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Posted: 28 March 2007 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“MDBeach”][quote author=“waltercat”][quote author=“MDBeach”][quote author=“homunculus”]

Current human civilization requires everyone to rely on the expertise of others. What an amazing fact of nature. We must, to an extent at least, bow down humbly to the brilliance or competence of others.

This is what I honestly believe is the true culprit.  It isn’t religion, it isn’t science, it is our own self doubt that makes us followers instead of leaders.  This is where we have lost our way.

Self doubt?  It isn’t self-doubt, but rather self-knowledge that causes us to realize that there are many topics about which we know very little.

And it isn’t sheepishness that forces us to trust experts.  Rather it is a recognition that, when we must trust others (which is quite often), we had better trust those with the training and knowledge that put them in a position to make the best decisions.

When I am sick, I don’t trust myself to make a diagnosis, I trust a doctor.  This isn’t blind obedience to authority.  It is pragmatic insight into the reality of the human condition.

Are you sure?  Do you not trust yourself enough that you could read the same books and reach the same conclusion?  Especially if that conclusion is based in logic?  I am not talking about Joe who works at the gas station, I am talking about the best thinkers of this board.

How much time are you going to give me?, I suppose I could look through every paper on climate change research, for example, but I don’t have the time.  I have enough trouble keeping up with my own field of specialization.  Luckily, I have confidence in the opinion of researchers, especially when it is a collective opinion

How long would it take me to develop the skill to diagnose and cure the heart defect that my sister’s nephew was born with.  Could I do it?  Maybe, I doubt it, but, in any case, it would take many years of careful study during which I would have to put off my investigations into the science of global climate change, cut short my fledgling career in philosophy, and probably stop giving Theists such a hard time at samharris.org.  And, I certainly didn’t have these several years, the baby needed the operation NOW.  So, yes, we have to trust experts.

In reality, we rely on experts because we are too lazy to look the stuff up ourselves.  I agree that we have to use experts who have training and knowledge to make things easier for us, but in reality we replace their judgment for our own.

It is NOT laziness. It is a recognition that we have no basis for making a judgment.  The family did not replace their judgment about what was wrong with the baby with the doctor’s judgment.  Rather, the family had no judgment; they were not in the position to make a judgment.

When do you see this human condition starting that required us to rely on experts?  I say this phenomenon is less than 100 years old.  This takes it out of the realm as a truth about human existence and instead places it within a current trend.

Historical EXPERTS will disagree with you there.  Most see specialization as being at the very core of civilization.  Specialization has been around as long as there have been human societites.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 28 March 2007 09:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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[quote author=“waltercat”][quote author=“MDBeach”][quote author=“waltercat”][quote author=“MDBeach”][quote author=“homunculus”]

Current human civilization requires everyone to rely on the expertise of others. What an amazing fact of nature. We must, to an extent at least, bow down humbly to the brilliance or competence of others.

This is what I honestly believe is the true culprit.  It isn’t religion, it isn’t science, it is our own self doubt that makes us followers instead of leaders.  This is where we have lost our way.

Self doubt?  It isn’t self-doubt, but rather self-knowledge that causes us to realize that there are many topics about which we know very little.

And it isn’t sheepishness that forces us to trust experts.  Rather it is a recognition that, when we must trust others (which is quite often), we had better trust those with the training and knowledge that put them in a position to make the best decisions.

When I am sick, I don’t trust myself to make a diagnosis, I trust a doctor.  This isn’t blind obedience to authority.  It is pragmatic insight into the reality of the human condition.

Are you sure?  Do you not trust yourself enough that you could read the same books and reach the same conclusion?  Especially if that conclusion is based in logic?  I am not talking about Joe who works at the gas station, I am talking about the best thinkers of this board.

