Monthly Archives: January 2015

I Know Something You Don’t know… Part 2

EDIT:

I was asked to keep the earlier reported news to myself since, in their words, nothing is finalized yet. I will honor that request.

Just remember if you saw this before that it had to do with my communication with someone in the publishing field on the republishing of Lafferty’s novels. Not finalized yet… that’s pretty good though, right?

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Is Morality Arbitrary?

In the previous post below, I asked what justification, under atheistic premises, would there be for selfless behavior. To merely assume its rightness would suggest (and strongly) a Christian premise, or one derived by two thousand years of its influence. But certainly not an atheistic premise.

A reader responds with asking why the feeling of empathy is not sufficient reason. And further goes on to state that morality is arbitrary. As blog owner I’m going to arbitrarily make my comment a post, because I can, and I thought it furthered a terminated conversation. I missed the first volleys due to work and will probably be doing so again as I only have a single day off until next Thursday.

I pick up after the declaration that morality is arbitrary: And note I did not settle the question definitely but merely showed where the argument led.

So, would you agree that your desire to live and your murderer’s lust to shed your blood have equal moral status? Or the mob’s lust for your blood, say, if you were an apostate in a Islamic state? If morality is arbitrary, your protests are pointless squawkings of no more import or meaning than the arbitrary preference for Skippy peanut butter over Jif.

Except to you, but I suppose even the gazelle has some say as it falls to the ground under the lion’s teeth. But the lion also has his arbitrary say in the growl of his stomach. Neither “opinion” contradicts the other – except that the lion wins by Might.

That is the project you propose for humans with an “arbitrary morality”.

Morality as arbitrary = Might makes Right.

“We are just speaking on this particular scenario, in which I am acting in my own right.”

Cherry picking and concept stealing. You are merely hiding behind a safe action, the moral import of which only an Objectivist would disagree. You are denying morality while hiding it in your back pocket.

Tai, and I as well, were talking about universal principles of human action (more popularly known as morality). You want to stick to one action only (the safe, non-objectionable one) and then to declare the whole field of morality as invalid – which is what is meant when someone says morality is arbitrary.

You do not leave anything open for discussion. You say your question was never answered after disregarding the entire subject. This is like presenting us with a question of mathematics, but that you don’t believe in mathematics so we will have to answer you by non-mathematical means.

Tai’s response to your declaration of the arbitrariness of morality, “Well, there it is then.”, was perfectly just and the only response possible. Suppose you proposed to enter into a discussion of epistemology and as your starting premise you asked the table to accept, as an axiom, that man is a wholly determined creature of no free-will, that he functions as a falling rock functions, or as the snail-darter functions. The conversation would be wholly senseless then – everyone would, on those premises, have to believe whatever the unfathomable forces that determined his mind made him believe – and yourself likewise.

A sounder foray into the field of morality, indeed one of its founding questions, is: Are there universal principles of right action (and the resultant finding of right action which we call virtue) applicable to all men at all times or are there not? The question of whether morality is arbitrary or not reduces to: Is there morality, or is there not?

An arbitrary morality is a contradiction in terms.

You are also smuggling in a morality while declaring it arbitrary. Where did your empathetic feeling come from? And is it just that the needy have to wait for your empathy to spring up? Or are you one of the rare breeds that bleeds with the pain of the world 24/7? Don’t have a day where the world can just go piss off? Or that you are just indifferent? Bored, cynical, spent? Rolling in your own merriment (a date, perhaps) to give two hoots about some stranger’s discontent on this fine day? After all people the world over suffer everyday. Can’t you have a day off, two, three, a hundred?

If it is all arbitrary, each of those feelings are just as valid. You can’t really blame the person who can step over the homeless man without pausing to look or care. He simply has not the special feeling that unerringly compels him into action. You can’t object to him not having it any more than a psychologist can cure a depressive by screaming, “JUST BE HAPPY!”

And there is certainly nothing to say to the person who takes advantage of the person in need (robbery, murder, etc) he obviously is responding to a different emotional response. You may not like his action, nor the feeling that gave rise to it, but so what? He has his feeling, you have yours. Now, if you are bigger than he is, or have better weaponry, or a bigger gang or mob, you may enforce your arbitrary empathy over his arbitrary lust and greed.

Or do you say it is wrong for him to take advantage of someone in need?

Wrong? By what standard? You have disregarded those by disregarding morality.


But Why?

I cannot present an intelligible account of my moral philosophy in the space of a single forum post. In the present context, it might suffice to say that if some people are suffering, and I have the means to alleviate their suffering without aggravating the suffering of other people, then that is what I should do.

I lifted this from an atheist’s post on a debating site. I grant that the person cannot present an intelligible account of a moral philosophy in a single forum post. But if this is what you do have to say, then it would be best not to say anything.

