Will

What do you guys think of this philosophical position?

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First, I do not think that any large view of the form "political beliefs are really ... " or "human nature is really ... " or "truth is really ... " - any large philosophical claim - could discredit political beliefs and aspirations. As I said in Chapter 3, I do not think it is psychologically possible to give up on political liberalism on the basis of a philosophical view about the nature of man or truth or history. Such views are ways of rounding out and becoming self-conscious about one's moral identity, not justifications of that identity or weapons which might destroy it. One would have to be very odd to change one's politics because one had become convinced, for example, that a coherence theory of truth was preferable to a correspondence theory. Second, no such view can (in Williams's phrase) "cancel" inquiry, argument, and the quest for truth - any more than it can "cancel" the search for food or for love. Only force can effect such cancellations, not philosophy. 

 

This is from pg. 182-183 of postmodernist philosopher Richard Rorty's Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, which I read over the summer. 

 

Here's a related passage from pg. 189:

 

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The fundamental premise of the book is that a belief can still regulate action, can still be thought worth dying for, among people who are quite aware that this belief is caused by nothing deeper than contingent historical circumstance.

 

This is one of the most important questions that comes out of the postmodernist/Daoist realm of thinking. The question is, "Is it worth holding beliefs or having desires if you know that these desires are completely contingent on your circumstances, on your inherited genes, etc., and that there's nothing particularly 'special' about them?" 

 

I assume that many of you agree with Rorty's position -- that all that's necessary is becoming conscious of the contingency of your desires and beliefs, not giving them up. Is that the case? I have to say I find it a bit difficult to agree with it, although I want to. This line of thought could very easily lead to an attempt to essentially eliminate desire, which *I believe* is often found in Asian spiritual thought, although I'm not sure about Daoism. 

Edited by Will
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I have no disagreement with the philosophy.  

 

Yes, Daoism teaches to have no opinions of our own.  (We know that doesn't work though.)

 

So what do we do?

 

I think that having a strong moral base with as few limiters as possible is a good approach to life.

 

But there are so many different moral valuing systems.  Which do we choose?

 

Maybe our own?

 

 

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21 hours ago, Will said:

 

This is from pg. 182-183 of postmodernist philosopher Richard Rorty's Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, which I read over the summer. 

 

Here's a related passage from pg. 189:

 

 

This is one of the most important questions that comes out of the postmodernist/Daoist realm of thinking. The question is, "Is it worth holding beliefs or having desires if you know that these desires are completely contingent on your circumstances, on your inherited genes, etc., and that there's nothing particularly 'special' about them?" 

 

I assume that many of you agree with Rorty's position -- that all that's necessary is becoming conscious of the contingency of your desires and beliefs, not giving them up. Is that the case? I have to say I find it a bit difficult to agree with it, although I want to. This line of thought could very easily lead to an attempt to essentially eliminate desire, which *I believe* is often found in Asian spiritual thought, although I'm not sure about Daoism. 

What worth is there in "holding" a belief?  Perhaps to try it on for a time like a hat? To live in its frequency until it is played out?

It is prideful to think one can hold oneself - yet we die prematurely from doing so all the time. The trance of belief is soma (a drug) to the soul.

 

The concept of the desireless state is very different than a desireless state. Typically the concept brings to mind desires of the flesh yet it is also desire of futures and of changed pasts - also anything other than Present. The concept also generally brings to mind subjugation of desires until such a point as they have become dead or deadened - or excised entirely somewhat robotically  surgically removed - the sterile "perfected man".

 

Knowledge of the basis or contingency has nearly zero effect except to create a more interesting story about "ourselves".

The many selves continue to evolve - generally sleep is even more sound - in the belief that we are now somehow emancipated in the greater open knowledge of "ourselves" and arising proclivities.

 

Cessation of futures and pasts as separate from Present is release from most desire - it can also be release from all desire. Nothing is deadened in this - the play still plays - one abides in stillness though waves may still be felt.

One is no longer "a part of ones story", an actor in ones play - the identified "part" IN the play has ceased.

 

 

 

 

 

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On 9/26/2017 at 6:50 AM, Marblehead said:

No actors wanted to play my part so I have to play it myself.

 

 

Just wanted to say that this quote has been running through my head repeatedly over the last week. Brilliant!

