• Invisible Boundary Lines, or Our Desire for Structure
    Maybe we mean different things when we say "drawing lines." For me, they are drawn using words and symbols. It's a mental practice.T Clark
    Agreed, but I don't think words are required. I believe that birds and mammals can do that, as in: animals that learn from experience and adapt their behavior accordingly.
    We don't know what wolves think, but we can observe them, and this suggests that they have some abstract concepts in their mind - how else would they be able to handle more complex learning and social behaviors?
    I think the probably have concepts like: part of my family, potential danger, potential prey. And perhaps some more specific ones: smell-of-human-that-brings-food, rock-that-is-nice-and-sunny-for-afternoon-nap.

    I definitely would not limit the mental line-drawing activities to humans only.
  • Invisible Boundary Lines, or Our Desire for Structure
    Fun fact: I read the opening post while crossing a national border.
    (It was the German-Dutch border, so there's no controls. Just a sign at the side of the road, and my internet connection gets interrupted while the mobile phone switches over to the other network. And you know what? That's the way it should be. I'm not a fan of the concept of "nation"...)

    Generally speaking, I don't think wolves do much line-drawing.T Clark
    Quite the opposite, I believe that wolves do the most fundamental kind of line-drawing:
    "Part of my pack" / "NOT part of my pack"

    And furthermore, I think that is is the most fundamental kind of mental line for humans, too.
    Because all the basic rules of human cooperation only count inside the pack.
    In the pack, you should not kill, you should help the weak, you should feel compassion and so on.
    Outside the pack, all bets are off.
    That's why we eat that pig, but we hesitate to put our dog on the barbecue.
    That's why we help out a good friend who needs a place to stay, but don't send money to those poor people in Bangladesh.

    Granted, that's probably a rather simplified approach, but I think that this type of in-group/out-group categorization actually explains a lot of human behavior.
    What makes it complicated, is that today a lot of different groups and organizations try to appeal to our "pack" feelings, in order to gain our help, obedience or solidarity. the family, the employee, the sports club, the nation...

    "If we don't want one to exist or it doesn't benefit us, we shouldn't have it".TogetherTurtle
    Yes, I agree. We should try to reflect on all the lines, and not take any of them for granted, or believe them immovable.
  • Why doesn't the "mosaic" God lead by example?
    On page 89 he says that there is not a lot of evidence of an exodus from Egypt and what is available is inconclusive.Fooloso4
    Concerning Moses and the Exodus:
    There have been many attempts to prove that the ten plagues and the exodus were actual historical events. But indeed none of these could present conclusive archaeological or textual evidence, it appears to be more of a mix of elements taken from different events and eras.

    These points that have been discussed:

    around 1550 BCE, start of the 18th Dynastie:
    The Egyptian rulers of the Theban nome recaptured Lower Egypt from the Hyksos. The Hyksos were a people from the Levantine area and they were driven out of Egypt by military force after having settled there for some generations, which broadly fits the Exodus story.
    Additionally, the Thera Eruption falls into this era, and the unusual weather phenomena following a large-scale volcanic eruption may account for the "plagues".

    around 1350 BCE, end of the 18th Dynasty
    Akhenaten tried to establish a henotheistic cult in Egypt, but failed, and after his death his "heretic" cult was dismantled.
    Some people suggested that Moses was actually a fanatic priest of Aten and he fled from Egypt to continue his religion in Israelian exile. (this again fits the Egyptian names of the Levites, as mentioned above, e.g. Moses=Mesw="child", Mirjam=Meri-Amun="Beloved of Amun")
    There are textual sources outside the bible (Hecataeus, Manetho) supporting this story, but they're much younger.

    around 1250-1200 BCE, 19th Dynasty
    The exodus story specifically states that the Israelites were forced to build the city "Ramses", which matches the Egyptian "Piramesse" built in the time of Ramses II. That's why others assume Ramses II or his son Merenptah as the Pharao of the Exodus.

    The Wikipedia Entry "sources and parallels of the exodus" offers a good overview, and I recommend Jan Assmann's book "Moses the Egyptian" if you're interested in an in-depth analysis.
  • The Work-Life Balance in Ancient Egyptian Ethics
    Not quite, it's a hobby. :grin:
    I don't have a PHD and I don't work in the field, but I attended university up to a bachelor level and I've studied independently since.
  • Are science and religion compatible?
    Look, if you you're an exception, then good for youS
    This "exception" is a religion that has endured for more than 3000 years as the main religion of large and powerful nation.
    Again: the title of the thread says "science and religion" not "science and Christianity", and the term "theist" is not limited to Christians either. This is why I consider it legit to offer a non-Christian perspective to the discussion.

    Sure, except that you don't really believe that if that's all a metaphor for something else entirely. You can't have it both waysS
    Why not? It's not a metaphor for "something else", but a metaphor for that which it truly is.
    If I show you a model: a big yellow plastic ball in the center, and a number of smaller balls arranged on wires around it. And I tell you: "This is the solar system... here's the sun, this is earth, this wire here represents a distance of 150 million kilometers"
    Would you say that I'm lying, that I cannot point to little bits of plastic and say "that's a planet", this is obviously false?
    The mythology and the images of the gods - that's my model, the representation. The divine being behind it is more vast and abstract.
  • On perfection
    I cannot give you an objective definition of perfection, but I can give you two words from a different time and culture, for variety and perhaps a new aspect here and there.

