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Theoretical Philosophy » Is life meaningless without an afterlife? » 5/17/2018 1:49 pm

Brian
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RomanJoe wrote:

Perhaps a better way of looking at the threat of non-being is through the lense of ultimate purpose. If there is no ultimate purpose to our lives--and we are merely a transition out of non-being and back to into non-being--can we really say our lives have value beyond that which we subjectively interpret them to? In other words, if mankind never existed in the first place, would it make any real difference in the last analysis, given that mankind is doomed to die along with the universe?

Who would be conducting this "last analysis"?  The question wants to posit an outside observer, like God, from whom value comes.  If God does not exist, this a very peculiar way to think of the question in the first place.  If God does exist, the after life question seems secondary and derivative on the question, "whence value?"

Let's say there is no God or transcendence.  The idea of ultimate purpose would be a fantasy.  At a certain point, one would have to reconcile one's beliefs with reality and stop asking for something which by nature is a chimera.  Just like a man could desire a meal so good he would never be hungry again.  If said desire prevented him from enjoying the actual meals he ate, or worse, made him stop eating, it would be to his benefit to purge that desire from his psyche/mind. 

It's obviously not that simple, given that we don't know God is dead.  So we do have to struggle with the idea of ultimate purpose.

Theoretical Philosophy » Is life meaningless without an afterlife? » 5/17/2018 10:44 am

Brian
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Can you define 'meaning'?  If I buy flowers for my fiancee that action is meaningful.  That seems obvious.  Is that action 'ultimately meaningful'?  I don't know, but it sounds like you are asking whether temporal actions have meaning outside the realm of time.  If that's the case then no.  But so what?  Do musical notes have meaning outside of auditory perception? No.  Does that devalue music?  It shouldn't.   

It seems like we are maybe conflating meaning and value.  Meaning is a psychological phenomena so far as I can tell.   Value may be something different and more.

Introductions » Intro » 5/16/2018 8:00 pm

Brian
Replies: 2

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Welcome, 
Feel free to start some threads and ask questions.

Religion » How to end atheist provincianism/promote philosophical education? » 5/16/2018 7:53 pm

Brian
Replies: 47

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John West wrote:

I can't help but think that the New Atheists and provincianism are all the tip of a greater cultural iceberg and that, if you really want to see the full size of what you're up against, you shouldn't go to a New Atheist rally. You should go to a rock concert.

Haha   Explain what you mean by that jab at rock concerts.

Religion » How to end atheist provincianism/promote philosophical education? » 5/16/2018 7:48 pm

Brian
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DanielCC wrote:

There are two things at work....

2. Politics, politics, politics - the worm which has devoured Man's heart and enslaved his soul. People often display knee-jerk behavioristic reactions to metaphysical questions because of the most contingent parochial Culture WarsTM association.

Speaking of, I ran across this article (http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2015/02/camo-and-conversions-the-parallels-between-duck-dynasty-and-dante-culture.html) an hour ago by conservative Rod Dreher that looks at conservative anti-intellectualism.  I think there are differences between the smug atheist provincialism and the simple-country-wisdom act that anti-intellectual conservatives put on, but I don't think they are ultimately different animals.  And I think they both have a lot to do with politics and the culture wars.
 

Theoretical Philosophy » Evolution and Proportionate Causality » 5/06/2018 3:19 am

Brian
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Since evolution doesn't work towards a goal, and species don't become more "perfect" over time, isn't it just a blatant misunderstanding to say that a member of one species produces "an organism of a distinct, more perfect species"?  Evolution tends toward the more complex, but complexity is not the mark of perfection, and in some cases, it seems animals may evolved by becoming less complex.  

Religion » How to end atheist provincianism/promote philosophical education? » 4/27/2018 4:18 pm

Brian
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John West wrote:

Brian wrote:

I suspect in the Christian Middle Ages or in pre-communist China you would find a similar sort of provincialism from Christians and Confucians.  It seems to be a natural result of being part of a majority worldview for many people.  It may be exaggerated in atheists because of the natural hubris that accompanies humanism/atheism, and I don't necessarily mean that in a judgmental way.

