Re: MD On Faith

From: David Morey (
Date: Fri Oct 08 2004 - 21:39:17 BST

  • Next message: David Morey: "Re: MD A bit of reasoning"

    Hi Platt

    I am oppressed too. But I suspect if we divided the
    Earth's resources by the number of people you and
    me would be sitting quite near the top -score wise.
    So things are not so bad and we probably would not
    strap bombs on our bodies to sort out the oppression
    we suffer from all those folks higher than us in the pile.
    Now people can get pretty
    misled, and for me violence is a crap way to try and
    sort problems out if there is any other alternative and
    usually there is (we should try dropping more books and radios
    than bombs for instance), but just maybe, I say to myself,
    if someone is strapping a bomb to themselves, someone
    else has really been backing them into a corner. I can
    just imagine a John Wayne film where the hero does
    strap a bomb on himself and blows the baddies sky high.
    In films its the bad guys who get blown up, in life it generally
    seems to be the innocent. There are other sorts of oppression
    as you hint at. Inequality is always oppression unless we commonly
    agree it is fair. We lack this common agreement these days because
    the world is a diverse place but now more so than before it is a single
    living space. We need to reconstruct our solidarity. Where we
    are subject to the inequality that we have commonly accepted.
    It begins with something like accepting a common law because
    most of us reject rule by might is right. Its always kind of hard to
    persuade those that are currently in possession of might.
    For me terrorism is incapable of overcoming oppression, but
    I can't help thinking that behind such hopeless and destructive
    activity there is genuine oppression.I suggest, such is conscience.
    We need real international law as a way forward. We may always
    be oppressed, such is civilisation if it survives, we have to put up
    with other people and all the demands they put on us, but the hope
    is to have as little oppression as we can, is that not the highest
    goal of civilisation? It is what makes individuality possible.
    A place where we can agree to disagree and not a place where
    we fight it out to the death.


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Platt Holden" <>
    To: <>; <>
    Sent: Friday, October 08, 2004 3:29 PM
    Subject: RE: MD On Faith

    > Scott,
    > > I can deny it, up to the point that one could say that we all do
    > > based on certain unprovable assumptions. If I discover water on the
    > > after it rains, I will start making hypotheses that I have a leak here
    > > there, and test them. I have assumed that the water didn't just
    > > appear, though I can't prove that. Similarly, I can make a hypothesis
    > > rocks fall to earth at a steady acceleration, and I can test that. In
    > > that, I need not have assumed that this is a purposeless or amoral
    > > nor that chance is involved, nor that everything that I think is true
    > > be empirically verified (though I have chosen to verify this hypothesis
    > > empirically). Nor do I need to assume materialism, or that all events
    > > a cause (though I may be be looking for a cause in this case), or that
    > > everything is deterministic, or that nature is independent of human
    > > observation (I am looking for patterns -- it doesn't matter whether
    > > patterns exist independently of my observation or not), and so forth. No
    > > doubt most scientists do believe in a lot of these things, but it is not
    > > necessary to believe in these things in order to do science. However, it
    > > necessary to believe in God if one prays to or worships God.
    > It may not be necessary for scientists to have faith in all the
    > assumptions I listed, but I dare say most scientists do. Certainly it is
    > necessary for scientists to have faith in determinism, rationalism,
    > reductionism, empiricism, materialism, mechanism, and experimental
    > verification.
    > > There are cases, though, where scientists pretty much have to believe in
    > > materialism to proceed. One example is the attempt to find a material
    > > of consciousness. Strictly speaking, a belief in materialism is not
    > > required but it is extremely unlikely that one would expend that effort
    > > without the belief. No one likes to do things with the expectation of
    > > negative results.
    > Yes. And furthermore, science expects (has faith) that order exists in the
    > universe that science can comprehend.
    > > > Finally, terrorists adopt the biological moral code of "might makes
    > > > right." That's what makes terrorism a biological pattern.
    > >
    > > You've got it backwards. If I believe that my social group is being
    > > oppressed by another, that means that I think that there are social
    > > patterns that my group wants to pursue that the other is not allowing me
    > > do, and that it is able to oppress my group because it is mightier than
    > > mine. So if I believed that "might makes right" I would accept the
    > > oppression -- it is right that I be oppressed. I become a terrorist when
    > > decide to fight that perceived oppression, and since I assume the
    > > is mightier, I resort to terrorizing, as opposed to frontal assault, in
    > > hope that those terrorized will decide it is not worth continuing to
    > > oppress my social group (which is not to say that I may also be
    > > by vengeance, or whatever -- and I hope you don't assume I am attempting
    > > justify terrorism). This is adopting a violent means to a social end.
    > >
    > > There may be other reasons for terrorism, like a belief that my social
    > > group is superior to all others, and therefore the others should be
    > > converted to my group's way. But again, the use of force is as a means
    > > this social end, it is not what makes the social end right.
    > I agree with Pirsig that "might-makes-right" is a biological pattern:
    > "What's coming out of the urban slums, where old Victorian social moral
    > codes are almost completely destroyed, isn't any new paradise the
    > revolutionaries hoped for, but a reversion to rule by terror, violence and
    > gang death-the old biological might-makes-right morality of prehistoric
    > brigandage that primitive societies were set up to overcome." (Lila, 24)
    > Your use of the word "oppression" leaves much in limbo. Seems everyone
    > these days, in order to engender sympathy as victims, claims to be
    > oppressed. For instance, I, as a male WASP, am oppressed by feminists and
    > diversity advocates, not to mention the PC crowd. That's hardly an excuse
    > for me and my fellow WASPs to set off a bomb in Harvard Square, killing
    > innocent civilians as "a means to a social end."
    > Platt
    > >
    > >
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