Friday, May 02, 2008

Atheism and the Unrequited Love of Truth

I am often criticized by a certain kind of 'nadless "spiritual seeker" for my pugnaciousness (or absence of ambiguity), judgmentalism (or discernment), and anger (i.e., the anger I trigger in them, which they promptly project into me).

The truth is, truth is a kind of violence, in that it necessarily severs one thing from another, just like a surgical procedure, i.e., good from bad, true from false, and beautiful from ugly. This is why "the truth hurts," or at least why it hurts some people sometimes.

Put it this way: if you are a pathological liar -- say, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, or Al Sharpton -- the truth doesn't hurt at all. In fact, you don't even feel it. It bounces right off as if nothing ever happened. Lies are your weapon and your shield. If you aren't a pawn of satan, you might as well be. These fölcks don't believe truth because it is true but because it is convenient, which automatically converts truth to something contingent and therefore tainted with falsehood.

Importantly, this does not just apply to religious truth but to scientific truth. Consider the etymology of science, which comes from the Latin scindere, meaning "to cut." It is related to words such as scissors, schism, decision, and schizophrenic. This is the coontext of Jesus' assurance that I came not to send peace, but a sword. Please. Bush is nothing compared to Jesus' divisiveness, but I can certainly understand why the schizos of the left think otherwise.

Furthermore, this is one of the primary reasons people do not alter their beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence, especially once tenure has been secured, as it is painful to do so (it's also one of the reasons I never really enjoyed being a psychotherapist, except with a certain kind of patient who is passionate about truth above all. With them, it's easy).

As I explained in the cOOnifesto, the word believe is etymologically related to belove, and any discerning person can see in an instant how even -- or especially -- supposedly secular people fall in love with ideas that cannot possibly be true. (At the moment, I'm thinking about dopey liberals such as Nancy Pelosi who are simultaneously concerned about global warming and the high price of gas; if you are worried about one, then you needn't worry about the other.) Reason has its own absence of reason that reason cannot comprehend, and if you don't understand how this works, you will likely end up believing patent nonsense, the reason being that Truth is supposed to be luminous and attractive, a fundamental Truth for which secularism cannot account because it's not countable.

In other words, human beings were not created to be pure "logic machines," like a Vulcan or a MENSA member who wonders why he's never kissed a girl, unlike Captain Kirk. The enterprise of logic alone cannot tell us when logic has arrived at a profound truth. Rather, this can only be determined by a higher form of discernment that is "aesthetic" through and through.

Again, this is the whole point of our gööd friend Gödel and his ironyclad theorems. The reason why the theorems are ironyclad is that Gödel employed logic to precisely and irrevocably set the limits of logic, which cannot disclose those platonic truths which humans can surely know but not prove -- or at least prove with mere logic. They can most certainly be proven in a manner appropriate to the realm from which they arise, so long as the person in question has sufficient intelligence and good will, or heart and mind (the former taking precedence over the latter in these eternal questings).

This is why it is impossible to prove the existence of God to people of bad will who aren't all that bright to begin with, and who simply want to believe in their own beloved truth, no matter how homely or unfaithful she is. For example, the classic ontological proofs of God are sufficient to convince a soul who is equipped to understand and believe (and therefore belove) them, and who is not inclined against them. This, of course, is one of the esoteric dimensions of faith, which is a deep intuition that our beloved Sophia could not be unfaithful to us.

Perhaps this is too abstract. Let's bring this luce talko down a couple of nachos, to something more audible. I am a big fan of what is called post-bop, avant-garde jazz, which was a movement that moved from about 1961 to 1970 or thereabouts (this is not to be confused with "free jazz," as it retains a more traditional structure, although it is right on the roiling cusp between structure and freedom, like this blog and like existence itself, which I believe is why I am so attracted to it). Some of the major artists of this genre include Jackie McLean, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, and Sam Rivers, plus the last great Miles Davis quintet that featured Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams.

These names will mean nothing to most of you. And if you were to be exposed to their music, it is likely that they would mean even less, for this is challenging music, and most people do not wish to be challenged by music. They don't want to take the effort to "elevate" themselves to music; rather, they would prefer that music "descend" to them. I'm not even criticizing this, as music, like everything else, has different purposes for different people at different times. I myself don't listen exclusively to this kind of music. For example, yesterday I was blasting the Who Live at Leeds, which every person must now and then do for reasons too obvious to get into here. Needless to say, my delighted three year old -- both inner and outer -- understands the reason for Keith Moon.

