Comments

  • Islam: More Violent?
    Is Islam more violent than the other Abrahamic religions?VagabondSpectre

    Abrahamic fundamentalists tend to end up in the weeds, regardless of which branch they adhere to, because fundamentalism tends to lead one into totalizing positions--all or nothing.

    I haven't read the Koran, and I don't plan on it -- I don't plan on re-reading the whole OT or NT again, either. I can't speak first hand about how much encouragement to violence is incorporated into the text. I do know that our good allies and friends, the Saudi family, spends a lot of money promoting Wahhabism, which is not an especially friendly version of Islam.

    Then too, the hottest hotbed of Islamic Rage is a shit hole in the Middle East, which is a pretty bad place to be, at any time. Some of the reasons it is bad are...

    too many people
    too little employment
    too dry
    too tribal
    too many irrational borders
    too much unhelpful interference by all and sum
    too dreary a future
    too many bombs
    too many bad governments

    Give any bunch of people these problems, whip up some religious hysteria (any variety) and voila -- bad news.
  • Is it correct to call this email from Trump fascism?
    An independent article found Trump stated 14 factual errors as truth in that 30-minute interview.ernestm

    Trump has repeatedly accused Obama of playing too much golf rather than working. When it was pointed out he has already played golf 50% more than Obama, he claimed he was doing it to make business negotiations. He then banned reporters from seeing him during any golf he plays, claiming it does not help him make the deals. Today he was caught on camera sneaking out for golf by himself. For about 4 1/2 hours. It could be fair to say about 25% of the man's actual efforts are what other people would call intentional deceits.ernestm

    I DETEST Donald Trump, but bitching about Obama's time on the inks, or spewing factual errors doesn't make him a fascist, a proto-fascist, or a crypto-fascist. It makes him a poor excuse for POTUS.

    Fascists tend to have a certain style, but what makes fascism dangerous is that it is a movement aimed at establishing a totalitarian dictatorship. Why? Because overcoming democratic institutions and practices generally requires subversion and violence. It takes blunt force applied to the body politic to suppress any likely reaction to fascism.

    At the present time, the Republican Party and the President do not appear to be using subversion (as far as we can tell so far) and are not using violence. Nixon, for instance, employed criminal acts and subversion, but his aim was quite personal -- to get elected. If Trump invited assistance from the Russian government (as contemptible as that would be) it wasn't to establish a fascist state--it also was to get elected. These sorts of things are not excusable, but they are not fascism either.

    The style of fascism appeals to some people, and attempting fascism-in-fact is an option which, so far, most American politicians have found very unsavory. Granted, that might not always be the case. It's not hard to imagine what American fascism might look like. But let's stick with solid definitions of what fascism is, so we don't waste the term on people who are not fascists, however bad they might be otherwise.
  • Virtue Ethics vs Utilitarianism
    Which do you think is the more reasonable theory?
    Virtue Ethics vs Utilitarianism
    MonfortS26

    What would cause us to care one way or the other--virtue ethics vs utilitarianism? Or for that matter, why care about ethics, the general welfare, the true, good, and beautiful, etc.? As Vernon said,

    one’s character emerges from a “relevant moral community.”Vernon

    Do we not have to be interested in ethics before we can decide how to be ethical, how to do the right thing -- whether for virtue or for utilitarian considerations? If so, this would seem to give the edge to virtue ethics.
  • Are humans bad at philosophy?
    I saw a study that suggested that dumber people were more dishonest.Wosret

    That's odd. I saw a study that suggested just the opposite: Smart people tended to be more crooked.

    I think that philosophers are more honest, and I think that honesty is the true mark of intelligence.Wosret

    Your study, my study, and your statement that philosophers are more honest (than horses, say) and that honesty is the true mark of intelligence are all groundless. It may be the case that stupid people are crooks, or that smart people are, but I'm pretty sure this hasn't been proved to the satisfaction of even a C+ GPA undergraduate psychology major.

    What principles of behavior would link intelligence (a lot of it or only a little) to honesty? What is it about honesty and intelligence that connects them? Is it not more likely that a very smart person would think of successful ways to lie, cheat, and steal? Stupid people would trip themselves up and be discovered--dumb and dishonest, wouldn't they?

    You may be right that philosophers are more honest (than horses, say) but why? Are they honest because they have nothing to lose? Maybe they know they are too unimaginative to lie and get away with it? Could it be that they took their ethics class seriously? Maybe they are merely afraid of getting caught in a lie -- which is different than valuing the truth highly.

