romanic," I did not mean I had romantic feelings for your view. :wink: I meant that I was (gently) asserting you were unrealistically glamorizing the situation.

Perhaps I could have been more blunt: but it might have been less kind.
Perhaps you missed it. I wrote, "Every living organism except human beings ..." All animal behavior is pretty much determined by instinct, which is what distinguishes them from human beings. None of human behavior is determined and must be consciously chosen.
Perhaps I did. But if human behaviour is not determined, then negotiation among individuals is even more crucial, and this "fellow-feeling," or better, "intuition regarding others' intentions" is even more important.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
For the record I am radically selfish.
If that were true, you would soon be divorced, I suspect.
Then your values are very different from mine. How could my pursuit of the most important value my life be a cause of dissension between me and the object of that love?
Because you're two different people.

One of the first realizations we come to when we are married is that a person who we may have thought was pretty much the same as we are is not. Men and women are really different...and vive la difference. But that means we have to learn how to live with each other in an understanding way.

As you know, no doubt, that "understanding" doesn't come automatically. It requires this faculty of being able to know where others are coming from.
First of all I assure I have no such, "feeling," or, "intuition," that, "something meaningful is going on here," or that there is, "meaning and moral significance in our existence." I doubt that anyone has such feelings, (and there is no such thing as intuition), until someone comes along and teaches them such things. Meaning and purpose begin and end with human interests and if there were no human beings there would be no meaning or purpose to anything.

If that were true, then there would truly be no meaning. Because the problem with all human-generated meaning is that all humans are equally incapable of imparting meaning to an inherently indifferent and meaning-neutral universe. We have different ideas of what meaning might be; but worse, none of those meanings have any real referent in a merely material universe.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
And what if death does not end all?
What if it does?
If it does, you and I will never know I was wrong. But if death does not end all, then the mistake will be abundantly apparent to all of us.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
Blaise Pascal was right: there are some wagers that are never worth taking at all.
Well, Pascal was willing to buy a pig in a poke. I am not. I'm not going to waste my resources of life, time, energy, and mind pursuing what, "might be," (and I have no reason to believe is) when there is the certainty of present life and existence, which one has only one shot of making a success of. I regard sacrificing present sure opportunity to pursue some, "might be," out of fear of the unknown, a kind of paranoia, not a wise gamble.
Actually, as Pascal pointed out, you've got nothing to lose -- since an imaginary or illusory meaning would not harm existence in a meaningless universe, and might even conceivably make it more bearable. Lots of people think it does, and so did Pascal. But you've got everything to win if there is meaning in this universe...and ultimate loss if you don't act as if there is.

That's Pascal's point.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
I was expecting this response. I've seen it before, whenever I point to the logic of Materialism. Somebody says, "Well, I make up my own values, and this means I have value."
Do the words, "chosen," and, "make up," mean the same thing to you?
To "choose," one must have an objective selection of existing things from which to "choose." "Making up" involves fabricating beliefs from nothing objective.

But in a Material universe, there are no objective values...just things people make up or imagine to be valuable -- but which, in fact, are no more worthy of value than anything else. The universe has no opinion about what you should value. Make up anything you wish: it's all the same valueless stuff anyway.

So in that kind of universe, there's no difference at all. The "chosen" values are merely made up, fictional, vapid, like any other possible values.
Only values based on the requirements of the nature of the world
The world "requires" nothing of you. Remember? It's merely material, and hence utterly indifferent not just to your chosen values, but also to any perceived "requirements" you might imagine it to impose.
I have no idea what a value is that has no relationship to the success or failure of one's own life.

But what is "success"?

Is it "successful" to keep living? Then none of us will be "successful," in the end. It it "to be happy"? But why does the indifferent, material universe care if you and I are "happy"? Will we "be happy" perpetually? Not in the case of any person who's ever lived. So that, too, is no "success." Is it fame? Is it money? Is it love? Whatever it is, it will one day be gone. There will be no "success" stories here. Just a litany of what Fitzgerald called, "'the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men."

In short, there's no metric nor any chance for "success" in the material universe, except in regard to very temporary and rationally unnecessary goals. Even in regard to all those, we fail.
You seem to mean whatever is not contingent on something else for its existence must then just be an accident.
Oh no. That was nothing I said. I can't imagine where you go it from.

"Accident" is not the opposite of "contingent." "Accidents" are, in fact, contingencies. I think you misunderstood my implication, perhaps.

Under Materialism (and its related philosophies of the monistic concrete), the universe is a contingent entity that exists by accident. In contrast, philosophically, God is what's called "the Necessary Being." There's nothing contingent about Him.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
Hmmm...I'm no longer quite certain what you mean by the phrase "ideal existence." You're not thinking of any kind of cartoony "heaven," nor are you thinking of our present state, I suppose...so what are you thinking of?
I'm not thinking of anything. That's why I'm asking. Existence, just as it is, is ideal existence to me. All that I could possibly live for is made possible by my present life in this world, just as it is. Unless I'm mistaken, the world you presently live in is not ideal, else why would be looking forward to a better one. You might answer my question by explaining how a different or future "life," "world, " or both, would be better than the present one.
Oh. You mean "ideal life"?
Is that a fair question?
Sure. But I don't really have such a conception to offer, because it seems obvious that there is no ideal in this world. That much is quite evident. I could tell you what I think is worth aiming for in the present time, with a view to making the most of a flawed world, but there is no way to make this particular world "ideal."

