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#26 2002-05-30 17:44:22

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Dissent from the "general will" should never be allowed to happen?  So if the majority of the people in Mars Colony suddenly agree to kill off the Jews that's ok?  Or if they believe an individual should be sacrificed against his/her will to die in some war they don't believe in, that's also ok?  Personally, I fear mob rule, the mob is to easily persuaded into unreasoned action through the mass use of propaganda.  It's better to protect the minority's rights to express dissent without fear of persecution from the mob, even if only one individual constitutes that minority.


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#27 2002-05-30 18:43:41

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Bill wrote:  "IMHO, my ability to truly know the General Will (as well as everyone else's) is rather like my ability to know the "mind of God" - -> the more certain I am that I have grasped the truth of such matters, the more likely such truths have eluded me.

I believe Rousseau does add much to the debate on how to form a just society, but unless he is tempered with a strong dose of George Orwell - - "Animal Farm" comes to mind - -

*Or _1984_.

Rousseau's theories can be too easily co-opted by rascals who cloak their private agendas behind a public face of following the "General Will"."

*Indeed.  In _Introducing Rousseau_ by Totem Books, the author points out that certain aspects of Rousseau's vision could very easily swerve into Totalitarianism (even if that is not what Rousseau intended; I doubt he foresaw where this could lead).

--Cindy

Mars Society member since 6/01


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#28 2002-05-30 23:20:24

Alexander Sheppard
Member
Registered: 2001-09-23
Posts: 178

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

So, um, getting back to reality...

I think today, what we need to focus on is dismantling these institutions which claim illegitimate control over people's lives. Take, for example, the corporation. The corporation is a structure which can effectively dictate people's lives as long as they have no alternative, which is often the case, and when there is an alternative, it is usually very similiar to the prior one. Encorporated society, then, is rather like a collection of warring, military dictatorships ; you might have an "alternative" in moving to a neighboring dictatorship, but don't expect any real difference in how life functions. For real change, you'll have to change the very structure of society, transforming these warring dictatorships into cooperative, libertarian societies. And that is effectively what has to be done with corporations, except applied differently, of course. The corporation is, in Western society, the most obvious example of such an institution ; thankfully, military dictatorships are not in general part of the West right now.

I think if we colonize Mars, there is certianly potential for real change, but that real change doesn't have to happen if people don't demand it. And, actually, demanding it on Mars may well be harder than on Earth, because of all the physical ties to Terran institutions, which are likely to be basically immovable in thier stance toward Mars, at least in the short term. Of course, on Mars, there may also be greater impetus for change, because of all the ideological shakeups that are probable when creating a new society. So we'll see what happens. I don't think anyone is really in a position to make any specific predictions about the outcome ; I think the outcome of Mars colonization could in principle be anything from military dictatorship to a kind of libertarian socialism, which are to me something of extremes of what is undesirable and desirable respectively. I like military dictatorship is probably very unlikely, but it conceivably could happen ; one never knows with these things. There are just too many unknown variables. We'll just have to wait and see.

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#29 2002-05-31 06:31:24

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,278

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Excellent, thank you all for your points of view.

How does an individual member of society know whether their political leaders are speaking and acting consistent with the General Will or whether those same leaders have cloaked their private agenda in the guise of following the General Will? [/quote:post_uid0]

Let me preface that Rosseau is discussing the "ideal", which I am sure you are aware of. It seems you have presented two seperate, but related questions. First, there can only be two avenues for action when it comes to the expression of the General Will, that is, either the General Will is represented, or it is not. In those instances where the government acts contrary to the General Will, the Social Compact has been violated and has been usurped by individual or group self interest within Society. It is then no longer considered an Act, but a Decree, which holds no power to compel us within Society. An individual within Society can "know" wether or not a politcal leader is acting consistent with the General Will by assessing the Acts which they execute in the name of the General Will. If the Acts are not applied equally, and uniformally, or serve the best interests of Society, then it is a Decree. Where the problems arise is in the means used to Execute the Will of the people. The farther removed the people are from direct control over the discussion, creation, and enforcing of the Laws, the greater the possibility and role of self-interest in determing what might be the General Will. The only true way the General Will can be known is for everyone to express their view. Do I still need to answer the second part?

What if two powerful factions hold contradictory but utterly sincere opinions on what the General Will calls for in a particular situation? [/quote:post_uid0]

There can be no such thing as a faction within Society. The Social Compact is between individuals- the dilema you have presented is another mini-social compact between individuals within the same Society- in this instance the General Will can no longer be expressed since the factions are expressing their particular intrest, and not Societiy's as a whole. Individuals can hold different opinions, which is motivated by their own self-interest- this is good. However, a group within Society has it's own self-interest, and when it uses the individuals within it to leverage more influence within the overall Society, it is no longer equitable.

Are they not doomed to open warfare as each would see the other as a false usurper of the General Will? [/quote:post_uid0]

They are BOTH usurpers of the General Will, the same way that the politcal party system in America usurps the will of the people- they twist it to represent the will of the party. This is actually why I suggested earlier to limit politcal association in such a way as to prevent politcal groups, but foster dissemenation of information for individuals to understand issues.

Does the "General Will" in America favor or oppose abortion rights? [/quote:post_uid0]

The General Will on this issue has never been directly addressed at the Federal level- it's left in legal ambiguity for a reason. The unique thing about this issue though is that Rosseau suggests that the best way to monitor the progress of a Society is to look at birth rates.

Does God - and the General Will - favor those with the most political clout and/or the strongest army?[/quote:post_uid0]

I don't know what God favors, do you? As for the General Will, it does not favor anything save itself. The General Will is a disembodied representation of every individuals personal Will. It cannot favor anything, becuase to do so is to place everything else at a disadvantage, and thus would be unequal- the General Will by defintion can never be unequal.

Rousseau's theories  can be too easily co-opted by rascals who cloak their private agendas behind a public face of following the "General Will"  [/quote:post_uid0]

A valid point, yet the same can be said for religous texts. Again, the idea is that there can be only two options, either the General Will is expressed, or it is not. When it is not, then the individuals are acting against Society and should be punished in the extreme (death penalty for corruption is not such a bad idea since corruption implies that an individual is placing their own self interest before the interest of Society, upon whom we ALL derive our rights). The basic agreement for the Social Compact is that we abide by the General Will in exchange that everyone else will- at no time did any of us agree to abide by the will of one individual- such an arangment is merely slavery.

*Worse yet* are those sincere and devoted folk who actually believe they know the General Will and therefore are justified in using extreme violence to assure that their peculiar vision of the General  Will is enacted and followed by all of Society.[/quote:post_uid0]

Which is an argument against certain forms (government types) of the Expression of the General Will.  Society is allowed to use physical force against those who do not comply with the General Will, since they are breaking the Social Compact by not complying.

How, in practice, can anyone know whether a particular course of action conforms with or violates the General Will?[/quote:post_uid0]

Wisdom.

*How are you defining the word "dissent"?[/quote:post_uid0]

"dissent" would be disagreement with the decision of the General will.

*And if they happen to disagree with one another?[/quote:post_uid0]

Individuals can disagree,  but they cannot disagree from the General Will. To do so would violate the basic foundation of the Social Compact, which as I understand it, is that those in a Society agree to abide by the decisions of the General Will.

