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Moral obligations toward rocks
Posted: 16 July 2007 11:24 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Hi all,

First time poster. Did a search to see if this issue had been addressed and found nothing, so I thought I'd paste a copy of the email I sent to Sam Harris, in case anyone wants to tell me if I'm insane. Here 'tis—

Hi Sam,

Just finished "Letter." Good stuff. I take exception with one issue, though. Page 8, "...you and I do not have moral obligations toward rocks."

First thing I thought of was the Taliban leader who gave the order for the Buddhist statue to be blown up. He said, "They're only rocks." I'm no Buddhist, to me it was ancient art, not a religious symbol, much like Greek or Roman antiquities, and I think just about everyone saw it that way.

My second thought was mountaintop mining. You've seen this travesty, I'm guessing. Rocks!

Third, I thought of old Chief Dan George saying that the difference between the white man and the (Native American) Indian was that the white man thinks everything is dead, but to himself, everything is alive. He specifically mentions rocks! He's speaking about environmental stewardship. As I see it, there are enormous moral implications in our relationship with rocks.

OK, I won't belabor the point. Just thought you might want to reconsider that rock bit. After all, Earth is one big rock, essentially.

Thanks for your attention, best wishes,

Gary Wood
("rock" with me at http://www.myspace.com/gwoodbonobos)

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Posted: 16 July 2007 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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A valid point :?. You’ve convinced me; it looks like Sam wasn’t taking into consideration certain non-dismissible rocks. Isn’t the Earth itself a big, embellished rock?

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Posted: 16 July 2007 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“g.wood”]Hi all,

First time poster. Did a search to see if this issue had been addressed and found nothing, so I thought I’d paste a copy of the email I sent to Sam Harris, in case anyone wants to tell me if I’m insane.

You’re not insane.  Good point.  What would we do without rocks (and all the good things that come from them), not to mention the ole’ Third Rock From The Sun itself?

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Posted: 16 July 2007 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]You’re not insane.

Good to hear!

Rocks, and everything else… It’s all connected, you know?

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Posted: 16 July 2007 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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[quote author=“g.wood”]Hi all. First time poster.

HeyYa g. ... I just found the forum today. Peek my Profile to see my first blurt ... on good and evil, no less!
*grin*

[quote author=“g.wood”]”...you and I do not have moral obligations toward rocks.”

First thing I thought of was the Taliban leader who gave the order for the Buddhist statue to be blown up. He said, “They’re only rocks.”

To the Taliban those glorious works of human aspiration were “only rocks” ... and to some bliss-ninny some rock is deserves ga-ga while Burma’s extermination of hill minorities garners not a thought. See the imbalance?

“Frist there is a mountain then there is no mountain then there is!” (Donnivan’s version of a very lovely Zen story that I’ll gladly relate if someone says the word.

You’ve seen this travesty, I’m guessing. Rocks!

Noooo, not “only rocks” ... mountains ... niches ... eco-systems.

but to himself, everything is alive.

*cough*
How much will we rely on that 1 word?
How about “valuable” ... or “only” meaningful?

I am Buddhist ... sentience is where it’s at ... but don’t expect me to deprecate rocks.
Meanwhile I will warn my beloved brethren and uhhh sistren not to get tangled by confounding poetics (Poeisis anyone?) with just plain talk. The tangles is what the psychopaths know best, because (as one expert put it) they know the lyrics but cannot sing the song.

After all, Earth is one big rock, essentially.

Do you really intend to be so disrespectful/reductionist? Haven’t you in fact and actually adopted the Taliban’s method of language?
I suspect not ...
... but you’ve seeded confusion, not clarity.

A rock is just a rock, and nothing more than a rock.
And if it isn’t just a rock, it isn’t just a rock.
A mountain isn’t just a rock.
You say the earth is just a rock. In effect you did.
I’m quite sure you didn’t mean that.

See Alice in Wonderland. (Or was it Through the LookingGlass?) To say what you mean ... and mean what you say.

g. ... do right by your inspiration ... with respect, I suggest it deserves another cut, another/different set of rhetorical devices.

(“rock” with me at http://www.myspace.com/gwoodbonobos)

I’m at MySpace WillowBear1 ... and huh huh in the combat game where I work kidz into rationality the Crew I formed is called HardRawx.
heh

cheers

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Posted: 16 July 2007 07:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Though I am by no means a Bliss Ninny, I would stand by the statement that the Earth is not just one big rock.

If you realize that you cannot take every rock you see for granite, you will begin to know what I mean.

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Posted: 16 July 2007 11:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]Though I am by no means a Bliss Ninny, I would stand by the statement that the Earth is not just one big rock.

Ah, good! I’ve generated some respect for rocks. Well, I did qualify the statement by saying essentially. Maybe one big collection of loosely fused rocks, molten or solid, with a thin outer layer of other stuff would have been more accurate.

