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Ch. 1 - Rival Theories -- and Critical Assessment of Them 
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In the United states, an informal protestant Christian ethos affects much public discussion, despite the official separation of Church and State.

Aw, gee! I didn't think anybody noticed.

:lol:



Sat Mar 08, 2008 5:36 pm
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2. Christianity and Marxism Compared

Similarities . . . first, they each make claims about the nature of the universe as a whole.

Christianity - committed to belief in God . . .

Marx - condemned religion . . .

About history:

Christianity - the meaning is given by its relation to the eternal . . .

Marx - claimed a pattern of progress that is entirely internal to it.

Individuals:

Christianity -we are made in the image of God. We are free to accept or reject . . . doing so, decides whether we have a life after death.

Marx - denies life after death - denies judgment.

Problems:

Christianity - we are not in accordance with God's will . . . that's what causes our problems.

Marx - it's not 'sin', it's 'alienation'. Guess that means something the same, only the 'alienation' is from the communism - capitalism do not allow people to develop.

Christianity - once we accept Christ, we can begin to live a new, regenerate life.

Marx - the opposite - there can be no improvement until there's a radical change in society. Capitalism must be replaced by Communism!

Future:

Christianity - people restored to the state which God intends . . .

Marx - a perfect society where people may become their 'real selves', living in co-operation with each other.

(That'd be nice work if we could get it)

For Christianity there is the church . . .

For Marxism there are a variety of communist parties.

Each claims to be right.

-----------------------------------



Sat Mar 08, 2008 5:57 pm
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Other "Idelogies" about Human Nature

. . . between Christianity and Marxism . . . some have suggested that the latter is as much a religion as the former.

Well, in what way? In the way they are both so 'fist down on the table 'right'?

The theories of the ancient Greeks, expecially of their great philosophers Plato and Artistotle, still influence us today.

. . . a variety of thinkers has tried to apply the methods of science (as they understood them) to human nature.

Hobbes, Hume - Darwin's Theory of Evolution - Freud

. . . have fundamentally affected our understanding of ourselves.

Scientists - Skinner and Lorenz

Chinese, Indian and African conceptions . . .

Islam - often seen as oriental - closely related to Judaism and Christianity in its origins.

China - Confucianism has been given some official revival.

They are all 'ideology', so says this segment.

But the theories we have selected to discuss all exhibit the main elements of that common structure we have seen in Christianity and Marxiism:

1. a background theory about the world;

2. a basic theory of the nature of human beings;

3. a diagnosis of what is wrong with us; and

4. a prescription for putting it right.



Last edited by WildCityWoman on Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Mar 08, 2008 6:12 pm
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In this same section the authors are saying:

With the modern psychological or biological theories, we cannot hope to be up to date with all the very latest developments, for the frontiers of science and speculation are constantly moving.

Hmmmm ... guess the Buddha was right - nothing is permanent!



Last edited by WildCityWoman on Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Mar 08, 2008 6:17 pm
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The Criticism of Theories

Christianity - so if God is so good, why does He not answer the prayers and relieve suffering all over the world?

Marxism - revolutions against communism haven't occurred in the 'heart of capitalism' in the western world . . . and communism collapsed in the late twentieth century.

So doesn't that Marx's theory to be no good?

--------------------------

Are we really free and responsible for our own actions, or is everything determined?

Do we live after death?

Is it true that we're made of nothing but 'matter', in the light of our ability to think and process knowledge?

Christians - believe only Christ can save us;

Marxists - believe that we can save ourselves.

Neither have proved to be right - neither institution, the church or the communists groups have been able to prevent the suffering of mankind.



Last edited by WildCityWoman on Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Mar 08, 2008 6:18 pm
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5. Defenses Against Objections - 'Closed Systems'

Even though Christianity has never proven to have the answers for the world, there still being war, hunger . . . suffering, and Marxism has failed miserably, there are still who hold to them.

Christianity is still going strong - people are converting all the time.

Marxism, although few are living by it, except where forced, is still believed in by some. Those few who are still clinging to it, argue there was nothing wrong with it - they were just doing it all wrong - not following Marx's instructions right.

Both sides give all kinds of excuses as to why Christianity or Marxism hasn't worked.

The Christian says God doesn't answer our prayers because sometimes it's better for us to suffer.

The Marxist says their followers were 'bought' off by the western world - that's why their system doesn't work.

The Christians say those who object/criticize their faith are sinners - they are blinded by sin and it is their own pride that prevents them from seeing the light.

The Marxists claim that non-believers are deluded by a 'false consciousness'.
It's the capitalists who distract them from the truth.