    Together we have reinforced the idea that people are not very good at philosophy, and that we may not be very good at psychology either. What the hell are we good at? Homo mediocriter. I'm poor at math, gardening, housekeeping, astronomy, Sanskrit, and bicycle maintenance, just for starters. I am also slightly dishonest.
  • Is dictatorship ever the best option?
    Yes, very good observation. I don't know much about this, but I do know that tribe/family is an essential structure in some countries. An overlay of democratic (or autocratic) government is likely to chafe on the underlying system of loyalties. Glad I don't live in such a place.
  • Is dictatorship ever the best option?
    There's not one system of government that hasn't failed
    — TheMadFool

    Yep. But they do pretty well prior to failure, don't they?
    Mongrel

    I can't think of many places that go months, let alone decades, without functioning governments. "Failed states" are pretty bad places to live. Many people in Russia miss the Soviet Union because, despite its egregious bad practices, it also provided pretty good services to people. As one US immigrant from the Soviet Union said, "There were always offices where one could go with specific problems, and they generally did something about the problem." Provided there was a solution, of course.

    Given a housing shortage, the local communist apparatchiks weren't going to give you a bigger place just because the one you had was kind of small and crowded. On the other hand, they could get the heat working again. They could resolve a lot of administrative problems (but not get your husband out of Siberia, just because his wife wanted him back).
  • Is dictatorship ever the best option?
    True. So if we started public executions, do you think the crime rate would go down, or stay the same?Mongrel

    In earlier times, public executions enabled prostitutes and pick pockets to do land office business. Of course, in earlier times capital punishment covered some crimes we classify as misdemeanors.
  • Is dictatorship ever the best option?
    That's true. When you take something that grew organically over centuries and replace it with a mangled mess of codified British law and explicit racism, the resulting society may be hyper-conservative.. just trying to hold itself together. Is that what you mean?Mongrel

    Well, some of what you said here is true, but what I meant was that the British laid down territorial boundaries in such a way as to divide ethnic homelands, mix ethnic groups who didn't have overflowing love for each other, and allocated resources so as to aggravate competition among groups. In other words, divide and conquer. When they abandoned their colonial management, the colonial boundaries stuck, leaving sliced and diced populations. They did this in a number of places.

    Colonialism, per se, is racist when your colonies are mostly on colored continents. British law and administrative practice wasn't all bad. Some observers think British controlled Africa would be better off now if the British had had longer tenure, giving them more time to inculcate their management and civil government practices. Greater India had a thorough education in British administrative practice. (Here I'm referencing record keeping, filing, reporting, counting, investigating, balancing the books, stuff like that. British rule in India didn't put them in line for the Nobel Humanitarian Prize. They were often harsh.) Further, British management brought Indian merchants to Africa where they became one more pain in the collective of the local people. The Indians weren't equal to the British, but they were superior to the blacks, and they controlled a lot of the local commerce and trade.

    Then, over all, the purpose of having colonies in the first place is/was to extract wealth from the natives, which the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Belgians, and Germans most efficiently and ruthlessly did.
  • Is dictatorship ever the best option?
    The trouble with dictatorships is that considerable force is generally required to get into, stay in, and exercise power. Usually the military and secret police are employed as the shaft that makes people obey. How much shafting is employed usually depends how much resistance is developed, or how paranoid and unstable the ruling cliques are. The results are sometimes tolerable and stable, but all too often (like, usually) the amount of shafting employed generates more resistance, more paranoia, and more violence in a hell-bound spiral.

    So, how does one set up a multi-ethnic government in Kenya, Syria, or...?

    One solution is to balkanize the country--and maybe regions. Give small territories to the groups that dominate them (the way the Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins, Kosovoites, and Albanians were sorted out). This makes sense, especially if there are strong historical precedents. Lots of countries and regions have histories that preceded the colonial era, and are remembered.

    IF, and it is a big IF, the small homogeneous states can get their stuff together and operate successfully, fine. If two adjacent mini-states want to merge, do so and make it work, fine. Otherwise, don't merge.

    Shia and Sunni populations may be at each others throats because they were manipulated into this antagonism (recently). Maybe propaganda can manipulate them back into peaceable community. Maybe not. Maybe separate territories need to be allocated -- not for each and every one, but enough separation so that they, as 2 (3, or 4) separate groups feel like they have their own space.

    Maybe the dictator (Assad for Syria) needs to be eliminated, by some effective means or another. There are major risks, here, which is one of the reasons it hasn't happened. The Assad family has a ghastly history, but in most years there were hardly any large scale massacres. Just a few. Pull the Assad plug and there might be a period of (worse) bloody reprisals--even worse than Assad. Iraq had problems before the Americans arrived, true enough, but our abrupt plug pulling on Saddam Hussein and the Baathist party cause a massive deterioration in conditions, as bad as, if not worse than the excesses of mr. Hussein.

