Discussion:
Can someone please tell me why labeling a book as immoral is off topic?
(too old to reply)
arewhanariki
2007-07-07 04:46:48 UTC
Permalink
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Olympiada
*Anarcissie*
2007-07-07 13:06:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Olympiada
While a Google Groups search returns dozens of messages
complaining that you have posted off-topic, it shows none
for the group rec.arts.books. It looks like you are the only
person posting to rec.arts.books who thinks labeling a book
as immoral is off topic. So -- what's the answer to the
riddle?
Paul Ilechko
2007-07-07 14:51:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Olympiada
While a Google Groups search returns dozens of messages
complaining that you have posted off-topic, it shows none
for the group rec.arts.books. It looks like you are the only
person posting to rec.arts.books who thinks labeling a book
as immoral is off topic. So -- what's the answer to the
riddle?
This is called trolling ... posting stupidity to get a reaction.
*Anarcissie*
2007-07-07 17:37:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul Ilechko
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Olympiada
While a Google Groups search returns dozens of messages
complaining that you have posted off-topic, it shows none
for the group rec.arts.books. It looks like you are the only
person posting to rec.arts.books who thinks labeling a book
as immoral is off topic. So -- what's the answer to the
riddle?
This is called trolling ... posting stupidity to get a reaction.
Trolling is _insincere_ stupidity.
Paul Ilechko
2007-07-07 17:48:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by Paul Ilechko
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Olympiada
While a Google Groups search returns dozens of messages
complaining that you have posted off-topic, it shows none
for the group rec.arts.books. It looks like you are the only
person posting to rec.arts.books who thinks labeling a book
as immoral is off topic. So -- what's the answer to the
riddle?
This is called trolling ... posting stupidity to get a reaction.
Trolling is _insincere_ stupidity.
do you really believe that Elephant Girl's ravings about immorality are
sincere? At best, they are a cry for attention.
*Anarcissie*
2007-07-07 21:56:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul Ilechko
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by Paul Ilechko
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Olympiada
While a Google Groups search returns dozens of messages
complaining that you have posted off-topic, it shows none
for the group rec.arts.books. It looks like you are the only
person posting to rec.arts.books who thinks labeling a book
as immoral is off topic. So -- what's the answer to the
riddle?
This is called trolling ... posting stupidity to get a reaction.
Trolling is _insincere_ stupidity.
do you really believe that Elephant Girl's ravings about immorality are
sincere? At best, they are a cry for attention.
In this case I merely wanted to note that, as far as I
could tell from using Google Groups, no one had complained
that EG had posted anything off-topic in rec.arts.books. In
other newsgroups frequented by EG, it seems that this is
a frequent complaint, so maybe she's confused -- she
doesn't know which newsgroup she's posting to. Is that
trolling, stupidity, or perhaps a sort of serene, celestial
incomprehension of mundane things? Who knows?
Paul Ilechko
2007-07-07 22:31:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by Paul Ilechko
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by Paul Ilechko
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Olympiada
While a Google Groups search returns dozens of messages
complaining that you have posted off-topic, it shows none
for the group rec.arts.books. It looks like you are the only
person posting to rec.arts.books who thinks labeling a book
as immoral is off topic. So -- what's the answer to the
riddle?
This is called trolling ... posting stupidity to get a reaction.
Trolling is _insincere_ stupidity.
do you really believe that Elephant Girl's ravings about immorality are
sincere? At best, they are a cry for attention.
In this case I merely wanted to note that, as far as I
could tell from using Google Groups, no one had complained
that EG had posted anything off-topic in rec.arts.books. In
other newsgroups frequented by EG, it seems that this is
a frequent complaint, so maybe she's confused -- she
doesn't know which newsgroup she's posting to. Is that
trolling, stupidity, or perhaps a sort of serene, celestial
incomprehension of mundane things? Who knows?
I'm not sure that her motives are all that important - the results are
the same.
Jeff Inman
2007-07-07 16:44:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Olympiada
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?

Jeff
arewhanariki
2007-07-07 22:25:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Olympiada
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?
Jeff
I don't keep lists and titles don't threaten me, nor are my opinions
knee jerk, they are founded on dogmatic theology, you are right, and you
are a bunch of strangers, its true.
Jeff Inman
2007-07-08 00:41:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?
I don't keep lists and titles don't threaten me, nor are my opinions
knee jerk, they are founded on dogmatic theology, you are right, and you
are a bunch of strangers, its true.
I'd be interested in hearing how you distinguish "knee jerk"
from "dogmatic". They seem roughly similar to me. Is it
not the case that "dogmatic theology" implies that one's
tastes (e.g. whether a book is valuable) are dictated
without recourse to reflection?

Jeff
arewhanariki
2007-07-08 02:07:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?
I don't keep lists and titles don't threaten me, nor are my opinions
knee jerk, they are founded on dogmatic theology, you are right, and you
are a bunch of strangers, its true.
I'd be interested in hearing how you distinguish "knee jerk"
from "dogmatic". They seem roughly similar to me. Is it
not the case that "dogmatic theology" implies that one's
tastes (e.g. whether a book is valuable) are dictated
without recourse to reflection?
Jeff
No, it means I received training in dogmatic theology, which enabled me
to converse with men who hold MDiv's, post-graduate degrees in theology,
and highly elevated positions within the Church, thereby building upon
my training in dogmatic theology. It means I judge every piece of
literature by Orthodox dogmatic theology. I will write about my dogmatic
theology book if it will make it easier for you, and I might just do it
anyways. It means the opposite of what you say, I evaluate everything by
the light of Christ, whose standard is in the Gospel.
John W. Kennedy
2007-07-08 02:44:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by arewhanariki
No, it means I received training in dogmatic theology, which enabled me
to converse with men who hold MDiv's, post-graduate degrees in theology,
and highly elevated positions within the Church, thereby building upon
my training in dogmatic theology. It means I judge every piece of
literature by Orthodox dogmatic theology. I will write about my dogmatic
theology book if it will make it easier for you, and I might just do it
anyways. It means the opposite of what you say, I evaluate everything by
the light of Christ, whose standard is in the Gospel.
In the West, at least, the term "dogmatic theology" is used to refer to
the study of such topics as the Trinity, the Incarnation, etc.; it is
opposed to "moral theology". I realize that you speak from an Eastern
perspective, but you are using English, and the overwhelming majority of
English-speaking Christians are Western. Yet, thus far, I have not seen
you criticize any book as tending to encourage Iconoclasm, Arianism, or
even the Filioque. Instead, you judge books based only on the moral
implications of isolated incidents. Yet there is no literature worth
mentioning that can stand up to this. Not Shakespeare. Not Aeschylus.
Not Jane Austen. Not Kazantzakis. And not the Bible itself. If you wish
to propose that all Christians enter monasteries and read nothing but
expurgated lives of the saints, that is, of course, your privilege, but
if that is what you want, you should face the reality of it.
--
John W. Kennedy
"The blind rulers of Logres
Nourished the land on a fallacy of rational virtue."
-- Charles Williams. "Taliessin through Logres: Prelude"
Paul Ilechko
2007-07-08 02:48:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by John W. Kennedy
if that is what you want, you should face the reality of it.
No, what she wants is exactly what you are giving her - a response.
The content of it is basically immaterial.
John W. Kennedy
2007-07-09 02:01:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul Ilechko
Post by John W. Kennedy
if that is what you want, you should face the reality of it.
No, what she wants is exactly what you are giving her - a response.
The content of it is basically immaterial.
I am not yet convinced of that. Her postings seem sincere, but confused.
--
John W. Kennedy
Read the remains of Shakespeare's lost play, now annotated!
http://pws.prserv.net/jwkennedy/Double%20Falshood/index.html
Jeff Inman
2007-07-08 03:37:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?
I don't keep lists and titles don't threaten me, nor are my opinions
knee jerk, they are founded on dogmatic theology, you are right, and you
are a bunch of strangers, its true.
I'd be interested in hearing how you distinguish "knee jerk"
from "dogmatic". They seem roughly similar to me. Is it
not the case that "dogmatic theology" implies that one's
tastes (e.g. whether a book is valuable) are dictated
without recourse to reflection?
No, it means I received training in dogmatic theology, which enabled me
to converse with men who hold MDiv's, post-graduate degrees in theology,
and highly elevated positions within the Church, thereby building upon
my training in dogmatic theology. It means I judge every piece of
literature by Orthodox dogmatic theology. I will write about my dogmatic
theology book if it will make it easier for you, and I might just do it
anyways. It means the opposite of what you say, I evaluate everything by
the light of Christ, whose standard is in the Gospel.
Wow. That sounds just like what I said. Here's an interesting
bit from wikipedia on "dogmatic theology":

"One of the purposes of dogmatic theology is so that a church
body can formulate and communicate the doctrine that is
considered essential to Christianity and which if denied would
constitute heresy."

That sounds like a sort of "algebraic" kind of logic, wherein one
starts with the requirement that some conclusion must not be
reached (e.g. a "heresy"), and then constructs premises such
that the forbidden conclusion becomes inconsistent. These
premises, then, must of course be asserted at every turn.
I would call those assertions "knee jerk" in that they are simply
demanded by dogma, rather than following from some kind of
consideration of questions at hand. No doubt they would also
make demands on the interpretation of ambiguous text.
And I would think that they would make reading literature
into a defensive exercise.

Jeff
arewhanariki
2007-07-08 04:30:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?
I don't keep lists and titles don't threaten me, nor are my opinions
knee jerk, they are founded on dogmatic theology, you are right, and you
are a bunch of strangers, its true.
I'd be interested in hearing how you distinguish "knee jerk"
from "dogmatic". They seem roughly similar to me. Is it
not the case that "dogmatic theology" implies that one's
tastes (e.g. whether a book is valuable) are dictated
without recourse to reflection?
No, it means I received training in dogmatic theology, which enabled me
to converse with men who hold MDiv's, post-graduate degrees in theology,
and highly elevated positions within the Church, thereby building upon
my training in dogmatic theology. It means I judge every piece of
literature by Orthodox dogmatic theology. I will write about my dogmatic
theology book if it will make it easier for you, and I might just do it
anyways. It means the opposite of what you say, I evaluate everything by
the light of Christ, whose standard is in the Gospel.
Wow. That sounds just like what I said. Here's an interesting
"One of the purposes of dogmatic theology is so that a church
body can formulate and communicate the doctrine that is
considered essential to Christianity and which if denied would
constitute heresy."
That sounds like a sort of "algebraic" kind of logic, wherein one
starts with the requirement that some conclusion must not be
reached (e.g. a "heresy"), and then constructs premises such
that the forbidden conclusion becomes inconsistent. These
premises, then, must of course be asserted at every turn.
I would call those assertions "knee jerk" in that they are simply
demanded by dogma, rather than following from some kind of
consideration of questions at hand. No doubt they would also
make demands on the interpretation of ambiguous text.
And I would think that they would make reading literature
into a defensive exercise.
Jeff
I suggest you look into how dogmatic theology developed. I can refer you
to a retired seminary professor if you like but I suspect your interest
is not genuine. It says in the Epistles, that is something is not lawful
for you, it is not lawful for you. That book was not lawful for me, it
may be lawful for my brother. It is an individual decision. There are
some one who would say that Christians shouldn't read fiction at all.
Are you interested in sincere conversation?
Jeff Inman
2007-07-08 15:52:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?
I don't keep lists and titles don't threaten me, nor are my opinions
knee jerk, they are founded on dogmatic theology, you are right, and you
are a bunch of strangers, its true.
I'd be interested in hearing how you distinguish "knee jerk"
from "dogmatic". They seem roughly similar to me. Is it
not the case that "dogmatic theology" implies that one's
tastes (e.g. whether a book is valuable) are dictated
without recourse to reflection?
No, it means I received training in dogmatic theology, which enabled me
to converse with men who hold MDiv's, post-graduate degrees in theology,
and highly elevated positions within the Church, thereby building upon
my training in dogmatic theology. It means I judge every piece of
literature by Orthodox dogmatic theology. I will write about my dogmatic
theology book if it will make it easier for you, and I might just do it
anyways. It means the opposite of what you say, I evaluate everything by
the light of Christ, whose standard is in the Gospel.
Wow. That sounds just like what I said. Here's an interesting
"One of the purposes of dogmatic theology is so that a church
body can formulate and communicate the doctrine that is
considered essential to Christianity and which if denied would
constitute heresy."
That sounds like a sort of "algebraic" kind of logic, wherein one
starts with the requirement that some conclusion must not be
reached (e.g. a "heresy"), and then constructs premises such
that the forbidden conclusion becomes inconsistent. These
premises, then, must of course be asserted at every turn.
I would call those assertions "knee jerk" in that they are simply
demanded by dogma, rather than following from some kind of
consideration of questions at hand. No doubt they would also
make demands on the interpretation of ambiguous text.
And I would think that they would make reading literature
into a defensive exercise.
Jeff
I suggest you look into how dogmatic theology developed. I can refer you
to a retired seminary professor if you like but I suspect your interest
is not genuine.
My interest on that is genuine, but not very deep. What little I know
about the advent of Christian dogma comes from Elaine Pagels.
Post by arewhanariki
It says in the Epistles, that is something is not lawful
for you, it is not lawful for you. That book was not lawful for me, it
may be lawful for my brother. It is an individual decision.
So, why declare a book immoral on r.a.b. ?
Post by arewhanariki
There are
some one who would say that Christians shouldn't read fiction at all.
Are you interested in sincere conversation?
It seems to me that "dogmatic" and "sincere" are opposites.
You're proposing to speak non-dogmatically about your dogmatism?

