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Dissident Heart

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Re: Faith

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MA: What I'm suggesting is that the only way to get out of the absurdity of questioning reality when there's no real way to answer the question one way or the other, is to take some things for granted, and that taking for granted is an act of faith.Tied to the absurd trail of assumptions that confound the discovery of any archimedian point in epistemology, is the absence of any foundational meaning and purpose in reality- which is equally absurd. I don't mean it is absurd to claim reality is devoid of meaning; I mean that reality is absurd.Not only are we lacking foundational certainty when using reason and logic, but we are lost upon meaningless seas when employing purpose and value. We are adrift upon an absurd mix of ridiculous episodes crashing pointlessly and aimlessly, without meaning or worth: existence, reality, whatever you choose to call it, it doesn't matter: a banal series of events adding up to nothing in the end. A waste, void, nihil.Unless you employ some variety of faith; or, better, it is faith that brings meaning, worth, value and purpose to an otherwise damned stupid trick full of ugly nonsense and wretched fools.This faith is how we project identity, continuity, coherence and integrity onto a volatile sea of tempestuous uncertainty. Faith is how we hold together the terribly tenuous threads of largely imaginary persons, places and things; weaving them into purposeful relationships built upon trusts and hopes that, without faith, simply could not withstand the often brutal storms of reality. Faith brings all of the messy incompleteness and fragile reasonableness into a coherent whole: giving it a title and placing ourselves onto a stage with a script that offers us a meaningful part in the play.
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Re: In praise of simple thread titles

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MA: "Having faith in reason and faith doesn't give us much headway in concluding anything about, say, the reality of what we experience through the senses, or the existence of a moral good. Those are conclusions that are arrived at only by calling a halt to the endless cycle of critical analysis that logic itself apparantly cannot halt."That's true, but before I add those to the list, I'll think about them and critically examine them, even if the examination is to determine if they're able to be examined. How can we know if they may be examined unless we examine them? In a sense, I guess the same is true for logic and faith.To believe in our senses, we must first believe that reality exists, correct? If we were to take away all of our senses, would we still have the memory from what they've gathered in the past? If so, then we at least have temporal continuity, so the existence of time has credit. Truth be told, I can't see any way to verify the senses, but in this paragraph I examined the matter. MA: "That still leaves a great deal of gray, and the only real criteria that I know of is that of your own satisfaction."AyeMA: "For instance, if you were to ask what is the ultimate building block of matter, you might find that there is no real point at which you can come away satisfied with your answers."Science is relatively new. Science may very well find the ultimate building block of matter. Until then, it may be the case that some scientists believe superstrings are the smallest parts. I'm not sure if you'd call that faith, since science maintains that whatever it knows is only the best at the present.MA: "So while logic does all the work of elaborating on the premises, a logical argument has no more strength than what is inherent in the faith that undergirds it."Aye, but the strength is not in the faith, but in the logic. I may agree that logic rests on a foundation of faith, but why appreciate the value of a necessary foundation? MA: "It isn't that we plod along with reason until we get to a gap, then we use faith to get over that gap, at which point it's back to reason."I agree, but there are times when faith is required where reasoning can get you no further. There are points in different concepts where I've had enough information and deliberation and accept a certain viewpoint. Faith being a foundation of knowledge is something more specific than simply faith. It is faith in something. Logic perhaps, or faith and logic... can you have faith in faith? What undergirds faith? MA: "No, the whole thing is still built on a mass of premises that are taken on faith."Some premises on faith. But some premises are built up by evidence and logic, though those are also premised on faith. Are you saying that there is no evidence for evolution, and that it is unreasonable? Faith may undergird it all, but beyond that we have nothing to work with until we incorporate reasoning. MA: "What makes it seem altogether reasonable is, that everyone who believe in the validity of evolutionary theory tacitly assumes the validity of the same premises."Can we deconstruct every theory until we have no more? MA: "The idea is that theories which are more encompassing are to be taken as the truth."I think Popper touched on this, and actually said something similar, but not so certain as to say they're the truth. Theories that are more encompassing have a greater chance to be falsified, therefore may have greater verisimilitude after having not been falsified. I guess a way to clarify is to say that if a theory is broad enough to allow 100 experiments, and survives them all, it has greater verisimilitude than a theory that is more narrow, so allows only 1 experiment, though is survives that experiment.MA: "...just because you can use evolution to explain childhood fear of the dark doesn't mean that evolution does in fact explain it."Correct, so if I believe that evolution explains it, does that mean I take it on faith? If this is the case, then faith bridges the gap. I realize that all knowledge in my head may be wrong, but I'll still believe in certain things. That realization is in my book enough to keep me open to alternate explanations that would show the error in my thinking, and my faith. I also realize that evolutionary theory is not the strongest theory in science, and no theory is strong enough for certainty. No knowledge is. Therefore we must have faith in some of our conclusions after a certain degree of corroboration, otherwise we'd get nowhere.Frank: "A blind person does not rely on their sense of sight, they have learned better, but a sighted person can see something and than check their findings with others to support their faith in their sight. Outside confirmation is good evidence of correct interpretation."That concept actually has a name, but it eludes me. You still have faith in sense datum though. How do you know you're sensing other people who are giving you confirmation? You must have faith in your senses before you rely on the confirmation of others, correct?Frank: "Even if you do not believe that you should pay your taxes you had better do it. The evidence of a world that moves independently of us is reason enough to trust our reality."Of course, but it may all still be within the context of a false reality. Living life is different from philosophizing. It may be impossible to prove philosophically that fire will hurt me, but you sure as hell won't catch me jumping into a fire.Frank: "The reason that I veer away from the term faith is because many theists want to use this word to show atheists that it is ok to believe in God/gods."I'm atheist, but I'm open to examine everything placed before me. It already seems that you have your mind made up on whether or not God exists, so entertaining the idea of faith being a part of our search for knowledge won't hurt. If you will, call it 'trust', that may sit better in your skull.
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Re: more or less faith.