    Draining swamps needs to be done with great finesse. Just pulling the plug can backfire badly.
  • Is dictatorship ever the best option?
    There are people who think that some countries are ill-served by encouraging them to set up democratic governments. "the people are not ready for self-government" the theory goes. A given country might have too many competing ethnic groups within its border -- ethnic groups that had never wished to live together--for democracy to work. These kinds of states are better off, the theory goes, if a strong man rules over them. A dictatorship, authoritarian rule.

    While a country may have a great many political fault lines within its society, dictatorship does nothing (usually) to prepare people to live together without dictatorship. Tito managed to keep the lid on all the seething ethic rivalries in Yugoslavia until the Communist Party's rule ended around 1990. 50 years of suppressing The Peoples' ethnic itches resulted in an orgy of genocidal activity of the sort one associates with Nazi Germany.

    The colonial powers of the 19th and 20th centuries are largely responsible for constructing countries that are difficult to govern, They either drew national boundaries (in the middle east) that made very little sense, or (in Africa) they arranged boundaries to disadvantage ethnic groups. Ethnic groups like the Kurds were left out altogether. In Kenya the Kikuyu and Luo groups (and quite a few others compete for power, privilege, and resources.
  • Are humans bad at philosophy?
    The mistakes they make when philosophizing.Marchesk

    Some philosophers are praised by one group and excoriated by another. Some people think some philosophers are RIGHT and others think the same philosopher is NOT EVEN WRONG. So, when you say "mistakes they make" are we to suppose they make glaring errors that even their admirers would call mistakes?

    Ability to correct our mistakes over time.Marchesk

    Correct 'old mistakes' or catch and correct 'new mistakes'? Haven't the old mistakes been pretty well identified and corrected? Or not? If not, what the hell has philosophy been doing for the past 2500 years? If philosophy had progressed, wouldn't the number and gravity of new mistakes be quite minor by this time?

    Is literature a field that progresses? I don't think it's the goal of writing to advance the field. It's like asking whether art progresses. New forms are introduced, and people may or may not value the new over the old, but there isn't an objective criteria for what counts as progress. Maybe the accumulation of works could be considered a sort of progress?

    If philosophy is an art form, then okay, progress doesn't matter.
    Marchesk

    Some people think that literature is a field that progresses. I'm not one of them. Successful literature changes with and satisfies the readers of the author's time, and if its very successful, it satisfies centuries afterward--Dante, Boccaccio, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, et al. What pleases people in literature doesn't "progress" it changes, and of course some people's standards are higher than others. Some people like trashy bodice ripper romances, others like a novel by Henry James or Dickens.

    Some people think philosophy is a complete waste of time, let alone it being able to progress.

    Once upon a time, but not recently, philosophy was the hot zone of human thought. The various fields which philosophy spawned (like physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) over time became the new and current hot spots.

    To what extent can one live a full, productive, intellectually rich life without studying philosophy beyond knowing something about its classic works? Had philosophy "progressed" wouldn't it still be the keystone of human thought? It isn't. New "arches" have been built above the ancient arch, and new keystones are holding up these much larger arches.
  • The 7 questions
    Oh, sorry, embarrassing proofreading error. That was supposed to be, "You can not derive an ought from an is". Like, "many people are murdering other people" doesn't produce "people ought to murder each other". They ought not murder each other.

    Otherwise, you should definitely go to the store.
  • Is it correct to call this email from Trump fascism?
    There are real fascists in the world, but let's define what "fascism" is, once again:

    an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization. Look at Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco and such like as exemplars of fascism. Fascism is generally characterized by:

    authoritarianism
    totalitarianism
    dictatorship
    despotism
    autocracy
    nationalism
    militarism
    xenophobia
    racism
    anti-Semitism
    jingoism
    isolationism

    One might be an autocrat, but not be a fascist. One might be a nationalist, and not a fascist. One might be antisemitic but not be a fascist. But when these are added together -- a nationalist, despotic, antisemitic, racist, xenophobic, totalitarian, then you're in within the nature of fascism.

    Trump is proving to be a poor high-level political operative, which makes sense because he has zero experience in that area. He is an ambitious opportunist. He doesn't seem to be very insightful about the job he acquired last November which many of us now deeply regret (and more will in the future). BUT, IF Donald Trump and the Republican Party are imbeciles, reckless fools, classist lick spittles in service to the rich, etc. (and this applies to numerous Democrats as well) they are not fascist.

    Yet.
  • Are humans bad at philosophy?
    Are people bad at philosophy?Marchesk

    How would you decide that people were either "good" or "bad" at philosophy? Would one look for "progress"?