How much time are you going to give me?, I suppose I could look through every paper on climate change research, for example, but I don’t have the time.  I have enough trouble keeping up with my own field of specialization.  Luckily, I have confidence in the opinion of researchers, especially when it is a collective opinion

How long would it take me to develop the skill to diagnose and cure the heart defect that my sister’s nephew was born with.  Could I do it?  Maybe, I doubt it, but, in any case, it would take many years of careful study during which I would have to put off my investigations into the science of global climate change, cut short my fledgling career in philosophy, and probably stop giving Theists such a hard time at samharris.org.  And, I certainly didn’t have these several years, the baby needed the operation NOW.  So, yes, we have to trust experts.

In reality, we rely on experts because we are too lazy to look the stuff up ourselves.  I agree that we have to use experts who have training and knowledge to make things easier for us, but in reality we replace their judgment for our own.

It is NOT laziness. It is a recognition that we have no basis for making a judgment.  The family did not replace their judgment about what was wrong with the baby with the doctor’s judgment.  Rather, the family had no judgment; they were not in the position to make a judgment.

When do you see this human condition starting that required us to rely on experts?  I say this phenomenon is less than 100 years old.  This takes it out of the realm as a truth about human existence and instead places it within a current trend.

Historical EXPERTS will disagree with you there.  Most see specialization as being at the very core of civilization.  Specialization has been around as long as there have been human societites.

My only point is specialization is useful when progressing a science.  Pioneer experts are necessary.  A third generation expert doesn’t need to think any more because he has accepted the core of his knowledge as without refute.  His specialization is nothing more than remembering buzzwords and accepted theories. 

For the record, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with unbiased, progressive research.  I have a problem with a person who has a high education and is capable of writing their own theory who simply accepts his own specialty without ever questioning.  There are quite a few of these “experts”  out there.  The quack experts are starting to do with expertdom what fundamentalists have done with christianity.  When you take things to extremes without understanding exactly what you are talking about (Enlightened) you risk the sanctity of your profession.  I see this as a widespread problem across several intellectual professions, especially law.

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Posted: 28 March 2007 12:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“MDBeach”]
My only point is specialization is useful when progressing a science.  Pioneer experts are necessary.  A third generation expert doesn’t need to think any more because he has accepted the core of his knowledge as without refute.  His specialization is nothing more than remembering buzzwords and accepted theories. 

For the record, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with unbiased, progressive research.  I have a problem with a person who has a high education and is capable of writing their own theory who simply accepts his own specialty without ever questioning.  There are quite a few of these “experts”  out there.  The quack experts are starting to do with expertdom what fundamentalists have done with christianity.  When you take things to extremes without understanding exactly what you are talking about (Enlightened) you risk the sanctity of your profession.  I see this as a widespread problem across several intellectual professions, especially law.

In science, progress comes in two forms.  The most spectacular is when people develop radically new theories that reorient an entire branch, or even many branches of science.  The other form of progress has to do with people who simply work out the details of existing theory, checking its predictions, resolving issues of contention, and so on.  You might want to check Thomas Kuhn’s book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  It goes into this very nicely.  Of course, it is duty incumbent on any professional to understand the basic principles, ideas and practices of their profession so your are rightly concerned when you encounter professional who fail in this.

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Posted: 28 March 2007 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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[quote author=“MDBeach”]. . .
When do you see this human condition starting that required us to rely on experts?  I say this phenomenon is less than 100 years old.  This takes it out of the realm as a truth about human existence and instead places it within a current trend.

A statement like this shows me that you consider current civilization not to be a part of nature. I could argue either way as to whether the phenomenon is 100 years old or 100,000, but that would have no bearing on whether or not it’s a fact of nature. Keep in mind that we are just apes that can talk, and we’re part of nature no more or less than any other species.

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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: 28 March 2007 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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Absolutely.  But we are animals who posess the unique gift of logic and reason, along with advanced enough muscle control to speak.  We owe it to ourselves to remember that distinction.  There is a natural cycle to everything.  Most of our intellectual fields have stagnated.  There has never been any better time than now to actually start thinking outside the box.