 

I'm not sure if this was your intent, but it helps me cope with the growing (shocking) realization that determinism likely rules the universe -- in other words, that I have a destiny that could theoretically be determined if you had all the variables measured, even if in practice it feels like I have free will and the future can't be predicted. Viewing myself as an actor playing a part is a good way to describe determinism. 

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2 hours ago, Will said:

 

Just wanted to say that this quote has been running through my head repeatedly over the last week. Brilliant!

 

 

I can't recall having an intent when I posted that.  I get spontaneous all the time.  But I am pleased that it caused you inspiration for thought.  That is something I intentionally do often - say something to cause others thought.

 

Yeah, I'm a free will kind of guy.  But as you have looked at the concept I suppose I could agree with you within limits.  Two side to this though, our determination or that of others wishing to control us.

 

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I think it is "very odd" to believe that one's belief system is not profoundly informed by one's "philosophical view about the nature of man or truth or nature."

 

Perhaps I am just odd.

 

Or perhaps Rorty was seeking to rationalize holding political beliefs at odds with his own philosophical positions?

 

My question would be, "what force?"

 

My statement would be, "we can shape our beliefs or be shaped by our beliefs but the former depends upon recognizing those beliefs and being willing to dissolve our attachments to them."

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On 9/26/2017 at 7:50 PM, Marblehead said:

No actors wanted to play my part so I have to play it myself.

 

3 hours ago, Marblehead said:

Two side to this though, our determination or that of others wishing to control us.

 

1 hour ago, Brian said:

I think it is "very odd" to believe that one's belief system is not profoundly informed by one's "philosophical view about the nature of man or truth or nature."

 

Hi Dada-da & Brian

 

I think I got the answer as to who/what THAT might be.

 

Like to know the answer?

 

Clue - THAT = nobody

 

- LimA

Edited by Limahong
Correct errors.
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1 hour ago, Marblehead said:

Yeah, I'm a free will kind of guy.  But as you have looked at the concept I suppose I could agree with you within limits.  Two side to this though, our determination or that of others wishing to control us.

 

I tend to think that those two sides may not be easily distinct. Yes, there are choices that we make that feel "autonomous." And they are, really, but not in the way that we think. I can make choices, but I is just a combination of beliefs, desires, and lessons imprinted by society, combined with my genes and perhaps a degree of random neuron firings in my brain. There is nothing fundamental that is completely autonomous. Everything has a cause, everything is influence by something else. Or at least that's what I believe at the present time! Anyway, this is why I've come to believe that there is no such thing as moral responsibility, at least in the strict sense -- a natural result from determinism. 

 

The really hard question for me is, once you realize that many of your passions and beliefs are really completely contingent, that many of your decisions are "made" before you consciously decide (see this crazy study), that many of your talents are simply products of genetic chance, etc ... do you keep moving on normally with your life? Or do you start to stop desiring things?

 

Determinism is tricky to reckon with because it contains some paradoxes. The most frustrating is that:

 

1) Determinism postulates that the future is destined to occur in a certain way

 

2) You cannot know what that way is

 

3) You thinking about determinism was destined to happen (if you believe in determinism, of course) 

 

I'm not sure if that's a "paradox" in the traditional sense but it's still hard to really grasp. In other words, you might think, "Ah ha, I'm going to prove determinism wrong by exercising my free will to do something totally unexpected." Unfortunately, if determinism holds, then even that very thought was destined to occur, based on the prevailing laws of physics, your brain chemistry, etc. 

 

2 hours ago, Brian said:

Or perhaps Rorty was seeking to rationalize holding political beliefs at odds with his own philosophical positions?

 

Yeah that was what I thought was possible. Liberalism isn't at odds with postmodernism per se, but postmodernism does tend to take a bleak view of politics in general. 

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2 hours ago, Will said:

 

I tend to think that those two sides may not be easily distinct. Yes, there are choices that we make that feel "autonomous." And they are, really, but not in the way that we think. I can make choices, but I is just a combination of beliefs, desires, and lessons imprinted by society, combined with my genes and perhaps a degree of random neuron firings in my brain. There is nothing fundamental that is completely autonomous. Everything has a cause, everything is influence by something else. Or at least that's what I believe at the present time! Anyway, this is why I've come to believe that there is no such thing as moral responsibility, at least in the strict sense -- a natural result from determinism.

