RE: virus: The Myth of a Rational CoW

carlw (
Fri, 12 Mar 1999 04:30:26 -0600

Having always envied the Cow with a wistful moo, I loved the topic (with some slight alteration). To quote Gelett Burgess:

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

What few people know is that he wrote a sequel

Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow" --
I'm sorry, now, I wrote it!
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'll kill you if you quote it.

And of course, words may always return to haunt us.

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf
> Of KMO
> Sent: Thursday, March 11, 1999 4:40 PM
> To:
> Subject: virus: The Myth a Rational CoV
> carlw wrote:
> >
> > Good grief Tim.
> >
> > First it was fullsome (not to say frenzied) favoring of the
> fantastic
> > effects of faith; then, as I collect, you followed it up by boldly
> > blustering on the beauty of belief.
> Excessive alliteration is an early indication of impending glosalalia.
> Talk about antici... PAYshun, I'm quite looking forward to witnessing
> your transformation. You'll be filled with the holy spirit,
> speakin' in
> tongues, handlin' snakes, and doing shots of arsnic by month's end.
Carefully checking my glossa for unusual symptoms, I see nothing strange. It is of course still firmly entrenched in my cheek! As for "the gifts of the spirit" the only thing with that many strings attached that I would approach would be a parachute.
> > How ever did I get the opinion that COV was
> > rational?
> Perhaps you got that idea from reading the Church of the
> Virus website.
> David's vision for the CoV was to create and disseminate a
> religion that
> would promote rational thinking about religion, but he opened the
> evolving project up to other viewpoints; other voices, and then the
> project mutated, as David new it would. He has been the most
> long-suffering proponent of strict Monday-morning rationality in this
> enterprise, and he's done it and continues to do it with grace. He's
> offered server space to folks who'd like to give shape to related
> projects, even when, like mine, they don't adhear strictly to his
> notions of rationality.
Must have been. I also received a suggestion that I should join from a more than usually sensible friend. David's idea is great, although it seems to me that the rational thinking has decreased in the year I have been parked here. I applaude the notion that a platform, to be valuable, should not be censored.

> You've been on the list long enough now that you must know that this
> advocacy of the utility of faith isn't just a phase. Those who see
> rationality as an extremely powerful and valuable means to a desired
> end, but as not the only tool in the cognitive toolbox and not an end
> unto itself, aren't likely to swear alliegence to Rationality anytime
> soon, and yet you stick around, and you spend a lot of time
> writing some
> very carefully constructed posts and listing the atrocities and
> deprivations visited on the world in the name of religion. You're
> obviously receiving some kind of reinforcement for your efforts, else
> you'd have departed after the first (few) collective
> non-response(s) to
> one of your carefully reasoned and constructed posts.

I think that the COV as originally defined is a brilliant idea. Judging by the responses, there are more than one or two people here who find my perspectives interesting, thought provoking and sometimes useful. If many giants have felt (and said) that they felt that they stood on the shoulders of giants, then presumably they saw some value in those works and tools. A study of history shows that to throw the works of your antecessors out and try to start again ex nihil only leads to you eventually starting over, but only after you have rediscovered what your predecessors knew. And then, as I said earlier, while I am here, I won't sit still and allow people to assume that I am in agreement with the assaults on reason.
> What is it that keeps you coming back?

Tricky question! On due consideration, it is not your appreciation ( :-) ), nor ERiC's incisive comments, nor even David's interesting and thought provoking letters, not Jake's sporadic posts, nor those missives from many others whose minds and work I have enjoyed nor even those few who seem to agree with me that a system that negates the value of classical tools is a system that is missing on more than one or two cylinders. I think it has to be... Joe's poetry ( ;-) which I think is generally superb, despite some comments I have made from time to time) :-/

> Anyway, time for me to get back to work.
Me too also. Enjoy yourself.

> Take care.

I always do. You too!
> -KMO

A.P.S. These are intended to be replies to some of the other letters which have poured in this evening and which I did not have time to respond to. Not particularly or even generally intended for KMO who may pick and choose as he would :-) (He usually does anyway BFG). P.S. Sorry about the full quoting. Those of us with 1.5Mb T1 connections at home sometimes forget that the bandwidth challenged are out there.... P.P.S. Please don't assume I am a Randist, that would be really embarrassing. She was the author of far to much pallid literature and vapid philosophy mixed with unsupportable social commentary for her to gain my support. Her 'philosophy' was based on the Austrian school although AFAIK she never credited them. You might recognise "The world exists, independently of our thinking and reasoning activities. This world embraces both material and mental aspects (and perhaps other sui generis dimensions, for example of law and culture). And while we might shape the world and contribute to it through our thoughts and actions, detached and objective theorizing about the world in all its aspects is nonetheless possible." That is not Rand. That is Menger speaking.
Two nudists of Dover
Being purple all over
Where munched by a cow
In mistake for Clover!
My prose may occasionally appear to be purple, it does not transform me into clover. Similarly, attempting although I try to be objective, this does not automatically make one me an objectivist. And even when one is an objectivist, this does not necessarily make one a Randist, and I am neither. While the Austrian school fathered positivism and in true Aristotelian fashion combined a radical empiricism with essentialism, I have frequently been taken to task for being too astringent and sceptical a positivist and far too aware of the di-polar nature of scientific theory for the liking of Aristotelian Randists.
P.P.P.S. My comments on contradictory attributes and quotation of philosophers of the Austrian Economic School should surely have indicated to anyone with even the slightest appreciation of philosophic schools that I cannot be classified as a classical Aristotelian. On the other hand, not all of Aristotle was obscene.
P.P.P.P.S. I deliberately chose not to reply to the cave, I may do so at a later stage still, I willingly grant that it is damnably clever, but I fear that I feel that it is so contrived as to fall into the category where there is a "false choice" offered (Have you stopped beating your wife yet?) and refuting that will take more time than I have right now. P.P.P.P.P.S. I am aware that sacred cows make the best hamburgers, so I try to barbeque mine on a regular basis. You are more then welcome to assist in the process and I will fuel the coals for you. There is no need to attempt to rake them over my head.

And on that satisfactorily circular note I will be well done ;-).

Hermit <He said smokily while thinking "Go on stealing candy from kids long enough, and you'll rot your teeth.">

I think that like a purple CoW
In all its surroundings surreal
The noise on CoV to which I bow
Is more soy meat than real veal!