Joined: Oct. 2005
I'm not going to bother fixing the formatting here when you can go read the original, but nothing better illustrates the fact that Kairosfocus is what happens when a philosophy 101 textbook falls into 50 gallons of bathtub meth:
Kairosfocus July 2, 2019 at 2:10 am
SA, quite so. All worldviews bristle with difficulties and we have to face how bounded we are in our knowledge and reasoning, how error-prone, how we struggle to be honest and truthful, how often we are polarised, unduly biased and outright ill-willed. Indeed, in decision theory, bounded rationality is a key concept and one of the most troubling ideas I met was the garbage can theory that in effect organisations (and how much more, movements or communities) can fall into a trap of deep irrationality by which what are called “problems” or “solutions” and how they are matched as factions vie for power as led by champions bear but little connexion to objectivity or soundness. Politics, rhetoric, policy and soundness too often face an utter disconnect, including on deep worldviews issues — precisely what happened in the Roman world in C1 as a certain messianic sect of Judaism burst on the scene, welcoming gentiles into their ranks without their first having to become full practicing Jews. It should be no surprise that I fear that our civilisation is clearly falling into this sort of intellectual debasement trap, best expressed as a mutinous ship of state. This is part of why I think we need to work our way through logic and first principles, here, including understanding the core issue of atheism. KF
Kairosfocus July 2, 2019 at 2:50 am
Welcome, you seem to be new in these parts. (Or are you an infrequent commenter or someone who has just decided to move beyond lurking?)
You raise a raft of concerns, but I find your clip from Richard Mitchell — who on a quick search seems to have led a bit of a crusade against the ill-informed and/or willful corruption of language, reasoning and soundness — as perhaps the most striking:
“Words never fail. We hear them, we read them; they enter into the mind and become part of us for as long as we shall live. Who speaks reason to his fellow men bestows it upon them. Who mouths inanity disorders thought for all who listen. There must be some minimum allowable dose of inanity beyond which the mind cannot remain reasonable. Irrationality, like buried chemical waste, sooner or later must seep into all the tissues of thought.” [“Less Than Words Can Say”]
Yes, yes, yes!
Now, you took up my point on the moral government of rationality, pointing out how our understanding of morality has been corrupted through subjectivism and relativism etc. This echoes a concern that Plato long since stated in The Laws Bk X (which targets evolutionary materialism and linked sophism), but first let me note the inescapable first duties of mind that I have highlighted: duties to truth, to right reason, to prudence (thus, warrant), to sound conscience, to neighbour, to fairness and justice, etc.
These of course can be subverted, starting with warping our understanding of truth and undermining our respect for its incalculable worth. And yet, it still stands as Aristotle recognised it 2300+ years ago in Metaphysics, 1011b: truth says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not. Similarly, distinct identity is a self-evident, undeniable first principle of thought, communication and reality alike, carrying with it as close corollaries the laws of the excluded middle and non-contradiction.
Closely associated are other self-evident first truths and tools of rationality (see my 101 level exploration here on in context).
Cicero, in highlighting the built-in law of our nature as the core of law, rightly pointed to prudence (so, warrant) and [sound] conscience. The neighbour love principle is pivotal to articulating morality and sound law that undergirds the civil peace of justice, which involves a deep commitment to fairness. In this context, core rights are clear, and we can understand justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. That’s why it leads to a sound civil peace . . . a peace that is now being willfully, wantonly broken by characters all across our civilisation who seem to have stepped right out of the character-sketches in Plato’s devastating parable of the ship of state. (And before one hastens to fasten such on one’s favourite designated target for the daily two minute hate, one should take pause to ponder the point of Orwell’s 1984. Beyond a certain point, satire fails as reality has now exceeded it.)
Such laws were not passed by any Bench or Parliament or Executive ruling by decree or media-manipulated referendum. They cannot be struck down by such figures — never mind today’s arrogant pretensions. We can only recognise them as first principles and build soundly on them, or else face the consequences of voyages of folly due to failure to heed such laws of our morally governed nature, starting with rationality. The folly and blindness of our day are patent.
In this light, let us reconsider the rise of evolutionary materialistic scientism and associated atheism and fellow travellers i/l/o Plato’s grim warning driven by the bloody lessons of the failure of Athenian democracy — and notice, how we have been systematically robbed of history and its sobering lessons too:
Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .
[Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-
[ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]
These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,
[ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]
and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].
Kairosfocus July 2, 2019 at 2:53 am
PS: We should be ashamed of ourselves as a civilisation, given the Ship of State:
It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)
Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:
>>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.
Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]
The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].
Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.
Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?
[Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.
[Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.
[Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.
[Ad.] I will.
[Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.
[Ad.] Precisely so, he said.
[Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].
[Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?
[Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?
[Ad.] By all means.
[Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>
(There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)
Kairosfocus July 2, 2019 at 3:10 am
PPS: Let us note Cicero in De Legibus, too:
—Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.
Quintus [his real-life brother]. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.
Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.
They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.
The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.
Kairosfocus July 2, 2019 at 3:42 am
F/N: I/l/o discussion above, I have put in some highlights — I find that reading in our day has so deteriorated that such crude aids (which some have mocked, apparently not recognising that if your leg is broken, a crutch is relevant) are helpful for many — and I have put in some remarks on agnosticism; which I had earlier left out as likely to be distractive but it now seems necessary despite that potential. I have also added further dictionary definitions. The following picks up from the point where the standard definition was given and the so-called weak form was given. After brief fair comment, it is time to round up:
So, already, we can see that atheism is best understood as disbelief — NB, Dicts: “refusal or reluctance to believe”/ “the inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true” — in the existence of God, claimed or implied to be a well warranted view; not merely having doubts about God’s existence or thinking one does not know enough to hold a strong opinion. It inevitably exists as a part of a broader philosophical scheme, a worldview, and will imply therefore a cultural agenda.
(I add: Note by contrast, AmHD on agnosticism: “The belief that the existence or nonexistence of a deity or deities cannot be known with certainty. “ Where, of course, certainty comes in various degrees, starting with moral certainty, and where knowledge, as commonly used often speaks to credibly warranted beliefs taken as true but not typically held as utterly certain beyond any possibility of error or incompleteness. We not only know that 2 + 3 = 5, but we claim knowledge of less than utterly certain facts and theories. For instance, in the mid 2000’s, the previous understanding and “fact” that Pluto was the 9th Planet of our solar system was revised through redefining Pluto as a dwarf planet.)
I trust these will help.
Kairosfocus July 2, 2019 at 4:11 am
F/N: On defining God in terms of ethical theism, I of course mean the inherently good, utterly wise maximally great necessary being who as creator is the root of reality and who is worthy of loyalty and the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good that accords with our evident (morally governed) nature. I find VJT’s philosophically rooted summary also helpful:
[A Philosophical Definition of God:] By God I mean Someone, not some thing, or some state or some process. More specifically, I mean Someone (beyond space and time) Whose nature it is to know and love in a perfect and unlimited way, Whose mode of acting is simply to know, love and choose (without anything more basic underlying these acts), Who is the Creator and Conserver of the natural world, and Who is therefore capable of making anything He wishes to, provided that it’s consistent with His nature as a perfectly intelligent and loving being, and with His other choices . . . . Since God is self-explanatory, as the Ultimate Cause, He cannot possess any ad hoc features, like being a trickster. Nor can God be totally evil, since evil is a privation [–> i.e. evil has no independent existence, it is the frustration, diversion, perversion or privation of the good out of its proper end, function, role or potential], and God is an infinite and unbounded Being. Hence we are forced to suppose that God is good. As to whether God is loving in a personal sense: each and every person is an end-in-itself, and for God to treat a person in an impersonal fashion would reflect a deficiency on His part; and since we know God is free from deficiencies, it follows that He must be personal.
We can also explore God through scripture and theology (see 101 here) but that is not going to affect the force of the above.
Kairosfocus July 2, 2019 at 11:30 am
Logic and linked first principles, we should not take for granted. In my own 101, I started from worldviews and the turtles all the way down challenge. That’s a serious problem.
On the roots of reality:
>>There are three options for an explanation of origin:
1. It came from nothing>>
a: No-thing means, non-being, which has no causal capacity.
b: Were there ever utter nothing, that would forever obtain. But such is patently not the case.
c: A world is, so something always was, pointing to the root of reality, where neither infinite regress nor circular cause make sense.
>>2. It exists eternally without beginning>>
d: The temporal-causal succession of finite duration stages cannot span the transfinite in steps, whether that transfiniteness is explicit or implicit.
e: We look to an entity of a different nature, the most promising being a necessary (world framework, independently existing) being as world root.
>>3. It came from an uncaused, absolute, non-contingent, self-existing Being we call God>>
f: As in, this.
>>Many people are content to say merely that they do not know.>>
g: We were confident to boldly follow logic before, why the hesitation now?
>>Others will say “anything but God”.>>
h: So, why that anything but? ___
link, god knows why