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Random Enlightenment Thoughts

emptym

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Late to this, but:
...I also think epistemology should be a much bigger part of our education, maybe even at the high school level. ... How do they know what they think they know, and how do they know when something is true or reasonably reliable?
+1. I recommend Insight by Bernard Lonergan.
A course in logic is great if you want to have an engaging discussion over drinks. Doesn't so much cut it when you're trying to navigate existential problems like the value or purpose of life, which is what identity and belief are attempts to address.
My dis director said philosophy or "serious thought" follows this order for everyone:
1. What is the best way to live in society? But to answer that one first ask and answer:
2. What is real/true? But to answer that, one must backtrack and ask and answer:
3. How do we know? But eventually, we will be led to
4. ultimate questions about the ultimate meaning, purpose, origin, of anything.


lol. I wouldn't have remembered that except that, weirdly enough, my wife (a mathematician, but not a constructivist) and I were discussing that this morning. fwiw, I am intuitively some type of realist, probably a classical realist. But yes, some training in epistemology and more broadly, critical thinking, would be welcome. The problem is that it's unclear what fraction of a population possess the native ability to learn these to any appreciable degree. It might be an exercise in futility, like teaching me to play basketball.
Check out Insight, above. It advocates for critical realism. Basically it invites you pay attention to your own consciousness and verify various steps in your process of coming to wonder, to know, to decide. The author's Canadian. And his ethics is being taught to the Canadian versions of the FBI, CIA, Treasury, etc. by the authors of this book, among others.

The teaching of both evolution and creationism is only acceptable if equal time is dedicated to teaching the gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
...
The Bible creation story is the source of some important ideas that our society takes for granted: that all things are good, that they come from the same source (not multiple ones like in Manicheanism), that everything is intelligible and interdependent, that some things came before others, that humans are special. It's also interesting that the order of the first story follows the same order of evolution: light and dark, earth and sky, sea and air creatures, land animals, then humans.

This view of education is really narrow. Education is about more than conferring economic benefits, it's about developing civil society and an informed voter base...
And there is more than this.

How so? Germany has built a vibrant economy and I would argue more civil society than the United States’ on the back of trade schools. I would also argue that any steps (like trade schools) that can mitigate wage stagnation and job dissatisfaction is a far greater step toward creating a civil society than reading the complete works of Geoffrey Chaucer.
Trade schools are good, but if you're anti-elitism, you're may be anti-trade schools. In fact, anti-elitism is one reason why there are fewer of them in the US. I studied and have taught in Germany and the reasoning behind trade schools can be traced at least back to Plato's Republic, which imagines a society comprised of different types of people hierarchically ordered by their desires, with those who care about the lowest things (money and comfort) becoming tech and tradespeople. Those with higher desires and aptitudes (honor and self-sacrifice) become guardians. Those w/ the highest desires and aptitudes (wisdom) become philosophers. The American view has long been that anyone could be a philosopher, so we should all be exposed to liberal arts and humanities, which free our minds from lower goods of money and comfort, which bring us things that even lower animals want (shelter, food, sex). But I agree with @the shah that all US schools (even elite private and religious ones) are increasingly under pressure to just make money and to turn out people who are simply trained to make money.

...
The whole point of a liberal education, initially, was to support the liberal ideal for a free and independent life...
When do you mean by "initially"? For Plato and Aristotle, it was certainly about freedom and independence. But real freedom and independence were not arbitrary. It was for "the good." So arete/virtues > techne/skills. Iow, making oneself good was more important than making good things.

I don't know who coined "truncated" as a description of a view on humanity," but for you, sirswag's concern for money is truncated, and in my view, your concern for self-rule has more (maybe branches and some leaves) but still needs more (let's say full leaves and fruit).
 
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dieworkwear

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When do you mean by "initially"? For Plato and Aristotle, it was certainly about freedom and independence. But real freedom and independence were not arbitrary. It was for "the good." So arete/virtues > techne/skills. Iow, making oneself good was more important than making good things.

I don't know who coined the term "truncated humanity" but for you, sirswag's concern for money is truncated, and in my view, your concern for self-rule has more (maybe branches and some leaves) but still needs more (let's say full leaves and fruit).
Sorry, I didn't mean that liberalism came up with these ideas. I was just responding to the point that I'm being elitist. Feel like my argument is actually anti-elitist since I mostly care about liberal education insofar as it helps strengthen the health of liberal democracies. And some of liberal democracy's goals include freedom, equality, etc.