*Is "General Will" synonymous with "the majority rules"?[/quote:post_uid0]

Not exactly. "Majority rule" as I understand it is implying a sub-group exsisting within Society- it would be in this instance that the decisions made by the "majority rule" would be motivated out of that groups self-interest, and not Societies interest as a whole. The General Will is synonymous with the idea of the majority of like minded individuals reaching their own conclusions based on their own self interest and not influenced by any other special interest. Groups lead to the destruction of the Social Compact- that's the whole point of the Judical branch, to combat the effect of group intrests within Society corrupting the General Will.

So if the majority of the people in Mars Colony suddenly agree to kill off   the Jews that's ok?[/quote:post_uid0]

No, that is not equitable, and therfore it is an illegal action which has no basis within the Social Compact or the General Will. The General Will cannot be particular in its application and treatment of individuals within Society, to do so is to create inequality, which again leads to a master-slave relationship.

Or if they believe an individual should be sacrificed against his/her will to die in some war they don't believe in, that's also ok? [/quote:post_uid0]

Rosseau deals with this question directly in the Social Compact- If the General Will declares that some within Society must go forth to protect the Society then you have no choice but to obey the decision- that is the agreement of the Social Compact (ie following the General Will). If it not the expression of the General Will, but the expression of self-interest on the part of the leaders, then it is illegal and you are not required to obey. And if it is discovered that such an action was perpetrated for self-interest and not the intrest of Society, those people responsible should be shot.

Personally, I fear mob rule, the mob is to easily persuaded into unreasoned action through the mass use of propaganda. [/quote:post_uid0]

A very valid point and a sentiment I share, however, Rosseau also addresses this by stating that the General Will can never make the wrong decision. In those instance where it seems it might, it is due only to the information presented to it. This is yet another reason why I suggested the dissolution of politcal affiliation, and an establishment of some means to distribute factual and unopionanted information.

It's better to protect the minority's rights to express dissent without fear of persecution from the mob, even if only one individual constitutes that minority.[/quote:post_uid0]

You may legitametly dissent from any Act that is unlawful, becuase in those instance you are not bound by the Social Compact- you are actually compelled to ignore. There is no such thing as "minority" within Society- if there was, it would again imply that there is a sub group within society with it's own seperate self-interest. There are only individuals with their own self-interest, each with their own point of view- calling anything minority or majority is merely a means to artificaly lump individuals together based on a set criteria and determine who has more people.

believe Rousseau does add much to the debate on how to form a just society, but unless he is tempered with a strong dose of George Orwell
                                  - - "Animal Farm" comes to mind - -

                                  *Or _1984_.[/quote:post_uid0]

Yet both books offer us insight into the corruption of the General Will, not the application of it. In both instances a group forms within society that uses it's position to utilize the General Will to execute their own self interest. How does this temper Rosseau?

In _Introducing Rousseau_ by Totem Books, the author points out that certain aspects of Rousseau's vision could very easily swerve  into Totalitarianism (even if that is not what Rousseau intended; I doubt he foresaw where this could lead).[/quote:post_uid0]

True, but Rosseau isn't really arguing for or against a type of government- he is discussing the basis of Society. Every Society is free to choose how it wishes to express it's General Will. All governments are equal, they are merely a means to express the will of the people- some forms avoid certain pitfalls associated with other forms, and vice versa. It's like choosing a car to drive- they all will get you to a destination, but each different car provides a different ride. smile

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#30 2002-05-31 12:51:46

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Clark:

I just now read your reply to many of our replies.  I've not read _TSC_ in its entirety, so I'm hesitant to chime in much further.  Based on what I have read both by and of Rousseau, he was (to me, at any rate) an extremely complex man.  I have areas of agreement with him, but more areas of disagreement.  In all fairness, I think Rousseau, in many respects, had sincere intentions toward the betterment of the human race; however, he tended to be impractical and sometimes unrealistic, IMO.  What is most fascinating about Rousseau, to me, is how he and Voltaire contrast one another.

However, here's an item from my Enlightenment mailing list (JJR is included, of course) in my Bookmarks section (I wrote the Bookmark quoted below), which you and others may be interested in:

Rousseau Association
Though I'm not a fan of JJR, this is a very worthwhile web site. Snipets of his musical compositions are available for listening at this site, and are lovely. Do enjoy!
http://www.wabash.edu/Rousseau/

--Cindy

MS member since 6/01


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#31 2002-05-31 17:38:23

Josh Cryer
Moderator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Thank you for that site. It has enlightened me, I figured The Social Contract would be available online, but wasn't sure.

I have skipped around, and as usual, I tend to go to the conclusion of different articles. It may take some time for me to read all of the Social Contract (but by viewing the index alone, I can see multitudes of contridictions). But there was another article that looked interesting, and in it's conclusion this was said:

I [Rousseau] have endeavoured to trace the origin and progress of inequality, and the institution and abuse of political societies, as far as these are capable of being deduced from the nature of man merely by the light of reason, and independently of those sacred dogmas which give the sanction of divine right to sovereign authority. It follows from this survey that, as there is hardly any inequality in the state of nature, all the inequality which now prevails owes its strength and growth to the development of our faculties and the advance of the human mind, and becomes at last permanent and legitimate by the establishment of property and laws. [b:post_uid7]Secondly, it follows that moral inequality, authorised by positive right alone, clashes with natural right, whenever it is not proportionate to physical inequality; a distinction which sufficiently determines what we ought to think of that species of inequality which prevails in all civilised, countries; since it is plainly contrary to the law of nature, however defined, that children should command old men, fools wise men, and that the privileged few should gorge themselves with superfluities, while the starving multitude are in want of the bare necessities of life[/b:post_uid7].[/quote:post_uid7]

Hmm. smile

I think Proudhon approaches the concept of equality / inequality better...

Have you read any Proudhon clark?


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#32 2002-06-03 05:23:32

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,278

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

I have yet to read Prodhun, where should I begin?

As for Rosseau, I have only read the Social Compact, and I find it difficult to develop any counter argument to the ones he presents. His logic is solid as far as I can tell. I realize that he is not consistent, or that he contradicts himself in other arguments. However, I am looking at this specfic one and trying to understand what the limitations are of the theories he presents.

Let me know what contradictions you find Josh, lord knows I couldn't find them.

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#33 2002-06-04 12:56:17

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Clark writes:  "As for Rosseau, I have only read the Social Compact, and I find it difficult to develop any counter argument to the ones he presents. His logic is solid as far as I can tell."

*But what about Rousseau's ideas of a state religion? 

I believe in separation of church from state, period.  Rousseau's ideal was one state religion, to which everyone must adhere or face expulsion from society -- maybe even be put to death for not adhering to it.  His ideal was not to tolerate unbelievers, atheists, or agnostics.

I know that some Marsian colonists will take their religions with them.  IMO, the ideal scenario on Mars with regards religion will be:

1.  Freedom of religion.

2.  Freedom from religion.

3.  The religious will be encouraged to keep their views and beliefs to themselves, except if approached for information or discussion by others.

4.  Threats, intimidation, harrassment, or coercion by anyone toward anyone else with regard to religion (either pro-religion or anti-religion) will not be tolerated.

What I'm hoping for with regards to the Marsian colonists is as free, open-minded, and flexible a society as possible.  Frankly, I'd like to see a society established there which is founded upon Reason alone.

--Cindy

MS member since 6/01


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#34 2002-06-05 09:28:28

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,278

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

But what about Rousseau's ideas of a state religion?  [/quote:post_uid0]

I don't remember him discussing the issue of a state religion in the way you describe- what chapter was this in? That said, I can understand his viewpoint since a religion serves to act as a form of sub-group within Society- it will eventually corrupt the Society becuase it would exclude the views of those who do not share their belief system.