    Let us start, as everything started, with Tem.
    Tem means „completion“, and it is also the name of the creator god.
    Tem is the original, universal oneness, he is the self-created one inside the abyss of the primeval chaos, where he sat lamented his loneliness as the only aware being.
    So Tem creates, starting with the duality of the indomitable force of life and the guiding force of order, followed by all the multiplicity of the created world.
    In his act of creation, Tem pours himself into the world and gives up on his oneness, loses his completion.
    Should he gather himself again the created world will end: „Tem“ also means „ending“ and has the additional meaning of „negation“ if you change only one single sign.
    We are reminded of this aspect each day when the setting sun is called „Tem“. The same sun who brought the light in the morning is now taking it away, back into the netherworld, which is the realm closest to the primeval chaos.
    So if we see „perfection“ in the sense of completeness, then it can indeed exist only outside of the created world. While the Christian mind seems to grasp this „outside“ in a more spatial sense – the transcendent God being „above“ or „outside of“ his creation – the Egyptian mind is focused on the temporal aspect, Tem being completeness „before“ creation... and potentially „after“.

    The other word that can be translated as „perfection“ is nefer.
    The basic and more common meanings of the word are „beauty“ and „goodness“.
    Please observe that the Egyptians saw now distinction between those terms. The Egyptian texts use „nefer“ in all cases, and the historians try to figure out if they should translate as „beautiful“ or „good“, depending on the context.
    Perfection in an absolute, universal sense is not of this world, it is transcendent. But you can find a worldly type of perfection in that which is good and beautiful.
    We Westerners may object to this view: That the beautiful is at the same time the good. For aren‘t there beautiful things that are at the same time cruel and dangerous?
    I think the Egyptians were well aware of this dissonance. The goddess Hathor, the Golden, With a Beautiful Face – she can at any moment transform into Sachmet, the Powerful, the agent of the Sun God and his most fierce and cruel warrior.
    This danger did not diminish the ancients love and adoration of beauty. Ours may not be a perfect world, but perfection can be found in the beauty of a moment. For the "Carpe Diem" of the Egyptians was the "beautiful moment", a popular phrase in poetry and literature.
    To paraphrase the instructions of the wise men:
    Follow your heart. Feed your soul with moments of joy, make your heart wide.
    (the Egyptian word for „joy“ is awt-ib, literally „wideness of the heart“)
    In your life, balance pragmatism with joy and beauty:
    When you build yourself a house, plant trees for shadow and a field of cucumbers. Then fill your hand with all kinds of flowers and plant them around your house, too. It‘s good if you don‘t forget a single one of them.
  • Are science and religion compatible?
    Pay closer attention to my first paragraph, there are distinct differences between what I said and what you characterised as my argument.DingoJones
    I have read the paragraph again, but I apologize, I have not found these differences.
    Your text it still seems to imply that from your proposition that god cannot be proven by science you follow that "If science is your standard, you cannot believe in god".
    Why does the scientific approach prevent belief? That was exactly my point: It's not like science can disprove the existence of gods either.
    If you feel that I'm misrepresenting your position, would you kindly explain where I'm going wrong?

    I also don't see the cognitive dissonance.
    Your argument basically goes: "I cannot hear the color red, so as a person who hears I cannot believe in the color red"
    Where's now the cognitive dissonance if you say: "I cannot hear "red", but I can see it, for I am a person who both hears and sees."

    By the way, thank you for the "strawman" - I was not familiar with the term and learned something new in looking it up. :grin:
  • Are science and religion compatible?
    Again, you must explain how it makes any sense for a theist to believe that scriptures are entirely metaphorical.S
    You're apparently using Abrahamic religion as your only point of reference.

    I don't have any "scripture" at all, as my religion is not a revealed religion.
    We have an abundance of religious texts and mythology, but all of these we acknowledge as being written by human beings. There may be bits of divine revelation among those texts, but we have no method nor any desire to hunt for those bits, because this is not the point.
    Mythology is meant to be metaphorical, and our conceptions of gods and goddesses are naturally allegorical. The aim of myth is to give us a framework of meaning and reference to understand our place in the world. And myth teaches us useful insights by pointing out certain archetypes and structures.

    In what sense are they theist? What does that mean? How are they distinct from an atheist?S
    I personally believe that the gods and goddesses exist, that I can interact with them in meaningful ways and that one of them created our world (ok, more like three of them, but it's complicated :grin: ) Therefore: Theist. (Polytheist, to be precise)

    One point I have to concede is that I take my beliefs to be entirely subjective and based on personal study and experience. And I freely admit that I may be wrong. So you might say that I am a bit of an agnostic - but certainly not an atheist!

    What's a divine being a metaphor for, then?S
    I believe that the divine is too vast to be grasped by a human mind. Therefore metaphor is a necessary instrument to approach it.
    All the images we have of the gods can never reflect a pure and absolute truth.
    Instead the names, titles and pictures we have each reflect a certain aspect of the gods. The more we have, the richer and more varied our perception of the divine becomes.
    The monotheists call it idolatry, of course...

    There must be some definition of theism or set of criteria for one to count as a theist. I'm simply abiding by the conventional definition, which is meaningful. Are you going by some idiosyncratic meaning which suits your own beliefs, ideals, preconceived notions...?S
    Well, my approach is not very conventional in the modern Western world, but I didn't make it up to "suit my preconceived notions", I merely build up on an old African tradition.
    However, I think that I am within your proposed definition of:
    " Belief in the existence of a god or gods, specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe. "
  • Are science and religion compatible?
    That is to say, conclusions that there is a god are not scientific.
    The two are not compatible.
    If science is your standard, you cannot believe in god.

