Thursday, January 10, 2008

Only a link. Just a link.

I will get back to you soon, good people.

In the meantime, here is a scary link.


Dave said...

Our obvious differences over the central topic aside, the scariest thing about that link is how many of the contributors to appear to be batshit insane.

Dr. Clam said...

This may be overstepping the bounds, young dave, but I get so tired of batting ineffectively at the air... Obviously I disagree with other people, and obviously I don't want to believe anything that's not true, so I feel depressed that nobody ever seems to try and change my mind about anything. So, do you fancy making an attempt to logically outline your position- the what and why of it, starting from foundation axioms- sometime?
Consider this an open invitation on all topics... for anyone who is out there. If you believe there is such a thing as truth... if you don't want to see me sunk in hopeless error... please, please, refute what I have written. Give me a more self-consistent, more logical worldview that is more consistent with experimental observations. I haven't got much longer to figure things out. Maybe fifty years max.

Cornelius Gallows said...

Hrm, you may be asking more than you think here. Logical expression is so far from being my forte I'm surprised I'm not using a completely different language set to you. Actually, it's possible that I am, since I don't understand a lot of what you write in your Spero statements.

what can I say? I have a difficult time reducing my worldview to foundation axioms because I have no idea whether I have any. My perspective is based solidly on personal experience, but the filter I apply tends towards the sensory/emotional rather than the logical or analytical. Sure, I have those tools to help me understand the universe, but they're not the framework.

Am I making sense? My moral framework is based more on how I feel about the world than how I think about it, if that distinction is meaningful.

Which is a slightly roundabout way of saying that I am ill-equipped indeed to formulate a cohesive statement of The Universe According to Me, though I do feel up to the task of occasionally refuting, questioning or outright attacking minor points of personal dogma here and there. I like a good argument after all, though I freely admit I'm not well-schooled in the techniques of debate (oh sure, better than 90% of the churning masses on teh interwebs, but that says nothing).

I will say that, where abortion is concerned, your principled stand, which I can appreciate and sympathise with to a certain extent, approaches a level of certainty that is inaccessible to my viewpoint, and borders, to me, on the blinkered, if not outright alien.

Which is by no means intended as an attack, just an observation that this aspect of your character is one with which I feel little empathy. Thus it seems something about which we would have a tough time debating rationally (especially since, as mentioned, I don't employ logic as a standard debating tool, nor am I especially inclined towards researching evidence that might back up my position. At best, you can expect me to score some cheap rhetorical points and then slink off to some other subject. I'm lazy, you see).

However, just to put something concrete down, if I have a foundation principle, it is that suffering is bad and that to live ethically one should strive to reduce the suffering of others where possible and at least not to contribute to making it worse.

How's that for a start?

Cornelius Gallows said...

Oops, that was me, using my Google mail address, apparently (don't post to it, I only opened the account to play an online game that didn't pan out, and I've kept it because Google Docs is handy)

Dr. Clam said...

Splendid, I knew I could count on you to find this comment, cornelius!

the filter I apply tends towards the sensory/emotional rather than the logical or analytical

Which I guess means I have brought a knife to a custard pie fight. Again. D'oh! There's not much point in trying to alter my course in a sensory/emotional way... and conversely, perhaps not much point me trying to alter yours in a logical/analytical way...

I promise to do justice to the rest of your long and thoughtful comment, shortly.

Dr. Clam said...

I promised a response that would do a bit more justice to your comment. This may be it. Then again, it may be less fair and less useful than my hasty off-the-cuff comments...

If you don’t understand a lot of what I write in my Spero statements, it means that those statements are not doing their job properly. Let me know so I can make them clearer! I want to be challenged not just on content, but on form. Make a comment, or send an email with ‘WTF?’ in the subject line. Of course this may be too much work. And you might not be interested.

I guess I have to say that to me, making judgments in a way that is other than logical and analytical seems, if not blinkered- and not alien, because I see it being done all around me, ceaselessly- but subhuman, a renunciation of the capabilities of our species. It seems a good way to be swept along by the prejudices of one’s peer group, manipulated by the Richard Carletons and Al Gores of this world, and otherwise trifled with and dehumanised.

I also admire principled stands, even when they are stupid. I always felt a warm inner glow at Devil Bunny City University whenever I passed someone from the Radical Trotskyite Collective or Whatnot passing out lurid propaganda and haranguing passers-by. (For the same reason I reject all comments on your ‘Life in Civic' post as base and ignoble. Except for emma’s. And parts of mine. Which I will get to in a moment. People who care enough about something- anything- to go around irritating people because of it deserve our respect and admiration.)
You say it is the degree of certainty in my position on abortion which you find impossible to empathise with. This is one of very few areas where I think it is possible for me to hold an opinion with such a high degree of certainty. I think in general that most of what I write is more hedged about with equivocations and caveats than most of what most people write. Perhaps. I may be wrong. I don't have the same inaccessibility from this side. I can see how it might be possible, with a worldview based on different core axioms, to hold an opposite position with an equal degree of certainty. Or to find the area ambiguous and murky. The certainty follows- I hope- logically from my core axioms.
(On the other hand, I cannot think of any core axioms for a rational worldview that would make anyone enthusiastically detest very-slightly-right-of-centre-perhaps Howard and be enthusiastically happy about the victory of very-slightly-left-of-centre-perhaps Rudd. Or vice versa. Extremes of certainty there seem to me to be manifestations of mass hysteria. You would have to be in the grip of madness, for instance, to despairingly quote Gerard Manley Hopkins on your blog the morning after the election.)

Okay, back to the world of the wildebeest. You gamely got the ball rolling with a foundation principle:

If I have a foundation principle, it is that suffering is bad and that to live ethically one should strive to reduce the suffering of others where possible and at least not to contribute to making it worse.

My comment on ‘Life in Civic’ is a cheap deconstruction of this foundation principle. A slightly more up-market version of the same argument is in ‘Well, that Just About wraps it up for Dawkins’.

I think the maxim ‘suffering is the greatest evil’, detached from any more robust philosophical underpinnings, sooner or later leads to a version of Judge Death’s realisation that all crime is committed by the living. All suffering is suffered by the living, therefore…