Re: virus: Religion, Zen, post-structuralism, and the failure

John ''Storm of Drones'' Williams (
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 17:58:41 -0400

>>1. I do consider this discussion to be about metaphysical issues.
>So you consider logic to be optional in this discussion?

Not so much optional as it is itself an object of scrutiny. Granted, it's a
little like trying to look at your own forehead without aid of a
reflection, but logic, as a metaphysical/philosophical construct, can not
be considered a given in discussing metaphysical concepts. At the very
least, we have to be somewhat suspicious of our application of logic.

>Can you now see the problems inherent in dismissing consistency?

Hmm? Oh, yes. I assume that I have done so, have I? Help me out here.

>>2. Whether what I say is true or not matters insofar as anything can be
>>determined to be true.
>OK, well I dispute the charge that I have called anyone a fool, stupid
>or a nutbar. Do you think there is any truth to the matter, one way
>or the other?

Hmmm. Okay, I'll consider the charge disputed. Now: truth to what matter?

>>3. I would be convinced that a viewpoint that is valid and sound would be a
>>viewpoint worth having. I am not convinced that your viewpoint, or
>>arguments so far, are valid and sound.
>I didn't ask what you thought about my argument. You seem to be saying that
>you think a valid and sound viewpoint may be worth having, but you wouldn't
>feel compelled to adopt it, correct?

Correct, assuming 1) I cared (which may not be the case in certain
situations, IE, alien abductions) or 2) there was a viewpoint that I judged
also to be vaild and sound, and more suited to what I needed it for.

>>This reading says to me, "anyone who values or expresses faith is a fool."
>That interpretation is far more insulting than my intended meaning.
>It would be closer to read it as "anyone who values or expresses faith
>is confused or ignorant of the adverse effects of having such low
>standards of evidence".

Hmmm.... First of all, I think your level of standards of evidence is set
so high you shouldn't even be addressing metaphysical issues anyway.
Secondly, while I agree that the statement I made is more directly
insulting than what you intended, I contend that your rephrasing is not
substantially different. I think the introductory clause "Through some
twist of fate," sets up a highly-critical and very superior tone.

>Notice that says absolutely nothing about
>their intelligence, sanity, value, character, heritage, or personal
>hygiene. If you are reading an insult into it, that is your addition.

"Confused" and "ignorant?"

>It is not necessary to add "blind" because I define what I mean
>by faith explicitly in the very next sentence: "To hold an idea as
>true despite all evidence to the contrary...".

That is not an appropriate definition of faith. We can start over again,
perhaps? People often have faith in something when there is *no* or
*little* evidence for or against (ie, the existence of God). To state that
faith is "to hold an idea as true despite all evidence to the contrary" is
misleading, indicating that all people who have faith in something are
believing something despite the fact that it has been proven not to exist.

>And I absolutely refuse to call anyone a fool in CoV doctrine.

Good! From reading the rest of your material, I figgured that this was just
a rhetorical oversight anyway, which is why you heard from me in the first
place. Otherwise, I would just have passed over.

>>that. But I consider these two statements above to be reductive,
>>inconsistent with CoV concepts, inconsistent with the Post-Structuralism
>>you *say* you agree with, and basically downright intolerant.
>I don't know what you mean by reductive.

You unfairly reduce the concept of "faith." You give it a meaning which
defines people's belief on the basis of whether or not an issue has been
disproven. If an issue is "disproven," yet someone believes in it, you
define that as "faith." Faith has many meanings to many different people,
but only the most radical of Christian fundamentalists would insist that to
have "faith" you had to believe something completely contrary to massive
quantities of evidence.

In doing so, you also reduce the entire community of the Faithful -- which
consist of a broad spectrum from the Jerry Fallwells to those like myself
-- to being these radical people.

>Those *are* CoV concepts. If they are inconsistent with other CoV
>concepts, which ones?

The virtue of Empathy:

> If anything, the ability to see from another's
> perspective is what sets humans apart from the rest
> of the animals. It is the basis of many of the
> qualities that we hold in highest regard: kindness,
> charity, mercy, welfare, forgiveness. Far from being
> irrational, empathy confers a distinct advantage in
> any social situation. It provides a foundation for
> promises, contracts, and deals. To a large extent it is
> the glue that binds society.

>It is not inconsistent with Post-Structuralism to have a worldview or
>to believe that some worldviews are better than others.

It is inconsistent with Post-Structuralism to insist that everyone must
have a world-view, or to insist that in all cases logic and reason apply. A
primary task of post-structrualism is to break out of the illusion that
logic is a natural, not human, construct, and recognize that all of our
interpretations of reality are, to some degree, faulty. Post-structuralist
writing is littered with self-contradictions, irrationalities, and
paradoxes; Derrida's writing often disentigrates as you read it; you're
taken down a logical path that eventually anhilates the entire process of

>Intolerant of poor ideas, perhaps, but never of the people that hold them.

When does that bleed over? Identity is profoundly bound to ideas,
especially religious ones. When you attack the concept of "faith," you are
attacking something that people hold personally, not just intellectually.

>>Indeed, I think it makes you sound like a Fundamentalist. You are perhaps
>Stating provisional beliefs is hardly fundamentalism.

Insisting that there is a "right" way, and that others are "confused or
ignorant" if they don't follow the "right" way, and that they give up other
beliefs to adhere to this one principle, is.

>>unaware of it and didn't intend it to be quite as dismissive as it actually
>>is, but it does nevertheless state that reason is superior and anyone else
>Why do you suppose you find it so dismissive?

I suppose I find it dismissive first and foremost because you refer to the
combined cultural activity of most peoples for well over six-thousand years
as "Some twist of fate," and reduce the complex topic of faith as
"believing in something that is obviously not true."

>>who believes otherwise is acting stupidly or with evil intent (ie,
>I do imply that reason is superior. As for faith being a sin, is there
>really evil intent, or are the sinners just "missing the mark" as Christians
>like to say?

"Missing the mark" = "acting stupidly"?

>I would like to see some second opinions on how dismissive and insulting
>the CoV doctrine quoted above really is.

Anyone? Your cue.

John Williams
Your Message Here...
"See my loafers? Former gophers!"