Three Ideas in Development

This first is in response to Correlation-First Truths

I had this thought today (before I read this post) and I can’t stop thinking about it. When I read the post I came across a strange sense of coincidence. Anyway I was looking though a fruit basket and had the thought,

“An apple is not an apple, because it is an apple; rather it is an apple because it is not an orange.”

This is similar to the discussion of the color red in the post Knowledge. Really something is something, because it is not something else, and when you have a lot of things to compare it to, it really seems that you can come up with very precise (but fundamentally inadequate) definition of what it is (by defining the multitude of things it isn’t).

The next thought is a follow up to the post The Meaning of Life for Dogs.

This thought is really incomplete. Although it sounds stupid and overly simple, I think it really has A LOT to it.

“The meaning of life is to live.”

I am not sure how to really express what I mean by that, but I really think that there is something complex and important about stating the meaning of life in this simplistic manner. All I know is that it gives me comfort to think about that sentence; it offers a well defined purpose like religion.

The final is one that I have been thinking a lot about recently. It ties into my notion that humanity would be better off without a supernatural religion. I define religion (in this context) as stories of creation, gods (that take physical forms like people plants animals), spirits, miracles, heavens, hells, and all the other nonsense you find in scripture.

When humans created religion they really were trying to assert we are gods or some level were are on the same level as gods, because of our ability to ‘think about existence’. (See: “Don’t Blame God For Religion”). It seems to me that the creation of gods/religion was really just some sort of masturbatory homage to our ability to think beyond the basics of survival. We created all of these gods in our image in some effort to acknowledge just how superior we thought we were. The funny part is that I don’t think this is a bad thing when you cut out all the crap about virgin births, resurrections, creations of humans from clay, etc… and cut straight to the point:

“Humans are their own gods”

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6 Responses to Three Ideas in Development

  1. Cheryl says:

    I’ve been thinking about these things as well. Especially your concept, “An apple is not an apple, because it is an apple; rather it is an apple because it is not an orange”, as it relates to groups of humans. This was also expressed in a way by Rudyard Kipling, as “what do they know of England, who only England know?” I think this is why people are so bent on duality and always end up polarizing on every issue. We can’t define anything, or even perceive anything, including ourselves, in the absence of its opposite. So people fight about things just to maintain those distinctions, and then think that it gives them an identity, and thus a purpose and meaning in life. How much better it would be if we all could just be happy with your second concept, “the meaning of life is to live”. If we did, then all the nonsensical parts of religion would instantly disappear, because people would have absolutely no need for the “identity” that they provide.

  2. deadondres says:

    I guess this requires a three part comment! My question becomes what are the consequences of obeying “fundamental inadequacies?” This ties into my third point below…

    The second statement nails it! It totally ties into what I have been planning to post for a while so I guess you are forcing my hand haha. It is the conclusion drawn by many many people inquiring into the meaning of life. You’ll see what I mean later.

    As for the third…I love your last paragraph…and have a lot to say about this. I know that you are of course not advocating the side of “science” which I am about to put forth and I more want to raise a philosophical or sociopolitical issue that arises from the void of a society opposed to religion…

    In a nutshell of course the superstitious elements of religion can be/have been detrimental. However it is not the religion that is the problem but the superstition. And that is rooted in all of our beliefs, and to extract it means we need to examine our grounds for believing. Per our scientific knowledge it is absurd that Jesus turned water into wine but we readily believe such narratives as Columbus sailed the ocean or America dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. You subtract one myth and take on another. Myth is a fundamental property of human culture…so I’m not so sure we would be better off without it let alone have been capable of reaching our modern condition without trying to make sense of our origins on this earth.

    To do away with this seems easy, but not in the face of evolved historical resistances from colonialist persecution of so-called superstitious less civilized and therefore inferior people for their exploitation. The imperialist justification for genocide found a hearth in their scientific superiority.

    The thinking back then was our religion + our technology makes us superior because we can kill you and we will kill you because we are superior. Now we say, oh, stupid Muslims, your religion is so stupid. You guys think heaven has 42 virgins in it. Sick perverted heathens in caves. We will kill you because we can. And of course Osama is thinking the same things backwards. Right? So what happens when science becomes the superior religion? I think this kind of helps capitalism. Stupid little people in shacks in that faraway country, they have a crazy religion and aren’t well educated – it doesn’t matter if we take all their money and if they die we really don’t feel that bad but if royalty or celebrity dies then that’s one of us and we go nuts (ok I’m sick but c’mon it’s true).

