connected: ezChat version 0.54
Chris OConnor:: Hey guys
Chris OConnor:: Good morning
Chris OConnor:: Is it morning where you
are? 11am here in Florida
ecstian:: Hi Chris
ecstian:: same time zone here
Chris OConnor:: Hey Eric
Chris OConnor:: Doing my first cup of
coffee to wake up still
Chris OConnor:: After all my emails I'm
curious how many will attend this chat
Chris OConnor:: Did you read this book?
PeterDF:: hi Folks
Chris OConnor:: Peter!
Chris OConnor:: Peter - I was just reading
your post in the Questions for Grayling thread
Chris OConnor:: Peter - good question.
If you didn't show I was going to ask the question myself.
PeterDF:: Yes I've just read it again
to give me a few ideas what to say
PeterDF:: lol That's fine
Chris OConnor:: By the way, Susan Jacoby
accepted our invitation to a live chat. We had no scheduled
chats for months and now we've got about 6 on the horizon.
PeterDF:: Great sruff
PeterDF:: srroy stuff
PeterDF:: sory sory
Chris OConnor:: Peter - here is my question.
Are all beliefs created equal? Are all deserving of
respect? I'm thinking of the wording.
PeterDF:: sorry, it looks like its going
to be one of those days
Chris OConnor:: What I'd like to know
is how Grayling approaches people with poor thinking
Chris OConnor:: haha you're stuttering
PeterDF:: When I saw Grayling this year
there was a theist in the audience and he handled him
well - he was quite dismissive
PeterDF:: Dawkins would have been more
ecstian:: what more specifically do you
mean by "poor thinking skills"?
Chris OConnor:: My opinion has always
been that I respect peoples right to believe whatever
they want, but it is the right to believe that is respected
and not the person or poor thinking skills that led
to that belief
Chris OConnor:: I've met Dawkins and he
enjoys the challenge of confronting theists
Chris OConnor:: Eric - I don't mean that
someone has to agree with me, but...
PeterDF:: One of the times I saw Dawkins
he was so forceful - I thought he'd alienated the audience
Chris OConnor:: Eric - What I mean is
that they should be able to explain how they came to
their current belief without resorting to leaps of faith.
Faith is the thing I have a problem with.
PeterDF:: Grayling kept them with him
Chris OConnor:: Peter - yes, exactly.
I stood in the hallway with Dawkins as he attacked someone
that got off the podium - he didn't like what she said
Chris OConnor:: Peter - I stand to learn
a lot from people like Grayling
Chris OConnor:: I'm more like Dawkins
and I don't like this part of my personality. I'm really
working to become less confrontational
PeterDF:: Chris - I can believe that!!!
PeterDF:: I meant I believe what Dawkins
ecstian:: It seems to me that nearly every
comment I have ever heard regarding Dawkins is in the
same vein - I don't think I have ever heard that he
is kind, gentle, respectful, etc... I can't judge personally
though, because I have never met him, heard him speak,
or read more than a few pages of his writings
Chris OConnor:: Let me grab a cup of coffee.
Brb. I sure hope we have some more people enter. Grayling
said he would be here around this time. He will be early.
He sure is a nice guy.
Chris OConnor:: brb - my cat might type
on the keyboard while I am gone - 30 seconds
PeterDF:: I think Grayling said something
like "he thought that people should keep religion
to themselves because it frightens the horses
ecstian:: frightens the horses.... hmmm
PeterDF:: Eric - if you saw him give a
lecture you would not guess that he was like that -
he is a very precise person...
Chris OConnor:: Hey Kostya :) Welcome!
#Kostya:: Hi everybody!
#Kostya:: Hi Chris
ecstian:: hey Kostya!!
PeterDF:: Hi Kostya how r u
ecstian:: Peter, who? Dawkins?
PeterDF:: Yes... Dawkins
#Kostya:: Hi Peter and Eric. I am okay.
Thank you. How are you?
Chris OConnor:: I'm sitting here with
my girlfriend and was just saying that I'm already pleased
with who we have in this room.
PeterDF:: It is only when he thinks someone's
argument is wrong that he attacks
PeterDF:: but when he does so he remains
just as precise - that's why he's so devastating
ecstian:: Peter, perhaps he is precise,
but despite precision, I regularly hear people commenting
on his personal confrontations with people who differ
in opinion or method
PeterDF:: As I said before I think Grayling
can be more effective
#Kostya:: Chris, yes, but hopefully more
people will join in a few minutes...
PeterDF:: Hi Jeremy
#Kostya:: Hi Jeremy
Jeremy1952:: hey peter, Kostya, all
Jeremy1952:: I browsed back through Graylings
book last night
Jeremy1952:: The ideas fit very well with
ecstian:: I unfortunately was never able
to obtain a copy of his book
Chris OConnor:: Hey Jeremy - welcome
Jeremy1952:: hi Chris
Chris OConnor:: Eric - I didn't complete
the whole book, but that's cool
Jeremy1952:: Something going on here?
Chris OConnor:: I'm really happy to see
you all here. I'm sure you could tell I was a bit worried
from my email.
ecstian:: what kind of something, Jeremy?
Jeremy1952:: I don't know, unusual to
see people here at this time
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - yes, we're having
our 1st annual nude chat session
Jeremy1952:: I've been chatting nude quite
a bit lately, because I'm too cheap to pay for air conditioning
ecstian:: Chris is hooking up the cams
as we type
#Kostya:: Jeremy, the nude chatting is
the latest of Internet fads
Chris OConnor:: Dr. Grayling! Welcome
Jeremy1952:: Hi Dr Grayling. Is it Dr.?
I have a copy of "what is good" close at hand
and don't' see where it says
#Kostya:: Good evening Dr. Grayling
Chris OConnor:: Welcome Niall
Niall001:: Hi all!
Jeremy1952:: g'day Niall
Chris OConnor:: Please welcome our guest
today - Dr. Anthony Grayling! Dr. Grayling is Professor
of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London,
and a Supernumary Fellow of St Anne's College.
Hi Chris - please call me Anthony, Jeremy & everyone.
PeterDF:: Hello Prof Grayling - thanks
for your help with my book
Jeremy1952:: thanks Anthony
Chris OConnor:: He is a bit early, which
is a good thing.
Jeremy1952:: Ok I've decided, right now,
to stop making negative generalizations about Philosophy
ecstian:: Welcome Anthony - thanks for
taking the time to be with us
Chris OConnor:: Ok, Anthony it is
Chris OConnor:: Yes, thank you very much
for taking time out of your busy life for us.
Niall001:: Thanks for coming Anthony
Chris OConnor:: Anthony, what exactly
is a Supernumary anyway? ...And is it painful?
PeterDF:: Jeremy needs some assurances
about the worth of philosophy
Jeremy1952:: Lol, well, I think its the
only answer to addressing moral issues. Just people
who are still arguing Xeno's arrow annoy me
PeterDF:: lol - see what you mean Jeremy
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - we're all able
to read formal interviews all over the Internet and
media, but this is something rather special. We sure
appreciate the opportunity to spend some time in a casual
discussion with you. Please feel free to chat openly
and answer questions as if we're sitting having a cup
Meme Wars joined
Jeremy1952:: Before reading "what
is good" I had a kind of vague notion that Religion's
claim to morality is not legitimate, based more on opposition
to Gould than to a positive alternative
It's a great pleasure to be among you. 'Supernumary'
means 'additional to number', and in Oxford denotes
those who have been elected to a fellowship of a college
for honorary purposes. I used to teach there, and when
I left to join London University my Oxford College kindly
made me a supernumerary. - OK am catching up on the
messages coming through
Jeremy1952:: "What is Good?"
didn't change my core thinking, but expanded it and
shifted the emphasis
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - ahh, thank you
Dissident Heart joined
Chris OConnor:: We will try to keep things
flowing smoothly. Answer the questions in whatever order
you see fit, and if I ask any silly questions feel free
to skip over them.
Jeremy1952:: Welcome Dissident! VERY glad
Chris OConnor:: Welcome Dissident
Dissident Heart:: hello all
ecstian:: Hi DH
Niall001:: Hi Dissident
PeterDF:: I have terrible problems with
the idea put forward by religious people about their
alleged exclusive claim to morality. I've just written
some letters to the local paper about this claim made
by a local vicar
Meme Wars:: Jared Diamond hinted that
as civilization increased beyond village size, religion
was invented as an incentive for enforcement of rules.
In Villages, everyone knows each other and keeps score.
Enforcement was easy, but as the size of the community
grew, this way of maintaining morality failed.
PeterDF:: hi dissident
Jeremy1952:: I don't think that's the
same level of question
PeterDF:: Meme - what book was that in?
Chris OConnor:: We must be careful to
keep side chat off the screen so Anthony can keep up
Jeremy1952:: The "morality"
of religion can be wrong in a village too
Chris OConnor:: Welcome Tara
PeterDF:: hi Tara - nice to "see"
tarav:: thanks, Chris
tarav:: hello, all
Jeremy1952:: Anthony, I gave "Dissident"
a special welcome because theists are a minority here,
and he is an intelligent and insightful believer
Meme Wars:: Guns, Germs, & Steel.
Jeremy1952:: Kick me if I say something
out of line Dissident
Chris OConnor:: Stephen - welcome!
