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Normal person version:

There are 2 kinds of people, those who think the universe makes sense and those that don't. The problem is that both are right in their own way. If you think things make sense, then you should be able to discover rules and laws and figure out what's going to happen next - but the people who give up on Truth say the fact that we can't do this perfectly shows there is no Truth.

It seems silly to me to blame Truth rather than just admit that we are just flawed and make mistakes or have accidents - particularly in what we believe.

On the other hand, those who decide the world doesn't make sense believe there are different rules for every game and attempt to master each rather than imperfectly learn the rules to The Whole.

So how do we figure out what we can know? -- It's actually a pretty dumb question if you're not a college professor, we decide what to put faith in all the time, the fact that we screw things up occasionally doesn't (or shouldn't) paralyze us.

But this is why FAITH is more important than knowledge. We decide what to believe and act upon it. Expertise is not always necessary, I don't have to be an animal doctor to know that I should run away from a rabid dog.

And more to the point, if you try to hold onto these things you "know" rather than rely on faith, your belief system will become extremely fragile. Dreams, hallucinations, lack of information, accident, disease, poor judgment -- there are almost an infinite number of ways I can screw up some piece of information and believe something wrong ... and here we see the sad little trap the oh-to-smart academics have laid for themselves:

They have to defend "experts," and whatever "knowledge" they can have about all the little games they try to play, yet they don't believe in knowledge. Yet they can't just inspect their knowledge for flaws and improve their beliefs because to do that you have to question your beliefs -- and the only tool for self-inspection is doubt - - but if you doubt, you can't pretend to still "know." (Knowledge is, by definition, the thing we can't doubt.

So they are stuck with the same faith-based philosophy they mock in others.

They must rigidly adhere to expertise and whatever "knowledge" they can have about

As Jefferson stated, there are only 2 views of the world, and the division isn't political between Whigs and Torys (as he said in his day), or Libertarians and Totalitarians as we say today ... it's simply the human condition. -- Half the people reject the very faith we all must rely on, and replace God with "progress" yet, by rejecting the idea of a truly unifying force, they have nothing to progress toward and no reason to MAKE progress.

Faith is the only position that ALLOWS you to doubt and still act, which is what everyone must do anyway.



Philosophic version:

There are 2 kinds of people, the first are those who attempt to discover and apply one system of thinking, be it religious, scientific or philosophic, to the universe as a whole. The Second are those who have either given up on the belief that such a system can be found or known or those who don't care to search - both of whom suffice to consider themselves collectors of small disconnected areas of expertise which can allow them to intrigue and manipulate the various pieces to get what they want.

Sadly, we are all both kinds of people, and fall on a continuum of activity rather than neatly into categories. Those who seek an elegant system of organization in the universe are, at some point, forced to admit that human fallibility will always make them err from such perfection. On the other hand, those nihilists and fatalists who, in theory, give up on man's ability to access or systematize Reality refute their own beliefs in their practical lives ... one cannot live a life void of action and action is unalienable tied to belief - unless one lives as a vegetable. (Both without defense and with no higher purpose than either procreation or becoming the future poop of some higher-level organism.)

Oh, and thinking of veggies: "It's a little wrong to say a tomato is a vegetable, it's very wrong to say it's a suspension bridge."* And so, even considering a continuum of error, one must recognize that not all errors are equal in their practical dangers ... and a faith based position will recognize this - but more on that later.

The sad irony is that these finite game-players must now rigidly cling to their "pretense of knowledge." (hat tip Friedrich Hayek's Nobel Prize Lecture which is appropriate considering our recent debt ceiling debate) Due to their worship of "expertise" and "progress" they are longer allowed, or even allowed to admit to, the serious depth of introspection that would allow them to improve their understanding of their petty little games since the only tool available for introspection is doubt - the anti-matter version of "knowledge."

You cannot claim to know and yet doubt, just as you can't admit to doubts if you pretend to "know."