Two ways of preventing critical objections from turning people away:

1) not allowing any evidence to count against the theory, i.e., always finding some way of explaining away putative counterevidence; or

2) answering criticism by analysing the motivations of the critic in terms of the theory itself.


Then you get the 'closed system'.

The authors also include the Freudian theories as being defended in the same way.

. . . Christianity, Marxism and Freudian theory can be held as closed systems - - but this is not to say that all Christians, Marxists or Freudians hold their belief in that way.

Why should people want to maintain belief:

Inertia, and unwillingness to admit that one is wrong, must play a large part here.

. . . it takes courage to question or abandon one's life-commitment.

Well, I've always thought that too - even if someone of a particular faith - such as Islam - sincerely wants to change over, for whatever reason - Christianity holds more promise, his benefactors (host country/nation) have convinced him otherwise - it would be hard for a person to turn his back on the faith he has always practiced.

----------------------

I remember being at a school where job-search technique was being discussed. At the meeting, the teacher had us practice shaking hands with each other.

One of the Muslim men at the meeting wouldn't participate in that - he said his religion/culture prohibited him from shaking hands, or practicing any kind of touching with anyone who was not his wife, mother or sister.

He expressed feeling difficulty with this - he knew when he went for job interviews that he was expected to shake hands with a female who interviewed him.

Would that female have accounted for that, respected his faith and practice? Or would she be offended and consider him as being 'far too much trouble'.

What was she supposed to do? Have him come into the office on Monday morning to start work, then inform all the women in the office that they were to be very careful not to shake hands or touch him in any way.

Do we not walk up to each other, at times, tap the others back - maybe a playful punch? Are we to change our own values for the benefit of people from other cultures?

Kinda' hard to do that, I'd say. But just as much as it would be hard for us to get used to these 'new rules', it must be hard for the newcomer to do things he's just not accustomed to doing.



Last edited by WildCityWoman on Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Mar 08, 2008 6:19 pm
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The Hope for Rational Discussion and Evaluation

Why should I believe this?

Why should I accept this authority?


The media of the so-called "global village" seem to bring different cultures together in the sense only of confrontation, not of dialogue.

That seems to be how it is a lot of the time - somebody just comes on the air, reports an incident, moves their eyebrows to denote that there's something important about it - like you ever see the way the newscasters use their facial language when there's been an incident that involves SMOKING?

It's like this is the most horrendous thing that has taken place in the history of man! Somebody was SMOKING!

Seems like the media tells us what to think.

--------------------------

For we can always distinguish what someone says from that person's motivation for saying it.

We can if we think about it - if we keep in mind that it is truly an individual person talking - but often as not, is just one more 'talking head' reading from what a group of individuals wants told.

-----------------------------

Nietzche - scorned the theory of knowledge and moral philosophy . . . displays a double standard at work in his own thought.

How does he know what's 'truth'?


For that matter, what is truth and what is what someone else wants you to think?

. . . the technique of meeting all criticism by attacking the motives of the critic . . .

Someone's motivation m ay be peculiar or objectionable in some way, and yet what the person says may be true and justifiable by good reasons.

Well, to put things in my own words, I see this segment as asking the reader the question of just how easy or difficult it can be to discuss issues thoroughly - in any issue, does everybody get the chance to put their own honest opinion on the table?

Often, there are things a person might want to say, but doesn't because of the general attitude of the room - the environment.

For instance . . . let's say we're at a meeting which has been called to discuss just how much money and resource should a city put into an upcoming Gay Pride event - the parade, the speeches, the get togethers - the policing of the event.

How much should be spent? How much manpower should be assigned to the event?

IF most of the people at the table are 'straights', who are put off by this kind of thing, then the few who are either 'gay' or 'gay sympathizers', aren't going to feel they can speak up and express their own views. They will keep quiet to avoid conflict.

IF most of the people at the table are 'gay' and are people who are all for this event, then the few who are not will not feel free to express their views.

----------------------

Say there's a meeting at your office - everybody's obligated to attend. The issue is whether to extend office hours to meet with an expected rise in business.

The owner of the business is, of course, all for the idea - she doesn't have to spend the extra time at the office, of course - her employees will be pressed into that service.

She, a couple of the company's major stockholders, the general manager, etc., are all there.

The employees are expected to give their views.

Most of the employees are family people and don't want to be forced into doing extra time they don't want to do. But they have to be careful what they say - they don't want to offend someone and have their job on the line.

Maybe even one of the top echelon in the company is against the extended hours - he believes it's better to find a way of handling the extra work within the regular hours. He's of the belief that employees should be free to be with their families, or their own personal pleasures on evenings and weekends.