PeterDF:: Thanks meme - I haven't read
Dissident Heart:: Religion is obviously
more than rules of morality; it is a shared way to celebrate,
mourn, glorify, and dance sacredly.
Katala Au joined
StephanKrieg:: Hello Chris, I am happy
to be here.
PeterDF:: hi Stephan
I'm a tyro at the chat-room game so bear with me - any
advice on how to make the screen bigger so that I can
see all of each message? I'm on a Mac iBook using Internet
Dissident Heart:: Is Dr. Grayling taking
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - are you getting
all this? Moving too fast?
Jeremy1952:: I can't dance... does that
leave me out of the religion thing?
StephanKrieg:: I agree with Heart but
would add that religions do seem to be macroMemes
tarav:: We are so happy to have you here,
Niall001:: PeterDF, if an honest, all
knowing being whose very thoughts mold reality tells
you that x is right, then isn't it a better basis for
regulating behaviour than tradition?
Chris OConnor:: Anyone know about Mac
iBooks? Anthony has a small screen. He needs it full
Hi tarav - am pleased to be here
Jeremy1952:: Prof Grayling has asked earlier
that we call him Anthony, tarav, Dissident
PeterDF:: Niall - I agree completely -
if he's there!!!
Dissident Heart:: ty Jeremy
Chris OConnor:: Anthony needs help with
getting his screen full-screen. Too much chat right
now...can anyone help him.
tarav:: thank you, Jeremy
Niall001:: maybe we should pause the conversations
for a moment.?
StephanKrieg:: is there a icon in the
upper right hand corner?
Jeremy1952:: I think the book addresses
that, Niall. Because the answers come through people
anyway. Fallible people.
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - I know that
in Windows you simply click the upper right corner (not
the "X") square
Meme Wars:: For Villagers, morality may
be the wrong word. Favors are remembered, and those
who mostly took but returned little favor were ostracized.
And infidelity was also watch carefully. But as we started
to become farmers and community size grew, it was easy
to break rules and be a taker without being caught.
Religion was invented to instill within these people
that something out there is watching and keeping score.
Jeremy1952:: and no, I don't get that
just because it's really really powerful it's necessarily
Chris OConnor:: Everyone - please pause
the discussion until Anthony has this screen issue resolved
Dissident Heart:: Jeremy, dancing well
is not the issue; not dancing at all, as Nietzsche tells
us, would make life unbearable...something like existence
Chris OConnor:: Please pause everyone!
StephanKreig, there is a click-on saying 'Using Chat'
in the top right hand corner - usually there is a click
and drag icon to enlarge screens, but this chat screen
doesn't have one.
Chris OConnor:: Anyone that knows Macs
please help Anthony expand his screen
StephanKrieg:: yes, Memewars, it is a
socialization mechanism, a means to get a group of people
that are not necessarily related by blood to "get
Dissident Heart:: <-- Mac illiterate
Chris it's not a huge problem - let's get on with the
dancing: Jeremy is making some robust points on that
Jeremy1952:: I'm sorry meme but it sounds
like a "just so" story, as Gould would put
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - Ok, sounds good.
:) Sorry for the inconvenience of a small screen!
Jeremy1952:: Lol thank you Anthony
StephanKrieg:: Anthony, hummm, I am not
familiar with Macs. Have you tried to turn off the browser
and start from scratch?
Niall001:: Jeremy/Peter, I'd certainly
grant that, but I find that it isn't particularly difficult
to see why (when one member of a religion speaks to
another) they come to the conclusion that their moral
system is superior.
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - you might want
to try what Stephan suggests - or just work with a smaller
Jeremy1952:: Nooo we don't' want him to
do that, some other book group might snag him while
lawrenceindestin:: Doctor, May I ask you
to give your thesis statement for this book?
I'd better not turn off anything while we're transatlantically
connected! I'll stick with this format.
StephanKrieg:: ok ;-)
Chris OConnor:: Please call him Anthony
Chris OConnor:: Lets start this chat then...
Chris OConnor:: We'll be recording a chat
transcript. Only edits will be spelling errors.
StephanKrieg:: good idea.
Chris OConnor:: Welcome to BookTalk Anthony
Jeremy1952:: You mean my incredible wit
has not been recorded so far? BUMMER
Niall001:: Anthony, welcome, have you
ever tried anything like this before?
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - yes, it actually
has been. But I will probably edit out all this talk
about screen size. Unless you all want me to keep it.
PeterDF:: Anthony we have been discussing
the claims of religion to have a higher level of morality
- what do you think drives that belief
Meme Wars:: Screen the screen talk!
In brief, my argument in the book is that the history
of the West has in large part been a tussle - sometimes
between theoreticians, sometimes an actually violent
one - between two major outlooks: the humanistic outlook
which says that the good for humankind is to be found
in facts about human nature and the human condition,
and a transcendental or religious outlook which says
that the source of value lies outside the human realm
- and places an obligation on the human realm to conform
to it, if its denizens (us) are to achieve final satisfaction
Chris OConnor:: Welcome JohnChas
Jeremy1952:: Seriously chris I would consider
a chat transcript a sort of source document, better
left intact, spelling errors and all
PeterDF:: hi JohnChas
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - good point
Niall1001 no this is a first
JohnChas:: Hello, Prof. Grayling &
lawrenceindestin:: Thank you. So how did
you resolve who gets to say who sez?
Niall001:: Spelling mistakes would be
as far as I'd take it Chris. It might be entertaining
for those studying Anthony's work to read little details
Jeremy1952:: Yes... Lawrence... that's
a key question; because frequently it has come down
to force. Usually even, I would say
PeterDF:: Having got you into this Anthony
I hope you enjoy it - and find it useful
Jeremy1952:: One thing I would say is
that the naturalistic world view has room for religious
people to have their own view, but the converse is not
Dissident Heart:: Anthony does that reduce
Humanism to a type of Anthropocentric ideology...something
that misses the larger ecological interconnectivity?
Chris OConnor:: The transcendental camp
has failed to prove that the good comes from outside
the human condition. Occam's Razor tells us to go with
the simpler explanation every time. I assume, until
shown otherwise, that morality comes from within
Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks Morality
comes from many places: inside and out.
Chris OConnor:: Niall - true
Meme Wars:: Thank you Anthony for that
synopsis! How do you convince humans to follow morality
outside of what is good for humans, without offering
something good for the individual, such as self centered
concern for eternal life?
Niall001:: Chris, who says that the transcendental
camp have failed? They have only failed by your truth
criterion, a criterion not shared by (I'd imagine) most
people on the planet.
Jeremy1952:: Why would one want to? I
know the question wasn't directed to me... but why would
"outside of good for humans" be a positive?
On the question of which has the 'higher' morality,
humanism or religion: as you would expect, I think humanism,
because it is premised on the understanding we succeed
in getting about our common humanity, whereas transcendentally-grounded
moralities very often cut directly across what it is
like to be human, with human interests and needs, imposing
demands that have their true sources in very ancient
fears and needs rather than in an acceptance of down-to-earth
facts about ourselves.
Jeremy1952:: Not only in our truth criterion,
Niall. We observe war and torture as outcomes of the
Chris OConnor:: Niall - that would be
an entire side discussion between us - which would be
quite fun on the forums
StephanKrieg:: It seems to me that moral
"codes" are derived from both internal and
external (to the individual) sources. I am assuming
that the individual human is the "atom" here.
PeterDF:: Thanks Anthony - that's exactly
the point I made in my letters to the editor.
Niall001:: Sorry Chris, I have a habit
of side tracking discussions
Dissident Heart:: <-- recognizes that
some Religion rests upon transcendental fears and ancient
lunacies...and that some Religion is deeply rooted in
the here and now, and the there and then.
StephanKrieg:: I agree with Jeremy
Meme Wars:: Humans respond to religion
out of fear. They do not like acting against their best
interest, but if they believe these meme-complexes,
they feel mortally threatened by eternal damnation to
Dissident heart: no, I think a really rich secular ethics
is very alert to both the intrinsic and the instrumental
value of the world itself, as something more than just
the theatre of human existence: since we are capable
of recognizing our duties of care for things we are
capable of harming, that immediately imposes a requirement
to take due care - and more.
Jeremy1952:: In a world with atomic, chemical,
and biological weapons, it seems survival-essential
to find a way to get along
JohnChas:: Anthony--Why do you think certain
peculiar ideas have become so embedded in major religious
systems (not eating pork, not having sex, cutting skin
off genitals, drinking terrible sugary wines on certain
holidays)? Is it tribalism?
StephanKrieg:: The main problem I see
with any transcendental viewpoint, be it theistic of
atheistic, is that is become non-falsifiable and even
Dissident Heart:: Anthony...and thank
God for those secular ethics able to do just that!
Meme Wars:: So they give up the humanly
good to protect themselves from a revengeful God. They
give up morality to protect their believed in souls.
StephanKrieg:: John, my take on that is
that those strictures are the equivalent of "habits"
Jeremy1952:: The answer of many theists
is, "well if everyone would only be Baha'i; or
Baptist, or whatever...". But we can empirically
observe that such is not happening
lawrenceindestin:: Does the issue of "best
or better" really have to be answered for us to
live in peace. It seems the issue is the still unresolved
issues John Locke wrote of in his essay "A letter
on Toleration", of keeping organized religion from
getting access to and use of the power of the state.