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:04 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:49 am
Blaise Pascal was right: there are some wagers that are never worth taking at all.
RCSaunders wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:54 am
Well, Pascal was willing to buy a pig in a poke. I am not. I'm not going to waste my resources of life, time, energy, and mind pursuing what, "might be," (and I have no reason to believe is) when there is the certainty of present life and existence, which one has only one shot of making a success of. I regard sacrificing present sure opportunity to pursue some, "might be," out of fear of the unknown, a kind of paranoia, not a wise gamble.
Actually, as Pascal pointed out, you've got nothing to lose -- since an imaginary or illusory meaning would not harm existence in a meaningless universe, and might even conceivably make it more bearable. Lots of people think it does, and so did Pascal. But you've got everything to win if there is meaning in this universe...and ultimate loss if you don't act as if there is (emphasis mine).
What does, "act as if there is," mean? What kind of, "action," is required? Perhaps an, "imaginary or illusory meaning," would not harm existence, but if it requires one to act in a self-destructive way it certainly harms the individual. If, on the other hand, it requires no particular action of an individual what does it mean to, "act as though there is?"
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:49 am
The world "requires" nothing of you. Remember? It's merely material, and hence utterly indifferent not just to your chosen values, but also to any perceived "requirements" you might imagine it to impose.
If you do not choose to live and have no desire to enjoy your life, and have no objectives of your own, there are no requirements. Death, misery, and failure are the default conditions of choosing and doing nothing. If you choose to live and have any objectives at all (from the purely selfish to serving God), physical reality imposes very stringent requirements on which behavior will achieve those things and which will not.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:49 am
In contrast, philosophically, God is what's called "the Necessary Being."
"Necessary," to what?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 am
Hmmm...I'm no longer quite certain what you mean by the phrase "ideal existence." You're not thinking of any kind of cartoony "heaven," nor are you thinking of our present state, I suppose...so what are you thinking of?
I'm not thinking of anything. That's why I'm asking. Existence, just as it is, is ideal existence to me. All that I could possibly live for is made possible by my present life in this world, just as it is. Unless I'm mistaken, the world you presently live in is not ideal, else why would be looking forward to a better one. You might answer my question by explaining how a different or future "life," "world, " or both, would be better than the present one.
You mean "ideal life"?
Is that a fair question?
Sure. But I don't really have such a conception to offer, because it seems obvious that there is no ideal in this world. That much is quite evident. I could tell you what I think is worth aiming for in the present time, with a view to making the most of a flawed world, but there is no way to make this particular world "ideal."
What should I think? If you understand plain English how could you possibly conclude I'm asking you anything about this world. I quite clearly wrote, "You might answer my question by explaining how a different or future "life," "world, " or both, would be better than the present one.

You have recommended, a la Pascal, that one gamble on, "everything to win." What you do not say is what that, "everything," is, and why it is better than not winning it. Perhaps that unknown thing that will be won, would be worse than not winning it. You obviously do not think so. So what makes it something one should desire to win?

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:08 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:04 pm
What does, "act as if there is," mean? What kind of, "action," is required?
Well, there's very little that Atheists and Theist completely agree upon. But one thing is this: that if there's a God, that matters. It ought to change not just what we think is the case, but what we do as a result...how we choose to live, in everything we do. The first "action" required is, itself belief. But following that, there are all kinds of other actions that naturally follow, and some that are given by revelation.

Nietzsche spoke of "the transvaluation of values." He meant that secular persons in an indifferent universe would need to invent their own values, instead of conventional ones. But nothing transforms the values, and consequently, the whole orientation of life, so much as believing that this life has value as it is viewed by God. When you realize that, it literally changes how and why you do everything.
If you do not choose to live and have no desire to enjoy your life, and have no objectives of your own, there are no requirements. Death, misery, and failure are the default conditions of choosing and doing nothing. If you choose to live and have any objectives at all (from the purely selfish to serving God), physical reality imposes very stringent requirements on which behavior will achieve those things and which will not.
That's certainly partly true. If we want our projects for our own happiness or fulfillment to succeed in life, we have to respect the bounds of the possible and the causal sequences available within the natural world. True.

But the untrue part is this: that our plans don't always come about. There's no way to know all the causal factors and "accidents" that may befall any strategy or means we adopt. As with all our knowledge, we're only playing a probability game. We don't know that tomorrow, something we thought would turn out to be attainable will not be. We don't know, for that matter, that we will be alive tomorrow. We guess, we hope, we plan...and we fail.

My father's in his nineties right now. He lives in a "home," with limited mobility, hearing, sight and even taste. His body is failing him in every imaginable way. But his mind fully intact. All his possessions are now in two small drawers, beside the bed in which he spends more than half his time. He has visitors, but little else. Now, what are his prospects of "enjoying his life" by "having objectives," and "choosing to do something?" If this life is all, then he's had pretty much all he's ever going to get, one would have to say.

It started long ago, though. From middle age -- or even earlier -- all our lives are a race against decline. In some ways, we get stronger for a time, perhaps; mentally, say. Experientially, perhaps. But even that it going to wane, as our physical bodies, our prospects, our health, our memories and eventually our minds are going to betray us. The truth is, though we would fain deny it, that we are all racing downhill.

But as for my father, he tells me he is a happy man. Not because of what he's had, since he has none of it anymore, but because of what lies ahead for him. You may say, "Well, he's just deluding himself." We'll see. One thing for sure: given enough time, to his condition all of us must come. As we enter our sixties and seventies, we see our bodies reducing, our prospects narrowing, the world we knew and loved passing, and ourselves faltering. And we know that things do not get better from here.

And so we are brought to Alfie's question, in the movie of the same name, "What's it all about, Alfie?" Sooner or later, we all have to answer that question. And the only way to get a pass on that is not to think at all.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:49 am
In contrast, philosophically, God is what's called "the Necessary Being."
"Necessary," to what?
I mean "necessary" in the philosophical sense, meaning "uncaused," or "something that (if it exists) exists without prior explanation." Something "eternal." Something that "has to be," in the sense that it can never "not be."

Some people think numbers are like that: numbers, like "5" or "1,347, just are what they are...nothing contingent changes them. They are "necessary."
What should I think? If you understand plain English how could you possibly conclude I'm asking you anything about this world. I quite clearly wrote, "You might answer my question by explaining how a different or future "life," "world, " or both, would be better than the present one.
Your English was fine, but your usage was, perhaps, a little less plain than you intended it to be.

After all, you said you were not asking about any "heaven" concept, or afterlife, presumably. So you had to be asking, I thought, about something to do with this life, this world. How could I suppose otherwise? A "different life," you wrote. A "different world." But I presumed you still meant something operating within the physical limitations of the things you acknowledge, no?

