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  •  This was my first reaction to the language (7+ / 0-)

    of this diary as well.  I agree with the meat of your contentions, but I have one substantive disagreement and also an offer that your view could be modified without giving up on the important points you make.

    First, I disagree with equating fundamentalism with religion, which I believe you have done.  I think of fundamentalism as any kind of ideological basis of decision-making. More precisely, I think of fundamentalism in physiological terms as being physically addicted to the emotion of feeling that one is right. One feeds this addiction by inducing the feeling of being right at will through the practice of invoking "truths" which one has convinced oneself are infallible.  By my definition, would-be rationalists can be just as fundamentalist as Christians.  Such people would believe their claims always to be based on logic without taking into account what neuroscience has told us about the effect emotions have in determining thoughts which we deluded into thinking are the result of a rational thought process.  In short, it has been well demonstrated that the feeling of being right is an involuntary emotion.  Anyway who fails to understand and correct for this tendency in themselves is subject to quite a bit of fundamentalist belief.  That includes most of us, I'm afraid.

    More generally, while it is certainly dangerous to forget the basic principles you have enumerated, it is also important to employ emotion in support of a cause.  People will never be purely logical.  We are emotional creatures.  My guess is that there is really little practical disagreement between teacherken and you when it comes to applying the principles you state.  Another way of saying this is that some forms of propaganda are employed because they are effective.  Just because the right and fundamentalists take into account what makes humans tick when arguing persuasively, that doesn't necessarily put others who use similar techniques in the same category.

    In other words, I agree with your contentions for the most part.  Practically, I don't think there is much to be gained from arguing them here.  I would suggest that a gentle reminder of these truths would be sufficient.

    We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.

    by geomoo on Wed May 05, 2010 at 02:08:25 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  The combination of "sacred" and "fundamentalist" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AaronInSanDiego, Lonely Texan

      clearly evoke, and are likely meant to evoke, religious connotations.

      Emotion properly follows reason, not the other way around.

      That is precisely the distinction between belief-based and rational thinking. The former starts with an irrational conclusion emotionally held without analysis, and refuses to entertain contradictory evidence.

      The latter draws conclusions in response to evidence. Once those conclusions are established, defending them passionately is appropriate.

      However, a rational thinker, by definition, is open to the possibility of being wrong, in which case they must accept that their emotional attachment to a conclusion must yield to the empirical truth.

      The scientific method and critical thinking were developed precisely to compensate for the human propensity to act based on emotion. Science has developed pretty sophisticated ways to avoid letting emotion override evidence.

      It has, in fact, been demonstrated that we are not prisoners of emotion, but rather that our unique status as thinking animals grants us the ability to overcome instinct and emotion and make rational choices.

      Denying that is to deny the full measure of human progress in the past two hundred years, which is considerable.

      All of which is really beside the point, which was that using "fundamentalist" as a badge of honor, and referring to the Constitution as "sacred", and boasting about being unwilling to even discuss the absolute certitude of one's fundamental convictions, are not positive attributes, and should not be applauded.

      The other point is that every single one of the desirable principles enumerated in the diary are defensible on purely empirical, logical, rational grounds - so there is no need for resorting to fundamentalism or religious fervor and terminology.

      This is not a trivial point nor a matter of semantics, in my view - it is core to the future survival of the human species.

      Telling everyone they must believe as I do, just because, will never achieve a common ground that can lead to universal adoption of humanistic principles and a progressive society.

      On the other hand, if one can rationally defend the merits of a progressive principle, and find common ground whereby people of all faiths and none, all cultures, all nationalities, languages and legacies, can agree on the objective merits of that principle - then, we truly have the basis for common human values that affirm and promote understanding and peace.

      The Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not resort to, nor require, blindly fervent devotion as a "sacred" document, nor does it promote "fundamentalist" attitudes. That is what distinguishes it from all faith-based moral codes.

      This diary's language - while it's intent is clearly well-meant - is divisive, exclusionary, and a real turn off for people like me - or anyone who doesn't admire the qualities of rigid fundamentalism or obedience to "sacred" texts.

      My argument is that it is not necessary language, in order to defend or expound the values it discusses. And, by avoiding such language, more common ground can be found.

      Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

      by RandomActsOfReason on Wed May 05, 2010 at 02:31:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Properly" has nothing to do with it. (9+ / 0-)

        Emotion properly follows reason, not the other way around.

        The fact is, and this is well proven, emotion comes first and reason matches.  This has been determined through experiment.

        Furthermore, certain types of brain abnormalities have enabled scientists to determine that, forced to choose between what they know rationally to be true and what they feel to be true, people invariably choose what they feel to be true.  For just one example, some people have damage to a part of their brain that takes from them the emotion, or sensation, of things feeling familiar.  Such people may see a large piece of furniture which they have long owned and enjoyed, and they claim that this is not their furniture.  If it is pointed out that everything about the piece of furniture is identical, they will agree.  If it is pointed out that the piece of furniture is too large and heavy to have been removed and replaced, they will agree.  If it is pointed out that it would be impossible for someone to match the flaws so precisely, they will agree.  They will say, "I know it doesn't make any sense and it is impossible."  But they remain certain that they are right, insist that they are right.  There are many other examples proving this point--emotion determines much of our thoughts.  Believing we are right is a fundamentally unreliable test of whether we are so.

        Sorry, I don't have time to continue this here.  I want to have a long conversation with you about this some time, because I think you are a rational fundamentalist, according to my definition.  Meanwhile, I highly recommend the book On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not by Robert A. Burton, M.D.  This is the diary I am writing next.

        Sorry, I really have to go.  Anyway, you've made your point.  My sympathetic suggestion is to let it rest for now.

        We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.

        by geomoo on Wed May 05, 2010 at 02:43:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Emotion does not follow reason (3+ / 0-)

        Instinctive responses come first. Instinctive survival responses go way back to primitive organisms.

        look for my DK Greenroots diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Wed May 05, 2010 at 04:39:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  For what it's worth, I totally agree with you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RandomActsOfReason
      •  I agree except for the idea that (2+ / 0-)

        "emotion properly follows reason." I think argument and action properly follow reason, but we are not purely rational in our thinking processes, and to make moral judgments about the propriety of emotions is not productive. Emotions happen, regardless of reason. How we deal with them through our speech and actions is what is important to the rest of the world.

        •  We do not disagree (0+ / 0-)

          my point is that a rational approach differs from one where we make value decisions purely based on emotion. Championing a "fundamentalist" approach to "sacred" text, in the context of the cultural framing those words lend, would tend to support the notion that we need not reflect, review critically, or even question the merit of certain assertions - merely because they appear in a "sacred" document.

          I have argued that, on the contrary, a rational approach to policymaking and setting the standards of a civilized, pluralist society is better served with a rational approach to determining the principles and core values upon which that policymaking and standard-setting are to be based.

          To use a tangible example, two possible approaches to a woman's right to choose could be: "God imbues an egg with a soul upon conception, therefore abortion is murder." Following with an emotional, unquestioning response to this belief leads to further beliefs, such as "Blastocysts are little people, they feel pain, and are crying out for our protection. Women seeking abortions are evil feminists. There is no difference between birth control or a third-trimester abortion, it's all murder".

          An alternative approach would be say, "this is a case of asserting conflicting rights, we operate according the principle that a secular, impartial legal system should determine how to adjudicate conflicting rights. and we should rely on all available evidence to determine what rights are primary (or empirically even exist) according to our secular legal system".

          To help us make this determination, we should review what scientific research has taught us about the nature of a fertilized egg and all the potential interim stages may go through en route to being born. We should take into consideration all the legal precedent that has determined what principle rights an adult citizen has, whether those rights can be ignored or violated because they, by nature of nature, carry a fertilized egg to term in their own bodies, what rights, if any, a potential citizen may have, when the rights of a citizen come into existence, what implications such a decision has for society as a whole and the long term interests of preserving and realizing the core principles upon which our legal system is based. We should also consider and hear the moral arguments of various religious doctrines - but, according to our core principles, those may not dictate secular law governing civil or human rights.

          Note how much more complicated, exhausting and difficult to even articulate the rational process is.

          So much easier to just "go with the gut".

