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Fantasy and Philosophy posted 18 May 2004, 15:05 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

This is a subject I find quite interesting. I have discussed at some length with my friend Wil the huge impact I feel fantasy has had in my moral and even personal development. I hold certain values which, should I trace them to their roots, would grow from the soil oif fantasy. I read fantasy during the crucial development of my philosophical self, and I feel that it altered my development. This then presents, to me anyway, the interesting question: are certain people attracted to fantasy because of a mental/genetic/? predispostion? Or is fantasy an 'affliction' which must strike at a key moment in development or mental state? Essentially, though I feel that fantasy shaped me, did it in fact or did it only reflect the values I already held to? I would be interested to hear the thoughts of the rest of you fantasy nuts on the board regarding this topic. view post

posted 18 May 2004, 16:05 by Peter, Auditor

Hmmmmmm, interesting thought... I fear things may be a little more complicated than that however (although I admit that I am really only extrapolating from my own experiences which aren't the be all or end all). Beginning with a little intrspection I would say that my interest in fantasy began before anything remotely philosophical entered my mind. I read Lord of the Rings when I was about ten and began reading fantasy regularly from about the age of twelve. I can say that my interest in fantasy did directly lead to me getting into RPGs. My initial interest in philosophy began really around the age of 15ish and matured once I actually started studying it in school. On the other hand, my elder brother reads vast amounts of fantasy (he introduced me to Erikson) is reading a science subject at uni and finds just about the whole area of philosophy to be a complete waste of time. Perhaps I am basing myself too much only upon two cases but I would suggest that fantasy literature is broad enough for people to take what they want from it. As Mr Bakker said, fantasy literature gives the world meaning beyond the real one and this is something which can appeal to both the philosophical and the non-philosophical... view post

posted 18 May 2004, 19:05 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I see what you are saying, but your brother could have a certain set of moral attitudes which, though he doesn't realize it, cause him to thoroughly enjoy fantasy. Also, regarding your comment about not thinking about philosophy at a young age: just because you don't think about it doesn't mean that you didn't already have sort of set of morals at work inside you. Sorry about the scattered nature of the post, but I'm on my way out... view post

posted 18 May 2004, 19:05 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

I think how people find their way to fantasy is largely coincidental. I had a grade five teacher who read the Hobbit cover to cover to my class. So the question, I guess, would be one of why fantasy resonates with certain people. I have an article on which I think captures part of the reason: fantasy offers people meaningful worlds. One of the few things that burns my butt is the assumption that fantasy reading is simply a form of juvenile wish-fulfillment - anxious, hairy-palmed geeks living out revenge fantasies in print - a refuge for the weak from a world that rewards the strong. Or as you say, Jack, an affliction. That was certainly how it was perceived back when I was a hairy-palmed geek (as opposed to the sleek, well-groomed technocrat I've become)... And I seem to encounter more refined versions of this view whenever I read literary criticism that attempts to define the relation between SF (which is the forward-looking, society-transforming, 'literature of ideas') and F (which is presumed infantile and backward-looking). The thing to remember is that superficially this assumption makes a helluva lot of sense, and given our all too human predisposition to flatter ourselves, it's threatening claims like this that we geeks need to consider the most judiciously: Why do we run to alternate worlds unless we can't hack the REAL world? So if you don't mind, Jack, I'd like to narrow your question,somewhat... I'm very interested to hear what people have to say. Is fantasy a refuge for the weak? view post

posted 18 May 2004, 21:05 by Replay, Auditor

Well i dont really think it gets people into reading fantasy, but in some ways i expect it can keep them reading it. The good thing about fantasy (and scifi) is that it has such a wide range--almost anything is possible in a fantasy book. Because of this, authors can use just about any plot device they can come up with to explore an issue that interests them. They are not constained to using just the world as we currently know it (they can even change such things as the laws of physics if they wish). Of course there are downsides to this, in that if you take it too far it can become too unbelievable. I think also another part that appeals to people is the setting of fantasy books. Even though the modern world has a lot of wonders, i think deep down people feel that it is missing something; that perhaps this fast paced way of life isnt the best way things can be, and something about the ancient settings in fantasy books appeal to this part of them. Is this just an escape though? I dont know. Perhaps for a lot of people it is, even if they dont realise it for themselves. By reading a fantasy book they can lose themselves in a world of wonder for hours on end and do not have to face the real world which they do not find as interesting. This does not really apply to all though, and i've never been a fan of blanket statements. For a lot of people i expect they just like a good story every now and then and find fantasy a good genre to explore various ideas. view post