But this is clearer:
You have recommended, a la Pascal, that one gamble on, "everything to win." What you do not say is what that, "everything," is, and why it is better than not winning it.
A fair question. I'll venture an answer.

The first way it's better is because you enter into relationship with God. God is the source of all life, light, health, happiness and hope. Why would one want to miss that? Consider that this Earth, with all its beauty and tragedy, is but one tiny creation in this massive, sprawling universe that God brought into being. What possibilities does that suggest?

Well, who can say what the limit of them is? If God invented the pleasures of THIS world, what would it be to experience all the delights that can be conceived in the mind of an Eternal God, with all of time in which to spin them out? If we enjoy exploring new horizons now, what will it be when all horizons open up to us? Who can say how great that will be?

But there are things we can know about it.

One of the first is that we find our place in the universe -- not as an accidental product of a chain of cosmic accidents, but as the deliberately created and deliberately loved product of God Himself. Then we find relationship, connectedness with others, as well. We are freed from the bitter tyranny of the insatiable self, and find our hearts open to care for others, because we are no longer desperately scrabbling to eke out of this world the last iota of fading pleasure. We are freed to love others...not just for what they do for us, but as themselves, as also loved and exalted creations of a loving God.

We are freed from death. The terror of it no longer bites. We no longer have to live in terror of the risk of failure, disease or injury. And the deprivation losing others is gone. We are freed from having to grasp a life we cannot hold onto anyway, and given a life we cannot lose.

We are freed from sin. The disappointments, failures and faults of our nature are first forgiven now, then to be taken away forever. We will no longer be ashamed of who and what we are. We won't hurt others anymore, and they will not hurt us. War and hatred will end.

Then creativity is freed. All the inventions of human ingenuity, all the great art, all the impressive technological or architectural feats, all the great innovations of which the human mind has already proved capable are at last freed from the constricting and destructive effects of this fallen world. What will that produce? Who can say?

Think of the most beautiful place you've ever been. When you tried to describe it later, perhaps to tell your friends about it, you saw the look in their eyes. They were trying to understand, but they just couldn't. And you just couldn't find the words to do it justice. To explain it was to bring it down, to make it less than it was, to cheapen it, even while you tried your best to say how wonderful it was. In the end, perhaps you said, "Well, if you ever get the chance, you've just got to go there." And it was just very hard to say any more.

I remember being on the shores of the Indian Ocean in Mombasa. The blue water lapped at the yellow sand on the beach. The palm trees swayed overhead, as my wife and I lay on the clipped lawn. A trade wind blew steadily at a balmy temperature, the salt air picking up the fragrance of jasmine and fruit. And I said to her, "You know, I don't think we'll ever be in a place as beautiful as this again; and when we try to explain it to people, we'll never get them to understand." And I was right. That's merely an earthly experience: how can we speak adequately of something beyond that?

The future toward which Christians look is indescribable, for very much the same reason. Some things -- especially outstandingly good things -- cannot be conveyed. In fact, Biblically, the afterlife is described in such ecstatic terms that no frame of reference on Earth is sufficient to illuminate it. As it says, "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for those who love Him." I guess one can't possibly say more than that.

And if all this is true, then who, in their right mind, would want to miss out on that? And to trade it for what: the belief that death ends all, that eternal cosmic night and inertia simply swallows us up without regret, and we are "gone" in the most profound and absolute sense there can possibly be; and that forever? What madness would induce anyone to swap any chance at the former, simply to capitulate to an unconfirmed chance of the latter?

That's Pascal's point. It isn't an even equation. It's nothing close.
So what makes it something one should desire to win?
That. The prospect of it will make us all better people now than would would otherwise be, and far happier later than the blackness of darkness forever.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:30 pm

Hi IC,
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:08 pm
If you do not choose to live and have no desire to enjoy your life, and have no objectives of your own, there are no requirements. Death, misery, and failure are the default conditions of choosing and doing nothing. If you choose to live and have any objectives at all (from the purely selfish to serving God), physical reality imposes very stringent requirements on which behavior will achieve those things and which will not.
That's certainly partly true .... the untrue part is this: that our plans don't always come about.
There's no way to know all the causal factors and "accidents" that may befall any strategy or means we adopt.
IC, please read what I wrote again. It says nothing about anyone's plans always coming about. It says reality determines which behavior will be successful and which won't and means, if one does not know the nature of reality or defies that nature their pursuits will fail. The point is, you cannot not do just anything you desire or feel like doing and succeed at anything. There are objective principles that must be observed, principles determined by the nature of reality, in order for any objective or purpose to be achieved. Most people fail at living successfully and happily because they live in defiance of the requirements of reality, mostly because they won't bother to learn what those requirements are.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:08 pm
You have recommended, a la Pascal, that one gamble on, "everything to win." What you do not say is what that, "everything," is, and why it is better than not winning it.
A fair question. I'll venture an answer.
I've read your answer, and I'll take your word for it that is what you believe and ultimately live for. Personally, I cannot imagine any horror worse than what you have described.

Our view of life is totally different. All of life that matters to me is what I do, not what happens to me. I have no interest in or desire for anything I have not earned, acquired, or achieved by my own effort. If I have not earned it, I do not want it: not life, not wealth, not friendship, and not love. I regard the desire to have anything without earning or achieving it by one's own effort the ultimate form of immorality and all other evil springs from that.

If the reasons you give are the reasons Christians seek another life, I can certainly understand it. It must be terrible to be an, "insatiable self," ... "scrabbling to eke out ... the last iota of fading pleasure." To be driven by desire or feelings is a psychological defect, and to seek pleasure as an end in itself, any kind of pleasure, is a disease rightly called psychological hedonism. If this is how Christians see their life, it is no wonder they despise that life and dream of another.

To live in perpetual terror of death and to believe one is enslaved to sin would make anyone despair of life. How terrible to be ashamed of who one is, to not be able to live without hurting others, or not understand that, except when physically threatened, no one can hurt them. No wonder Christians look for another life.