I never suggested that talking about this stuff would be easy.  I have never promised roses without thorns.

 

Yes, I hold to the concept of cause and effect as well and this makes it rather difficult for me to defend my holding to the concept of free will.

 

2 hours ago, Will said:

The really hard question for me is, once you realize that many of your passions and beliefs are really completely contingent, that many of your decisions are "made" before you consciously decide (see this crazy study), that many of your talents are simply products of genetic chance, etc ... do you keep moving on normally with your life? Or do you start to stop desiring things?

Yes, this requires questioning our motives and requires that we be honest with our answers.  Many people don't like being honest because it fucks with their ego.

 

2 hours ago, Will said:

 

Determinism is tricky to reckon with because it contains some paradoxes. The most frustrating is that:

 

1) Determinism postulates that the future is destined to occur in a certain way

 

2) You cannot know what that way is

 

3) You thinking about determinism was destined to happen (if you believe in determinism, of course) 

 

I'm not sure if that's a "paradox" in the traditional sense but it's still hard to really grasp. In other words, you might think, "Ah ha, I'm going to prove determinism wrong by exercising my free will to do something totally unexpected." Unfortunately, if determinism holds, then even that very thought was destined to occur, based on the prevailing laws of physics, your brain chemistry, etc. 

 

 

I have no problem with your line of thinking here.

 

Yes, I would agree with calling it (them) a paradox.

 

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Liberalism is a label, which I have found doesnt fit affirmatively with some attitudes I hold. 

The position devolves IMO to whether a persons attitudes can change or be changed intentionally. , and to that I say its obvious that they can be magnified or minimized intentionally. 

Then theres the issue of fate and I say that our decisions do pivot events . 

Can a person value that which does not serve what another envisions as their own best interest ? Sure. 

Daoism IMO, doesnt instruct that one must have no intents , nor that one take no actions whatsoever. Its suggesting that we tend to drag burdens to our own plate. by the enactment of ego motives. 

For instance , me responding to the thread brings the opportunity for rejection as well as vindication. It really can only serve me if I am bolstered and that service would be to an imagined self. 

The sage would consider the effort foolish, and instead would focus on that which served his own performance of fate... the part he most is advantaged to experience , the hand he is dealt rather than the bluff of ego. 

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10 hours ago, Stosh said:

Liberalism is a label, which I have found doesnt fit affirmatively with some attitudes I hold. 

 

Stosh, you are a conservative.  Please try to understand that.

 

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51 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

Stosh, you are a conservative.  Please try to understand that.

 

But I cant be! I like small animals and I'm argumentative !  :) 

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10 minutes ago, Stosh said:

But I cant be! I like small animals and I'm argumentative !  :) 

You still qualify.  You will have to do much better than that.

 

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1 minute ago, Marblehead said:

You still qualify.  You will have to do much better than that.

 

I can't think of anything else. :(

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Well, if you said you like wearing your pink pussy cap and alway kneel when the national anthem is played I would start wondering about you.

 

 

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On 9/25/2017 at 7:53 AM, Will said:

The question is, "Is it worth holding beliefs or having desires if you know that these desires are completely contingent on your circumstances, on your inherited genes, etc., and that there's nothing particularly 'special' about them?" 

 

I assume that many of you agree with Rorty's position -- that all that's necessary is becoming conscious of the contingency of your desires and beliefs, not giving them up. Is that the case? I have to say I find it a bit difficult to agree with it, although I want to. This line of thought could very easily lead to an attempt to essentially eliminate desire, which *I believe* is often found in Asian spiritual thought, although I'm not sure about Daoism. 

 

Believe means 'do not know'.  I believe means 'I do not know', and yes some people are happy to kill others over beliefs.

 

Most people realize subconsciously that they 'do not know' but not so many are conscious of it.  Those who do not know it consciously live in a constant and fundamental state of angst and tension depending on the strengths of their beliefs.  I think you could say that beliefs are desires because it is a wishing for something, which is a desire.  Wishing for something to be true in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Edited by Starjumper
add 'fundamental'
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Yeah, I use the words "beliefs" and "believe" often but when speaking for myself these words are really not correctly used.  I don't have beliefs, I have understandings and opinions.

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