posted 19 May 2004, 00:05 by Wil, Head Moderator

I do not believe that fantasy is an escape for the weak. I do think that fantasy is a place for people to go who are tired of the world we live in. I look around me and I see a bunch of amoral, selfish, indignant people who have no concern besides the money they make, the people they sleep with, and their social standing. While there are people like this in fantasy worlds, on a whole society still upholds the basic, chivalrous acts of King Arthur and the Round Table. I ready fantasy because it appeals to me, not because I can escape from the world I live in (escape connotates fear of [to me at least]), but to experience the world the way I think it should be. I think that fantasy significantly affected the way that I turned out as a person. view post

posted 19 May 2004, 15:05 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I don't think Fantasy is an escape for the weak. I think it can be an escape for the outcast, a world where he/she is accepted. I know I really got into fantasy at a time when I didn't really have any friends. However, I am now (and have been for some time) socially acceptable, have a fairly wide group of friends, and a girlfriend. What keeps me coming back is the offer of all the elements of storytelling in one place. Fantasy is the only genre I can think of where you can combine historical fiction, mystery, detective, horror, suspense, romance, character development, action, religion, war, and quests in one bundle. Fantasy encompasses every other genre. When I read a fiction work, I miss the wonder of reading about unknowns. War stories lack the principals and reasons behind fantasy. This is, I think, what has kept me hooked, in addition to desiring to explore worlds not already explored by humanity. view post

posted 19 May 2004, 16:05 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

Escape from what is what I would ask. What is the real world? I am a graduate student, and some would argue that I don't live in the real world anyway. I worked for several years in between spurts of academia, but the cube farm always seemed surreal to me. Hugging someone I love seemed like a moment of the real world. I also get really annoyed with the distinction that Sci Fi is more adult and forward looking, because it is more "useful" and that F is backward and historical. I would argue that the real world is gravely lacking mutiple awareness of history... Of course there is an element of escapism in reading F. Isn't reading anything for pleasure escape. Even if you are absolutely fascinated with watch repair and reading everything you can on it, unless you are opening a watch repair business, isn't that escapism. It seems that any pleasure oriented actions don't register on the utility richter scale and so they are acts of escapism. I enjoy reading about imaginatively concieved things and having my brain be taken on fun and intellectually engaging adventures that I would not have gotten to take otherwise. Reading for pleasure is such a big part of my life, such a major aspect of keeping my balance as I move through my life (and fantasy is such a big part of that reading)... well, it functions as a mind saving device. I hope I never get stranded on a desert island. view post

posted 19 May 2004, 18:05 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

Sounds like something a bunch of hairy-palmed geeks would say... :wink: I've been toying with the idea of putting the following epigraph from Adorno's Minima Moralia in TTT: "In order not to lose touch with the everyday dreariness in which, as irremediable realists, they are at home, they adapt the meaning they revel in to the meaninglessness they flee. The worthless magic is nothing other than the worthless existence it lights up." Here, he's speaking of occultism as an aberrant expression of the nihilism internal to our scientific and capitalist society. Occultism becomes a kind of neurotic coping mechanism, something like whistling in the dark... Could fantasy be the same? This possibility really struck me after I realized how many parallels one finds between epic fantasies like LoTR and the Bible. Before the scientific worldview rendered worlds structured by magic, divinity, and apocalyptic purpose 'fantastic,' we all lived in worlds LIKE Middle-earth or Earwa or Biblical Israel. These were the kind of worlds we humans seemed driven to create - MEANINGFUL worlds. It's almost as though we have some kind of 'meaning instinct.' The same way we instinctively anthropomorphize or attribute human qualities to our pets, we seem to instinctively anthropomorphize the world: we project things belonging to humans - purposes, morals, emotions - to the world. EVERY traditional worldview prior to the institutional dominance of science is characterized by these projections of the human self onto the worldly other. Could epic fantasy simply be an expression of this apparently instinctive need to remake things in our own image? If this is the case, then the 'weak route' would be to give in to this instinct altogether, and to assert the out and out truth of some traditionally sanctioned 'fantastic world,' be it Hindu, Taoist, Muslim, or Christian. The 'strong route' would be to deny the instinct altogether, and to embrace the scientific worldview no matter how alienating (and it's VERY alienating). The middle route would be to periodically indulge the instinct, turn it into a pasttime... Become a fantasy reader? view post