Anyway, the point I am making is that although this music embodies a kind of higher beauty, the average person will probably be repelled by it, or at least they wouldn't feel any attraction to it. Indeed, this was initially the case with me. However, I continued listening to other forms of jazz that took me to the "edge" of the avant-garde, so I was gradually able to "conquer" and assimilate it.

But one of the ways I made the leap was through faith. That is, respected critics -- people who knew much more about jazz than I did, and whose taste I came to trust and rely upon -- raved about this music, so it gave me the faith that there really was a "there there," my initial impressions to the contrary notwithstanding. In short, in order to "penetrate" this harmonically dense music, I had to trust that these musical pinheads weren't just böllshitting me and faking the funk -- which certainly does happen with modern art, the recent Aliza Schvarts kerfuffle being a darchetypal example of same.

Also, once you come to trust a particular artist, you accept the idea that they are further along than you are, and that if you have faith in them, they won't let you down. This doesn't mean that they never fail, because they do. Indeed, this is one of the inevitable prices one pays for being "on the edge," as we were discussing a day or two ago. The cutting edge cuts both ways, so it is certainly possible for novelty to be false or trivial -- which, not to get ahead of ourselves, but for Raccoons goes to the question of why it is so important to remain within the confines of an orthodox tradition instead of simply "winging it" on one's own. In the case of avant-garde jazz, if you just compare Louis Armstrong to Freddie Huzbbard, it may be a bit of a jolt. But if you begin with Louis Armstrong in 1925, you can trace a sort of straight line of development that slowly unfolds and eventually leads there in a disorderly ordered manner.

Now, how does this relate to religion? Well, first of all, Raccoon spirituality, like avant-garde jazz, may sound jarring and dissonant to the non-initiate, which is no doubt why my readership is so small and always shrinking. I think it's about 60% of what it was a year ago, which means that I am obviously driving away more people than I am attracting, which is all to the good. I do not wish to be known, much less understood, by a large audience, for that would tell me that I must be on the wrong track, given the barren intellectual and spiritual conditions that obtain in the soul of mass man.

Does this mean we are elitist? I don't think so. In my case, I don't really see how I could be more down to earth or more of a regular guy, for the reality is, in order to penetrate the clouds, like a pyramid, you must have a very wide base, and like a skyscraper, a foundation that extends deep into the earth. No one suspects Peter Parker of being Spiderman, and even he struggles with the concept. Furthermore, there are times that he would prefer not to be, as it's a burden and a responsibility. Reminds me of something Van Morrison said about his "relentless need" to make music:

"Everything is a curse and a blessing," he argues with some vehemence. "There's two sides to everything in this life. Music is no different. Don't think I haven't tried to walk away from it all. I've made a few concerted efforts at walking away. But it's pointless. You have to understand that I don't choose the music; it chooses me. My love for the music is the core of it for me. Maybe there's people who do music for different reasons. Financial reasons or ego reasons. Maybe they can walk away from it. But I can't. Because my connection to the music can't be broken. This is a need. Let's be clear about this -- there is no föcking choice."

To conclude the jazz analogy, there are certain luminous pneumanauts whom I initially did not understand, men such as Schuon, Anonymous, Eckhart, or even a Son of men, for that martyr. Now I understand that they've been stealing into my thoughts and whistling my tune all along.

Kandinsky, Improvisation 31, Sea Battle... it figures

48 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Speaking of dark art, my own project which was given a big jolt by that whole nasty kerfuffle is coming along fairly well, I think.

As to your discussion about Jazz, the same can be said for modern abstract art. Most of it is pure crap, but there are still some artists who manage to portray transcendence with simple color and line. The only difference is, I don't know if you can really trust art critics in general, since their motives in liking anything tend to be deeply suspect.

5/02/2008 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, very much so. Kandinsky is a particular favorite, as he almost looks like what modern jazz sounds like. Perhaps no coincidence that he named a renowned series of his paintings "Improvisations."

5/02/2008 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's so true - people automatically want things to be simplified to their level of understanding. What's even worse is that people automatically translate higher truths and shred and fragment them so that they can cram the unrecognizable pieces into their minds and call that "understanding."