Niall001:: Anthony, this is the last time
I'll put forward a question of this type, why is being
based on an understanding we succeed in getting about
our common humanity, a good thing? Is it simply because
it is economical, handy, efficient? Is it more than
a personal preference?
StephanKrieg:: I concur with Jeremy
Chris OConnor:: Lawrence - excellent question
StephanKrieg:: What is our metric of "better"?
How can the Good be Known unambiguously?
Jeremy1952:: Well StephanKrieg, there's
a really good book I know that addresses that very topic...
StephanKrieg:: Lets see what Anthony suggests...
Chris OConnor:: The ultimate concern should
be the separation of church and state, but Anthony's
book is about "What is Good" and not just
what gets us by without chaos, war and oppression.
Dissident Heart:: I'm not certain how
any Ethic can identify an "intrinsic" value
of anything...without imposing an ideology and faith
or mythic construct...issues of "duty" and
"obligation" are tied to notions of identity
and allegiances....and these are developed in the messy,
non-objective, deeply imaginative world of politics
and communal concerns.
tarav:: John- Diamond discusses some of
the food taboos and seems to say that they may have
originated in a food poisoning incident.
Dissident Heart:: <-- wonders if Chris
is conscious of utilizing Tillich's "ultimate concern"
Niall001:: That is possible tarav, but
is there any evidence that this is the case?
Jeremy1952:: I'm going to grab a soda,
anyone want one? I have Vodka too
Niall001:: Don't mention vodka.
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - I'll take a Bacardi
& Diet with lime
JohnChas:: tarav, I suspect that explanation
is another desperate attempt to provide empirical confirmation
for supernatural beliefs.
tarav:: Niall- I'd have to look back at
the book...I don't remember...
Niall001:: Twas a rough night.
Niall1001 - at the centre of our moral life are our
relationships - from the most intimate to the general
- and all of them work best when sustained by insight
into what it is for all of us (not just 'me' for any
individual) to be human. Each person has a highly parochial
viewpoint on the world, and a limited experience; this
is the 'finitary predicament' that only sympathy and
knowledge has to overcome - so the more we know about
the human condition the better we live. This I think
is why the arts, history and philosophy are so important
to us, because they so powerfully supplement our direct
experience of life, if only we will be attentive to
them and reflect on their lessons.
StephanKrieg:: Does it not seem to be
the case that so long as there is competition for finite
resources, coupled with a diversity of abilities, that
there will not be a single fixed "Good"? At
best we have a Nash equilibrium!
Jeremy1952:: No rum in my house sorry
Niall001:: thanks Anthony
Dissident Heart:: <-- wonders if the
"finitary predicament" is an offspring to
the notion of "original sin"....
Niall001:: Is the primary unit of humanity
binary then in your world view?
StephanKrieg:: Arts, history and philosophy
make up the external sources of moral codes
Jeremy1952:: I'm trying to cut and paste
Anthony's last answer, I guess I'll have to grab it
from the transcript.
Meme Wars:: Relative morality: What is
good for the mosquito is not good for man. What is good
for man many not be good for the mosquito.
Jeremy1952:: As a proponent of secular
ethics the question of art comes up frequently and that's
by far the best explanation I've heard
StephanKrieg:: No, Memewars, that is not
"relativity", it is "contextuality".
Chris OConnor:: Stephan - Nash equilibrium?
Meme Wars:: What is good for me may not
be good for you. If I have an infinity point of view,
there is no such thing as good or evil, but as I began
to select certain points of references, then I can define
what is good.
StephanKrieg:: Anthony, I would like to
read your notion on the origin of the "Original
PeterDF:: Tara I agree that there could
be a evolutionary-psychology kind of solution to that
problem. It derives from the fact that an adult human
has a very high level of biological investment and anything
that would protect that investment would be favoured
by natural selection
Jeremy1952:: BTW Anthony's explanation
of art being important because it supplements our direct
experience of life is not inconsistent with ethological
explanations of the evolution of art and music
StephanKrieg:: Chris, its a math thing
JohnChas:: Meme: Last year in the eastern
US we had the 17-year cicadas. Apparently it's good
for them to gnaw on subterranean crud for 17 years...
but not for any other species.
lawrenceindestin:: When I was young, the
dictionary definition of morality was doing or not doing
what the god of your belief system told you to do. Now
the dictionary definition says morality is doing what
the majority think is right. In a democracy that behavior
is lawful, not moral. Since "good" is an adjective
must there not be multiple nouns for it to modify?
tarav:: Peter- me too
Jeremy1952:: Dictionaries are descriptive,
not prescriptive. Both of those definitions are wrong
Jeremy1952:: I think the new one is worse
than the old one
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - Amen
StephanKrieg:: Jeremy - ditto
Dissident Heart:: Nietzsche, following
in Schopenhaur's shoes, as well as Goethe's...recognized
the inescapable value of art and music in shaping a
meaningful, lovable, enjoyable existence...once the
delusions of religion and ecclesiastic control and eliminated.
JohnChas:: Lawrence: I find some contemporary
majorities very unattractive--on "moral" grounds.
Something personal tells me they're "bad"
no matter how you define "good."
StephanKrieg:: Does that not make the
creation of arts a "socializing" mechanism?
a means to interrelated the many into one?
Niall001:: Yes, well what is perceived
as moral will always depend on what the majority believe.
So it seems like an appropriate definition for a dictionary.
Jeremy1952:: Perfectly true, meme wars.
I think a negotiated system can agree on certain basics;
we've been working here on the assumption that "good
for humanity" is an assumption we can all agree
StephanKrieg:: Think of how "hymns"
create a suggestive state in the congregation...
Meme Wars:: JohnChas: There is an evolutionary
advantage to reproduction every 17 years. Parasites
can't wait that long to prey upon their biological reproductive
lawrenceindestin:: I'm not defining good.
I'm interested in Anthony getting closer to his subject.
We may have proven to him our naiveté on his
PeterDF:: JohnChas - I think I remember
reading about the 17 year cicadas in one of Richard
Dawkins books - it was a wonderful story of how nature
Chris OConnor:: Let us direct questions
JohnChas:: Peter & Meme: Yes, I'm
amazed that an insect can count up to 17.
Dissident Heart:: <-- one of those
Religious folk who love the beauty of chants, hymns,
choirs, and gospel rhythms.
StephanKrieg:: Peter, Meme, the 17 year
thing has more to do with predator prey cycles; the
prime numbers have the fewest common cycles with any
StephanKrieg:: lets get back to Anthony's
Chris OConnor:: <-- one of those agnostic
atheists that loves the beauty of chants, hymns, choirs,
and gospel rhythms
StephanKrieg:: afk 5 min
tarav:: Dawkins discusses the cicadas
in The Blind Watchmaker--FYI
Jeremy1952:: Never happen, Chris; I've
always talked in class
tarav:: it's convergent evolution
Dissident Heart:: <-- wonders if the
love of one who believes is different from the love
of one who doesn't
PeterDF:: Stephankrieg - exactly that
was his point
Jeremy1952:: Fascinating question Dissident
Meme Wars:: Art: It is the male bird decorating
his nesting area with adornments to attract the female.
But he doesn't remember why he does this; he does it
because he loves art! But his genes get spread more
than the non-art lover/creator!
Dissident Heart - your remarks about intrinsic value
and the finitary predicament are interestingly related:
given that we must begin from where we are, that is,
as embodied individuals in a particular point in history,
and given that leaping out of our bodies and our time
has to be done by imagination (including the imagination
of scholarship, as in the study of history), we are
doubly bound to accept that the starting point for ethics
is us & our world. That says nothing yet about whom
we are and what we are like; it invites us to contemplate
ways of inventing ourselves according to a really worthwhile
conception of what we can be at best. Of course, among
the givens are facts about our harmful propensities
too, as a species and as individuals; but that is part
of the point - the constraint that making the good means
overcoming the bad.
Chris OConnor:: I'd be interested in hearing
Anthony's perspective on these recent London & Egypt
terrorist attacks. But I'm not sure how to fit this
topic into the current stream of discussion, so perhaps
I'll just keep it to myself.
Niall001:: Welcome Mad
Dissident Heart:: madlypresent
Chris OConnor:: Mad - welcome! You're
late. Please go stand in the corner.
tarav:: I believe we are filled to capacity!
MadArchitect:: sorry, having a little
trouble on my end, but I'll participate as best I can
On love: it is a very different thing to know that one
of any two lovers must lose the other, which is to say:
hat love has a term, than to believe that we will meet
all our ex-partners in an after-life I'd hope that would
make one love better and more intensely.
Niall001:: Not to go off track too much,
but I'm actually ignorant of the Egypt attacks. Could
someone give a one-sentence summary?
lawrenceindestin:: If you replace Plagius'
fairytale of Original Sin in the garden of Eden with
Karl Barth's concept of inherent selfishness is it not
easier to reach Anthony's point.
Chris OConnor:: Niall - multiple bombs
have killed up to 100 or more. They are still uncovering
JohnChas:: Anthony (may I?) -- Supposing
we all agree that the London (and today's Egypt) bombings
and those in Madrid, NYC, DC and elsewhere are "Bad",
can we give any reason for that conclusion beyond the
"golden rule"? Not that I think we need to...
Jeremy1952:: 'k I figured out how to cut
and paste from this venue, so I have Anthony's answer
to Niall saved... just in case the transcript gets messed
up, it's waaay too good to lose
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - so true about
JohnChas:: Niall: The Egypt bombings were
in two Red Sea resorts at the southern end of Sinai.
