virus: Re: virus-digest V3 #48

Reed Konsler (
Fri, 19 Feb 1999 14:32:37 -0500

>Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 20:30:50 EST
>Subject: Re: virus: Take off the masks

>I think it is unfortunate that you are skipping that. Those aren't just
>floating abstractions. I was describing to you how I think, which I
>understand to be the crux of most of your misundertandings about me...


>It is at least entertaining to parade around your "logic nazi",
>where trying to reasonably explain myself has been only futile.

That would be YOUR "logic nazi" not mine. You made that unwholesome beast and it is all yours. I don't agree with it and I want nothing to do with it. Your goosestepping parody gives me chills...I mean it, it makes me physically ill to look at this screen with those words on it.

>Well, its like taking drugs. Other than caffeine, I can live without them.

You cannot. As an organic chemist, I can tell you that your body produces all kinds of drugs. Endogenenosly produced drugs are called insulin. There is no difference between synthetic and natural. If you think some of them aren't psycotropic then you haven't read much science. What do you think dopamine receptors are for? As they say, "pick your poison". You can deal with what God gave you, or you can go extropian and take advantage of technology. Which is the path of the luddite?

>If somebody were to ask my honest opinion about having a drug habit, I would
>have to say that they are generally not good things to have. But I also think
>it is wrong to coercively deny people drugs if that is what they really want,
>and I don't generally mind if other people use them.

That's foolishly tolerant of you. You should study drugs and recommend the ones you like while recommending against the ones you don't. That's courage.

>>>I think you're being disingenious. You think there is something wrong
>faith, or you wouldn't be so adverse to it.<<
>I wasn't being disingenuous. I only said it wasn't horrendous. I am not "so
>adverse", but I am not going to endorse it either.

Wishy washy? I can't beleive it.

>>>Going to school, holding down a job, being rational...all of these things
>are both limiting and a sense. Unnecessary to what, though?
>What is the purpose? You have to know what you goals are before you can
>determine what the necessary and sufficient conditions for fulfilment are.<<
>True enough. But who and what we are, will determine some general purposes
>for all people. All humans must eat. All humans need some sense of meaning.
>All humans need some familiarity with their environment and some knowlege
>about how the universe operates. Humanity collectively needs progress, or we
>will seal our own extinction. Far be it from me to dictate what people
>*should* be doing with their lives, or what their purposes *should be*. And
>certainly I wouldn't ever try to write another person's narrative for them.
>But there is enough commonality between humans, and we are in enough of a
>prisoner's dillema collectively, that I AM still going to participate in
>establishing normatives, and I will not withhold my judgements on these things
>merely to seem tolerant to a fault.

That's wonderful. I totally agree, and completely. I can think of better ways of describing the human condition than "Prisoner's Dillema" as I don't view life as a prison, nor my fellow humans as criminals. But other than some style points, I'm with you.

>I generally think having faith is not a good thing.


>Neither is smoking tobacco, or drinking alcohol excessively. Neither
>is having indiscriminate unprotected sex. Neither is illiteracy, or
>homophobia, or racism.

Making a list of bad things does not imply that they are in any way realted, other than according to your own personal ideosyncratic viewpoint. To make a logical argument, you would have to establish HOW these things are related. Even so, it would be a weak argument becuase many pairs of structures have strong relationships without having the same consequence. It would be better to build an argument showing how the disadvantages of faith outweigh the advantages. We could then determine what evidence we will allow into the record, and so on.

>I am not going to condemn people to hell for these things, nor do I think it is
>appropriate to legislate coercion against these behaviors and thoughts. I may
>even be good friends with people who I know variously engage in these things.
>But if somebody asks me, "Is this good?" then I am probably going to tell
>them, and if I think it is otherwise appropriate, I may volunteer as well.

No argument. I'm not trying to shut you up, limit your rights or abrogate your will. I'm asking you to tell me what is wrong with faith that you would feel the need to say that it isn't good.

Could faith be good in some specific context? Can you imagine a context in which faith would be a good thing to have?

>I don't see any good purposes that faith furthers.

Human decency? Altruism? Kindness? Mercy? A positive outlook on ones fellow human beings? Sense of duty to the collective? These are just some things off the top of my head, I'm sure you can think of others.

Yes, I would have to establish that Faith DOES further these things AND that they are advantageous, just as you would have to establish that Faith DOES further other things, AND that these other things would be disadvantageous. Do you have any idea how long that debate has been ongoing? If you out argued me here, in the forum, what does that prove of the greater reality.?

>In fact I think it limits people in the pursuit of things good,
>both individually, and humanity collectively.