And thus the surge of so-called philosophers who neither love wisdom nor provide any value to society when they play intellectual king-of-the-hill simply trying to dismount whomever has become the latest popularly crowned "smartest man in the room" by destroying all possible foundations for human intellectual constructs. Thus, deconstructing language, reducing Truth to preference and getting their rocks off lording their position of superiority over their inferiors ... but then, what else IS there for them to do in the world, the greatest actualization of human purpose is to master one of the petty little games, isn't it? And the poor minions live in epistemic paralysis ... what they believe depends only upon who mounts the throne that day.

How can they possibly consider themselves to be "open minded?" (And even more puzzling, how can they imbue "open mindedness" with a sense of virtue when they can't reach their own standard of knowledge in proving ANYTHING to be a virtue?) What an absurd position their egocentrism has created for them.

Yet those of us who readily admit to foundational faith-based positions should have no difficulties doubting and thus have the potential to create a much stronger practical epistemology -- our beliefs can be inspected for error without the terror of losing some anti-practical but ego-reinforcing pretense of knowledge. I can both have full faith in a position and many doubts. I can see a competing idea as valuable whether it is right or wrong ... I'm not overcome with a necessity to destroy it.

Thus the paradox: the only practical epistemology, one which is sufficient for belief and therefore action, is one that is not just comfortable with doubt, but is stronger when perpetually plagued by it. Further, the proper object of faith is in the logical consistency / organization of the universe and all it's parts. (Which may or may not have religious implications.)

But the greatest gift of a faith-based practical epistemology is that I recognize that perfect certainty is unnecessary for correct decisions making, as perfection is vanity and chasing after the wind. I need not be paralyzed when making a decision when wisdom requires I use incomplete or insufficient information. I need not beat myself up about failures which must happen, as I recognize before hand that I am human and freely admit to error. I need not attack competing ideas as if they threaten the existence of my belief system.

I don't have to win the petty little games, I just need to open the field so we can all be less distracted and play the larger, the universal, The Infinite Game.


Reading list: James P Carse's book Finite and Infinite Games

*From "The Big Bang Theory" episode 2x20
There are meaningful philosophic and moral differences involved in this budget debate, so let me apologize now to those who just wish some mystical and fictitious "common sense" could solve things. It'll never be just that simple.

Where are you POSSIBLY going to find compromise ground? I believe the only moral role / form of government is protecting citizens from violence and enforcing contracts but only when funded by sales taxes ... I further believe any law protecting us from ourselves (seat-belts, transfats, etc) or that treats adults as children is necessarily fascist, particularly when it's enforced by an income tax that is just as immoral as slavery ('cause it IS indentured servitude enforced by violence - what, if you try to keep all of YOUR money that YOU earned, you think the IRS won't hunt you down like a runaway slave?!? Hmmm?) or estate taxes which are just flat out theft.

And on the other side you have Obama who believes morality is always opposed to "suffering" (as he defines it) and that the role of government is to try to end as much suffering as possible, by any means possible and create a purely "equitable" and egalitarian world.

And all of this comes to focus on questions of money, because that is the root of government's ability to do (or NOT do) anything.

We, as a nation, soften the debate and water it down for public consumption so much that we fool ourselves into thinking one side is "wrong" and if they only "understood the facts" there would be some resolution. THIS IS ABSURD. But it is the politician's trick -- because deep down, they all believe that if only THEY were king, things would suddenly become a perfect utopia. Hubris is mother to the political class.

But when the debate IS laid bare, we see each other as not simply immoral, but EVIL in our ends. Thus there can be no compromise between those of us who see government as a boot on a human face enforcing even those correct and moral laws by violence and those who see government as a surrogate parent that can "love" and "take care of" the people.

-001 A Buddhist defense of capitalism

My letter to Deepak Chopra upon his attack on Sarah Palin

Dear Sir,

Where's the Buddha nature in Palin? If you can't see it, perhaps you should stop looking at her and look at yourself.