Probably lots of foreigners there.
lawrenceindestin:: Nietzsche believed
that all acts of love were for selfish reasons. It is
my opinion the definition of love is incomplete. The
only definition for the motivation to act in love that
cannot be selfish is when you are motivated out of deep
appreciation for and gratitude of the object loved.
Niall001:: thanks, that is terrible.
Dissident Heart:: Anthony, there is a
long tradition across religious traditions that points
to disciplined self examination, tutored meditation,
prayer as ways to access a knowledge of self that transcends
individual ego and connects to a much larger, or deeper,
fuller, richer identification with everything: e.g.,
Child of God connecting to God of Creation; the Atman
connecting to Brahma; the Anatman dissolving into Sunyata....what
was my point?...uggh
Chris OConnor:: Dissident - lol I hate
when that happens
Meme Wars:: Love is an evolutionary trick
to invest in something outside of the individual for
the propagation of "selfish" genes.
MadArchitect:: well, if I may, I'd say
that the definition of selfish becomes problematic in
cases of love -- what often happens is that the boundaries
of selfhood become blurred, so that acting in self-interest
is often acting in the interests of another
Chris OConnor:: Meme - Bingo!
Jeremy1952:: On love and selflessness:
our intelligence has obviously gone way beyond it's
evolved purpose. I see no reason why that could not
have happened, be happening with altruism as well.
StephanKrieg:: Meme - ditto!
Jeremy1952:: Human altruism began as tit-for-tat
morality, like that exercised by bats; but it surely
seems to have become something more
MadArchitect:: anthropological study tends
to suggest that the boundaries of selfhood are learned
JohnChas:: Meme-- Love is just "spin"
for sex. We're just terrain vehicles for our gonads.
Bah, humbug! (From a father of 2.)
Dissident Heart:: And the genes are selfish
for what reason?
Chris OConnor:: Every human emotion, reaction
and activity has its origins in natural selection
MadArchitect:: genes aren't selfish --
it's merely convenient to talk of them as selfish on
average (recently having read Dawkins)
Jeremy1952:: It's inherent in the nature
of genes, Dissident
Niall001:: Yes Dissident, but I guess
the question is, do those techniques of self examination
etc. work best within a religious or secular context?
Are they aided by a religious context or do they work
in spite of it?
Dissident Heart:: Jeremy...so...we know
what is inherent in genes?
Meme Wars:: Good one JohnChas!
PeterDF:: Anthony I seem to remember you
saying that you are in a different philosophical camp
to Colin Maginn, I think you said he belonged to a group
called the mysterians (or was that captain Scarlett)
anyway I understood that you thought him to be a relativist
- could you expand on this for us
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - excellent point.
I'd love to hear what Anthony has to say about that.
Evolution is known to be thrifty. Nothing evolves beyond
the point of necessity.
Katala Au:: Jeremy - maybe because excess
altruism or selfishness has a more direct impact on
our survival than does excess intelligence? (per se)
MadArchitect:: frankly, I'm critical of
Dawkins for having popularized anthropomorphic terminology
that tends more often to confuse the issue than clarify
StephanKrieg:: I disagree with Jeremy
on intelligence. I would claim that our intelligence
was transcended genetic evolution, but in the overall
scheme of evolution it is an aspect of it.
Jeremy1952:: Functionally genes are very
simple. The execution is complicated.
Niall001:: Peter, Cap Scarlet fought the
mysterons. He was an anti-mysterian.
Jeremy1952:: Wrong, Chris. Things evolve
beyond the point of necessity all the time
StephanKrieg:: Intelligence is necessary
as it leads to increasing efficient use of finite resources.
Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks we project
onto Genes in much the same way we project onto gods.
MadArchitect:: I also disagree with the
claim that evolution is so thrifty, and that's one of
the arguments evolutionary purists have against the
proponents of intelligent design -- there are numerous
redundancies in organisms due to evolution
StephanKrieg:: Dissident - ditto
Jeremy1952:: Actually Stephan I think
you just said the same thing in different words
StephanKrieg:: Perhaps... ;-)
Jeremy1952:: Yup. Evolution does not make
things go away unless they are harmful
JohnChas:: Dissident: Do gods "cross
over" and exchange sequences? ;^}
PeterDF:: Niall - oops
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - maybe necessity
isn't the right word. Things evolve only to the point
where they no longer are improving survival rates.
StephanKrieg:: What we must understand
about Evolution is that it is not pre-specified nor
I see some cynical aspersions on love, which is always
suggest that it is time for a few distinctions: there
are many loves for friends, parents, children, erotic
partners, mankind (or some of them), dogs and horses,
landscapes, books, the minds of the great dead - - it
would be a barren world that did not have all these
kinds of affectional bonds between people. It is not
love that is the trick played by the gonads, but attraction
and infatuation; love is what survives the latter, because
it deepens the former.
Jeremy1952:: Hyper stimulation is the
classic example... to a bird, "big" egg is
better than "small". There is no evolutionary
need for a limit, so a bird can be tricked into trying
to hatch a soccer ball 100 times larger than any egg
could every be
excuse the typos: I do know some grammar.
Dissident Heart:: <-- is cautious when
discussing Nietzsche's notions of Self...something he
identified as polycentric, shifting, fluid, mobile,
tempestuous, and operating within to minerals, vegetal,
animal, political, and cosmic levels.
Jeremy1952:: And you know how to spell
"grammar"; unusual in chat venue
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - I'll run this
through a spell-checker so don't worry
lawrenceindestin:: Thank you Anthony,
Does that make all love Good?
Meme Wars:: To know is to love, or to
MadArchitect:: for example, love of money...
PeterDF:: Laurence very good question
Niall001:: Lol! Don't worry Anthony. Thankfully
(for me) they aren't grammar Nazis around here.
JohnChas:: Anthony--Points taken. There
is no love greater than the love for books (married
to a librarian). I even like my kids most of the time.
Never could love the Bible God, though--the Book says
to fear him.
Jeremy1952:: Sorry chris not empirically
true. A lot of evolution is simply random.
Dissident Heart:: Nietzsche, following
Plato, and Augustine, and perhaps St. John...made it
clear that there is no knowledge without love, and that
to know anything, you must love it.
StephanKrieg:: Love seem to be, in this
context, more of a notion of "mutual understanding".
Having the same or similar needs and wants...
Jeremy1952:: Perhaps it would be more
accurate to look at emotion, the class of behaviour
into which love falls
Chris OConnor:: I thing Meme nailed it
with his explanation for the origin of love. Love is
of survival benefit as it prompts organisms to pair-bond
for long enough to procreate and rear offspring - and
Niall001:: Dissident, can we then know
evil? Must we love evil in order to know it?
Meme Wars:: We develop history with each
other and empathy. There appears to be a biological
advantage to species that develop affection for those
with shared history against the wasting of our resources
to those we do not know, these evil foreigners!
Dissident Heart:: Niall...excellent question!
Jeremy1952:: True Chris... and easily
understood in light of the fact that all emotion is
the method our genotype uses to manipulate our phenotype
StephanKrieg:: We must remember that evolution,
love, society, etc. all require a pre-existing multiplicity
and diversities of entities; entities that interact
for what ever reason.
Dissident Heart:: Nietzsche tells us "all
love is beyond good and evil"...and Isaiah 45:7
says "I, Yahweh, create the light and the dark,
the good and the evil; there is no other".
Re Colin McGinn: Yes I disagree profoundly with his
view that we are so built that we can never discover
the nature of consciousness. The idea that we are ineluctably
bound to ignorance in certain arenas of enquiry seems
to me a defeatist view, and in McGinn's case is premised
on a strong epistemological realism which says that
knowledge is always and only discovery whereas it is
quite often a mixture of discovery and interpretation
(of how we describe to ourselves what we encounter).
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - the mutations
are random, but those that survive are not random at
StephanKrieg:: Evil could be considered
as anything that acts against the maximization of Life
and its evolution.
Jeremy1952:: You put yourself in the corner,
Chris, of explaining the survival advantage of understanding
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - well said!
lawrenceindestin:: Chris, that is the
vogue of the secular intelligencia. It is nothing more
than an opinion or theory.
Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks knowledge
is interpretation, discovery, and creativity.
Jeremy1952:: In the process of getting
smart enough to figure out who would be a good mate,
our brains got much more intelligent than they needed
to be; evolution overshot the mark, but there was not
enough selection pressure to pare it back
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - do I? Isn't our
curiosity of survival benefit? Aren't those humans that
have a high degree of curiosity and desire to know the
unknown more apt to explore, learn, and grow?
StephanKrieg:: Anthony, the reason why
we can agree with McGinn is that modeling consciousness
leads to the paradox of trying to fix a map of a territory
within a territory that is constantly changing. There
is no static fixed point.
Jeremy1952:: Not enough to be visible
to natural selection, no
Niall001:: Conversation reminds me of
when in Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker series, they meet
the man who runs the universe.
PeterDF:: Anthony - Ahh good we agree
- I did see Colin McGinn on Jonathan Miller's programme
about non belief and McGinn's relativism didn't come
across - thanks for the clarification
Dissident Heart:: Explore, learn and grow...to
what end, for what purpose?