.  Freedom of religion.[/quote:post_uid0]

And if the religion requires its members to do something contrary to the interest of Society?

Freedom from religion.[/quote:post_uid0]
Now, lets be a bit more precise- a religionis a belief system- so you are suggesting that individuals should be free from "believing" anything they may not want to? What if I don't "belive" in the authority of the State?

The religious will be encouraged to keep their views and beliefs to themselves, except if approached for information or discussion by others.[/quote:post_uid0]

What if their religion requires that preach their views to others, irregardless of those others wishes to hear it?  Isn't this now an issue of free expression- and wouldn't it also create a situation where those who wish to have "freedom of religion" are in direct conflict with those who wish to be "free from religion"?

Threats, intimidation, harrassment, or coercion by anyone toward anyone else with regard to religion (either pro-religion or anti-religion) will not be tolerated.[/quote:post_uid0]

Religion is a belief system- so again, what if someone believes that mutualy consenting children can have sex? Wouldn't any attempt, be it verbal or otherwise, to get these peopel to "believe" differently be a form of coersion? It sounds like you are in effect stating that Society is not allowed to change anyone's mind on anything.

Frankly, I'd like to see a society established there which is founded upon Reason alone.[/quote:post_uid0]

Then you implicitly argue AGAINST the goal of the Mars Society. There is not enough "Reason" for going to Mars- there is desire, wishes, dreams, and fantasy- but no reason.

The problem with "reason" is that everyone can reason, and thus is becomes subjective. Hitler used his "reason" to create a new society- America had their "manifest destiny" reason- and when the US dropped two A-Bombs, it was done based on "reason".

Reason, as with Belief, is onyl half the answer.

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#35 2002-06-05 10:53:14

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

I wrote previously, "But what about Rousseau's ideas of a state religion?"

Clark wrote:  "I don't remember him discussing the issue of a state religion in the way you describe- what chapter was this in?"

*I'll have to track it down.

I wrote:  "Freedom of religion."

And if the religion requires its members to do something contrary to the interest of Society?

*Well, this puts me in a very interesting spot.  I must grant to others the right of freedom of religion because I want them to grant me my freedom FROM it.  If a religious group, or persons within that group, are doing something which harms others or threatens society, they should face consequences for it.  But *anyone* can cause harm to society -- not just the religious, obviously. 

I wrote:  "Freedom from religion."

Clark wrote:  "Now, lets be a bit more precise- a religionis a belief system- so you are suggesting that individuals should be free from "believing" anything they may not want to?
What if I don't "belive" in the authority of the State?"

*You're taking this out of context.  I'm ::not:: speaking of the State -- I'm speaking of religion.  No one should be forced/coerced/intimidated to "have to" believe in God, heaven, ####, an afterlife, etc.  However, "the State" can be substituted for religion/God; Stalin and other tyrants tried that little scheme...it failed miserably.

I wrote:  "The religious will be encouraged to keep their views and beliefs to themselves, except if approached for information or discussion by others."

Clark wrote:  What if their religion requires that preach their views to others, irregardless of those others wishes to hear it? 

*They will be consequenced for it.  These consequences needn't be drastic or harsh; a cold shoulder or a verbal rebuttal by the person not wishing to hear their religious views should suffice.

Clark wrote:  "Isn't this now an issue of free expression- and wouldn't it also create a situation where those who wish to have "freedom of religion" are in direct conflict with those who wish to be "free from religion"?"

*Yes, it's definitely a conflict.  Speaking strictly in terms of a one-on-one basis, your right to express yourself ends where I don't want to hear it.  You don't have the right to try and power-over me, and force me to listen to you.  You can stand on a street corner and yell your lungs out, but I have the right to plug my ears and walk away.

I wrote:  "Threats, intimidation, harrassment, or coercion by anyone toward anyone else with regard to religion (either pro-religion or anti-religion) will not be tolerated."

Clark wrote:  "Religion is a belief system- so again, what if someone believes that mutualy consenting children can have sex? Wouldn't any attempt, be it verbal or otherwise, to get these peopel to "believe" differently be a form of coersion? It sounds like you are in effect stating that Society is not allowed to change anyone's mind on anything."

*Religion is a belief system based on faith and irrationality.  What I meant by my statement was that you will not have the right to try and force/intimidate me into converting to your religion...and I don't have the right to try and force/coerce you into dropping your religious beliefs. 

I wrote:  "Frankly, I'd like to see a society established there which is founded upon Reason alone."

Clark wrote:  Then you implicitly argue AGAINST the goal of the Mars Society. There is not enough "Reason" for going to Mars- there is desire, wishes, dreams, and fantasy- but no reason.  The problem with "reason" is that everyone can reason, and thus is becomes subjective. Hitler used his "reason" to create a new society- America had their "manifest destiny" reason- and when the US dropped two A-Bombs, it was done based on "reason".

*No, you misunderstand me.  When I speak of Reason, I'm not speaking of something so flimsy and puny as "a reason."  There is a difference between Reason and "a reason."  I'm speaking of ::Reason, the concept:: -- not the phrase ("a reason") used so loosely and subjectively by others to justify their actions -- as it has been defined and discussed by thinkers such as Ayn Rand, Voltaire, etc.

Are you familiar with the concept of ::Reason:: as defined and discussed by Ayn Rand and Voltaire?  If not, then we probably will continue in our communication gap.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#36 2002-06-05 11:00:38

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

**Addendum**

Clark wrote:  There is not enough "Reason" for going to Mars- there is desire, wishes, dreams, and fantasy- but no reason.

*Again, you are using the word "reason" very differently than I am using it. 

Clark wrote:  "The problem with "reason" is that everyone can reason, and thus is becomes subjective. Hitler used his "reason" to create a new society- America had their "manifest destiny" reason- and when the US dropped two A-Bombs, it was done based on "reason".

*The examples you cite were actions NOT based on Reason.  They were actions and justifications ::contrary:: to Reason.

Again, refer to Rand & Voltaire.  A society based upon Reason -- as defined and discussed by these two philosophers -- would result in a much better, healthier, more sane and rational, progressive and beneficient society than humanity has yet known.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#37 2002-06-07 09:17:20

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,278

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

If a religious group, or persons within that group, are doing something which harms others or threatens society, they should  face consequences for it.[/quote:post_uid0]

So then there can be no true "freedom of religion". You are in effect stating that you are free to practice any religion that Society dosen't have a problem with. So, real world application of this would lead me to believe that China's treatment of Fualn Gong members is acceptable.

I'm speaking of religion.  No one should be forced/coerced/intimidated   to "have to" believe in God, heaven, ####, an afterlife, etc. [/quote:post_uid0]

I tried to clarify a little, let me try again- a religion is a belief system- a philosphical belief would fall under the protection of "religious belief" so it is all the same in my mind- is this straying to far from your interpertation?

So if I have a belief system that does not recognize any other "law" other than the ones given to me by my belief system, i.e- Ten Comandments, Dietary restrictions, etc- it places my freedom of religioon in direct conflict with the State and society. Once again we are establishing that the secular government would superceed the belief system. Your statement really should say that there is freedom of religion as long as it is acceptable by Society.

They will be consequenced for it.  These consequences needn't be drastic or harsh; a cold shoulder or a verbal rebuttal by the person not wishing to hear their religious views should suffice.[/quote:post_uid0]

What if they are going to children?

