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tellner Peralogue | joined 28 August 2004 | 38 posts

Are Kellus/the dunyain not as "enslaved" as anyone posted 28 August 2004 in Author Q & AAre Kellus/the dunyain not as "enslaved" as anyone by tellner, Peralogue

I just sat down and read DTCB and WP in a couple of days. One of the things that struck me. Not struck me as in an idea but struck me like a blackjack to the side of the head was how "What comes after does not determine what comes before".

Kellhus thinks he is a trained manipulator who can treat regular people like white boxes in the engineering sense. Others, like most of the Holy War and Achamian believe that he is a prophet. They both seem to be right.

It's not that his Logos is wrong. The future doesn't determine the past and present. But the events of the past seem to have been so profoundly significant that they have determined things thousands of years into their future.

So the Dunyain are as enslaved as anyone. They are just somewhat more aware of the way things work.

This touches on another feeling that's been growing. In order to be what he must be Kellhus must combine the Gnosis and Logos (and probably the perceptive skills of the Fanim sorcerors). I think we're seeing RSB's philosophy background here <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> view post

On the subject of Chorae posted 28 August 2004 in Author Q &amp; AOn the subject of Chorae by tellner, Peralogue

OK, so what are Chorae, really?

Are they manufactured by a technology that no longer exists near the three seas? Are they artifacts or spatterings of some ancient event? view post

Ayn Rand posted 28 August 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionAyn Rand by tellner, Peralogue

I liked Ayn Rand at 15. I despise her at 40.

Her appeal lies in a number of things, all of which are very human but none of which is very flattering on closer examination.

We all like stories in which we are what (was it Norman Spinrad?) called "The Emperor of Everything", the Ubermensch. Rand delivers it in spades. Her heroes (and there are only heroes and villains) are smart, sexy (in a weird and kinda twisted way), self reliant, rich, strong etc. etc. etc. The reader is invited to identify with and become that character. Combined with this is the complement. If people as cool and superior as we do not succeed it is because we held back by the inferior masses.

She supplies simplistic answers to everything. There is no room for ambiguity, no conflicting demands of, say, duty and affection or profit and ethics. Everything follows, we are told, from a consistent, complete, mathematical axiomatic system. A small prize will be awarded to the first person who comes up with the classic 20th century response to that.

I won't get too far into Ojbectivism. Suffice it to say that her radically selfish and personally atomic view of the world is an artifact of the conditions of the time she lived in. In most times and places in human history such a way of life would have been considered aberrent or pathological. Throughout most of history peoples' lives depended on their personal relations and connections with others. Ties of family, clan, tribe, and nation were very important. It is really only industrial society that makes her way of thinking and life possible.

We note also that she never had children. Neither do her heroes. Raising a child is an exercise in putting another's interests ahead of one's own preferences.

I also have contempt for her inconsistencies. She preached the virtue of total individualism. But her behavior towards her followers had more in common with a Soviet cult of personality. She made much of her philosophy's superior logic and ethics. But she forbade her worshippers from debating others. view post

Like father like son? posted 29 August 2004 in The Thousandfold ThoughtLike father like son? by tellner, Peralogue

Other bits of evidence that Maithanet is Consult....

1) Kell only saw him from far away but felt there was something wrong about him.

2) "Follow the money". Who benefits from the Holy War? Not the Tuskers. Not the Fanim. On the other hand, the Consult gets its enemies to wear each other down. Let's you and him fight. view post

On the subject of Chorae posted 01 September 2004 in Author Q &amp; AOn the subject of Chorae by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;Andrew&quot;:yfl5hiev
So then how did the Quya defectors manage to inscribe them?[/quote:yfl5hiev]

TThe Spanish barber wrote Godel's theorem in Old Scylvendir on nuggets of pure unabtanium. <!-- s:P --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- s:P --> view post

Misheard lyrics posted 02 September 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionMisheard lyrics by tellner, Peralogue

They're called "mondegreens". view post

Cnair posted 02 September 2004 in The Thousandfold ThoughtCnair by tellner, Peralogue

Good? Evil? We are judging him by our standards here. I know, what other standards do we have to judge him by? Still, it's much more interesting to get inside his head and see the world from his complex, alien point of view.

