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Posted: 21 February 2007 04:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]  
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Of course I agree completely with Hagen, and I have no reason to try and mitigate the corruption in the Jesus version in order to make it appear equally valid, while you do.

As to the “final authority” - I look to the nature of “the word” itself AUTHOR-ity, while this takes you to god, it takes me to the language.  And I don’t mean the idea of language, I mean the real, living record of the history of human thought.  To me language is a living thing.  It is a living force that takes us out of a permanent present and catapults us (cognitively speaking) into a whole new dimension of being.  The capacity that I now have for understanding the particular language in which I live, comes from a long line of ancestors, teachers, writers and thinkers.  The history of all those human endeavours that have influenced me in my life up to this point are thrust into a present through me, and when I speak, the linguistic ghosts of my predecessors are also speaking through me.  In fact I would go so far as to say that language is not a part of my being, but rather that I am more like a vessel of its being.

In this pan-historical sense, whatever words live through me and in whatever way I find to express these utterances, the authorship is hardly mine at all, but rather it is the particular or specific emergence of a trajectory of a living history of a human thought that happens to pass through my fingers or my toes.  When I read Shakespeare or Whitman, in a sense I see them, but more appropriately I see that particular history of human thought blooming through their words and expressions.  I see a collective us shaped by the certain vessel that any writer can merely represent on behalf of the living language.

So that’s the authority to which I give my own moral justifications.  The authority of this living language means that I must be able to express how and why I come to certain moral evaluations (I express these in language) to the larger linguistic community.  So in a sense, while the history of humanity affects every one of us, it affects each of us in different ways, and when I appeal to the AUTHOR-ity of the living language, I am in fact appealing to the whole linguistic community for consent.  If I make a reasonable case, they will accept my moral judgements.  There is no higher authority.  Certainly not dogma or dogmatic deities that are dead on the pages of history.  You wish to drag those dead institutions into the present and I must make room in my language to accommodate your fossils (not merely the words of scripture, but the actual fossilized entities).  But you can’t force me to adore or love or worship your dated trophies (and I’m not saying that YOU are asking for that, Parable). 

So, that’s how it seems to me??

Bob

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Posted: 21 February 2007 04:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]So you’re implying Hagen is mistaken?  He said:

...in order for you to be a moral agent, you must have the final authority…

And if he is mistaken, it is not possible to be a moral agent? 

Is that what you conclude?

That depends on what you (or rather Hagen) wants to do with “final”. It may not be plain to you that final authority over oneself need not oblige you to tell anyone else what to do. The problem,  perhaps, is that “need not” is not authoritative enough for you, and you would rather I wrote “must not”. But even that is probably anathema, as your bread and butter is a book that contains some stipulations about what people must (or must not) do.

Freedom (and yes, ethical conduct) lies in dealing with “need not” and using it with restraint and knowing that you “could if you wanted to”. Some of those set pieces with people tied to railroad tracks and you with your hand on the switch do make you a meaningful moral agent. Deal with it one by one, rather than by scriptural catch-alls.

Your spiel is all authority and obligation, yes, and generality, and nothing of chance and necessity. The fact is, you are free to tell me what I “ought to” do, and I am free to effing ignore your recommendations. Or even to tell you I think it is the biggest load of sh!t in no uncertain terms. It’s just an internet forum.  :D

If your postings remain so focused in microsemantic details, no one will be able to discuss the big picture with you. I think that’s often what you hope to achieve. CanZen and I are trying to get you to dissociate the semantics of “authority” from the semantics of “everybody”.

[quote author=“CanZen”]In this pan-historical sense, whatever words live through me and in whatever way I find to express these utterances, the authorship is hardly mine at all, but rather it is the particular or specific emergence of a trajectory of a living history of a human thought that happens to pass through my fingers or my toes. When I read Shakespeare or Whitman, in a sense I see them, but more appropriately I see that particular history of human thought blooming through their words and expressions. I see a collective us shaped by the certain vessel that any writer can merely represent on behalf of the living language.

Beautiful thoughts, Bob!

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Posted: 21 February 2007 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]  
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CanZen,

I am in fact appealing to the whole linguistic community for consent. If I make a reasonable case, they will accept my moral judgements. There is no higher authority.

So collective consent is the highest standard by which moral authority is measured? 

Yet it depends on the ability of someone to “make the case” for your moral judgements as well as the ability of the “collective” to evaluate those arguments.  Not everyone is good at articulating their positions and it is not feasible to engage the entire “collective” at once, so someone must be appointed to represent them and adjudicate the decision.  In that case, authority is delegated from the collective to an individual or working group dedicated to that purpose. 

Furthermore, a “collective” is an assembly of individuals whose views may or may not be synthesized into a coherent “consent”. 

What then?

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Posted: 21 February 2007 05:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]What then?

Well. then, we work on it, instead of appealing to your Imaginary Authority.