Your description, "We no longer have to live in terror of the risk of failure, disease or injury. And the deprivation losing others is gone. We are freed from having to grasp [earn] a life ... and given a life we cannot lose. ... The disappointments, failures and faults of our nature ... taken away forever," sounds exactly like the ideal life I described earlier, but you denied, "where there are no difficulties to overcome, no disappointments to surmount, no problems to solve, no mistakes to correct and learn from, ... a world where nothing is at stake, where pain and loss are not possible, and where essentially nothing matters, because negative consequences are not possible." As I said, For me that would be a perpetual inane ennui, worse than any hell Christians imagine.

There are two phrases you use in your description I regard as despicable: 1. "given a life we cannot lose," and, 2. "failures and faults of our nature are first forgiven." Nothing one has they have not earned or acquired through their own effort is worth having, and if they value it, it is a vice. A life that is not sustained by one's own effort and does not grow from one's own achievement is worse than death, because it is not living, it is existing at another's expense. The idea of forgiveness is worse. It teaches that doing wrong can be canceled. Reality forgives nothing and the belief that one can do wrong and get away with it, (be forgiven), is the inevitable result of that evil teaching. Even worse is the idea the one needs to be forgiven for one's own nature, it's tantamount to pronouncing others guilty for the characteristics with which they were born, their stature, hair color, skin color, physical or mental characteristics.

I could never believe what you believe, IC, but can certainly understand why, in the context of what you believe, you live in hope of another life. But Pascal was wrong, and Paul was right: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable," because there is no hope outside this present life. To live in hope of that which does not exist is not a good gamble, it is a miserable waste of the only life one has.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm

Hey again, RC:
RCSaunders wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:30 pm
The point is, you cannot not do just anything you desire or feel like doing and succeed at anything. There are objective principles that must be observed, principles determined by the nature of reality, in order for any objective or purpose to be achieved.
If that's all you're saying, RC, we aren't even disagreeing. So that's fine.
Our view of life is totally different. All of life that matters to me is what I do, not what happens to me. I have no interest in or desire for anything I have not earned, acquired, or achieved by my own effort. If I have not earned it, I do not want it: not life, not wealth, not friendship, and not love. I regard the desire to have anything without earning or achieving it by one's own effort the ultimate form of immorality and all other evil springs from that.
Well, let's consider that. What does "earned" mean, RC?

How can you "earn" something, when the universe does not promise you any wages? :shock: You don't "deserve" anything, in an indifferent universe, even if you are the "best" or "smartest," or "kindest," or "most moral" or even "most careful about following the 'laws' that seem to be operative" kind of person on earth -- the universe neither knows nor cares what you are. It owes you nothing.

To put it crassly, one can make one's plans to "earn" anything one wants, and the universe may deal you sunshine and roses or cancer and death. And either way, there will be no injustice in it, since the universe never promised us anything.
If the reasons you give are the reasons Christians seek another life, I can certainly understand it. It must be terrible to be an, "insatiable self," ... "scrabbling to eke out ... the last iota of fading pleasure." To be driven by desire or feelings is a psychological defect, and to seek pleasure as an end in itself, any kind of pleasure, is a disease rightly called psychological hedonism. If this is how Christians see their life, it is no wonder they despise that life and dream of another.
It was not Christians of which I spoke, if you read carefully. It was of those who have no other prospect but this life. But I think you actually knew that, didn't you? :wink:
The idea of forgiveness is worse. It teaches that doing wrong can be canceled.
Oh, RC...it's much, much worse than you imagine!

I know a guy who was born to a raped, 14-year-old, aboriginal child in an inner-city apartment with no heat. He lived in poverty, and he grew to be a vicious bully and rebel, who was kicked out of school as "that brain-damaged Indian psycho." He become a vicious gang leader. He was a terror on the streets. He carried a gun everywhere. He exploited women, he sold drugs, he intimidated and beat people, he even killed some. He moved up to the top of the gangs in a major city. Arrested, he was given life, and then thrown into maximum security by himself, because he could not be trusted to be with other human beings.

Who would forgive such a person?

God, apparently. A Christian man came to see him in the jail. He banged the metal door at him and swore he'd kill him. The guy came back the next week, and the next, and the next...and this rage-possessed gangster killer came to know God. He left jail on a formal pardon, for sterling behaviour. He became an advocate for his community, a successful politician and a valued public speaker and advocate for troubled youth and the imprisoned. And that's how he finished his life.

He's dead now. Should we be glad he's forgiven?

And that's the point, RC. Really, when was the last time your heard a story like this: "I was a drunk, a gambler and a wretch. I beat my wife and kids. I cheated my employer and stole from people who trusted me. I had no conscience, and was heading into addiction and death -- and then, praise nobody, I discovered Atheism. And now, I am a new man. I beat my addictions. I reconciled with my family, and begged their forgiveness. I restored what I stole. And I live a different way now, caring for others more than myself."

I can't find one story like that in real life. Atheism doesn't change lives. But I can give you thousands of examples like my friend, the "brain-dead Indian psychopath."

I think we all need forgiveness, don't we? We could put this on all our tombstones: "Well, I screwed that up." :wink: I don't mean everything. But there are certainly moments, for all of us, when if our lives could be played on a TV screen we would wish it to turn off. But you can't go back and fix the past; so you can only be forgiven for what you cannot ever remedy.

Barring that, you live under the weight of the failures you've created. And that's just a crippling and sad way to live.

I remember one counsellor saying, "The main part of my job is helping people to give up the hope of having a better past." That's profound. We all have things we wish were not so, in our past; and we all need to be forgiven for what we've done -- or more often, what we've failed to be.
Reality forgives nothing

Well, "reality" isn't capable of forgiveness. It has no soul, no consciousness, no personal identity. And only a Person can forgive.
...the belief that one can do wrong and get away with it, (be forgiven), is the inevitable result of that evil teaching.

It can be. If that were how it works, it would be.

But it's not. One of the products of realizing yourself forgiven is gratitude...very great gratitude. My friend is a good example of how that works.
Pascal was wrong, and Paul was right: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable," because there is no hope outside this present life.
:D You've chopped poor Paul! That's not fair, RC.