    Your logic is not sound.
    There is no scientific prove for the existence of gods - true
    Therefore gods don't exist - false! The absence of proof does not prove absence.

    Even if the existence of gods cannot be proven, neither can their non-existence be proven.
    The absence of useful falsification methods further removes the religious sphere from the scientific.

    Therefore I can see science as my standard in some matters, and religion as my standard in other matters. Applying scientific method to the religious sphere is about as useful as trying to measure temperature with a speedometer.
  • Where on the evolutionary scale does individuality begin?
    I'd go with the literal meaning: Individuality begins where an organism reproduces sexually. Then you get recombined and unique genetic material in the offspring and parent and child each have their own lifespan.
    On the other hand, a bacterium that reproduces by dividing itself is clearly "dividual" and not "individual". It's also kind of immortal.
  • Are science and religion compatible?
    But you can't take everything in scripture as metaphorical whilst maintaining to be a theist in any meaningful sense of the word, and this is not a common position. The key tenets, most essentially God, are not widely considered metaphors, and no credible science leads to a supernatural creator of the universe or whatever.S
    Weren't you just warning against the No True Scotsman fallacy yourself?

    As I see it, this discussion is still suffering from the definition of terms. For some, religion is A and science is B and clearly A is incompatible with B. And the others are talking about religion as C, and look at that: C and B are clearly compatible.

    My approach would be this:
    1. Humans try to understand the world, try to understand how everything works.
    That's logical: If you understand the system you can predict the outcome and plan for it. And in the next step you can adapt the system to your advantage, that is: adapt and use nature to your advantage. So we use our capabilities for learning and rational thinking, and we experiment until we have a solid working model of "how things work"
    This is what I call science.

    2. There are some cases, however, when science doesn't quite work out.
    Perhaps they don't have the proper tools and theories yet to figure out the scientific answer, or perhaps they have a scientific answer, but it just doesn't satisfy.
    Like that thing with death and immortal souls... Science suggests that once you're dead you're gone. End of story. Human experience disagrees: We remember our dead quite vividly and we feel that they are still with us in our minds and hearts. So a scientific answer may be available, but for many humans it contradicts our social and emotional experience.
    Another area where science is not much help is indeed the normative. Science says: you can take that stone and hit your rival's head, and given enough momentum, the stone will break the skull. Science may also give you some predictions on how killing a rival might help or hinder you standing with the rest of the group. Will they fear you? Respect you? Punish you?
    But science doesn't tell you in clear and easy terms that killing is either right or wrong.
    If you look at ethics, most ethical systems are based on certain unscientific preconceptions, like the Golden Rule, the greatest benefit for the greatest number, etc.

    3. We humans hate feeling insecure. We hate to leave questions open, to have fundamental stuff unexplained, something like "Why did this shit happen to ME?"
    This is where religion steps in. Religion accepts that we'd rather make up a story than leave a question unanswered, that we humans love metaphor to explain complex and abstract concepts more easily, that we look for guidance and meaning in our lives
    So does that mean that religion is false, an illusion, a man-made fiction? Not quite.
    Have not science and philosophy themselves shown the fallacies and inadequacies of rational thinking? There are limits to science, and very often the "scientific fact" is nothing but "the model that currently holds up in most tests".
    So when we look for answers in other things than our rational mind - what's to say that this does not yield true results? When we turn to emotion and intuition to find those religious answers, perhaps this is truly a way to connect to higher beings, who may choose to help and guide us. I personally believe that the mythology is man-made, but the underlying truth and inspiration is divine.

    I think that religion, as I understand it, cannot be proven or refuted by scientific means - that's rather the point of it. Religion explores exactly those areas that lie outside of science.
    For the same reason, religion cannot claim to present "truth" or "fact" in a scientific sense, religious truths remain inherently subjective.

    Therefore, I see no incompatibility between my understanding of science and my understanding of religion.
    So what, if an old creation myth is contradicted by evolution or geology?
    Our ancestors didn't have those answers, so the religious metaphor was all they could rely on.
    Today, you can choose to discard the metaphor of myth. Or you can understand that it is, indeed, allegorical, and it may still teach you something useful, and then you keep it alongside the science.
    Another example: Even if you know that the sun does not move around the earth and is nothing but a big ball of gas: you can still speak about the sun "rising", and you can find profound meaning in a hymn that praises the sun god for nurturing life on earth.
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    Concerning #24: I had been a bit vague about Hegel's definition of "negation" - this passage helps me out a lot. The whole process of universal-negation-sublation is explained here in very clear words, isn't it?
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    The development of the thinking I is a historical development not something that develops on its own in each individual.Fooloso4
    I'm not disagreeing. But I still posit that this is not in the specific passage I quoted - Hegel is using the Embryo-to-aware-self as a metaphor, he's not expounding a theory of education.
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    You are probably correct about Hegel's concept of "Bildung" in general.
    But in this precise passage of the Vorrede, in this specific context? I don't see a reference to culture, to society or education in its literal sense. (Latin e, ex: out, out of & ducere: lead - the "leading s.o. out" implying the involvement of an outside party)
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    However much the embryo is indeed in itself a person, it is still not a person for itself; the embryo is a person for itself only as a culturally formed and educated rationality which has made itself into what it is in itself. — Hegel

    It is not the capacity for rationality but the culturally formed and educated rationality that allows the person to become for herself what she is in herself. While the importance of culture was recognized by the Greeks, it was to a large degree atemporal.Fooloso4

    Fooloso4, don't put to much weight on this sentence... Upon rereading this passage I stumbled across a mismatch in the translation.(It stood out - the translation is usually excellent!) I believe that the translator as inserted a clear interpretation, while the passage in the original is ambiguous.