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[Interbane: I'm atheist, but I'm open to examine everything placed before me. It already seems that you have your mind made up on whether or not God exists.]I remain open to new "evidence" of God/gods be it philosophical or material, but I really dislike this one. (Faith = you are as irrational as any theist so you might as well believe in God... hypocrite!) This argument just bugs me.[Interbane: How do you know you're sensing other people who are giving you confirmation? You must have faith in your senses before you rely on the confirmation of others, correct?]It doesn't really matter one way or the other, be it my personal reality or our combined reality. If I do not trust my senses and act contrary to the stimulus of this reality it creates problems in my world. We can philosophize about it all we want, but when we are done we had better return to our faith in our sense of reality, to do otherwise is foolish. [Interbane: Of course, but it may all still be within the context of a false reality. Living life is different from philosophizing. It may be impossible to prove philosophically that fire will hurt me, but you sure as hell won't catch me jumping into a fire.]Theists use this argument often. The theist has now tried to turn the atheist into a hypocrite by showing that the atheist has faith in reality despite the fact that we cannot prove reality to be real. What? Get real! (Pun intended) The theists do not believe that reality is questionable, any more than we do; they follow their stimuli just like the rest of us.In many debates this line of thinking has been brought up, I have never seen any progress made from regression of the subject; this tactic seems to be used more often to confuse the subject than to add any substance to the dialogue. Later
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Re: In praise of simple thread titles