I used to do this all the time. In fact I still do this, which is why I am beginning to appreciate the solidity and unmovability of authentic traditions, religious, martial and others.

Profound and timeless truths are always bigger than what I am; therefore as a spiritual aspirant, it's my duty and joy to stretch and expand myself to be worthy of being exposed to those truths. But finite can never stretch itself to be infinite, for it remains finite. Yet there is an evolutionary joy in that stretching, the creative struggle and expression of Life.

Traditions contain my feeble attempt at stretching; they help me from overstretching into destructive injuries. How can one climb a mountain without proper and reliable tools? Yet New Age people do exactly that.

Traditions contain my ego and mind parasites, for my so-called "natural" state is that my mind parasites control me. Without those firm boundaries, these mind parasites will forever elude any attempt at their dissolution. Humble and Voluntary submission to God and to authentic tradition is the first step in recovery. Too bad that New Agey books preach recovery without humility, proper tools and above all God to help us all.

Another Bob

5/02/2008 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dig the jazz analogy...which makes me wonder about whether most of us are willing to put in our time in the woodshed, as it were.

In my hyperliberal hometown we have a "Buddhist university". There seem to be plenty of "Charlie Parkers" floating around who can't even play chopsticks or happy birthday.

And not just students, but grown adults who you'd think would know better. I guess it escapes many that you can never run your scales too many times. Most don't seem to have time off from thinking themselves to be spiritual John Coltrane's to actually make the effort...or am I wrong?

5/02/2008 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Another Bob:

How very bobservant. You've explained it very well.

5/02/2008 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

No, you're not wrong. Again, it's little different from art - it's clear that Kandinsky knew the basic fundamentals of painting before he began to improvise (he learned to crawl before he learned to fly), but I went to school with plenty of folks who had neither interest in nor patience for the basics. They wanted to head immediately to the shock and splatter phase, with wasting time on line or composition.

5/02/2008 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

er, without wasting time...

5/02/2008 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

GB says: The truth is, truth is a kind of violence, in that it necessarily severs one thing from another, just like a surgical procedure, i.e., good from bad, true from false, and beautiful from ugly. This is why "the truth hurts," or at least why it hurts some people sometimes.

Whoever wrote Hebrews says: For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart.

You may have lost a few but you have a gained a least one oft-confused wanderer who is glad "not all who wander are lost."

5/02/2008 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Bob said;

"(At the moment, I'm thinking about dopey liberals such as Nancy Pelosi who are simultaneously concerned about global warming and the high price of gas; if you are worried about one, then you needn't worry about the other.)"

For those who wish to have a little fun today:
During the 2006 elections, the Dems were talking about the unreasonably high price of gasoline and if elected, they promised to lower the price. When they took both houses of Congress, gas was an average $2.25 per gallon. Now it's $3.61 and climbing. That's a whopping 60% higher than when they took office.
So how bout we give her a call and ask her what the hell she plans to do about it. Hint: We have a pipeline in the frozen North currently running at about 30% capacity just waiting for the increased production.
At worst we can create a little cognitive dissonance, at best we might get one of her aides to begin the thinking process and begin to wonder what the hell they are doing working for her.
Give her a call, 202-225-0100 and see what rationalizations they come up with.
Nothing is going to change until we speak up and start raising some heaven.

5/02/2008 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday living."


When I was teaching visual art at a barrio school, I had the great good fortune of collaborating with this brilliant jazz musican and friend, on a variety of projects, over a ten year period. For me, the highlight remains a 3 day experiment with students creating compositions, using wet, fluid watercolors, while their bodies inner.acted with the live sounds from Tina's little jazz band. Right there, in the art studio, improv was begotton, not made, again. The visual compositions revealed an astonishingly pure interior had been accessed and freed to express. All of us in that space just "gave it up" to Love.

5/02/2008 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently saw a jazz performance with a young (20-something) tenor saxophonist. He constantly attempted to put together towering post-coltrane type improvisations. Yet when he would play the head he sounded like the absolute beginner he was.

I kept thinking: go listen to lester young/coleman hawkins etc and see what phrasing is all about before you try to tackle Coltrane.

But then again I was very much the same as a younger man. It seems to be the sign o' the times. It's like we think we are too sophisticated to actually have to know know what we are doing...

5/02/2008 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger lance said...