StephanKrieg:: What if our consciousness
is "Existence experiencing itself"?
Jeremy1952:: And yes they are more likely...
but sufficient intelligence to understand that level
of abstraction? No. It does not get you more babies.
MadArchitect:: DH, evolutionarily speaking,
for no purpose
lawrenceindestin:: Right on Dissident
Chris OConnor:: Purpose? ...the same as
"love." Organisms with the "curiosity
gene" explore geographically, thus increasing their
chances of surviving localized catastrophes.
Meme Wars:: Evil is mass extinction. Humanity
is acting out Major extinction event #6!
MadArchitect:: that they produce sound
evolutionary strategies is merely a matter of accidental
Dissident Heart:: Increasing population
to what end, for what purpose?
Niall001:: no purpose. It is simply what
StephanKrieg:: To explore all possible
modes of "life"
Chris OConnor:: Dissident - no "purpose."
Evolution has no purpose in mind.
Chris OConnor:: Niall - exactly.
Dissident Heart:: "Our hearts are
restless until they rest in thee oh Lord" Augustine
Jeremy1952:: Expressed succinctly in the
deep philosophical phrase, "Shit Happens"
StephanKrieg:: No "pre-established"
purpose. Life defines its purpose as it evolves. Its
needs and conditions for survival change.
Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks the projection
of "No Purpose" is as much an act of Faith
as the projection of any Purpose.
MadArchitect:: it's interesting to me,
the way sentient attributes are attributed to the evolutionary
process, and how they affect our understanding of the
StephanKrieg:: Dissident Heart - I concur
Jeremy1952:: I would say , Stephan, that
sentient life goes beyond that
MadArchitect:: <-- thinks all knowledge
is a profession of faith
JohnChas:: DH--Relax, it's okay to be
StephanKrieg:: Yes, Jeremy, but boil it
down to the essence....
Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks projections
of Finitude are projections nonetheless.
Chris OConnor:: Those members of a population
that are curious enough to wander across the mountain
and explore the other side may live to pass along this
"curiosity gene" after a localized flood kills
all of the members of the population/village from which
lawrenceindestin:: Back to "good."
Anthony, is not the use of the word good totally relative
to the person's paradigm?
StephanKrieg:: Faith is belief that can
not be falsified empirically
Chris OConnor:: But back to Anthony....
Niall001:: Mad, I'd imagine that is because
(due to the way we evolved) we just find it easier to
think about things in that way. (see Wason Selection
MadArchitect:: all this talk of evolution
seems to have lost Mr. Grayling's interest, though.
I think we might benefit from streamlining this discussion
and bringing it back to a more pertinent topic
JohnChas:: DH--Some people don't observe
a purpose and see no value in proposing one.
Chris OConnor:: Agreed Mad
MadArchitect:: unfortunately, I don't
know what the original topic was...
The idea of purpose is a seductive one. It is one of
the impulses to religion. Because so many of our social
explanations revolve upon understanding the purpose
of others' actions and utterances, we try to put non-human
nature into the teleological mode too. In part it works:
it is appropriate to ask e.g. what the heart is for,
what the kidneys do, etc., but then people commit the
fallacy of composition and ask what the world is for.
But this is the realm of ethics: to choose and infuse
purpose for and into our lives and communities.
StephanKrieg:: What is Good?
Meme Wars:: What is Good?
Jeremy1952:: On the other hand, it's quite
possible that Anthony is an adult and capable of expressing
his own interest or lack thereof
Chris OConnor:: Good = that which pleases
the defining party
Dissident Heart:: JohnChas...that's interesting...no
purpose in life planning, relationship building, forming
allegiances, identifying with causes, creative projects...no
PeterDF:: Anthony we were discussing the
correct means (as most of us are atheists) of the right
way to confront theists - we discussed Richard Dawkins
very robust approach - which I said might alienate people
without necessarily helping "our" cause
Meme Wars:: How about the concept of existentialism,
and the recognition and concern about all of us having
the capacity to suffer?
StephanKrieg:: It seems that Anthony agrees
with the idea that we tend to project our own paradigms
and methods to make sense of the world onto every facet...
JohnChas:: To me, Good and Evil are adjectives
describing human behavior.
Meme Wars:: We did not choose to exist,
but here we are! How can we make our existence as comfortable
as possible for all of us?
MadArchitect:: this is likely to elicit
a groan from others, but in passing, are you familiar
with Vico's "New Science", Mr. Grayling (Anthony?)
Jeremy1952:: Choose, or I like to envision
purpose as something we create
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - exactly! We
hear, "What is the meaning of life?" - as
if there MUST be a meaning to life. So what is the meaning
of a rock? Rocks don't have a "meaning," but
do indeed have an origin, history, weight, hardness
on Moh's scale, chemical composition... But "meaning?"
Who says there has to be a meaning to life?
Jeremy1952:: Much in the sense of creating
art; it is not "not real" simply because we
Re "good" and its relativity to something.
If it is true that human beings in all places and times
share very basic needs and interests in common, and
if it is true that their relationship with the world
around them can be either of benefit or disbenefit to
them and it, then the question of what is good for people
and their world is a fully answerable one. If it is
relative, it is relative to the everything that we &
our world are: which is a kind of absolute after all.
Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks seeking,
finding, building Purpose in existence is hardly a fallacy...even
if it isn't entirely objective, and subject to our human
fallibility and imagination.
Chris OConnor:: We all find ourselves
existing. Now we all must decide our own meaning or
tarav:: Grayling discusses how the Christian
story of Satan was based on a pagan myth. Grayling tells
of, "the fall of Satan, once an archangel high
in the ranks of heaven, but whose pride - he desired
autonomy, independence, self-determination - was the
cause of his being cast from heaven,
tarav:: if this is evil, then I am evil
MadArchitect:: depends entirely on how
you understand the symbols involved in the story
Katala Au:: yeah...not surprising that
independent thinking would equate to pride...
MadArchitect:: if God is merely a personality
of authority, and heaven is merely a territory of the
good, then there's much reason to sympathize with the
fall of Satan
Chris OConnor:: Tara - perhaps those humans
that created the Christian myth of Satan were trying
to control the masses with fear and rewards. Please
pass the opium.
Jeremy1952:: We already knew you were
tarav:: lol--thanks, Jeremy!
MadArchitect:: but myths are rarely so
simple, and I think an ontological interpretation makes
Satan's place a great deal less tenable
Jeremy1952:: It's ok, I'm just projecting
lawrenceindestin:: Anthony, have you come
to a conclusion there is an absolute good not dependent
on human benefits?
Meme Wars:: Yes, Chris, but hopefully
we don't define our meaning and purpose at the expense
of others! This is perhaps the source of evil, not considering
others suffering relevant in our considerations!
Chris OConnor:: Lawrence - another good
Dissident Heart:: If God is seen as the
inescapable order of existence, then Satan's "pride"
is recognized as chaotic destruction: an inability to
play nice with others.
Jeremy1952:: Sheesh, Lawrence, I think
he's made the converse crystal clear
Tarav and Milton would agree " me too!" The
first sin (in Eden) was "disobedience;" the
first disobedience was "getting knowledge;"
humanity was cast out for having thrown off its infantile
tutelage and the prison of ignorance: and the rest is
history - and though it has been a pretty bumpy history,
and despite everything, it is hard to think that the
world has got worse since the days when there was no
clean running water, dentistry, literacy &
MadArchitect:: Why should I feel convinced
that "others" exist as fully as I do?
Chris OConnor:: Mad - because otherwise
you cannot even go about your own existence effectively.
Existence is an axiom.
Jeremy1952:: By the way for anyone who
didn't look it up, "New Science" was a 1725
StephanKrieg:: Yes! The Original sin was
the acquisition of the ability to Symbolically Represent
oneself and the world!
tarav:: absolutely, Anthony
Dissident Heart:: <-- encourages folks
to examine the PBS series "Genesis" and discover
how many different religious scholars, rabbis, priests,
etc. interpret and make sense of the Garden.
MadArchitect:: I can't build the same
moral structure, but I don't see why I shouldn't be
able to function fairly well as an individual on the
assumption that everyone else is equivalent to an automaton,
or a kitten
Dissident Heart:: Existence is not an
axiom, its a prejudice.
MadArchitect:: I'd say that there are
millions of people who behave in exactly that manner
on a daily basis
Jeremy1952:: You could, in theory. It
wouldn't work if everyone were that way. That's why
there are sociopaths, and why there always will be
JohnChas:: Anthony--Agreed, despite the
world's rough spots, that Garden would be awfully crowded
with 7 billion people in it.
Meme Wars:: MadArchitect: Ancient ones,
such as Ghenges Khan, would agree with you! There is
only one realty--you! But so much misery and bloodshed
happened with that thinking. We get to the point that
we stop and say, I won't kill you if you won't kill
Jeremy1952:: Because that's essentially
what you are describing Mad
MadArchitect:: I don't think there's any
reason to assume that it's necessary to assume the full
validity of another person to arrive at a conciliatory
ethics -- all you have to assume is that the other person
is capable of harming you if you behave wrongly
Dissident Heart:: <-- interested in
Anthony's understanding of Harvard cognitive scientist
Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences and
his hypothesis of an "Existentialist Intelligence".
