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Tag Archives: Aristotle


“Reason and evidence does sweet fuck-all”

Consider the source (the video will start at the beginning part of the conversation, for proper context): Molyneux is an atheist who is 150% invested in the Western philosophical legacy, stretching all the was back to the big three—Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Admitting that reason and evidence isn’t the panacea it’s purported to be is telling. He mentioned it in previous videos, but not quite so succinctly (or profanely).

And, as I have mentioned before, the blob of people known as “society,” cannot be run on “reason and evidence,” because the effectiveness of material epistemology goes straight to zero when broadened above a small group of agents. It’s best at the individual level; when it becomes a overarching strategy, it just ends up being tradition with heavy reliance on reliable authority, i.e., nearly every scientific fact is based on the trust of another’s observations and conclusions, unless we have replicated, via the same process and with the same results. Nearly everyone reading this will not have done this for a majority of scientific facts, including myself. Most implementations of “reason and evidence” as the gold standard for a society to live within usually involve the threat of violence. It really can’t be codified another way.

And even then, individuals only engage in reason and evidence effectively when it’s in small fits and starts, on equally small-scale, easily-perceivable objects: organizing the family calendar in the coming weeks, or following a cake recipe. It can also be effective in slightly larger groups, like a team of engineers working on a propulsion system.

The ethos of “I’m a scientist. I live by logic and reason,” is an bald lie, or at least a very hairy obfuscation of terms. The scientist, like any human, lives nearly entirely on instinct, senses, rote habit, and the force of tradition. The only time he lives by his professed credo is about a quarter of the time he is engaged in his profession.

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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 15

Authors Respond to Brexit on Twitter – I am shocked—shocked—that rich elitists would sympathize with soulless bureaucracies.

Fit for a King singer faces backlash for comments on race – AKA: People are oversensitive sissies.

Aristotle’s 2400 Year Old Tomb Found at Stagira – Found next to Plato’s Cave. Anyone? Yes? No? I’ll see myself out…

Covens vs. Coders: How Witchcraft Apps are Pissing Off Real Witches – “Real” witches…

The 24 Hour Read In Is Here! – Do these authors know e-books, amazon.com, and gutenberg.org exist? Libraries should just be public access computer centers at this point.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Thug Notes Summary & Analysis – How have I not heard of these videos before?

The Empathy Industry – I’m okay with this as long as they give women prosthetic phalluses that “work” at very inopportune times.

This South American country has decriminalized all drugs for 40 years

Shifty merchants with 251 secret words for trade – “It looks like classic myth-repetition of the usual Eskimo-words-for-snow sort.”

Economists show that boys who grow up around books earn significantly more money as adults – Most economists are great at making connections with spurious logic. This seems like an example.

Doctor’s Plan for Full-Body Transplants Raises Doubts Even in Daring China – This is also suspicious.

It Took Centuries, But We Now Know the Size of the Universe – “We” are suspicious of this, too.

The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife – Totally suspicious, AKA: it’s just wishful thinking.

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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 14

The Fall of Venezuela. Prepare Yourself Accordingly. – Surprise! A socialist nation turns into a sick, broke, starving, boiling-hot dystopia.

What Are the Dreams of Blind People Like?

FDA Claims the Power to Define Words

What the Hell? – “The language you speak is the language you think, and the language can seriously hold you back from thinking the way God designed us to think.”

Plants may form memories using mad cow disease proteins – Someone get Orson Scott Card on the phone.

How to compress language

Sheryl Sandberg Admits Its Hard For Single Moms to Lean In – “Leaning in” is only possible for women who have lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of money.

Plus-Size Male Model Opens Up About Body Image Struggle – Ugh. Not the guys, too.

Another “science guy says the universe is an illusion” story – Why should I trust his conclusions?

BABYMETAL REACTS TO YOUTUBERS REACT TO BABYMETAL – Reaction videos are terrible; reaction to reaction videos, even more so. But this is the cutest thing you’ll see this week.

On despising politics – “The 10,000 citizen association that Aristotle was thinking of when he spoke of man as a political animal, or the Friary or 300 member parish that St. Thomas had in mind when speaking of the common good as the highest good can’t be scaled up six orders of magnitude to the 300,000,000+ modern USA.”