          However, the whole foundation of the American experiment is the notion that "going with the gut" has led only to tyranny, ignorance and suffering, and that the way to ensure a stable, just society, is to rely on human's ability to reason, and, based upon rational grounds - the things we all share, such as empirical evidence, logic and prior agreements based on same  - to come to common agreement.

          It is remarkable to me how little discussion, out of hundreds of comments on this diary, actually address the substance, and how many entirely address personalities, imagined grievances, side topics, unrelated topics, or are just "attaboys".

          Where is the substantive discussion on a substantive diary? Where are the substantive rebuttals to critical responses to the diary?

          Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

          by RandomActsOfReason on Wed May 05, 2010 at 10:08:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Zero responses to substantive content (0+ / 0-)

        Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

        by RandomActsOfReason on Wed May 05, 2010 at 09:40:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We hold these truths to be self evident that all (0+ / 0-)

        men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

        Hmmm.  There is more than a bit of passion, faith, and emotion in THAT sentiment assertion regarding the fundamental rationale for our government.  

        LOL That Universal Declaration of Human Rights you refer to is I assume the one penned in 1948 for The United Nations? First line of the Preamble:

        Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

        I respectfully suggest that the Preamble of the very document that you seem to revere was clearly inspired by the earlier document I cited which did not seek to divide emotion and reason, but rather, The Declaration of Independence eloquently respected and blended both aspects of our common humanity to present an argument for governance that has inspired millions, including the Declaration you seem to like.

        Medicare for ALL, now! Join the Movement Donations 4 Grayson

        by bkamr on Thu May 06, 2010 at 12:39:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  At least someone understands that (3+ / 0-)

      anti-foundationalism is an attack on rationalism as much as an attack on religion or ideology. People seem to forget that Science, Math and Reason are ideologies in every sense of the term.

      For people unfamiliar just search the terms deconstructionism, or anti-essentialism. Their biggest targets have been science. Although I hear TINS is a biological foundationalist of sorts.

      "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

      by thethinveil on Wed May 05, 2010 at 10:06:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "anti-foundationalism"? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lonely Texan

        Who expressed such a sentiment?

        The concern raised was about use of the terms "Fundamentalist" and "sacred" in relation to a text written by people, not handed down by gods.

        How you get from there to "anti-foundationalism" is puzzling.

        As for your assertion that "Science, Math and Reason are ideologies in every sense of the term", mere assertion does not make it so.

        Science is a method of making hypotheses based on observation or logic, testing the veracity of those hypotheses by empirical experimentation, and  discarding the hypotheses if they are not supported by the evidence.

        The purpose of this endeavor is to derive useful models of the physical world. Useful in the sense that they have predictive value.

        For example, based on known orbital mechanics and basic physical principles, we can propel a spacecraft with pinpoint accuracy to another planet. We can do so repeatedly and predictably, given the same initial conditions.

        Science is prevalent because it works. There is nothing "ideological" about it, certainly not "in every sense of the word.

        To call Math an "ideology" is even more absurd.

        2 + 2 = 4 no matter what your ideological beliefs. Can you demonstrate otherwise?

        As for Reason, it is merely one of the tools in the scientific method and critical thinking toolkits.

        If you assert that these are mere "ideologies", I challenge you to defy any accepted theory of science.

        For example, jump from a tall building and believe gravity does not apply.

        For people unfamiliar with the use of impressive terms to make unfounded illogical arguments, just read the comment above this one.

        Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

        by RandomActsOfReason on Wed May 05, 2010 at 10:52:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joanneleon

          I wasn't attacking only your argument, just as I was thinking that most here didn't really understand what the argument was.  

          Ideology, under the common definition is a set of beliefs that support a group of practices.

          For example whether you find it good practice to jump off a roof or find it incomprehensible because it will lead to death.

          Those who find it incomprehensible are believers in the laws of nature as fundamental to experience, or, in other words, foundational.

          Again, if you want to learn more please read up on the genesis of the argument that TINS is making, it would be helpful for you to know what you are talking about.

          "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

          by thethinveil on Wed May 05, 2010 at 11:20:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The consequences of jumping off the roof (0+ / 0-)

            are the same, no matter what you believe about it.