He is violent, murderous, rapacious, mad by the standards of everyone around him and his own people. But the way his mind works has an internal logic. He doesn't do things just because he's evil but because he is what he is just as hard as he can be. It's not something terribly pleasant by our lights, so he's a bad guy.

Contrariwise, Kellhus isn't "good" by our standards. He sees human beings as white boxes - complex but understandable and ultimately nothing more than input/output devices to be used. But he fits more of our preconceptions about what a certain sort of cool hero is like. So we tend to identify with him. As does everyone whom he meets <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->

They are both great men, accomplished, wise alien and driven by larger purposes. But neither of them is "the good guy"

I'm betting that in the end Cnaiur will prove at least as important in the Second Apocalypse or its prevention. view post

Who is the artist on the edition without faces on the covers posted 03 September 2004 in Author Q &amp; AWho is the artist on the edition without faces on the covers by tellner, Peralogue

Whoever is doing the cover art is fantastic and has obviously spent more time on that cover than most artists do on three or four. Who is he or she? Why didn't s/he get any credit? view post

Gay marriage: for or against its legalization in the US? posted 10 September 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionGay marriage: for or against its legalization in the US? by tellner, Peralogue

"A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin."-H.L. Mencken

"Cynic - a blackguard whose faulty vision causes him to see things as they are, not as they should be. Hence the custom of the ancienct Scythians of plucking out the eyes of a cynic to improve his vision - Ambrose Bierce" <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: -->

In any case, I hope the courts finally allow the Multnomah County (Portland, Oregon) ordinance permitting gay marriage to stand. We have the highest unemployment in the US; our tourism industry could use the boost. view post

Mindless Amusement: Type your Username with your elbows posted 10 September 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionMindless Amusement: Type your Username with your elbows by tellner, Peralogue

re4iiobvgbikt56r view post

the current Darfur crisis posted 12 September 2004 in Off-Topic Discussionthe current Darfur crisis by tellner, Peralogue

What I find interesting is that the Western press seems much more comfortable talking about ethnic violence than religious violence. The Sudanese and Somalis have been massacring their Animists and Christians for years now. But it's Darfur that gets the ink. Similarly with Egypt and its Copts, a good bit of the warfare in what used to be Yugoslavia and a number of other places. In Nigeria the conflicts are always made out to be tribal even when the people in the middle of them describe them as religious.

But what do I think about Darfur? By all reports it's a horror that needs to be stopped. view post

the current Darfur crisis posted 12 September 2004 in Off-Topic Discussionthe current Darfur crisis by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;Sovin Nai&quot;:3smh0eq6
Election? How do you mean?[/quote:3smh0eq6]

Pick up Black votes for one thing. view post

Free Will posted 01 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;Aesmael&quot;:ag96iu0u
Opinion: If an omniscient, omnipotent entity exists then no other (lesser) entity can have free will. It can revoke your choices at its discretion, perhaps even retroactively.

Further Opinion: The existence or nonexistence of free will (and my possession or nonpossession of it) would likely make no (little?) difference to the living of my life. Either I cannot choose to change it, or I already try to make the best choices I can and can do no better with that knowledge.[/quote:ag96iu0u]

The Talmud says "G-d has foreknowledge, but man has free will". The Diety's perception of time is not as limited as our own. What we see as sequential events is perceived as a timeless whole from the perspective of eternity. Our choices determine the shape. He sees the entire thing.

Elsewhere it is said that even if we don not ultimately have free will it is wise to act as if our actions have consequences.

But I'm not a philosopher. Just an indifferently observant Jew. view post

Free Will posted 01 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;Aesmael&quot;:2q3e9czx
If we accept the implication of science (sounds like we are talking about a person <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: --> ) about are lack of free will, would that still apply to, for example, a disembodied consciousness?
It seems to me that whatever form the mind takes the decisions it makes depend upon the inputs (stimuli?) that prompt the decision. That the result depends on the input and, therefore, the mind does not have free will because what it does is predetermined by external factors. And if it it does not base its decisions on this basis and instead chooses randomly, is it really making decisions at all.
That was messy. I think my argument could be summarised thus: A process of evaluation is inherently deterministic.[/quote:2q3e9czx]

What do you mean "the implication of science about lack of free will". Science is a way of looking at the world. These methods in and of themselves say nothing about free will or lack thereof. If you mean that the results of current research indicate that our thoughts and perceptions are limited by the machinery that's doing the sensing and thinking and shaped by past experience, well, sorry to break the news to you bro, it's true.

