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A question about humanism
Posted: 24 November 2011 07:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Write4U - 24 November 2011 06:18 PM

Emotion cannot be assigned a value, other than mild or intense subjective feelings.

Emotion causes you to value (want/need/desire) an object. I use the term “value” not in the numerical sense, but to mean something desired, something of value.

Write4U - 24 November 2011 06:18 PM

Rationality cannot be assigned a belief, other than ability to come to logical conclusions based on factual information.

I’m using the terms reason/belief to mean the model of the world that we build in our heads based on sense data and associations. Those beliefs may be accurate/rational, or not.

Write4U - 24 November 2011 06:18 PM

Intense emotion will often overcome rationality and compel us to act irrationally. Disciplined rationality can assist us in overcoming irrational emotional responses.

Intense emotion gives priority to a single emotion rather than maximising the overall satisfaction of multiple desires. One emotion overcomes other emotions. In this sense, I would say emotion causes us to act impulsively rather than irrationally.

David Hume: “Nothing can oppose or retard the impulse of passion, but a contrary impulse ... the principle, which opposes our passion, cannot be the same with reason, and is only called so in an improper sense”.

Emotion can, however, cloud your judgement and lead to false/irrational beliefs.

Hence we are all driven by emotional values, from which there is no escape. We only differ in our beliefs about the world, and how best to satisfy those needs.

[ Edited: 24 November 2011 07:56 PM by xntubes ]
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Posted: 24 November 2011 09:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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domokato - 24 November 2011 02:34 PM

Also, I think I was confusing “secular humanism” or “Humanism” (capital H), with “humanism”, the focus on human values. Also, this dictionary definition tripped me up:

The name Humanism comes from the idea that it is a human centered philosophy, rather than the old god center ones.  That has no conflict at all with the Evolutionary bush that places the humans on one branch, one among many.

Since Humanism is the proper name of a formal philosophy, it gets capitalized.  Since Christianity is the proper name of a religion, it gets capitalized.  Since secular, agnostic and atheist are just ordinary adjectives, why capitalize them?

Humanism, being human based, does not pit emotions against intellect any more than biology does.  Humanism does not attempt to refine, nor redefine what humanity is, it just follows the facts (empiricism) about humanity.

[ Edited: 24 November 2011 10:06 PM by jump_in_the_pit ]
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Posted: 26 November 2011 02:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Oh I see. I’m pretty much a humanist then. Thanks for all the info everyone grin

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Posted: 26 November 2011 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Yeah sure, most people here are Humanists, that’s because Humanism is the grand and refined idea, a fully developed philosophy rather than just the start of a philosophy.  That’s why the CFI is promoting Humanism over agnostic or atheist, because Humanism includes all that anyway, that was the point of assembling all the ideas under one name.  Humanism allows people to move past the semantic debate of irreligious, skeptic, agnostic, atheist, secular, naturalist, empiricist, and many more and move ahead with actions, that’s the big point.  smile  Again I recommend Corliss Lamont, because this thread still hasn’t rivaled his book yet.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 26 November 2011 12:05 PM

Yeah sure, most people here are Humanists, that’s because Humanism is the grand and refined idea, a fully developed philosophy rather than just the start of a philosophy.  That’s why the CFI is promoting Humanism over agnostic or atheist, because Humanism includes all that anyway, that was the point of assembling all the ideas under one name.  Humanism allows people to move past the semantic debate of irreligious, skeptic, agnostic, atheist, secular, naturalist, empiricist, and many more and move ahead with actions, that’s the big point.  smile  Again I recommend Corliss Lamont, because this thread still hasn’t rivaled his book yet.

Lol. I may have to pick it up then.

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Posted: 30 November 2011 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I casually call myself a humanist, but I don’t think I can pretend to have based that on any kind of disciplined study of the history of the humanist movement.  For what it’s worth, and to indulge myself, I’ll make an attempt to respond to domokato’s original question.

As much as I think the scientific method is the best, really only, method that has much value in coming to a functional understanding of existence, I must embarrassingly admit that I’m pretty sure I function from a few ideas I take on “faith”.  (I don’t consider these ideas “religious tenets”, because I’m happy to have them challenged, but I can’t claim to be able to illustrate and define them as scientific theories).

First of all, I believe that the ways in which I perceive reality have some valid relationship to what really exists, and that I exist, (the Descartes thing),  but I have no proof for that.  Secondly, based on this, I believe other people and organisms exist and have, relatively, similar senses and responses to mine.  (I’m not saying a bacteria spends much time thinking about God, but it clearly responds to better and worse environments and struggles to survive/replicate.

The drive to survive and/or replicate seem to need to be inherent to any definition of “life” or “living.  (This idea seems to get very complicated in an age where we can create machines programmed to survive and replicate.) 

Then there’s the question of “good and evil”, or at least, “better or worse”.  It seems reasonable clear that most of the basis for moral and ethical structure is built around the drives for survival and replication and there are inherent conflicts between the drive for survival and the drive to replicate, i.e. Do you save your offspring or yourself if you’re both in danger?  Anyway, this gives me a fairly muddy basis to derive ethics and morals from. 