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Posted: 30 March 2007 11:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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.
> On 27Mar MDBeach say I agree, but it is also extremely dangerous
> because it points us in no direction.
.
textman replies Hi fellas, thx to all for responding.
I’ll have more to say later, but for now I’d like to start here.
Well, mdb, I totally agree that having no direction is “extremely dangerous”,
not to mention a serious problem for us all.
.
>  Sam says that is our job ... [snip]
.
And I also agree with Sam that it’s our job to figure out a new direction that steers
us away from skepticism on this side, and religious faith on the other. In fact, this
is just the problem that has been very much occupying my attention of late. I’ve
found that most of the experts seem to think that most people can’t do without
religion, and so advocate some new form of “universal” religion for the masses.
.
Even historians such as Toynbee favor such a solution. I myself don’t think it’s
much of a solution. This is because most people see the problem as a simple
one of ‘either/or’. Either you opt for K’s ‘leap of faith’ ... Or you opt for skepticism
and/or atheism (or both). But I’m beginning to think that maybe there is a third
solution, a third way, if you will, that avoids both of these extremes.
.
Moreover, I think that this third way is actually a viable solution. I’m still working
on it (hence the delays), but I’ll surely keep you guys posted on my progress
... IF you’re interested )
.
Geneal Hints Department
Mr Harris’ interest in Buddhism mirrors my own. As a major world religion it
merits serious attention, but its unique features are what makes it so curious
(eg. from the perspective of comparative religions). I’m particularly interested in
Japan’s affair with the Zen forms of Buddhism. The Japanese are nothing if not
a practical people. In any case, its not faith itself that is the major problem here,
it’s *irrational-faith*. Thus it seems to me that the answer to our global woes is
not ‘no-faith’ but rather a ‘rational-faith’. Accordingly, this proposed ‘Third-Way’
would have to involve some sort of “conversion” to Sophia (which is to say, to
philosophy)!
.
                - the one with almost-solutions - textman ;>
.
P.S. Nhoj Morley say “Rationality is bound to prevail. Keep the faith!”
Hey dude, eye couldn’t agree more! D
x

[ Edited: 31 March 2007 11:35 AM by ]
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Posted: 31 March 2007 03:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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[quote author=“textman”]I think that this third way is actually a viable solution.

Welcome aboard. There are several of us here with third ways to knock around. I can’t wait to hear yours. Some others here will have you for lunch.

There does seem to be a dividing line between posters over the issues in chapter seven. Post carefully.

Rationality is bound to prevail. Keep the faith!

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Posted: 31 March 2007 03:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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[quote author=“textman”]+
> On 27Mar MDBeach say: I agree, but it is also extremely dangerous because
> it points us in no direction. Sam says that is our job ... [snip]
.
On 31 March tx say: Hi fellas, thx to all for responding.
I’ll have more to say later, but for now I’d like to start here.
Well, mdb, I totally agree that having no direction is “extremely dangerous”.
.
And I also agree with Sam that it’s our job to figure out a new direction that steers
us away from skepticism on this side, and religious faith on the other. In fact, this
is just the problem that has been very much occupying my attention of late. I’ve
found that most of the experts seem to think that most people can’t do without
religion, and so advocate some new form of religion for the masses.
.
Even historians such as Toynebee favor such a solution. I myself don’t think it’s
much of a solution. This is because most people see the problem as a simple
one of ‘either/or’. Either you opt for K’s ‘leap of faith’ ... Or you opt for skepticism
and/or atheism (or both). But I’m beginning to think that maybe there is a third
solution, a third way, if you will, that avoids both of these extremes.
.
Moreover, I think that this third way is actually a viable solution. I’m still working
on it (hence the delays), but I’ll surely keep you guys posted on my progress
... IF you’re interested smile  ... Hint: It involves “conversion” to philosophy!
x

Try for the fourth way, more integrated.  smile

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Posted: 31 March 2007 06:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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[quote author=“textman”]Hint: It involves “conversion” to philosophy!

[quote author=“Nhoj Morley”]Some others here will have you for lunch.

I’m sharpening my chopsticks.  :D

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INVEST in cynicism!