You don't even need to get scientific about it.


1) All existence is imperfect, conditioned by contact, leads to the continuation of karma (dukka).

2) This imperfection arises out of attachment to the past

3) There is an end to dukka.

4) It lies in following the noble eightfold path of

1. Right View
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

Or, to put it another way, you have a certain amount of autonomy, but what you are is influenced by what you are and your experiences. You still have choices, and the fact that they aren't all automatic (and the fact that we can be creative in any sense) means that you have at least a measure of free will.

Get over it. Don't worry about it. view post

Science disenchanting the world. posted 01 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by tellner, Peralogue

Enchant ment? I don't know. I do know that science has allowed us to understand a lot more about the world and ourselves and how they work. If that means that there is less enchantment, then enchantment is just another word for ignorance. I personally don't believe that ignorance is a good thing.

Can we preserve a sense of wonder in the face of more knowledge? Of course. The good scientists I know personally or through their work have it in fuller measure of it than most people. The emotional states you yearn for are part of being human. It's only the stimuli that evoke them that changes.

You might want to read Helen Fisher's excellent "Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love". It explains a lot about how romantic love happens at a biochemical level, excatly what is going on inside you when you get dumped, why people have less sex after a couple years in a relationship and more. It doesn't make love any less real than believing it's the effect of excesses of sanguine humor on the heart or caused by getting shot by flower-arrows from Kama's sugarcane bow. view post

Free Will posted 02 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;Aesmael&quot;:a2t7cpzu
tellner, your phrasing is much clearer than mine (as in the 'science disenchanting the world' thread, I think you said what I was trying to, better).

The Talmud says "G-d has foreknowledge, but man has free will". The Diety's perception of time is not as limited as our own. What we see as sequential events is perceived as a timeless whole from the perspective of eternity. Our choices determine the shape. He sees the entire thing.

That is an interesting idea. But it does not seem to account for a deity that is also omnipotent. My statement is concerned only with entities that possess both qualities.

Could I have a context for the Talmud? I suspect it is a holy book, but the name does not get thrown around in my prescence as often as 'bible' or 'koran.'[/quote:a2t7cpzu]

Back during the early later centuries CE (Common Era) the Jewish diaspora realized that the oral traditions and laws were in danger of being lost. In Babylon and Jerusalem scholars, scribes, prophets (prophets were thicker on the ground in those days) codified these things. That was called the Mishnah, the Oral Law.

The Talmud is the Mishnah and its commentaries, discussions, arguments, feuds and conversations. The more commonly used Babylonian Talmud fills 63 volumes. The Jerusalem version comprises 20 if memory serves.

As to omnipotence mixed with all of this, again, I'm not much of a philosopher or theologian, just an indifferently educated Jew with the tiniest bit of Sufi training. As best as I understand it, according to Jewish and Muslim traditions G-d could have made us without the capacity for free will or independent action but has elected for reasons of His own to give them to us. Hashem gets out of our way on those things and lets us make our own decisions. It would certainly be possible to put the Divine Thumb on the scales, but the Almighty has chosen not to do so.

In the Sefer Yetzirah (a text which the Kabbalists believe was dictated to man by an angel) it's put more poetically. The Sephirot - the vessels manifesting the Divine powers in the world - were originally perfect. In such a state free will was impossible, so they were broken and reformed. The power is still Hashem's, but it is imperfectly or incompletely manifested in the world so that we can be human beings, not angels or animals.

It's not a perfect answer, but it's about the best the theologians have come up with.

[quote:a2t7cpzu]Elsewhere it is said that even if we don not ultimately have free will it is wise to act as if our actions have consequences.

Yes, I am rather fond of that idea myself.

Wert your second post, first paragraph, again you type with greater clarity than I do. My question is: taking that as true, consider a consciousness without the 'machinary' that constitutes us. Is consciousness on its own a deterministic process or does that arise from the machinary that produces it?