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Posted: 16 July 2007 11:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“BenTrem”]Noooo, not “only rocks” ... mountains ... niches ... eco-systems.

You got it, bro.

How much will we rely on that 1 word?
How about “valuable” ... or “only” meaningful?

Chief Dan George was a poet who communicated in the manner of his heritage. You’ve distilled his meaning.

Do you really intend to be so disrespectful/reductionist? Haven’t you in fact and actually adopted the Taliban’s method of language?
I suspect not ...

You ask good questions. Your doubt is a shadow of your understanding. Suspicion confirmed!

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Posted: 17 July 2007 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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I suppose it might have been more fitting if Sam had said something along the lines of, “We do not have moral obligations towards lint in our laundry.”

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Posted: 17 July 2007 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“g.wood”] one big collection of loosely fused rocks, molten or solid, with a thin outer layer of other stuff

heh ... 99.5% of the biosphere’s living organisms have been reduced to “other stuff” huh huh.

You’re refractory, g.!

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Posted: 17 July 2007 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“perpetualdoubt”]I suppose it might have been more fitting if Sam had said something along the lines of, “We do not have moral obligations towards lint in our laundry.”

Well, that’s better, but we still have to remember to clean out the lint screen, not only so that our spouses or others won’t get upset, but because it prolongs the life of the machine, keeping it out of the waste stream, etc. Then we have to dispose of the lint in a responsible manner…

Sheese. I guess we have a moral obligation toward everything, when you get right down to it.

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Posted: 17 July 2007 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[quote author=“BenTrem”][quote author=“g.wood”] one big collection of loosely fused rocks, molten or solid, with a thin outer layer of other stuff

heh ... 99.5% of the biosphere’s living organisms have been reduced to “other stuff” huh huh.

You’re refractory, g.!

I’m not quite sure what “refractory” means, just offhand, but, hey, I like to say things in a way that engages people and makes them think, so maybe I did?

What’s the other .5%?

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Posted: 17 July 2007 01:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Rocks are impossibly dry, always have been and always will be. They’re never serious—always joking in their wacky way—and have no life, for very good reason. They deserve destruction into discrete molecules, but of course they’re completely incapable of any discretion. The world would be a much better place without their inherent ignorance, though I know such a utopia can never be achieved. One can only hope.

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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: 17 July 2007 06:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“g.wood”]I’m not quite sure what “refractory” means

To tell the truth I’m not 100% positive ... I use it do signify stubborness by deflection.

I like to say things in a way that engages people and makes them think, so maybe I did?

Major diff between “think” and “labour to establish what could reasonably accepted as self-evident”. (Apologies if I’m showing rock-like absence of humour. *Doffs hat to humunculus*)

g.? Isn’t that dangerously close to a merely mischievous form of “Devil’s advocate”? IIRC you started by pointing to a specific phrase in what Sam had written, but it seems you’re ready to be even less precise and careful.

What’s the other .5%?

There are amazing life-forms under the earth’s surface ... 1.5 miles down, in caves carved by hydrochloric acid. (I counted deep-sea critters in the 99.5%, including those that feed on methane.)

Let me try this: what would you think of someone who dismissed a Faberge egg as “just a lump of metal and glass”?

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Posted: 17 July 2007 11:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“BenTrem”]Let me try this: what would you think of someone who dismissed a Faberge egg as “just a lump of metal and glass”?

It would depend on the context in which it was said. Like the things I said. I thought my context was clear enough. Maybe I should have used a few of these :wink:, my bad. I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek, you know.

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Posted: 18 July 2007 05:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“g.wood”]It would depend on the context in which it was said.

Thanks for this. Sure it does. It always does. It does, inevitably; meaning is conditioned by context.

Which is to say if there’s 108,000 million plausible contexts at least 1 of them might perhaps justify that usage.
Which strikes me as oppositional ... mischievous “Devil’s advocate” sophistry that proves only that no truth can be established absolutely. *Gack ptui!!”
How about most times for most people in most settings?

“Like the things I said. I thought my context was clear enough.”

I don’t need to hear the arguments for eugenics, or the case for draconian social policies ... it isn’t edifying or uplifting or beneficial.

“Maybe I should have used a few of these :wink:, my bad. I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek, you know.”

Yes. In the prevailing culture a wink provides sufficient deniability ... “nice” people don’t contend against anything that’s accompanied by a wink or other clehvur smiley.
As for “tongue in cheek” ... hence my “mischievous”.

Most times a rock is just a rock.
Most times a child is a child ... wherever, whenever, whatever social strata, whatever race or religion, whatever nationality.

Burma is exterminating its highland minorities ...
... and everyone is too busy to notice.
Shades of East Timor mid-70s.

If we insist on learning nothing we encounter the consequences of being hyper-active while dumber than a bag of rocks.

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