Jeff
Francis A. Miniter
2007-07-08 04:58:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?
I don't keep lists and titles don't threaten me, nor are my opinions
knee jerk, they are founded on dogmatic theology, you are right, and you
are a bunch of strangers, its true.
I'd be interested in hearing how you distinguish "knee jerk"
from "dogmatic". They seem roughly similar to me. Is it
not the case that "dogmatic theology" implies that one's
tastes (e.g. whether a book is valuable) are dictated
without recourse to reflection?
No, it means I received training in dogmatic theology, which enabled me
to converse with men who hold MDiv's, post-graduate degrees in theology,
and highly elevated positions within the Church, thereby building upon
my training in dogmatic theology. It means I judge every piece of
literature by Orthodox dogmatic theology. I will write about my dogmatic
theology book if it will make it easier for you, and I might just do it
anyways. It means the opposite of what you say, I evaluate everything by
the light of Christ, whose standard is in the Gospel.
Wow. That sounds just like what I said. Here's an interesting
"One of the purposes of dogmatic theology is so that a church
body can formulate and communicate the doctrine that is
considered essential to Christianity and which if denied would
constitute heresy."
That sounds like a sort of "algebraic" kind of logic, wherein one
starts with the requirement that some conclusion must not be
reached (e.g. a "heresy"), and then constructs premises such
that the forbidden conclusion becomes inconsistent. These
premises, then, must of course be asserted at every turn.
I would call those assertions "knee jerk" in that they are simply
demanded by dogma, rather than following from some kind of
consideration of questions at hand. No doubt they would also
make demands on the interpretation of ambiguous text.
And I would think that they would make reading literature
into a defensive exercise.
Jeff
While I have long since ceased to be a Catholic, I do not think that what you
describe is a fair view of how (many or most) Roman Catholic theologians
operated and Catholicism is probably one of the most dogmatic theologies around.
Catholic theologians have not relied heavily on biblical text, but on what
they call the Constant Teaching Authority of the church, which they see as
derived from the handed down teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, who, like Socrates,
wrote nothing.

It is my understanding that the [Eastern] Orthodox Church has a similar
theological structure, and that the original basis for the schism between Roman
and Eastern churches arose over whether the Holy Spirit proceeded from God the
Father only [Eastern view] or from God the Father and from the Son as a unitary
principle [Roman view]. This controversy arose from the insertion of the
filioque phrase into the Nicene Creed in the west in the 9th century.

Where I did, and probably you would, part ways with the church comes at the very
early, indeed, initial stage of fundamental presuppositions, the basis of any
system of metaphysics.


Francis A. Miniter
Kater Moggin
2007-07-09 05:09:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Francis A. Miniter
Catholic theologians have not relied heavily on biblical text, but on what
they call the Constant Teaching Authority of the church, which they see as
derived from the handed down teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, who, like
Socrates, wrote nothing.
Roman Catholicism sacrilizes scripture and tradition, both
-- though in practice often subordinating the Bible to
dogmatism, as Ratzi recently demonstrated in his remarks on the
nature of God -- and tradition includes the letter Jesus
supposedly wrote to "Abgarus, ruler of Edessa." Eusebius in EH
1.13.
Post by Francis A. Miniter
Where I did, and probably you would, part ways with the church comes at the
very early, indeed, initial stage of fundamental presuppositions, the basis
of any system of metaphysics.
One can differ with the Church hermeneutically rather than
metaphysically by questioning its claim the Bible is
thoroughly consistent with Roman Catholic teachings. Same goes
for Protestantism, Judaism, etc.

-- Moggin
John W. Kennedy
2007-07-08 02:24:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?
I don't keep lists and titles don't threaten me, nor are my opinions
knee jerk, they are founded on dogmatic theology, you are right, and you
are a bunch of strangers, its true.
I'd be interested in hearing how you distinguish "knee jerk"
from "dogmatic". They seem roughly similar to me. Is it
not the case that "dogmatic theology" implies that one's
tastes (e.g. whether a book is valuable) are dictated
without recourse to reflection?
No, that it not what the word means.

"arewhanariki" is annoying enough by herself. Opposing her with
equal-but-opposite bigotry doesn't help the situation any.
--
John W. Kennedy
"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and
Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes.
The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being
corrected."
-- G. K. Chesterton
Jeff Inman
2007-07-08 03:19:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by John W. Kennedy
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?
I don't keep lists and titles don't threaten me, nor are my opinions
knee jerk, they are founded on dogmatic theology, you are right, and you
are a bunch of strangers, its true.
I'd be interested in hearing how you distinguish "knee jerk"
from "dogmatic". They seem roughly similar to me. Is it
not the case that "dogmatic theology" implies that one's
tastes (e.g. whether a book is valuable) are dictated
without recourse to reflection?
No, that it not what the word means.
"arewhanariki" is annoying enough by herself. Opposing her with
equal-but-opposite bigotry doesn't help the situation any.
Form of a question. I was educated by the answer. I never
realized that there is a variety of theology called "dogmatic",
whose adherents claim that it is not actually dogmatic.
Interesting. I suspect that the exposed nerve will not bear
further probing at this time, though that in itself seems to
point towards "dogmatism" in the sense I would have expected.
Further evidence: read 10 pages, proclaim a book "immoral".
Still not conclusive, of course. Case left open, for accumulation
of further evidence, one way or the other.

Jeff
arewhanariki
2007-07-08 04:28:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by John W. Kennedy
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?
I don't keep lists and titles don't threaten me, nor are my opinions
knee jerk, they are founded on dogmatic theology, you are right, and you
are a bunch of strangers, its true.
I'd be interested in hearing how you distinguish "knee jerk"
from "dogmatic". They seem roughly similar to me. Is it
not the case that "dogmatic theology" implies that one's
tastes (e.g. whether a book is valuable) are dictated
without recourse to reflection?
No, that it not what the word means.
"arewhanariki" is annoying enough by herself. Opposing her with
equal-but-opposite bigotry doesn't help the situation any.
Form of a question. I was educated by the answer. I never
realized that there is a variety of theology called "dogmatic",
whose adherents claim that it is not actually dogmatic.
Interesting. I suspect that the exposed nerve will not bear
further probing at this time, though that in itself seems to
point towards "dogmatism" in the sense I would have expected.
Further evidence: read 10 pages, proclaim a book "immoral".
Still not conclusive, of course. Case left open, for accumulation
of further evidence, one way or the other.
Jeff
Actually the cover indicates that it is questionable, and it was five
pages.
t***@att.net
2007-07-08 10:56:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by arewhanariki
I am eagerly awaiting the answer. I decided Demons and Angels or was it
Angels and Demons was not worth my time, for the second time, thank you.
Olympiada
Not off topic, just idiotic. Why bother reading books at all, if your
goal is to reinforce some dogma that you have? It's just going to
cause you a lot of trouble; keeping lists; reading the first few pages
of books with threatening titles only to discover that, yep, here's
another one; emptying out the ash-pile; etc. And then to trumpet
your knee-jerk opinions to a bunch of strangers. What's the point?
Jeff
Aranawhookie is bad news.. she brought her own flame war here a few
weeks ago.

T
The Other
2007-07-08 09:27:56 UTC
Permalink
There's nothing wrong with labeling a book as immoral. My only
disagreement is your apparent criteria for judging the morality of
books. For whatever it's worth, Graham Greene wrote, after the whole
thing with the Vatican letter on _The Power and the Glory_, ""I have
little regard for the Index in the rare cases in which it deals with
imaginative writing."

I definitely think there are immoral books, and in many cases those
books should not be published. Either the author/publisher should
censor himself, or maybe -- I'm not so sure about this part -- maybe
the book should be censored by law. I argued the first part, the need
for self-censorship, on r.a.b. many years ago. I still remember it,
vaguely. I actually persuaded Meg that I was right. No one else on
r.a.b. was anywhere near convinced, but that doesn't matter, if Meg
agrees with you.
arewhanariki
2007-07-08 20:24:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
There's nothing wrong with labeling a book as immoral. My only
disagreement is your apparent criteria for judging the morality of
books. For whatever it's worth, Graham Greene wrote, after the whole
thing with the Vatican letter on _The Power and the Glory_, ""I have
little regard for the Index in the rare cases in which it deals with
imaginative writing."
I definitely think there are immoral books, and in many cases those
books should not be published. Either the author/publisher should
censor himself, or maybe -- I'm not so sure about this part -- maybe
the book should be censored by law. I argued the first part, the need
for self-censorship, on r.a.b. many years ago. I still remember it,
vaguely. I actually persuaded Meg that I was right. No one else on
r.a.b. was anywhere near convinced, but that doesn't matter, if Meg
agrees with you.
Finally a voice of reason. Nice to meet you. Tell me a little about
yourself please.
michael
2007-07-09 11:53:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
There's nothing wrong with labeling a book as immoral. My only
disagreement is your apparent criteria for judging the morality of
books. For whatever it's worth, Graham Greene wrote, after the whole
thing with the Vatican letter on _The Power and the Glory_, ""I have
little regard for the Index in the rare cases in which it deals with
imaginative writing."
I definitely think there are immoral books, and in many cases those
books should not be published. Either the author/publisher should
censor himself, or maybe -- I'm not so sure about this part -- maybe
the book should be censored by law. I argued the first part, the need
for self-censorship, on r.a.b. many years ago. I still remember it,
vaguely. I actually persuaded Meg that I was right. No one else on
r.a.b. was anywhere near convinced, but that doesn't matter, if Meg
agrees with you.
huh... some liberal...


michael
The Other
2007-07-15 06:30:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by michael
Post by The Other
I definitely think there are immoral books, and in many cases
those books should not be published. Either the author/publisher
should censor himself, or maybe -- I'm not so sure about this part
-- maybe the book should be censored by law. I argued the first
part, the need for self-censorship, on r.a.b. many years ago. I
still remember it, vaguely. I actually persuaded Meg that I was
right. No one else on r.a.b. was anywhere near convinced, but
that doesn't matter, if Meg agrees with you.
huh... some liberal...
Yeah, I do consider myself a liberal if Edmund Burke is classified as
a liberal, which he often is.

Censorship has been practiced in the US throughout most of its
history, including its most liberal periods.
michael
2007-07-15 09:20:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Yeah, I do consider myself a liberal if Edmund Burke is classified as
a liberal, which he often is.
in canada we had the Progressive Conservative Party, commonly referred
to as the PCs... so, why not? they were often liberal in economics and
conservative regarding issues of law and order, not to say class and
authority, like burke...
Post by The Other
Censorship has been practiced in the US throughout most of its
history, including its most liberal periods.
i doubt very much whether the practice of censorship during its most
liberal periods has been an expression of american liberalism though...
more likely this heinous oppression is an expression of the democratic
side of the equation, regardless of whether the spokesmen for its
defense are drawn from the conservative/burkean liberal upper orders...

michael
The Other
2007-07-15 10:50:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by michael
i doubt very much whether the practice of censorship during its most
liberal periods has been an expression of american liberalism
though... more likely this heinous oppression is an expression of
the democratic side of the equation, regardless of whether the
spokesmen for its defense are drawn from the conservative/burkean
liberal upper orders...
Liberalism is often criticized as a "negative" philosophy of politics.
Censorship is obviously not an *expression* of liberalism, but until
recently liberalism hasn't "negated" (sorry for the Teutonicism)
government censorship categorically, especially at the local level.
Some censorship is compatible with classical liberalism in the same
way that Blue Laws, laws against sodomy, etc. were compatible with
classical liberalism.
*Anarcissie*
2007-07-15 12:08:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Post by michael
i doubt very much whether the practice of censorship during its most
liberal periods has been an expression of american liberalism
though... more likely this heinous oppression is an expression of
the democratic side of the equation, regardless of whether the
spokesmen for its defense are drawn from the conservative/burkean
liberal upper orders...
Liberalism is often criticized as a "negative" philosophy of politics.
Censorship is obviously not an *expression* of liberalism, but until
recently liberalism hasn't "negated" (sorry for the Teutonicism)
government censorship categorically, especially at the local level.
Some censorship is compatible with classical liberalism in the same
way that Blue Laws, laws against sodomy, etc. were compatible with
classical liberalism.
Liberal notions of property and privacy _require_ the
suppression of many forms of expression.
The Other
2007-07-15 14:20:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Liberalism is often criticized as a "negative" philosophy of
politics. Censorship is obviously not an *expression* of
liberalism, but until recently liberalism hasn't "negated" (sorry
for the Teutonicism) government censorship categorically,
especially at the local level. Some censorship is compatible with
classical liberalism in the same way that Blue Laws, laws against
sodomy, etc. were compatible with classical liberalism.
Liberal notions of property and privacy _require_ the suppression of
many forms of expression.
Sure, but I was talking specifically about censoring putatively
immoral books. I don't think the censorship of _Tropic of Cancer_ is
required by liberal notions of property and privacy, is it?
*Anarcissie*
2007-07-15 22:33:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Post by The Other
Liberalism is often criticized as a "negative" philosophy of
politics. Censorship is obviously not an *expression* of
liberalism, but until recently liberalism hasn't "negated" (sorry
for the Teutonicism) government censorship categorically,
especially at the local level. Some censorship is compatible with
classical liberalism in the same way that Blue Laws, laws against
sodomy, etc. were compatible with classical liberalism.
Liberal notions of property and privacy _require_ the suppression of
many forms of expression.
Sure, but I was talking specifically about censoring putatively
immoral books. I don't think the censorship of _Tropic of Cancer_ is
required by liberal notions of property and privacy, is it?
Was it supposed to be immoral? I thought it was supposed
to be obscene -- that is, offensive to public sensibilities, which
in a sense would violate the property, the interest, the
people have in a decent and peaceful social order. The
line is drawn differently in most liberal societies these days,
but there is still a line.