I don't have a strong view on "the good." Still trying to figure that out.
 

hendrix

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L
The Bible creation story is the source of some important ideas that our society takes for granted: that all things are good, that they come from the same source (not multiple ones like in Manicheanism), that everything is intelligible and interdependent, that some things came before others, that humans are special. It's also interesting that the order of the first story follows the same order of evolution: light and dark, earth and sky, sea and air creatures, land animals, then humans.
Is the bible creation story really the original source for this, though?

I mean I agree with the basic idea that many modern western cultures have inherently Christian values embedded in their society, and that even as a non-believer many of our morals are informed by Christianity.

But aren't most of those ideas present even back in in polytheistic Mesopotamia? e.g. the single source for everything, that some things came before others, and there is something special about humanity (particularly civilised humanity and civilisation as a whole).
 

emptym

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^I don't know who first had each of these ideas. It certainly seems possible that some would have come before Judaism and Genesis. Do you know? Even if all of them are found in preexisting religions, I'd assume they first arose in creation stories rather than evolutionary theory, and thus creation stories have something to offer, which was my main point.

One thing I do know is that even as late as late antiquity/early medieval era in Europe, Manicheanism, with its view that the physical world was made by an evil god, was still pretty popular, and that the spread of belief in the universal goodness and intelligibility of the universe is from Abrahamic traditions.
 

the shah

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Is the bible creation story really the original source for this, though?

I mean I agree with the basic idea that many modern western cultures have inherently Christian values embedded in their society, and that even as a non-believer many of our morals are informed by Christianity.

But aren't most of those ideas present even back in in polytheistic Mesopotamia? e.g. the single source for everything, that some things came before others, and there is something special about humanity (particularly civilised humanity and civilisation as a whole).
Epic of Gilgamesh :slayer:

^I don't know who first had each of these ideas. It certainly seems possible that some would have come before Judaism and Genesis. Do you know? Even if all of them are found in preexisting religions, I'd assume they first arose in creation stories rather than evolutionary theory, and thus creation stories have something to offer, which was my main point.

One thing I do know is that even as late as late antiquity/early medieval era in Europe, Manicheanism, with its view that the physical world was made by an evil god, was still pretty popular, and that the spread of belief in the universal goodness and intelligibility of the universe is from Abrahamic traditions.
A lot of that is influenced by Zoroastrianism, potentially even the concept of monotheism itself (Zoroastrianism has a single creator deity but there still exists a dualism in struggle of good vs evil)
 
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LA Guy

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hendrix

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^I don't know who first had each of these ideas. It certainly seems possible that some would have come before Judaism and Genesis. Do you know? Even if all of them are found in preexisting religions, I'd assume they first arose in creation stories rather than evolutionary theory, and thus creation stories have something to offer, which was my main point.
Nearly all of them arose before Judaism and Genesis. You can quite easily trace them back to various Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythology.

RE: evolutionary theory. I don't see what one has to do with the other. Creation stories have nothing to do with evolutionary theory or natural selection. I'm struggling to see the connection here.

One thing I do know is that even as late as late antiquity/early medieval era in Europe, Manicheanism, with its view that the physical world was made by an evil god, was still pretty popular, and that the spread of belief in the universal goodness and intelligibility of the universe is from Abrahamic traditions.
OK - are you saying that's a positive thing? It doesn't seem to me that that would be a particular advancement or enlightenment or anything.
 

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emptym

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Epic of Gilgamesh :slayer:

A lot of that is influenced by Zoroastrianism, potentially even the concept of monotheism itself (Zoroastrianism has a single creator deity but there still exists a dualism in struggle of good vs evil)
It's been a while since I've read the EoG, but iirc, it doesn't have much on creation. Are you sure it makes the points I've mentioned? Afaik, scholars debate whether or not Zoastrianism is older than Judaism. But I'm aware that the EoG is viewed as a probable source for parts of Genesis and that Zoastrianism influenced the Ambrahamic faiths. I have no doubt that Judaism and Xy are living traditions that learned/received from various cultures as much as they taught/gave -- and still do.

I've participated in combat sports...
I've always liked the thought that the better you are the less you have to use it. And imo, this old Lincoln quote expresses the peak of martial arts, or religion: "Am I not destroying my enemy by making him my friend?"