I enjoyed your piece. But I am a little confused. (You probably get that a lot from readers.) Is your point that atheists move there belief system away from a God figure to different social or political figure or group? That even if someone claims not to believe they still end up believing because that is how we are by nature?

5/02/2008 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Something like that. Strictly speaking, an atheist has no absolute reason to believe anything, and yet, being human -- and therefore having access to the absolute he denies -- he cannot help doing so. That passionate atheists irrationally love their atheism is pretty obvious to those of us who are not attracted to the old wench.

5/02/2008 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

To put it another way, if you really love Truth, she loves you back, for she is as alive as you or I. But the "dead truth" of atheism is necessarily unrequited, as it is ultimately a form of necrophilia, not soph-philia, i.e., philosophy.

5/02/2008 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous dloye said...

Bob, the comment about your declining readership meshed with a reverie continuing this morning. I've fairly recently joined a church. The physical plant offers not a lot to the eye. They're suffering through a spate of interim pastors. Half of the congregation has been blown away by Katrina, those who remain are not of a demographic to make a marketer cheerful. The last interim was with the church 14 months and officiated at 14 funerals. This is a remnant congregation of 100. Yet I was musing that it's important to recall that we need to be of good cheer, and continue in joyous faith. It's been something of a winnowing. The congregation has a strong compact core that takes mission seriously, hosting volunteers to rebuild from throughout the country, cooking for them, cooking for the local soup kitchen, housing a preschool for children whose parents don't attend the church, the local computer club, fellowship of Christian athletes, on and on, the list goes on impossibly, yet the congregation survives calamatous collapses of air conditioning, and a sound system which invariably interjects a shriek or squawk into the service. I don't even notice the feedback squeals anymore.

Anything of value (and both this blog and the church are of great value--to me at least) is from time to time winnowed down to the essentials. It's not fun in a blogosphere which is measured in readership, not more esoteric values. Nor does it pose a pretty picture to a vistor or prospective pastor visiting a church that is aging, and often has only three or four youngsters for children's church. Yet there's a spirit vitally alive in the congregation. The spark will catch somewhere. And if the doors shut, God is not mocked. There will remain somewhere to worship and join in community with kindred spirits.

Likewise, if you go to your next endeavor, and find blogging no longer requires you, the seeds are still well planted and for the winnowing, the soil is all the more receptive.

Now.. I will read the previous comments. I know I latched on to a very small segment of the point you were making today, but it rang a bell.

5/02/2008 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

There was a post last week - one of a continuing series on the record - which makes thig sound like this little blog is some sort of charade.

This offends "'coons" (which is what we nickname ourselves in good humor) far more than it offends Bob.

Those of us who enjoy and have learned from this blog are -- in general -- of sound mind and much higher than average "intelligence" (I was measured in 1986 at 155 IQ, if anyone cares -- which they should not).

We remain here because the essays thay Bob constructs convey the closest that we can come to Truth. Bob has repeatedly turned down (in his essays) any idea that he would do this for profit. I, for one, would just love it if Bob made some money out of this, but the audience is small, alas (cf Plato, eggheads).

Bob, I do hope that you continue.

5/02/2008 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good piece on Obama & "Black Liberation Theology":

"It is a tribute to the power of the Christian message that there is such a thing as African American Christian theology at all. Christianity was the religion held by slave masters -- often distorted into an ideology of oppression. But African Americans found a model of liberation in the Exodus. They discovered that Jesus more closely resembled the beaten and lynched slave than their pious oppressors. And African Americans -- by their courageous assertion of God's universal love and man's universal dignity -- redeemed a nation they had entered in chains.

"But black liberation theology takes this argument a large step further -- or perhaps backward. The Rev. Wright's intellectual mentor, professor James Cone of Union Theological Seminary, retreats from the universality of Christianity. "Black theology," says Cone, "refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him." And again: "Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy." And again: "In the New Testament, Jesus is not for all, but for the oppressed, the poor and unwanted of society, and against oppressors."

"This emphasis on the structural evil of white America has natural political consequences -- encouraging a belief that American politics is defined by its crimes, a tendency to accept anti-government conspiracy theories about AIDS and drugs, a disturbing openness to anti-American dictators such as Castro and Gaddafi. It explains Wright's description of the Sept. 11 attacks as a "wake-up call" to "white America."