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Posted: 31 March 2007 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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.
> On 28March MDBeach say [snip] The book destroys all justifications for all
> gods. It also destroys justifications for any known philosophical theory that
> could have taken the place of a persons religion. That is my point. Once you
> strip the mystical powers of religion away, you are left with a philosophy on
> life. Sam actually destroyed these philosophies.
.
Sam does not and cannot *destroy* Cosmic-Mystery & Cosmic-Complexity.
Nor should he; nor should he even attempt to do such a silly and outrageous
thing. Therefore since ‘End of Faith’ does NOT remove mystery and complexity
from out of the world, how can you possibly assert that philosophy and her
justifications have been destroyed? There are no such ramifications in ‘End of
Faith’. Philosophically speaking, this book is a rather simple and straightforward
prophetic document. It has no hidden agenda, and is certainly not intended
to undermine the philosophic enterprise (or its justifications), but rather to
encourage us to just those efforts. That’s the way I read EoF; and I ought
to know (ie. I know a thing or three about the most important branch of
philosophy hermeneutics). To make these statements that you make here is
to entirely misconstrue the nature of EoF and of Sam’s “mission”. Insofar as Mr
Harris has a spark of the ol prophetic spirit in him, he is (and will remain) a loyal
son of Sophia (check the back cover for details).
.
> Sam wrote his next book detailing the need to remove christian philosophy
> from the United States Government. However, he does not give a philosophy
> to fill that void. This is why I maintain that his books, when not applied to the
> specific mission articulated by Sam like changing politics and removing a
> religion from power, these books become very dangerous.
.
In one sense, it is hard to disagree, mdb. History itself tends to back up your
claims. Such warnings were often heard in France (and elsewhere) both before
and after the Revolution. In the same way, current events only confirm that
History often repeats itself. I trust that none of you have forgotten Sinead
O’Conner’s brave and outrageous protest on SNL. And just a few minutes ago
I heard some nonsense about Sir Elton John torching some church at a
concert. WTF? ... Well, whatever!
.
Such dramatic displays of anti-religious sentiments are a good and healthy thing
overall, and in the long run. It certainly draws people’s attention to the fact that
there’s a war going on here that reaches all across the planet such that no
corner of the globe is safe or uninvolved in this war on religion. The major faiths
not only struggle against other religions for the hearts and minds of the people,
but also against the rising tide of radical-skepticism (which is a direct product of
an “uninvolved in the dispute” Science & Philosophy). There’s something big in
the winds. Something’s coming soon. Can’t you smell it? Hey, don’t kid yourself;
we are all very much still living within the millennia-old Age of Religions. All these
religions are legacies of the Bronze Age (for the most part), and are very hard
to just shake off over-night.
.
These things take time, dude; seeing as how most human beings are stubborn
and conservative creatures of habit who dislike new ideas out of instinct
and impulse, and sheer cussedness to boot! Consider India as proof of my
observations; here is an entire nation and people with their feet steadfastly
planted in the cultures and traditions of its Bronze Age glory days. A hard habit
to break if its roots go straight past consciousness and reasoning and down
into the smaller reptilian-brain that is the oldest part of our silly noggins. Thus
the Enlightenment was a bit premature, I’d say. Fortunately, there are only a
handful of religions that are still major players on the global scene Islam &
Christianity (the sons of Judaism), and Buddhism top the list. And that should
be more than enough; seeing as how each of these big-three comes in a wide
variety of shades and forms. Listing all of these ... WBP (ie. would be pointless).
.
> As an example, atheists are now using these books as a Bible to find
> arguments concerning everything. Much like Christians have done with their
> own bible, and Muslims with the Koran. Yet, atheists apparently do not see
> the hypocritical nature of what they are doing, because when inside atheist
> circles, there is no one to challenge them. They cling to other people’s ideas,
> and what some person who they deem to be an expert says. Instead of using
> another person’s ideas and expanding on them, they are quoted as if scripture.
.
This is neither surprising nor offensive, mdb. Scripture only becomes scripture