For Buddhism giving an answer to my question, I will need to think about. More likely, read some texts before I can respond to it. It has been a while and I do not want to misrepresent it.

Likewise. The good stuff is the Almighty's, the Sages' and the Prophets'. The mistakes are mine <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->

I don't know the answer to your question about a consciousness or a soul independent of the physical machinery that constitutes us. We certainly all carry the imprint of past actions. But we don't seem to be complete automata. The mystics - Sufis, Chassids, Buddhists and so on - provide methods by which one is supposed to be able to transcend those things. Certainly advanced practitioners are at least aware of what causes their own habits of thought. And the good ones have gotten beyond chasing cool states of consciousness like they were drugs. A lot of the practice for all of them seems to involve developing awareness, mindfulness, removing illusions and getting out of your own way.

If this doesn't get to some ideal state beyond dukka or the Nafs at least it's closer than what most of us suffer under.

Is there a conscious soul apart from the body? I don't know. The debate has been going on for thousands of years and has resulted in the spilling of a lot of ink and blood. view post

Science disenchanting the world. posted 03 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by tellner, Peralogue

Time to come clean again. Roger Zelazny expressed a view very close to mine in Lord of Light.

The four points of the compass be logic, knowledge, wisdom, and the unknown. . . . I may submit to the unknown, but never to the unknowable. The man who bows in that final direction is either a saint or a fool. I have no use for either.

I don't agree with him about saints, but it's not a bad position to start from. Knowledge is generally better than ignorance. Truth is generally better than falsehood. If logic and reason are the best tools for a particular job maybe it's not a bad thing to use them. If intuition, emotion and the physical body are the best ways of apprehending something that's fine, too. And there are such things. No doubt about it.

To toss in another, I believe it was Richard Feynman who said that science was just a way of keeping us honest with ourselves.

Next, the definition game can be very counterprductive. A case could be made that getting bogged down in it has been the death of philosophy in the West. But it would be worse to waste time talking past each other. What do you mean when you say "enchantment"? Is it a sense of wonder and mystery? The belief in the unknowable? Things that are not susceptible to logical analysis? Fairies and demons?

My suspicion is that you are getting towards something like Tolkein's "uses of enchantment", those experiences which cause us to see the world differently and anew and refresh our relation to it. If that's the case, it bears repeating that scientists are more richly blessed with those than most of us. Knowledge of how the physical world works does not seem to detract from the sense of wonder and mystery. If anything it enhances it. Outside of the plastic and performing arts and mathematics, science is the only discipline I can think of where elegance and beauty are important considerations that guide the fundamental direction of the field.

The state is the same. How we induce it changes from time to time and place to place.

Quote: &quot;Cu'jara Cinmoi&quot;:1x1zzgm4

Actually, there's a huge difference, one which has everything to do with 'disenchantment.' Love in these latter cases is something that possesses meaning in an objective order - it has a point. If love is simply neurophysiology, then it's simply functional, and taking pills that induce these states is no more or less 'genuine' than doing it the old fashioned way.

And it has no objective point whatsoever. It just happens to be the experiential apsect of behaviour-generating neural processes that happened to facilitate reproduction and the rearing of offspring to the age of reproduction, and so was selected for.[/quote:1x1zzgm4]

Attraction, bonding and reproduction are hardly little things. They have an objective point, the "what for" of the despised adaptationists and the "how come" of people like Steven Gould(ztl). The fact that a thing has a historical basis and a physical explanation doesn't detract from its reality or power.

Objective purpose? If you mean something that has a concrete effect in the real world, a baby is about as objectively real as you can get. "The force that through the green stem drives the flower" is a thing of terrible power no matter what model we use to explain its working. Can you simulate, stimulate or induce it with pills? Maybe. But people have been manipulating each other for millions of years. The means have just been less direct. Whether such things should be done is a question of vital importance.

I'm willing to guess that that's where a lot of your disquiet comes from, ultimately. Do mechanistic explanations and evolutionary history negate morality? Can (or must) we abandon ethics in favor of pure self interest or descend into nihilism? It is a supremely important issue, especially when people like E.O. Wilson have grabbed a goodly part of the debate.