posted 19 May 2004, 21:05 by Peter, Auditor

I partially agree with you on this one Mr. Bakker, what I find in fantasy is what I suspect many people find in relgion. However I think fantasy is different from religion because it does not contain faith. I may have no faith in God, but I certainly do not have faith in fantasy either, rather I take from it a few hours in which the world and things have proper meaning before returning to the real world. In religion the meaningful world is this one, in fantasy it is another. Perhaps this is the weakness those critics so abhor, but I wonder if they really are so much better themselves. There are times when I would almost like to believe, when the idea of a Godless world seems to horrific to contemplate. I think this would be a sort of escape from the world. It would make all the pain and misery mean something, people wouldn'r die on vain. As it is science takes away from us that crutch. On the other hand I believe that all too often people reject other things and make science their new faith. I can imagine those people who believe religion is for the weak saying "science will make us strong as people", but that is attributing a meaningful end to science as opposed to what it really is, models of reality with explanatory power. There is nothing human or strong within that, there is only the straight and narrow. view post

posted 21 May 2004, 16:05 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I think a lack of religion makes people either much stronger or much weaker. The same with religious fervor. For example: I, as an atheist, believe that the decisions I make are going to be my responsibliity, mine to get out of, and I damn well better worry about what's coming my way if I want to dodge it or embrace it. This makes me careful, think ahead, [i:1ssq7yy7]fear[/i:1ssq7yy7] ruining my life. Fear is key; I think it drives me to better myself or I'll end up like a bum. This isn't fear I even notice, just a feeling that I want to do the best I am capable of. 'David,' as a devoutly religious man, 'knows' his god is keeping a friendly eye on him. If he has a catastrophe, he doesn't really worry because, well, god will bail him out. He prays, feels better, and tells everyone, including himself, that 'god has a plan.' [i:1ssq7yy7]His[/i:1ssq7yy7] fear is channeled into a fear of going to hell and anxiety over going to heaven; thus, to assuage his fears, he just follows the bible and sleeps easy. I see David as weaker, because he does not accept responsibility for his future, he abdicates directing his life to the church. I take full responsibility, and will not rail at fate, destiny, god, or the church for any of my problems. This is an example of the strength of atheism and the weakness of religion. BUT: If David and I ever fight one another, he will pray and have at me (generally), while I will, out of fear, be cautious. As a result David may well die, but chances are high that I will die with him. We see this every day in the Middle East and terrorism. In this case, with the prime aim of vanquishing his opponent at any cost, sacrificing, David has the advantage. But he probably will die. This is the price he pays for his relief of fear granted him by his faith. He lives fear free, but must be willing to follow the guidelines for getting to heaven in order to recieve this gift. The problem lies in whether a god actually does exist or not. If yes, then David is all set and probably made the better choice. If not, then David is screwed over, because he will die for nothing. I have the choice of choosing what to die for: god, no. Family, yes. Beliefs, depending on what they are and the offense. What it comes down to is choice and responsibility. You choose your life's direction and take responsibility for it, or offer it to god and enjoy the ride. That was a lot! I wrote this as an oration, really, but I'm not claiming its all entirely right, I just came up with this as I wrote it, although it does seem to be what I believe. view post

posted 16 Jun 2004, 06:06 by Miles Teg, Commoner

Sovin, I agree with a lot of the things you've said. Faith can break a man or make him. For example, the Christian Faith in our society has become a fulcrum for intolerance and grossly misinterpreted self-justification. It becomes an excuse to ignore reason and analyzation. It's like TV, it doesn't require you to THINK. A man motivated by his personal honor and ethics > A man motivated by a fear of the afterlife The problem is that people have forgotten to temper their Faith with common sense and intelligence. Your fate is determined by YOU alone. Whether the presence of God aids or hinders is solely determined by one's self. The bible should not be a substitute to one's own innate personal integrity and honor. With that said though, as a Gnostic Christian I believe that Faith CAN be synthesized with Intellectual Analysis. Its just a mite difficult to walk on the sword's edge. --Bryan N. view post