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Ayn Rand Should Be On the New Ten Dollar Bill

Story here, if you haven’t caught wind yet.

Right now there are obvious choices being talked about: Susan B. Anthony (universal suffrage is silly), Eleanor Roosevelt (wife of a former head bureaucrat) or local favorite: Rachel Carson (malaria lover).

I personally have little interest in who is picked save for one reason. However, these items listed below might appeal to the sensibilities of normal people who consider it important.

  1. She loved America, a lot.
  2. She loved money, a lot.
  3. She was an example of the Great American Dream.
  4. She wrote books set in America that are popular to this day.
  5. She was heavily rooted in Aristotle, whose philosophy helped form the basis for the West’s intellectual and political tradition.
  6. She became famous for something other than good looks.

I’d like to see Ayn Rand on the bill, or at least seriously considered, because the ensuing tornado of outrage storming through social media accounts would be terrifying and entertaining. The emotional froth would spill in from nearly every corner of the Internet, from people of every political and moral persuasion—no one really likes Rand all that much except for objectivists, and only place you’ll find an objectivist is under a rock or somewhere alone, taking themselves very, very seriously.

EDIT: Not that I considered this an original idea, but I didn’t think Time would have written about the same idea yesterday, and the top Google result for “ayn rand $10” is another blogger. Can’t wait for the TwitterInstaBook sphere to catch wind and rev up the outrage engines.

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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 4

Archie comics now has an openly gay character. Soon to come: the first character openly not caring about who other people doink.

The economics of WALL-E.

The site of Aristotle’s Lyceum is open to the public.

I like grass-fed butter, and I like coffee, so…

Math metal, lit’rally.

Yet another “man up” post for Father’s Day. No thanks. Also, he seems really into war and governments. You’re losing me, Ravi.

There is no God in Washington. Of course not—not even Ares wants anything to do with that wretched hive.

Less GMOs vs less dead Ugandan kids. I smell a civil war among white savior Facebook activists.

I’m not great with words nor philosophy, but John C. Wright explains very well a concept that I (believe) I grasp well in the abstract: materialism (atheism) is an assumption, not a conclusion made from epistemic data a posteriori as your college professor insists.

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A Quick Thought on Non-Aristotelian Epistemology

Flowin’ straight from the survival scrolls.

I’ve mentioned a few times on here, and in a roundabout way in the review of Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief, about non-Aristotelian epistemology. This is sometimes called Middle Eastern (ME) or Hebraic epistemology. ME epistemology utilizes divine revelation as a legitimate, basic form of knowledge, the same way we accept sense perception or memory or logic, etc., as presupposed methods of knowing things.

Plantinga, armed with some Aquinas and Calvin ordinance, called the working apparatus that utilizes this epistemology the sensus divinatus; our “sense of the divine”. I’m not aware of how much Plantinga knew of ME epistemology but from what I know of his ideas and the ME method, he seems to describe some version of it. If you are a Christian or any kind of religious person you accept the ME method of knowing things of the supernatural even if you don’t name it as such.

The other side of that coin is that, if someone makes any statement at all concerning the metaphysical realm, he uses the ME epistemological method to induce this. In other words, a definitive statement about metaphysical things is intrinsically a-rational, because it does not involve the Aristotelian faculties. This includes claims of atheists, who have the tendency, de rigueur, to claim religious belief as irrational. All of the philosophical dodges involving withheld judgments of God’s existence until “scientific proof” is presented are incoherent because science is unable to measure anything metaphysical. Those who maintain a “scientific, rational” mind while at the same time insist on God’s nonexistence are using non-scientific, non-rational methods to conclude it.

It’s easy if we think of ME epistemology as a sense, like sight. There are people who look and see a tree outside of the window and maybe determine some of its qualities, and there are people who look and see no tree. Both are using their eyes, even if the latter claim that eyes do not exist in the first place and that trees do not exist because they conclude that trees must be, say, felt in order to really exist.

Looking at it this way, the only ones who can legitimately claim non-use of the ME method are strong agnostics (“No one has eyes to see this concept of the tree, so we cannot say whether or not they exist.”), and possibly weak ones (“I don’t know if we have eyes or not, but if we do we may be able to figure out if tree exist.”). If one claims Aristotelian epistemological methods are the only valid ones, then a statement about the supernatural cannot be made. Such a statement would be considered incoherent. There are no eyes to determine if the tree is not there.

