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Values vs Impulses

We need to rediscover respect for some personal values in our lives. It is difficult living in a world changing so quickly. Surrounded by influences that can be detrimental to this. But it is our only hope I think, to fall back on some basic sense of personal integrity. We cannot sit back complacently, thinking technological progress can fill the void of having a personal conscience, by some sort of group consensus on what is “objectively” right and wrong. Right and wrong is always a disputed terrain where we must negotiate and compromise. To do so we need to learn the art of negotiating and compromising reasonably, on our thoughts, values, ideas and beliefs.

Technology and science are not solutions to any of our moral problems, anymore than are drugs. Both are a distraction from dealing with our problems. Virtual reality will be the new distraction for people. The more we delay facing up to our problems, the more our ability to deal with them will atrophy, and so the more difficult it will be to ever face them. A point of no return will be reached if we are not careful. For many unfortunate people out there such a point has probably already been reached.

A lot of factors make things difficult. The sheer numbers of people on the planet. The sheer amount of information circling out there for us to take in. And many other factors such as the lack of good family or educational support. On top of all this there are many people out there whose express intention is to manipulate us and use us as mere commodity consumers for their own gain. An awful lot of predation amongst human beings that takes a lot of training to gain awareness of the tactics.

So the starting point I feel is to find some core values and hold to them with consistency and integrity. In a world increasingly obsessed with finding physical impulses for human actions, cause and effect chains where we shift the responsibility to some prior cause out of our control. I.e. Poverty lead me to steal from that house, or mental illness caused by family members genetics lead me to be depressed, and so on and so forth. All this passing the buck sometime has to stop. And oftentimes the buck has to stop with us. This is where core values come in. Be driven forward by your values that you can choose, not dragged around by impulses that you can’t control. Sounds like a good starting point to me.

 

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Cultural Death

So western civilisation is collapsing, this is the unavoidable premise.

The conclusion? The world may be better off in our demise.

They can take the good we provided without the bad

no thanks, no gratefulness, of course not, there is never such,

people are opportunists, people never respect the trend setters.

Once they have set the trend, others can displace them.

This is the reality, this is what will happen,

unless western civilisation decides to fight back,

and take us all out in a nuclear wipeout.

I feel indifferent to either result,

as both entail the death of my culture,

and by proxy, the death of me.

Unless I can break out of my cultural binds,

maybe, possibly, though very unlikely,

too little on offer, too much to lose.

We will see, we will see,

we had a good innings,

now we are displaced,

by those we set free.

 

BOOK REVIEW Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science by Will Storr

The description of this book is misleading, as it suggests he is a typical narrow minded debunker of alternative ideas who thinks a bit too much of himself, which is what initially turned me off the idea of reading this book. But this is not the way this book is written at all. It is not looking to exploit that easy money making market, at least not in the content, but maybe it is done to bait people in of that frame of mind. For he exposes, not specifically belief as opposed to supposed hard-headed science. Instead he exposes the human fallibilities on both sides of this debate.

From David Irving, to James Randi, we are all susceptible to positive bias in the promotion of our own values and beliefs. And there is often as much danger in trying to enforce or pretend there is a strict scientific agreement on the facts when there isn’t, as there is in engaging in poor scientific reasoning. For an error, that has the look of authority and legitimacy can be all the more dangerous. It was a refreshing read, and I hope for more thinking along these lines, as it is high time we moved past the era of dogmatic debunkers.

These people were fabricating as dangerous an illusion for us, as those they claimed to debunk. We need to learn to be more willing to accept some uncertainty regarding many things about the world. The Randi prize is exposed in this book to my mind as a fraudulent publicity stunt and nothing more. From someone with a past history as a stage magician, it shouldn’t come as any surprise he would be good at tricking people!