posted 16 Jun 2004, 07:06 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I can certainly respect that. It doesn't work for me personally, but so long as you know why you believe what you do and can discuss it, I can respect it. view post

posted 16 Jun 2004, 13:06 by Replay, Auditor

Personally, i don't see the need to ever have faith in anything. Something either is or it isn't, and if you are unsure which of the two something is, then your are just unsure. No need for faith to really come in to it. Like others have already said, faith is often just an excuse to not bother investigating the truth for yourself. Perhaps you could say that you have faith in say the Christian teachings enough to spend a lot of your time studying them, but is there really a need? Jesus either knew what he was talking about or he didn't. Just investigate it and find out for yourself. Perhaps faith (and belief which is basically the same thing) is useful to a lot of people in the beginning of their search for the truth, as it certainly can help to sustain them a little where they may have faultered. In a way it is kind of like a blind man who uses a walking stick to help him stay up right and to prod things so that he gets a better idea of what is around him. But what that man really needs is for someone else to come along a kick that stick away so that they are left fumbling in the darkness. Then the search really begins. view post

posted 16 Jun 2004, 13:06 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

But faith, in its myriad forms, is inevitable isn't it? Part of being human consists in not knowing, yet acting nonetheless. I've spent ten years chasing down the justifications/reasons for things without answering a single damn question to my satisfaction. The problem, it seems to me, isn't faith so much as [i:2xlulr26]certainty[/i:2xlulr26]. Millennia from now our descendents will think we're as deluded as we think, say, the ancient Egyptians were deluded: this almost seems axiomatic. And yet most everyone is convinced that they somehow, miraculously, have the market on truth cornered - or at least more cornered than their neighbour. To err is to be human. To deny erring is more human still. view post

posted 16 Jun 2004, 14:06 by Replay, Auditor

[quote="Cu'jara Cinmoi":snvk01ab]But faith, in its myriad forms, is inevitable isn't it? Part of being human consists in not knowing, yet acting nonetheless. [/quote:snvk01ab] I agree that part of being human is not knowning yet still acting, but i still don't think faith is inevitable. When you don't know, you act in a way which you feel is most right. There is no need for faith. It either turns out right or it doesn't. Your faith in the action really affects nothing. All you can really do is pay attention and learn from what you did. As for certainty, do you honestly really need it? I can understand where you are coming from though, as i used to be the same. I often used to wonder what the meaning of life was, but not so much for the truth, but for an answer that would justify everything. I think this is a very common thing among people who ask this type of question, where what they are really asking is for an answer that will say that their lives have had meaning. Over the years though, this question has dropped away. Life having meaning really no longer has any meaning (if that makes sense), and im just happy to [i:snvk01ab]live[/i:snvk01ab]. And it is because of this, that in many ways i have answered my original question. Certainty is nothing to chase after anyway, especially as i doubt you'll ever find it. Even if you did, who would really want it? Who would want to live in a world where everything is known and there are no surprises? A world where you already have everything labled so that you no longer have to pay attention to it? Uncertainty on the other hand is a lot better than people may think. When you don't know, there can be wonder when something happens that you didn't expect. In uncertainty you are open to anything that will happen. And in uncertainty, everything can take on new meaning as you no longer have everything pigeon-holed in to some box or labled. Even something as simple as seeing the plants that you walk past on the way to your car can take on new meaning and become fresh in your mind again. In Zen, there is a thing called Don't Know Mind (or perhaps sometimes called Beginners Mind or Primary point mind). In it there are no prejudgements and there is no certainty. There is no faith or beliefs. There is just a spaciousness that flows with what ever happens, and learns from the experiance. It is something all Zen students try to attain, and you be surprised at just how richer life can become the more you live in this state. view post