    The German sentence reads:
    für sich ist er es nur als gebildete Vernunft — Hegel
    The English goes:
    is a person for itself only as a culturally formed and educated rationality — Hegel

    "gebildet" means nothing but "formed". It has the second meaning of "educated", true, but Hegel's context leaves it open whether the rationality has simply "formed" and developed itself, or whether it was "educated" from an outside source. And the word "cultural" does not show up at all.
    I feel that Hegel is leaning more towards the self-formed. A reference to culture and education - the social environment forming the individual - is entirely missing from the whole passage. Instead, it's all about self-reflection:
    ... which has made itself into what it is in itself. — Hegel
  • The Identity and Morality of a soldier
    That's the cost of war. These men have to kill people in order to accomplish the objective.MomokoBandori
    Yes, but is the objective worth the killing? Who as the right to decide that?
    And should not those that DO the killing have both choice and responsibility?

    but lots of these men have to fight the wrong side of the war simply because they believed it was right.MomokoBandori
    Wrong side? Is there ever a right side, in any war?
    Soldiers kill on both sides, and on both sides people suffer and die.
    And all to often, the political outcome is not really worth all the blood and pain after all. Look at Afghanistan, the country is still unstable after almost 2 decades of international military intervention.

    War is not the only instrument of political change. There ARE other ways, better ways, I'm glad we agree on that.

    I like those moments in history much better when a seemingly small thing suddenly turns things around. Take the opening of the borders between Eastern and Western Germany.
    In 1989, the SED (Eastern German) politicians were discussing to gradually lift traveling and emigration restrictions. But the new law was still under revision and discussion.Then, in a press conference on 9th November, Mr Schabowski of the SED announced that no visa would be needed any more to travel to West Berlin. And a journalist asked, eagerly: "And when will this new regulation be in force?" And Mr. Schabowski wasn't sure and said: "Well, as to my knowledge.. immediate"
    And in the same night tens of thousands of people streamed onto the streets, overran the border stations and literally started tearing down the Berlin Wall.
    In this night, the soldiers of the border control could have opened fire and used deadly force to keep the people back... it wouldn't have been the first time it happened. But their superiors were floundering and at some point Oberstleutnant Harald Jäger decided to take matters into his own hands. Rather than using violence to restore order, he commanded the border control forces to stop passport control, open the gates and let people through.
    Now, THIS is a person I respect, even though he was a soldier.
  • Are science and religion compatible?
    I don't want to derail your discussion, but could you perhaps rename this thread:
    "Are science and Christian religion compatible?"
    As a non-Christian religious person, I feel a bit discriminated ...
    We should carefully differentiate whether we talk about fundamental conflict between a religious and a scientific world view in general (Which would first have to be defined properly).
    Or more specifically, as you seem to do, Christian religion and science.
  • The Identity and Morality of a soldier
    It's easier in Germany, where Napoleonic law and its derivatives comprise the system.god must be atheist

    I don't think that this makes for a significant difference. The German BGB - Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, and StGB - Strafgesetzbbuch - are pretty huge and you need to be a specialist to know them well. And still every citizen is responsible if they break the law.

    The role of a soldier, the training they undergo, and the fact that each soldier serves their nation is all deeds worthy of respect.MomokoBandori
    I don't see how that would elevate the soldier to a higher status than any other key professions. A doctor, a politician, a policewoman, a sewage worker and the administrator of your local water treatment facility: All of them have the job to serve the public and make your life safe. The sewage worker is probably more important to your comfort and safety than the average soldier.

    Oh, wait, I can think of one difference: The other professions don't usually KILL people and destroy property and infrastructure.
    Having armies and soldiers at all, in any nation, is something I criticize. At the moment, they may be the lesser of two evils, but an evil nonetheless.
    War has been a plague to mankind for millenia, and I would love to see it eradicated. We should focus on peace, not war. On humankind, not on the single nation.
    Impossible, you might say... it's human nature, you might say. Well, humans do a lot of impossible things that go against their natural instincts - why not this one?

    A Nazi and a Japanese soldier is an example. But I don't hold them in high regards. I don't like them, but the thing I respect about them is them fighting for what they believe in.MomokoBandori
    Some of these Nazis are my great-grandfathers. I respect them as humans who tried to survive in a difficult situation, but I don't respect them for being soldiers.

    Fighting for what you believe in doesn't deserve respect at all without qualification. It entirely depends what you believe in, and even then, you should be judged on your actions over and above your beliefs.S
    Exactly, well said.