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Abraham Vs. Aristotle

Just pretend the other guy isn't Plato and that they're arguing. Like, the angry arguing.

I’ve been reading one guy here and another guy here and here. They talk about Hebrew/Middle Eastern (H/ME) epistemology, the existence of which I and most other Christians are aware and utilize under different names and applications. H/ME relies heavily on revelatory knowledge—our radar aimed at the metaphysical or supernatural—as a legitimate form of knowing things. Contrast this with Aristotelian epistemology that Western Civ is based on, where knowledge is acquired solely through human faculties.

Naturally, some say that these two ways of knowledge gathering are incompatible, but I think the rejections of one for the other is too hasty. They simply need proper application. We use Aristotle to apprehend the physical world, and we use H/ME to apprehend supernatural things. Someone who is wholly given to one or the other framework can just slip the other one in if they’re not cowed by their own fundamentalism. I’m making it sound like it’s buttering a slice of bread but accepting a different way of knowing things can be life-shattering in extreme cases.

Most people, without knowing it, use both already—the religious zealot “uses science” even though it’s hedged in some by his religious belief structure. Anyone who has watched more than 20 minutes of American TV programming is already aware of this type of person. But even skeptics and atheists use their sense of the divine. Coming to the conclusion that the supernatural doesn’t exist does not come about through Aristotelian ways. It comes through the skeptic’s sensus divinatus, however damaged (unrepared, really) the theist considers the skeptic’s apparatus to be, that nothing is “out there”. Logic, the senses, memories, et al., are fundamentally unable to answer questions about things outside of the universe(s). Determining anything about it, I believe, is read on the output tape spat out by the H/ME apparatus.

Even the smart Aristotelian skeptic of religion, if he isn’t hobbled by his own pride, can believe that the conclusions of theists the world over can be legitimately arrived at through the H/ME method. The theist comes to conclusions, through revelatory knowledge, about the supernatural (namely that it exists, for starters) and has not encountered real defeaters for his theistic belief. He has done his duty in just the same way the skeptic has done his, by using his sensus. The state of post-Sagan skepticism, though, is too mired in its own back-patting that admitting that theism, even if completely dead wrong, isn’t a result of neurosis or conspiracy. The generous skeptic scenario is mostly out of the picture.

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New Testament Manuscript Reliability Doesn’t Matter

A possible personification of New Testament manuscript reliability*.

There’s info online you can Giggle regarding the reliability of New Testament manuscripts compared to similar documents of antiquity. Here’s a good summary, but I saw an image on Facebook (see note way below) that diagramed the comparisons.

It’s an interesting phenomenon to note, but in most cases it won’t do much to convince skeptics. There’s a good reason for this. If, say, historians found out that Aristotle’s Poetics was written by someone else, or a group of someone elses. His (or their) ideas on ethics, metaphysics, and logic would not be diminished. That is to say that the value of the text doesn’t depend much on who wrote it. What was said is what matters.

Similarly, if it was found out that an historian like Tacitus was really a composite of other writers, it may cast some doubt on what was written in The Histories, but it won’t be much skin of the nose of most people today. Many of the events recorded may still be verifiable, but even if the author was inaccurate the consequences to everyday life are minor.

But the standards for the New Testament are different, because even if the manuscripts are reliable it doesn’t answer the question as to whether the New Testament events occurred. It proves, for example, that the copies agree with themselves but not that the recorded events described, specifically the supernatural events, had actually passed. Textual reliability is irrelevant if someone believes the supernatural is outright nonexistent. A skeptic would have to first have to believe that supernatural events, like the resurrection, are at least possible imprimus. The text doesn’t have a bearing on whether they are possible. They merely claim they occurred some time in the past.

The fact of manuscript reliability may have some effect on the skeptic if it removes a defeater for belief—as in, part of the disbelief is held in false information, particularly that New Testament documents are not reliable. But as far as “making believers” out of atheists, a lot more needs to occur, cognitively and a-cognitively, than an historical factoid.

*I originally had a diagram of New Testament manuscript reliability created by Mark Barry. I had emailed him about using the image but he had since taken it down because, in light of recent conversations, he needed to do more research before officially confirming the info in the diagram. He didn’t mention Bootsy Collins.

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