No doubt some people said ToC was immoral, but I doubt
if they were thinking types. A book could be immoral
without being obscene, and obscene without being
immoral. I think it was only obscene books which were
censored or suppressed altogether. (For instance, many
regarded Nietzsche's works as immoral, but I haven't
heard that they were suppressed in such liberal bastions
as Great Britain or the U.S.)
Paul Ilechko
2007-07-15 23:55:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by *Anarcissie*
No doubt some people said ToC was immoral, but I doubt
if they were thinking types. A book could be immoral
without being obscene, and obscene without being
immoral.
You'd have a hard time selling the latter concept to any of the
Christian Coalition types in the US. Of course, they are not 'thinking
types'.
Francis A. Miniter
2007-07-16 00:08:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by The Other
Post by The Other
Liberalism is often criticized as a "negative" philosophy of
politics. Censorship is obviously not an *expression* of
liberalism, but until recently liberalism hasn't "negated" (sorry
for the Teutonicism) government censorship categorically,
especially at the local level. Some censorship is compatible with
classical liberalism in the same way that Blue Laws, laws against
sodomy, etc. were compatible with classical liberalism.
Liberal notions of property and privacy _require_ the suppression of
many forms of expression.
Sure, but I was talking specifically about censoring putatively
immoral books. I don't think the censorship of _Tropic of Cancer_ is
required by liberal notions of property and privacy, is it?
Was it supposed to be immoral? I thought it was supposed
to be obscene -- that is, offensive to public sensibilities, which
in a sense would violate the property, the interest, the
people have in a decent and peaceful social order. The
line is drawn differently in most liberal societies these days,
but there is still a line.
No doubt some people said ToC was immoral, but I doubt
if they were thinking types. A book could be immoral
without being obscene, and obscene without being
immoral. I think it was only obscene books which were
censored or suppressed altogether. (For instance, many
regarded Nietzsche's works as immoral, but I haven't
heard that they were suppressed in such liberal bastions
as Great Britain or the U.S.)
Yes, obscenity was the basis alleged for the censorship, banning and seizing the
book.

As to books being banned as immoral, that has happened too. If you use the
Wayback Machine to look up the AB Bookman archives, you can find an article
detailing book banning by types of issues claimed (religious, sexual, political,
etc).

What surprised me just yesterday was to find that "Mein Kampf" is reported (in
Wikipedia) to be currently banned in Bavaria, which claims to own the copyright
(though the Supreme Court of Sweden disagrees), and the rest of Germany, and
also in Austria, where possession as well as sale is illegal, and in France and
the Netherlands, where (both countries) sale is prohibited.


Francis A. Miniter
Francis A. Miniter
2007-07-15 14:53:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by The Other
Post by michael
i doubt very much whether the practice of censorship during its most
liberal periods has been an expression of american liberalism
though... more likely this heinous oppression is an expression of
the democratic side of the equation, regardless of whether the
spokesmen for its defense are drawn from the conservative/burkean
liberal upper orders...
Liberalism is often criticized as a "negative" philosophy of politics.
Censorship is obviously not an *expression* of liberalism, but until
recently liberalism hasn't "negated" (sorry for the Teutonicism)
government censorship categorically, especially at the local level.
Some censorship is compatible with classical liberalism in the same
way that Blue Laws, laws against sodomy, etc. were compatible with
classical liberalism.
Liberal notions of property and privacy _require_ the
suppression of many forms of expression.
No, property is a concept associated with conservatism, not liberalism. Take a
look at the US Supreme Court cases on the issue of Substantive Due Process from
the 1890s to 1937 to see how the two are entangled.

Where privacy has inspired suppression of expression, viz., taking photographs
of private persons in public, it hangs not on liberal principles, but again on
the concept of property, this time a property right in one's image. Liberal
values encourage publication of such images. Photography of the 60s and 70s are
full of such images.

Property, at bottom, is a self-related value. Liberalism is other directed.


Francis A. Miniter
*Anarcissie*
2007-07-15 22:50:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Francis A. Miniter
Post by *Anarcissie*
Post by The Other
Post by michael
i doubt very much whether the practice of censorship during its most
liberal periods has been an expression of american liberalism
though... more likely this heinous oppression is an expression of
the democratic side of the equation, regardless of whether the
spokesmen for its defense are drawn from the conservative/burkean
liberal upper orders...
Liberalism is often criticized as a "negative" philosophy of politics.
Censorship is obviously not an *expression* of liberalism, but until
recently liberalism hasn't "negated" (sorry for the Teutonicism)
government censorship categorically, especially at the local level.
Some censorship is compatible with classical liberalism in the same
way that Blue Laws, laws against sodomy, etc. were compatible with
classical liberalism.
Liberal notions of property and privacy _require_ the
suppression of many forms of expression.
No, property is a concept associated with conservatism, not liberalism.
I am speaking of liberalism in the broadest sense, in
which the word takes in classical and modern liberalism,
Whiggism, and many ideas and interested rather
incorrectly labeled these days as "conservative" in the
U.S. John Locke spoke of life, liberty and property;
the only reason the Declaration of Independence doesn't,
I'm told, is because the authors were afraid that if they
said men had a right of property, the lower orders would
demand that the government provide them with some.
Historically, liberalism has been most solicitous of the
rights of property -- not only to be possessed, but to
be made to expand as rapidly as possible.
Post by Francis A. Miniter
Take a
look at the US Supreme Court cases on the issue of Substantive Due Process from
the 1890s to 1937 to see how the two are entangled.
Where privacy has inspired suppression of expression, viz., taking photographs
of private persons in public, it hangs not on liberal principles, but again on
the concept of property, this time a property right in one's image. Liberal
values encourage publication of such images. Photography of the 60s and 70s are
full of such images.
Property, at bottom, is a self-related value. Liberalism is other directed.
Liberal (modern popular usage) politicians don't seem
push it much. Mostly, like politicians of other flavors,
they seem to talk about how much better off the
people will be if they vote for liberals -- just like
"conservatives", "moderates", socialists, greens,
communists, etc.

About the only truly other-directed modern politics I
can think of is fascism, and I suppose the fascist-like
movements of religious fanaticism that spill over into
political acts, where the individual is supposed to
sacrifice all for the state, or god, or whatever.
t***@att.net
2007-07-16 10:22:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by michael
Post by The Other
Yeah, I do consider myself a liberal if Edmund Burke is classified as
a liberal, which he often is.
in canada we had the Progressive Conservative Party, commonly referred
to as the PCs... so, why not? they were often liberal in economics and
conservative regarding issues of law and order, not to say class and
authority, like burke...
These are the Red Tories?

T.
michael
2007-07-16 10:53:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@att.net
Post by michael
Post by The Other
Yeah, I do consider myself a liberal if Edmund Burke is classified as
a liberal, which he often is.
in canada we had the Progressive Conservative Party, commonly referred
to as the PCs... so, why not? they were often liberal in economics and
conservative regarding issues of law and order, not to say class and
authority, like burke...
These are the Red Tories?
there were red tories among them up until the long slow demise of joe
(who?) clark... over time they were more and more marginalized within
the party until the party died and got reborn without a red in sight...
the red tories were more or less conservatives on the british model and
could therefore appear to be almost as anti-capitalist as any good
ndp'er, substituting paternalism for the nanny state of course...

michael
Francis A. Miniter
2007-07-15 14:44:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Censorship has been practiced in the US throughout most of its
history, including its most liberal periods.
Assuming for argument that that is true, you miss the cause and effect. Periods
of liberalism are generally marked by a popular movement that is intellectually
inspired. When this movement seeks to change the status quo, those in power
(old judges from the previous era still sitting) eagerly grasp at censorship to
try to stem the popular tide.

American censorship has not been practiced by liberals, but against them.


Francis A. Miniter
Jeff Inman
2007-07-15 23:53:36 UTC
Permalink
The Other <***@other.invalid> using X_NO_ARCHIVE,
would've had this text become unavailable, but here
Post by The Other
I definitely think there are immoral books, and in many cases
those books should not be published. Either the author/publisher
should censor himself, or maybe -- I'm not so sure about this part
-- maybe the book should be censored by law. I argued the first
part, the need for self-censorship, on r.a.b. many years ago. I
still remember it, vaguely. I actually persuaded Meg that I was
right. No one else on r.a.b. was anywhere near convinced, but
that doesn't matter, if Meg agrees with you.
I think your case must devolve to a sort of hygenic argument,
where "immoral" is understood to mean harmful, in some sense.

In student days, living in apartments in Boston, I discovered
that if you suffer one cockroach to live, you will have cockroaches,
and by the time you get around to responding, they will have
become entrenched. So, you are better off striking first.
Intelligent consideration determines that one should use
non-toxic means, like boric acid powder.

If we lived in small villages, like humans and their precursors
have almost always done, we might have similar views on wolves.
After all, you can't have them snatching your children and livestock.

But, from the modern perspective, we (some of us) can see that
our prevalence has resulted in the crushing of the ecosystem
which has nourished us from the beginning. In purely practical
terms, this reveals that the original equation was more
complicated than we realized. Wolves, sharks, bears -- all the
glowing eyes that were seen when we peered into the dark forest
-- are now precious lost things. And the dark dangerous forest,
too. In more-than-practical terms, then, a path that must have
seemed spiritually justifiable has had the tragic effect of
killing Humbaba. Or, said differently, we are necessarily at
odds with ourselves.

I suspect that a similar process of tragic discovery looms in
the realm of memes. Even potentially "harmful" memes -- immoral
books, offensive speech, threatening ideas -- contain some hidden
value that becomes more evident when it is successfully eliminated.

This doesn't mean that one must desire to live in a roach-
infested apartment, but, rather, that the world in which we live
is not adequately managed with logical analysis of immediate
threats, because we lack a full grasp of the cost-function.
(That is, those of us who don't have dogma to simplify our
analysis.)

Maybe one can eventually appreciate what Ed Abbey was onto:

"Now, when I write of paradise I mean *Paradise*,
not the banal Heaven of the saints. When I write
"paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden
women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies,
rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms,
volcanos and earthquakes, bacteria and bear,
cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite,
flash floods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh"

-- Edward Abbey, _Desert Solitaire_


Jeff
Kater Moggin
2007-07-20 08:53:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
"Now, when I write of paradise I mean *Paradise*,
not the banal Heaven of the saints. When I write
"paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden
women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies,
rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms,
volcanos and earthquakes, bacteria and bear,
cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite,
flash floods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh"
-- Edward Abbey, _Desert Solitaire_
O.k., what's so paradisical about, say, cancer? Or having
your skin rot off from leprosy? And isn't the contention
_everything_ in the world is paradise loading the dice? If you
always come up winners, what's the risk or challenge of the
game? (I'm trying to make an objection you'd relate to instead
of my taking my usual line. If you think it doesn't sound
like me, you're right. It isn't.) I suggest Abbey is cheating
at solitaire.

-- Moggin
tbs48
2007-07-20 10:25:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
"Now, when I write of paradise I mean *Paradise*,
not the banal Heaven of the saints. When I write
"paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden
women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies,
rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms,
volcanos and earthquakes, bacteria and bear,
cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite,
flash floods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh"
-- Edward Abbey, _Desert Solitaire_
O.k., what's so paradisical about, say, cancer? Or having
your skin rot off from leprosy? And isn't the contention
_everything_ in the world is paradise loading the dice? If you
always come up winners, what's the risk or challenge of the
game? (I'm trying to make an objection you'd relate to instead
of my taking my usual line. If you think it doesn't sound
like me, you're right. It isn't.) I suggest Abbey is cheating
at solitaire.
"He's still, dead, Ralph." (Hardly cheating.)

But my pal, the taphonomist**, once cleared an auditorium at the U. of
Calgary during a conference on "Humanism and Global Change" by stating
that there was no reason for humans to assume that they were immune to
extinction. And this was in the mid-80s, too.

T.

ObNowReading_1: ZOLI by Colum McCann

ObNowreading_2: THE WONGA COUP by Adam Roberts

** a taphonomist is a paleontologist who studies mass extinctions. He
had an industrial freezer in the paleo lab where he kept a pod of
coots which had been frozen in the river's ice one winter. Ain't
science grand?
Kater Moggin
2007-07-20 11:29:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by tbs48
"He's still, dead, Ralph." (Hardly cheating.)
Death ain't cheating (aside from the saying about cheating
the hangman). And giving shit to Nashville functionaries
isn't cheating at all. But if you think of life as a challenge
or a brave risk (not my view, of course), then Abbey's idea
that everything is paradise makes it into a rigged game:
you're guaranteed to win each hand and every single roll of the
dice.

-- Moggin
tbs48
2007-07-20 12:02:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by tbs48
"He's still, dead, Ralph." (Hardly cheating.)
Death ain't cheating (aside from the saying about cheating
the hangman). And giving shit to Nashville functionaries
isn't cheating at all. But if you think of life as a challenge
or a brave risk (not my view, of course), then Abbey's idea
you're guaranteed to win each hand and every single roll of the
dice.
Bless your pointy little head, Moggi. There's room in the coot freezer
for you, I'll betcha.

T.
Kater Moggin
2007-07-21 14:58:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by tbs48
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by tbs48
"He's still, dead, Ralph." (Hardly cheating.)
Death ain't cheating (aside from the saying about cheating
the hangman). And giving shit to Nashville functionaries
isn't cheating at all. But if you think of life as a challenge
or a brave risk (not my view, of course), then Abbey's idea
you're guaranteed to win each hand and every single roll of the
dice.
Bless your pointy little head, Moggi. There's room in the coot freezer
for you, I'll betcha.
Pointed. 3/5's Of A Mile In 10 Seconds but The Other Side
of This Life is what fits here.