    I think when we give soldiers, politicians, police, business owners, priests, etc permission to shirk responsibility for their actions and hide behind an illusion of authority from some higher or universal power, influence or control, then we invite them to act without regard for the ethical standards to which we hold everyone else accountable.Possibility

    It's sadly rather easy manipulate people into committing horrible violence.
    The higher authority is one: "It's an order. It's not your responsibility, you're just doing what you have to do."
    Other popular manipulations are:
    "You need to protect your family/comrades/country/king..."
    "If you don't kill them first they will kill you"
    "It looks bad, but it's for the greater good"
    "We're just taking back what's rightfully ours"
    "You're a coward without honor if you don't do it"
    "They started it. It's their own fault, they shouldn't have provoked us!"
    (and yes, all of the above were used to push the Wehrmacht soldiers... that would be the average Nazi soldier)

    "Every soldier deserves respect"
    "Thank you for your service"
    Nice words...but these words, too, can all too easily be another thread in the above pattern of manipulations.
  • The Identity and Morality of a soldier
    do soldiers, as in every soldier, deserve respect?SethRy

    No, they don't.
    It's humans, as in every human, who deserve respect.

    Why I believe so is simply the fact that every soldier has gone through war and may have lived to tell the tale. It does not seem so convincing but war can indeed take a toll on a soldier's mind a lot, which can lead to decisions from a soldier that I think most of us would consider "immoral" to say the leastMomokoBandori
    One: Not all soldiers have served in an actual war.
    Two: War takes a toll on all people touched by it.
    I would just give you an example I witnessed. There was a cute little girl, about 5 years old. She lived in a refugee camp where I volunteered and seemed to be all lively and happy, playing with the others. Then one day, somewhere in the city some fireworks went off.
    And suddenly she came running into the building, desperate, crying for her father, shouting "Yaty al harb, yaty al harb!" - "The war has come".
    Would you call her a soldier, too? I would not. But I admire her, because she survived.
  • The Identity and Morality of a soldier
    So aside from learning knowledge how to kill the enemy AND survive at the same time, a German soldier is burdened with having to deal with and make accurate decisions on heavy theoretical legal, and philosophical choices related to soldiering.god must be atheist

    Not quite. A citizen of any country is also expected to know and follow the law - even if you haven't studied law.
    A German soldier will not be punished if the criminal nature of an order was not apparent to him or her.

    Those rules were made after WWII, one of the many checks and safety nets to hopefully make another Nazi rule impossible: The right to refuse orders gives soldiers an out, if ordered to commit atrocities. The fact that they'll be made responsible is meant to further deter them from committing war crimes.
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    You don't go to a restaurant to get what you like, rather you go to a restaurant to (because you) like what you get.tim wood
    I totally need to memorize this sentence, that's a brilliant way of describing it!

    In taking control and making your own tentative (though firm) decisions, likely you will try to apply the ideas concretely - or I do, at least - where they both make sense and work. And in our present circumstance with Hegel, I think that serendipitously turns out to be the right waytim wood
    Agreed! The only thing we need to guard against is a too strong fixation on our ideas and decisions. We need to keep checking if they work and adjust as necessary, or we run the risk to become
    those who tell both you and Hegel what he means!tim wood

    And his style doesn't help. His audience understood his language and context. But they too are long gone, so nothing for us in this is easy.tim wood
    Yeah. The style is typical for the time, but it could be wielded with more elegance and clarity. Take Goethe - his reputation as a master of language is sometimes a bit blown up, but not undeserved. Texts by Goethe are far easier to read. On that note: Kant's style is even worse, in my opinion

    Even in such an elementary example of seeing a tree, (I argue) Hegel's "universal" of that tree is not complete until and unless you "see" the tree in 360 degree view all the way 'round, including roots, and its history from seed through and including its death and long decay. Together with its interconnectedness with its world - which includes you!tim wood
    Very good summary!
    I also like your suggestion that "negation" is in understanding what's missing, in grasping the inadequacies of the "universal" view.

  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    Well, there is nothing new here in the sense that I still don't get it no matter how often he may repeat himself. This:

    The true is the whole. However, the whole is only the essence completing itself through its own development. This much must be said of the absolute: It is essentially a result, and only at the end is it what it is in truth. — Hegel

    I have read this and similar phrases over and over. It seems to be the nub of the matter.
    I am tempted to throw my arms in the air and shout 'So what !?' :meh:

    You know, I get the feeling that you have grasped all that pretty well already. Perhaps you are at that point when you have trained and practiced a lot, and learned something well, and suddenly it's pretty easy to do... And then you get the feeling that you're missing something or doing it wrong, just because you think "it can't be that easy".

    That sentence you quote - doesn't it describe the same 1-2-3 process that you yourself summarized above?
    "The whole": point 3, the completed understanding
    "The essence": point 1, immediacy
    "completing itself through its own development": point 2, the mediation. negation, questioning, and in the end sublation to a new understanding.

    Otherwise the both of us are missing the point, 'cause I'm no further than you are (I've not even read all of the articles you've linked.)
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    1. Immediacy comes first. If it means intuitive and simple perception of the world. A vagueness.
    Non conceptual. Universal.
    2. Mediation is opposed to immediacy. If it means conceptualization. Cognition. Particular.
    3. The process of reasoning ( ? involving 1. and 2. ) > Self development > Individuality

    Or something like that ?

    Yes, pretty much. I agree!
    I feel that the Immediacy is more focused on the moment, timeless and floating, while the mediation is more temporal, looking at the whole process.