when there are people around to treat the texts as sacred. The texts have no
power of their own to declare themselves sacred. You mentioned the Bible &
Koran. Both these texts were deemed to be scripture by this or that religious
authority; but what about Buddhism? Christianity and Judaism both have a
closed and complete set of books. Islam gets by on just one book (more or
less). But Buddhism has literally hundreds of sacred texts! And far from being
a weakness, this flexibility and diversity within the texts (as in the fundamental
nature of Buddhism itself as a spiritual and philosophical enterprise) is one of
its greatest strengths. Where Judaism, Christianity, and Islam generally prefer
to fossilize themselves, Buddhism survives and grows by adapting to, and
embracing, new challenges and ideas; hence the abundance of Buddhist texts.
.
So some people will treat ‘End of Faith’ as scripture, eh? Well and Good! They
are surely right to do so. And you know why? Because ‘End of Faith’ is a prime
example of a modern document that can be easily classified as a work of
prophetic literature. If you set it along side the entire range of prophetic literature
from OT & NT to Koran, to the writings of the Radical Reformers, to individual
artists and writers (such as Blake and Kafka and Emerson etc), to philosophers
like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and to all the many and various works that fit in
between, and lo and behold that ‘End of Faith’ fits right in! You want people to
take the book seriously, right? Well this is one - legitimate - way of doing that.
And why not? Anyone who can’t recognize ‘End of Faith’ as prophetic literature
is either misguided or ignorant. There’s no “as if” about it!
.
> How many times have someone on this board said something like, I’m not
> sure about this, but so and so says this, so that must be right. They loose
> sight of the fact that even Sam calls on each of us to display our own reason
> and our own logic.
.
This is not unique to Sam. Immanuel Kant said this a long time ago. “Dare to
Reason!” It is the battle cry of the Enlightenment. And it is *still* the battle cry
of ALL true philosophers. Russell was not much impressed with Existentialism as
a part of the philosophic enterprise. He considered it a waste of time, more or
less. Why study puny-little-animal when the Great Cosmic Mystery beckons for
our complete and undivided attention? This is the grounds and justification for
the detached and impersonal ways of both science and philosophy; the reason
why most scientists and philosophers refuse to get involved with the ongoing
battle for the hearts and minds of the People. Even Science must have its
comforting illusions I suppose, and this is surely one of them. But there is
plenty enough mystery in these “puny-little-animals” to keep philosophers
busy for quite a spell, I expect.
.
> Yet, many of us rely on other people’s works to back up our own logic. HUH?
.
What’s the problem, dude? I am perfectly happy and proud to get a better view
of things by standing on the shoulders of the giants of the past. Where would
Philosophy be without Plato and Aristotle? Nowhere, man. So Lighten Up! )
.
> Especially on this site, the atheists have a majority.
.
They don’t scare me, kiddo.
.
> When a counter opinion arises, the majority is quick to point out the
> minorities flaws, WHILE QUOTING THEIR VERSION OF THE CHRISTIAN
> BIBLE. Am I the only person who sees this?
.
Criticism and doubt, you say? Here? Among the atheists you say? Good Lord
Almighty! Circle the wagons at once. Start the fires, and pass the buckshot! ...
D ... No, really, mdb. Doubt and criticism is what atheists do best. Hells bells
man, doubt and criticism is all that atheists *can* do. That’s why God made
them, dude. To get your goat by pulling your beard. Chill out, son. Like my
granpappy used to say ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’.
.
              - one who doesn’t sweat much - textman ;>
.
P.S. Not all faith is irrational-faith. We believe the sun will rise tomorrow,
not because we know all about the stars, but because we have a rational
faith in the constancy and consistency of the cosmos in general. Nuff said.
x

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Posted: 01 April 2007 04:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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Very well said textman.  You have raised so many valid and great points, please allow me some time to respond.  This one is going to take some thought.

If you couldn’t tell, I am working on my own theory as well.  Thank you for your perspective. 

In the meantime, I can’t wait to see what everyone else thinks.  I’m sure we will get a few hardcores that think we are nuts.

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