Speaking strictly in terms of a one-on-one basis, your right to express yourself ends where I don't want to hear  it. [/quote:post_uid0]

Actually, no it dosen't. My right to express myself ends only when I am forcing you to listen- otherwise no one would be able to say anything becuase someone somewhere simply dosen't want to here it.

Religion is a belief system based on faith and irrationality.[/quote:post_uid0]

So is Science. Science is a belief system predicated on a faith in measurment- irrationaility is subjective- it's irrational to believe in anything other than "facts"- so tell me, is everything in science based on "fact"  or is there a great deal of conjecture based on assumptions derived from faith in a system of laws that we assume are correct?

What I meant by my statement was that you will not have the right to try and
force/intimidate me into converting to your religion...and I don't have the right to try and force/coerce you into dropping your religious beliefs.  [/quote:post_uid0]

Then how can you justify the State regulating beliefs or the expression of those beliefs in any way? You've alraedy demonstrated that the State does have the opportunity to regulate certain expressions of belief by punishing individuals, so how do you resolve this disparity?

I'm speaking of ::Reason, the concept:: -- not the phrase ("a reason") used so loosely and subjectively by others to justify their actions -- as it has been defined and discussed by thinkers such as Ayn Rand, Voltaire, etc.[/quote:post_uid0]

I understand what you are getting at, but what I am trying to point out is that Reason, like Religion, is subjective- it can be used to justify any course of action. The examples I cited was thje application of modern Reason at the time which only history itself has proven to be false. Even the Reason that Voltaire is trying to achieve is subjective- it places certain values on concepts, and devalues other concepts- when you place values on ideas you inherently have a limited and subjective situation whereby you exclude the things you deem "wrong".

Maybe you could explain your take on Reason to me to help me understand your point view better.

A society based upon Reason -- as defined and discussed by these two philosophers -- would result in a much better, healthier, more sane and rational, progressive and beneficient society than humanity has yet known.[/quote:post_uid0]

This "reason" is a belief system, so you might not be that far off in agreeing with Rosseau about a "one state religion". smile

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#38 2002-06-07 13:10:23

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

I wrote:  "If a religious group, or persons within that group, are doing something which harms others or threatens society, they should face consequences for it."

Clark wrote:  So then there can be no true "freedom of religion". You are in effect stating that you are free to practice any religion that Society dosen't have a problem with. So, real world application of this would lead me to believe that China's treatment of Fualn Gong members is acceptable.

*There's a difference between bigoted oppression and persecution of religious people simply because their views are considered contrary or threatening to society, i.e. targeting them because they are different or because they are perceived as threatening to the established order of things (whether they are or are not an actual threat) and extremist terrorists like Islamic radical fundamentalists in the Taliban and al-Qaeda.  I'm presuming Marsians will draw up and implement a legal system of some sort; hopefully, this will be as fair and impartial to all members as possible.  However, even if a legal system is never established on Mars, any abusive/intrusive/threatening/hostile group of persons will be reacted to by other settlers; that is simply how humans operate.  The level of freedom of religion on Mars will depend on the actions and reactions of the colonists, and any laws which may be written up and enacted upon.

I wrote:  "I'm speaking of religion.  No one should be forced/coerced/intimidated   to "have to" believe in God, heaven, ####, an afterlife, etc."

Clark wrote:  "I tried to clarify a little, let me try again- a religion is a belief system- a philosphical belief would fall under the protection of "religious belief" so it is all the same in my mind- is this straying to far from your interpertation?"

*No.  Religion is based on faith (things not seen, beliefs not verified by objective observation, etc.).  When I use the term "philosophy," I am referring to love of knowledge, requiring evidence/proof of this-or-that existing or not (empiricism), and being intellectually honest and humble enough to admit "I don't know," when it's warranted. 

Clark wrote:  "So if I have a belief system that does not recognize any other "law" other than the ones given to me by my belief system, i.e- Ten Comandments, Dietary restrictions, etc- it places my freedom of religioon in direct conflict with the State and society. Once again we are establishing that the secular government would superceed the belief system. Your statement really should say that there is freedom of religion as long as it is acceptable by Society."

*No, actually I think that is what -you- are saying.  I'm all for "live and let live."  I don't like the word "Society" capitalized; it smacks of Group Think.  I'm a huge proponent of Live and Let Live.  However, it's unavoidable, given that humans are social creatures, to have a level of society.  There will indeed be a majority consensus (either official or not -- hopefully not), and the actions of others will result in reactions from the majority consensus.  It's human nature, and seems unavoidable.  It doesn't matter if I don't like Society and you are in favor of Society -- human nature is human nature, and it'll come into play on Mars as well.

I wrote:  "Religion is a belief system based on faith and irrationality."

Clark wrote:  "So is Science. Science is a belief system predicated on a faith in measurment- irrationaility is subjective- it's irrational to believe in anything other than "facts"- so tell me, is everything in science based on "fact"  or is there a great deal of conjecture based on assumptions derived from faith in a system of laws that we assume are correct?"

*How are you defining the word "faith"?  My definition of it is placing implicit trust in -- and not questioning or entertaining doubt about-- something not proven to exist.  Science is -not- based on faith -- it is based on fact and the seeking out of facts.  It's been proven the earth rotates around the sun; it's been proven the moon is not made of green cheese; it's been proven that there are billions of other galaxies in outerspace; etc.  Sure, there is speculation and conjecture in science -- but speculation and conjecture is -not- "faith". 

I wrote:  "What I meant by my statement was that you will not have the right to try and force/intimidate me into converting to your religion...and I don't have the right to try and force/coerce you into dropping your religious beliefs.   

Clark wrote:  "Then how can you justify the State regulating beliefs or the expression of those beliefs in any way? You've alraedy demonstrated that the State does have the opportunity to regulate certain expressions of belief by punishing individuals, so how do you resolve this disparity?

*I feel you are misreading me.  I don't want the State (capitalized) to regulate beliefs or expressions.  I don't want a State, in the way that you and Rousseau define it.  However, people within any society/group will -- as I've mentioned previously -- interact, act, and react to one another.  Again, you don't have the right to try and coerce me into believing something I don't, and I don't have the right to coerce you into dropping your beliefs.  However, should either of us try it, other people will step in and try to resolve (or inflame) the situation.  This has nothing to do with the State; rather, it has to do with human nature.

I wrote:  "I'm speaking of ::Reason, the concept:: -- not the phrase ("a reason") used so loosely and subjectively by others to justify their actions -- as it has been defined and discussed by thinkers such as Ayn Rand, Voltaire, etc."

Clark wrote:  "I understand what you are getting at, but what I am trying to point out is that Reason, like Religion, is subjective- it can be used to justify any course of action. The examples I cited was thje application of modern Reason at the time which only history itself has proven to be false. Even the Reason that Voltaire is trying to achieve is subjective- it places certain values on concepts, and devalues other concepts- when you place values on ideas you inherently have a limited and subjective situation whereby you exclude the things you deem "wrong".

Maybe you could explain your take on Reason to me to help me understand your point view better."

*Reason is not subjective.  It is reasonable to boil water in order to cook an egg, if you're hungry.  It is not reasonable to boil water in order to scald a baby in it.  If you truly want to understand Reason better as I am using it, read Voltaire and Ayn Rand.

I wrote:  "A society based upon Reason -- as defined and discussed by these two philosophers -- would result in a much better, healthier, more sane and rational, progressive and beneficient society than humanity has yet known."