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Frank 013: As for the subject of all things being supported by faith, that is technically correct, but again there is some evidence to support the use of our senses, and to support a world outside our own minds.Is there any evidence for having faith in our senses that is not essentially corroboration by the senses? The evidence of a world that moves independently of us is reason enough to trust our reality.I think it's reason enough to trust in a reality, but even so, I think it's important to recognize that I don't know that reality is what I believe it to be. In fact, I would say that there is a lot of indirection in the way that people -- even those we'd consider to be extremely rational -- perceive the world. Talking about "our reality" is talking about something that is largely constructed in the imagination.The fact is if we try not believing, or not interacting with our reality it has unpleasant consequences.Believing in and intereacting with our reality also has unpleasant consequences. That's a discursive tool with limited epistemological utility.I agree that there's not much utility in doubting the existence of any form of reality. However, doubting the given view of reality can have rather huge consequences for, say, morality, or even social organization.The reason that I veer away from the term faith is because many theists want to use this word to show atheists that it is ok to believe in God/gods.I'm not trying to convince you of the validity of theism, although, understanding faith in general may help you come to a better understanding of why some people are theists. Either way, most of the people on this sight are atheists, so you don't really have to worry about being barraged in this thread.Theists (in their religious faith) have faith without evidence, I have faith supported by evidence.Maybe in the definition sense of the word. What I'm arguing in this thread -- and so far I've seen no satisfactory counter-argument -- is that the validity of all evidence is vouchsafed by your faith. Therefore, to say that you have faith supported by evidence is the same as saying that you have faith supported by... more faith.Interbane: To believe in our senses, we must first believe that reality exists, correct?It seems like it could run either way. Either we verify the existence of reality through our senses, which we accept as valid a priori, or we substantiate the validity of our senses by reference to a reality that we believe in a priori. I don't know that there's any way to verify both independently of one another. Descartes tried by making thought the basis for belief in both the senses and an external reality, but it seems to me that he leaves himself open to a Berkelian Immaterialist doctrine that way -- if all we know, at base, to be real is our minds, then maybe only minds really exist. "Nothing is but thinking makes it so," as the bard writes.Science is relatively new. Science may very well find the ultimate building block of matter.That opens up two avenues. One, the more common, is to simply take it on faith that science will eventually find the answer, and force yourself to be satisfied with the promise of an answer, even if it doesn't come in your lifetime. The other, more epistemologically prudent, is to settle for the ambiguity left by science as it stands, and to plead ignorance.Personally, based on what I know of the method and philosophical basis of science, I'd say that it's likely to find new divisions of matter as long as it's practiced. Science isn't built to arrive at ultimate answers.Aye, but the strength is not in the faith, but in the logic. I may agree that logic rests on a foundation of faith, but why appreciate the value of a necessary foundation?Because that foundation is, in a very real sense, arbitrary. It's a choice between all the possible -- that is, sane -- faiths that could have served as the foundation. In a great many situations, the faith that undergirds a person's rational structure will be chosen or changed on the strength of what conclusions it makes possible. Going back to our structural analogy, if you want to crown a structure with a particular statue -- this being the logical conclusion of your argument -- you do have to have a logical structure of adequate tensile strength, but even that is useless if you don't have a foundation which is strong enough to support both the desired conclusion and the logical structure that makes that conclusion possible. The foundation of faith at bottom makes