    Or another thought I had, a more modern metaphor:
    The immediacy of the absolute could be compared to the DNA of an animal. If you know the DNA, then apparently you have the ultimate knowledge about this creature, its innermost structure, the core, the absolute.
    Then Hegel might say that the DNA alone is just a mirage, a potential. You need to see the animal born, observe while it grows and develops, if you want to understand it fully.
    DNA, the genotype, may be the essence, but the particular body, the phenotype: that is the form.
  • Why doesn't the "mosaic" God lead by example?
    'nihil ultra ego'
    Literally "nothing outside of the 'I'", but I'm not familiar with the reference either
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    I don't see fundamentally new happening in this paragraph. Actually, Hegel is being quite patient with us, isn't he?
    I think he's carefully and repeatedly explaining the fallacy that lies in immediate perception of the absolute: You end up with "big" words that are empty: In their universality they become vague and indeterminate.
    They are not totally useless, however, they are still the right starting point for the following mediation.
    However, it is this mediation which is rejected with such horror — Hegel
    Now, this sounds like he faced some lively opposition to his ideas already, doesn't it?
    as if somebody, in making more of mediation (...), would be abandoning absolute cognition altogether. — Hegel
    Would it be too forward to translate into modern vernacular:
    "Calm down, folks! I'm NOT abandoning the absolute"
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    Thank you, again, for your insights. Bit by bit, I think we're touching some stable ground here and there.
    So indeed those of us accustomed to trying to think categorically and to reason everything back to some fundamental ground as providing a foundation for knowledge, with Hegel have got to get comfortable with process itself as ground, and not from the world - which imposes its own constraints - but from mind.tim wood
    Yes, but we need not discard our immediacy of perception, right? We need to find the synthesis of both world and mind, Wesen(essence) and Form
  • Link Between Feminism And Obesity
    However when obesity rates in America triple in three decades, then something must be going on to cause such a large demographic shift. What has been going on over the last three decades, that is still going on, that may have effect on the obesity of the population?

    I would say, most definitely, third-wave feminism.
    Ilya B Shambat

    Above, children, observe the Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc in its natural habitat. This animal is, unfortunately, in no danger of going extinct any time soon.
    Now, children, repeat after me:
    "Correlation does not imply causation"
    "Correlation does not imply causation"
    "Correlation does not imply causation"

    What has been going on over the last three decades, that is still going on, that may have effect on the obesity of the population?Ilya B Shambat
    Oh, I don't know... what about industrialized food production, online shopping or reality TV?
    I bet you that I could fabricate some nice-sounding reasons why each of these is the single cause of obesity. (I kind of don't dare to do that online since there's sure to be SOMEONE who immediately believes that sh#t)
  • Are there any new age philosophers on the forum
    of course a field of study! I'd think that religion is a relevant topic in anthropology and psychology. And "New Age" is an interesting current development of religious practices, is it not?
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    just great... now I don't just have Hegel to read and reread again, now I need to do the same AGAIN with your posts..
    (just kidding. :grin: Thank you for your insightful words! It's just that, when I read them the first time, I'm swept away by the elegance of your sentences, It's like watching somebody dance. And then I tend to loose sight of the actual content and need to start over.)
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    Have to say though, Latin, German and Italian are easier for me to understand than Hegelese.Amity
    I agree! :grin: :lol:
    You know quite a bit of German, don't you? Du kannst mir gerne schreiben, wenn du deutsche Konversation üben möchtest..
  • The Identity and Morality of a soldier
    Our world is a war-ridden world. War, is a state of lawlessness — a disregard to the law.SethRy
    Perhaps war is a state of chaos, or, one might argue, a state of injustice.
    But it's certainly not lawless, is it? Humans came up with a huge amount of "martial law", from warriors' codes of honour to the Geneva Conventions...

    Are Soldiers, of whom fuel the scope of war, responsible for immoral actions that occur without the central guidance of the law? Furthermore, are soldiers different people in different places? Should they be responsible, would they no longer be responsible if peace is acclaimed?SethRy
    I like the German answer to this problem. See here:

    In Germany, a soldier is a "citizen in uniform". He or she is part of chain of command, but in some situations has the right or even the duty to refuse a command:
    "Generally he has to obey.
    He may but need not obey if the order has obviously no legitimate aim (e. g. "clean my boots" in usual situations), violates the soldier's own human dignity (e. g. "run into the city and shout that you are a fool"), or is unconscionable (e. g. obliges the soldier to spend amounts of his own money above limits mentioned in directives).
    He must not obey if the order violates others' human dignity, international law or consists of a crime (including a misdemeanor). Otherwise, subordinates are guilty of their deeds if their criminal character was obvious to them."
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    Is it just me, or was that one rather more easy?

    However, this in-itself is abstract universality, in which its nature, which is to be for itself, and the self-movement of the form are both left out of view. — Hegel
    Until here, we continue from before, right? Abstract universality is nice, but useless, because it's somehow incomplete (not sure I get the "otherness" and the overcoming of that alienation, though).