Nearly all of them arose before Judaism and Genesis. You can quite easily trace them back to various Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythology.
RE: evolutionary theory. I don't see what one has to do with the other. Creation stories have nothing to do with evolutionary theory or natural selection. I'm struggling to see the connection here.

OK - are you saying that's a positive thing? It doesn't seem to me that that would be a particular advancement or enlightenment or anything.
I think Fok presented my position pretty well. As mentioned, I'm sure that lots of what's in Genesis and other parts of the Bible are found in other religions. But a lot is different too. And the combination is certainly unique. I think that's important. Similarly, let's say someone said that X person invented the car and is thus responsible for various advances that the car made possible. Another might say, but all the parts of the car had been invented by others (chairs, combustion engines, wheels, electricity, rubber, etc.). Even if all of those elements predated the car, X's putting them together in that combination would be a significant contribution.

I think the fact that the belief in one source for everything and that everything is good is definitely better than Manicheanism. Fok said Manicheanism is like the Force. There may be some truth to that, but I don't think any part of Star Wars says that physical reality is evil or that the dark side is as powerful as the force, which Manicheanism does. Imo, Star Wars is more a combination between Taoism (need balance, tap into the Dao) and Xy (evil as a perversion of something essentially good) than Manicheanism.

Re. the connection between creation and evolution, our culture has tried to set them up as opposites, but for many scientists and believers, they're compatible. Lots of discoveries supporting evolution have been made by very religious people, including priests. And part of my point was that the Judeo-Xn cosmology has provided the mindset that allowed evolutionary theory and other scientific theories to develop and flourish -- at least that's a pretty common theory among historians of science.

...
Lonergan is pretty well known in post-modernist philosophy circles, I've never read a full book but have intended to for a while, should I start with insights?...
There are supposed to be two kinds of "Lonerganians," those who came in through Insight and those who started with Method. Insight is more rational and orderly, more modern. Method is more about love and theology, more postmodern. I think you might like Insight. But the first few chs. are really heavy in math and often turn people off. I also really like Topics in Education as a first read.
 

hendrix

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Re. Manichaeism, the point was merely that Enlightenment ideas sprang from Abrahamic traditions, rather than some of the other religious traditions that were pervasive in throughout Europe and parts of the Middle East in the latter part of the Roman Empire and beyond. If you want a simplistic, one liner summary Manichaeism: It's the Force.
??? This is fundamentally untrue. A bizarre comment.

I really think that it's rather intellectually constraining to relate everything back to whether something is "a positive thing", where positive is something that is tied to your particular worldview and value system. It's like requiring all fashion to the viewed through the "Classic Menswear" POV that Manton advocated so strongly for in the early years of the forum. I mean, it's fine as a beginners primer, but it does leave out much of the richness of the world.
OK but there's a very clear attempt by pseudo-philosophers to elevate the so-called Abrahamic religions as a greater sphere for enlightenment over others such as Manichaeism or zoroastrianism or whatever else you want to consider from the region that was influential to the west.

You've just fallen into that trap above and there is no basis for it. And Emptym has done the same thing when ascribing some type of single source for everything good as being better than Manicheaism or whatever.

It's just not true.
 

hendrix

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nd part of my point was that the Judeo-Xn cosmology has provided the mindset that allowed evolutionary theory and other scientific theories to develop and flourish -- at least that's a pretty common theory among historians of science.
??? Again I don't believe this is a common theory amongst historians of science. It is most certainly not my view.
 

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hendrix

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It's absolutely true. The Enlightenment sprang nearly completely from countries where an Abrahamic religion was the basis of people's worldview, and Enlightenment thought really only makes sense in that context. The common appeal to natural law, for example, only makes sense in the context of a fundamentally good universe. It would be an odd appeal in an evil universe or one of competing forces of various daemons. To be clear, I'm just saying that the Enlightenment was a product of an Abrahamic world, not that any individual thinker was a disciple of an Abrahamic religion, though that is also true in many cases. It's not a particularly controversial statement.
"The Enlightenment" didn't just spring up out of nowhere, and most certainly did not spring from Abrahamic ideas, as you said in your earlier post. The basis for enlightenment was ancient Greek philosophy, who were obviously not of Abrahamic origin. They clearly didn't need to think that the universe needed to be a fundamentally good place to come up with rationalism.
 

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