If I approach a monk begging on the road, I'll kindly tell him to find a job, to go create something that brings pleasure to others and trade that for his food. -- This is WHY he has hands and a mind. He rejects his nature in not using them. Consider Pai-chang's reforms, they were not political, they were right.

You injure yourself by desiring the world to be something it is not. I can imagine unicorns, money falling from heaven and a world where everyone is provided for as if they were eternally children - but that doesn't mean it can or will exist.

As for the monks then and us today, humility isn't the result of taking hand-outs, entitlement and arrogance are. There is no easier way to make a child hate his parent than to spoil him with things he has not earned ... or a populace hate their leadership or hate their fellow citizens. (Or, apparently, to make spiritual leaders who take the side of perpetual immaturity hate those who advocate adulthood.)

You misunderstand so much - primarily what Sarah represents in the whole picture of life ... that money, gotten fairly, represents the happiness I have created for others by the product of my hands or mind. Bill Gates is rich because we democratically voted for him, not in a valueless poll but with actual money. We judged that what he provides would make us more happy with it than without it.

That money represented our work, the happiness we had created for others by serving them food, building them a house or inventing better ways to bottle water. (And they paid in the happiness they had created ... and on it goes ...)

Enter the government, who takes the happiness Gates rightly earned, to forcibly try to give it to others. To try ... but you can't give others happiness ... no matter how hard you try.

Government believes the fact that it can do something gives it moral authority. But, once that happiness is taken, it is tainted and now the money represents the greed of the thief who believes he can simply take without giving happiness in return. Further, he believes he can give with nothing expected back ... and so poisons the receiver by making him complicit in the theft and weaker by draining his self-sufficiency and confidence.

Charity is a beautiful thing, and Gates represents a wonderful example of that as well. Charity returns happiness for happiness ... (As an aside, I trust him to better distribute his happiness to others than I do the sterile mechanical hand of government or the filth covered hands of corrupt politicians who pocket one half and infect the other.)

Whereas charity is beautiful, redistribution, is nothing but evil. It takes a man's happiness, creativity and his very place in the world and corrupts it by actively promoting weakness, jealousy and anger. If memory serves, Pai-Chang said he worked for others because they needed it since they lacked the tools ... did he force some others into slavery because they DID have tools? No. Further, he also refused to eat on a day his students kept him from working, thus, refusing to accept the labor of another for his benefit ... refusing to take something unearned when he had the MEANS to earn it. -- Internal enlightenment cannot be imposed by external systems.

Punishing creation and rewarding need in order to hoard superficial feelings of moral superiority ... this is actual greed. In this instance one does not actually fulfill an existential need for purpose and meaning. My friend, you rob others of their meaning - both the rich and the poor, both the suffering and the whole.

How do you write about the Buddha and not apply his thoughts on suffering? You fight the superficial pains themselves, but not the cause. I believe he would be disappointed in you (assuming that was in his nature).

Better to suffer with a purpose than live as Siddhartha in his early years. Do you really want to make palaces of temptation for all the world's poor built from stolen happiness and the destruction of the life's work of others?

How is it, someone from your perspective, can so divide the unity that is the universe into such simplistic blocks and then discard, at a whim, Truth? How is it even possible you should be angry at another person in this way?

QUESTION YOURSELF NOW AND BE HONEST!

If she is in error, or If I am in error, shouldn't you feel sorry for us?

As I feel sorry for you?

Sincerely,

N~ D~ M.Ed.

PS - I am Christian, but somehow the lost of the Eastern mind to this veil of descending darkness bothers me more than anything of the other decay I've seen recently. I have such a strong affinity for Hindu and Buddhist views of the world and I so wish I could believe in their enlightenment, but sadly I am again disappointed. Like the Dalai Lama professing Marxism ... it makes it impossible to believe them.

huh ... symbolic I think ...

George Washington died by being drained of life by leaches ... and it seems his country may follow that same fate.

How'bout that, ya'll got a post before my Facebook account did! :P
Intellectuals mistake their education for collective omniscience, their omniscience for omnipotence and their omnipotence for the right to reshape society at will. - - But no matter what their justification, it comes down to the same thing, rule by force and coercion ... essentially reducing their "omnipotence" to the same level as any tribe of cavemen.


