[FoRK] [Stupid Idea Series] The Reenlightenment?

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Mar 15 20:13:52 PST 2004

Dave Long wrote:
But who wrote this??:

>>So, there is this concept of a solving the same problem, helping people 
>>to develop a useful, fulfilling pilosophy and habit (this is the goal of 
>>the other book, right?), but through rational humanistic and ethical, 
>>moral (from first principles and policy calculus, not mystic 
>>commandments) scientific ways.  (Yes, that was a parse test.  It's the 
>>way I think, and this audience should have the IQ points; deal with 
>>it.)  That is a rebuttal of sorts by solving the problem in a better and 
>>pure [0] way.
>I'm not sure that such a philosophy
>would contain enough teleology for
>people who would rather have their
>purposes assigned than discovered[1].
Don't worship false teleologies, even if they tell you that is your purpose.
We don't assign people jobs, and we don't, in this country, assign 
people mates.  We don't even hint to high school children the vast 
majority of time which occupations are in demand, which ones make more 
money than others, and the amount of competition, growth, and burnout in 
each field.  What in the heck to guidance counselors do??

We don't really teach any critical thinking skills in high school; 
that's mostly saved for college, as we've discussed before.  I seriously 
wonder if that is purposeful to avoid endangering some theological turf.
Certainly, teaching people to think for themselves is an uphill battle 
compared to "trust us, believe in our story, do what we tell you".  So 
is education vs. skipping that bothersome school, earning vs. stealing, etc.

It's quite possible that, while being reasonably rigorous, some guided 
paths could be created that approach teleology in usefulness.

>Would it work to approach the problem
>from the other direction?  Take a set
>of useful, fulfilling philosophies and
>habits, and show that they also happen
>to be derivable from first principles?
Habits yes, 'a set of useful, fulfilling philosophies', not so much.  
Sounds like yet more mental masturbation.
"Logic is a system whereby one may go wrong with confidence."

My point is that there should be a rational basis for action, decisions, 
and world modeling, even if some of that rationality is meta- or 
meta-meta- level bounding some type of sub-rational functionality.  In 
other words, you can understand physiology, sexuality, sociological 
mechanisms, physics, quantum theory, chaos, probability, logic, art, 
etc. and be able to bound certain experience as being valid but not 
totally rationally deconstructed or directed.  Sex and other human 
contact, relationships, play, and art to a large extent should all be 
bounded sub-rational/semi-rational zones.  You can do this without 
imputing supernatural or mystical animus to explain the unknown or 
comfort you from hard facts (death).  This doesn't rule out artistic 
metaphor, anthropomorphic artifice (Mother Nature, Humanity, et al), and 
other mystical-like constructs.  It just means that everyone understands 
that they are shorthand and literary devices for rational world models.

Meta-goals are key: Find something useful to do with your life, even if 
it is to be supportive of those who can do more permanently useful 
things, and try to reverse entropy more than a lump of dirt or a cow.  
Etc. etc.

The key is to support differing details when they are possibly valid and 
not capricious, and to especially support evolution of the body of 
knowledge while avoiding hijacking.


>:: :: ::
>Do unto others ...
>a) Objection!  what's an other?
>b) ... as you would have them do unto you
>c) ... before they do unto you    
>d) Objection!  I never *do* unto others.
>   They make their own choices, and have
>   to be responsible for the consequences.
>:: :: ::
>[0] if one ever needs recourse to
>impure effects, there's always the
>possibility of expressing them in
>the Spirituality Monad, right?
>[1] with all due respect to the
>tradition of hot-button-hitting
>on FoRK:
>if one wants an equivalent for
>  christ:christian mythology 
>  rama:hindu mythology
>be much more appropriate than
>  gandhi:hindu mythology
>which is really much closer to
>  jh newman:christian mythology?
>FoRK mailing list

swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Personal: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw

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