A lot of very good scientists have already made the case that this is not so. Running downstairs to the biology shelf in my wife's study I found our copy of Farber's "The Temptation of Evolutionary Ethics". It's a thought-provoking book that came out as an answer to sociobiology and Bell Curve crowds.

One generally finds that in scientific circles the strict reductionists and mechanistic types tend to be the people who deal with relatively simple things - individual genes in isolation, scorpion flies, that sort of stuff. The ones who study complex systems or the history of science take a more complex and varied view of the world. They deeply appreciate that complex systems have marvelous emergent properties that can never be completely determined.

Nihilism and despair have been with us forever. So have selfishness and amorality. People who want purpose will find a purpose to enchant and inspire them. And there has always been someone eager to invoke Nature with a capital "N" or the gods to explain why it's right that he has all the money and tells the rest of us what to do. These days he hires someone to present us with statistics instead of sheep entrails.

In neurophysiological accounts of different aspects of experience, you find this 'But it's still the same!' tactic all the time, but it really amounts to nothing more than hand-waving.

I don't understand what you mean here.

Think of Copernicus. Sure, from our standpoint, the sun still sails across the sky while we stand still - the experience itself remains unchanged. But now we understand that experience is an illusion generated by the limitations of our perspective. We're the ones who are moving, not the sun.

The same seems to go for love, free-will, and so on.

Love still exists. We are still influenced by our past andy our biology but can react in many different ways depending on our personal qualities and the ways we choose, and there is always a certain amount of choice, to react in light of these things.

Going back to a text from a pre-scientific age ("Ethics of the Fathers", I think) "If a man bathes his son, gives him new clothes, annoints him with oil, gives him unwatered wine and sets him in front of a brothel with a full purse should he be surprised if the boy sins?" The fact that we now know about testosterone, norepinephrine, vasopressin, dopamine and reproductive strategies doesn't change the wisdom of the ages all that much.

Which is why we have to keep our fingers crossed and hope that science - which just happens to be the only instititution in history capable of generating anything remotely resembling theoretical knowledge - has got something really, really wrong somewhere along the line.

What do you hope that it has gotten wrong? That we can come up with more accurate explanations of how the world works? That we won't find a way to magically make men good? Or that we will? Or that we will change in some fundamental way that makes us less free or less capable of joy and wonder? I don't think we will short of massively re-engineering ourselves until the point that we are no longer what we would consider human.

Is part of it a fear that we will discover that we're not that different from many other animals? The Great Chain of Being is hand waving of the worst sort. It's implicitly and explicitly designed to rationalize the privileges of the powerful. We are mammals. We are inquisitive, smart, tool-using, social mammals. Our kinship with other animals can debase us or enrich us depending on what lessons we choose (for largely irrational emotional reasons) to take from that realization.

The most terrifying thing about the disenchantment of the world, which has primarily consisted in the wholesale replacement of our folk intentional explanations of the world with functional explanations, is that we humans are simply one more thing in that world.

A lot of our folk intentional explanations of the world were based on fear, hatred, ignorance, oppression and caused us great harm. Others gave us a sense of place, purpose, identity and connection. Exactly the same can be said of the new ones. And the functional part wasn't totally absent. The gods and spirits did what they did to serve their ends or because it was their mechanical function to do so. If anything the pre-eminence of scientific thought has led to the deificiation of human intention. view post

Bad, bad book. BAAAD. posted 03 October 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionBad, bad book. BAAAD. by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;Erthaelion&quot;:1zgol3wx

I read the first few books in the WoT, the first FIVE actually, and I heard they get considerably worse from there, so I dropped it.

Whats everyones biggest problems with the series, from start to finish and with the most recent ones, which seem to get nothing but negative reviews(so I will not be taking the time, seen as how I am already terribly under-read in more important areas right now)?[/quote:1zgol3wx]

You got one book farther into The Great Waste of Time than I did. I have trouble reading authors whom I would or think I would personally despise like Mike Resnick and Robert Jordan. It was the het-boy vanilla leather lesbian spanking scene that finally drove me gagging to the used book buyer. view post

The LOTR Films posted 04 October 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionThe LOTR Films by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;drosdelnoch&quot;:258z7d86
Not too sure whats being added although I have heard that Sarumans raising of the shire is going to be added..[/quote:258z7d86]

I recall several statements from Peter Jackson et al about the fact that they didn't film the scouring of the Shire. He didn't like the double climax. view post

Besides the one obvious review, ever had this happen, Scott? posted 18 October 2004 in Author Q &amp; ABesides the one obvious review, ever had this happen, Scott? by tellner, Peralogue

Dissertations probably have or at least should be written on the importance of editors.