He's not going to feel comfortable saying so with the stockholders who want the extended hours - with people who might even 'pull out' if he doesn't agree with them.

What I'm saying is that something could be put forth as being a statement that EVERYBODY agrees with - the poll was unanimous!

But it's not necessarily so - the results didn't really reflect what people really thought.

OK . . . so it isn't the most 'sophisticated' view of this segment, but those are my thoughts on it.

Image



Last edited by WildCityWoman on Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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7. Validity of Statements

'Explaining' and 'Explaining Away' . . .

Consider how Christians try to solve the problem of why God does not prevent suffering, and Marxists the problem of why revolutions did not occur in the West.

What do they mean by that? Revolutions about Christianity? Why would the west have revolutions about Marxism?

Anyway, my take on this small segment is that Christians and Marxists are quick to shoo away these questions by coming back with simple statements like 'God is good'.

Q:

If there is a kind sympathetic God - if he sees the 'little sparrow fall', then why is there so much suffering?

A:

God is good.

I don't really know what statements are used to defend Marxism. Probably the same kinda' thing.

What this segment is telling us is that both sides - Christians and Marxists -should make a better effort in answering questions, when looking to gain supporters.



Last edited by WildCityWoman on Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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7.1 Value Judgments

My take on this wee segment is that some 'statements' cannot be taken as factual - they are merely peoples' opinions, not facts.

The author's example - homosexuality is not normal - if you saw this statement somewhere, it could just be one person's (or a small group of people) opinion.



Last edited by WildCityWoman on Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Mar 08, 2008 6:34 pm
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7.2 Analytic Statements

The example used here is the statement all human beings are animals.

In order to prove this wrong, you'd have to consider what the individual means by the word 'animal'.

Eating, sleeping, feeling, defecating - all animals do that - if that's how the word 'animals' is taken by the statement maker, then in his view 'all human beings are animals'.

That one's a 'thinker'.



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Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:14 pm
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7.3 Empirical Statements, Including Scientific Theories

Empirical Statements - these are formed by 'what we see'. Investigating and seeing for yourself - it often rains in Vancouver - anyone who has been there can see that for themselves.

So that would be an 'empirical statement'.

If you wanted to prove that it does NOT often rain in Vancouver, how would you prove it? Get absolutely unbeatable evidence that people stand on top of the buildings and pour pailfuls of water, just to make you think that it often rains in Vancouver?

Ha ha!



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7.4 Metaphysical Statements

Here I go on that 'metaphysical' word again . . . in this book, I guess it means 'religious', or 'spiritual' - not 'supernatural'.

Well, other than scriptural text, what proof do we have that there's a God? Just a lotta' text where people wrote about it?

Have we seen anything to prove it.

If I have a spiritual vision tonight, I could well say 'OK - I know! There is a God!'

But it could be argued that I just had a vision caused by a migraine, a prescription medication, or maybe just a very vivid dream.

Unless I came up with pictures of the vision - actual prints, or digital images, I'd have no proof. And even if I had same, it could be argued that I manipulated it through the art of creative photography.

Like Kriss Angel walking from the top of one building to another - doesn't prove that he can really do it. It proves that he hires a lot of people to stand down at the bottom and go Ooooo, Ahhhhhh!



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WildCityWoman wrote:
5. Defenses Against Objections - 'Closed Systems' Even though Christianity has never proven to have the answers for the world, there still being war, hunger . . . suffering, and Marxism has failed miserably, there are still who hold to them. Christianity is still going strong - people are converting all the time. Marxism, although few are living by it, except where forced, is still believed in by some. Those few who are still clinging to it, argue there was nothing wrong with it - they were just doing it all wrong - not following Marx's instructions right. Both sides give all kinds of excuses as to why Christianity or Marxism hasn't worked. The Christian says God doesn't answer our prayers because sometimes it's better for us to suffer. The Marxist says their followers were 'bought' off by the western world - that's why their system doesn't work. The Christians say those who object/criticize their faith are sinners - they are blinded by sin and it is their own pride that prevents them from seeing the light. The Marxists claim that non-believers are deluded by a 'false consciousness'. It's the capitalists who distract them from the truth. Two ways of preventing critical objections from turning people away: 1) not allowing any evidence to count against the theory, i.e., always finding some way of explaining away putative counterevidence; or 2) answering criticism by analysing the motivations of the critic in terms of the theory itself. Then you get the 'closed system'. The authors also include the Freudian theories as being defended in the same way. . . . Christianity, Marxism and Freudian theory can be held as closed systems - - but this is not to say that all Christians, Marxists or Freudians hold their belief in that way. Why should people want to maintain belief: Inertia, and unwillingness to admit that one is wrong, must play a large part here. . . . it takes courage to question or abandon one's life-commitment. Well, I've always thought that too - even if someone of a particular faith - such as Islam - sincerely wants to change over, for whatever reason - Christianity holds more promise, his benefactors (host country/nation) have convinced him otherwise - it would be hard for a person to turn his back on the faith he has always practiced. ---------------------- I remember being at a school where job-search technique was being discussed. At the meeting, the teacher had us practice shaking hands with each other. One of the Muslim men at the meeting wouldn't participate in that - he said his religion/culture prohibited him from shaking hands, or practicing any kind of touching with anyone who was not his wife, mother or sister. He expressed feeling difficulty with this - he knew when he went for job interviews that he was expected to shake hands with a female who interviewed him. Would that female have accounted for that, respected his faith and practice? Or would she be offended and consider him as being 'far too much trouble'. What was she supposed to do? Have him come into the office on Monday morning to start work, then inform all the women in the office that they were to be very careful not to shake hands or touch him in any way. Do we not walk up to each other, at times, tap the others back - maybe a playful punch? Are we to change our own values for the benefit of people from other cultures? Kinda' hard to do that, I'd say. But just as much as it would be hard for us to get used to these 'new rules', it must be hard for the newcomer to do things he's just not accustomed to doing.