Golly, Parable, you are one impatient little SOB.  :D

[ Edited: 21 February 2007 05:41 AM by ]
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Posted: 21 February 2007 05:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]  
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Salt Creek,

If your postings remain so focused in microsemantic details, no one will be able to discuss the big picture with you.

OK.  I asked:

...it is not possible to be a moral agent?

And you replied:

That depends on what you (or rather Hagen) wants to do with “final”.

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Posted: 21 February 2007 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]OK.  I asked:

And you replied:

Your point?

How much effing “authenticity” does it really take to defend your scriptures so dogmatically?

Freedom (and yes, ethical conduct) lies in dealing with “need not” and using it with restraint and knowing that you “could if you wanted to”. Some of those set pieces with people tied to railroad tracks and you with your hand on the switch do make you a meaningful moral agent. Deal with it one by one, rather than by scriptural catch-alls. But I repeat myself. But I repeat myself.

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Posted: 21 February 2007 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]  
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Salt Creek,

My point was that your question about the meaning of “final” was a microsemantic detail that helps you avoid answering the question because you really don’t have one.

But you already knew that….

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Posted: 21 February 2007 04:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]Salt Creek,

My point was that your question about the meaning of “final” was a microsemantic detail that helps you avoid answering the question because you really don’t have one.

But you already knew that….

That’s right, big guy. I don’t claim to have all the answers. That’s your department. I didn’t waltz in here with some Buddy Christ and his book of rules so Sister Mary Ignatius (that’s you, big guy) can explain it all to us all over again.

First, it takes a special kind of mental defect to actually believe in the kind of sh!t you apparently believe in. Then again, I don’t for a minute think that you really “believe” it. You just declare it’s perfectly, axiomatically true. Second, it takes a special kind of arrogance to imply that he understands what all this perfect “truth” actually means, and then to have the temerity to drip syrupy sanctimony on everyone, all in the name of comparing notes. And finally, it takes the most perfect sort of narcissism to want as badly as you apparently do to prove to all and sundry, beyond a doubt, that this nonsense is “correct”. I mean, what’s up with all that tasty propositional logic?

What I already knew is only what you have made so very, very plain. The only claim I’m making is that your “truth” is a big hunk of 24 carat bullsh!t.

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Posted: 21 February 2007 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]  
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It appears that you, Parable, partly understood what I wrote about how the living language acts as my moral authority.  Most likely I was not clear enough on that account. You seem to jump from the living language to the idea that “collective consent” becomes the moral authority.  That’s close to what I said, but you seem to have turned it around.

You responded
“So collective consent is the highest standard by which moral authority is measured?”

What I meant in fact was that the “living language” sort of absorbs the community agreement as represented by the idea of collective consent.  This is a tricky notion to work out and I am actually just working it out as I write it down for the first time here, even though I’ve thought about it in many different ways previously.  If you can accept this idea of a living language, that you participate in it but that it is mostly out of your personal control, you will perhaps understand it better?  We all appear to feel that language is merely a tool that we can choose to use and that we can control something like our immediate environment by manipulating language to our advantage.  We don’t like to think that there’s this larger than life sort of “force field” that hovers somewhere about us and through us, and in a very real sense has got us by the balls.  But that’s what I am getting at when I bring up the term ‘living language.’  We have to play by its rules, both syntactically and semantically.  It’s, naturally, not really alive, but WE give it life and we sustain that life out of necessity.

So when I mentioned the notion of collective consent, I didn’t actually mean that we all have to get together and agree on some particular moral proposition and that certain individuals make pleas or push certain limits that get voted on by the community in order to obtain consent.  No, that’s like politics.  I was actually referencing something much more natural, like simply conversation or like this forum on the internet.  This is inherently a kind of consentual process that just goes on and evolves as the conversation proceeds.  The semantic ground is always shifting and the actual consent (the ethical perspective) sort of changes with the semantic shiftings. 

Your actual reading of this thesis that I’m presenting is a radical shift, I am trying to pull the semantic rug in a very dramatic fashion.  In fact I don’t even know what such a shift might imply or otherwise discharge, but it seems like an intuitively good idea, to me. What happens is that the language (of ethics in this case) takes a significant change (for some) in their reading of a novel idea.  If it makes sense, then some kind of implicit approval is granted.  If understanding is achieved, then the shift has been successful. SO the living language affects each person individually and the collective consent (so to speak) is granted each time an individual achieves an understanding because that understanding comes through the language.  Nobody votes here, we just listen to the discourse and trust that we aren’t being ruthlessly manipulated as we have been in the past by other ideas.

You also say
“Furthermore, a “collective” is an assembly of individuals whose views may or may not be synthesized into a coherent “consent”. “

For my way of looking at it, language is the synthesizer and it always has been.  Once the speaker sees that he is not in control of the language, a new way of being linguistic emerges.  It’s like an “instant karma” happening.  Look, I’m not even certain of what I am writing Parable as it is late and I’m getting tired, but there it is!

Bob

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Posted: 21 February 2007 06:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]  
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Salt Creek,

In the context of your statement that there is no final authority and Hagen’s statement that in order to be a moral agent one must be the final authority, it follows that it is not possible for one to be a moral agent.