    Precisely because the form is as essential to the essence as the essence is to itself, the essence must not be grasped and expressed as mere essence, which is to say, as immediate substance or as the pure self-intuition of the divine. Rather, it must likewise be grasped as form in the entire richness of the developed form, and only thereby is it grasped and expressed as the actual — Hegel
    Now, this is actually rather clear, isn't it?
    The key words are "form" and "essence" I guess. Thankfully no trouble with the translation, the German "Form" and "Wesen" have pretty much the same range of meanings.
    Well, "Form" has the additional meaning of "mold", and "Wesen" can also be a "creature" (as anyone who watches the series "Grimm" would know...) - but Hegel's context is clear enough to avoid those ambiguities.
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    This group discussion is a bit of a mix. Apparently taking place during a first read, hence the advice to carry on and not get bogged down. It seems we carry on - in various stages of ignorance - and return later, having gained an overall picture. Or in the perhaps vain hope of

    ... looking at Hegel to supply that clarity. — tim wood

    Wise words.
    I guess that Hegel wrote this text with his peers and contemporaries in mind. It was probably much easier for them to get his allusions and references. And without that whole background, it's indeed a challenge for us to find any stable ground at all.
    For that reason we should probably rely on our more knowledgeable participants as well as secondary literature to point us in the right direction (thank you for linking all those useful resources!)

    I like to note and understand key words first...Amity
    Good idea. If we can at least keep track of some key words, that's a big step already, and the glossary is a huge help there.
    I myself like to use a kind of falsification method... not sure how to describe that in English, an "Ausschlussverfahren"? As in, I see what ideas, associations and hypotheses I can come up with myself, and then check if they hold up under scrutiny: Test them against the text itself, and with external sources, shave them with Occams razor and see what remains.
    For example, my association with Plotin is probably nonsense if we have much closer, more contemporary candidates in Spinoza and Kant.
    (I take this from the way I tackle Latin translations... I go with my first vague understanding of a sentence, and then check the grammar in detail to see if it matches my thesis. A lot of times I have to discard my first idea, or at least revise it significantly, but it gives me a starting point)
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    Good point, I'll make sure to sort out the quote function in future! Sorry about that!

  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    everything hangs on
    grasping and expressing the true not just as substance but just as much as subject.
    tim wood
    Now, I'm not an expert, but this part reminds me of Plotin a little. It sounds like substance is To Hen, the platonic oneness which is totally abstract, and according to Hegel it requires a notion of being a subject, an awareness, a reflection on itself - as the platonic "nous", intellect.

    if thinking only unifies the being of substance with itself and grasps immediacy, or intuition grasped as thinking, then there is the issue about whether this intellectual intuition does not then itself relapse into inert simplicitytim wood
    "inert simplicity" - I think this is what Hegel tries to avoid at all cost. He likes the idea of there being a universal principle, but an unchanging, abstract oneness is useless in his eyes. He wants this highest notion to be aware, dynamic, "begreiflich" (graspable...)
    Or am I getting that wrong? I feel that I may be over-simplifying matters.

    it is in truth actual only insofar as it is the movement of self-positing, or, that it is the mediation of itself and its becoming-other-to-itself.tim wood
    And here we have another notion of change, of constant movement and reflection, right? The living substance.
    Would it be too speculative to go back to our child and acorn metaphor?
    As in: a newborn child is a fully realized human in itself. But at the same time, it is in some ways only a potential, it is in constant change. A human being is can be grasped only in their current state, in their current age and development. And in the next moment, they will already have changed.
    But in a way, a human is also the sum of all his moments, past and present:
    it is the mediation of itself and its becoming-other-to-itself.tim wood

  • On Antinatalism
    This is different because me consuming slightly more or slightly less energy barely helps anyone. Even if I don't eat that much food, that doesn't mean it translates to a hungry child in Africa eating it probably just means more food losskhaled
    Yes, that's the "I can't make that much of a difference on my own, so why should I try" argument. I hear that all the time when in try to talk people into caring for politics.
    I think that we should just do our best, both in our personal conduct and in trying to change the system.

    . It would be great if you started a petition to boycott those shoes until conditions improve, but you don't have to. If you think you have to then you're committing an atrocity by your own values by wasting time typing here instead of starting that petitionkhaled
    Yes, exactly. I try for an ethical conduct in that sense, but I often wonder if what I do is enough, if I should not try much harder and give away more of my money and time.

    In my system of values, doing good is not a must but it is encouraged (because it's called doing GOOD)khaled
    How come you don't think that doing good is a duty? Being caught up in an unjust system, is it enough to just draw back and not care? Shouldn't we at least try to make it a better world, to the best of our ability?
    For example, I'd be totally with you on the not-having-children thing, if the reason was "reduce overpopulation" instead of "prevent the harm of living to befall the child".
    however never at the expense of harming someone in the process without them knowing.khaled
    Isn't that second part of the sentence rather impossible to achieve? All of our actions have effects on other people, and our inactions, too. And we cannot always know in advance what exactly is going to happen. We're human and we're not perfect. When we consider an action that we hope is good overall, I believe that the risk of doing harm must be carefully considered, but it's not enough to veto the action automatically.

    The stakes aren't even close. In this case you have all the necessary data to determine that 80 years of life is not a light transgression, no where near taking someone to the hospital which is a very light transgression.khaled
    Ah, so are you admitting then, that we violate other people's right to consent all the time? That we also cause harm, be it because we don't have the right data, because we need to choose the lesser of two evils, because we didn't even notice or simply because we don't care...

    Then, you're saying, that it is a matter of scale and opportunity?
    As in: Not having children is an easy step to take to prevent a lot of harm, so we should do that. And it's independent of whatever else we may or may not do in our lives. As when you state:
    antinatalism isn't about how you live your life it's just the simple statement that you can't take risks with other people's lives.khaled
    But as a consequence, you're still giving up on humanity as a whole.
    If we don't take a risk with other people's lives without their consent, then we cannot keep existing. That's how it is, tough luck.