-- Moggin
David Loftus
2007-07-23 17:44:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by tbs48
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
"Now, when I write of paradise I mean *Paradise*,
not the banal Heaven of the saints. When I write
"paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden
women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies,
rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms,
volcanos and earthquakes, bacteria and bear,
cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite,
flash floods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh"
-- Edward Abbey, _Desert Solitaire_
O.k., what's so paradisical about, say, cancer? Or having
your skin rot off from leprosy? And isn't the contention
_everything_ in the world is paradise loading the dice? If you
always come up winners, what's the risk or challenge of the
game? (I'm trying to make an objection you'd relate to instead
of my taking my usual line. If you think it doesn't sound
like me, you're right. It isn't.) I suggest Abbey is cheating
at solitaire.
"He's still, dead, Ralph." (Hardly cheating.)
But my pal, the taphonomist**, once cleared an auditorium at the U. of
Calgary during a conference on "Humanism and Global Change" by stating
that there was no reason for humans to assume that they were immune to
extinction. And this was in the mid-80s, too.
T.
ObNowReading_1: ZOLI by Colum McCann
ObNowreading_2: THE WONGA COUP by Adam Roberts
** a taphonomist is a paleontologist who studies mass extinctions. He
had an industrial freezer in the paleo lab where he kept a pod of
coots which had been frozen in the river's ice one winter. Ain't
science grand?- Hide quoted text -
- Show quoted text -
I just read a recent book that talks a lot about mass extinctions --
in particular, how a sudden drop in atmospheric oxygen may have been
responsible for helping the dinosaurs to evolve rapidly in favor of
nascent mammals during the dawn of the Triassic . . . following one of
the five major mass extinctions among at least 15 over the course of
prehistory as we currently understand it.

The book is _Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, and Earth's Ancient
Atmosphere_ by Peter Ward. See my writeup here:

http://calitreview.com/2007/07/23/out-of-thin-air-dinosaurs-birds-and-earth%e2%80%99s-ancient-atmosphere-by-peter-douglas-ward/


I couldn't tell you whether this book is immoral or obscene, however.


David Loftus
Jeff Inman
2007-07-20 16:14:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
"Now, when I write of paradise I mean *Paradise*,
not the banal Heaven of the saints. When I write
"paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden
women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies,
rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms,
volcanos and earthquakes, bacteria and bear,
cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite,
flash floods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh"
-- Edward Abbey, _Desert Solitaire_
O.k., what's so paradisical about, say, cancer? Or having
your skin rot off from leprosy? And isn't the contention
_everything_ in the world is paradise loading the dice? If you
always come up winners, what's the risk or challenge of the
game? (I'm trying to make an objection you'd relate to instead
of my taking my usual line. If you think it doesn't sound
like me, you're right. It isn't.) I suggest Abbey is cheating
at solitaire.
Let's try it in context, first, and then we can struggle
with the larger question.

Suppose we had successfully eliminated wolves, if there had
been (as I imagined) days in the past, when they were
understood as malefic. Now let's talk with a modern
biologist.

"Studies at Yellowstone National Park indicate that
wolves support a wide variety of other
animals. Ravens, foxes, wolverines, coyotes, bald
eagles, and even bears feed on the carcasses of
animals killed by wolves. Antelope are swift, elk
are alert, and mountain goats are adept at
climbing steep cliffs, in part because of the
long-term effects of wolf predation. Wolves also
help maintain the balance between these ungulates
(hoofed animals) and their food supply, making
room for other plant-eaters such as beavers and
small rodents."

-- http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/biology/biologue.htm


In other words, it looks like we would've seriously harmed
ourselves, if we had been successful in eliminating wolves.
Once upon a time, it was not obvious that creatures which
are cunning and which threatened settlers were vital to the
health of the world that nurtures us, but they were. Same
thing for cougars, bear, and sharks.

I was making the claim that something similar might hold
with regard to the ideas that threaten certain dogmatists,
which produced the snap "immorality" judgment in the
original subject of this thread.

We could perhaps extend the "metaphier" (Julian Jaynes'
term) to mosquitoes, poison oak, "scorpions and tarantulas
and flies", etc, and perhaps ultimately, should we have the
nerve to do so, to "disease and death and the rotting of the
flesh". Not an easy step to make. What we would be
affirming, I think, is the mysterious urgency that life has,
by virtue of being vulnerable, fragile, and limited in
duration. I understand Abbey to be on that page: life would
not be worth living, were it devoid of any threats or
challenges. I think you disagree, but I am only trying to
describe a position, not necessarily to change your mind.

Here's another try: Suppose we were a primitive organism in
the primordial soup, and we wanted to evolve. Given
Darwin's claim that what is needed for evolution is
mutation, heritability, and struggle-for-existence, it seems
that we'd have as prerequisites: the ability to reproduce
with heritability of traits, and a limited lifespan (or at
least the ability to be killed). I am speculating here.
The speculation is a wondering at whether death could've
been something *invented* by life, rather than something
against which it has been in eternal struggle. Just a
question. I'm not sure.

I think you are immediately distracted by who the hell made
struggle-for-existence necessary, and how could it be good?
Here's one answer:

"If a revelation from heaven of which no person
could feel the smallest doubt were to dispel the
mists that now hang over metaphysical subjects,
[...] such an accession of knowledge [...] would
in all probability tend to repress future exertion
and to damp the soaring wings of intellect."

--- Malthus, _Essay on the Principle of Population_,
chapter XIX


I'm sure you can see a path from there to Nietzsche and to
Jung.

So, I'm suggesting that the "paradise" of Abbey is not
death, per se, but rather a life in which life's transience
gives poignancy, urgency, meaning, value, etc, to life. It
might be argued that one who has heaven waiting would hardly
need to attend to life, and therefore would be free to kill
off predators on principle, without regard to the real
effects of that slaughter on the natural world.


Jeff
Kater Moggin
2007-07-21 14:55:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
"Now, when I write of paradise I mean *Paradise*,
not the banal Heaven of the saints. When I write
"paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden
women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies,
rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms,
volcanos and earthquakes, bacteria and bear,
cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite,
flash floods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh"
-- Edward Abbey, _Desert Solitaire_
O.k., what's so paradisical about, say, cancer? Or having
your skin rot off from leprosy? And isn't the contention
_everything_ in the world is paradise loading the dice? If you
always come up winners, what's the risk or challenge of the
game? (I'm trying to make an objection you'd relate to instead
of my taking my usual line. If you think it doesn't sound
like me, you're right. It isn't.) I suggest Abbey is cheating
at solitaire.
Let's try it in context, first, and then we can struggle
with the larger question.
Suppose we had successfully eliminated wolves, if there had
been (as I imagined) days in the past, when they were
understood as malefic. Now let's talk with a modern
biologist.
"Studies at Yellowstone National Park indicate that
wolves support a wide variety of other
animals. Ravens, foxes, wolverines, coyotes, bald
eagles, and even bears feed on the carcasses of
animals killed by wolves. Antelope are swift, elk
are alert, and mountain goats are adept at
climbing steep cliffs, in part because of the
long-term effects of wolf predation. Wolves also
help maintain the balance between these ungulates
(hoofed animals) and their food supply, making
room for other plant-eaters such as beavers and
small rodents."
-- http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/biology/biologue.htm
In other words, it looks like we would've seriously harmed
ourselves, if we had been successful in eliminating wolves.
Once upon a time, it was not obvious that creatures which
are cunning and which threatened settlers were vital to the
health of the world that nurtures us, but they were. Same
thing for cougars, bear, and sharks.
I was making the claim that something similar might hold
with regard to the ideas that threaten certain dogmatists,
which produced the snap "immorality" judgment in the
original subject of this thread.
We could perhaps extend the "metaphier" (Julian Jaynes'
term) to mosquitoes, poison oak, "scorpions and tarantulas
and flies", etc, and perhaps ultimately, should we have the
nerve to do so, to "disease and death and the rotting of the
flesh". Not an easy step to make. What we would be
affirming, I think, is the mysterious urgency that life has,
by virtue of being vulnerable, fragile, and limited in
duration.
The main argument here is mechanical: taking various bits
and pieces out of the natural world might threaten its
'delicate and mysterious balance' -- like removing random parts
from a complicated watch -- with potentially negative
consequences for the creatures that remain. Not an affirmation
of life so much as an appeal to the self-interest of the
living. "Keep that up, your watch may stop working. How would
you feel then?"

Considering the conditions of life you're describing, from
sharp-toothed predators tearing apart their prey to the
painful stings of poisonous insects to the suffering of disease
and death, it makes good sense to reject life-affirming
dogmatism and say to hell with the whole thing. Smash the damn
watch, ending the torments of the countless creatures being
crushed between its wheels. It's a torture-machine that should
have been destroyed long ago.
Post by Jeff Inman
I understand Abbey to be on that page: life would
not be worth living, were it devoid of any threats or
challenges. I think you disagree, but I am only trying to
describe a position, not necessarily to change your mind.
Of course I disagree, but I'm making a different objection.
It doesn't seem to have gotten across, so I'm going to have
another try. Abbey argues for the high value of the things you
listed: "not only apple trees and golden women but also
scorpions and tarantulas and flies," death, disease, etc. He's
contending that they're heaven on earth, superior to "the
banal Heaven of the saints." Paradise, he calls them. So look
at what that thinking does to the idea life is a grand
adventure full of dares and challenges: it's gone. Everything
is paradisical, from apples to cancer, so every gamble is
automatically a success: there's no way to lose a bet, thus no
risk at all.
Post by Jeff Inman
Here's another try: Suppose we were a primitive organism in
the primordial soup, and we wanted to evolve. Given
Darwin's claim that what is needed for evolution is
mutation, heritability, and struggle-for-existence, it seems
that we'd have as prerequisites: the ability to reproduce
with heritability of traits, and a limited lifespan (or at
least the ability to be killed). I am speculating here.
The speculation is a wondering at whether death could've
been something *invented* by life, rather than something
against which it has been in eternal struggle. Just a
question. I'm not sure.
How about Freud's notion in _Beyond the Pleasure Principle_
that death is life's aim, not its enemy? Or take a
theological angle: maybe God invented life in order to end his
divine boredom. Not a show to entertain him, but an
alternative to the infinitely dull sense of inevitability which
comes from being all-knowing and all-powerful: nothing
happens without his will and knowledge. A couple of eternities
and that would really get old, but his only way out is to
surrender his throne, allowing the universe to play dice. Talk
about risky business.
Post by Jeff Inman
I think you are immediately distracted by who the hell made
struggle-for-existence necessary, and how could it be good?
Read again. I skipped my usual spiel to pose an objection
I thought would be more meaningful to you. After asking
what's so paradisical about having cancer or watching your skin
rot from leprosy -- still waiting for a reply -- I argued
Abbey's everything-is-paradise idea removes all of life's risks
by putting four aces in every hand.
Post by Jeff Inman
"If a revelation from heaven of which no person
could feel the smallest doubt were to dispel the
mists that now hang over metaphysical subjects,
[...] such an accession of knowledge [...] would
in all probability tend to repress future exertion
and to damp the soaring wings of intellect."
--- Malthus, _Essay on the Principle of Population_,
chapter XIX
I'm sure you can see a path from there to Nietzsche and to
Jung.
Malthus is objecting to heavenly revelation, not answering
the questions "who the hell made struggle-for-existence
necessary, and how could it be good?" Are you just saying it's
better not to know?
Post by Jeff Inman
So, I'm suggesting that the "paradise" of Abbey is not
death, per se, but rather a life in which life's transience
gives poignancy, urgency, meaning, value, etc, to life.
I found my copy of the book. In context Abbey is pledging
his "loyalty to the earth," rejecting what he calls "the
painted fantasy of a realm beyond space and time" and defending
"the here and now, the actual, tangible, dogmatically real
earth on which we stand." He isn't relying on death to provide
life with some meaning; he's including it in his earthly
paradise alongside flies, scorpions, quicksand, earthquakes and
sickness.
Post by Jeff Inman
It might be argued that one who has heaven waiting would hardly
need to attend to life, and therefore would be free to kill
off predators on principle, without regard to the real
effects of that slaughter on the natural world.
Same for anyone who expects to die within a standard human
lifespan. If you're not going to be around then you have
nothing invested in what happens after you leave, unless you're
expecting to be reincarnated or you worry about what may
happen to your kids. No need for heaven; death alone is enough
to trivialize the future.

