Commenter Profile

Athens versus Jerusalem

June 25, 2017 6:10 pm
Fundamentalist Christians believe they are the real chosen ones. See the Bible, Romans, chapter nine. Start at least with verse 11.

Bedtime Story For Gilad

June 13, 2017 11:00 pm
That sounds healthy. I agree with most of what you said, and feel all of it. I would rephrase this: "perhaps in some instances, people are more important than the truth. Humanism above truth"  to this 'There are conflicting truths, and we're sometimes put in the difficult position of being forced to choose one over the other to some degree.' Following the pragmatists, I've come to see that logic is a species of ethics (the science of what should be done and believed), and rests on aesthetics, (e.g., elegant and simple theories should be believed over clunky and complicated ones), and shifts as aesthetic ideals of culture shift. (Cf. the fact/value dichotomy.) As I see it, truths were not pre-fabbed Forms waiting throughout eternity for men to discover, but rather, truths are emergent ideas from the activities, mental and physical, of men (or possibly of all sentient beings.) Emergent is the key word. I think of birds flying in big V formation. No bird or group of birds planned the formation; each one naturally finds the path of least resistance, and the V emerges. Similarly, the truths of life (propositions) emerged from human activity; and this explains the conflicting truths we find. (OK, this is important, but really too complex to describe briefly. Truths are propositions. Purely uninterpreted brute reality has no truth value until a proposition is formed; even thinking or feeling "it is" is a proposition. The limits we feel that brute reality places on propositions is due to our inherited embodiment. cf. 'embodied cognition'. And our particular embodiment was also due to the ways nature's habits arose from its earlier patterns of habits. According to C.S. Peirce, taking on a habit is a sort of natural proposition. It's all emergent from earlier forms, going back asymptotically to pure randomness.) I unfortunately grew up assuming that the true order of the world, if understood correctly, is perfect. Choosing 'truth over people' caused me problems. Sometimes I was just plain wrong, but still… I eventually came to believe that life is not a Swiss watch, not in understanding or in truth. I learned in my teens that most of life relates quite well to musical ideas, and music soon became my Bible. The not-a-Swiss-watch idea was made clear to me in an interesting book of creating writing about tuning a piano, entitled, The Seventh Dragon, The Riddle of Equal Temperament, by Anita Sullivan. In it she likened the tuning system to the calendar, and my whole world opened up. This was my Eureka moment. Her metaphor became my go-to metaphor for making sense of life's variety of truths. Here's the analogy: We would like all the important cycles to match perfectly: the Earth's rotation, the Moon's orbit, the Earth's orbit; but they don't, so we pick which is most important and compromise the others. I would prefer Easter and Ramadan be on the solar calendar, but oh well, I can roll with it. The western music tuning system is similar: it was considered most important to divide the octaves into 12 steps and to make all the steps equal in size. But in doing this you have compromised the purity of other intervals, e.g., a C and G no longer vibrate at rates making a perfect 2:3 ratio. It's now 2:2.9, or something off like that. And C and E is most harmonious at a 4:5 ratio, but when the steps are equally tempered it will be more like 4:5.3. I believe all the truths of life are related to each other similarly to that to some degree. It's more pronounced in aesthetics and ethics, but I think it holds true even in the hard sciences. A paper, actually a transcribed lecture, that I return to often, is directly related to your concern. A Second-Best Morality, by Joseph Margolis. You might find it valuable like I did. Matt
June 18, 2017 7:31 pm
My last paragraph was overly course. Sometimes I toss ideas out there that aren't yet well refined because I think the listener will nonetheless extract the good from it and, mutatis mutandis, put it into, or eventually work it into, its more precise place, e.g., applying the right percentage of its inclusion in the overall problem, and applying the right amount of vagueness or indeterminacy of it and how it connects to the overall problem. We're all guilty of over-preciding the world, (rendering the world with too much precision), in our minds, but more so in our language. Our sentences would be tortured if we qualified every subject, predicate, and their connections by degrees of probability, inclusion, efficacy, and whatnot. So we get our ideas out there in rough form trusting that listeners will put the subtleties back in. 
June 17, 2017 7:43 pm
By "world order" and "life is a Swiss watch," I was only thinking of the laws regulating our world; and I considered the emotional consequences of free will, with its moral choices, to be outside of that, only bound to it by the mechanics etc. of our choices. I knew there was suffering, it was just shuffled neatly away in a separate category. Looking back, I can see that in my intellectual thoughts, that is, in trying to make overall sense of my world, I focused heavily on the order and precision of math and science at the expense of the less precise and less orderly fields of life. I thought mostly about things I had a handle on. This is human nature: we recognize patterns and ignore random noises. What constitutes a pattern and what constitutes noise is relative to your hopes and purposes*, so the more you narrow your hopes and purposes the more black-and-white your world seems, but the more annoying the noise becomes! And purposes are filtered according to what you have control over. The pain in my life, and the suffering I heard about in the world, didn't make clear sense, and this was more so early in my life; there was little I could do about it, so it became like white noise. I endured it while it lasted, but the less I understood and had control over it the less I would continue to think about it. I thought about things that would focus my mind, rather than things that would bewilder it. * This is argued conclusively and in depth in The Order of Nature, by C.S. Peirce. Peirce's explanation here is crucial to my more mature understanding of 'the order of the world'. Maybe at root of the jewish problem is that evil in their upbringing and the psychological isolation in their social surroundings caused most of them, or at least too many of them, to form and cling to an overly black-and-white view of the world and to relentless drive toward the difficult but well defined goal of usurping power from others. There's nothing like a difficult but well defined goal to focus the mind away from psychological demons. Matt
June 12, 2017 7:54 pm
I believe the choice of truth over people in general is a mirage, because I believe logic is inherently an emergent artifact of historical, i.e., human social and cultural, thinking. However, the choice of truth over everyone in your life might be real; I feel pressed into that corner too. The truth is that I entertain several competing theories of truth, but the one I stated here, after Protagoras and developed by Joseph Margolis, is the one mostly on my mind these days. Each philosophy seems to have its own problems which its leading philosophers like to neatly sweep into a corner nobody at the moment is paying attention to. I doubt perfection even exists, at least not yet. I sometimes cling to the belief—and this is where I get religious—that over time all the sentience of reality have been and are gradually, albeit with perturbations along the way, creating the laws of reality, in fact, creating reality, homing in asymptotically to perfection. I cling to this because it's the most solid thing I can see that can keep my long-term hope alive. (But note that this philosophy rejects anti-psychologism, so it's immune to dismissals of "Oh, that's just your little psychological passifier.")