But Sam Harris’ entire thesis depends on the possibility that people can be moral agents.  If Hagen is right and you are right, then Sam is wrong.  If Hagen is right and Sam is right, then you are wrong.  If you are right and Sam is right, then Hagen is wrong. 

Try as I might, I don’t see how its possible that all three of you are right.  Please explain.

....what’s up with all that tasty propositional logic?

Indeed.

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Posted: 21 February 2007 06:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]  
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CanZen,

I like what you wrote and will sleep on it and reply tomorrow, or rather today, it is late….

Peace, Parable

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Posted: 22 February 2007 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]  
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Salt Creek,

First, it takes a special kind of mental defect to actually believe in the kind of sh!t you apparently believe in.

Yes, it does.  I suppose that “defect” is faith.  Scripture speaks to this: “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” - 1 Cor 1:21.

Then again, I don’t for a minute think that you really “believe” it. You just declare it’s perfectly, axiomatically true.

The following is something each of us must come to terms with for anything we believe to be true:

“Do I believe it because it’s true or is it true because I believe it?”

For me, the answer is “yes”.

Second, it takes a special kind of arrogance to imply that he understands what all this perfect “truth” actually means, and then to have the temerity to drip syrupy sanctimony on everyone, all in the name of comparing notes.

It’s not arrogance to share how an idea may be understood.

And finally, it takes the most perfect sort of narcissism to want as badly as you apparently do to prove to all and sundry, beyond a doubt, that this nonsense is “correct”.

Again, this forum is related to the Sam Harris book The End of Faith.  I don’t recall Sam using invective in either of his books; perhaps you will be so kind as to explain how invective furthers the mission of Sam’s forum.

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Posted: 22 February 2007 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]In the context of your statement that there is no final authority and Hagen’s statement that in order to be a moral agent one must be the final authority, it follows that it is not possible for one to be a moral agent.

But Sam Harris’ entire thesis depends on the possibility that people can be moral agents.  If Hagen is right and you are right, then Sam is wrong.  If Hagen is right and Sam is right, then you are wrong.  If you are right and Sam is right, then Hagen is wrong. 

Try as I might, I don’t see how its possible that all three of you are right.  Please explain.

Please refresh my memory on what you think Sam Harris’ “entire thesis” is. My reading: Harris seems to say that people are moral agents but that individuals cannot be the final authority, which is dictated by some sort of optimization principle. It’s an optimization principle invented by a person, (just like Confucian reciprocity). No individual moral agent is his own final authority. On that basis, it would appear that your views have much more in common with Harris’ than with mine. I just take it one step farther.

I guess I’d have to say that logic is not enough. If I don’t endorse the notion that there is a final authority (e.g., free will), then far be it from me to treat Hagen’s or Harris’ dicta as a final authority, in the sense of being something with which it is necessary, or even possible, to be consistent. You say you believe your shtick because it’s true and it’s true because you believe it. All Cretans are liars, as you know.

I am flabbergasted that someone with your obvious intellectual gifts could be so taken in by the notion of “assenting” that there is (or rather must be) an ultimate (moral) authority. The fact that people develop this mania is a demonstration of nothing but people’s capacity to corral themselves in certainty. That someone as intelligent as you commits to this absolutely kooky project suggests something loathsome to me, but you made your own bed, so I’ll try to soft-pedal the invective here.

You go right on ahead and be a moral agent. Even deciding what to have for dinner is a moral dilemma for some, and regardless of whether morality is a matter of consensus in day to day life or not, civil disobedience is always an option, even if one need not see it as taking place in a moral universe. The protester does not really understand all his motivations sufficiently well to declare himself an authority, or under some other authority, which is all anyone does by getting his A in Corinthians 101.

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Posted: 22 February 2007 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]Salt Creek,
. . .
. . .  I don’t recall Sam using invective in either of his books; perhaps you will be so kind as to explain how invective furthers the mission of Sam’s forum.

Parable, perhaps you will be so kind as to describe written material accurately. At least in comparison with past forum contributors who will remain unnamed (avoiding my own psychic scarring), S.C. is a prince. He’s also on firm ground so far, while your ground remains somewhere in the stratosphere.

By the way and for what it’s worth (sorry, I’m acronym-disabled), I’m optimistic about what you and CanZen are discussing and I hope to see much more. You’re both on my must-read list.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 22 February 2007 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]Salt Creek,
. . .
. . .  I don’t recall Sam using invective in either of his books; perhaps you will be so kind as to explain how invective furthers the mission of Sam’s forum.

Parable, perhaps you will be so kind as to describe written material accurately. At least in comparison with past forum contributors who will remain unnamed (avoiding my own psychic scarring), S.C. is a prince. He’s also on firm ground so far, while your ground remains somewhere in the stratosphere.

By the way and for what it’s worth (sorry, I’m acronym-disabled), I’m optimistic about what you and CanZen are discussing and I hope to see much more. You’re both on my must-read list.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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