Chris OConnor:: Meme - I love how you
make certain principles so easy to understand
Jeremy1952:: That would be a reason for
not getting caught, Mad. Then it becomes a calculation
StephanKrieg:: I must bow out. Thank you
Anthony and Chris. Good Day.
tarav:: I hate to be the first to leave,
but I am hosting a shower in half an hour! Anthony,
thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.
You may remember me as the woman you were kind enough
to send a copy of your book to. Thank you, again, for
such a wonderful book!
Jeremy1952:: Not a moral imperative
Niall001:: ''How can you tell there's
anything out there? said the man politely, the door's
Katala Au:: bye Tara :)
Chris OConnor:: Mad - ahh that might work.
Are you suggesting we all take that approach?
Jeremy1952:: bye Tara.
Chris OConnor:: Bye Tara
Niall001:: bye Tara
Lawrence 'the good' is not exclusively a matter of human
satisfactions and achievements, because there is the
non-human world to be taken into account too. My point
about the relative/absolute distinction is that if something
is relative to humanity and its world, then since that
is everything for humanity, it is all that can be understood
by absolute. The temptation is to strive for something
beyond in order for IT to be the 'REAL absolute,' but
this beyond is an invention of those beautiful human
things, imagination and desire: which one should celebrate,
not fall prey to.
MadArchitect:: As for Meme's Genghis Khan
analogy, the difference isn't that the Khan's had a
different view of their relative ontological weight,
merely that they felt capable of exploiting power
Meme Wars:: Thank you Chris!
MadArchitect:: no, Chris, I'm suggesting
an ethical problem
Tara - thank you and goodbye -keep safe & well!
PeterDF:: Does it help to question existence?
Descartes had it right we know we exist because we think.
Beyond that we can't really know anything we just HAVE
to accept that reality exists for mere practical reasons
tarav:: Anthony- you too!
lawrenceindestin:: How beautifully stated
tarav:: bye, everyone!
Jeremy1952:: Mad, that's exactly why I
think the substrate of ethics is the innate desire to
MadArchitect:: the argument that I've
heard from some atheists is that their morality stands
on a foundation of assuming the equality of people as
people -- but I see no intrinsically rational reason
to make that assumption
Jeremy1952:: Because it is never totally
Dissident Heart:: <-- sees that a respiratory,
skeletal, visual, nervous, pulmonary system exist in
all humans...and Chomsky points to a common Linguistic
system...why not a moral system?
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - you've been
with us an hour so I want to thank you for this wonderful
opportunity. If you'd like to chat longer feel free
as we're all enjoying this tremendously. But if you
have other obligation don't be shy - we will understand.
Jeremy1952:: Exactly how I see it Dissident.
MadArchitect:: and it seems to me that
the appeal to "innate" drives only dissolves
the notion of ethics and morality into another biological
Niall001:: So, secular ethics aren't rational,
they're just a little less irrational than religious
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - but please tell
us of any upcoming books
Jeremy1952:: Morality is innate, just
as language is innate
Jeremy1952:: And just like language, we
get the details from our culture
JohnChas:: I've read and can recommend
Anthony's "Meditations for the Humanist."
lawrenceindestin:: Yes Anthony, it must
be getting close to tea time. You have been kind and
I'll be kind and buy your book. Thank you
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - what is this
Dictionary of Ideas you are creating? What sort of ideas?
MadArchitect:: Niall, I wouldn't say that
they're any less irrational, at least not intrinsically.
They're both equally arational
Jeremy1952:: Not a claim I'd agree with,
Dissident Heart:: Actually, Chomsky's
anarcho-syndicalism rests entirely upon a faith and
hope that humans innately desire freedom and liberty
and the ability to creatively produce without the bonds
of tyranny and oppression.
MadArchitect:: and Anthony (still feel
odd calling you that) I hope you will stick around --
I'd hoped to engage a little more with you
Jeremy1952:: Mad was quoting hypothetical
"atheists", who are certainly entitled to
Jeremy1952:: Probably more heretical ideas
that will turn our children away from The One True God
JohnChas:: Niall--Seems to me secular
ethicists endeavor to be rational, but reason is a goal,
not a possession.
Niall001:: I agree with Mad on the arational
basis of all moral systems.
MadArchitect:: well, I could quote an
actual atheist, but I'd rather not implicate him, nor
would I want to misrepresent him
Chris OConnor:: John - well said
MadArchitect:: reason is a method, John,
not a goal
Jeremy1952:: Perhaps, Mad. I have to ruminate
on that one
Niall001:: John, that from my point of
view, is a bad thing about secular ethics.
MadArchitect:: although Max Horkheimer
would disagree, I think -- almost done with his "Eclipse
Niall001:: well not bad, but negative.
It is trying to do the impossible.
JohnChas:: Mad--Agree. Maybe I meant "rational
ethics" is the goal.
Dissident Heart:: <-- took a fabulous
class in Seminary titled "Heresy"; co-taught
by a Jewish Professor and a Lesbian Rabbi; we explored
the history of the struggle between Orthodoxy and Heresy
in Jewish and Christian life.
MadArchitect:: I'd say that a rational
ethics is the goal of religion, as well. They're just
more explicit about the arational basis for their reasoning
Jeremy: it must certainly be right that as essentially
social beings, our social instincts are hard-wired into
us, and are there because of the immense survival benefits
they bring. But it's important, I think, to resist being
no more than reductive here. As intelligent apes we
have a great line in feedback and awareness. These social
feelings are capable of being educated, extended, refined,
reflected upon, developed, applied in new ways, AND
denied, perverted, forgotten, deadened, lost, which
we know from being forced to confront the evil that
people do. I suppose that the very idea of humanistic
education is to foster the cultural and ethical growth
of people in the direction of all the many possibilities
our social feelings & skills offer, and away from
Chris OConnor:: Anthony also has a new
book entitled "The Heart of Things" I see
on his website
JohnChas:: Niall: Hey, that's why folks
are still chatting about all this!
Dissident Heart:: "The heart has
reasons the head knows nothing about" Pascal
Chris OConnor:: Dissident - nice quote
- wasn't familiar with it at all. But it makes perfect
Meme Wars:: My Morality: I feel pain.
I see no reason to believe others do not feel pain any
less tense than I do (except genetic freaks). Therefore,
I will be sensitive to the pain I create in others and
modify my behavior, and hope others will do so in kinds.
Jeremy1952:: Thanks, Anthony; I agree
100%. The alternative would be an expression of the
Dissident Heart:: Hans Kung's "Does
God Exist?" is a journey between Descartes' "Cogito
Ergo Sum" and Pascal's "Credo Ergo Sum"...a
via media between the head and heart.
lawrenceindestin:: The Arabs have a saying
"what the eyes can not see the heart can not want."
That's why their women are in black abays.
Jeremy1952:: The education, extension...
denied, perverted... are the cultural extensions, which
I think are homologous to language.
MadArchitect:: getting back to the topic
of the nature of good, I wonder what Mr. Grayling would
say of Collingwood's thesis that Greek philosophy, with
it's Platonic notion of good, arose out of religion.
The implication seems to me that, in order to understand
the major operative philosophical notion of Good in
western civilization, you must understand its origins
in religious feeling
Dissident Heart:: <-- points to Mad
that that was Nietzsche's thesis too.
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - have you heard
of the "Brights" movement? It is an attempt
to get the world to accept a new term for people that
adhere to a naturalistic worldview. If so, do you accept
or endorse this term? Richard Dawkins has endorsed the
term, while others have rejected it.
Niall001:: The thing is, as I see it,
that the problem is that people believe in natural.
The environment (social, physical etc.) determines what
phenotype emerges and though the phenotype is what is
selected, the genotype is all that is passed on.
Jeremy1952:: But why do you CARE, Meme?
Jeremy1952:: That's the part that I think
PeterDF:: Anthony - if you are thinking
of staying a little longer We recently discussed Antonio
Damasio's book 'Looking for Spinoza' - I had the feeling
that you liked what he said - what do you think of his
JohnChas:: Chris: I've heard the term,
and it sounds silly to me. There's gotta be a better
positive term for secularists.
Chris - this has been tremendously interesting - wish
I could stay - there could be happier term than 'Brights'
but the principle of what they are doing is great &
I'm with them all the way. Thanks for having me in the
chat room - warm good wishes to all - Anthony
Chris OConnor:: John - I agree.
Niall001:: Thanks Anthony, that was enjoyable.
Niall001:: Look forward to reading more
of your work.
Jeremy1952:: A Christian who tries to
beat homosexuality out of a child and a secular humanist
who defends her both recognize the importance of the
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - thank you very
much for your time!
Jeremy1952:: Thanks so much Anthony
Meme Wars:: I agree, that characteristic
in my may indeed be innate. How do we get more of those
genes in future generations and discourage the opposite?
Katala Au:: thanks for joining us Anthony
Chris OConnor:: Anthony - would you like
a transcript of this emailed to you?
Jeremy1952:: Both for the book and the
MadArchitect:: good day, and thanks for
PeterDF:: Bye Anthony I hope you enjoyed
lawrenceindestin:: Thanks to all for letting
me join with you.
Chris OConnor:: Excellent chat folks!
Chris OConnor:: Thank you all for coming
Dissident Heart:: Nietzsche's thesis was
that all of our values of good, evil, truth, falsity,
morality, ethics, politics, aesthetics find their roots
in a particular mix of Monotheistic faiths...and once
that God is dead, all these notions are uprooted and
subjected to profound nihilistic disarray.
