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  1. #16
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Did I say that?

  2. #17
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    What did you say then?

    You gotta remember, for man with a hammer, every problem is going to look like a nail...

  3. #18
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I need emoticons here. I was being facetious. Of course I said that. But my soft heart and teary eyes won't accept that the world is cold and value neutral, so I whisper the word 'nihilist' instead of shout it. Am I a coward?

  4. #19
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    So you don't think that the default assumption of most people is that they are right? I've yet to meet anyone outside of a philosophy department who consistently argues against their own views.

    Why then, do so many people hold political convictions when they not only don't know the fundamentals of their own social structure, but they really have no clear idea as to the differences at stake between political parties?

    Certainly everyone, at some point or another, asks questions, entertains doubts, and so on - I take this as a given. But as far as actual critical thinking goes? I guess I'd need to see more arguments, Radone.
    The way I read your initial post, you implied that people simply accept their views as being true essentially WITHOUT a large degree of uncertainty. I think that people accept the views they hold as being true WITH a large degree of uncertainty.

    I agree that people vote based on little knowledge or hold beliefs based on little reason, but I also think that for the most part, they recognize that. Perhaps I'm being too charitable, but that's just been the experience I've had with my patients.

    As for consistently arguing against their positions, only people in a philosophy department have the time to waste to do something like that. The rest of us are just trying to get by.
    Last edited by Davis Ashura; January 28th, 2005 at 05:24 PM.

  5. #20
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radone
    The way I read your initial post, you implied that people simply accept their views as being true essentially WITHOUT a large degree of uncertainty. I think that people accept the views they hold as being true WITH a large degree of uncertainty.

    I agree that people vote based on little knowledge or hold beliefs based on little reason, but I also think that for the most part, they recognize that. Perhaps I'm being too charitable, but that's just been the experience I've had with my patients.

    As for consistently arguing against their positions, only people in a philosophy department have the time to waste to do something like that. The rest of us are just trying to get by.
    When people are out killing other people over something or marching in the streets waving banners, that seems to me like they're pretty sure they're right. If people were so unsure, I wouldn't think they would get so militant or argumentative about people who hold other opinions.

  6. #21
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    When people are out killing other people over something or marching in the streets waving banners, that seems to me like they're pretty sure they're right. If people were so unsure, I wouldn't think they would get so militant or argumentative about people who hold other opinions.
    Is this how every person behaves? Or maybe the majority of people? How about just a large minority or even 1%? Other cultures may be different, but in the two that I was raised in, the vast majority of people do not behave like this. If your own experience is different, then so be it.

    I do have another question. When Scott wrote this:

    Imagine, for instance, if we all suddenly stopped believing in the propriety of 'casual consumption'? Thing would deteriorate pretty damn quick! The last thing a society needs is millions of truly critical, individual thinkers, second guessing all the assumptions that entrench its existing hierarchies.
    or when Erf wrote this:

    The schools, no matter what country for the most part, are there to create citizens, perfect little cogs to fit into whatever society they belong to. Someone who really takes a look at what is going on and is constantly reassessing their beliefs isn't likely to be a good cog. They may become squeaky or perhaps even jam up and refuse to work, perhaps spread rust to other little cogs and lock up whole parts of the system.
    How many people who read those two statements thought of themselves as the cog or the non-critical thinker. Or how many were glad they weren't a member of Homo Droneus?
    Scott's original question could be summed up as, "We are thinkers, but very few people are. Why is that?"
    I wonder if his question itself is not a representation of people thinking they know 'what's what'.
    Last edited by Davis Ashura; January 28th, 2005 at 09:56 PM.

  7. #22
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    It's tiring to question things, Radone. It takes time away from simple pleasures. Most of us are more interested in the simple pleasures because we work most of the time and don't have the luxury of time to think and ponder. But joyously, here we do. So we can do what most people don't. We can ask the questions that most people don't think about and don't want to think about.

    I do believe that most people think they are right when the take a stand. I think that most good people and most bad people feel that way. Yet some are clearly good and some are clearly bad. The ones that bother me the most are those who know they are wrong but don't have the courage to stand up and say it.

    We are assuming for that sake of this conversation, of course, that there are such things as right and wrong, and that we know what we mean when we use the words.