---

and see, this is why I've come to like Facebook, that was my status update. Used to be I would have gone to the trouble of writing 2 pages, using several metaphors and a punchline to express the same thing I've now learned to say more concisely in 420 characters. :P


For the livejournal only crowd I think I will pretty soon post a new theory I have that is a fundamental re-conception of human nature, politics and economics ... It'll require more than 420 charactgers though. ;)

Avatar

Yes, I realize I'm quite behind the times in giving my take on this movie, but I only just now saw it. I do tend to catch major movies when they come out, but in this case, particularly as no one would / could tell me what the plot was, I was less than enthused.

But, since I got a nice HDTV for my birthday (the 11th) I figured I'd try it out on a film that was, most likely, best compared to one of those girls you date once in awhile but would never settle down with ... you know the kind, dumb but pretty to look at.

Avatar lived up to my expectation in every way. Dumbest. Movie. Ever. But BOY, did it look good on my new TV!

If one has a truly "multicultural" approach to this movie, there's no way to pick between the two sides. The only real reason a person would go with the natives is if, after Nietzsche's claim of the death of God, we decide to worship the primitive and the mystic instead. But I think that's become the trend, advocating an environmental religion based on a desire for some anti-industrial, anti-rational revolution. Yes we should all be pristine natives, unspoiled by factories, greed, unfair excesses and the perils of modern dentistry. Who needs teeth anyway?

At it's core, the move wasn't even a good proponent of its position. Honestly the natives would have to be entirely pacifistic to really make them look as pure and holy as the movie attempted. And the capitalists would have had to be entirely genocidal. But this was not the case.

As it was, I really saw nothing more to this battle than your basic tribal conflict over land that could have happen anywhere in South America a thousand years ago. A fight over dirt within the context of two rival religious beliefs: one faith in nature and one faith in science. But in a multi-cultural world, aren't we supposed to see both faiths as equally valid? Didn't they have a right to take the land based on their metaphysical faith in the superiority of their science and technology as much as the natives had a right to keep it?

Just sayin'.

Lets be honest about our motives here ... we're gonna side with the blue people 'cause we like 'em more than the other people. Of course, I didn't like 'em THAT much more, they kinda seemed like dopes too.

Ghost readers

So I just found out I had at least one reader for a long period of time who read and didn't tell me. Anyone else out there read this thing?

I'd've posted more often if I thought I had an audience. But lack of debate / response tends to sap the will to write.

Ah well, if anyone's still out there ... ex-girlfriends or whatever, why not drop me an e-mail or make a comment. If anyone cared I'd still write.

Atlas Shrugged

For want of a good editor Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged," a book with some of the greatest characterization, philosophy and intricate plots I've ever read, will go untouched by many potential readers / converts.

It's truly a brilliant piece, but 3 out of 4 sentences could be entirely erased, possibly even at random, and actually add to the power of the work while requiring less endurance on the part of the reader.

Does anyone else think her philosophy seems like the logical extension of Nietzsche's?

microblogging ...

You suppose microblogging is going to kill regular blogging?

I know I hardly ever post on here since I've become more active on Facebook. :\ Ah well.

The REAL angry mobs.

Idiot anarchists marched against the G-20 today shouting "No bailout, no capitalism." Well, I agree with half of that ... but if they're actually anarchists then they should realize that capitalism is like gravity, it doesn't go away with the dissolution of government, markets, black or otherwise, will be natural tendency of thinking humans and as long as there are elementary kids who want to barter away some undesired item on their lunch tray.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090924/ap_on_re_us/g20_summit_protests

So they had to break out the tear gas these lefties but then we 9-12 marchers were called "an angry mob?" -- maybe there were angry moMs, but not moBs. Moms such as the 3 generations of ladies, whose youngest was about 7 y/o, that I talked with on the metro ride back. Good people.