But it shows me something. You knew HOW to chop the passage in order to make it say the opposite of what it says. And that means you know what it DOES say. It says, "If Christ has not been raised from the dead..." In other words, if Christianity were not true, what you say would be true. But Paul's point is that it's NOT true.

But you knew that, now, didn't you? :wink:

Something to keep pondering, RC. There are consequences to a life that knows no forgiveness. He who has not been forgiven has not been forgiven. But he has no incentive to forgive either. So not only his relationship with God is affected, but also his relationship with others. And not only that: his relationship with himself is affected, since because his guilt from the past cannot be dealt with, he has to bury it.

As Christ Himself said, "With your standard of measure, it will be measured unto you." Those who love forgiveness receive it and learn to forgive. But those who know no forgiveness shall also have none.

Words to live by.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Sun Oct 13, 2019 4:49 pm

Hi again, IC
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm
Well, let's consider that. What does "earned" mean, RC?
I hope you are not serious. It means, "he that does not work, neither should he eat." It means that whatever you require to live in this world, food, water, shelter, clothing, goods, or wealth, if you have not produced them by your own effort or produced a product or provided a service others who have produced those things are willing to trade them for, you must acquire them by stealing them from those who do produce them or die.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm
How can you "earn" something, when the universe does not promise you any wages? :shock: You don't "deserve" anything, in an indifferent universe, even if you are the "best" or "smartest," or "kindest," or "most moral" or even "most careful about following the 'laws' that seem to be operative" kind of person on earth -- the universe neither knows nor cares what you are. It owes you nothing.

To put it crassly, one can make one's plans to "earn" anything one wants, and the universe may deal you sunshine and roses or cancer and death. And either way, there will be no injustice in it, since the universe never promised us anything.
The moral principle does not say, "if you work you will prosper," it says, "if you do not work you will definitely not prosper." There are no guarantees. The universe is neither benevolent or malevolent, but it does provide the means to all possible achievement and success. As I said earlier and you agreed to, "you cannot not do just anything you desire or feel like doing and succeed at anything. There are objective principles that must be observed, principles determined by the nature of reality (the universe), in order for any objective or purpose to be achieved.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm
If the reasons you give are the reasons Christians seek another life, I can certainly understand it. It must be terrible to be an, "insatiable self," ... "scrabbling to eke out ... the last iota of fading pleasure." To be driven by desire or feelings is a psychological defect, and to seek pleasure as an end in itself, any kind of pleasure, is a disease rightly called psychological hedonism. If this is how Christians see their life, it is no wonder they despise that life and dream of another.
It was not Christians of which I spoke, if you read carefully. It was of those who have no other prospect but this life. But I think you actually knew that, didn't you?
No, I thought you were referring to the case of all human beings as the explanation of why they needed to be Christians, including Christians before their conversion.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm
I know a guy who was born to a raped, 14-year-old, aboriginal child [is that different from a normal human child?] in an inner-city apartment with no heat. He lived in poverty, and he grew to be a vicious bully and rebel, who was kicked out of school as "that brain-damaged Indian psycho." He become a vicious gang leader. He was a terror on the streets. He carried a gun everywhere. [My wife and I carry our guns everywhere.] He exploited women, he sold drugs, he intimidated and beat people, he even killed some. He moved up to the top of the gangs in a major city. Arrested, he was given life, and then thrown into maximum security by himself, because he could not be trusted to be with other human beings.

Who would forgive such a person?
If anyone other than his actual victims presumed to forgive him it would be an immoral intrusion into what was none of their business.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm
God, apparently. A Christian man came to see him in the jail. He banged the metal door at him and swore he'd kill him. The guy came back the next week, and the next, and the next...and this rage-possessed gangster killer came to know God. He left jail on a formal pardon, for sterling behaviour. He became an advocate for his community, a successful politician and a valued public speaker and advocate for troubled youth and the imprisoned. And that's how he finished his life.
So a common criminal and thug was sentenced to life in prison, where he learned to game the system, by finding God, and the system pardoned him. The one-time petty small-time hood now becomes a big-time professional government gangster, member of the largest and most powerful criminal organizations responsible for more murders than any other organization in history, and for that he is deemed a respectable citizen, though he doesn't produce a thing except talk and lives at the expense of others whose money is appropriated by taxes to pay him. Apparently God's forgiveness did not make him better, just cleverer.

[By the way, my comments about government are absolutely serious. I regard all governments to be gangster organizations and all politicians as dishonest.]
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm
And that's the point, RC. Really, when was the last time your heard a story like this: "I was a drunk, a gambler and a wretch. I beat my wife and kids. I cheated my employer and stole from people who trusted me. I had no conscience, and was heading into addiction and death -- and then, praise nobody, I discovered Atheism. And now, I am a new man. I beat my addictions. I reconciled with my family, and begged their forgiveness. I restored what I stole. And I live a different way now, caring for others more than myself."

I can't find one story like that in real life. Atheism doesn't change lives. But I can give you thousands of examples like my friend, the "brain-dead Indian psychopath."
Perhaps you are looking in the wrong places or are associating with the wrong people. In any case, not much can be based on your inability to find something.

I know many people who have faced all the kinds of difficulties you have described, and some even worse, who overcame their problems and went on to very successful lives. Not thousands, because most of the people I know are not dipsomaniacs, drug addicts, or compulsive gamblers, who love and cherish their spouses and children, if they have them, have never cheated anyone or stolen anything, because they cannot even desire what they have not earned, and are benevolent in every relationship they have with others. Of course you do not hear much about decent people of integrity because their lives do not make for good sob stories of redemption. It is wonderful when those who have ruined their lives turn them around, but it is far superior to not waste one's life in the first place.

I am curious to know why you keep bringing up atheism? I do not embrace any "-ism" or ideology and certainly don't promote any. I do not believe in any form of mysticism or supernatural, but those are only some of the endless varieties of superstitions held by others I do not embrace. I think it is silly and pointless to identify oneself in terms of what one does not believe. Are you an aHinduist, an aShintoist, or an aIslamist?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm
I think we all need forgiveness, don't we? We could put this on all our tombstones: "Well, I screwed that up." :wink: I don't mean everything. But there are certainly moments, for all of us, when if our lives could be played on a TV screen we would wish it to turn off. But you can't go back and fix the past; so you can only be forgiven for what you cannot ever remedy.