5/02/2008 01:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We remain here because the essays thay Bob constructs convey the closest that we can come to Truth."

Is that so? The closest? Interesting.

5/02/2008 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

I'm sure I can speak for Smoov in saying that his pious exaggeration was "in a manner of speaking," this being a common form of spiritual affirmation.

5/02/2008 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Krauthammer, brilliant as usual. The gullibility of liberals never ceases to amaze.

5/02/2008 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Reaboi said...

Bob: Long-time reader Dave the jazz bassist here, formerly of San Francisco. I'm in Washington DC now, and I still read the blog nearly everyday, especially when there's something like Wright in the news. I appreciate that your postings have become more baroque-- though it's hard to send them out to non-initiates... I perk up when there's a jazz reference, because that music is really one of my life's passions. The way you describe 'the hunt' or 'the quest' toward the jazz avant garde is something I've been meaning to write about forever. My own musical wanderings took me farther along the path and into free jazz and more esoteric musics; that journey was one of the most valuable in my life-- because, chiefly, I shared it with a friend who was as keen on exploring as I was. We pushed each other aesthetically and challenged ourselves to integrate the strange and the strangely-beautiful into our artistic lives. It prepared me for different types of searches and changed my life profoundly and wonderfully. My buddy and I often think and talk about how what we did would be very difficult these days, with the Internet, mp3s, etc. stealing away our attention spans. Be well in all things---
Cheers,
Dave

5/02/2008 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

New blog to me:

"Stuff Christians Like" - a knock-ff ¿ of "Stuff White People Like". This is pretty funny.

5/02/2008 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"The truth is, truth is a kind of violence, in that it necessarily severs one thing from another, just like a surgical procedure, i.e., good from bad, true from false, and beautiful from ugly. This is why "the truth hurts," or at least why it hurts some people sometimes."

Ohhh...yyyYYEESSS!!!!

Hey lib's (oy), Careful of those sharp edges!

5/02/2008 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"These fölcks don't believe truth because it is true but because it is convenient, which automatically converts truth to something contingent and therefore tainted with falsehood."

Yikes! The patented Gagdad Ginsu knife lops off another unsightly leftie boil.

5/02/2008 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said... "Speaking of dark art, my own project which was given a big jolt by that whole nasty kerfuffle is coming along fairly well, I think."

(left you a little art-critic-eze over there)

'fairly well'? If one of the purposes of Art is to lift you up where you belong, you're fairly well beyond fairly there!

5/02/2008 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger Samuel Skinner said...

I'm sorry, but you've got somethings wrong and I'm going to have to fix it.

Secular refers to a government system, not a person. Secular is a society that has seperation of church and state. A secular person is nonsense. The word you'd probably use is practical atheist.

Then you use secularism like it is a philisophy. It isn't.

Um... logic isn't a process to discover truth. Logic is a method that uses certain rules to eliminate possibilites.

There isn't a "higher form". Logic is without judgement. What people use is though and reason.

Actually you are miscontruing Gould. You can't prove a system is true without resorting to another system. Which means that in the end all beliefs have to be proven with reality. The only belief that can't be proven is that reality is real and the like.

So your arguments only work for people who believe them? That fails the basic criteria of what the word argument even means!

Your Jazz example fails. There are several important differances.
1 "Faith". The word is used with two differant meanings. In the case of Jazz it is accepting the word of people who are experts in the field that you will grow to like x. In religion it is accepting that x is true. One is about trust and one is about knowledge.
2 Subject matter. Music exists. Even if you don't like other peoples taste, you agree that they are listening to music. By contrast God sn't a physical thing.
3 Experience. People who are experts in music have listened to music, composed music, etc. By contrast experts in religion have... not done anything God related. Mystical experiences, written proofs, memorizing holy texts and the like are not exactly the subject matter. For an example of what DOES count read the New Testament.
4 Levels of music. Music has no objective qualification aside from if people like it or not. There is no higher or lower form. There is differant and unusual, but relativism is true about music.
5 Deeper meaning. How do you know that there is a deeper meaning to the music? If you had listened and kept on listening without having heard of the deeper meaning would you have found it? Or is it all in your head- the find something because you are looking for it effect.

Elitism isn't necesarily bad, so don't knock yourself. There can only be one! Or, if you haven't heard of highlander just remember that not everyone can be above average

That's it. All your arguments fail. Sorry.