    Are people bad at literature? Literature has made little "progress" beyond the achievements of the first surviving works we have (just my opinion). Greek tragedy is pretty good (ref: the Oresteia), and Greek comedy is pretty funny (Lysistrata, for example). Some of the Psalms date back 3000 years and are still in daily use. We have lost most of the ancient literature; only a fragment remains. The quantity of literature we have since 1400 is much, much larger -- because we haven't lost much of it, yet. Is it "better" because there is more of it?

    Then, nobody is good at everything. Some people are great poets and lousy physicians. Some people are great at making money but bad at ethics. Some individuals were on the right track in science over the last few millennia, but they were frequently one-off insightful geniuses. It took us a long time to accumulate enough insight into biology, physics, chemistry, geology, etc. to ignite the scientific revolution.

    What we are really not good at is overcoming our biological and mental limitations. We don't seem to be able to plan for the long run--50 to 100 months, let alone 50, 100, or 1000 years into the future. We don't seem to be able to perceive the desperate straits we get ourselves into until about 15 minutes after it is too late.

    No, we're great at philosophy, and a dozen other fields. Sadly, it may not save us.
  • The 7 questions
    Some people say you can derive an ought from an is. Is that true?

    ought (v.)
    Old English ahte "owned, possessed," past tense of agan "to own, possess, owe" (see owe). As a past tense of owe, it shared in that word's evolution and meant at times in Middle English "possessed" and "under obligation to pay." It has been detached from owe since 17c., though he aught me ten pounds is recorded as active in East Anglian dialect from c. 1825. As an auxiliary verb expressing duty or obligation (late 12c., the main modern use), it represents the past subjunctive.
  • The 7 questions
    The "to can" refers only to the food preservation sense. There is no "to can" in the other sense as it's a modal auxiliary. It doesn't have a non-finite form, i.e no "to can", no "canning" etc.Baden

    Infinitive: to can
    Participle: could
    Gerund: canning

    This was provided by a website, http://www.verbix.com/webverbix/English/can.html . It could be that it's conjugations are computer-generated, and what would a computer know about it? There is a reason for giving "to can" as the infinitive, however (but I don't think the computer was cognizant of this reason).


    can (v.1)

    Old English 1st & 3rd person singular present indicative of cunnan "know, have power to, be able," (also "to have carnal knowledge"), from Proto-Germanic *kunnan "to be mentally able, to have learned" (source also of Old Norse kenna "to know, make known," Old Frisian kanna "to recognize, admit," German kennen "to know," Gothic kannjan "to make known"), from PIE root *gno- (see know).

    Absorbing the third sense of "to know," that of "to know how to do something" (in addition to "to know as a fact" and "to be acquainted with" something or someone). An Old English preterite-present verb, its original past participle, couth, survived only in its negation (see uncouth), but see also could. The present participle has spun off as cunning.
    — Online Etymology Dictionary

    So, in the Old English (and other) sources, cunnan from which "can" is derived, would have had an infinitive form. I am quite sure whoever cooked up "to can" was not writing from depth of knowledge but was applying a formula.

    All this to show that "what, when, where, which, who, how, and why" are not sufficient to nail down all knowledge, and no matter how many words one employed in the list, problems would leak out all over the place, oozing from ever seam.
  • The 7 questions
    Well, dearest, you had made up a list of interrogative words (who, what, why...) and you invited comment. I thought perhaps, following on Time Line, that perhaps words like must, shall, will, should, would, can, could, may, and might could possibly be of use to you in your project -- whatever the hell that is. Then you said...

    However, isn't there any aspect of our present reality that demands a new line of questioning?TheMadFool

    and I suggested that perhaps must, shall, will, should, would, can, could, may, and might might, may, could, would... possibly be useful to you.

    Think about it.
  • The Shoutbox
    If you Gaggle "Searle arrested" you'll find that a lot of people named Searle are dangerous criminals. Must be something wrong with people named Searle. Bad genes. It's surprising he did no more than grope a graduate assistant.

    Once when I was working at a desk in the Dance Department an older dance teacher arranged his balls and dick on the edge of the desk for my benefit (he had tights on -- normal attire when teaching dance). There was nothing breathtaking about his equipment. Was I harassed? (I was slightly surprised by the gesture (and moderately amused) but I would have appreciated it more if it had been somebody with more impressive endowment.)
  • The 7 questions
    Could is past tense.TimeLine

    English is strange. The infinitive of 'can' is 'to can'. Outside of food preservation, I've never come across "to can" until a few minutes ago in a dictionary entry. At any rate, 'can' is a modal verb. Maybe it had a more sensible infinitive form in Old English.

    Modal verbs are auxiliary verbs that expresses necessity or possibility. English modal verbs include must, shall, will, should, would, can, could, may, and might.

    So, is necessity or possibility accounted for by what, when where, which, who, how, and why?