-- Moggin
Jeff Inman
2007-07-21 16:20:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
"Now, when I write of paradise I mean *Paradise*,
not the banal Heaven of the saints. When I write
"paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden
women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies,
rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms,
volcanos and earthquakes, bacteria and bear,
cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite,
flash floods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh"
-- Edward Abbey, _Desert Solitaire_
O.k., what's so paradisical about, say, cancer? Or having
your skin rot off from leprosy? And isn't the contention
_everything_ in the world is paradise loading the dice? If you
always come up winners, what's the risk or challenge of the
game? (I'm trying to make an objection you'd relate to instead
of my taking my usual line. If you think it doesn't sound
like me, you're right. It isn't.) I suggest Abbey is cheating
at solitaire.
Let's try it in context, first, and then we can struggle
with the larger question.
Suppose we had successfully eliminated wolves, if there had
been (as I imagined) days in the past, when they were
understood as malefic. Now let's talk with a modern
biologist.
"Studies at Yellowstone National Park indicate that
wolves support a wide variety of other
animals. Ravens, foxes, wolverines, coyotes, bald
eagles, and even bears feed on the carcasses of
animals killed by wolves. Antelope are swift, elk
are alert, and mountain goats are adept at
climbing steep cliffs, in part because of the
long-term effects of wolf predation. Wolves also
help maintain the balance between these ungulates
(hoofed animals) and their food supply, making
room for other plant-eaters such as beavers and
small rodents."
--http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/biology/biologue.htm
In other words, it looks like we would've seriously harmed
ourselves, if we had been successful in eliminating wolves.
Once upon a time, it was not obvious that creatures which
are cunning and which threatened settlers were vital to the
health of the world that nurtures us, but they were. Same
thing for cougars, bear, and sharks.
I was making the claim that something similar might hold
with regard to the ideas that threaten certain dogmatists,
which produced the snap "immorality" judgment in the
original subject of this thread.
We could perhaps extend the "metaphier" (Julian Jaynes'
term) to mosquitoes, poison oak, "scorpions and tarantulas
and flies", etc, and perhaps ultimately, should we have the
nerve to do so, to "disease and death and the rotting of the
flesh". Not an easy step to make. What we would be
affirming, I think, is the mysterious urgency that life has,
by virtue of being vulnerable, fragile, and limited in
duration.
The main argument here is mechanical: taking various bits
and pieces out of the natural world might threaten its
'delicate and mysterious balance' -- like removing random parts
from a complicated watch -- with potentially negative
consequences for the creatures that remain. Not an affirmation
of life so much as an appeal to the self-interest of the
living. "Keep that up, your watch may stop working. How would
you feel then?"
It's mechanical if you reduce it to the mechanism. Just like a
human being is. "Keep that up and the watch may stop working".
Does one care if a mechanism stops working? Yeah, one might.
Post by Kater Moggin
Considering the conditions of life you're describing, from
sharp-toothed predators tearing apart their prey to the
painful stings of poisonous insects to the suffering of disease
and death, it makes good sense to reject life-affirming
dogmatism and say to hell with the whole thing. Smash the damn
watch, ending the torments of the countless creatures being
crushed between its wheels. It's a torture-machine that should
have been destroyed long ago.
You've made this position very clear. It's an unusual one, and
worth having in the mix, but I've already gotten it.
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
I understand Abbey to be on that page: life would
not be worth living, were it devoid of any threats or
challenges. I think you disagree, but I am only trying to
describe a position, not necessarily to change your mind.
Of course I disagree, but I'm making a different objection.
It doesn't seem to have gotten across, so I'm going to have
another try. Abbey argues for the high value of the things you
listed: "not only apple trees and golden women but also
scorpions and tarantulas and flies," death, disease, etc. He's
contending that they're heaven on earth, superior to "the
banal Heaven of the saints." Paradise, he calls them. So look
at what that thinking does to the idea life is a grand
adventure full of dares and challenges: it's gone. Everything
is paradisical, from apples to cancer, so every gamble is
automatically a success: there's no way to lose a bet, thus no
risk at all.
If we were to imagine the tragic brutal machine of life as one
grand mechanism, all of a piece, one could indeed say that there
is no one part of it that is any less "it" than any other part
of it.

The argument seems a tad sophistical. It's a little like the
detractors of logical relativism who think it means that any one
conclusion is the same as any other. The counter is that
conclusions may be equally contingent on their premises without
being equivalent.

I think Abbey is making two points, (which I was leaning on to
make a metaphorical argument supporting noxious ideas in the
ecosystem of memes): (1) the ugly, dangerous parts are necessary
to the working of the whole, even if the intuition is that the
whole is Good and the noxious parts are Evil. (2) Since item #1
is so counter-intuitive that there seems little ability to even
slow the destruction of the seemingly-unnecessary noxious
components, having the consequence of injuring the whole --
because of that, someone who intuits item #1 might revel in the
noxious parts (as well as the apple trees and golden women), as
signs of the deeper foundations of the whole.

Where you have an ideal of paradise that entails the absence of
any threat, there you have sterility and a rejection of life as
it really is. That would be "losing the bet", as you put it;
forsaking any idea of life as "a grand adventure full of dares
and challenges". Where are you going to find adventure in the
paradise of the saints? You want challenge? It's tough to
think of a grander challenge than traveling with eyes open
through such a magnificently complex "torture-machine" full of
"sharp-toothed" predators, grief, loss, and bladderweed.
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
Here's another try: Suppose we were a primitive organism in
the primordial soup, and we wanted to evolve. Given
Darwin's claim that what is needed for evolution is
mutation, heritability, and struggle-for-existence, it seems
that we'd have as prerequisites: the ability to reproduce
with heritability of traits, and a limited lifespan (or at
least the ability to be killed). I am speculating here.
The speculation is a wondering at whether death could've
been something *invented* by life, rather than something
against which it has been in eternal struggle. Just a
question. I'm not sure.
How about Freud's notion in _Beyond the Pleasure Principle_
that death is life's aim, not its enemy? Or take a
theological angle: maybe God invented life in order to end his
divine boredom. Not a show to entertain him, but an
alternative to the infinitely dull sense of inevitability which
comes from being all-knowing and all-powerful: nothing
happens without his will and knowledge. A couple of eternities
and that would really get old, but his only way out is to
surrender his throne, allowing the universe to play dice. Talk
about risky business.
Makes an interesting analogy. This kind of personification of a
deity seems to me to be over-literalized, but it could make the
metaphorical foundation of an amusing joke. What would be the
punch line? ... "And the first thing they want to do is make
more of themselves!" Hahaha.
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
I think you are immediately distracted by who the hell made
struggle-for-existence necessary, and how could it be good?
Read again. I skipped my usual spiel to pose an objection
I thought would be more meaningful to you. After asking
what's so paradisical about having cancer or watching your skin
rot from leprosy -- still waiting for a reply -- I argued
Abbey's everything-is-paradise idea removes all of life's risks
by putting four aces in every hand.
Post by Jeff Inman
"If a revelation from heaven of which no person
could feel the smallest doubt were to dispel the
mists that now hang over metaphysical subjects,
[...] such an accession of knowledge [...] would
in all probability tend to repress future exertion
and to damp the soaring wings of intellect."
--- Malthus, _Essay on the Principle of Population_,
chapter XIX
I'm sure you can see a path from there to Nietzsche and to
Jung.
Malthus is objecting to heavenly revelation, not answering
the questions "who the hell made struggle-for-existence
necessary, and how could it be good?" Are you just saying it's
better not to know?
I'm not sure what knowing would be like, or whether it is
possible to imagine a part understanding the whole. Can a taste
bud experience eating a peach? Can a neuron understand network
flow optimization? But I am endowed with a longing to try to
experience more deeply, and understand further. I think Malthus
is saying that that this longing and its attendant satisfactions
are gifts of my position as struggling conflicted being.
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
So, I'm suggesting that the "paradise" of Abbey is not
death, per se, but rather a life in which life's transience
gives poignancy, urgency, meaning, value, etc, to life.
I found my copy of the book. In context Abbey is pledging
his "loyalty to the earth," rejecting what he calls "the
painted fantasy of a realm beyond space and time" and defending
"the here and now, the actual, tangible, dogmatically real
earth on which we stand." He isn't relying on death to provide
life with some meaning; he's including it in his earthly
paradise alongside flies, scorpions, quicksand, earthquakes and
sickness.
So, your question has been answered?
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
It might be argued that one who has heaven waiting would hardly
need to attend to life, and therefore would be free to kill
off predators on principle, without regard to the real
effects of that slaughter on the natural world.
Same for anyone who expects to die within a standard human
lifespan. If you're not going to be around then you have
nothing invested in what happens after you leave, unless you're
expecting to be reincarnated or you worry about what may
happen to your kids. No need for heaven; death alone is enough
to trivialize the future.
It could be, if one does not value the larger system of which
one is a part, and makes no identification with it. There are
lots of people like that. I suspect that they are in large part
the same as the ones who feel that immoral things should be
rubbed out, and that noxious challenges to their local interests
can be countered by direct action, and are expendable without
consequence.


Jeff
The Other
2007-07-22 06:58:43 UTC
Permalink
I think Abbey is making two points, (which I was leaning on to make
a metaphorical argument supporting noxious ideas in the ecosystem of
memes): (1) the ugly, dangerous parts are necessary to the working
of the whole, even if the intuition is that the whole is Good and
the noxious parts are Evil.
I still don't think you've replied to my earlier point: that
censorship (or taboo) itself is one of those "ugly, dangerous
parts"...
(2) Since item #1 is so counter-intuitive that there seems little
ability to even slow the destruction of the seemingly-unnecessary
noxious components, having the consequence of injuring the whole --
because of that, someone who intuits item #1 might revel in the
noxious parts (as well as the apple trees and golden women), as
signs of the deeper foundations of the whole.
...and that therefore you might even revel in it, as a sign of the
deeper foundations of the whole.
Jeff Inman
2007-07-23 03:16:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
I think Abbey is making two points, (which I was leaning on to make
a metaphorical argument supporting noxious ideas in the ecosystem of
memes): (1) the ugly, dangerous parts are necessary to the working
of the whole, even if the intuition is that the whole is Good and
the noxious parts are Evil.
I still don't think you've replied to my earlier point: that
censorship (or taboo) itself is one of those "ugly, dangerous
parts"...
I don't think it has arrived here. But I think I see the argument.
Yourself as one of the wolves. Fair enough. Touche.
Post by The Other
(2) Since item #1 is so counter-intuitive that there seems little
ability to even slow the destruction of the seemingly-unnecessary
noxious components, having the consequence of injuring the whole --
because of that, someone who intuits item #1 might revel in the
noxious parts (as well as the apple trees and golden women), as
signs of the deeper foundations of the whole.
...and that therefore you might even revel in it, as a sign of the
deeper foundations of the whole.
It is a struggle to step beyond one's own values. For example,
I think Malthus was right, but that doesn't make it easy to watch
the train wreck, nor would one wish for the Malthusian route
to stability. That makes me a conflicted being.

Jeff
The Other
2007-07-23 09:21:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by The Other
Post by Jeff Inman
I think Abbey is making two points, (which I was leaning on to
make a metaphorical argument supporting noxious ideas in the
ecosystem of memes): (1) the ugly, dangerous parts are necessary
to the working of the whole, even if the intuition is that the
whole is Good and the noxious parts are Evil.
I still don't think you've replied to my earlier point: that
censorship (or taboo) itself is one of those "ugly, dangerous
parts"...
I don't think it has arrived here. But I think I see the argument.
Yourself as one of the wolves. Fair enough. Touche.
Yep, that's the argument. Here's what I wrote in my follow-up that
Post by Jeff Inman
[I elided most of your ecological, unintended-consequences argument.]
Post by The Other
This doesn't mean that one must desire to live in a roach-
infested apartment, but, rather, that the world in which we live
is not adequately managed with logical analysis of immediate
threats, because we lack a full grasp of the cost-function. (That
is, those of us who don't have dogma to simplify our analysis.)
You just undermined your whole argument with that last parenthetical
remark. The only thing you could have done better would've been to
write, instead of "dogma", "dogma or prejudice" (in the Burkean
sense of the word). Censorship, or in the wider picture, taboo, is
one of those ecological, not-rationally-comprehensible, evolved
systems, which fits into the larger system of society in some
complicated, incomprehensible way. It has existed time out of mind.
It cannot be adequately managed by logical analysis of immediate
threats, because we lack a full grasp of the cost function.
That said, some censorship is based on immediate threats and some is
based on long-term threats.
Also, I'd never suggest that there's nothing of value lost in
censorship. It would be a big loss if _Lolita_ had never been
published. I don't know what the greatest losses due to censorship
would be, or *have* been in American history. (Care to guess?)
It's a commonplace that in America, valuable ideas are more often
suppressed through non-government means.
The censorship of _Lolita_ wouldn't be all that tragic if the
censorship were local, which I think most government censorship
ought to be: "We don't want that kind of stuff sold in our
community." Books that were banned in Boston were readily available
in New York. But that requires some amount of local autonomy.
Marko Amnell
2007-07-23 11:24:43 UTC
Permalink
The Other
2007-07-23 15:15:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
You just undermined your whole argument with that last
parenthetical remark. The only thing you could have done better
would've been to write, instead of "dogma", "dogma or prejudice"
(in the Burkean sense of the word). Censorship, or in the wider
picture, taboo, is one of those ecological,
not-rationally-comprehensible, evolved systems, which fits into
the larger system of society in some complicated,
incomprehensible way. It has existed time out of mind. It
cannot be adequately managed by logical analysis of immediate
threats, because we lack a full grasp of the cost function.
If that's your argument in favour of censorship, why not apply the
same reasoning to, say, slavery? It's also one of those ecological,
not-rationally comprehensible evolved systems, which fits into the
larger system of society in some complicated, incomprehensible
way. And it has certainly existed time out of mind.
But not in all societies. Non-slave societies have also existed time
out of mind, in Western and other civilizations. It's also kind of
interesting that anti-slavery arguments in the West go at least as far
back as Aristotle's time (he refers to them). Is the same true of
absolutist free-speech arguments?

You could've argued that abolition would destroy some given
traditional way of life, like in the American South. That would be a
valid argument as far as it goes: you'd have to weigh that partially
known evil against the known evil of American slavery. But that
argument has nowhere near the force it would have if slavery had
always existed in every known society.

Finally, the above wasn't my principal argument for censorship; it was
my answer to Jeff's argument against censorship. Gotta give him an
"A" for making a conservative, Burkean case for something as radical
as absolute free speech, even if his argument was a bit utilitarian as
well.

Edmund Burke was against slavery, by the way. He wanted to abolish it
gradually and, of course, non-violently.
Kater Moggin
2007-07-24 08:37:52 UTC
Permalink
Gotta give Jeff an "A" for making a conservative, Burkean case for
something as radical as absolute free speech, even if his argument
was a bit utilitarian as well.
Burkean conservatism is utilitarian, and not just a little.
Example:

In the famous law of the 3rd of Charles I, called
the Petition of Right, the parliament says to the
king, 'Your subjects have inherited this
freedom,' claiming their franchises not on
abstract principles "as the rights of men", but as
the rights of Englishmen, and as a patrimony
derived from their forefathers. Selden and the
other profoundly learned men who drew this Petition
of Right were as well acquainted, at least, with all
the general theories concerning the "rights of men"
as any of the discoursers in our pulpits or on your
tribune; full as well as Dr. Price or as the Abbe
Sieyes. But, for reasons worthy of that practical
wisdom which superseded their theoretic science,
they preferred this positive, recorded, hereditary
title to all which can be dear to the man and the
citizen, to that vague speculative right which
exposed their sure inheritance to be scrambled for
and torn to pieces by every wild, litigious spirit.