posted 16 Jun 2004, 15:06 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

I think I agree with you Replay, and the bit about Zen certainly (there's that word again!) sounds interesting. I guess I need to know what you specifically mean by 'faith.' For me, all assumptions, whether implicit or explicit, are a form of faith - which is to say, beliefs without justification. But if I apply that definition to what you're saying, you seem to be suggesting that it's possible to get by without assumptions, which I think is not only demonstrably false (you wouldn't hand money to the guy at the movie wicket unless you assumed you'd get to see the movie - there are countless examples like this, both trivial and profound) but part and parcel of the same 'will to be certain' that drove so many philosophers (Descartes most famously) to seek an 'assumption free' philosophy. Do you see what I'm saying? I think being baffled is simply part of what it means to be human, and I can't help but be suspicious of any position, be it Cartesian or Zen, that claims to either banish or 'dissolve' perplexity. We should be uncomfortable, I think. It keeps us honest. view post

posted 16 Jun 2004, 16:06 by Replay, Auditor

Yeh it is a tough thing to pin down. In your example, in a way there is an assumption that the guy will give you the ticket. But is it really needed? He either gives you the ticket or he doesn't, your assumption or faith will not change the outcome. And even if he doesn't, then all you can really do is deal with that situation when it arises. There is also a problem with assumptions in that if you think you know what is going to happen, then you are not really ready for when something that you did not expect comes up. Quite likely, if the guy did not give you the ticket you would become flustered or angry as it has knocked you off balance. And if after shouting you are finally given your ticket, more than likely the film will be a lot less enjoyable for you. Lets look at it from a different angle though, and say that you went to the ticket guy with no expectations. You are just open to whatever will happen in the situation. You know there is a very high chance that there will be no problems, but if there are you are ready to deal with them with a cool head. Even the problem itself can become something worth experiencing as there is always something to learn. Perhaps this is not the greatest example, but basically, when your open and are happy to live in uncertainty, you can experiance joy even from situations that would have before pissed you off. As for being baffled, i agree with you. I also don't think either Zen or Cartesian (though unsure what that is - are they followers of Descartes?) claims to dissolve perplexity. Infact in Zen, students are given koans which promote perplexity. They are basically unsolvable (by the logical mind at least), and when used correctly, put a student in a state where they no longer have anything to stand on. They are completey stumped and perplexed as they cannot answer the question, and are too far in to it to let it go. And it's at this point that they finally begin to get it. But then i think assumptions are different to perplexity/being baffled. Being perplexed is being in a state where you are open to learning. Assumptions on the other hand get in the way as learning as they make you pay less attention to things as you already have them labled. It is good that you are suspicious of a teaching though, even if it is about something else. I think you should always have doubt and suspicion of any claims to truth until you verify it for yourself. Even if it looks to make sense and you think it maybe worth the time looking in to, it is still always good to carry the doubt with you. Infact in Zen, the teachers even promote this. They don't want you to believe everything they say, they want you to doubt it and find out for yourself. It is really the only way to learn. Anyway, i hope that explained a little more about what i meant. As i said at the start, it is very hard thing to pin down (though still good to try). view post