Barring that, you live under the weight of the failures you've created. And that's just a crippling and sad way to live.

I remember one counsellor saying, "The main part of my job is helping people to give up the hope of having a better past." That's profound. We all have things we wish were not so, in our past; and we all need to be forgiven for what we've done -- or more often, what we've failed to be.
Forgiveness for what? A moral individual takes full responsibility for his every thought, choice, and action, gladly bearing the consequences of his wrong choices and fully enjoying the rewards of his right choices. If and when a moral individual does wrong, he accepts the penalty for that wrong, learns from that experience and moves on.

You apparently do not know anyone who is not suffering from that form of neurosis promoted by religion, and pandered to by psychology, called chronic guilt, a psychological malady caused by a very wrong view of moral principles. To a mentally healthy individual the past may contain some memories of things that were not pleasant, but they are past, and it is all one experienced in that past, both the good and bad, that is the basis of all they have learned and become. There is not a thing in my past that I regret or would change because it would change what I am now, and I could not possibly wish for that to be other than what it is.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm
Something to keep pondering, RC. There are consequences to a life that knows no forgiveness. He who has not been forgiven has not been forgiven. But he has no incentive to forgive either. So not only his relationship with God is affected, but also his relationship with others. And not only that: his relationship with himself is affected, since because his guilt from the past cannot be dealt with, he has to bury it.

As Christ Himself said, "With your standard of measure, it will be measured unto you." Those who love forgiveness receive it and learn to forgive. But those who know no forgiveness shall also have none.
If you are in the business of forgiving others you must first be in the business of judging them as guilty of something for which you think they need your forgiveness. I do not judge or condemn others, what is there for me to forgive? So long as others are not a direct physical threat to me or mine, I do not care how anyone else chooses to live their life and it is not my place to judge how they live, including anything they might say to or about me. If how they live is immoral, reality will judge them with the consequences of their wrong behavior.

If it were true that I were going to be judged by my own standards, I'm already acquitted, since I judge no one morally guilty. That does not mean they are not immoral, it only means it is not my place, or anyone else's, to make that judgement, and therefore, not their place to forgive any such immorality.

I'm not sure what you'll think of these comments, but I am sure you'll forgive me.

Hope this finds you well and prosperous,

RC

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:18 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 4:49 pm
I'm not sure what you'll think of these comments, but I am sure you'll forgive me.
:wink: Tres amusant.

I'm not inclined to be offended in any way, RC. You've already shown yourself to be an able, interesting and thoughtful interlocutor. A great deal of freedom in saying what he wishes to say is appropriate to the same. Besides, I'd rather hear about what you think than stuff you do not think.

Count on broad forgiveness. :D
RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 4:49 pm
Hi again, IC
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm
Well, let's consider that. What does "earned" mean, RC?
I hope you are not serious. It means, "he that does not work, neither should he eat."
Not quite what I meant by "earn," but let's chase that thought a little bit anyway.

That's a moral precept and Biblical quotation, to be certain: but it's not a fact of reality in many cases. It has to be arranged. It does not happen automatically. There are, in this world, millions who enjoy unearned privileges, and eat very well every day, and far more who, despite working as hard as they can to eke a living out of desperate circumstances, are barely making a go of it...or starve.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm
How can you "earn" something, when the universe does not promise you any wages? :shock: You don't "deserve" anything, in an indifferent universe, even if you are the "best" or "smartest," or "kindest," or "most moral" or even "most careful about following the 'laws' that seem to be operative" kind of person on earth -- the universe neither knows nor cares what you are. It owes you nothing.

To put it crassly, one can make one's plans to "earn" anything one wants, and the universe may deal you sunshine and roses or cancer and death. And either way, there will be no injustice in it, since the universe never promised us anything.
The moral principle does not say, "if you work you will prosper," it says, "if you do not work you will definitely not prosper."
Yet even that is not true. There are plenty of people who are born into privileged circumstances, have done no work to get there, and will be no more than parasitically dependent on their inheritance as a result. There are ways for some people to do not work at all, and still to enjoy the prosperity of which many diligent people only dream.

But I was not speaking of merely earning money, or even of food. When I said the universe doesn't "owe" us anything, I mean that in an indifferent universe, one would have no justification of complaining of any lot in life. The universe deals out misery to some, and it deals out joy to others; but you can't complain back to the universe.

As Clint Eastwood puts it so poignantly in The Unforgiven, "Deserve's got nothing to do with it." :wink:
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:26 pm
I know a guy...Who would forgive such a person?
If anyone other than his actual victims presumed to forgive him it would be an immoral intrusion into what was none of their business.
Ah, but in an indifferent universe, one of merely material facts with no "deserving" in it, nobody can possibly be a "victim." That's a morally-laden word, implying injustice. But we know that in an indifferent universe, there is no expectation of "justice" at all, and no "just" deserts that anyone can expect. Moreover, nobody can "forgive" anyone else, because no moral "crime" has ever been committed against anyone.

What is, is -- in a universe without God, that's all anyone can say.
So a common criminal and thug was sentenced to life in prison, where he learned to game the system, by finding God, and the system pardoned him.

"Game the system"? Hmmm...if you'd met the man, you wouldn't think so. Had he done that, he would surely have swiftly returned to his habits of extortion, murder, addiction and egocentric, amoral living. But he did not. He became a very, very different person, and stayed that way for the duration of his life. By any standard, it was an impressive change. And, of course, his case, though extreme, is mirrored in the experiences of countless others too.
[By the way, my comments about government are absolutely serious. I regard all governments to be gangster organizations and all politicians as dishonest.]
I would be somewhat less strong on that, but I tend toward your view.

Governments, I would suggest, are necessary evils. We live in collectives -- families, cities, cultures, nations, and so on -- and what happens to the collectives affects us. So some rules and governance are necessary for the common welfare. But they should be minimal, as little as will achieve the few essential purposes.