    You say that it's not about any kind of balancing game, that the question is not whether the joys of life outweigh the suffering. But in the end, it is.
    When someone argues that the joys of living may well be worth the suffering, you reply with "the absence of suffering is good, and the absences of joy is not bad", right?
    Since human life will contain both joy and suffering, it's better for humans not to exist.

    That's where I don't follow. In spite of all the horrible stuff I enjoy being alive quite a lot. I still have hope for us humans, and that includes future generations.
  • On Antinatalism
    1- doing X to someone is bad and doing Y to someone is good
    2- You do not have to do Y but you do have to avoid X

    It doesn't matter what X and Y are but so far I haven't seen anyone that challenges those premises.

    I do.

    I like your arguments in favour of antinatalism. They are precise, clear and valid.
    Not having children is an ethical personal choice based on a valid set of premises - I like that a lot better than the rather fuzzy preconception that having children is just "the natural thing to do".
    And if all humans make that choice and humanity will cease to exist - well, then that's a consequence of free will.
    Humanity will not endure eternal anyways, and this would be a rather dignified and elegant way to go. (I don't think it will happen... dignified and elegant are rather rare traits among humans)

    I personally don't have children, and won't have any. But it's a more pragmatic and situational choice. I see no need to add to an already too large population count on earth. And anyway, my wife doesn't want children and my marriage is vastly more important to me than the theoretical joys of parenthood.

    That being said, I promised to challenge your premises, right?
    So here goes:
    1- doing X to someone is bad and doing Y to someone is good
    2- You do not have to do Y but you do have to avoid X

    The Antinatalist position reminds me of ascetic Jainism... just refrain from an action altogether.
    It's nice to have such clearly defined ethics, but I don't think they work that well in the real world.

    Consider your statement "you do have to avoid X" - does that only count for future generations?
    Or are you buying fair-trade goods exclusively as to avoid harm to exploited workers? Do you consume only your fair share of energy and water, so that you are not robbing fellow humans of necessary resources? Avoiding harm to others is not that easily done...

    The "not having to do good" is another one I don't agree with. I believe that helping and caring for other human beings is as much a duty as the "do no harm" part.
    We are not all independent entities, living our lives largely disconnected from each other - in which case the "avoid to harm" is all we need for a peaceful and ethical existence. Instead, we live in close relation. From the social bonds of friends and family, to our social circles, our nations, and even people on the other side of the globe: with all of our choices and actions we affect each other.
    I think we need to acknowledge this and take responsibility for each other. Not doing harm is only one side. If you are in a position to help and don't do it, that's equally unethical.

    And very often it's not even clear to us if a certain action is going to do harm or do good in the end.
    For example: Buying shoes for a homeless person in my village: Good, isn't it? But buying cheap shoes supports those companies that produce shoes under horrible working conditions in Bangladesh, thus I'm perpetuating the harm done to other people there.
    Not to mention issues of consent... if I a bring an unconscious person to a hospital, am I doing good? Or am I disrespecting their free will, as they are currently unable to give consent, and maybe they don't want medical treatment? Well, as long as I cannot obtain consent I will just have to go with my best guess... In daily life, ethical choices are horribly fuzzy and we constantly need to make decisions without having all the necessary data.

    So I would personally put the premises like this:
    1- doing X to someone is bad and doing Y to someone is good
    2- You must try to do Y and you must try to avoid X

    I recognize that it is both very difficult to truly avoid harming others, and to always obtain proper consent from those affected by your actions. And still I would not recommend inaction as being the solution but rather that everyone do their best and try to come out with a positive balance in the end.

    Having a child means bringing some harm to that child. True. Having a child, it is impossible to acquire prior consent from them. True.
    Still, if you have carefully considered the matter and estimate that your child will appreciate life more that he or she will abhor the related suffering, then it is an ethical choice to have a child.
  • Reading Group, Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Walter Kaufman.
    the gift of a problem to future generations.Valentinus
    A most generous gift! (and I love how you phrased that)

    Thank you all for your helpful comments! I currently feel that I have nothing useful to add, but I'm following this discussion with great enjoyment.

    One comment, perhaps: I find the translation to be very good. I, at least, found no clues or meanings in the German text of #15 and #16 that weren't adequately represented in the English translation also. In #16, the English was even easier to read than the rather convoluted German sentences...
  • Is belief in the supernatural an intelligent person’s game?
    There must be a degree of weakness of mind allowed for describing those who believe in the supernatural.Razorback kitten
    There must be a degree of weakness in those, too, that light themselves a fire because the night is chilly.
    Admittedly a matter of convenience. Huddling at the fire may dull our natural resistance against the elements and we'll get burned if we're not careful. But still, many decide that the comfort it offers makes up for the disadvantages.
    Would you call that 'weak', or would you call it 'inventive'?

    Because religion offers the only answers other than the truthRazorback kitten
    Is that so? I tend to be suspicious of anyone who claims to know "the truth" in an absolute sense.

    the truth (that there is no reason for us being here and it's simply lights out). Some people can't handle that reality, regardless of intelligence.Razorback kitten
    Well, in that case, I freely admit that I'm one of those who can't handle it.
    Because let me tell you a secret: I'm a human, and I'm not very rational - regardless of intelligence.
    Therefore I cling to the stories and concepts that help me make sense of the world, as they give me comfort and hope. ( I also try to avoid staring into the flames until I'm blind to the rest of the world, as the fanatics tend to do. )