  8. #23
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    I wonder if his question itself is not a representation of people thinking they know 'what's what'.
    Of course it is. That's the strange thing about asking these kinds of questions. There's no way to do so without risking hypocrisy. It seems all you can do is bear that in mind and forge ahead.

    There's a whole informal school of thought out there that buys into something that's often called the 'cretinization of the masses,' and there's no doubt that this discussion is at least skirting that assumption. To think of people as 'cogs' is to devalue them, to say that their cherished freedom is little more than self-deception.

    I feel the pinch of the egalitarian complaint you're making, Radone. But at the same time it seems to be a fact that we humans are hardwired to delude ourselves - individually and en masse.

    Societies depend upon the collective interrelation of repeatable individual actions. Our actions are the cogs. We wake up and go and do more or less the same thing every day. Put all these repeated doings together, and you have modern mass consumer society.

    Repeatable individual actions depend upon beliefs and desires. If you don't believe the guy behind the counter will hand you cigarettes in exchange for that piece of paper, you're not going to hand it to him. Likewise, if he doesn't believe that piece of paper will induce others to hand him other things, he's not going to give you those cigarettes in exchange for it.

    Societies require a certain minimal coordination of belief as a necessary condition of functioning. We humans - and recent neuroscience has made some startling discoveries to this effect - are social animals through and through. We are literally bred to believe.

    It's starting to look more and more as though it's more the social function of our beliefs that evolution was interested in than their veracity: the way they unify and organize our actions, preserve the status quo, allow us to overcome enemies, and make us compliant to established hierarchies.

    In other words, it's looking as though we have evolved to believe in ways that have more to do with managment - control - than with truth. What most call 'truth' is, in effect, a kind of social control mechanism.

    And given the apparent necessity of hierarchy in effective social organization, this is pretty much what one might expect evolution to produce: cogs.

  9. #24
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    In essence, you've answered you're own original question. If people are pre-conditioned to not reject that which ensures harmony, then they won't. There are probably levels of the beliefs that allow society to function that none of us can really even put to words that none of us even think to question.
    My contention is that I think that most people at some level recognize that they are part of the machine (Dilbert is both a cartoon and an adjective for a reason).
    The question is, are most peole really just cogs and nothing more?

  10. #25
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    The million dollar question, I'd say. It's probably a good direction to steer the debate. Given the bleak picture that I painted, is there any real room for authentic individuality?

  11. #26
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    What would that even mean? Is is perhaps enough that we thing we are original? In fact, though, with the infinite possibilities with regard to the combinations of words, coupled with each individual's unique manner of assimilating ideas, everything we say is practically unique!

    I can be an optimist, right?

  12. #27
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    The million dollar question, I'd say. It's probably a good direction to steer the debate. Given the bleak picture that I painted, is there any real room for authentic individuality?
    I'm not sure I understand your question. If you look at it from a broad sense, then I suppose the answer might be 'no'. But if you look at it more a more specific perspective the answer is yes. Eg) Snowflakes all look the same from afar, but they are all quite distinct when looked at more closely.
    Does this supposed individuality merit notice? I'd still say yes.

  13. #28
    Books of Pellinor alison's Avatar
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    I would say, Scott, that you're drastically underestimating the survival value of individuals who do question, who rub against the grain. Evolution - and culture is part of evolution - just wouldn't happen without them.

  14. #29
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    I'm not sure it's too much of an underestimation. As far as evolution goes, if someone it too far against the grain, that is just as much a deal-breaker as someone who has a major defect. It's the gradual, small changes that make it into the larger gene pool.

  15. #30
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael
    I'm not sure it's too much of an underestimation. As far as evolution goes, if someone it too far against the grain, that is just as much a deal-breaker as someone who has a major defect. It's the gradual, small changes that make it into the larger gene pool.

    There are various proposals that attempt to explain how Evolution might occur. Among these are the idea of gradual microevolutionary changes that Erf mentioned above. But, the fossil record also shows instances of long periods of species stability followed by rapid species changes (Punctuated Equilibrium). Biologists are unclear which mechanism is more important, but most admit that both exist.
    Now the why evolution occurs is another topic but the proposed mechanisms include natural selection, genetic drift, and of course, Intelligent Design.

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