I wouldn't be surprised to find that monks were better behaved than contemporary academics but, also, they could, with subjects like God and the soul, stop works that were too radically against the grain from being published or even accuse their authors of heresy. I wouldn't expect as much invective in the middle ages as today.

I see this much more as a problem of democracy than of atheism.  If we lived in a society where every idiot child wasn't told that their opinions and beliefs are as beautiful and valid as anyone elses, then it wouldn't matter that people were provincial because they wouldn't be as inclined to speak up with their uninformed opinions.

I suppose, but I'm not sure silencing opponents is much of a solution either. (I know you're probably thinking of an ideal society where only the truth is permitted or something, but I also know you don't think that is practically possible. In actual practice, probably most of the people here would get silenced.)

Well to be fair, I don't think you find provincialism as such among the majority of ademics.  You might find stubborn refusal to take an author seriously, or a faddish dedication to sone inferior philosophy, but even staunch atheists teach some weak version of the proofs of God's existence to their students.

I don't see any reason to equate democracy and freedom of speech.  I wasn't actually talking about suppression, I was referring to a society that is obsessed with opinion, while simultaneously hostile to the idea of expertise.  The solution is not su

Religion » How to end atheist provincianism/promote philosophical education? » 4/27/2018 12:05 am

Brian
Replies: 47

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John West wrote:

I'm inclined to think that you're observing different manifestations of a more general problem. I haven't said much about what I think that problem is, but that is where I was going with all that.

I agree with John.  I suspect in the Christian Middle Ages or in pre-communist China you would find a similar sort of provincialism from Christians and Confucians.  It seems to be a natural result of being part of a majority worldview for many people. It may be exaggerated in atheists because of the natural hubris that accompanies humanism/atheism, and I don't necessarily mean that in a judgmental way.

I see this much more as a problem of democracy than of atheism.  If we lived in a society where every idiot child wasn't told that their opinions and beliefs are as beautiful and valid as anyone elses, then it wouldn't matter that people were provincial because they wouldn't be as inclined to speak up with their uninformed opinions.  Allowing people to speak anonymously on the internet certainly doesn't help either, but then again the internet is a democratic invention/concept through and through.

Practical Philosophy » Theory of Evolution - yes or no » 4/23/2018 9:54 pm

Brian
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I am not extremely well read on this topic, but I think the smoking gun would be to witness evolution of one natural-kind to another in the lab, or in a closely monitored environment.  Insofar as the scientist's species are not the same as the natural kinds of common-sense, a lot of people call what we have witnessed "evolution" on account of of two species of fruit fly being produced in the lab or something like that.  But of course when kids ask the question "why are there different animals?"  They don't mean why are there different types of fruit fly.  They mean why are there lady bugs and seagulls and dogs.

Insofar as science has a methodological commitment to naturalism, and we have no philosophy of nature to govern over the sciences, it seems almost inconceivable that any significant number of scientists would abandon the theory,  because to do so would seem to abandon something of science itself.  I'm not convinced either way on whether evolution is true or false, but those are just some thoughts on the topic.  There are a lot of subsidiary issues that people don't take into account in popular discussions of evolution.

Practical Philosophy » 19 ugly truths about addiction that nobody wants to look at » 3/08/2018 9:43 pm

Brian
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Clinias,
Addictive behavior and mindsets obviously exist.  That's not the issue.  The issue is whether addiction is a disease or something like that.  Is it a proper state one can be in or is it the effect of a variety of social and psychological causes?  These seem to be different.

The monkey experiment you mention does absolutely nothing to further the claim that the disease model of addiction is accurate either.  In most of those experiments the animal is confined by itself and given access to a drug.  Those isolating situations are the exact causes that people who dislike addiction-talk claim cause the behavior in question.  It's an inherently unfair "experiment".

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