Why should you do it?

You can’t just take such things as the given.

I have never heard of a remotely sufficient reason for selfless behavior on atheist premises. I have heard countless, excellent reasons for selfish behavior, indifferent behavior, even have the question of helping others turned around on the person bringing it up as suspect.

We’re talking about helping complete strangers here, not your poor old grandmother. What, aside from feeling, would compel a real atheist to come to the aid of someone of whom it would be easier to cross the street and ignore than to waste one’s time, money and effort? Feeling is not an argument, and, besides, I’d want to know what gave rise to that feeling?

The only remotely reasonable explanation is a karmic/reciprocity one. Although he certainly didn’t get that from Nietzsche or Ayn Rand!


Upgrade

verbum-foundation

I got a cool offer to upgrade my Verbum software from version 5 to 6 for really cheap (comparatively). Not only is the software an upgrade but they bumped me up from Basic to Foundations. It comes with a bunch of material not available in Basic.

I got 3 additional Bibles, a host of Greek Interlinears (if only I could read Greek), the Clementine Vulgate (which I just bought hardcopy last week), 11 harmony and parallel books, 6 additional Biblical commentaries, (I noticed with version 6 they took Catena Aurea off Basic and onto Foundations so I gained nothing there), 3 more patristic period pieces, 9 additional books on medieval  theology.

Deep breath.

Eighteen more modern theology books including Apologia Pro Vita Sua by Cardinal Newman that I almost bought at the bookstore the other day. Seven more books on biblical study, 13 more books on spirituality (some good ones too), a couple more apologetic specimens (although I don’t usually read apologetics) the church documents I don’t care so much about since that is all available online (but in the program they link to a bunch of other stuff via searches, etc) the reference material is too much to even mention but you can find it here.

It also sports 27 different research tools whereas the Basic had 8 or so. I don’t even know what some of these tools even mean. It also comes with videos by Catholic Answers (a radio/video show) which can be lively and entertaining (and it cuts out the meandering questions by the call-ins and gets to the point) and videos by Father Barron (I’ve seen most of those though).

The only disappointment with the upgrade is the lack of history books. With Foundations you get one history book. I like to have a bunch of different histories. Of course, one could argue, these would all be pretty conforming to a “Catholic” narrative. I would agree, but there is also the Protestant narrative. There is the modern narrative that says fighting the Crusades was wrong (I strongly disagree!). There is the Gibbon narrative, Christians brought down Rome. There are all kinds of “narratives” and I haven’t heard the Catholic one yet. And I think I have a pretty neutral source in Durant’s works. Plus, being a natural sceptic (and a bartender to boot!) I tend to check things through pretty clearly.

One pet peeve of mine is some people will hear some item of knowledge, so-called, and then go parroting it around as fact. In the ear, out the mouth, no processing in-between. I say so-called knowledge because if you haven’t processed it, cross-checked it, thought on it, I don’t consider it knowledge anymore than getting a parrot to say “the sky is blue!” is expressing the parrot’s knowledge.

The only drawback to the software as a whole is – who has the time (outside of a seminarian or monk) to make use of 1/4 of the material and resources? I did the upgrade, but if I used 5% of Basic I’d be surprised.


I Know Something You Don’t know…

EDIT:

I was asked to keep the earlier reported news to myself since nothing is finalized yet. I will honor that request.

Just remember if you saw this before that it had to do with my communication with someone in the publishing field on the republishing of Lafferty’s novels. Not finalized yet… that’s pretty good though, right?


I Will Not Follow

[Warning I get a little nasty with the language and imagery below. You are warned.]

[Update: I edited a little to tone it down. I don’t mind getting a little crude, but if my mother saw this, she would wash my mouth out with soap!]

I despise with a particular sting, modern linguist rape. I hate terms like custodial technician, i.e., JANITOR. “Look buddy, no matter what fancy title we give you, we’re still not gonna pay until you clean the shitter!” And I humbly submit I have cleaned many a shitter in my day, it is JANITORIAL WORK. Changing the name doesn’t mean I’m not gagging over a particularly meaty pile of vomit or a particularly frothy splattering of poo. And the name wouldn’t make a bit of difference.

Same for secretary. It doesn’t change anything about the job to call them administrative professional, or administrative assistant. Just have the damned coffee ready when I get in and get ready to take notes. And be prepared to make excuses for the wife when she calls and I’m out at the titty bar – just kidding. I don’t have a secretary and I don’t go to titty bars. I did once and I felt bad for it, mainly for the girl.

But do have that coffee ready, alright?