MadArchitect:: sorry I couldn't make it
Jeremy1952:: The Christian really thinks
she's saving the child from eternal torment, much worse
than current beating; the secularist thinks its wrong
to beat people
Jeremy1952:: But the underlying motivation
is the same
Meme Wars:: Thank you Anthony for the
Chris OConnor:: I'll post a transcript
as soon as I run this through a spell checker
JohnChas:: I enjoyed the chat. I'm glad
not everybody here thinks the same.
Dissident Heart:: adios and adieu Anthony
Jeremy1952:: Shoot sociopaths, Meme
Chris OConnor:: John - yes, true.
Chris OConnor:: Before people drop off...
Chris OConnor:: Let me add a few things.
JohnChas:: See yez on the booktalk site!
PeterDF:: Hope you all thought he was
a worthwhile guest
Niall001:: Actually Jeremy, I think that
might be a tad simplistic.
Jeremy1952:: Lol you think?
Chris OConnor:: Peter - thank you VERY
much for all you did to help make this happen.
Jeremy1952:: There is that little diagnostic
Dissident Heart:: thanks peter!
Niall001:: There are many many motivations.
Chris OConnor:: Peter - I will be contacting
Jane Goodall very soon...so thank you for getting me
her contact information
Niall001:: I find it hard to imagine that
you could coldly beat the living daylights out of a
child without anger and hate in your heart.
Meme Wars:: No, contain social paths in
controlled setting where they cannot hurt others. If
we find genetic connections to social paths, then discourage
reproduction of these individuals.
PeterDF:: That's ok glad to be of help
- hope you enjoyed the chat
Jeremy1952:: Oh you were referring to
my earlier analogy, I thought you were referring to
MadArchitect:: Okay, so post-chat discussion
-- would you say that there's a key issue raised by
Grayling in this chat that is worth further discussion?
Chris OConnor:: We have a few upcoming
author chats. Does everyone check the Home page? There
is a section in the upper right corner where we list
Upcoming Author Chats
Dissident Heart:: <-- finds that beating
the cold daylights out of children is most often the
result of repeating an earlier trauma suffered at the
hands of someone else.
Chris OConnor:: Massimo Pigliucci, Susan
Jacoby, Victor Davis Hanson, and others
Niall001:: True Dissident.
Jeremy1952:: I think we should connect
this chat to the one with Jane Goodall. A terrific place
to examine extending "good = human" to other
Katala Au:: oh Massimo is going to come
JohnChas:: Chris--Sounds like a good roster!
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - nice segue
Dissident Heart:: <-- interested in
exploring the Anthropocentric limitations of Grayling's
Chris OConnor:: Massimo's articles have
been generating much discussion on the forums
Chris OConnor:: He will make an excellent
PeterDF:: I'll keep up with what's going
on. I just hope I get the time to get involved
Jeremy1952:: Well, I fully expected to
be with Goodall and thinking, Now there was something
I wanted to talk about...", So I figured I'd state
it while on my mind
Chris OConnor:: And I also plan to invite
Howard Bloom back for a chat.
Dissident Heart:: <-- has to leave
now....great pleasure to be here
Dissident Heart:: adios and adieu all
Jeremy1952:: bye Dissident
JohnChas:: I'll have to tell Ms. Goodall
I'm not embarrassed to be related to other apes.
Dissident Heart:: adios and adieu
Jeremy1952:: I, on the other hand, AM
Niall001:: Massimo is very entertaining
and Howard is sure to generate much typing.
Chris OConnor:: There are two people that
I want as guests very bad - Jane Goodall and Shelly
Williams. Both are primatologists.
Niall001:: bye dissident
Chris OConnor:: Bye Dissident! ;) Thanks
Katala Au:: okay time to go back to sleep
:) night all
Chris OConnor:: Niall - haha
Jeremy1952:: I'll probably skip the bloom
chat, out of respect for Chris
Dissident Heart left
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - oh be there
Chris OConnor:: lol
JohnChas:: Night? Where is it night?
Meme Wars:: Katala Au: Where are you located?
Jeremy1952:: It's always night somewhere
Katala Au left
Chris OConnor:: Australia
Niall001:: You don't get on with Bloom
JohnChas:: The world IS round! Shazam!
PeterDF:: I think Goodall has a limited
ability with technology - it might have to be that we
just send questions
Jeremy1952:: I think he's a verbose asshole
Meme Wars:: Thank you!
Jeremy1952:: And have resisted saying
so in public
Chris OConnor:: Anyone want to create
a follow-up thread in the "What is Good?"
forum where we can discuss some of these topics in more
JohnChas:: Chris--Sure, I'll chime in
after I've read the book.
Chris OConnor:: Peter - ahh we could offer
to do an e-interview. But I will really need some help
developing the questions.
Niall001:: ha! I'm not a fan of his views
(well some of them). I don't know the man.
Chris OConnor:: John - excellent
Jeremy1952:: Perfect example of Shermer's
thesis about intelligent people believing weird things
Chris OConnor:: The Lucifer Principle
is one of the best books I've ever read.
Jeremy1952:: I didn't' mean it personally
PeterDF:: Glad to help Chris - just let
me know what you have in mind
Jeremy1952:: Based solely on book content
Chris OConnor:: Peter - I sure will.
Jeremy1952:: Maybe we could convince Goodall
to work with an assistant
Niall001:: anyway, I'm out of credit here.
So I'm gonna go. Bye all.
Jeremy1952:: TV personalities frequently
PeterDF:: bye Niall
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - I understand.
You don't agree with his group selection ideas.
Jeremy1952:: Good to see you Niall thanks
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - someone to do
her typing perhaps
Meme Wars:: I recently purchased The Lucifer
Principle. Haven't had a chance to read it yet.
Jeremy1952:: Is what I meant, yes Chris
MadArchitect:: I think an e-interview
is more likely to generate some interesting answers
from an author -- these chats tend to be rather chaotic,
with more conversation going on between regular contributors
than from the authors we're supposed to be engaging
Chris OConnor:: Meme - You'll love it
and I'd be curious to hear your feedback
Jeremy1952:: ecstian, back to an early
comment of yours:
Meme Wars:: Agree MadArchitect.
Chris OConnor:: Yes, they can be chaotic
but these chats are what differentiate us from all the
other sites out there.
Chris OConnor:: we can all read formal
JohnChas:: Well, gotta go finish "Unintelligent
Design" by Mark Perakh. Sure wish Prometheus would
hire more proofreaders.
Jeremy1952:: My dad was a bookseller,
and giving people books was instilled into me as a moral
Chris OConnor:: Where else can you sit
down with these authors and interact on a personal level?
Chris OConnor:: John - good to see ya
Jeremy1952:: If any regular can't afford
a book, I'd be happy to buy it for him or her
JohnChas:: Bye folks--see y'awl again
Meme Wars:: Perhaps we could see live
such an interview with selected questions read by Chris,
with Chris having intelligent feedback for a half hour,
where we cannot chat, then opening it up to the floor
the next half hour or hour.
Jeremy1952:: bye John
PeterDF:: bye John - thanks for the input
MadArchitect:: you can't, and I agree
that there's a certain thrill to the proximity of a
chat. but I feel that the authors get pushed out a little
Chris OConnor:: Meme - I've wanted to
do something like that, but we have a problem.
Jeremy1952:: I feel like I made an ass
of myself in front of Richard Dawkins. Sigh.
MadArchitect:: or maybe something combined
-- start with a small e-interview, and then the chat
can elaborate there from. At least then we'll have a
narrow range for discussion.
Chris OConnor:: Meme - if we had chat
software that allowed those type of moderation features
we could have a more formal format
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - how so?
Jeremy1952:: I went on about Gould until
he told me politely to shut up
MadArchitect:: anyway, I don't mean to
criticize. I just feel that Grayling didn't get much
of a chance to really address as many questions as he
might have liked
MadArchitect:: or as we might have liked
Chris OConnor:: This chat room doesn't
allow me to "silence" or "gag" the
audience, as other software allows. We would be constantly
interrupted by new people straggling in talking during
MadArchitect:: is there a way to set up
the ezboard chat so that some people can watch without
Jeremy1952:: I've found that in real life,
professors love students who are involved
Meme Wars:: Did you not have a chat software
recently installed? I see it is gone.
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - I have read the
transcript many times and I didn't see such a statement
Chris OConnor:: Mad - no, no way possible
Jeremy1952:: Maybe I'm just over sensitive
because I revere the man
Chris OConnor:: we had different chat
software for about a year, but it costs $75 per year
and I get very few donations. There are too many other
expenses to running this community that I don't want
to incur any unnecessary costs
Jeremy1952:: Well, there were other problems
with the other chat software too, as I recall
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - I think he is
a bit straight-forward and to be honest I felt a bit
Meme Wars:: I actually got to meet him
last November and had my book "The Ancestor's Tales"
signed by him. Took some pictures too!
MadArchitect:: can you do that with AIM?
Maybe we could have the author in an AIM chat and everyone
else in the board chat
Jeremy1952:: Wow Meme! I've turned bright
Jeremy1952:: Tale, by the way
Meme Wars:: There's a picture of me next
to Lalla Ward, his wife. Richard was busy, so I took
Jeremy1952:: You Bastard
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - I never fully
felt that Dawkins enjoyed the chat, but it is probably
just his personality. He was quite pleasant in real
life when I met him at the Atheist Alliance International
Convention in Tampa
Jeremy1952:: Oh, it was entirely my fault.