    This raises actual serious concerns…

    The assumption is that scientific knowledge would take faith’s place – but science is also fallible and cannot dictate the human spirit. As an example Nazism coincided with a decrease in religious membership in Germany, the philosophers which influenced Hitler were of the “man is their own God” variety. This is an extreme case but illustrates my point.

    As Wittgenstein said: “Science: Enrichment and impoverishment. One particular method elbows all the others aside. They all seem paltry by comparison, preliminary stages at best.” In other words so assured of its method that it cannot honestly assess perhaps other methods which can be superior in the right situations. Of course a virgin birth seems outrageously improbable but we openly believe many things which will seem equally absurd in fifty years. Yet it is not superstitious to accept wholeheartedly what contemporary scientific experts dictate although this knowledge is incomplete and only relative to what we know now. Superstition can become a term of convenience and a way to distinguish between/reduce what we consider inferior knowledge/cultures. When one says “I know” this is not superstition although it relies on all the same faith-based mechanisms of knowledge.

    The false objectivity of a secular rational society can unwittingly prop thought control, and we see it in the so-called separation of church and state within the schools, bleeding nationalist and capitalist propaganda and scientific knowledge together into one clean unquestioned forum while denying that simple spiritual matters such as living a good life or peace is worth the time of inquiry, scholarly or not. At the same time something like reincarnation which when explained properly makes perfect sense gets reduced to religious mumbo-jumbo and avoided, to the relief of the warlords and totalitarians who depend on our constrained fearful group identities.

    Ultimately all of our knowledge relies on faith which we have discussed and a thorough and honest evaluation of faith and the subjective certainty of our knowledge renders the distinction between religious and secular faith trivial.

    What I always say is that it makes more sense to study God which actually might have corporeal substance (even better constitute the essence of all corporeal substance) and therefore exist, and not merely conceptually; compared to studying America which certainly does not exist and is merely a concept perpetuated by the thoughts of man.

    I hope one of my biggest contributions will be to bridge the gap between religion/spirituality and secular science/logic. They both have a lot to offer our thought processes and appreciation for the world. I think that it is misguided to attribute certain evils to religion when fundamentally bad events and suffering are still very simple: hunger, killing, rape, slavery – get rid of religion and that shit will still be happening just under the “secular priesthood” (A term from Chomsky which references the theocratic elements of a so-called non-religious state). So I agree with Cheryl that the problem is identity, and our views on negation which goes back to our entire foundation of knowledge – see previous posts on Leibniz and Aristotle. My solution is that we exist and don’t exist, we must see past the duality, it is not an either/or.

    To be honest I don’t think that people believing in virgin births are the problem…I think that the crushing wave of institutions is more the problem and here is where we can agree on organized religion. But should be built upon, not tossed away. Nobody needs a church to find peace but they don’t need a school either. These things are useful for their ritual, tradition, and familiarity. Humanists should move to a compromise of some sort. A productive solution that lies in digging even deeper and implicates all of us on myriad fundamental levels. I will get back to this in many many future posts…

  3. activephilosophy says:

    On the first statement:

    The fundamental inadequacies that I talk about are for the most part unimportant. Whether or not I can absolutely describe the nature of an apple (or even some thing more “basic” like an electron) is irrelevant for all ‘practical’ (really hard to define practical, but you know what I mean) purposes. We can very adequately describe and define objects and things. To the point we can develop technology that seems to work and seems to be real in the present. This is just a restatement of the sentiment that truly absolute knowledge does not exist, but for all intents and purposes absolute knowledge for humans does exist.

    On the second statement:

    Yes. I am glad we are the same page. I think that your statement, “it is the conclusion drawn by many many people inquiring into the meaning of life” is for the most part correct. However I believe that it is too restrictive; this conclusion is certainly not limited to the philosophers and those that “inquire.” For instance many people especially less developed (by Western Standards) have this as the center piece of their society. To be trite, this is the “circle of life” from the Lion King, or should I say Kimba the White Lion (Disney ripped that shit off hardcore).

    So without your permission I turned the second part of you comment into a post and then responded to it with an overly long rant about how I disagree with a lot of the stuff in this comment.

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