_Reflections on the Revolution in France_. Burke puts his
money on "practical wisdom" over and against "theoretic
science," arguing it's more effective in producting the desired
results.

Or look at his defense of prejudice, quoting from the same
thing:

You see, Sir, that in this enlightened age I am
bold enough to confess that we are generally men of
untaught feelings, that, instead of casting away
all our old prejudices, we cherish them to a very
considerable degree, and, to take more shame to
ourselves, we cherish them because they are
prejudices; and the longer they have lasted and the
more generally they have prevailed, the more we
cherish them. We are afraid to put men to live and
trade each on his own private stock of reason,
because we suspect that this stock in each man is
small, and that the individuals would do better to
avail themselves of the general bank and capital of
nations and of ages. Many of our men of
speculation, instead of exploding general
prejudices, employ their sagacity to discover the
latent wisdom which prevails in them. If they find
what they seek, and they seldom fail, they think it
more wise to continue the prejudice, with the
reason involved, than to cast away the coat of
prejudice and to leave nothing but the naked
reason; because prejudice, with its reason, has a
motive to give action to that reason, and an
affection which will give it permanence. Prejudice
is of ready application in the emergency; it
previously engages the mind in a steady course of
wisdom and virtue and does not leave the man
hesitating in the moment of decision skeptical,
puzzled, and unresolved. Prejudice renders a man's
virtue his habit, and not a series of unconnected
acts. Through just prejudice, his duty becomes a
part of his nature.

More utilitarian reasoning: prejudice, Burke contends, is
a useful guide during emergencies and a time-tested one
generally, offering men a "steady course" when they'd otherwise
be puzzled, hesitating, or acting in unconnected ways. An
entirely pragmatic argument for the use-value of tradition. No
attempt to claim anything more.

Less, if anything: when Burke comes up against the divine
right of kings, a tradition threatening his more moderate
defense of the monarchy, he calls it "an absurd opinion
concerning the king's hereditary right to the crown" and throws
the old custom aside in favor of reason and principle --
"solid principles of law and policy" -- at least as he likes to
understand them.

-- Moggin
Jeff Inman
2007-07-25 03:59:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kater Moggin
Gotta give Jeff an "A" for making a conservative, Burkean case for
something as radical as absolute free speech, even if his argument
was a bit utilitarian as well.
[...]
Post by Kater Moggin
More utilitarian reasoning: prejudice, Burke contends, is
a useful guide during emergencies and a time-tested one
generally, offering men a "steady course" when they'd otherwise
be puzzled, hesitating, or acting in unconnected ways. An
entirely pragmatic argument for the use-value of tradition. No
attempt to claim anything more.
Less, if anything: when Burke comes up against the divine
right of kings, a tradition threatening his more moderate
defense of the monarchy, he calls it "an absurd opinion
concerning the king's hereditary right to the crown" and throws
the old custom aside in favor of reason and principle --
"solid principles of law and policy" -- at least as he likes to
understand them.
I just find value-laden arguments suspect. Of course, utility
is value-laden, as well. Because no argument can compel
values, I thought an ecosystem metaphor might be a
change of pace. I leave it up to the reader, whether there
is anything of value in an ecosystem.

Moggin, your riff on the "Abbey" position to The was more lucid
than what I would've been able to summon in response to you,
so I'll consider my task of making that position clear to you to be
accomplished.

Aaron, your turning of the tables is right on. It points me
back to the realization that most interesting observations
are esoteric. One doesn't arrive at a clear course of action,
but just at another step. Can't judge an ecosystem. It's
life, like that: complex, stretching beyond analysis. One
can love it, and find it fascinating.

Or, as the deer hunter says: "this is this".

So, we let the contending memes (and the censors)
fight it out, and we watch what happens, running our
fingers through our beards. You're offering
sort of a Kuhnian metaphor, idea generators being
the prey, and skeptics being the predators, but that's
a more idealistically-framed picture than the one you're
drawing. Did Kuhn get to co-evolution? You'd expect
an arm's race of rhetorical tactics and style, replete with
politics, institutional conventions, power struggles, etc.
Got to read him, some day.

Jeff
The Other
2007-07-25 08:00:32 UTC
Permalink
Aaron, your turning of the tables is right on. It points me back to
the realization that most interesting observations are esoteric.
One doesn't arrive at a clear course of action, but just at another
step. Can't judge an ecosystem. It's life, like that: complex,
stretching beyond analysis. One can love it, and find it
fascinating.
Wait a sec, do I believe this? Let's see: I believe that most
interesting observations are exoteric, not esoteric, but maybe I just
mean different things by these words than you do. The "no clear
course of action thing" -- I agree, if you mean that your course of
action should constantly be subject to correction because you're
always getting new information. (That's what separates us Anglos from
the Germans -- even the nice Germans.) I believe that you *can* judge
an ecosystem; what's hard to judge is an isolated "component" of an
ecosystem, e.g., burkas. Agreed that one can love life, too.
Or, as the deer hunter says: "this is this".
Oh yeah, and I hated _The Deer Hunter_. I thought that wedding scene
would never end. And don't those Asians ever do anything except play
Russian roulette?
So, we let the contending memes (and the censors) fight it out, and
we watch what happens, running our fingers through our beards.
Wait, now all of a sudden I've got a beard? Are we still stuck on
Abbey? Also, I've never read Dawkins, but are memes really taken
seriously? Don't they imply some sort of natural (undirected)
selection of ideas or something? Seems like kind of a weird model.
You're offering sort of a Kuhnian metaphor, idea generators being
the prey, and skeptics being the predators, but that's a more
idealistically-framed picture than the one you're drawing. Did Kuhn
get to co-evolution? You'd expect an arm's race of rhetorical
tactics and style, replete with politics, institutional conventions,
power struggles, etc. Got to read him, some day.
I don't follow your identification of censors with skeptics, if that's
what you're doing. I've never read anything by or about Kuhn.
The Other
2007-07-25 08:00:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kater Moggin
Gotta give Jeff an "A" for making a conservative, Burkean case for
something as radical as absolute free speech, even if his argument
was a bit utilitarian as well.
Burkean conservatism is utilitarian, and not just a little.
I'd call it pragmatic, not utilitarian. You seem to be confusing the
two.
[...]

I remember posting some of these quotes to r.a.b. Just curious: did
you get them there, or somewhere else, or did you read some of Burke's
writings?
Kater Moggin
2007-07-25 09:25:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Post by Kater Moggin
Burkean conservatism is utilitarian, and not just a little.
I'd call it pragmatic, not utilitarian. You seem to be confusing the
two.
The confusion is predictably yours. The quotes I provided
from _Reflections on the Revolution in France_ show Burke
values tradition for its asserted utility -- what he labels its
"practical wisdom" as opposed to "theoretic science," its
ability to keep men on a "steady course" -- rather than arguing
it has any higher merits. On the contrary: faced with the
divine right of kings, a tradition he's unhappy with, he throws
the old custom in the trash, describing it as an "absurd
opinion" while pinning all of his hopes on reason and principle.

-- Moggin
The Other
2007-07-25 11:23:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by The Other
Post by Kater Moggin
Burkean conservatism is utilitarian, and not just a little.
I'd call it pragmatic, not utilitarian. You seem to be confusing the
two.
The confusion is predictably yours. The quotes I provided
from _Reflections on the Revolution in France_ show Burke values
tradition for its asserted utility -- what he labels its "practical
wisdom" as opposed to "theoretic science," its ability to keep men
on a "steady course" -- rather than arguing it has any higher
merits.
Yeah, the word "practical" should have tipped you off that the
argument was pragmatic. It wasn't appealing to some Benthamite
greatest pleasure/happiness of the greatest number.
Post by Kater Moggin
On the contrary: faced with the divine right of kings, a tradition
he's unhappy with, he throws the old custom in the trash, describing
it as an "absurd opinion" while pinning all of his hopes on reason
and principle.
That was the only example I didn't remember, so I Googled it. (I'll
bet you found it by Googling "burke" and "prejudice", right?)

In context, Burke is saying that the "absurd opinion" of the divine
right of kings is a straw man. He's only faced with that straw man in
the sense that his opponents use it as a distraction. He's not
*arguing* against the divine right of kings, he's dismissing it as
irrelevant to the argument. He's not "throwing it in the trash", he's
stating that it's *already* in the trash. He "believe[s] no creature
now maintains" it.

Of course Burke is appealing to reason. He's not a mystic. And his
claim of "solid principles of law and policy", the phrase you quoted,
is in context an appeal to the living legal *tradition* of hereditary
succession. That's absolutely obvious if you read the paragraphs
preceding the one you quoted from, where Burke discusses these
specific legal principles which go back to "the old time, and long
before the era of the [Glorious] Revolution". It's a classic Burkean
argument from prescription: "This is the spirit of our constitution,
not only in its settled course, but in all its revolutions."

You quoted Burke's rejection of that "absurd opinion concerning the
king's hereditary right to the crown" as an example of Burke's
throwing what you call "custom" aside, but in context, he's still
*defending* hereditary succession, but dismissing a now-irrelevant
justification of it. Yes, he's dismissing a (dead) traditional
doctrine, but he's defending in its place a living legal tradition.
Kater Moggin
2007-07-26 02:18:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
... Burke
values tradition for its asserted utility -- what he labels its
"practical wisdom" as opposed to "theoretic science," its
ability to keep men on a "steady course" -- rather than arguing
it has any higher merits. On the contrary: faced with the
divine right of kings, a tradition he's unhappy with, he throws
the old custom in the trash, describing it as an "absurd
opinion" while pinning all of his hopes on reason and principle.
Yeah, the word "practical" should have tipped you off that the
argument was pragmatic.
Heh. "Practical" is part of the definition of utilitarian.
"adjective: exhibiting or stressing utility over other
values; practical" (American Heritage Dictionary). Like I said
before, Burke is appealing to tradition on grounds of its
claimed utility -- handy in emergencies, he says, and generally
of practical value -- rather than claiming it has merits
higher than usefulness. In fact he's willing to reject it when
it doesn't suit him.
Post by The Other
It wasn't appealing to some Benthamite
greatest pleasure/happiness of the greatest number.
Straw. I didn't call him a Benthamite. I noted he offers
a merely utilitarian case for tradition, promoting its
practicality instead of insisting on either its intrinsic value
or its reflection of a higher good.

[divine right of kings]
Post by The Other
That was the only example I didn't remember, so I Googled it. (I'll
bet you found it by Googling "burke" and "prejudice", right?)
I googled a nice copy of _Reflections on the Revolution in
France_, same thing I said I was quoting.
Post by The Other
In context, Burke is saying that the "absurd opinion" of the divine
right of kings is a straw man.
Yes and no. He objects to "a fictitious cause and feigned
personages" that are attacked "whenever you defend the
inheritable nature of the crown," but he grants flesh and blood
to the cause of the divine right of kings when he then
concedes that "the old prerogative enthusiasts" argued they had
God's backing.
Post by The Other
He's only faced with that straw man in
the sense that his opponents use it as a distraction.
Interesting way of tangling up the truth. Burke refers to
the divine right of kings as a strawman only so far as his
opponents pretend he's defending the idea, not when he's giving
it his own criticism.
Post by The Other
He's not
*arguing* against the divine right of kings, he's dismissing it as
irrelevant to the argument.
Both. Burke denies _he_ defends the divine right of kings
and objects that his enemies' attacks on that thinking are
irrelevant to his position. But no, he doesn't simply
dismiss it as an irrelevancy: he calls it foolish, absurd, and
possibly impious.
Post by The Other
He's not "throwing it in the trash", he's
stating that it's *already* in the trash. He "believe[s] no creature
now maintains" it.
Both again. Burke doubts that anyone continues to believe
in the divine right of kings, but he nonetheless gives the
tradition a couple or three kicks of his own, calling it absurd
and so on.
Post by The Other
Of course Burke is appealing to reason. He's not a mystic. And his
claim of "solid principles of law and policy", the phrase you quoted,
is in context an appeal to the living legal *tradition* of hereditary
succession.
In context Burke is rejecting one old tradition, appealing
to another, still-current one and contrasting the two by
calling one of them "absurd" while contending that the other is
reasonable.
Post by The Other
That's absolutely obvious if you read the paragraphs
preceding the one you quoted from, where Burke discusses these
specific legal principles which go back to "the old time, and long
before the era of the [Glorious] Revolution". It's a classic Burkean
argument from prescription: "This is the spirit of our constitution,
not only in its settled course, but in all its revolutions."
It's absolutely obvious tradition isn't truly foundational
for Burke. He certainly enjoys invoking pedigrees and
ancestors, coats-of-arms, "records, evidences, and titles," and
so on, but his arguments on its behalf appeal to utility
instead of to anything higher, and in the case here he contends
"the king's hereditary right to the crown" is "bottomed upon
solid principle," defending tradition on the basis of principle
rather than vice-versa.
Post by The Other
You quoted Burke's rejection of that "absurd opinion concerning the
king's hereditary right to the crown" as an example of Burke's
throwing what you call "custom" aside, but in context, he's still
*defending* hereditary succession, but dismissing a now-irrelevant
justification of it. Yes, he's dismissing a (dead) traditional
doctrine, but he's defending in its place a living legal tradition.
In context, Burke is rejecting an old custom that isn't to
his taste -- the divine right of kings -- and defending
another he finds more appealing: hereditary right to the crown
w/out God's stamp. He settles the dispute by claiming
rationality for his position while insisting that the other one
is nuts.

Burke is less bothered by his inconsistencies than you are.
He freely admits to them, describing himself as "one who
wishes to preserve consistency, but who would preserve
consistency by varying his means to secure the unity of his end."
What end? Burke's answer: "The equipoise of the vessel in
which he sails." In other words, Burke's slogan is "Don't rock
the boat." His various appeals to principle, utility,
rationality and tradition are all directed against making waves.