They never changed the name of my line of work, bartending. Must not be deemed degrading. I don’t view jobs as degrading in general. I would feel the shining up of my job title to be degrading. Why didn’t they ever upgrade – “PC” – the name for people who give “”jobs for crack, or, prostitutes as they are referred to? I think that is a demonstrably degrading job. I think someone jamming away at one of your holes for an hour (or ten seconds)  so you can score some dope can’t be too life-affirming or even self-esteem boosting.

How about Coital Custodian?

Here’s another one. Retarded. Good, accurate word, if you understand its etymology. It is thought to be a derogatory word to use with who generally suffer from that general affliction. It is not. It is degrading to be called that when you are not. And changing the name of the retarded does not cease to make them what they are, nor does it restrained me to call someone who isn’t retarded “mentally challenged”.

Now calling a retarded person retarded to their face in a rude manner is, of course, not what I am talking about, and is not acceptable behavior. But to refer to “the retarded” is no smear against them since the referent is the same and the etymology describes neutrally their affliction. While “drooler” on the other hand would be derogatory.

Anyone that tells me in pious tone, and eyes slightly closed, that “we don’t use that term any longer”, is going to be called a retard by me for the rest of his time on earth, and I will refer to the mentally challenged as Retard’s Cognitive Superiors.

And that leads us to the BC/AD to BCE/CE crap. Look the common era stuff loses right out the gate based on the simple fact they introduced, not only a non-distiction, but forced upon me the typing of an additional letter.

This rant was timely about 20 years ago. I’m such a retard!


Having fun with The Storymatic

As I explained in this post last month I bought a fun little package at the store called The Storymatic. Basically it is a giant deck of cards in a box with gold cards for characters and copper cards for situations or story droplets as it were. What I have been doing is drawing 2 gold cards and 2 copper cards and just going with it.

The first set I drew was:

Carnival worker, phone call at 3am, six months to live, discovery of a new species.

I got nowhere with that, not even a sentence. If anyone wants to have a go at it… start now! I’ve got the four items in the back of my mind, and maybe someday… Outside of making it an X-Files story (literally) it just produces nothing.

I did a few others that resulted in meh.

Then Sunday I drew the following cards:

  1. Secret meeting
  2. If only what was said could be taken back
  3. Aging Clown
  4. Person who steals cats

At first this seemed to me as incongruous as the first set. I give myself a few minutes before jumping in but not too many minutes. But clowns and secret meetings have been two elements of a novel I have been VERY SLOWLY working on for – shit- five years now? Basically think of the end of days, end of time and the universe, Future Man’s last stand, and armies of life hating clowns. I even have a side piece called Clown and Eve (think Rebirth of the World, but this time it gets off to an even worse start!), it exists (for now) only in my head, but it’s pretty messed up stuff.

Anyway, this had enough familiarity for my natural output. I didn’t hit all the points on the list, but I hardly think that is the point. Unless, of course, you were doing it as a group game style.

I still have to find some people who even think that would be fun. Am I completely off the grid? I’m thinking, hey! we gotta do this right now! Who knows where we’ll end up! Maybe I’m a freak, I can put myself in a dank cellar right now. There’s a leaking water pipe above me. It is too dark to see but I can hear it drip… slowly. The pain in my wrists is excruciating. I think I’m tied to a furnace or something. I move. Just a little. And I brush against something, and I think it moaned. Something made a sound. Was that a person? A corpse? A door above me swings open and a small shaft of light falls upon a flight of stairs. Into the frame steps a man. Who is that? Hey! It’s Cousin Eddie from the Lampoon Vacation movies! Is that a good thing or bad? Just kidding, but put a different location at the other end, say, yourself (or you as your character) feeding ducks at the park at sunset. How did you get from point A to point B? Go!

Anyway I got something that I think was pretty interesting if, perhaps, inept, and, certainly, incomplete. Scrivener tells me it is 895 words (which is a good single stretch for me) and 3 paperback pages. I wrote until I could go no further at that point, but I think there is material and even theme worthy material present.

So I offer it for, I hope, amusement. Note: I’ve been reading a lot of Lafferty lately and I think that peaked in a tiny bit in a sentence or two. Or I flatter myself, which would be odd of me.

Sad Face stood in the middle of the small room surrounded by Continue reading


A Couple New Acquisitions / And an Unusual Rant!

TFB

[Heh, I slipped into a rant against mega-churches and prosperity gospel, but I quite enjoyed myself and am leaving it!]

I have had the digital copy for this for a couple of months and I have read the first couple of chapters. The problem was I find it really hard to study in the digital format. Nothing beats being able to shuffle quickly between pages. I also have his more advanced Theology and Sanity. I read a couple of chapters of that last year but felt I needed a primer first. I was really impressed with the scope of his thought, the logical clarity of it.