And because they are only necessary evils, they need to be carefully restricted by systemic checks-and-balances limiting their power, and the continual vigilance of electorate and press is necessary to reign them in. This is because mankind, even the best of us, is not guaranteed trustworthy, and power is notoriously an opportunity for both corruption and ineptitude. In our day, most of the essential checks and balances have failed or have been removed; and the result is the kind of government "gangsterism" you deplore.
I can't find one story like that in real life. Atheism doesn't change lives. But I can give you thousands of examples like my friend, the "brain-dead Indian psychopath."
Perhaps you are looking in the wrong places or are associating with the wrong people. In any case, not much can be based on your inability to find something.
I wasn't asking you to depend on that. But I would invite you to go and look for people who were not Atheists, and then became Atheists, and by their "conversion" were made into new people. I think you'll be looking a long while, though.
It is wonderful when those who have ruined their lives turn them around, but it is far superior to not waste one's life in the first place.
Of course. But which one of us is there who has never "wasted" any opportunity in life, or who has never abused one such? As I was saying, we could all write upon our tombstones, "Well, I screwed that up." That's how life is.

Hence, the essential need for forgiveness. There are none of us who would not wish to go back and fix some of what we've done, or failed to do.
I am curious to know why you keep bringing up atheism?
Well, agnosticism isn't much of a position. It's kind of a confession of mere ignorance...which is what the root word actually implies: a "no-knowledge" position. To its advantage, it's potentially a very honest and frank position, if that's where a person is actually at; but it's hardly a state for anyone to wish to remain in, if further knowledge is possible.

Agnosticism is not a position really resistant to Theism, anyway. It grants that Theism might be true, and merely confesses the personal ignorance of the speaker, rather than rationally compelling that anyone else has to remain ignorant of the same facts.
Forgiveness for what? A moral individual takes full responsibility for his every thought, choice, and action, gladly bearing the consequences of his wrong choices and fully enjoying the rewards of his right choices. If and when a moral individual does wrong, he accepts the penalty for that wrong, learns from that experience and moves on.
He can do that if a) he's not really accountable to anybody but himself, and b) he is willing to live by that standard and die by it too, if he turns out to be wrong. But there's no justification for the word "moral" there. In an indifferent universe, "moral" is no more than an errant human delusion, a fiction of some social utility but no substance. So such a person cannot rationally consistently think he will ever be called to account for his actions. And no wonder, then, that he sees no need for forgiveness.
To a mentally healthy individual the past may contain some memories of things that were not pleasant, but they are past, and it is all one experienced in that past, both the good and bad, that is the basis of all they have learned and become. There is not a thing in my past that I regret or would change because it would change what I am now, and I could not possibly wish for that to be other than what it is.

That makes sense, if we life in a purely material and thus morally indifferent universe. The question is whether that's the actual universe in which we live, isn't it?
If you are in the business of forgiving others you must first be in the business of judging them as guilty of something for which you think they need your forgiveness.
Of course. But not in a vacuum.

Perhaps you sometimes wondered why Theists would say that God had given moral precepts and commandments...instructions on how to live and how to weigh various human actions. And there are several reasons. But one is certainly so that people could, themselves, pass right judgments on the misdeeds of others, and have a proper concept of justice.

Lack of such standards is actually not a virtue. It just means one becomes permissive of evil.
I do not judge or condemn others,

Really? Are there no actions a person could possibly take, that you would condemn? I find that impossible to believe. You don't seem like a person devoid of a moral compass, however open minded.

If I broke into your house and stole your telly or your car, you would not regard my actions as reprehensible? Or if I were to prey on your children, or to assault people in the street, you would turn a non-judgmental eye to that? If I enslaved people, if I burned them alive, if I ate some...none of these things would strike you as worthy of any condemnation or judgment? If that were so, would it not be tolerance made a virtue to the point of destroying all virtue? In truth, it would be mere amorality, coupled with total indifference to injustice and to the suffering of others. Surely that s not a virtue at all.

But let me ask you this: IF, there were a God, RC, what would you think of Him if He did the same? :shock:
Hope this finds you well and prosperous,
It does indeed. And the same to you, of course.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:29 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:18 pm
When I said the universe doesn't "owe" us anything, I mean that in an indifferent universe, one would have no justification of complaining of any lot in life.
Only a universe devoid of life, consciousness, and human minds is indifferent. Nothing matters to rocks, rivers, mountains, planets, stars, or galaxies. Things matter only to the living, conscious, and of course to human beings. The teleological begins with life, and is complete in human minds.

Even if there were a God, the rocks, rivers, mountains, planets, stars, and galaxies would still be indifferent. because they are non-living entites. It is only to life that anything matters. Purpose and meaning only exist as human attributes. The universe cares, because the universe includes the only caring beings there are, human beings.

[I'm only expressing my understanding here. I know you regard God as a living thing and therefore the source of the teleological. This is where we ought to address the question of the nature of life, but will address that very important question another time.]

I regard all griping and complaining about one's lot in life as a kind of psychological defect suffered primarily by those who believe they have a claim on anything, just because they were born. I knew an old-time evangelist who used to say to those unhappy with there life, "no doubt, the trouble is with you." I am convinced that all human failure is ultimately the fault of those who fail and they are usually the ones who complain the loudest about the unfairness and injustice of life and always blame someone or something else for the consequences of their own wrong choices actions.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:18 pm
Governments, I would suggest, are necessary evils.
Given the kind of people who make up most societies, governments are inevitable. They certainly are not necessary, but very useful to the kind of persons who lusts after power and unearned wealth, or simply enjoy meddling in other people's lives.