posted 16 Jun 2004, 22:06 by Peter, Auditor

I dunno that I agree with Replay on this one (at least not with some of your points). I will try to begin at the beginning, but there is quite a lot to read and the talk about so please forgive any collapses into incoherence . First of all, on a rather pedantic point it may be the case that some things are not always either "is or is not". I am thinking of quantum mechanics where it is apparently true that a particle both is in a position x and at the same time it is in a different position y. This leads to the famous thought experiment which has spawned the title name thingy of one of the people on the board, namely "Schrodinger's cat" in which a the cat will be both alive and dead at the same time. Now I am no physicist so I may have got this wrong or misinterpretated things but assuming for the sake of argument that it is right, then nothing either is or is not. As I said however that is more pedantry than anything else because of course what is true on the micro level (quantum mechanics) is not regularly true on the macro level (the much more sensible world of Einsteinian physics ). So cats very rarely are in fact both alive and dead at the same time (if ever) or found in two places at once and so we can ignore that problem. This still leads to a problem with your is/isn't conception of the world where assumptions and faith are not needed, for we must assume that the effects of quantum mechanics are so incredibly unlikely to translate themselves onto the macro scale that they can be more or less ignored. Perhaps you will claim that I am assuming that physics is true either at the macro or the micro level, in which case I would agree with you. I would also however suggest that somewhere deep down you do too, if only because when you typed your last message you assumed that we would understand what you were saying. If you did not assume that we had not all suddenly lost the ability to understand English, or that in hitting the "submit" button the message would have been submitted would you have written the reply? When you say that "When you don't know, you act in a way which you feel is most right. There is no need for faith." isn't there implicitly the assumption that the way one should act is the way one feels such things are right. If there were no assumption surely there would be no reason to act either way (hmmmm this is sounding half existential). I agree with you on the certainty part, it is not necessary (and perhaps not even or ever possible), but I am not sure that we should not strive for it. The certain world you describe is quite barren I agree, but I am not sure a world in which I was certain of the truth of causality, or certain of the truth of the existence of other minds would be more barren. Certainty does not need to be the whole hog as it were, to some extent, if I am certain of the truth of maths then I can apply still apply it to a such as economics and find that I am uncertain within this secondary area and be pleasantly surprised etc. Having said this, I would agree with your points on the benefits of uncertainty, but a more limited form than you would preach. I do not claim to be certain of holding the truth in any one area, perhaps none of my beliefs are true, but it would not do to stop believing them. Uncertainty should breed flexibility, not a complete rewriting of our life. When you mention the Zen Don't Know Mind state of mind (if I may call it that), isn't there a certain normative content implicit in such a doctrine. What I mean is, you mention the richness it gives life, would followers of Zen attempt to achieve such a state unless there was the belief that attaining the Don't Know Mind gave them such an a perspective on life etc. People try to enter the Don't Know Mind state to attain this way of life, so the state is not really empty, or at least the run up to and the run down from such a state is not. I may well have misunderstood what it was you were saying, so please forgive me if I have missed your point there. Finally (yes, it is getting late here and I have spent far too much time on this already), there are one or two more things I would like to say, as well as some questions, but for the time being I will leave them to one side. I would say that if there really were no assumptions then there could be no knowledge and (by definition) no beliefs. We could form no views and learn nothing. Some assumptions do get in the way of learning, the assumption that a scientific theory is right despite the direct empirical data to the contrary, the assumption that one knows more than one's tutor etc. Others however are fundamental to our having any knowledge at all. The assumption that the past will resemble the future is fundamental to understanding the world (otherwise we could never be sure that the carrots we are about to eat haven't suddenly become incredibly poisonous to humankind etc). I can't think of any more good examples (and actually I am not very happy with the above one either), so I will stop there. Faith is necesarry to humans because, as Mr Bakker says, all humans will at some point act on assumptions and this is the same as saying that we act on some form of belief or faith. view post

posted 17 Jun 2004, 02:06 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I have very little time, but the thing that struck me was the difference between faiths built upon precedent and faith built upon information. One has been desmonstrated as true and the other has been said to be true. I feel thes are different and I need to think about them and go. view post