It was not what passes for “theology” nowadays

joel-osteen

You can get Tony Robbins

images

for that and skip the God stuff if you are going to do something about getting that good life NOW that you know you deserve because… you know… you’re you… and you’re special because… you’re you…cuz’… ah hell, maybe your mother told you you were special, but maybe Dr. Spock Continue reading


A Very Dumb Article

I found what has to be the one of the dumbest articles I have read in awhile titled: Religion’s Smart People Problem: The Shaky Foundations of Absolute Faith.

It does not take too long to grasp the author’s bias. It is in the title of the article, the subtitle and in the first sentence. The bias excuses the continual run of error that start on the first sentence and run to the end of the article.

The article starts out with a question: Should you (general reader) believe in a God?

Answer?

Not according to most academic philosophers.

But that was not the question the academics were asked. They were not asked whether other people should believe in a god, but whether they themselves believed in a god. That may sound like a minor distinction and a trivial one since what one believes one also wants others to believe. At least that is what we believe is the general goal of anyone who believes in anything.

I disagree with this. I can firmly state that when I was an atheist, I did not hold that therefore others should be also. And it was not a charitable stance on my part, I sincerely thought that some people needed such a crutch for their weakness, whatever that may have been. Another part of it was charitable. Atheism is grim, correction, serious atheism is grim. There is the modern eat drink and party on dude, there is no god and if your liver gives out at 50, fuck it, who cares, atheism. Brain dead atheism, libertine atheism (the atheism that serves the purpose of libertinism).

Atheism is grim for the philosophically minded, the sort of person who thinks in wide abstractions. Such a thing is for the abnormal.

And on that note, back to the academic philosophers. Why should one care what an academic philosopher thinks about the existence of a god (switching now to God)? The article presents the naked fact that, out of a survey of 931 academic philosophers 72.8% of them responded atheist. Why did they respond atheist? That is an end position, what are the premises? Simply stating that they do means as much as saying Continue reading


Partial Review of The Man with the Aura: The Collected Short Work of R.A. Lafferty Volume Two

And I mean very partial. It arrived five minutes after I left for work and was waiting for me when I got home (which was not too long ago). But I read the Introduction and the Afterward.

THERE ARE SPOILERS ABOUT THOSE! SO BEWARE!!!!

First, there just doesn’t seem to be many photographs taken of Lafferty in his lifetime. Or else the publisher didn’t think it necessary to include different pictures than the last volume. They are even in the exact same locations as previously.

The afterword by John Palen was fine, although I wonder if he does one for every volume (as he did the afterword on the last as well) if he’ll have anything left in later editions.

Harlan Ellison (now I’m really serious about the SPOILERS!, people) had the Introductory duty on this volume. And you know when you see his name followed by a trademark symbol you’re about to get doused with the ego and not much substance.

And there wasn’t. He pontificated on a couple of peeves of his, meanders here and there, remembers he’s writing an introduction to someone else’s material, then veers off on his ego-cart again.

You will know he has a disdain for people who report every little thing in their, presumably, small lives (and I am sure some of them are small indeed) online – such as I am doing now. There are a couple of other things that irritate him as well, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Ellison, even liked that self-biography movie of his, and I love the (too little) stories of his I have read, but the man is a blowhard. He spends two pages going over how he came to publish Dangerous Visions. Why do we care? Well, there was a Lafferty story in it. And we find out Lafferty was the fourth person he solicited for a story.

However, Ellison practically humbles himself at Lafferty’s feet. Correction, it was a full humble – and that, folks, was surprising. Even calls him a genius, which, Ellison assures us, is a word he predicates to the human race sparingly. I’d imagine very sparingly.

Can you blame him?

You can’t beat the end of the introduction, for all its superfluous bulge in the middle, the ending was sweet. It was similar to watching his movie; on hearing of him, I expected to hate the guy, and I was to surprised to find I did not. And that experience, at being wrong, is always a pleasure because I am usually dead on.

Depressingly dead on.

I don’t think I will give an actual review of the book itself when I’m done. It is Lafferty, it is going to be great. What I will do is post some gems of word play when I come across it, or some observation, or hail a particular story. Also, the book is going to sell what it is going to sell and probably not a whit more no matter what I say. It matters not what I say, and you may be in danger of wasting precious life moments reading my bloviating. I may be in similar danger as the writer. But if I am, then I am not, because then it doesn’t matter because there would be nothing to be wasted.

Damn, I still have a couple stories to finish on the last volume! I do not want to rush it. I know, I know, I bitched and bitched about volume 2’s delays. But I wanted the book in my hands just as much as I want to read it.

Am I still babbling on after calling Harlan Ellison a blowhard?

I should learn shame.