Re: virus: Show and Tell
Fri, 5 Mar 1999 13:55:32 EST

In a message dated 3/5/99 3:22:27 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

<< [Question #4: If I act as a sounding board will you go through the process of rationally scrutinizing your assumptions about faith here, out loud, for all of our benifits? Will you provide for us with a working example of what you preach?]>>

I will do what I can, and hopefully with your help.

>>>It doesn't really matter to me what faith is based on - it matters to
>me what it is. Faith is exempting in principle some representation(s)
>from rational criticism.

Okay, back up a step! You're employing circular logic based on your primary set of assumptions again. Before you say another word: STOP! THINK! QUESTION!

It's time for Show & Tell now.

Let's mull this one over for a bit, "Faith is exempting in principle some representation(s) from rational criticism." Hmmm... Okay...

Now say I wanted to rationally scrutinize this here assumption--how would I do it? (You may have to talk me through this one, Jake, this is your area of expertise not mine.) Well, we could play the "assume the opposite" game, couldn't we? Hell, that's as good a place to start as any, correct? (Am I doing this right, Jake?) So, let's assume for the sake of argument:

"Faith is something _other than_ exempting in principle some representations from rational criticism."

Now, does using this assumption (~A) lead us to a quagmire of logical inconsistancies and turn the physics of the universe on it's head? Well, does it? If so, *how* (Okay, Jake, your turn now--show me how this rational scruttiny game is played out--and be specific here, please.)<<

>From my point of view, you are being entirely too tentative. This is isn't
rocket science here. Your take on it is as entirely legitimate as mine as long as we are in agreement. Using formal logic might be a way to clear things up if they get too muddy. But ultimately the process is just informal everyday common sense.

I see two questions, one is the DEFINITION of faith, and the other is whether "Faith" under a particular definition can be good. I have already offered my definition. You could offer some definitions of your own that you think I should be considering. We can call my defintion "Faith J" for Jake since that is the one I operate on unless someone offers a clear alternative. You can offer some other defintions. At this stage "assuming the negative" is too messy. As it stands, a Hippopotamus can satisfy ~A. And as we can see, it doesn't have too much to do with the subject at hand.

Right now I will say that Faith J is my default definition, but I am willing to adopt others for the sake of argument, as long as they are clearly defined, and we consciously distinguish them from my own. So far that has been my major problem with Reed. He obviously uses the word in a different way than I do, and he remains vague about what it means, and yet sometimes he will act as if he and I are talking about the same thing.

Once we get our definitions straight, we can move on to whether faith can be a good thing. There I would think that assuming the negative might make some sense. Really, however, I think that this binary (A,~A) is a little simplistic for my tastes. I like throwing out examples instead. But if that informal way gets too muddy, we can always go back to formalizing things.

Beyond the definition problem, I would say that occurances of Faith J are more likely to be bad than good, though with a significant amount of more or less harmless occurances. I am guessing that The Hermit would come closer to saying that no occurances of Faith J are good. In terms of people, I cannot say that possession of Faith J is a virtue in any sense, though I maintain a considerable (though not unlimited) degree of tolerance on the issue. My first instinct when somebody suggests to me that their faith is a virtue, is to look for some other source of virtue in their psychological makeup, and concentrate on that instead. Perhaps the logic nazi might have a first instinct of discounting the virtue of person that claims their faith as a virtue.