posted 17 Jun 2004, 15:06 by Replay, Auditor

Some good points you brought up there Peter, and i'll do my best to try and respond to them and expand on what i was trying to say. First off, when i said something either is or it isn't, i was not trying to make a profound statement. Infact i was just trying to keep things simple. I actually agree with you that this is not always so (and probably more often than not). I cannot really discuss shrodingers cat with you, as i am not really sure on the specifics of that, but would like to explore some other things on this topic. Perhaps this thread is not the best time for it though, and might be better to start another one in the near future. Back to assumptions - you bring up an interesting point. You said that assumptions can be useful and you are right, and perhaps my mistake was trying to tie the word 'assumptions' down to one meaning. But it is still a tricky thing, and il try to give an example of why. Let's say that you make an assuption about something in physics, then try to prove it right. If it turns out to be true, then you have done something of great value. But what if it is not true? How does the physicist handle that situation? Becuase he assumed he was right in the first place, he will most likely hang on to that assumption and wont let go until hes faced with too much evidence to otherwise. This could cause a lot of problems for him. Now on the other hand, lets say the same physicist instead of assuming some idea he has is the truth, just decides to investigate it and see if it is. He will be objective about the things he finds and note everything (where as the one with the assumption will perhaps ignore things that seem to say otherwise). He will also most likely see things the other did not and if by some chance stumbles across something else of use that contradicts the first idea, will explore it instead of ignoring it. Maybe i am once again trying to tie assumptions down to one meaning again, but im finding it hard not to. It just seems to me that assumptions really are not needed, even in science. For example, if you have the idea and you think there maybe a good chance its right, you investigate it. I'm not sure any assumption needs to come in here. If you do assume, it is basically saying you think you are 100% right and are not open to the possibility that you are wrong. You could perhaps argue that the 'think there maybe a good chance its right' is an assumption, but i don't really agree with that. I think that is something else entirly (won't go in to it here though). [quote="Peter":2bkaa2f5]When you mention the Zen Don't Know Mind state of mind (if I may call it that), isn't there a certain normative content implicit in such a doctrine. What I mean is, you mention the richness it gives life, would followers of Zen attempt to achieve such a state unless there was the belief that attaining the Don't Know Mind gave them such an a perspective on life etc. People try to enter the Don't Know Mind state to attain this way of life, so the state is not really empty, or at least the run up to and the run down from such a state is not. I may well have misunderstood what it was you were saying, so please forgive me if I have missed your point there. [/quote:2bkaa2f5] This is why its a tricky subject. It is easy to think you have to have belief in something to go after it. But is this really so? As i have been trying to say, if you keep an open mind you should be open to the possibilty that perhaps what you are trying to attain won't turn out to be what you thought it was. You just take your chances. I expect many do make assumptions about things such as this though - believing it is true and trying to attatin it. And if im honest, i do as well a lot of the time. I mean, i certainly haven't reach a point where i am assumption free. The thing is though, the more i look in to this subject, the more it becomes clear that is definately something worth aiming for. As for the Don't Know Mind not being empty, you are correct on that. Even when zen students/masters say that they abide in emptiness, they don't really mean something that is totally empty, but something else. If you want me to expand on this i would be happy to try. Finally, on your point that with no assumptions there could be no learning, i have to disagree. Perhaps it comes back to what the word assumption means, but from my point of view i find it hard to see why they are needed. For instance, all that is needed is for someone to have an idea and then think "Well, this seems to have value, perhaps i'll explore it". I cannot see why there would be any need to assume anything. view post

posted 17 Jun 2004, 15:06 by Peter, Auditor

I am sorry, I won't be able to respond for about a week as exams begin in three days and I have given my power cable to a friend so I am now surviving on battery power for my laptop until after exams. This I won't be able to reply properly until I finish exams and get my cable back. And yes having to give a friend my cable does show that I have no will power :oops: view post

posted 18 Jun 2004, 00:06 by Loof, Peralogue

[quote:1l3t0lu5]Let's say that you make an assuption about something in physics, then try to prove it right. If it turns out to be true, then you have done something of great value. But what if it is not true? How does the physicist handle that situation? Becuase he assumed he was right in the first place, he will most likely hang on to that assumption and wont let go until hes faced with too much evidence to otherwise. This could cause a lot of problems for him.[/quote:1l3t0lu5] I just have to correct your example of how a scientist works here, you see the basis for all experiment based sciece isn't proving you are right. It's proving you are not wrong. Example: State hypothesis, then do your best to disprove what you think might be the case. If you can't, then publish your hypothesis and let everyone else have a go att proveing you wrong. Untill they manage to do that the hypothesis will be considered "true". Sorry to nitpick but I had to point out that empirical experiments are done witha diferent mentality then your example. Besides this point i agree with you that asumptions are often in the way, but i also think that some asumptions will always have to exist or you would have no reason to do anything (as peter already said). If i realy had to be more precise then that i would say that subconcious asumptions are nessesary for us to act att all (by subconcious i mean thinks that are so obvious that if we dont stop and realy analyse the situation we would not even think of them). But that concious assumptions are often in the way, in other words expectations and hopes that we are concious of will often make us disapointed or be in the way of our learning stuff. If you expect little you will not be lett down (the key difference here would be expect nothing vs the worst which could easily lead to depression I think). hmm ok rable over....... :wink: view post