I've seen authors who believe they've gone beyond the need for editing and who are big enough names to demand it. It is invariably followed by a marked decline in quality. Anne Rice is no exception. view post

Say it ain't so, Joe. (TTT cancelled?!?) posted 21 February 2005 in The Thousandfold ThoughtSay it ain't so, Joe. (TTT cancelled?!?) by tellner, Peralogue

I just got notices from and saying that TTT was cancelled and would not be available. Is it true? view post

Say it ain't so, Joe. (TTT cancelled?!?) posted 22 February 2005 in The Thousandfold ThoughtSay it ain't so, Joe. (TTT cancelled?!?) by tellner, Peralogue

Exactly. I'd had orders in both places and got emails the other day saying it wasn't going to be available. Glad to hear that that was just automatic Amazon strangeness. view post

Ayn Rand posted 28 February 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionAyn Rand by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;amadah&quot;:373l9xpe
I'm not much of a fan of Ayn Rand though I agree with some of the ideas that she advances. Still yet, after reading the posts in this thread, I have to ask a few questions...

If individualism is a bad thing, then what is good?

Someone implied earlier that less government is a bad thing. Why?[/quote:373l9xpe]
This is what we call a straw man. Nobody here said that individualism is a bad thing. Rather, Rand's total disregard for anything except the individual is a bad thing. It is an extreme position that is just a few steps from madness, and I'm not completely sure in which direction those steps would be.

It subordinates every concern, every feeling, every value, every human relation and the good of anyone and everyone else to the dictates of the ego and pure self interest. The figleaf of eschewing "coercion", robbery and fraud leaves much of the pathology naked to view. As I alluded to earlier, it is only twentieth century technology and the rise of a certain sort of urban culture with labor specialization which makes this peculiar philosophy viable. It is only because collective structures and social organization allow us to buy our food and rent our homes that we can pretend we are independent.

One of the most fascinating and wonderful things about human beings is that we are partly individual, partly social, capable of great independence and interdependence at the same time. Randism, which is as much a religion as the crudest "G-d said it, we believe it, that settles it" form of backwoods Know Nothingism, is nothing more than a denial of half of human nature. It relies on the individual shackling himself to the myth of the heroic Randite hero/prophet and believing with all his heart that he is the same sort of fictional character. view post

Ayn Rand posted 28 February 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionAyn Rand by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;amadah&quot;:1xfuakga
Quote: &quot;tellner&quot;:1xfuakga

She supplies simplistic answers to everything. There is no room for ambiguity, no conflicting demands of, say, duty and affection or profit and ethics. [/quote:1xfuakga]

Gotta ask this...

What is bad about simplistic answers? Why SHOULD we provide room for ambiguity?

Conflicting demands? I really have no conflicting demands upon MY life because I DO follow a simple formula. Whatever is most important to me is what wins out. It's as simple as that. My choice between duty and affection? Depends on what duty vs. what affection, but there will always be a clear winner. Between profit and ethics? Same thing.

I see myself as clear-headed enough to place some sort of value on things and the decisions approached thusly are all simple ones.

What is wrong with that outlook?[/quote:1xfuakga]
I am still a little weak from medical treatments and can not give your letter a complete response.

Suffice it to say that there is a difference between "simple" and "simplistic". A simple answer is one which gets to the fundamentals without needless complication. A simplistic one denies and ignores anything - especially facts - which might contradict the True Believer's views. Rand is consistently guilty of this form of intellectual dishonesty.

Consider the name she gives her new religion, Objectivism. By implication, she is objective and faces facts, Everyone else is subjective and denies them. This is a cheap and extremely transparent rhetorical trick of the sort that any college junior will be able to avoid. But by accepting it the believer implicitly denies that anyone else can possibly have anything factual or true to contribute to human understanding.