Clark wrote:  This "reason" is a belief system, so you might not be that far off in agreeing with Rosseau about a "one state religion". 

*I am totally "far off" in agreeing with Rousseau.  Read Voltaire and Rand, do your own homework.  smile  Read in their own words what we mean by Reason.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#39 2002-06-07 13:33:46

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

I wrote to Clark previously:  :"Reason is not subjective.  It is reasonable to boil water in order to cook an egg, if you're hungry.  It is not reasonable to boil water in order to scald a baby in it.  If you truly want to understand Reason better as I am using it, read Voltaire and Ayn Rand."

I'm including a link to an article from Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary...to get you started smile

http://history.hanover.edu/texts/voltaire/volsect.htm

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#40 2002-06-07 15:52:11

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,278

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Thank you for the link.

Fundamental Truth is my take on what Voltaire refers to as "Reason". Indisputable and completly agreeable truths that do not open themselves to interpertation. I still hold that such a thing is subjective.

In the link you provided, Voltaire provides the disparity of beliefs as a demonstration of the inadequetsy of subjective belief systems that are predicated on tenets based on faith. He then follows this up by demonstrating the unquestionable truth of geometrical mathematics and triangles- he demonstrates a fundamental truth that cannot be denied- to argue against this Reason would be like arguing that the sky is dark at noon.

I understand the concept he is advocating, but it is still fundamentaly a belief system. It is a belief system predicated on Faith, just as any other. It holds as an article of faith in the mathmatical measurements it is capable of achieveing. So to argue aginst 1+1 = 2 is impossible, becuase everyone knows, and it is certainly obvious that this is true.

Am I getting it yet?

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#41 2002-06-07 16:22:30

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Clark wrote:  Thank you for the link.

*You're welcome.

Clark wrote:  "Fundamental Truth is my take on what Voltaire refers to as "Reason"."

*I've given you just a tiny smidgen of Voltaire's concept of Reason.  Please consider reading him more extensively; there is a great amount of his material on the web, which I can direct you to.  His concept of Reason is easy to understand, but not easily pigeon-holed.

Clark wrote:  "Indisputable and completly agreeable truths that do not open themselves to interpertation. I still hold that such a thing is subjective...In the link you provided, Voltaire I understand the concept he is advocating, but it is still fundamentaly a belief system. It is a belief system predicated on Faith, just as any other."

*How do you define the words "subjective," "belief system," and "faith"?

Is it a matter of faith or fact that if I were to jump from a 100-storey building here on Earth, onto the pavement below, I would die as a result?  I say it's a fact that I would die.

Give me your definitions of these words, please.

--Cindy

MS member since 6/01


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#42 2002-06-10 12:21:00

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,278

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Please consider reading him more extensively; there is a great amount of  his material on the web, which I can direct you to.  His concept of Reason is easy to understand, but not easily pigeon-holed.[/quote:post_uid0]

Whatever guidance you can provide will be appreciated.

*How do you define the words "subjective," "belief system," and "faith"?[/quote:post_uid0]

Subjective- varies from different  points of view, nothing more tangible than a person's experience. Being an American is a subjective experience, becuase being "american" means different things to different people- no one is wrong, no one is right.

Belief system- what you personaly believe to be true.

Faith- an acceptance of information as fact and true without tangible evidence or complete answers.

Is it a matter of faith or fact that if I were to jump from a 100-storey building here on Earth, onto the pavement below, I would die as a result?[/quote:post_uid0]

It is a matter of Faith.

I say it's a fact that I would die.[/quote:post_uid0]

You are wrong. It is a matter of faith that you belive that you will die if you jump- however, it dosen't become "fact" until you hit the pavement and die.

How do you reconcile your supposed "fact" with the people who have survived an un-opened parachute jump?

You have faith in your belief system, the laws of physics and biology, that something falling 100 stories weighing as much as you will fall and die when it hits the ground. Wether or not it is a good thing or a bad thing, you falling, is completely subjective. smile

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#43 2002-06-11 10:27:34

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

I wrote:  "Please consider reading him more extensively; there is a great amount of  his material on the web, which I can direct you to.  His concept of Reason is easy to understand, but not easily pigeon-holed."

Clark:  "Whatever guidance you can provide will be appreciated."

*Consider joining my mailing list, ageofvoltaire@yahoogroups.com.  I can also send you information via your e-mailing address.  Which do you prefer?

Me:  "How do you define the words "subjective," "belief system," and "faith"?"

Subjective- varies from different  points of view, nothing more tangible than a person's experience. Being an American is a subjective experience, becuase being "american" means different things to different people- no one is wrong, no one is right.

*I see your point.  However, do you not believe there is such a thing as objective truth?

Belief system- what you personaly believe to be true.

Faith- an acceptance of information as fact and true without tangible evidence or complete answers.


Me:  "Is it a matter of faith or fact that if I were to jump from a 100-storey building here on Earth, onto the pavement below, I would die as a result?"

Clark:  "It is a matter of Faith."

Me:  I say it's a fact that I would die.

Clark:  You are wrong. It is a matter of faith that you belive that you will die if you jump- however, it dosen't become "fact" until you hit the pavement and die.  How do you reconcile your supposed "fact" with the people who have survived an un-opened parachute jump?

*And how often do people survive an unopened parachute jump?  Very, very seldom.  Even if they survive the initial impact, most die not long after.

Clark:  "You have faith in your belief system, the laws of physics and biology, that something falling 100 stories weighing as much as you will fall and die when it hits the ground. Whether or not it is a good thing or a bad thing, you falling, is completely subjective."

*Subjectiveness is part and parcel of human nature, of the human personality and temperament...it's inevitable.  We're each "stuck" in our own minds, with our own backgrounds, experiences, perceptions, emotions, etc.  That, too, is fact.  Subjective matters will always be tempered by the fact of objectivity.

You, I, and everyone else who participates at this message board will die someday.  That is fact, not faith.  Even if you, I, and everyone else here were to be cloned, we still die and the clone's life is its own, not ours.  This mind in this body will die someday, regardless -- as will yours.  That is fact.

There are facts.  There are matters of faith.  I prefer facts.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#44 2002-06-11 11:19:05

Bill White
Member
Registered: 2001-09-09
Posts: 2,114

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

There are facts.  There are matters of faith.  I prefer facts.[/quote:post_uid0]

Cindy - are you familiar with the work of Antonio Damasio? He is a neurophysicist at the University of Iowa. Might his book Descartes' Error apply to Voltaire as well?

He suggests that our sense of "reason" and of "self" arises from and is built upon a neural framework which is inescapably tied to our emotions.

Damasio claims that if a human's emotional centers are damaged in a brain injury such person can remain fully capable of performing logical and "rational" analysis - math and the like - but is rendered helpless in most human to human interactions.

Expressed more poetically, Man simply cannot live by reason alone.

A different but related point concerns the ability of people to "guess" well - to make good practical decisions while lacking the information needed to conclude a "logical" analysis. In AI research, programs improve when a randomizer is added -such as when a virtual AI animal is faced with two food sources, of equal value at equal distances.

Without a subroutine that says, in effect "OK, flip a coin!" the program cycles endlessly unable to pick option A or option B and the virtual animal starves to death.

Since it is impossible for any person to acquire sufficient "facts" or spend sufficient time to fully analyse every situation, faith systems can provide a short-cut method of assisting good guessing. Of course, some faith systems are better than others, depending on the environment in which they operate.