-- Moggin

Kater Moggin
2007-07-22 12:41:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by Kater Moggin
The main argument here is mechanical: taking various bits
and pieces out of the natural world might threaten its
'delicate and mysterious balance' -- like removing random parts
from a complicated watch -- with potentially negative
consequences for the creatures that remain. Not an affirmation
of life so much as an appeal to the self-interest of the
living. "Keep that up, your watch may stop working. How would
you feel then?"
It's mechanical if you reduce it to the mechanism. Just like a
human being is. "Keep that up and the watch may stop working".
Does one care if a mechanism stops working? Yeah, one might.
Right. You're pitching an argument to humans' interest in
their own survival: killing off wolves, bears, and so on
might also bring death to the world that human beings depend on.
Pragmatism. Not a defense of the natural world for its own
sake -- merely a reminder that humanity relies on its existence.
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by Kater Moggin
Considering the conditions of life you're describing, from
sharp-toothed predators tearing apart their prey to the
painful stings of poisonous insects to the suffering of disease
and death, it makes good sense to reject life-affirming
dogmatism and say to hell with the whole thing. Smash the damn
watch, ending the torments of the countless creatures being
crushed between its wheels. It's a torture-machine that should
have been destroyed long ago.
You've made this position very clear. It's an unusual one, and
worth having in the mix, but I've already gotten it.
Yeah, I figured. That's why I skipped ahead -- aside from
one still-unanswered question -- to an objection that I
thought would mean more to you. But you pasted your stuff back
in, so I answered.
Post by Jeff Inman
If we were to imagine the tragic brutal machine of life as one
grand mechanism, all of a piece, one could indeed say that there
is no one part of it that is any less "it" than any other part
of it. The argument seems a tad sophistical. It's a little like the
detractors of logical relativism who think it means that any one
conclusion is the same as any other. The counter is that
conclusions may be equally contingent on their premises without
being equivalent.
What's the counter here? I didn't claim Abbey is equating
all items in every way. He's calling all earthly things
paradisical while rejecting religion's "painted fantasy" of the
higher world. But he doesn't explain what's so damn good
about, say, having cancer or leprosy. And if everything in the
material world is paradise then there aren't any risks in
this life, since you end up in Eden no matter what the hell you
do.

You can put one boot on the barrail, tilt your cap ever-so
rakishly over one eye, fix a cocksure grin on your face and
say, "Life can be heaven or it can be hell. The fun is finding
out which comes next." Say it to the right person in the
right place and you may even get laid, at least if you have the
right hat on. But when everything's paradise -- apples to
emphysema and all points between -- that fighter-pilot attitude
becomes meaningless.
Post by Jeff Inman
I think Abbey is making two points, (which I was leaning on to
make a metaphorical argument supporting noxious ideas in the
ecosystem of memes): (1) the ugly, dangerous parts are necessary
to the working of the whole, even if the intuition is that the
whole is Good and the noxious parts are Evil. (2) Since item #1
is so counter-intuitive that there seems little ability to even
slow the destruction of the seemingly-unnecessary noxious
components, having the consequence of injuring the whole --
because of that, someone who intuits item #1 might revel in the
noxious parts (as well as the apple trees and golden women), as
signs of the deeper foundations of the whole.
Your talk, not Abbey's. He's doing Nietzsche-goes-to-Moab.
Praise of the earthly, attack on the heavenly, and a
sand-filled version of _amor fati_. _Twilight of the Idols_ in
south-eastern Utah.

But let's talk about your idea. The necessity of ugly and
noxious things for "the working of the whole" is critical
commentary on the entire contraption, not good reason to praise
its worst parts.
Post by Jeff Inman
Where you have an ideal of paradise that entails the absence of
any threat, there you have sterility and a rejection of life as
it really is.
Damn right you do. The hell with life as it really is and
its ever-breeding evils.
Post by Jeff Inman
That would be "losing the bet", as you put it;
forsaking any idea of life as "a grand adventure full of dares
and challenges". Where are you going to find adventure in the
paradise of the saints? You want challenge?
No. I'm saying there's an obvious _lack_ of challenge and
risk when everything on earth is paradise, "not only apple
trees and golden women but also scorpions and tarantulas and
flies...flash loods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and death
and the rotting of the flesh."
Post by Jeff Inman
It's tough to
think of a grander challenge than traveling with eyes open
through such a magnificently complex "torture-machine" full of
"sharp-toothed" predators, grief, loss, and bladderweed.
When grief is paradise, loss is paradise, getting attacked
by wolves is paradise, dying of cancer is paradise, and so
forth, then the challenge disappears. That's traveling through
Disneyland.
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
The speculation is a wondering at whether death could've
been something *invented* by life, rather than something
against which it has been in eternal struggle. Just a
question. I'm not sure.
How about Freud's notion in _Beyond the Pleasure Principle_
that death is life's aim, not its enemy? Or take a
theological angle: maybe God invented life in order to end his
divine boredom. Not a show to entertain him, but an
alternative to the infinitely dull sense of inevitability which
comes from being all-knowing and all-powerful: nothing
happens without his will and knowledge. A couple of eternities
and that would really get old, but his only way out is to
surrender his throne, allowing the universe to play dice. Talk
about risky business.
Makes an interesting analogy. This kind of personification of a
deity seems to me to be over-literalized, but it could make the
metaphorical foundation of an amusing joke. What would be the
punch line? ... "And the first thing they want to do is make
more of themselves!" Hahaha.
Who told you to take it literally? But sure, go ahead and
joke it away if you need to. I thought that you'd like the
idea of a god freely giving up his kingship, putting himself in
the hands of chance and letting the world have a life of its
own. The epitome of risk, though not the brightest thing to do.
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
"If a revelation from heaven of which no person
could feel the smallest doubt were to dispel the
mists that now hang over metaphysical subjects,
[...] such an accession of knowledge [...] would
in all probability tend to repress future exertion
and to damp the soaring wings of intellect."
--- Malthus, _Essay on the Principle of Population_,
chapter XIX
Malthus is objecting to heavenly revelation, not answering
the questions "who the hell made struggle-for-existence
necessary, and how could it be good?" Are you just saying it's
better not to know?
I'm not sure what knowing would be like, or whether it is
possible to imagine a part understanding the whole. Can a taste
bud experience eating a peach? Can a neuron understand network
flow optimization? But I am endowed with a longing to try to
experience more deeply, and understand further. I think Malthus
is saying that that this longing and its attendant satisfactions
are gifts of my position as struggling conflicted being.
Malthus is making the possibility of understanding a given
here, proposing "a revelation from heaven of which no person
could feel the smallest doubt" despite your personal skepticism.
He worries that hypothetical teaching from on high would
discourage thinking here down below. No answer to the question
"who the hell made struggle-for-existence necessary and how
could it be good?" He isn't even addressing the subject in the
quote you gave.

Darwin comes at it directly. Writing to Joseph Hooker, he
says:

What a book a Devil's chaplain might write on the
clumsy, wasteful, blundering low & horridly cruel works
of nature!

Here he goes into the topic more deeply in a letter to Asa
Gray:

With respect to the theological view of the
question. This is always painful to me. I am
bewildered. I had no intention to write
atheistically. But I own that I cannot see as
plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do,
evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of
us. There seems to me too much misery in the world.
I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and
omnipotent God would have designedly created the
Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their
feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars,
or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing
this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye
was expressly designed. On the other hand, I cannot
anyhow be contented to view this wonderful
universe, and especially the nature of man, and to
conclude that everything is the result of brute
force. I am inclined to look at everything as
resulting from designed laws, with the details,
whether good or bad, left to the working out of
what we may call chance. Not that this notion AT
ALL satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole
subject is too profound for the human intellect. A
dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.
Let each man hope and believe what he can.
Certainly I agree with you that my views are not at
all necessarily atheistical. The lightning kills a
man, whether a good one or bad one, owing to the
excessively complex action of natural laws. A child
(who may turn out an idiot) is born by the action
of even more complex laws, and I can see no reason
why a man, or other animal, may not have been
aboriginally produced by other laws, and that all
these laws may have been expressly designed by an
omniscient Creator, who foresaw every future event
and consequence. But the more I think the more
bewildered I become; as indeed I probably have
shown by this letter.

Despite his ambivalence and confusion, Darwin is incapable
of making himself believe the world's sufferings are
compatible with the notion it was designed by a "beneficent and
omnipotent God."

http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-1924.
html
http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-2814.
html
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
So, I'm suggesting that the "paradise" of Abbey is not
death, per se, but rather a life in which life's transience
gives poignancy, urgency, meaning, value, etc, to life.
I found my copy of the book. In context Abbey is pledging
his "loyalty to the earth," rejecting what he calls "the
painted fantasy of a realm beyond space and time" and defending
"the here and now, the actual, tangible, dogmatically real
earth on which we stand." He isn't relying on death to provide
life with some meaning; he's including it in his earthly
paradise alongside flies, scorpions, quicksand, earthquakes and
sickness.
So, your question has been answered?
Not yet, no. I'm answering your idea that Abbey is saying
transience gives life meaning rather than finding merit in
death per se. He does value death as such, though with certain
qualifications:

Each man's death diminishes me? Not necessarily.
Given this man's age, the inevitability and
suitability of his death, and the essential nature
of life on earth, there is in each of us the
unspeakable conviction that we are well rid of him.
His departure makes room for the living. Away with
the old, in with the new. He is gonewe remain,
others come. The plow of mortality drives through
the stubble, turns over the rocks and sod and weeds
to cover the old, the worn-out, the husks, shells,
empty seedbeds and sables roots, clearing the field
for the next crop. A ruthless, brutal process --
but clean and beautiful.

_Desert Solitaire_, a couple of chapters after the one you
quoted, p. 242 in my paperback. Like I said, Abbey is
including death in his earthly paradise, not just borrowing its
drama to make life interesting.
Post by Jeff Inman
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
It might be argued that one who has heaven waiting would hardly
need to attend to life, and therefore would be free to kill
off predators on principle, without regard to the real
effects of that slaughter on the natural world.
Same for anyone who expects to die within a standard human
lifespan. If you're not going to be around then you have
nothing invested in what happens after you leave, unless you're
expecting to be reincarnated or you worry about what may
happen to your kids. No need for heaven; death alone is enough
to trivialize the future.
It could be, if one does not value the larger system of which
one is a part, and makes no identification with it.
Same with heaven, tho: someone who's fool enough to value
the whole system respects the material world as well as the
one above, even though she may look forward to going there when
she dies.
Post by Jeff Inman
There are
lots of people like that. I suspect that they are in large part
the same as the ones who feel that immoral things should be
rubbed out, and that noxious challenges to their local interests
can be countered by direct action, and are expendable without
consequence.
"The greater part of what my neighbors call good, I
believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything it is
very likely to be my good behavior. What demon possessed me
that I behaved so well?" Thoreau, _Walden_, sounding alot like
Oscar Wilde.

-- Moggin
The Other
2007-07-22 07:58:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by Jeff Inman
"Now, when I write of paradise I mean *Paradise*,
not the banal Heaven of the saints. When I write
"paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden
women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies,
rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms,
volcanos and earthquakes, bacteria and bear,
cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite,
flash floods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh"
-- Edward Abbey, _Desert Solitaire_
O.k., what's so paradisical about, say, cancer? Or having
your skin rot off from leprosy? And isn't the contention
_everything_ in the world is paradise loading the dice? If you
always come up winners, what's the risk or challenge of the game?
Abbey doesn't imply you always come up winners. The dice aren't
loaded. If you get terminal cancer, you lose. But cancer is part of
what makes the game worth playing.
Kater Moggin
2007-07-22 12:51:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Post by Jeff Inman
"Now, when I write of paradise I mean *Paradise*,
not the banal Heaven of the saints. When I write
"paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden
women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies,
rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms,
volcanos and earthquakes, bacteria and bear,
cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite,
flash floods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh."
Abbey doesn't imply you always come up winners. The dice aren't
loaded. If you get terminal cancer, you lose. But cancer is part of
what makes the game worth playing.
Abbey's claiming considerably more: not just that disease
is a part of the game, but that it's _paradise_. Right up
there in the quote. "When I write 'paradise,' he says, "I mean
not only apple trees and golden women but also scorpions and
tarantulas and flies...flash floods and quicksand...disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh." But having cancer is
less than paradisical, it seems to me, and if everything really
is paradise -- aside from "the banal Heaven of the saints" --
then you're guaranteed to be a winner on every roll of the dice.

-- Moggin
The Other
2007-07-23 09:21:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by The Other
Post by Jeff Inman
"Now, when I write of paradise I mean *Paradise*,
not the banal Heaven of the saints. When I write
"paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden
women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies,
rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms,
volcanos and earthquakes, bacteria and bear,
cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite,
flash floods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh."
Abbey doesn't imply you always come up winners. The dice aren't
loaded. If you get terminal cancer, you lose. But cancer is part of
what makes the game worth playing.
Abbey's claiming considerably more: not just that disease
is a part of the game, but that it's _paradise_. Right up there in
the quote. "When I write 'paradise,' he says, "I mean not only
apple trees and golden women but also scorpions and tarantulas and
flies...flash floods and quicksand...disease and death and the
rotting of the flesh." But having cancer is less than paradisical,
it seems to me, and if everything really is paradise -- aside from
"the banal Heaven of the saints" -- then you're guaranteed to be a
winner on every roll of the dice.
The game as a whole is Paradise for Abbey, not every roll of the dice.
Getting cancer isn't paradisaical except in the tautological sense that
it occurs in Paradise. Abbey's point is that a "paradise" without
cancer would not be a "true" Paradise -- it would be "the banal Heaven
of the saints", not as good as Abbey's. It's just a variation on the
"best possible world" argument: if you try to imagine a better world
by removing stuff that's painful, etc., you'll just make it worse, on
the whole.