            That information provided free of charge courtesy of science, math and reason, none of which are an ideology, each of which are means to test beliefs against reality.

            Proven to be 100% effective whenever consistently applied correctly according to directions.

            Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

            by RandomActsOfReason on Wed May 05, 2010 at 11:36:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Congrats, you found out you are a fundamentalist (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              joanneleon

              You justify your belief with what is called fundamental or foundational axioms, a belief in irrefutable empirical induction, what you consider to be proof. That is the only objective rendering of your argument.

              "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

              by thethinveil on Wed May 05, 2010 at 11:43:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not at all. In the presence of contrary evidence (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Lonely Texan

                there is no conclusion which I will not amend as a result.

                That is the opposite of fundamentalism.

                My reliance on empirical induction is a practical result of an unbroken history of countless instances of efficacy, and exactly zero examples of failure, throughout the entire scope of human history of which I am aware.

                If you present me with a single example of the failure of empirical induction as a metholody for constructing useful models of the physical world - useful in the sense of its predictive value, I will no longer consider it as a safe bet.

                Science is not about absolute certainty, it is about utility. At a certain point, 0.00000000000000000001% probability becomes, for all intents and purposes, the same as certainty - except that it still provides the possibility of revision in the face of proof of error.

                In practice, jumping off the roof produces predictable results. You are free to claim otherwise, but until and unless you are willing to put your body where your mouth is, it is mere dogmatic assertion. Ironic that you seek to condemn rationalism using rationalist argumentation tools such as logic, yet won't go all the way and back up mere assertion with evidence.

                Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

                by RandomActsOfReason on Wed May 05, 2010 at 12:18:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  So therefore you have essentialized (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  joanneleon

                  a formalism, and made it fundamental.

                  If you present me with a single example of the failure of empirical induction as a metholody [sic]for constructing useful models of the physical world - useful in the sense of its predictive value, I will no longer consider it as a safe bet.

                  The only thing that can disprove empirical induction is empirical induction: a tautology typical of all ideology.

                  BTW: Here is where you are not getting the entire argument.

                  Ironic that you seek to condemn rationalism using rationalist argumentation tools such as logic, yet won't go all the way and back up mere assertion with evidence.

                  I actually am not arguing against empirical induction, or rationalism, I arguing that not all forms of fundamentalism or ideology are bad, false, or un-progressive.

                  "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

                  by thethinveil on Wed May 05, 2010 at 12:31:51 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Sorry, empirical induction as the ONLY (0+ / 0-)

                    answer to empirical induction is not a tautology but a closed system - which allows no challenger beside itself.

                    "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

                    by thethinveil on Wed May 05, 2010 at 12:35:40 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You are employing logic to disprove logic (0+ / 0-)

                      Your argument is meaningless unless one accepts the very premises you question.

                      As for your final statement, if you assert that x is not y, y being the more commonly accepted interpretation, then you need to present at least one single bit of evidence that x is not y.

                      Otherwise, you are merely asserting without substance, and, since you reject the methodology of rational thought, there is no basis upon which to evaluate the relative merits of your argument.

                      Saying, "empirical induction is a dogma, but not all dogmas are bad" s a circular argument without utility. You haven't established the veracity of your initial premise.

                      In fact, you continually make mere assertions, do not back them up with anything, and yet attack the notion of making assertions that are subject to falsification as dogmatic.

                      Your argument is faulty on its face. Of course, by neatly discrediting logic, you have made yourself immune to that charge. You have also made the conversation utterly meaningless and useless.

                      Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

                      by RandomActsOfReason on Wed May 05, 2010 at 01:21:38 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Which is exactly what all ideology does, (0+ / 0-)

                        even empirical induction, because only empirical induction and logic is accepted in the closed and fundamentalist system of empirical induction.

                        There can be no challenge to the one and true God/Church/State/Power and only God/Chruch/State/Power can make revisions.

                        Your ideology is inauthentic.

                        At least I admit to my own fundamentalism.

                        "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

                        by thethinveil on Wed May 05, 2010 at 02:13:51 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Inisting that others share your mindset (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Lonely Texan

                          is the manifestation of a closed mind. You have, indeed, demonstrated your own fundamentalism.