Might Voltaire himself acknowledge that Reason itself [big R] requires that we accept the limits of reason?

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#45 2002-06-11 11:56:36

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,278

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

*I see your point.  However, do you not believe there is such a thing as objective truth?[/quote:post_uid0]

Your turn, define it.

And how often do people survive an unopened parachute jump?  Very, very seldom.  Even if they survive the initial impact, most die not long   after.[/quote:post_uid0]

I do not deny the reality of jumping- however, my point was to differentiate between an article of faith and actual fact. Fact is evidence, in the situation you described, you would not have enough facts available to you to make a final conclusion on the result of your jump until AFTER you jump. You can claim all of the previous "facts" and experience you want, but the situation you provided was ultimetly one of faith- you had faith in your previous experience and knowledge- not fact. How can you know absolutely that something will happen to you until it happens? You can guess, you can surmise, you can hypothesize- all of which is taking your experience and applying it to the situation- at no time are you using ANY facts to PROVE your final statement (falling 100 stories, I will die) becuase the facts do not exsist yet. You have 'faith" in the system of laws that govern physics- the FACT that people do survive these types of falls only further prove my point- you don't know for sure until after it happens.

So what, right?

Now lets apply this thinking to the eternal after-life that is so popular with todays religions. smile
Believers have faith that when they pass on, they will meet their creator- they have no facts, becuase there is no means to provide facts (ie, something we can tangibly measure). The facts to validate their faith will not exsist until they meet their creator (If that is)- the same as your faith in the laws of physics will not be validated until you hit the ground and die.

You might counter with all of the "similar" evidence that coorborates your primary assumptions- well, many of the religous folk I have encountered have evidence that cooberates their primary evidence- maybe they call it a feeling- maybe a certain religious book- but they use that as means to further validate their faith. The problem between science and religion is just like most relationships- one of communication. Science is a language of measurement- if it can't be measured in some way, it simply cannot exsist in science. Religion begins where science ends- when measurements fail, what do you have left?

Here is a simple test: Do you have an imagination? Anyway you answer it, prove it. How do you measure "imagination"? How big is it? How small? Where does it reside? How do you know? Can it be combined, divided, stretched, shrunk, or boiled?

All science can provide us is that it is unable to tell us becuase it can't measure anything. We could say it therefore dosen't exsist, but that is merely avoiding the situation caused by a failure in the reliance of a limited belief system.

Science is a belief system- it is a belief in measurments, comparisons, and causality- but it is a belief (as well founded and rational as it may be). Your example once more, a person falling one-hundred stories- do they live or die? Science suggests that yes, a body falling at a certain velocity will die on impact- but look what you are REALLY saying- Previous experience, and applied knowledge suggests that we can reliably expect that the body falling at a certain velocity will die on impact. You are really saying you have faith in your previous experience's and/or knowledge, and that based on this, and your belief in the validity of the data, you expect to die if you fall one-hundred stories. But at no time do you have any tangible fact that proves that you will die- at least your death could be considered a sacrifice to prove the exsisitence of your belief system. smile

Subjectiveness is part and parcel of human nature, of the human personality and temperament...it's inevitable. [/quote:post_uid0]

No, experience is subjective- understanding dosen't have to be. My experience is my own, just as yours is- neither experience is more valid or less valid- they are merely experiences. The problem arises when people start to place values on things- things have no value, they are inherently valueless- WE, through our experience, give them value, but that value is limited to only our little minds.

We're each "stuck" in our own  minds, with our own backgrounds, experiences, perceptions, emotions, etc.  That, too, is fact.  Subjective matters will always be tempered by
the fact of objectivity. [/quote:post_uid0]

What exsists in this world that is "objective"? If we are stuck in our own minds, how can there ever be any objectivity? If we can be "tempered" by objectivity, that implies we can step outside our subjective world- but we exsist within our mind, so how can we do that?

You, I, and everyone else who participates at this message board will die someday.  That is fact, not faith. [/quote:post_uid0]

No, that is a matter of faith. Where is your evidence that proves You, I, and everyone else who participates on this message board will die someday? You can show me how biological life-forms function, you can point out how EVRYONE else in recorded history is now dead- but you can offer me no tangible proof of your statement. It is a belief predicated on faith in the system of science (i'll grant it is hardly ever wrong, but that is not evidence nor is it fact).

This mind in this body will die someday, regardless -- as will yours. That is fact.[/quote:post_uid0]

Prove I have a mind (I know there are quite a few of you who have wondered that about me yourself). How do you measure a "mind"? You can weigh a brain- you can measure electrical activity between the synapses- but what the hell do you measure to prove you have a mind? If you can't prove it exsists, how do you know what happens to it?

The electrical activity in the neurons in my brain will someday stop assuming that historical precedent is followed, but you, nor I, have the slightest clue what happens to the "mind" (assuming of course there is one)

Now, the point of this diatribe, is simply, to knock one more Science-ist off their proverbial high-horse. Science is a belief system, just like religious belief systems. Now, that said, science is a pretty accurate belief system in my OPINION (what it says generally happens)- however, it is no better or worse than any other belief system- which is determined subjectively. wink

I believe we got started on this train of thought becuase of "Reason" which was the product of enlightenment- it was a secular belief system that was trying to undo the religious belief systems of the time by being what they were not- a means to measure and quantify "things". It's like my mention about a new government type- new governments, when they form, are not the BEST, it is simply a form of government that speaks to preventing or limiting the PREVIOUS perceived abuses. But it still quacks like a duck.

There are facts.  There are matters of faith.  I prefer facts.[/quote:post_uid0]

If you really prefer facts, then you can never know anything. Facts are mere measurements for a particular event or thing- once you use a "fact" to make an assumption or a prediction about another event, or similar event, or the exact same event, then it becomes faith in the system upon which you derived your facts- but you don't want faith...

smile Happy Headache.

If you could add my emal too the voltaire list, I would appreciate it.

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#46 2002-06-11 12:09:59

Bill White
Member
Registered: 2001-09-09
Posts: 2,114

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

I believe we got started on this train of thought becuase of "Reason" which was the product of enlightenment- it was a secular belief system that was trying to undo the religious belief systems of the time by being what they were not- a means to measure and quantify "things". It's like my mention about a new government type- new governments, when they form, are not the BEST, it is simply a form of government that speaks to preventing or limiting the PREVIOUS perceived abuses. But it still quacks like a duck.[/quote:post_uid0]

I agree with this.

Further, IMHO, Voltaire is valuable - very valuable - because he shredded the belief systems of the pompous asses that held power in his day. However, such service does not render Voltaire immune to being analyzed, criticized and corrected in the same manner as he himself skewered others.

Enlightenment "Reason" - big R - was a valuable step however there are limiits to what it can accomplish.

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#47 2002-06-11 12:33:19

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Bill White wrote:  "Further, IMHO, Voltaire is valuable - very valuable - because he shredded the belief systems of the pompous asses that held power in his day. However, such service does not render Voltaire immune to being analyzed, criticized and corrected in the same manner as he himself skewered others."

*Yes, we must fit Voltaire into the context of his time and place; however, many of his thoughts and ideas are still useful today.  His voice is still modern in 2002, in many respects.