>I still think that the greatest good can tolerate lots, perhaps
>even most people having faith. But the fewer people that cop out to it, or
>feel the need to cop out to it, the better. There are far greater problems in
>the world than people falling back on the crutches of faith, but that doesn't
>stop me from saying my peace about it.

But why? What purpose does your peace serve?

>>>As Yoda says: "Fear, hatred, aggression, these lead to the darkside".<<
>What about a lack of a sense of humor?

I don't think he said much about that, but my wife says she married me for mine.

>>>Think, for a moment, of the symbolism Jake. You have changed yourself
>from a "MemeLab" to a "LogicNazi". Is that a movement towards reason?
>towards goodness? I think you will agree it isn't.<<
>I think of it as a move toward parody, which is occassionally necessary in
>dealing with people who take themselves to seriously. I didn't stop calling
>myself "Jake" did I?

Poor joke, IMHO.

>>>What are you without <reason>? I think you are still Jake. No one
>here is trying to hurt you. Take off the masks.<<
>Sorry buddy, masks are just part of life, and we are all always wearing one or
>another whether we think we are or not.

I take your point. And yet, there is a sense in which that is not true. It is most important not to confuse the masks with who you are.

>Do you think my name is "Jake" in real life? Do you think I am the same
>person today that I was five years ago? Do you think I will be the same
>person five years from now? Do you think that "Jake" is the same person that
>talks to my criminal defendant clients? Do you think that is the same person
>that talks to a district attorney, or a judge, or my father, or my wife?

I don't know. I don't have any evidence to base an opinion on. As this is the first you've mentioned it, I'd rather let you tell me.

>Do you deny that we all have, not a single persona, but a repetoire of
>personalities that we present to the world and ourselves? Personalities are
>just learned modes of behavior, and we all have many, and no single one is
>"who we are". We are all a collection of masks, and the thing that lies
>behind them all is not a single personality. This isn't about personal pain
>or fear as you imagine with your, "no one is trying to hurt you".
>Personalities are shallow things. Though they can feel pain and we truly feel
>their pain, but they can only be actually be damaged in the lack something

While I understand your perspective, and accept it's relevance...I make the following assertion:

There is one I, the purposeful essence, which persists through time. Perhaps that is faith? If so, it does serve some use. For instance, this faith allows the future me to fulfill promises and contracts which I make in the past. Would you disabuse me of this delusion? I have a soul. When I marry, it is my soul and not my mind or body which is is a contract of my very essence. Tell this to your wife, and then tell her you think it is irrelevant mystical mumbo jumbo.

>The things that hold it all together in coherence are value, rationality,
>narrative, and worldview. I will tell you if I think of any more, but that
>sounds like a powerful list to me. Everybody, even the faithful, engage ALL
>these elements.

By definition. No argument is necessary on that point, and there never was any.

>When we start compromising on those things, we start compromising
>who we are.

I'm sorry, what things? In what way does faith do what you are implying? You're getting too abstract again. Perhaps if you gave me an example... you have some familiarity with Law?...a hypothetical to focus our discussion.

>That's what I think about this "Level 3" business. You may play at imagining
>other world-views that conflict with your own, or a more "rationally impaired"
>version of yourself, or a human with different values and goals in life. You
>may have some real acting talent. It may *seem* genuine to you. And all of
>that is fine and good, and perhaps even healthy. But the moment it does
>indeed become genuine, you have compromised yourself.

You know, I can understand what you mean by that. And? So what? What is the negative consequence?

>If that's what this about, then I remain happy about sticking to my "level 2"
>ways, whatever that means. In its best form, this sounds like a heathy
>extension of theater. I like to look at things in the best light. But the
>more you folks describe this as a "genuine" thing, and not just a "seems
>genuine" thing, the less respect I have for it.

Are laws "genuine" things or do they just "seem genuine"? Do you have respect for law? What is The Constitution but a tattered old bit of vellum? And yet WE HAVE FAITH in The Constitution. We put our trust in the legal system (in spite of all the evidence that lawyers, judges, and litigants successfully abuse it) and are repayed with the most civil and dynamic society on Earth, ever. We live in an exuberant time, an abundant time, thanks to the interlocking webs of faith, trust...implicit in our every interaction.

When we cross the street with the light, when we swipe a credit card and buy something we can't afford, when we pay estimated taxes, when we stop for a police officer becuase we have FAITH that an officer must have a valid reason for stopping us.

You're like a child who has been given everything and feels that daddy never *really* loved you. What do you expect? What do you think FAITH is...some magical power? It isn't, it's just a way of algebra. What is so hard to understand in that? I'm sorry if I seem exasperated, but I don't know how to be more clear. I'm not infinitely resourceful. If you don't want to understand you don't have to.

Words cannot bind you unless you let them.


  Reed Konsler