both the conclusion and the logic possible. Logic perhaps, or faith and logic... can you have faith in faith? What undergirds faith?Given the prevalence of people (in and out of this forum) attempting to deny the validity of faith, I'd say that you can.Are you saying that there is no evidence for evolution, and that it is unreasonable?I'm saying that things are reasonable and unreasonable only in proportion to how well they are supported by a) faith, and b) logic. Is evolutionary theory reasonable? I think so, but I also recognize that it's only so within the context of certain premises that I've taken on faith. And I don't see any way that others can evade that, either.Can we deconstruct every theory until we have no more?If we dispense with faith, yes. Logic can be used to reduce any argument to dust. All it has to do is work back to the irreducible premises and say, "prove them."I think Popper touched on this, and actually said something similar, but not so certain as to say they're the truth.Mmhmm, Popper does touch on that. I think his source for that idea, though, is Darwin himself. There was some turmoil after the publication of "On the Origin of the Species" over whether or not it could really serve as a scientific demonstration, since it couldn't (at the time) be verified by experiment. Darwin argued that the success of any explanation should depend on how well it encompasses the various phenomenon to be explained, and that evolutionary theory was sound theory precisely because it covered so much ground without collapsing under its own weight. That's become something of a commonplace in science since then. Without knowing too much about the subject, I'd say it's likely that most of the higher level physical theories -- like superstring theory -- have been justified by precisely this principle. Jacob Bronowski has a neat little discussion of it in his "Science and Human Values" that's worth checking out.Correct, so if I believe that evolution explains it, does that mean I take it on faith?You've likely taken something on faith, though I would imagine that it's something closer to the premises. For example, you might have taken on faith the idea that no social, cultural, or personal deviation can have any meaning apart from heredity. Even that is likely a low-level conclusion reasoned from a more basic premise.That realization is in my book enough to keep me open to alternate explanations that would show the error in my thinking, and my faith.Errors in faith can only be "corrected" by resettling them as a conclusion on a foundation of even more basic faith. For instance, let's say that you have faith in the existence of a totally incarnate god, like Zeus. For the moment, we'll assume that you've never attempted to reduce that faith. Now someone comes along and gives you a rational explanation for why there can be no totally incarnate god -- this sort of thing was actually pretty likely to happen during the Academic period of Athenian history. If you accept that explanation, what has likely happened is that you've accepted some premise on faith which, because of its ontological priority, would logically precede what you previously held to be the foundation of faith on which you built your conception of the world. And at that point you'd either have to abandon your beliefs altogether or shift the emphasis away from a totally incarnate god.But that's what we were talking about in the first place. Logic can continually negate the premises that we hold to be irreducible -- the only reason any premise is irreducible is that we've made it the stopping point by taking it on faith. And without some irreducible premise, logic can't move towards a conclusion, only retrograde in the direction of infinite regress.How do you know you're sensing other people who are giving you confirmation? You must have faith in your senses before you rely on the confirmation of others, correct?More than that, you have to have faith that you can trust the corroboration of others -- you've already affirmed a particular view of reality at that point, one which is not at all intuitive.Frank 013: I remain open to new "evidence" of God/gods be it philosophical or material, but I really dislike this one. This argument just bugs me.It's bugging you because you're taking it as an argument for theism. No one in this thread is presenting it as such. We're talking about the basis for knowledge and the limits of reason, not about religion.
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Re: In praise of simple thread titles