And no, Voltaire isn't above criticism, being analyzed, etc.  No one is.  I believe he is one of the greatest thinkers of all times; one of the most compassionate, consistent, humane, far-sighted of thinkers who was willing to ACT upon his beliefs (and not just yap on and on).  He also practiced what he "preached."  However, he was not perfect...and yes, he too must be held up to scrutiny.  There are areas of disagreement I have with Voltaire.  He wasn't a god, and he wasn't perfect.  But he came damned close, IMO wink  I truly feel he is one of the most noble and admirable person to have ever lived.  And that's not a compliment I give lightly or easily by any means.

Bill:  "Enlightenment "Reason" - big R - was a valuable step however there are limiits to what it can accomplish."

*It's only limited insofar as human understanding (or misunderstanding, as the case may be) allows it to be limited...or unlimited.  smile

--Cindy

MS member since 6/01


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#48 2002-06-11 12:56:05

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Bill White wrote:  "Cindy - are you familiar with the work of Antonio Damasio? He is a neurophysicist at the University of Iowa. Might his book Descartes' Error apply to Voltaire as well?"

*No, I'm not familiar with Damasio.  Iowa, huh?  That's my home state.  smile  I'm also not overly familiar with Rene Descartes...although Voltaire apparently considered his writings a "tissue of error."  That doesn't mean I'm taking Voltaire's word for it, by the way -- so don't get me wrong.  Rene Descartes is the man who said, "I think; therefore, I am" -- ?

Bill:  "He suggests that our sense of "reason" and of "self" arises from and is built upon a neural framework which is inescapably tied to our emotions.  Damasio claims that if a human's emotional centers are damaged in a brain injury such person can remain fully capable of performing logical and "rational" analysis - math and the like - but is rendered helpless in most human to human interactions.  Expressed more poetically, Man simply cannot live by reason alone."

*Humans dream, have aspirations and hopes; these are not necessarily connected to Reason; these are not necessarily "bad" things.  However, I feel it is in the best interest of people to temper their dreams, aspirations, and hopes with Reason...and also, that Reason be at the forefront of conscious action, reaction, and interaction.

Bill:  "A different but related point concerns the ability of people to "guess" well - to make good practical decisions while lacking the information needed to conclude a "logical" analysis."

*I would call the ability of people to "guess well" an attempt to make the most Reasonable choice.

Bill:  "Since it is impossible for any person to acquire sufficient "facts" or spend sufficient time to fully analyse every situation, faith systems can provide a short-cut method of assisting good guessing. Of course, some faith systems are better than others, depending on the environment in which they operate."

*I think there's a difference between instinct and faith; for instance, the self-survival instinct.  Were my clothing to catch fire, I would not stand there analyzing the matter -- I'd be rolling on the ground trying to smother it and yelling for help.

Bill:  "Might Voltaire himself acknowledge that Reason itself [big R] requires that we accept the limits of reason?"

*I can't speak for Voltaire, of course.  Reason is only limited (or unlimited) by the human understanding or misunderstanding.  To put it in a nutshell, Reason is the best "compass" mankind possesses in order to find his way through life, to enable the betterment of himself and society, to work his way to new innovations and invention.  Have you ever read John Galt's speech in Ayn Rand's novel _Atlas Shrugged_?  I suggest reading that segment of the novel; her philosophy of Reason is entirely encapsulated in that 20+ pages or so of text (you can skip the rest of the novel if you like).

--Cindy

MS member since 6/01


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#49 2002-06-11 14:20:32

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

Note:  My previous more lengthy response -- and nearly completed -- went down the electronic tubes when my computer "froze up" and wouldn't accept commands...control/alt/delete was my only option at that point, and my original post went down the electronic drain.  Here goes:

Me:  "However, do you not believe there is such a thing as objective truth?"

Clark:  Your turn, define it.

*I asked first.  smile  However:  The earth revolves around the sun.  The living heart pumps blood.  Saturn V rockets couldn't have blasted off the launch pad had their fuel cells been full of Hershey's chocolate syrup.  An objective truth is constant, demonstrable and re-demonstrable by two or more independent persons.

Clark:  The problem between science and religion is just like most relationships- one of communication. Science is a language of measurement- if it can't be measured in some way, it simply cannot exsist in science. Religion begins where science ends- when measurements fail, what do you have left?

*Science is open-ended.  It seeks proof.  It requires demonstration of and re-demonstration of a thing claimed.  It is a proponent of -- and enabled by -- curiosity; it questions; it is honest to admit when it does not know.  Religion is stagnant.  It does not require proof; "faith" alone is enough.  Don't question it or doubt it.  It cannot be wrong.

Clark:  "All science can provide us is that it is unable to tell us becuase it can't measure anything. We could say it therefore dosen't exsist, but that is merely avoiding the situation caused by a failure in the reliance of a limited belief system.

Science is a belief system- it is a belief in measurments, comparisons, and causality- but it is a belief (as well founded and rational as it may be).

*I totally disagree.  Can we say MATHEMATICS?  smile  Would your computer function if you pushed the plug into a bowl of chocolate pudding as it does when you plug it into a live electrical outlet?  No?  Would you be willing to jump into a swimming pool while holding an electrical appliance plugged into a live outlet?  No?  Why not?  If you say there's no objective truth, go ahead and jump into a swimming pool with a toaster on a long extension cord, connected to a live electrical outlet -- I dare you!  wink

Me:  We're each "stuck" in our own  minds, with our own backgrounds, experiences, perceptions, emotions, etc.  That, too, is fact.  Subjective matters will always be tempered by
the fact of objectivity. 

Clark:  What exsists in this world that is "objective"?

*See examples above.

Clark:  "If we are stuck in our own minds, how can there ever be any objectivity? If we can be "tempered" by objectivity, that implies we can step outside our subjective world- but we exsist within our mind, so how can we do that?"

*We examine.  We measure.  We "share notes."  We discuss.  Constancy and consistency in our own findings leads us to the idea of objectiveness, i.e. "that fellow feels pain, too, when a 50-pound weight slams down on his little finger...this means there must be such a thing called pain."

Me:  "You, I, and everyone else who participates at this message board will die someday.  That is fact, not faith."

Clark:  "No, that is a matter of faith. Where is your evidence that proves You, I, and everyone else who participates on this message board will die someday?"

*No, it is a matter of fact.  You have seen cemetaries in your lifetime?  You, I, and everyone else participating at this message board are flesh-and-blood beings; we will die, as have our ancestors.  I haven't talked with anyone who was born in 1850 lately...have you? 

Me:  "This mind in this body will die someday, regardless -- as will yours. That is fact."

Prove I have a mind (I know there are quite a few of you who have wondered that about me yourself). How do you measure a "mind"? You can weigh a brain- you can measure electrical activity between the synapses- but what the hell do you measure to prove you have a mind? If you can't prove it exsists, how do you know what happens to it?

*"I think; therefore, I am."

Clark:  "Now, the point of this diatribe, is simply, to knock one more Science-ist off their proverbial high-horse. Science is a belief system, just like religious belief systems."

*Why call my opinions a "high horse"?  If that's so, then everyone is on a "high horse."  The "high horse" of science is what has given us electricity, sterile surgical procedures, refrigration, prolonged life spans, etc.

Me:  "There are facts.  There are matters of faith.  I prefer facts."

Clark:  "If you really prefer facts, then you can never know anything."

*Denis Diderot and Voltaire are doing cartwheels in their graves at this very moment.  On the contrary!  It is only by fact that we build greater levels of knowledge and ability.  Without objective fact there would be no alphabet, and subsequently no reading or writing, let alone libraries -- or the internet.  WITHOUT facts and the seeking out of them one can never know anything -- or hardly anything.