Your own views, stated here, betray this. There can be no conflicting desires. There can be no time when two important things are at odds with one another. There is only one value, one truth, one possible answer to any question.

I put it to you that the real world doesn't always work that way. There are times when a contract, freely entered into, is at odds with, say, a personal sense of honesty or honor. If you have a spouse, children or even pets there are times when your duty to them is at odds with what is good for you personally. But because you value the relationship or out of a sense of obligation entered into by marriage, parenthood, or having taken responsibility for a dumb animal which can not understand your sophistry love, duty, or loyalty require you to act in ways which aren't to your advantage.

The conflict is very real.

You will, no doubt, bring up the whole idea of sacrifice at this point and contrast that weak, evil concept with the Randite idea of moral gain. It doesn't wash.

There are times when ethics really does lead you to a place where you are damaged by doing the ethical or moral thing. When a soldier walks point, a police officer makes a dangerous arrest or a mother gives birth each of them is risking a terrible and painful personal death on behalf of something or someone else. There is no possible sin worse for a Randite. But the power of the oath or the very primal, fundamental demands of parenthood make the action follow inescapably. I'd go further. Shrinking from the unpleasant consequences of the act makes a person less than human.

Sacrifice doesn't mean to give up something needlessly. It means to make sacred. Someone who has been there will understand. Someone to whom personal profit is the only good can not understand, and I do not know how to bridge that gap from the outside. All I can say is that if the time comes when I have to choose between saving my life and that of my wife or child I pray that I will be able to choose the latter joyfully, bravely and without hesitation. To do otherwise is to fail the final test of being a man. view post

Say it ain't so, Joe. (TTT cancelled?!?) posted 09 March 2005 in The Thousandfold ThoughtSay it ain't so, Joe. (TTT cancelled?!?) by tellner, Peralogue

This months's Locus arrived over the weekend. It said that TTT had been sold and should be showing up in bookstores some day. Glad to see it's moving along. view post

Bad, bad book. BAAAD. posted 14 March 2005 in Off-Topic DiscussionBad, bad book. BAAAD. by tellner, Peralogue

Funny, my wife and I refer to it as The Waste Of Time. It started off engaging if terribly long winded, but the reality checks started bouncing early in book three. By four or five it was obvious that the author had completely lost control of anything resembling pacing. The characterization has been dreadful and unbelievable. The plots don't hold together. The sexual subtext became plain distasteful. The treatment of women was consistently demeaning and execrable.

And so on.

RJ can put words together, and I'm glad that he and TOR are making money off the turkey. But for the last decade or so they will have to do so without any input from my wallet. view post

Ong Bak Absolutely rules! posted 14 March 2005 in Off-Topic DiscussionOng Bak Absolutely rules! by tellner, Peralogue

It rocks. It rolls. It rules.

The martial arts are superb. The stunts were breathtaking. The acting is as good as you'd expect or a bit better for an action movie. Tony Jaa has immense skill and physical presence. And the story has a Thai sensibility. The hero isn't what's important. In fact, he doesn't even appear in the last scene. It's the village and the Buddha who are in the center of the action.

Go see it. But try not to watch the bootleg VCD. It came with two sets of subtitles and dubbing in two languages, all of which appeared at the same time. view post

Do you believe a God exists? posted 14 March 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionDo you believe a God exists? by tellner, Peralogue

What do I believe?

There's a G-d. I ain't Him. Beyond that, I'm Jewish and a Sufi (a difficult trick but if the Rambam could do it, I'll try) and the rest can mostly be extrapolated from there. view post

What introduced you to philosophy? posted 29 March 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionWhat introduced you to philosophy? by tellner, Peralogue

Jacob Bronowski's "The Ascent of Man". view post

Do you believe a God exists? posted 05 April 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionDo you believe a God exists? by tellner, Peralogue

The existentialists also believe that there is no external meaning. You have to create it for yourself through existentially significant acts. I wouldn't say that they worship themselves so much as believe at most in themselves.

Moving a little further afield you get the Left Hand Path magical types. At the risk of oversimplifying they could be said to worship themselves and believe themselves to be the gods of their existences. view post


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