I WAS going on
Chris OConnor:: Dawkins is an interesting
Meme Wars:: He he he he!
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - about what? About
Jeremy1952:: No, I remember Dawkins making
a comment in reference to their joint letter, about
Gould being a much better writer.
Jeremy1952:: And then I wasted valuable
chat time trying to find the quote, for what?
ecstian:: Jeremy - thank you for the offer
- i usually get the books from the library, but Grayling's
book is not available through it
Meme Wars:: It's just his personality.
He was a bit stiff when I and my fellow local humanist
tried to strike up conversation at the end when it was
Jeremy1952:: Presumably in retrospect,
IF he actually said it, he was being polite in a British
way that went over my head
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - probably so
Meme Wars:: Impromptu is not his style,
unless you say your child is an atheist or Christian.
Then watch out!
Jeremy1952:: Well my offer stands... if
you want to read it I'll send you a coy
Chris OConnor:: Meme - exactly! Stiff
is the best way to describe him. I had dinner with him
and a dozen others after the conference.
PeterDF:: Meme - you are right - he is
very uptight with people he doesn't know
ecstian:: well I don't want to put the
cost on you
Chris OConnor:: we were in a dinner cruise
out of Tampa
Jeremy1952:: I think my child's a Jew,
but he won't talk to me about it
PeterDF:: I think there are a lot of people
who would like to get to know him better - me included!
Jeremy1952:: We all like to feel we are
contributing to the world, books is the way my dad taught
me, and it gives me great personal satisfaction
ecstian:: how many people are reading
the freethinker book?
Chris OConnor:: Dawkins was pleasant,
but rather quiet and stiff. I can understand this as
we all have different personalities. I still enjoyed
the cruise tremendously and thought he was quite a gentleman.
I guess the English are very polite and reserved.
Jeremy1952:: I'm about 3/4 through it
Chris OConnor:: Eric - I am too
ecstian:: i am at a place where i can
begin a new book - just trying to decide which one
Meme Wars:: Well, I need to move on with
my day. See ya all later! Jeremy, perhaps he has exhausted
his point on this, that children should not be labeled
until the age of ascension!
Jeremy1952:: bye Meme.
MadArchitect:: adios, memechacos
PeterDF:: We English aren't all so reserved
- but I agree that Dawkins is
Jeremy1952:: I'm finding Ancestor's Tale
the most difficult to read of his popular books
Chris OConnor:: My intention with Freethinkers
is to send out email invites to every Humanist, Atheist,
Skeptic and Freethinker group on this planet. Just to
ask the leaders of these groups to distribute a flyer
about the book discussion and upcoming chat session
with Susan Jacoby. We could use some fresh blood.
Chris OConnor:: Bye Meme
Meme Wars:: I've already ready Susan Jacoby's
book. Perhaps I could participate a little, though admittedly,
it has been a year!
Jeremy1952:: Parts of it are flowing and
entertaining, but other parts are "one damn fact
PeterDF:: bye meme
ecstian:: I actually had Ancestor's Tale
in my hands yesterday - but put it back on the shelf
Chris OConnor:: Meme - please do
Jeremy1952:: I've picked it up and put
it down a number of times
Chris OConnor:: Yes, plenty of facts
Meme Wars:: Thanks for the heads up Jeremy.
I haven't started that book yet.
Chris OConnor:: Dates and events and laws
Jeremy1952:: I will finish it eventually
Chris OConnor:: But tis the history of
Chris OConnor:: Ok folks, I will be leaving
now. Shall I include all this chat after Anthony left
in the transcript?
Jeremy1952:: I was talking about Ancestors
Meme Wars:: Chris!
Jeremy1952:: Freethinkers I'm finding
a great read
Meme Wars:: before you leave!
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - ahh. I own a
copy, but is sitting collecting dust right now.
Chris OConnor:: Meme - yes?
ecstian:: so how do you like freethinkers,
chris and Jeremy - and anybody else reading it
PeterDF:: I finished it months ago and
all those technical names are still spinning in my head
- I did enjoy it though. I saw Dawkins give a lecture
on the book in Oxford a few months ago
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - Oh, how true!
Ancestors Tale is more like a tomb.
Jeremy1952:: Well I made a post called
"I Love This Book", ecstian, if that gives
you a clue
Jeremy1952:: I think the word is "tome",
ecstian:: yeah - I read that post
Meme Wars:: Will you email me in HTML
format an advertisement of BookTalk that I may include
in my Sound Views newsletter for local humanist and
our we site?
ecstian:: but i figured you were at the
beginning of the book when you posted it
Jeremy1952:: Tombs are where dead Christians
Jeremy1952:: No about half way through
ecstian:: now that you are 2/3rds through
you still enjoy it as much?
Chris OConnor:: Eric - I am still on the
first chapter. Lately I have spent my time setting up
these 6 author chats. Now that they're all arranged
I'll focus more on the current selection.
Chris OConnor:: Jacoby is a bit nervous
about a live chat. Says she is not very computer literate.
Jeremy1952:: Parts of it make me angry...
but that's the subject matter.
Meme Wars:: Chris?
ecstian:: it seems to me that not many
of these authors are ;P
Chris OConnor:: Meme - I sure will
Meme Wars:: Did you read the above?
Chris OConnor:: Meme - and thanks for
offering to do that
Meme Wars:: Thank you!
PeterDF:: I have so many books to read
at the moment I can't keep up with the selections -
I'm reading Darwin at the moment
Jeremy1952:: She's also about half convinced
me that women's sufferage was a mistake
Jeremy1952:: What book, Peter?
MadArchitect:: I still say we should read
Darwin as one of our classics discussions
Chris OConnor:: Meme - that is exactly
what I am hoping to have done. I'd love for humanist
groups to place it in their next newsletters.
ecstian:: well maybe I will give it a
Chris OConnor:: Anyone want to help me
write a short article about BookTalk and this current
Meme Wars:: OK. By all! Serious this time!
Jeremy1952:: Sure chris, count me in
Chris OConnor:: I'd love some help from
one of you guys - we all know I'm not a writer
Meme Wars:: Nice chatting!
Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - thank you.
Chris OConnor:: Meme - take care
ecstian:: later meme
MadArchitect:: I might be able to help
with the part about Book Talk, but I wouldn't be of
much help with Freethinkers
Meme Wars left
PeterDF:: It's actually a biography -
I've read the origin (of course) the Descent of Man,
(which I really enjoyed) and hiss autobiography. Expression
of the emotions is next
Jeremy1952:: I've read "Origin of
Species" two and a half times, but somehow I can't
seem to get through his other books
Chris OConnor:: Mad - that would be great.
Maybe we start a thread in the BookTalk Development
forum and create a brief article that can be sent out
to every group
ecstian:: what are some good intro books
Jeremy1952:: I dropped Expression about
half way through. Voyage of the Beagle I got to the
second chapter I think. Maybe I'll give Descent of Man
Jeremy1952:: How much detail do you want,
Jeremy1952:: The best really short book
is "River out of Eden
Chris OConnor:: I liked Voyage of the
Beagle. I wanted to become a Naturalist after the first
PeterDF:: I found out that he had anticipated
one of the ideas in my book. So I thought I'd better
read all of his (main) stuff to find out if he said
anything else that might help
Jeremy1952:: Lol, sounds wise Peter
Chris OConnor:: Please join the thread
in the BookTalk Development forum you guys
Chris OConnor:: I will create it after
MadArchitect:: Out of interest, is PeterDF
someone I should know or recognize?
Jeremy1952:: "The Blind Watchmaker"
has more depth, but it's a tad dated: 1987 I think
ecstian:: detail is good, as long as it
MadArchitect:: that didn't sound nearly
as diplomatic as I meant it to be
Chris OConnor:: I'll include all this
chat in the transcript too. Visitors to BookTalk will
get a glimpse into what we discuss and who we all are
Jeremy1952:: Extended Phenotype would
be my recommendation then ecstian
Chris OConnor:: Thanks for everything
folks. This was a great chat session.
Jeremy1952:: bye Chris
Chris OConnor:: I'm out.
PeterDF:: No no-one's ever heard of me!!!
MadArchitect:: I think the problem with
reading more recent primers on evolution is that they'll
almost invariably have some slant due to the political.
probably best to start with Darwin himself and branch
out from there
ecstian: who is the author, Jeremy?
Jeremy1952: I disagree MadArchitect
Jeremy1952: Darwin is simply too old to
MadArchitect: Peter, then we belong to
the same club. It's an odd one, where most of the members
are unaware of their fellows
Jeremy1952: Many mistakes and things that
were not known.
Jeremy1952: All Richard Dawkins, ecstian.
Can you tell who my favorite author is?
MadArchitect: reading mistakes is fine,
so long as you're dedicated enough to read the corrections
MadArchitect: Dawkins is a perfect example
of an author who has politicized evolutionary theory
Jeremy1952: I am a big fan of everyone
reading Darwin, but not as a primer.
Jeremy1952: I don't think he's politicized
it at all
PeterDF: There is a new little book out
by Mark Ridley (How to read Darwin) it is easy to follow
and it will help put Darwin's work into context - much
of it is only of historical interest now.
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