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Mad is right. In the 20th century, the majority of those who argued (pretty convincingly) that everything was based on faith were no theists, but atheists.Some individuals claim that such arguments are not useful and that do not lead to progress but that is because the individuals concerned have preconceptions of what constitutes progress. Sometimes, logical arguments lead us to difficult places where there are no easy answers. Let us agree, there is no one single reality. Not upon this stage, not in this world, all is in the mind... imagination is the only truth. Because it cannot be contradicted except by other imaginations - Richard MathesonThere are no conclusive indications by which waking life can be distinguished from sleep - Rene Descartes
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Re: In praise of simple thread titles

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[Niall: Sometimes, logical arguments lead us to difficult places where there are no easy answers.]Or no answers at all.
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Simplester

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MA: "Science isn't built to arrive at ultimate answers."Humans aren't built to arrive at ultimate answers.MA: "Going back to our structural analogy, if you want to crown a structure with a particular statue -- this being the logical conclusion of your argument -- you do have to have a logical structure of adequate tensile strength, but even that is useless if you don't have a foundation which is strong enough to support both the desired conclusion and the logical structure that makes that conclusion possible."In progressing knowledge, the reasoning that is build upon a foundation grows from it's conception, whatever that may be. If the foundation is faith, it doesn't need to strong enough to support the ending conclusion, or the entire idea. It merely needs to grow in strength with the knowledge, which it can't do unless the knowledge grows first. When you talk of all possible faiths, can you give me an example of how some may differ from others? In this sense, I see the main variable as the strength of faith, not type.MA: "Given the prevalence of people (in and out of this forum) attempting to deny the validity of faith, I'd say that you can."(have faith in faith)So you have faith that you can have faith in faith? MA: "I'm saying that things are reasonable and unreasonable only in proportion to how well they are supported by a) faith, and b) logic. Is evolutionary theory reasonable? I think so, but I also recognize that it's only so within the context of certain premises that I've taken on faith."Do you think you could list one of those premises? MA: "Darwin argued that the success of any explanation should depend on how well it encompasses the various phenomenon to be explained, and that evolutionary theory was sound theory precisely because it covered so much ground without collapsing under its own weight."Soundness doesn't refer to it's verisimilitude however. That's been had in the intervening time between that statement and today with the corroboration of a world of scientists. I could give a hoot about soundness, but the inability to prove the entire theory wrong over all this time makes me raise an eyebrow.MA: "You've likely taken something on faith, though I would imagine that it's something closer to the premises. For example, you might have taken on faith the idea that no social, cultural, or personal deviation can have any meaning apart from heredity. Even that is likely a low-level conclusion reasoned from a more basic premise."How about; since evolution is true, self endangering traits tend to be self destructive, and self-protecting traits seem to be self-productive. (Self endangering and self-protecting refer to people, self desctructive and self productive refer to the traits... to avoid confusion.) The reasoning there is sound, almost analytic as long as you take evolution to be true.MA: "Logic can continually negate the premises that we hold to be irreducible -- the only reason any premise is irreducible is that we've made it the stopping point by taking it on faith."Just a thought on a whim here... Do you think it's possible for there to be a 'trinity' of premises based on logic that are interrelated and support each other so well, that they may very well be irreducible, without leading to circularity?Niall: "Some individuals claim that such arguments are not useful and that do not lead to progress but that is because the individuals concerned have preconceptions of what constitutes progress."They need a kick in the head. It's useful to me... mental exercise.
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Re: faith?

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[Interbane: They need a kick in the head. It's useful to me... mental exercise.]If this is what passes as mental exercise to you, you must be mentally emaciated. It is the equivalent of doing pushups in zero gravity... pointless. Why not try working on something that actually has an answer sometime, I think you might find it more rewarding. Oh, by the way, the last three guys that tried to kick me in the head ended up in the local hospital.Later Edited by: Frank 013 at: 2/9/06 8:33 pm
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Re: faith?

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Frank: "If this is what passes as mental exercise to you, you must be mentally emaciated. It is the equivalent of doing pushups in zero gravity... pointless."That analogy implies that it takes zero thought to contemplate this subject.Frank: "Why not try working on something that actually has an answer sometime, I think you might find it more rewarding."I do all day long, and the answers are crucial to my financial survival. It's nice to think on something that I don't need to solve to survive. Besides, there is actually a point to thinking about this. It is a process, and though there may be no answer, the path of learning teaches you many things. Your vocabulary expands, your critical thinking skills increase, you gain wisdom on things that are unrelated, simply because the topic of discussion touches on them from time to time.And there is an answer to the problem, sort of... Once I've explored it far enough down every avenue of thought that comes to me, I'm satisfied with the knowledge I have on the topic. That the problem is insoluble is an answer to me, but I'll still explore it to find a chink in the armor.I'm not really sure that I understand the stance that something is not worth examining. I'm insatiably curious, and enjoy looking into everything since most everything is related to most everything else. Reality is a vast net, and to ignore certain parts of it for any reason seems silly.
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Re: faith?

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[Interbane: Once I've explored it far enough down every avenue of thought that comes to me, I'm satisfied with the knowledge I have on the topic.]If you get some kind of personal satisfaction from this line of thinking, than more power to you. My studies take me into more practical areas, I do see the value of imagination and theoretical extrapolation, but I use these methods with a more practical conclusion in mind. This line of thought has lead to much success in the areas of vocabulary, critical thinking skills, wisdom, work, love, compassion, happiness, self defense, friendship, and much more. I am searching for the truth of my reality, (just as you seem to be) but I am looking for better ways to exist in it, not spending time trying to determine weather or not I should bother with it at all... besides I like it here. What I fail to see is the benefit of questioning reality. Even if it is not real, we are stuck here so what good is the information? Do you change the way you exist, allowing your imaginary self to be, poverty stricken and arrested living a life of pain, rape and mental anguish? Remember just because you found out this reality is not real does not mean that you know what the real reality is. This is starting to remind me of the Matrix... watch out for Mr. Smith! Later
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