                          Simply asserting that all others are fundamentalist as well is not proof of anything.

                          Since you reject a priori the notion of logical proof (yet continually attempt to use it to prove your point), there is no basis for your imputation of beliefs to others.

                          If your own fundamentalism does not include even the simplest principle of not presuming to speak for all others nor presuming to be the only person to know the true truth about the world, it is trivial for me to argue that it is self-contradictory, invalid by any thought system but your own, and counterproductive.

                          It certainly is useless as far as making any predictions about the world.

                          In fact, your use of sentences in logical constructs undermines you own premise.

                          This has been fun, but useless.

                          Ultimately, you have derailed the conversation into a fruitless sophist exercise, whose only purpose seem to hypocritically tell all others they have no grounds to challenge any of your assertions, while you reserve to yourself the right to challenge everyone else's assertions.

                          If you actually argue this in your everyday life, it must be a lonely world indeed.

                          Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

                          by RandomActsOfReason on Wed May 05, 2010 at 02:48:55 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Here talking to you buddy, (0+ / 0-)

                            I have been trying to recommend you actually read elsewhere for the roots of this sophistry, your sophistry.

                            "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

                            by thethinveil on Wed May 05, 2010 at 03:13:02 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Presuming that others have not read something (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Lonely Texan

                            because they differ with your beliefs is more manifestation of your dogmatic thinking, not evidence of the ignorance of others.

                            It is also a fallacious form of argumentation.

                            Since you reject the notion that logic is valid, there is no point in even having a discussion. You make a claim based on logical principles, yet when the logical flaws in your argument are revealed, you claim to reject logic.

                            That is mere sophistry, and I have encountered the mentality many times in debates with Creationists. You apparently think you have discovered something new and wonderful, because a college professor assigned to it impressive sounding multi-syllabic words.

                            It is a tired old philosophy that was dealt with in ancient Greece, and discarded because it is sterile, impotent and useless. It leads nowhere.

                            And none of it sheds any light on the questionable values this diary promotes, nor the critiques presented to them.

                            Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Wed May 05, 2010 at 03:23:49 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I know the discussion is tiresome, (0+ / 0-)

                            its why I haven't put much effort into this discussion, made my responses short, I didn't comment in the original diary.

                            It is very very old. TINS opened it, and I was never really interested in discussing it.

                            "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

                            by thethinveil on Wed May 05, 2010 at 04:04:42 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Simpler version: you could simply be wrong (0+ / 0-)

                          your argument could be erroneous and your logic whatever it is, flawed.

                          Your dogma could be incorrect. It could be you who is inauthentic.

                          Yet you presume to tell all others that they are wrong.

                          Your philosophy is self-defeating. If not wrong, it is at least useless.

                          Since you yourself do not actually practice what you preach, your credibility is nil in any case.

                          Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

                          by RandomActsOfReason on Wed May 05, 2010 at 02:52:01 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I am not preaching it, (0+ / 0-)

                            the funny thing is that you and TINS ARE.

                            "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

                            by thethinveil on Wed May 05, 2010 at 03:11:22 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Preaching what? (0+ / 0-)

                            I came to this diary questioning the choice of the commonly understood word "fundamentalist" and "sacred" referring to text, in the light of the real-world consequences of the real-world use of those mindsets as commonly understood in the real world, including entrenchment, hostility, and, ultimately violence and hate.

                            I suggested alternatives that are less divisive and can create the foundation (note the critical distinction) for common ground.

                            I asked clarifying questions which were not answered, and I challenged an absolutist position that most definitely was preaching. (It is ironic, by the way, that you don't apply the "preaching" critique to the diarist, given the contents of the diary).

                            You have responded with sophistry and straw men, and efforts to entangle others in utterly irrelevant discussions that shed no light on the subject of this diary nor my critique.

                            I am not the one writing a diary proudly proclaiming fundamentalism. Hard to see how I am "preaching".

                            But then, you seem to use words in your own way, ignoring their common meaning, so perhaps your sympathy with the diarist is understandable.

                            Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Wed May 05, 2010 at 03:20:15 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

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