1.Lumiere, I'm afraid I didn't quite understand the first part of your February 24, 20:50. But I understand the second part: let me assure you that I am not advocating abandoning opinions. In effect, I am saying that opinions are the dominant form of human understanding and that "objective truths", if possible, are very, very rare. But too often we present our opinions and our desires ('belief' comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'to wish') as 'facts' - as 'truths'.
I posted a longer answer (which seemed too tangential to post in this thread).Here. All are invited to read and comment.
Also, you wrote: “We start with an opinion and gain insights through confrontation” – and I think that's how it isasPath to more personal knowledge and insight. However, it doesn't have to be the ONLY way. I see this morning (PST) that you indicated to Allison that you view social interaction as a series of confrontations.
My immediate (not fully thought out) response is that confrontation can beasKind of social interaction, but also cooperation – even between strangers. I'm really looking forward to reading Allison's response to you.
2. Then Lumiere wrote: "Is it bad to judge?"
It depends on your morals: “Judge not, lest you be judged.” – Matthew 7:1http://www.bartleby.com/108/40/7.html
You'd think that would shame 'good Christians' like Falwell, Robertson, etc., away from their moralistic judgment, wouldn't you?
Here's something purely NicosianOpinion:
Matthew 7:1 is my favorite (of a very short list) of Bible quotes. It's wise, I think, as a variant of "Do not unto others what you would not accept for yourself." Judging others (even if we all do it at least a little bit) doesn't strike me as a profitable use of mental energy, much less preferable. At the very least, it is ethically questionable, as not only is our own judgment an exercise in subjectivity, but worse, we cannotthanksknow objectively thesubobjective experiences of those we judge. Not only can we be stingy in our judgments, but our pre-judgmental assessment of their existence can be so ignorant that our judgment is shallow.incorrect.
I have previously indicated that I have experienced firsthand how I have been judged by Christian moralists. Here are some details: My family moved to a working-class suburb of Detroit that was heavily populated by Southern Baptists. As a fifteen-year-old fresh out of the workforce, I had few options, and most of those options were owned, operated, or managed by other residents—mainly Baptists—in the neighborhood. Lumière, you wrote
â€œThose who live in neighborhoods know that socially sanctioned moralization is always open. Hey, I'm going to moralize them back - there's nothing they can do about it - my moralizing is bigger and better than theirs!'
That sounds playful, even and amusing, but it might not apply to shy teenagers dealing with very hypocritical adults who have economic power over you. Not all districts are the same. Not every experience of being judged by the self-appointed neighborhood morality police is as casual and benign as yours.
But wait, I'm not asking or expecting pity. I learned a lot from the experience, including that the Baptists who tried to cover for me were dead.incorrectabout being “miserable without Jesus.” Despite pressure from bosses, peer pressure, and growing social scorn, even as an ignorant and naive fifteen-year-old, I knew that your holy Jesus would succeed.straightjacketmy curious mind. Misery would have comeaftermy devotion to your beloved mythology.
Also, I have no permanent scars. And I gained a perspective on the real-world effects of religious concepts that is quite different from the reflective respect most people have for those concepts. I'll come back to that in a moment.
3. First though, I thought of the word "suffering". Like the feeling of sunlight on skin I wrote about off site (link at the top of this post), grief is subjective, not objective. But like all ordinary human sensory experiences, like the feeling of sunlight on the skin, suffering is not difficult for observers to recognize. Simple human sensibilities can often detect suffering in others. We all know that, just as we all know what the sun feels like.
However, the chain of influences is less recognizablecausedthe suffering. In the case of the Nazis and the Holocaust, the causal chain is easy to understand: beliefs that we broadly label "anti-Semitism" and the myth of "racial Aryan" superiority to which Jews and Slavs are attributed.subhuman'. This set of influences can easily be seen as "evil".
But if the Germans had won World War II, would the same massive atrocities be deemed "evil" by Europe's eventual victorious overlords? For very little. “Untermenschen”, I suspect, would be a permanent and “valid” – of course, “true” term according to Nazi conceptualizations of the world. And no Jew (or Russian, whom Hitler intended to starve to death after moving them all to a vast staging area around Moscow) would have survived to test the "truth" of the concepts.
All the suffering caused by the Nazis? Meaningless. Ignored, censored from history or simply forgotten.
My point, I think, is that for people to ignore or suppress the simple sensitivities that can normally and easily detect suffering - which is a necessary condition for empathy or compassion to work - something has to happen that changes the natural connection of intellect and emotion. I strongly suspect that "something" is the acceptance of beliefs - particularly beliefs that the world we tangibly - sensibly, concretely perceive through our senses alone - is incomplete, and that "greater truths". are just out of sight.
How do we arrive at these “greater truths”? Well, of course, on the One True Path! Whether it's an ancient myth surviving as a contemporary religion or Nazi-type racial fantasies. Or taking the side of "good" against Manichean "evil". (Think Bush and his Axis of Evil comic.)
Here's another case: a 16-year-old mother - illegitimate - and kicked out of her parents' house. Or a girl or boy with HIV.
To suffer? Probably... isn't it?to anticipateAND?
Assuming these childrenThey areSuffering, what is the causal chain that helped to create suffering? We'd have to ask on a case-by-case basis - it's not as obvious as the Holocaust, is it? However, this kind of suffering is all too common in today's world, but instead of being a horrible, conscious scheme of believers in scientifically unfounded "racial superiority", it is the result of millions of simple biological realities and accidents. . and stillbeliefs, again.
Right now, in this country, teenagers are giving birth or contracting HIV not because of "evil" but because of a large politically powerful faction of voting citizens who, contrary to available scientific evidence, "believe" that newly formed zygotes -fertilized are "sentient." they are. That they, presumably carried by the tiny sperm that entered the gigantic eggs, possess a scientifically undetectable supernatural entity called "Soul".
The suffering of these young mothers shares with that of young HIV victims another widespread cause: the reluctance to finance or sanction sex education, let alone discuss it seriously.
Believe in God, the Bible, the Koran, morals, evil and even the fantastic idea that HIV only happens to those who "deserve it".
In two words: religious fundamentalism.
As concerned citizens of our nations, or rather as concerned and compassionate residents of our world, do we have a duty or responsibility to work against the spread of suffering?
Maybe not. Maybe it's a subjective assessment. I don't know.
I know thatEUI feel compelled to do my small part to stop the spread of the disease. I've had my share of ups and downs, but overall a comfortable, ordinary American life, and now I have (a little) time to write about the metatopics - like beliefs - I supposein truthCause of so much suffering in the world.
My argument against religious fundamentalism is simply, "Is your God the only true way?to testEs.empirically. Otherwise, stay out of the public policy debate. Your children and grandchildren will thank you. And we unbelievers too.”
If, as science has always maintained, sexual activity is normal, healthy, and inevitable, why should we allow moralistic opinions stemming from the improbable supernatural to argue otherwise? Why do we give equal credit to the improbable supernatural and carefully verified science?
If I'm right about itbeliefsstraitjackets that impede free thinking and also conspire to undermine empathy, thus being most of the root causes of what we commonly think of as "unnecessary human suffering", so shouldn't these beliefs be to question an outrageous taboo that it currently is. Rather, it seems to me the only decent and responsible thing to do.