Hi WCW, this is an interesting post. The characterization 'open-closed' presents a useful typology to analyse the sociology of belief. My view is that the quality of openness is a philosophical attribute, a virtue that can govern assessment of claims. Of course, it stands in tension with tradition, which judges that rival claims must pass a strong conservative test. Many accepted claims are integral to the traditional world view, so a closed system will not accept new ideas if they seem to lead to an unraveling of their conventional outlook.

I was recently reading a comment on the Book of Daniel, about his dream where he told Nebuchadnezzar that four empires were predicted by the statue with head of gold, body of silver and bronze, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebuchadne ... n_Daniel_2 Now, the interesting thing here is that believers focus on the head of gold without noticing the feet of clay. For example, Christian creeds make many statements which are now known to be false. If the creed is the epistemic foundation for the institution, then any falsity in the creed functions like the clay mixed with the iron in the feet of the toppling statue.

Openness enables us to look at the assumptions of our beliefs, adapting to evidence. The trouble is that institutions are intrinsically closed because confidence supports their power, and so hardens to dogma, while openness undermines confidence through skepticism and critical thought. Openness was a key value of the scientific revolution and the modern enlightenment, but as with all such social movements, assumptions about the meaning of openness can become rigid, producing new forms of closure.

Regarding Marxism, your comments are interesting, but I am less sympathetic to Marx than to Christ, primarily on this openness question. Marx was very dogmatic, especially regarding the proletariat as the vanguard of the revolution, and his ideas set up systems which produced mass terror and death on a scale unimaginably larger than can be attributed to any of the ideas of Jesus.

My MA Hons thesis discusses openness at http://www.geocities.com/rtulip2005/Tul ... hics_I.htm



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Quote:
RT
Marx was very dogmatic, especially regarding the proletariat as the vanguard of the revolution, and his ideas set up systems which produced mass terror and death on a scale unimaginably larger than can be attributed to any of the ideas of Jesus.


This is not entirely true... Jesus' temper tantrum in the Jewish temple where he called the Jewish bankers vipers has been used as justification to persecute and kill Jews for centuries. Jesus (if he existed) never spoke out against slavery, indeed he even supported the beating of servants, this has contributed to the long and ghastly persistence of slavery over the centuries.

Marxism was terrible, there is no denying it, but Christianity has been doing its damage for thousands of years, no one, short lived system such as Marxism can hope to compete with that.

Later



Tue Mar 11, 2008 3:18 am
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Oh, I wouldn't say I'm sympathetic to Marx - don't really known that much about his work, actually.

I was more or less going by what I reading in the book under that heading.

I certainly couldn't see his theories working; it might have prevented a lot of suffering in that people wouldn't grieve for what they didn't have (and others seemed to have), I'd agree with that, but I think it would be a dull life.

People are naturally inclined to 'get' and it was probably so from the first time somebody traded a few beads for a few shells.

The trader ran home and yelled - look what I got!

Trading, earning things - I think the quest has always been in us.

I'm not that swift on this kinda' thing, Robert - I haven't studied things such as Marxism, Communism, all that closely.

I am enjoying reading through these segments. I'm not making very good time, I'm afraid, but maybe that's 'cause I'm blathering too much about it as I'm going - ha ha!



Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:18 pm
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