5/02/2008 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No, no Samuel, I am sorry. I am sorry that "secular" means "of or relating to the worldly or temporal" and "not overtly or specifically religious." I also apologize that that is only the beginning of your confusion.

5/02/2008 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Anonymous said "...It's like we think we are too sophisticated to actually have to know know what we are doing..."

Reminds me of why I usually cringe at the start of someone singing "The Star Spangled Banner"... not because of the song of course, but because of what is almost sure to come... 'Interpretive' warbling 'ohhHHaheEHOooo''s vibratoing through every word that ends in a vowel.

The soul and spirit of the song is lost to amateur 'vocal stylists' young and old, showing how much they don't know that they don't gno.

5/02/2008 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

BFD Skinner said "Actually you are miscontruing Gould." and "There can only be one! Or, if you haven't heard of highlander..."

Sums up your eLightism.

Gödel. "There can be only One!"

Enjoy your wizdumb, lowlander.

5/02/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Hehe - I just now saw the "Sea Battle" title on that painting.

Van - I'm glad you liked the painting!

5/02/2008 07:10:00 PM  
Anonymous macleod said...

"I'm sorry, but you've got somethings wrong and I'm going to have to fix it."

Seizing the sword, acting the warrior, driven by unknown afflictions. Who's the driver? How to remember? Sammy can't find his keys...

5/02/2008 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
Secular is "of this world". Secularism is the political philosophy. You call Nancy Pelosi secular and then you refer to a fundamental Truth for which "secularism cannot account because it's not countable." However, even if this covers the being concerned with this world definition, it is still bunk. You see being concerned with this world does NOT imply that you are only concerned with things that can be counted or measured.

So it I am wrong about the definition than you made a straw man instead. You know the classic "do you believe in love?".

It is nice to see that the rest of my responce isn't obviously flawed. Since you can't come up with a responce... well, you aren't the poster- we will see what he has to say.

5/02/2008 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

Samuel says, "Um... logic isn't a process to discover truth. Logic is a method that uses certain rules to eliminate possibilites."

The standard definition of a logically valid argument is that it is valid if, were the premises to be true, the conclusion would have to be true, too. This definition is certainly tied to the idea of truth and not to eliminating possibilities.

5/02/2008 08:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Samuel:

You sound like you have it pretty well figured out. What's a sharp fellow like you doing at a blog like this, where they don't even know how to spell properly, and probably can't follow your subtle arguments anyway?

5/02/2008 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul G said...

Samuel said: "...One is about trust and one is about knowledge..."

As though the two were separable!

Hint: Personal Knowledge

5/02/2008 09:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Sam:

Would you like to guest post tomorrow? I'm sure it can be arranged with Bob. This could be a new policy: Troll Saturday, in which Bob hands over the reins to the loyal opposition and gives them a chance to really flesh out their ideas. Suggested topic: Sam I AM, and How it Got that Way.

5/02/2008 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

"So it I am wrong about the definition than you made a straw man instead. You know the classic "do you believe in love?".

It is nice to see that the rest of my responce isn't obviously flawed. Since you can't come up with a responce... well, you aren't the poster- we will see what he has to say."

?
??
???

Do you believe in making sense?

A bit of advice Sammy:
during your remaining years of high-school, get some help with constructing basic sentences in English. Be sure not to skimp on spelling either. Mastering these skills will be of great use to you when you reach adulthood.

5/02/2008 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

I have no music.

No talent for music. No voice. No rhythm. Can't carry a beat even if I'm cuffed and kicked down a flight of stairs. Hated my turn leading Jody's on the morning runs...

But I get Miles Davis.

Many years back on a Sunday afternoon, I was watching PBS. The show was a retrospective of Quincy Jones' collaboration with Miles Davis (I am not sure of the festival - it might have been Montreux) to do "something special"...

This was late in Mr. Davis life. From the first moment he appeared on the tape it was almost as if he was on another plane, a level entirely removed from the other artists on the stage with him. This is not to say he appeared detached. It was like he was making a conscious effort to be a part of the group and that it was obviously costing him, burdening him... but that was cool, because his part was coming up soon.

I was just minding my own business, sitting there with a frosty glass of iced tea watching and listening to the set unfold on the box when the music slowed down a heartbeat and Miles blew his first note..

