Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category
I will begin this by repeating one of my favorite notions… I am only one religion removed from the most fanatic believer. I say this because, inevitably, the truly fanatic are certain that every religious dogma, except their own, is fatally flawed. In a word, they are all wrong. All I do is take this idea one religion further and accept the obvious – that ALL religions are fatally flawed, ergo the one religion difference.
There are several very simple principles that convince me I am correct. The simplest of all is this: the root of all religions is nothing more or less than an attempt to explain the relationship between humanity and the unknowable. Unknowable. Think about this a moment. If something is truly unknowable, are not any and all attempts to find an explanation automatically flawed? None can be any better than wild guesses. Possibly, one or more of these wild guesses may be near some form of truth but we cannot know that with any certainty because that is the very nature of unknowable.
It follows (to my mind) that, given the absolute uncertainty of any dogma based on wild guesses, any attempt to use such dogma as justification for interfering in the free exercise of their natural rights by others can only be wrong. Very wrong. As wrong as wrong can get.
How could anything be simpler to comprehend? Yet, by the billions, we humans cling to belief systems that were not even convincing back in the dark ages when they were conceived. Belief systems that would be both silly and comical were it not for the damage they have done and continue to do.
Which brings us to marathon day in Boston. Once again, we are forced to see the result of a belief system that, by its own tenents, cannot, and will not peacefully coexist with any other system of belief or governance. Yet, we refuse to see that the problem is not a few over zealous practitioners of Islam. Instead, the problem is obviously in the core beliefs upon which the religion is based.
Why such a refusal? Simple. Once we, via our institutions, openly admit that the very tenents of a religion can be dangerous to humanity, we open the door to the next obvious question: “can this conclusion apply to all religions?”
At some level of our being, I think all of us know the answer to that question. That is why we do not dare allow it to be asked in any meaningful forum.
Think about it.
Troy L Robinson
Watching the repeated attempts by progressives to exploit each and every tragedy, particularly those involving the slaughter of children – purely for whatever political advantage they might milk from them – has been nothing short of disgusting. But, the performance put on by Senator Harry Reid, on the floor of the U. S. Senate, was truly sickening.
Senator Reid, while ostensibly honoring several U. S. Marines who were killed in what was clearly an accident, made clear and repeated attempts to link this tragedy to the sequester.
It is a pity that the limbo has gone out of style because Senator Reid (and all his kind) could slither under a limbo stick as it lay flat on the floor. One simply cannot sink lower than that!
Read the rest of this entry »
I have long been a frequent and vocal critic of what passes for an education system in our nation. Sometimes, when stewing over the human tragedy resulting from the substitution of indoctrination for true education, I ask myself – were I empowered to determine one thing to stress in our attempts to educate, what would that be?
Certainly we must try to instill and build the basic skills – the traditional “3 R’s”. But, this alone is not enough. Then I think that teaching the discipline of “critical thinking” (the skill of taking in unfiltered information then using it to make rational decisions) would be an obvious benefit. While it surely would, this too is not enough (nor is it about to happen in the foreseeable future). So, I once again consult with myself, asking what other thing, preferably a simple thing, do our people need to help them better navigate the endless stream of choices that constitute human life?
Amazingly, myself somehow suggested an answer; It occurred to myself that, in general, our people do not know or understand what I call “The Reality Of Choice”.
What do I mean by this? Several different but intertwined things:
Read the rest of this entry »
I have long been convinced that the founding of America was a sort of miracle. Not in the sense of magic or some manner of mystical intervention, but in the sense of what had to happen to allow and cause that founding.
Now that the Republic that was founded is likely coming to an end, it seems only proper to reflect on the why and the how of both the beginning and of the end.
For sure, the establishment of our Constitution seems a sort of miracle in itself and I revere the document and all it stands for. Yet, that Constitution is actually a result of the true miracle and not the miracle itself.
So, what then is this “true” miracle that I refer to? It is simply that fact that a particular group of people occurred at the same place, at the same time, and with a common goal that they were willing to risk everything for. I refer, of course, to the likes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, John Adams, George Washington and a host of supporting players. Truly, what are the odds that such a group would coalesce just when and were they were needed? How seldom has such a thing happened in the known history of mankind (if ever)? And, please note that we-the-people did not chose our Founders. They simply occurred, hence the “miracle”.
We Americans are prone to say that we are “a nation of laws, not of men”. While I admire the sentiment intended by this, it is not now and was never actually true. The “laws” in question were the work of men (men meaning humans). They are obeyed (or not), are enforced (or not) by men. And, they have been slowly but surely destroyed by men – through a process of neglect combined with intent.
Read the rest of this entry »
I am very comfortable with my libertarian philosophy, which propounds individual sovereignty and Liberty for freemen and women, with the natural right to live their lives as they choose to live them, as long as they do not forcefully interfere with or violate the natural rights of others. I have carefully worked out in my head, how such free individuals can live at peace with their neighbors, meeting in the commons for commerce and fraternity, as free traders giving no more than they take, in entirely voluntary value for value exchanges, which enrich each other's lives.
Thus, I regard one's home as his castle, and his real estate as his sovereign domain, where he gets to make the rules, which visitors are bound to abide. When he steps off his private property, however, he must abide by the standards, social customs, and rules of the community. If there were no social compact and universally accepted basic rules, to insure that any vehicle coming around the next bend would be on the other side of the road, it would be chaos. I am fine with that, and wouldn't have it any other way.