So long as most of the people in this world are terrified of being totally responsible for their own lives, and long for security and guarantees, and believe that, no matter how useless or incompetent they are, government can make them safe, provide them all they desire, and even give them a sense of moral integrity if they support that government and are good "law abiding" citizens, there will always be government.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:18 pm
I am curious to know why you keep bringing up atheism?
Well, agnosticism isn't much of a position. It's kind of a confession of mere ignorance...which is what the root word actually implies: a "no-knowledge" position. To its advantage, it's potentially a very honest and frank position, if that's where a person is actually at; but it's hardly a state for anyone to wish to remain in, if further knowledge is possible.
There's a false dichotomy here. You are either an evolutionist or a creationist. You are either a physicalist or believe in the supernatural. You are either an atheist or an agnostic. I'm none of those things. I am absolutely certain there is no supernatural anything and all forms of mysticism are baseless superstition.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:18 pm
I do not judge or condemn others,

Really? Are there no actions a person could possibly take, that you would condemn? I find that impossible to believe. You don't seem like a person devoid of a moral compass, however open minded.

If I broke into your house and stole your telly or your car, you would not regard my actions as reprehensible? Or if I were to prey on your children ...
I would regard your actions as extremely stupid, and in this state (South Carolina) probably fatal.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:18 pm
... or to assault people in the street, you would turn a non-judgmental eye to that?
I really never quite know what to make of hypothetical cases like this. Most likely, I would do nothing, because I could not be certain of whether the presumed assault was really an assault or someone defending against assault, or whether anything I might do might threaten my family's welfare for a worthless stranger, or even if anything I might do might not make the situation worse, or if I were actually capable of doing anything. I've seen assaults, and I've seen people terribly beat up when they interfered because what appeared to be an assault was a family affair, and they both turned on the one "coming to their aid."
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:18 pm
If I enslaved people, if I burned them alive, if I ate some...none of these things would strike you as worthy of any condemnation or judgment?
I don't know anyone like that. I know about people who do and have done such things, but they are total strangers to me. I suppose, if I thought about those kinds of people, I would intellectually classify them as evil, but since it is unlikely I'll ever be personally associated with anyone like that, what would my judgement of them mean? What would be the point?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:18 pm
If that were so, would it not be tolerance made a virtue to the point of destroying all virtue? In truth, it would be mere amorality, coupled with total indifference to injustice and to the suffering of others. Surely that s not a virtue at all.
It has nothing to do with tolerance. It has to do with not setting oneself up as the judge of others who are not theirs to judge.

I think you may be mistaking rational judgement with condemnation. When I said, "I do not judge or condemn others ..." I added, "so long as others are not a direct physical threat to me or mine, I do not care how anyone else chooses to live their life and it is not my place to judge how they live, ...." If one is truly a threat to me or mine, my awareness of that fact is a judgement, a practical one, not a moral one, and I'll take any measure necessary to protect myself and mine from such threats.

Whatever is harmful to human beings is evil and I judge any creature that causes harm to human beings, bacteria, insects, rabid animals, or vicious human beings, dangerous and evil. But that judgement is not a moral judgement. Of course I recognize evil human behavior and identify it as such and will take every step necessary to prevent those responsible for such behavior from being a threat to me or mine. Of course murderers, rapists, thugs, thieves, tyrannical rulers, slavers, embezzlers, and those who prey on others by pandering to their weaknesses, like drug dealers, pimps, and pornographers are evil. If you want to call that, "moral judgement," fine. I don't. To me, it is no different than recognizing other animals and events as being dangerous and harmful to human beings.

No matter how evil you think this world is, in my world, murderers, rapists, thugs, thieves, tyrannical rulers, slavers, embezzlers, and those who prey on others by pandering to their weaknesses, like drug dealers, pimps, and pornographers are exceptions; so exceptional, in fact, that of all the people I personally know, not one of them is any of those. (I have known some personally in the past and have dealt with them objectively. Details provided on request.)

There is no doubt in my mind that such individuals are also, "immoral." But what you mean by immoral and what I mean are totally different things.

Moral, to you, means conforming to some rules dictated by some agency or authority. Moral to me, means conforming to those principles based on the nature of human beings that determine how they must live if they are to live successfully as human beings.

Moral, to you, also seems to be some "social" thing making harm to others the basis of what is immoral. Moral to me means those principle one would have to live by even if they were the only individual in the world and those living by those principle would never harm anyone else.

Moral to you means immorality necessitates punishment dished out by some other individual or agency. Moral to me means all one's immoral thoughts, choices, and actions have inevitable negative consequence to ones life and psychology.

Moral to you means being ready to judge other's morality and support whatever agency will punish them. Moral to me means giving all others the benefit of the doubt, their life and values determined by their own choices, and never interfering in another's life.

Moral to you means not doing anything immoral, that is, so long as one does not violate, "the law," of whichever lawmaker you subscribe to, one is moral, no matter what else they do or do not do. Moral to me means doing only that which is moral, that is, doing anything less than one's moral best, is immoral.

[I have based my assumptions of what your moral view is on what you have written. If I have mischaracterized your view of morality, please correct me. I see the basic difference in our view of what constitutes morality based on where we think morality comes from. You believe morality is something imposed on human beings and lies outside themselves and therefore they must be taught what morality is by some authority. I believe moral principles are based by human nature itself which determines how an individual must live if they are to live successfully as a human being and therefore must discover what those principles are.]

No matter how it looks, no one can do wrong and get away with it. Every wrong thought, choice and act is ultimately self-harmful and self-destructive. That's the justice of reality. The so-called, "justice," most people seek is nothing but vengeance and the belief that two wrongs make a right. The idea that doing something to hurt someone cancels the hurt someone else does is a delusion. The idea that someone should be punished or hurt for doing what harms no one else, for no other reason than it breaks some arbitrary rule or law, is pure evil, (excuse the oxymoron).

I mentioned the question of life and the fact I think it needs to be discussed. You describe God as, "living," but what you mean by living is a complete mystery to me. I know what life is, but I wonder what you think it is. So that is the question I would like to address next, if you are so inclined. What is life?

Well, we certainly are not going to agree on what morality is, or purpose or meaning either. It doesn't really matter, at least to me, what you believe purpose, meaning, and morality are. It will matter to you, especially if you happen to be wrong, but that is not my business or affair, and the only way it could be is if it affected our relationship in some material way. Since that is very unlikely, I can only wish you well, which is how I relate to all others.

Wishing you well!

RC

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