.. or two or four notes. I sat up straight, thinking I'd been a victim of bad editing.

But no, the horn player standing next to Davis on the stage looked as if he'd just noticed a halo over Davis' head. The piano that had been playing behind the brass just flat stopped, but the notes kept flowing from Davis' horn.

He was looking into infinity. I swear he was playing two melodies and something else behind or through or above them that I will never be able to define but to this day I wish, WISH that I had been able to hear him play live, just once.

The piano recovered first and the bass was right there with him but the other horns just stood there with their mouths open and their instruments hanging halfway to their mouths.

My wife came running into the living room to see what had me jumping up and down in front of the couch going "wowwowowowowow!"...

Call me excitable. Don't even get me started about faith. Milky Way from mid Pacific, kittens, and seven years without a beer are just three of the many proofs of deity I can relate.

5/02/2008 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

tmjutah "...to this day I wish, WISH that I had been able to hear him play live..."

I think you did, man.

5/02/2008 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Has Andrew Walden been reading OC this past week?

"Today, as in the Civil War, Logos is on the side of freedom. And in spite of the secular media effort to obfuscate, Benedict's message couldn't be clearer: Logos rises to defend against the secular call for submission to the Chaos unleashed by Islam."

Pope Benedict, Logos, Chaos, and Freedom

http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/05/
pope_benedict_logos_chaos_and.html

5/02/2008 10:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
A logically valid argument follows those rules. Logic itself though is a tool that relies on certain assumptions. To be fair, it is concievable that these assumptions can be wrong (something can't be a and not a at the same time).

Trust is based on previous experience. However, when people talk about "faith in god" they are talking about trusting God AND the believing he exists.

As for trust being an essential part of knowledge... trust only goes so far. We tend to trust scientists because they have delievered. Admitadly we get things that evade peer review (cold fusion), but in general when you read a science textbook, or use any piece of technology it should be irrelevant who came up with it.

Religion by contrast has not showed such progress. While the arts aren't something that have definate goods and bads, they do accumulate and get more and more different types of music.

Religion by contrast has showed no improvement- only an insane variety of scatering more like that painting or music. This isn't surprising since these fields are loosely attached to reality and can spread out more. There is only best way to make a car- but there is an unlimited number of ways to write a poem.

However, this implies religion isn't true. Sorry.

If you really view me as a troll, I'll stop responding- just say so. For the record I am not the "loyal opposition"- I am ONE of the oppositions. After all you have all the other religious people- a good number to whom you are heretics.

Personally I get a kick out of muslims- sure they might bring down Europe because the fools are so Leftist they have forgotten the whole idea of truth, but you have to like it when their apologists congradulate atheists for having the first part of "there is no God" down right.

5/02/2008 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

This entry caused me to spend a pleasant hour with the Hardanger Fiddle music of my homeland. Legend says that even tuning this double-layer fiddle requires supernatural assistance, and (this may or may not be legend) that the master fiddlers practiced until their fingers bled. To young urbanites today, it all sounds like cats wailing.

It is fascinating that in the near future, this whole musical realm may be a ghost town. All the beauty of generations will still be there, but no one will be able to appreciate it.

There are probably spiritual paths that have been similarly deserted. Portals closed forever, once opening into rich, elaborately carved realms of the soul. There the faithful would receive blessing and wisdom, but now only silence and dust reigns.

Even the paths to the timeless may be lost in time. "Use it or lose it."

5/03/2008 12:51:00 AM  
Blogger Dougman said...

"Lies are your weapon and your shield. If you aren't a pawn of satan, you might as well be."

I could forgive him if he repents.
Just think of all the souls he has in his possession.
A Multitude, dude!

5/03/2008 06:04:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

Samual says, "A logically valid argument follows those rules. Logic itself though is a tool that relies on certain assumptions. To be fair, it is concievable that these assumptions can be wrong (something can't be a and not a at the same time)."

I guess this is a response to me when I attacked your claim that "logic isn't a process to discover truth. Logic is a method that uses certain rules to eliminate possibilites."

Exactly how what you said is supposed to refute me is unclear. There are so many unstated assumptions and steps in your response that I might go very wrong trying to reconstruct your reasoning.

So how about being as explicit as possible? Why exactly should I believe that logic's goal is eliminating possibilities rather than discovering the truth?