Where my philosophy falls completely apart, however, is when it comes to the welfare of children. Having discussed this issue with folks of all political persuasions, I can assure all that empathy for an innocent child is a sincerely held universal human trait, The question becomes, what are parental rights and responsibilities vs. any sort of societal rights and responsibilities vs. children's rights.
As an Objectivist and fan of both Ayn Rand and Johnny Carson, I was delighted to find that someone has uncovered an interview he conducted of her on his show back in '66, when her latest book, “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” had just been published. Objectivists, libertarians, and fans of her books, will easily ignore the black & white, grainy, and flickering video for the pleasure of watching her explain her philosophy, and opine on such matters as the Vietnam War, the draft, and her prognosis for America.
Part One of Two
Younger readers, accustomed to modern TV entertainment, may be surprised at the respectful seriousness with which Johnny, the original and consumate late night comedian, conducted the half-hour long interview. Notice the cogent questions he asked, and the polite opportunity he gave her to answer them, uninterrupted. She was the focus of everyone's attention, not the host. Those were the days… how would Stewart, Colbert, or Maher have handled the interview?
Part Two of Two
I had an exchange on a conservative oriented forum, somewhat over represented with intolerant fundamentalists, which is probably worth sharing here. It began with a fellow named Mark, posting a heroic story about a Marine vet, who lost his life in the process of saving a young lady in a private airplane crash, which they were both involved in. It ended with this remark:
I know that there are individuals out there, like “Thoughts Aloud Dave” who shudder at the mere mention of altruistic acts, as though they are manufactured by others. But it is clear that there are some people who are either born of this mettle, or are raised up with a commanding respect for life, no matter who’s life is at risk, and are willing to lay down their own lives in protecting others. Austin was one such Altruistic man, and I today commit to pray for his family, in honor of that sacrifice.
…which inspired me to reply with:
In many articles in this blog, we rightly bemoan the fact that we have far too many people in our society who take much while offering little or nothing in return. From most perspectives, this is an appropriate complaint because our liberty, to a very great extent, is little more than an extension of our free-market economy. As we drift toward the bottomless pit called “socialism”, this becomes ever more apparent because a top-down planned economy offers freedom only to the planners.
This is important because a free-market economy depends on a free exchange between two willing participants. Such a free-market economy cannot survive in an environment where some of the participants simply take with little or nothing offered in exchange. The obvious reason such an economy cannot survive is that the makers must cease to pump goods and services into the market if they do not receive the exchange of corresponding values that incents / allows them to continue or even increase their production.
So far, so good. But… to what point? Possibly to this point: what if we have reached that point where the combination of science and technology have raised human productivity to a level where we actually need more consumers than producers (that is, more takers than makers)?
(Dear readers, please forgive me if I seem to be supporting a point of view that the Obamanation recently used to try to justify his job-killing policies (ATMs replacing bank tellers) – I assure you I am not intentionally headed for the same conclusion – that being that anti-poverty programs becoming our largest “growth industry” is acceptable.)
Periodically in discussions here and elsewhere, I have expressed my disdain for the doctrine of altruism, which underpins the morality of both the Politically Correct activists on the Left and the Piously Correct activists on the Right, who (lamentably) manage to frame and control the debate in American politics, too often to the exclusion of far weightier issues than those that animate them. I have claimed adherence to a moral code superior to either, which I have fashioned for myself to be in accordance with my own nature, negating any need to ever feel guilty for a purposeful act.
This, of course, has elicited sputtering incredulity and rage from the ubiquitous bible thumpers, who reckon the very notion of morality can only come from their God, as recorded in their Good Book, and to suggest otherwise is evidence of the work of their Devil. To them, all human activity proscribed as sinful in their ancient scroll, is by definition immoral, even if it is benign, harmless, and/or perhaps beneficial to others.
Effective communication, to exchange ideas and discuss points of view, requires that we share the meanings of the terms we use. That is a challenge in this modern Orwellian world, where key words are being redefined every few years, to connote the near opposite of their previous meaning. It is particularly difficult, when a perfectly useful term becomes so loaded with emotional baggage, that minds snap shut at its very mention.
The term ‘atheist’ simply means ‘godless,’ which itself is a somewhat loaded term, only meaning ‘without a god.’ It is not a ‘belief’ as some would have it; but rather a disbelief in the existence of deities. To move the negative’s position, by saying, “An atheist believes God does not exist,” has no more profound effect than saying, “Joey believes there is no such thing as a Tooth Fairy.”
That in no way, makes Joey’s skepticism regarding the existence of fairies, into a ‘belief system.’ Nor does it put the onus on him to prove there isn’t, even if 3/4 of his acquaintances still believe there is, and really wish he would not display such disrespect for their cherished beliefs, by publicly challenging them. After all, they have personally experienced money magically materializing under their pillow; so they ‘know for a fact’ that it is real, and this gives them great comfort.
Read the rest of this entry »
Troy and I have been having a debate in the comment section of his The Slope Just Got Slicker post below. The discussion is getting deep, and worthy of a new thread on ethics. Those not following the debate may want to catch up at the link above; but for setup, Troy had said:
None of these events can be defended on any rational basis. … If we allow ourselves to sink to the level of our enemies, what point is there in defending ourselves rather than simply joining them?