I wasn't too impressed with that Abbey quotation either. You accused
Abbey of cheating, but earlier I had accused him of attempted robbery:
trying to steal the word "paradise" by implying that he's using the
word in its "real" sense. Apparently my follow-up to Jeff didn't make
it to all servers, so here's a re-post of my response to the Abbey
Post by Kater Moggin
Paradise originally meant, in Persian, an enclosed park, a
pleasure-ground. A paradise was always to some extent artificial,
constructed. I don't think paradises included flash floods and
quicksand, or if they did then they were defective paradises. Of
course Abbey's "natural" paradise is constructed too, by him, but
he's pretending it isn't.
In translations of the Bible, "paradise" meant the Garden of Eden,
which started out deathless of course. It was only later that the
word came to mean "the banal Heaven of the saints". Paradise had a
snake, but he wasn't like Abbey's rattlesnakes, which seem to be
just another part of the scenery. I guess your attitude towards
government censorship has a lot to do with your attitude towards
that snake. Anyway, in the passage that you quoted, Edward Abbey is
just trying to get away with stealing a perfectly good word for his
own nefarious purposes.
When someone like Abbey claims that (true) Paradise just wouldn't be
Paradise without disease and pain, one might ask him whether it could
still be as good a Paradise with *marginally* less disease and pain.
What if one of the many sentient beings which is dieing in agony at
just this instant were to have just one second less of agony before
death? Would Abbey really claim that such a change would make his
paradise (marginally) less good?
Kater Moggin
2007-07-23 12:16:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Post by Kater Moggin
Post by The Other
Post by Jeff Inman
"Now, when I write of paradise I mean *Paradise*,
not the banal Heaven of the saints. When I write
"paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden
women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies,
rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms,
volcanos and earthquakes, bacteria and bear,
cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite,
flash floods and quicksand, and yes -- disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh."
Abbey doesn't imply you always come up winners. The dice aren't
loaded. If you get terminal cancer, you lose. But cancer is part of
what makes the game worth playing.
Abbey's claiming considerably more: not just that disease
is a part of the game, but that it's _paradise_. Right up
there in the quote. "When I write 'paradise,' he says, "I mean
not only apple trees and golden women but also scorpions and
tarantulas and flies...flash floods and quicksand...disease and
death and the rotting of the flesh." But having cancer is
less than paradisical, it seems to me, and if everything really
is paradise -- aside from "the banal Heaven of the saints" --
then you're guaranteed to be a winner on every roll of the dice.
The game as a whole is Paradise for Abbey, not every roll of the dice.
Getting cancer isn't paradisaical except in the tautological sense that
it occurs in Paradise.
Not so. As I just got through reminding you, Abbey places
disease on his list of paradisical items, along with
rattlesnakes, tarantulas, quicksand, death and some other, more
common choices like "apple trees and golden women." So
despite your denial, cancer is definitely paradise from Abbey's
expressed perspective.
Post by The Other
Abbey's point is that a "paradise" without
cancer would not be a "true" Paradise -- it would be "the banal Heaven
of the saints", not as good as Abbey's.
No, Abbey's point is much stronger than the one you reduce
him to. He rejects the religious paradise, calling it "a
painted fantasy of a realm beyond space and time," and embraces
earthly existence as paradise in all respects, from apple
trees to poisonous insects, from beautiful women all the way to
"disease and death and the rotting of the flesh." A
Nietzschean affirmation of all that is, minus a few saints here
and there.
Post by The Other
It's just a variation on the
"best possible world" argument: if you try to imagine a better world
by removing stuff that's painful, etc., you'll just make it worse, on
the whole.
Abbey is way beyond that kind of crap. He isn't trying to
contrive excuses for pain and suffering, like your idea
eliminating them would make things worse or your earlier notion
they're needed to create meaning. He's insisting on the
thorough heavenliness of earthly existence, offering what Uncle
Fred calls "a Dionysian affirmation of the world as it is
without out subtraction, exception, or selection" (_The Will to
Power_ 1041).
Post by The Other
I wasn't too impressed with that Abbey quotation either.
When did I say I was unimpressed? I totally disagree with
the position he takes and I criticize it in the ways I've
explained, but he's an excellent, strong-minded writer with the
balls to say what he thinks.
Post by The Other
You accused
trying to steal the word "paradise" by implying that he's using the
word in its "real" sense. Apparently my follow-up to Jeff didn't make
it to all servers, so here's a re-post of my response to the Abbey
Paradise originally meant, in Persian, an enclosed park, a
pleasure-ground. A paradise was always to some extent artificial,
constructed. I don't think paradises included flash floods and
quicksand, or if they did then they were defective paradises. Of
course Abbey's "natural" paradise is constructed too, by him, but
he's pretending it isn't.
In translations of the Bible, "paradise" meant the Garden of Eden,
which started out deathless of course. It was only later that the
word came to mean "the banal Heaven of the saints". Paradise had a
snake, but he wasn't like Abbey's rattlesnakes, which seem to be
just another part of the scenery. I guess your attitude towards
government censorship has a lot to do with your attitude towards
that snake. Anyway, in the passage that you quoted, Edward Abbey is
just trying to get away with stealing a perfectly good word for his
own nefarious purposes.
Not stealing and no pretence: an open, honest revaluation.
Abbey acknowledges the usual sense of the word, claiming
heaven above is merely a boring fiction while earthly existence
is the true paradise, not despite but including items like
death, disease, stinging insects, and various natural disasters.
Post by The Other
When someone like Abbey claims that (true) Paradise just wouldn't be
Paradise without disease and pain, one might ask him whether it could
still be as good a Paradise with *marginally* less disease and pain.
Abbey's claim is much stronger than your paraphrase, since
he doesn't settle for saying that pain and disease are
necessary to spice-up paradise: he explicitly includes disease
on his list of paradisical things.
Post by The Other
What if one of the many sentient beings which is dieing in agony at
just this instant were to have just one second less of agony before
death? Would Abbey really claim that such a change would make his
paradise (marginally) less good?
Every argument for changing the world for the better, even
in minute ways, is a criticism of things as they are, a
refusal to fully affirm reality, a rejection (though often only
a small one) of what-is.

-- Moggin
jadel
2007-07-20 13:57:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Post by michael
Post by The Other
I definitely think there are immoral books, and in many cases
those books should not be published. Either the author/publisher
should censor himself, or maybe -- I'm not so sure about this part
-- maybe the book should be censored by law. I argued the first
part, the need for self-censorship, on r.a.b. many years ago. I
still remember it, vaguely. I actually persuaded Meg that I was
right. No one else on r.a.b. was anywhere near convinced, but
that doesn't matter, if Meg agrees with you.
huh... some liberal...
Yeah, I do consider myself a liberal if Edmund Burke is classified as
a liberal, which he often is.
Censorship has been practiced in the US throughout most of its
history, including its most liberal periods.
That's true, but by whom? The USA isn't a monolithic system. Some
local authorities have censored books, movies, plays, etc. However,
these days, with very few exceptions, censorship by the Feds is almost
unheard of.

The Supremes have always struck down prior restraint. Nixon lost the
Pentagon Papers case, and the Feds gave up trying to prevent
publication of the H-bomb design by --The Progressive.--

The only category of "speech" that is totallly prohibited is images
of child pornography and that because its production involves the
commission of a heinous crime--the raping of children.


Some states retain criminal libel laws, a disgrace that ought to be
expunged, but I wouldn't bet that the present court, with Greasy Tony,
Clarence, his sock puppet, and the holy brotherhood of Roberts and
Alito, will do that.

J. Del Col
jadel
2007-07-20 21:57:59 UTC
Permalink
Of course the Supremes's ruling in the recent Bong Hits 4 Jesus case
does not bode well for the 1st Amendment at the hands of the Crawford
Cretin's court.

BTW, Bush will soon undergo a colonoscopy, perhaps to determine
whether he's the perfect asshole he seems to be.

J. Del Col
The Other
2007-07-22 06:58:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by jadel
Post by The Other
Censorship has been practiced in the US throughout most of its
history, including its most liberal periods.
That's true, but by whom?
By liberals, mostly. Again, by American "liberal" I meant here an
American who subscribes to the principles of the US Constitution,
including the free speech clause of the First Amendment as it's been
understood throughout most of its history.
jadel
2007-07-22 13:30:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Post by jadel
Post by The Other
Censorship has been practiced in the US throughout most of its
history, including its most liberal periods.
That's true, but by whom?
By liberals, mostly. Again, by American "liberal" I meant here an
American who subscribes to the principles of the US Constitution,
including the free speech clause of the First Amendment as it's been
understood throughout most of its history.
Give us a specific example.

J. Del Col
The Other
2007-07-23 09:21:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by jadel
Post by The Other
Post by jadel
Post by The Other
Censorship has been practiced in the US throughout most of its
history, including its most liberal periods.
That's true, but by whom?
By liberals, mostly. Again, by American "liberal" I meant here an
American who subscribes to the principles of the US Constitution,
including the free speech clause of the First Amendment as it's been
understood throughout most of its history.
Give us a specific example.
Someone's name? I can't. Do you doubt that local ordinances
prohibiting the sale of pornography were passed and supported by
people who believed in the First Amendment's prohibition of the US
Congress's "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press", as that
phrase was generally understood until a few decades ago?
jadel
2007-07-23 10:53:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Post by jadel
Post by The Other
Post by jadel
Post by The Other
Censorship has been practiced in the US throughout most of its
history, including its most liberal periods.
That's true, but by whom?
By liberals, mostly. Again, by American "liberal" I meant here an
American who subscribes to the principles of the US Constitution,
including the free speech clause of the First Amendment as it's been
understood throughout most of its history.
Give us a specific example.
Someone's name? I can't.
That's what I thought.


J. Del Col
The Other
2007-07-23 15:15:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by jadel
Post by jadel
Post by The Other
Post by jadel
Post by The Other
Censorship has been practiced in the US throughout most of
its history, including its most liberal periods.
That's true, but by whom?
By liberals, mostly. Again, by American "liberal" I meant
here an American who subscribes to the principles of the US
Constitution, including the free speech clause of the First
Amendment as it's been understood throughout most of its
history.
Give us a specific example.
Someone's name? I can't. [J. Del Col elided this part:] Do you
doubt that local ordinances prohibiting the sale of pornography
were passed and supported by people who believed in the First
Amendment's prohibition of the US Congress's "abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press", as that phrase was generally
understood until a few decades ago?
That's what I thought.
J. Del Col
Jeffrey's usual value-added. Why don't you go find someone's spelling
mistakes to correct?
jadel
2007-07-23 17:22:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
Post by jadel
Post by jadel
Post by The Other
Post by jadel
Post by The Other
Censorship has been practiced in the US throughout most of
its history, including its most liberal periods.
That's true, but by whom?
By liberals, mostly. Again, by American "liberal" I meant
here an American who subscribes to the principles of the US
Constitution, including the free speech clause of the First
Amendment as it's been understood throughout most of its
history.
Give us a specific example.
Someone's name? I can't. [J. Del Col elided this part:] Do you
doubt that local ordinances prohibiting the sale of pornography
were passed and supported by people who believed in the First
Amendment's prohibition of the US Congress's "abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press", as that phrase was generally
understood until a few decades ago?
That's what I thought.
J. Del Col
Jeffrey's usual value-added. Why don't you go find someone's spelling
mistakes to correct?- Hide quoted text -
You can't provide an example of liberals who promote censorship, so
you whine, but not before resorting to the "posing a question as if it
were an assertion of fact" ploy.

Poor baby.

J. Del Col
The Other
2007-07-25 08:00:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by jadel
You can't provide an example of liberals who promote censorship, so
you whine, but not before resorting to the "posing a question as if
it were an assertion of fact" ploy.
Poor baby.
I posed the question as a question. Since you didn't answer it, I'll
repeat it: Do you doubt that local ordinances prohibiting the sale of
pornography were passed and supported by people who believed in the
First Amendment's prohibition of the US Congress's "abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press", as that phrase was generally
understood until a few decades ago? If so, why?

You don't need names to prove my point. You can break it down to
simpler questions, where I think most people would pretty much agree
on the answers. Got the trifocals on? Good.

(a) How widespread was belief in the First Amendment as it was
generally understood until, say, 1950? Very widespread? Thin?
Not as *you* understand the amendment today, but as it was
generally understood, e.g., not applying to local censorship of
obscene material.

(b) More specifically, in communities where obscenity was censored,
how widespread was belief in the First Amendment, as they
understood it?

And so on. Support for both censorship and the First Amendment were
so widespread, that most supporters of censorship must have supported
the First Amendment. Support for the two did not conflict.

If you want to suggest that, for instance, a large proportion of
Bostonians have historically been opposed to the First Amendment as
they understood it, then OK, I'll just leave it there, since I think
that's pretty unrealistic.
*Anarcissie*
2007-07-09 14:13:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Other
There's nothing wrong with labeling a book as immoral. My only
disagreement is your apparent criteria for judging the morality of
books. For whatever it's worth, Graham Greene wrote, after the whole
thing with the Vatican letter on _The Power and the Glory_, ""I have
little regard for the Index in the rare cases in which it deals with
imaginative writing."
I definitely think there are immoral books, and in many cases those
books should not be published. Either the author/publisher should
censor himself, or maybe -- I'm not so sure about this part -- maybe
the book should be censored by law. I argued the first part, the need
for self-censorship, on r.a.b. many years ago. I still remember it,
vaguely. I actually persuaded Meg that I was right. No one else on
r.a.b. was anywhere near convinced, but that doesn't matter, if Meg
agrees with you.
I suppose a book of logarithms with incorrect numbers would be
immoral.
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