Not to take anything from him, as people were happy to be taken in by his trick, and that is testament to their own gullibility, and a warning to us all of how we live as always in a much muddier reality than we might like to think and believe. And that accordingly we should not be so quick to discount all “heretic” figures, for such figures are required to stop the thinking itself of our civilisation from becoming stale and stagnant.

Truth

I was watching a podcast from some while ago between Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson, in which they got stuck on a disagreement about truth, which basically meant they could not get round to discussing anything else. This is how important the concept of truth is. If we don’t have some agreement on what it is, then we have no ground for a reasonable and fairly conducted discussion or debate. But how much can we actually agree about regarding this concept?

The post modernists tried to undermine the basis for this concept with their notion of cultural relativism and social constructionism of all values. This was to include the value of truth, which was to be subsumed under power relations of who controls the dialogue. It was to be reduced to a completely illegitimate notion of forcing ones view on others. And the game was simply for us to expose the way in which notions had been illegitimately forced upon us. Unfortunately they didn’t think about what we would do to replace the values once we had deconstructed them all. And so, rather than some standards of debate being agreed upon, when we have an intellectual disagreement with someone now, we assume our only recourse is to resort to the use of force in some way.

This is how bad things have got for the concept of truth. This is how dangerous it is when we lose orientation relative to some mutually agreed upon notion of truth.

So what is there we can do about this? Is there anything we can agree upon about the notion of truth? It is not enough to just appeal to the authority of experts, or to appeal to the authority of statistics, or bare facts, as if these things ever speak for themselves, when in reality there is always a large aspect of interpretation involved that undermines their claim to a clear and simple objectivity and neutrality. So where is truth to be found, a legitimate philosophical truth?

I think it can only be found by acknowledging the process of reasoning always relies on premises, including some basic premises that we cannot prove, but must assume to be correct. So many bad claims to truth come from people who try to pretend their basic assumptions are not assumptions at all. They try to cover up their basic principles and not leave them open to debate and discussion. This is a problem. It gives a sense of logical certainty where all there is is a psychological conviction held for one reason or another. If we don’t acknowledge this basis, we deny our own convictions, if we deny our own convictions how can we possibly engage in a reasonable debate about them?

We need to stop trying to “cheat” the reasoning process by thinking we somehow with our truths/beliefs can bypass this process, due to the special status of our claims. There is no special status or authority for our claims, there is only some basic principles we adhere to and that we find other people to adhere to. It might appear this reduces truth to a matter of consensus, but this ignores the fact that the way we come to form our basic principles is far from arbitrary. It does not happen in a vacuum, but is largely informed by a reality surrounding us that we share. This combination of truth informed by a surrounding reality we are receptive to, and by some common principles we come to adhere to is for me the only basis for stable and reasonable discussion that can progress in a fair and critical way.

Free Spirit

Life has been for me a constant struggle,

in the face of a torrent of negativity

I have held on to a positive ideal.

It is a lonely unrewarding road that I follow.

I may die poor. I may die unfulfilled,

but I will die with a spirit as free as when I was born,

this is what matters most to me.

A Passenger

Can’t let it go, the wrongs that can never be righted

Forever I hold on to a grudge turned benighted.

Whichever way I turn brings up the same stale trash

I am never in the driving seat, so I always crash.

A passenger as my own life inexorably passes me by.

Cold reality crushes the dreams in which I can fly.

 

I see all the tricks and all the sleights of hand,

in which others engage, they think they are clever, to me they are bland.

I see myself reacting with anger and cannot hold back

Fakery and duplicity I won’t give any slack.

A witness to my life seeping away with each agitation,

with each drink to limit my cogitation.

 

 

 

A New World

where are we going, what are we doing

an aimless narrative forever ensuing.

I feel I have seen all there is to provide

from this world in which I reside.

I strive for something new

some different sense of what is true.

Not the same old patterns,

my emotions predictably flattened.

A new horizon, a new vision

to save me from an awful decision

A new vista opened up to me

where I can be true and free.

no constrictions, expectations, roles

just limitless aspirations and goals