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Good and Evil,according to the "new age".
Posted: 02 December 2005 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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When I hear a 21st-Century president refer to countries or foreign leaders as “evil,” I marvel at the president’s stupidity in his ability to fuel diplomatic flames. Maybe such a president only wants to project extreme vehemence, but greater vehemence can be achieved with words that accurately describe reality. For anyone—using words that are founded upon Deism only strikes chords set up by ancient mythology. Truly descriptive words, on the other hand, can cut someone a new [expletive-censored] because they are authentic. They symbolically represent actual life experience. When a person chooses morality words to fight a battle, it’s the equivalent of using curse words. Laziness is the motivation, or lack of motivation. Now I’ll be a hypocrite, and say that such words do have their use. But only rarely.

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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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Posted: 02 December 2005 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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Good evening homunculus, enjoying a pino bout now, no doubt?

So homunculus, my old forum partner in crime, how shall a 21st century President refer to leaders such as Kim Jong Ill or Sadaam? Is there a better way of communicating the fact that fiends such as these are secretly committing crimes against humanity?

I say, call it like it is. “Evil doers” suits me fine. So does, “you’re with us or the terrorists.”

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt 11:28-29

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Posted: 02 December 2005 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“homunculus”]When I hear a 21st-Century president refer to countries or foreign leaders as “evil,” I marvel at the president’s stupidity in his ability to fuel diplomatic flames. Maybe such a president only wants to project extreme vehemence, but greater vehemence can be achieved with words that accurately describe reality. For anyone—using words that are founded upon Deism only strikes chords set up by ancient mythology. Truly descriptive words, on the other hand, can cut someone a new [expletive-censored] because they are authentic. They symbolically represent actual life experience. When a person chooses morality words to fight a battle, it’s the equivalent of using curse words. Laziness is the motivation, or lack of motivation. Now I’ll be a hypocrite, and say that such words do have their use. But only rarely.

Since Bush is steeped in his Christian born-again religion that calls everyone ‘sinners,’ it’s natural for him to say that someone is ‘evil’ which does sound like a curse word to people who don’t share this mindset.  I think he’s locked into the Christian worldview which prevents one from shifting the images to having something new to say.

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Posted: 02 December 2005 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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[quote author=“TheChampion”]Good evening homunculus, enjoying a pino bout now, no doubt?

So homunculus, my old forum partner in crime, how shall a 21st century President refer to leaders such as Kim Jong Ill or Sadaam? Is there a better way of communicating the fact that fiends such as these are secretly committing crimes against humanity?

I say, call it like it is. “Evil doers” suits me fine. So does, “you’re with us or the terrorists.”

Good evening to you, Champ. No wine, but thanks to Costco’s favorable pricing, I’m contemplating popping open a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

First of all, I hope I don’t sound like one of those idiots who insists that people say, “a person with blindness,” rather than “a blind person.” In my writing, I more carefully consider the precise meanings of my words than when I speak. In my casual conversations, all kinds of slovenly word usage creeps in. Grammatical integrity often goes out the window, and my word choices are simpler. Cliché, curse and moralistic words flow more freely than when I’m writing, or speaking formally. Particularly when I speak to someone with a 2-year-old mentality, plenty of moralistic words seem appropriate. Toddlers and their mental equivalents seem to appreciate the shortcuts such words represent. When I’m speaking to more mature people, I usually try to avoid word-choice laziness, but curse words and moralistic words do at times seem appropriate.

Champion, are you aware that the concept of evil as we know it today was refined millennia ago by a small cult now almost extinct (Zoroastrians), that ended up dominating the Jews for a few generations? That’s how Christianity came upon it.

Quite a few serious thinkers in recent years have pointed to ancient Greek world views as aligning much better with actual human needs than a politically expedient and contrived dichotomy of “good” battling “evil.” Maybe you enjoy warfare.

I can elaborate a bit on exactly what is faulty about the good-evil paradigm. For one thing, it relies on extreme subjectivity. What’s good for one side of a war is evil for the other. An Islamic terrorist is striking out against evil when he blows up a building. An American president is attacking evil when he gains political support by blatantly lying about Iraqi connections to 9-11-01. Our world is at times overwhelmed by escalating and deadly power struggles against evil, and the only solution I can see is to attack the concept of evil itself. This is not to say that the concept of evil does not have some use. I just feel that it represents a verbal atomic weapon in a sense. The good-evil paradigm seems to me to be at the root of many of the world’s problems.

Of course, I happen to feel that humanity is capable of evolving upwards. Do you?

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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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Posted: 04 December 2005 03:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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Champion, judging from your silence, I suspect that I have not adequately answered your questions. And, by the way, I address 2-year-old mental equivalents all the time, as I run a home for DD children and one of my kids has severe autism and mental retardation. (I was not hinting at my opinion of Christians.) Over the years, a couple of kids I’ve admitted have had truly evil behaviors. Of course, such an assessment and word choice has never occurred to me outside of this little analysis. Should I have called them “evil” to their faces, or referred to them in my reports to social workers as being evil? Obviously not. I realize that you wouldn’t either. However, I might be a bit freer with words such as “good” and “bad” when speaking to them than I otherwise might. And that was what I meant in my above post.

Most judges and DAs avoid using the word “evil” in their descriptions of the miscreants they’ve been handed. It would accomplish nothing, since practically no person would actually think of himself as being evil even if someone in authority calls him evil. And it could backfire, as it might even piss him off and cause him to react poorly to such a characterization. (A close friend of mine is a DA, and I’ve discussed this issue with him.)

So we have children who set fires and torture small animals who are not called evil, for very good reasons. Next we have adult criminals who do similar things, plus murder, rape, etc. Calling them evil is potentially counterproductive. Are you suggesting that when the evildoer operates thousands of miles away, suddenly things change? Just because Saddam was many times more destructive than my friend’s county criminals, he still operates mentally as a human being, and could react in ways very much counter to what an accusing president might have in mind.

Or is the president trying to accomplish a worldwide shift of opinion? Many people say that Reagan’s use of the word “evil” resulted in the Berlin Wall coming down. I’ve never heard such crap. Real-world cause-effect cannot just be thrown together based on spiritual belief systems.

Last February, The New York Times printed an article describing work being done by neuro researchers attempting to quantify evil in the brain. This is most unfortunate, as I’ve heard (by way of other articles in the Times, and Harpers) that Harvard now has a substantial Christian fundamentalist community that is working to inject their brand of reason into what is otherwise thought of as Science. Here was my written response, which was not published:

“The author of “For the Worst of Us, the Diagnosis May Be ‘Evil’ ” (Feb. 6) seems to be treating evil as an entity complete with Platonic underpinnings. An evolutionary approach, on the other hand, treats evil as a concept with a survival purpose involving harm or potential harm. Seen this way, evil is something that will never be measurable, since only the people being threatened or harmed (or their allies) perceive the evil. Inevitably, “evildoers” rarely if ever see themselves as such.”

Finally, What would I have a president call Saddam or Soviet leaders? I personally try to avoid name calling, but he can call them anything he wants if he thinks it will rally support. I simply feel that presidents should be aware that words reflecting actual reality have much more potential for positive effect than those based on ancient superstition. So Champ, my boiled down answer is: call them nothing at all, and take action if you feel you must, preferably without lying to your constituency and Congress.

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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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