Clark:  "but you don't want faith..."

*That's right, I don't.  smile  Faith is irrational; it does not question; it makes assumptions; it is stagnant; it shuns doubt.

Clark:  "Happy Headache."

*No headache here.

Clark:  "If you could add my emal too the voltaire list, I would appreciate it."

*I'd be happy to assist you in doing that; however, the Yahoo! Groups set-up requires you to subscribe directly from your e-mail address.  It's a 2-part procedure; send a request, then verify it; you'll be on the list at that point.  I'd advise subscribing with a Yahoo! e-mail account as well, which will enable you to read directly at the home page -- and to utilize my extensive Bookmarks section as well.  smile  ageofvoltaire-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

--Cindy

MS member since 6/01


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#50 2002-06-12 06:34:50

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,278

Re: The State - Rosseu's "The State" & How it applies

An objective truth is constant, demonstrable and re-demonstrable by two or more independent persons.[/quote:post_uid0]

So then objective truth is the result of similar subjective experience? By comparing our subjective experience, and noting the similarities, and the disparities, we are able to conclude what the "objective truth" or reality is?

So how do you know the difference between a shared mass delusion and the objective truth?

Religion is stagnant. [/quote:post_uid0]

Religion dosen't change? Would you care to revise your statement given the overwhelming  historical evidence that demonstrates that religions CHANGE? Western Christianity is built upon two different versions of the same god- how can you credibly make your assertion?

It [science] does not require proof; "faith" alone   is enough. [/quote:post_uid0]

No, religion does require proof, in the same way that science requires proof to validate it as a belief system. The criteria for what is considered proof is different betweent the two systems, but both require a measure (pun not intended) of faith in the accuracy of the belief system. Again, science in and of itself is the act of proving or disproving a hypothesis Cindy- that's it. It's an answer to one specfic question. Now you can take what you learn from one experiment and apply the learnings to PREDICT what SHOULD or MIGHT happen to construct your next hypothesis for science.

Lets look at the falling person scenerio- what is the hypothesis: If I fall one hundred stories, I will die (the null is that you will live). Science, in and of itself, does NOT tell you what will happen to you. Science will provide you the means to ANSWER your hypothesis once the experiment has run its course. At no time does Science provide you with a FACTUAL answer to your hypothesis- that is until after you have fallen. Now, you guessing, or predicting, or assuming- no matter how correctly, consistently, or accurately - based on previous facts provided by Science is YOU exercising YOUR PERSONAL FAITH in the system of Science. You are implicitly TRUSTING previous facts, you exercise FATIH in the validitty of science becuase it produces consistent results.

I totally disagree.  Can we say MATHEMATICS? [/quote:post_uid0]

Look, FAITH, as I understand it, is assuming you know an answer without the facts or evidence to prove the answer. Prove to me before YOU jump off a 100 story building that you WILL die. You are assuming an answer (even if you may be correct...it is a 50/50) before you know- so what do YOU call that?

Would your computer function if you pushed the plug into a bowl of chocolate pudding as     it does when you plug it into a live electrical outlet?[/quote:post_uid0]

Probably not- and that conclusion is based entirely on my faith in the system of science that has previosly shown that electrical devices cannot derive enough power from pudding- however, I can't prove with any facts that MY computer WOULDN'T function unless I did put in the pudding.

Would you be willing to jump into a swimming pool while holding an electrical
appliance plugged into a live outlet?  No?  Why not?[/quote:post_uid0]

No, becuase I have FAITH in the system of science that has shown that electricity, water, and humans together in one place can be a bad thing. I ASSUME that if I did such a thing, I would probably die. However, I have no evidence that demonstartes conclusively that "I" will die. Are you at least understanding what I am driving at here?

"that fellow feels pain, too, when a 50-pound weight slams down on his little finger...this means there must be such a thing  called pain."[/quote:post_uid0]

I would think that objective truth is the truth no matter what, irregardless of wether or not it is perceived, or by how many. The situation you describe is flawed becuase it relies on SHARED human perception in order to establish what the "objective truth" is- but it isn't- you are merely combining the general sensory input experience by most people- it is therefore subjective since its exsistence is defined by our shared experience. Sounds more like shared-subjective experiences- not objective truth. Case in point- if everyone thinks they see a flashing light, yet can find no tangible evidence, yet everyone agrees that they saw it,  then that becomes the "objective truth"- a flashing light that leaves no trace- however, that might be some mass delusion- or a small minority of people could know the "real" truth, which would be marginilized or labeled "crazy" by everybody else...

I said:

No, that is a matter of faith. Where is your evidence that proves You, I, and everyone else who participates on this message board will die someday? You can show me how biological life-forms function, you can point out how EVRYONE else in recorded history is now dead- but you can offer me no tangible proof of your statement. [/quote:post_uid0]

To which you replied:

*No, it is a matter of fact.  You have seen cemetaries in your lifetime?  You, I, and everyone else participating at this message board are  flesh-and-blood beings; we will die, as have our ancestors.  I haven't talked with anyone who was born in 1850 lately...have you?  [/quote:post_uid0]

No, it is NOT a matter of fact because YOU CAN'T PROVE YOUR HYPOTHESIS UNTILL I DIE. Everyday that I live is proof AGAINST your FAITH that I will die. If I never die, then what Cindy? It is a matter of fact that biological organisms die. It is a matter of fact that I am a biological organism. However, these facts can only be applied and used if I have faith in the system in which the facts were derived. These seperate facts also do not conclusively prove anything either- each of these facts are an answer to a seperate hypothesis. Thats all science can do- answer a yes or no question Cindy.

*"I think; therefore, I am."[/quote:post_uid0]

LOL- how trite. Couldn't you do better? Your statement, in of itself is not proof that you have a mind- it is proof that you can type though. If we are to rely solely on this flimsy piece of philosphical rhetoric, we would have to examine the opposite (null hypothesis)of this statement- "I do not think, therefor I am not". How exactly do you prove that something does not think? You prove the exsistence of mind by claiming you think- how do you measure "thinking"? How do you know something does think? What does thinking look like? How much does it weigh? Can it be quantified?

I notice you didn't even attempt to address my imagnation question. tongue

*Why call my opinions a "high horse"? [/quote:post_uid0]

Becuase of your apparent attitude regarding belief systems other than Science. I call it a high horse becuase you assume that your system is far superior to other belief systems without acknolweding that it is as valid as other religious belief systems- no better, no worse. You assume your faith is correct, and others are not- no matter how well reaoned or proven the track record of your belief system, it is still faith, and thus only as valid as any other belief system.

If that's so, then everyone is on a "high horse." [/quote:post_uid0]

Some are, and when I meet them, I call them out too. It's like the Screaming Sermon people who yell at you for not believing what is so fundamentaly obvious and true to them- you are doing it too (not as bad, and much more skillfully) smile

The "high horse" of science is what has given us  electricity, sterile surgical procedures, refrigration, prolonged life spans, etc[/quote:post_uid0]

No, science has given us the means to systematicaly ask and answer a single question. Our faith in the system that created the results allowed us to create all of those things you listed. I would like to add that Religion has given us literacy, education, history, philosphy, human rights, altruism, community, social cohesion, compassion, drive, awe, appreciation, order... I do not deny the contrabutions of Science, but you do a disservice to yourself by believing that Religion is the enemy. Religion is a tool- just like Science, which has been used throughout mankinds long history for ulterior motives.

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