5/03/2008 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Why did bfd skinner lose his blue? At any rate, it said "Logic is a method that uses certain rules to eliminate possibilites.", in other words skinbone buys into the mindset of last weeks Falsifiability exchange. In other words, it has nothing to say.

5/03/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
I was nit picking. Mostly logic works by eliminating things as impossible or showing that nothing else, but x can be true given premise a... well you get the idea.

If those nit pickings where wrong, than I am sorry. However would you look at the rest of the argument? You know, the part that adresses his Jazz anology.

5/03/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger AFFA said...

Hey, Magnus Itland! I remember you from alt.games.daggerfall. In one of those coincidences, I ended up working on Morrowind before swearing, once again, that I would never take another job in the video game industry. So now I'm working for Icarus Studios. There may be a tiny bit of Van Morrison in me.

The samples of hardingfele I could find did not sound like cats wailing. For instance:
Hardingfele(Norwegian violin)

I may be primed for it in a way that I am not primed for Shuon or Bion or half of what Bob writes here. I've heard a little of it before:
Bukkene Bruse
Grieg Piano Concerto (The main theme is very similar to one of the hardingfele songs I found.)

And I've been listening to stuff like this recently:
Lumsk - Trolltind
Alamaailman Vasarat - Astiatehdas (I realize they are not from Norway, but my "cats wailing" filter may have been damaged by them, as well as Hazmat Modine.)

I "discovered" post-bop mostly via Wayne Shorter when I finally realized the sax players from A Night in Tunisia, Hallucination Engine, Search for the New Land, and Black Market were the same guy. Naturally, I had to get all his other albums. But I'm not familiar with Andrew Hill. And I only just now realized who Bobby Hutcherson is after looking him up (oh, the mallet players from One Step Beyond, Destination...Out!, and Life Time are the same guy).

A very few samples are available on YouTube, somewhat to my surprise:
Miles Davis - Herbie Hancock - Wayne Shorter - Ron Carter

Magnus Itland wrote:
"It is fascinating that in the near future, this whole musical realm may be a ghost town. All the beauty of generations will still be there, but no one will be able to appreciate it.

There are probably spiritual paths that have been similarly deserted. Portals closed forever, once opening into rich, elaborately carved realms of the soul. There the faithful would receive blessing and wisdom, but now only silence and dust reigns."

Even the most dynamic translations of myths and stories seem alien today. "Joy rose in his heart" makes sense today, but "mercy exploded in his nose" seems silly or wrong. Ancient people seemed to think of emotions as something more like external demonic possession. Perhaps early civilizations had less time to build in resistance to culturally incorrect mind parasites. In any case, I find it very difficult to think like an Ancient Greek, much less an Aztec or Sumerian.

I have an archaeoastronomy hobby, so it's obvious to me that many myths assume the receiver knows what the night sky looks like (especially the shape of the milky way), how the heavens rotate over the course of the night (and that it doesn't rotate on "true" north), how the planets move over one year and many years (why Venus is associated with a five-sided star), and even the procession of equinoxes. Most people reading these myths will misunderstand astronomical references due to how "common knowledge" has changed over the years, but at least this sort of lost knowledge is recoverable.

Spiritual knowledge may be resistant to getting "lost." Religious movements seem to arise spontaneously, and yet they share similarities with other religious movements from distant times and places. You can't keep knowledge down. It's not the kind of progress that Samuel is looking for, although religions certainly "accumulate and get ... different types." It's a variation on several themes. Some themes are timeless truths and some are worldly distortions, but the same set of themes occur again and again with only minor variations. I do not believe in secular exceptionalism to this.

The internet will likely help keep things like Hardanger Fiddle alive. It's been a blessing to me. I used to go for years without finding any new bands I liked. Now I can't afford to buy even ten percent the crass, materialistic CDs I want.

5/04/2008 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

That was quite an unexpected reunion! It has been some years, but I can assure you that the nymphs have still not gotten hold of the Staff of Magnus...

It is indeed striking how the revelation-based religion will appear over and over, albeit with certain variations. Some refer to it as "perennial religion", I see, probably in comparison to perennial plants that grow back after the dark season.

Even so, each new iteration is different. There is much to say about this, but I am surely not the right person to say it.

Hopefully I can find some more of your observations elsewhere? I tried following the Blogger name link, but only got some statistics.

5/05/2008 06:02:00 AM  

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