posted 18 Jun 2004, 13:06 by Replay, Auditor

You're right, most scientists don't really work like that. And in trying to make a point, i perhaps skipped over a few facts that i shouldn't have (though perhaps for a few the descriptions i made were acurate). Trying to prove themselves wrong seems like a good thing though - it means there is really no assumption there. It shows they are open to the fact that their idea may not be true, and are willing to explore this possibilty. On subconcious assumptions, I have to ask: Are they really assumptions at all? Peter brought up a good point in his post, where he said that subconciously you assume that everyone hasn't lost the ability to speak english when you press the submit button after typing out a post. But again, can it really called an assumption? In such a case, there is no thought about it - you just post. It is so unlikely that everyone would lose the ability to read you post all of a sudden, that there is no need to think about it. Im not sure what you would call such a thing though if not assumption (if it should be called anything at all). Perhaps what it really comes down to is probabilities. For instance, you have so many memories of different situations to call on, that you make a pretty decent prediction of what will happen in quite a lot of situations. I guess it is a lot like poker. A good player never assumes, he predicts. He adds up all the maths and looks at what his chances are. If they are good, he gambles; if they are bad, he folds. Some odds are so small that are just not worth ever thinking about though, such as the one about people losing their ability to speak english. But like i said, i not sure you can really call it an assumption just because you never think about it. In the end, i really suppose it all comes back to what this word assumption means. I guess there are really two ways you could use it: 1- The act of accepting something as the truth without validation/proof. or 2 - A prediction based on certain facts/history. To me though, the meaning of assumption is held in the first one. Whilst the second may be what some mean when using the word--due to the way language changes and intertwines over the passage of time--i am not sure it is right to call that an acurate description of assumption. The second desctiption is more one of prediction itself. And to me, predicition and assumption are two very different things. Maybe neither of those are good descriptions, but I think the main thing though is that if you try to be as open as you can to the possibility that your precitions may turn out to be wrong, then it cannot really be called an asumption. view post

posted 19 Jun 2004, 00:06 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

as┬Ěsump┬Ětion n. 1. The act of taking to or upon oneself: assumption of an obligation. 2. The act of taking possession or asserting a claim: assumption of command. 3. The act of taking for granted: assumption of a false theory. 4. Something taken for granted or accepted as true without proof; a supposition: a valid assumption. 5. Presumption; arrogance. 6. Logic. A minor premise. 7. Assumption 1. Christianity. The taking up of the Virgin Mary into heaven in body and soul after her death. 2. A feast celebrating this event. 3. August 15, the day on which this feast is observed. I seems to me that 4 is your 1 and 6 is your 2. We are at a definition impasse and all seem to be right. :roll: view post

posted 19 Jun 2004, 13:06 by Replay, Auditor

Yep, it is something i have noticed in discussions such as these that, more often than not, the discussion becomes difficult because people are using different meanings for the same word. I can remember watching a conversation recently where they were discussing religon and a similar thing happened. You would think that something as simple as the word religion would not cause such problems. Every understands what this is right? But it seems that is not so. On one side you had a person who thought of religion as a system of faith, and that if you were religious you [i:1cfvp43p]had[/i:1cfvp43p] to believe in some kind of creator/all powerful being. The other person though disagreed and said that religion is a practice - a path that you can follow to realise the truth. There was no need for any of the things the other person mentioned, you could be religious without them. Neither would budge from their point of view, so the discussion came to impass. How can you talk about something when the very thing you are talking about means totally different things to both people? And then theres the word God which a whole other can of worms I suppose this is always going to be a problem though. Language can be very flexible at times, and due to different conditioning, people are nearly always going to have different ideas about the same thing. Plus there is also the problem that language can never really be acurate. Language only describes a thing as best as it can, it is the never the thing itself. view post

posted 03 Dec 2006, 23:12 by Sorcerous-Words, Auditor

I believe that fantasy is driven by our definition of perfection...our definition of perfection isnt always perfect. Mr. Bakker's world for instance would be my perfection as I long for such a contact with this world. Where there is so much more exciting things than bullets, nuclear weapons, and technology. back to the dark ages is where i find my mind drawn with a deep desire.` view post


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