The reason I call myself a humanist, is that as an act of my kind of faith, I try, hard, to believe and act on the idea that other humans are fully equivalent to me.  (A self centered, nearly sociopathic statement, I know).  I believe and will act upon the belief that you, whoever is reading this, have the fully equivalent, if not identical, abilities to know and perceive pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, beauty and ugliness, love and hate that I do.  An injury to you is as great a wrong as an that injury would be to me, and your joy is as wonder-full and fulfilling as mine.

I think that probably makes me a humanist.

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Posted: 30 November 2011 01:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Jeciron - 30 November 2011 05:46 AM

I must embarrassingly admit that I’m pretty sure I function from a few ideas I take on “faith”.  (I don’t consider these ideas “religious tenets”, because I’m happy to have them challenged, but I can’t claim to be able to illustrate and define them as scientific theories).

Yeah sure, don’t sweat that at all Jeciron.  I just draw a line between passive and active beliefs and not worry about the passive ones, myself.  By passive I mean just what you described, a idle belief that you don’t have your heart set on. 

For example, I think most people sleep soundly each night fully believing that the Sun will rise tomorrow.  They would not argue passionately in support of the idea.  There really could be some rogue planet out there that flies by and changes things for the Earth, maybe the Sun won’t rise on that day, not that anyone should worry about that, its a really slim chance of that happening.  Active beliefs, like religious ones, a person would support in a debate, they are passionate about it, it is a real pursuit for people, these beliefs can be a problem sometimes.  I just think that belief is how the brain works, we have limited memory, limited experience, if we had to have the proof of every idea in our heads, then we’d never believe what anyone says at all!  That couldn’t work out well, ignoring your families stories until they show you the evidence, stopping at every intersection to look both ways before driving through it, not believing the news until you visit those foreign lands yourself.  That wouldn’t be practical. smile

Jeciron - 30 November 2011 05:46 AM

The reason I call myself a humanist, is that as an act of my kind of faith, I try, hard, to believe and act on the idea that other humans are fully equivalent to me.  (A self centered, nearly sociopathic statement, I know).  I believe and will act upon the belief that you, whoever is reading this, have the fully equivalent, if not identical, abilities to know and perceive pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, beauty and ugliness, love and hate that I do.  An injury to you is as great a wrong as an that injury would be to me, and your joy is as wonder-full and fulfilling as mine.

I think that probably makes me a humanist.

Mutual respect is good.  People are people.  Your rights begin, where my rights end.  I think you’re a humanist.  smile

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Posted: 06 December 2011 02:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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As a philosophy professor I once had said - “you pay your money and you take your choice”.

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Posted: 06 December 2011 02:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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joad - 06 December 2011 02:34 AM

As a philosophy professor I once had said - “you pay your money and you take your choice”.

knew*

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Posted: 06 December 2011 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Question, and this may be a matter of semantics, how can you be an athiest and not be a humanist? Athiests naturally take a monist approach to life and follow no religious tenants but maintain an ethical stance in society. We don’t break society’s laws, are generally well grounded in knowledge (or we wouldn’t be athiests) and productive citizens. If not we would be incarcerated. SO, don’t the two go hand-in-hand? does not the one compliment the other? Isn’t a secular humanist an athiest? Or am I completely in the dark?


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 06 December 2011 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Jack, I don’t see how one has anything to do with the other. Being an atheist simply means that one doesn’t believe in God and that’s all there’s to it. I certainly doubt atheism has anything to do with how we behave. In the Czech Republic almost everybody is an atheist but you’ll find the same moral spectrum among the population there as we would find it here in North America. If anything, people in the CR appear to me a lot less nice than here. (Which is the reason why I would never move back.)

I am equally skeptical about knowledge causing people to lose their faith. Once again, in the CR the very small percentage of people who are religious, are somewhere in between those with a degree and those with only a high school diploma—their education system is different from ours. The fact that in the U.S. one finds those with most education not having faith is, IMO, a result of some other underlying cause.

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Posted: 06 December 2011 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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That’s probably why, among other things, I find your posts so interesting. Coming from another culture, you bring a perspective not found here in my neck of the woods. I wonder if the CR’s exposure to Soviet Communism after the War had anything to with the fact that so many of your former countrymen are athiests. Once again my perspective is purely from the historical and not the scientific. I’m certain that somewhere we could find stats to prove that the more educated here are athiestic or agnostic or apathiests, at least in the West. One point that you and others have made me aware of is the genetic causes of behavior. Oakley’s book was particulary eye opening, as I know the history of the people and events mentioned I gave NO thought for the idea that genes had anything to do with their behavior. I have seen patterns develop in history that may be accounted for in part by genetics. Also you mention that some other underlying cause for athiesm in the West. I wonder what that cause may be? Socio-economic? disillusionment? there has to be a catalyst to enable or encourage an individual to turn away from something so comforting as religion. I know why I turned away from any religious belief and I read the thoughts of others here, some similar and some from other paths, mainly scientific but I can think of no other underlying cause. Oh well, on to reading more books and posts!


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 06 December 2011 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Being exposed to the evils of a specific religion long enough, one tends to build an aversion to all religions. The Salem witch hunts in the US were childsplay compared to the Inquisition in Europe.

[ Edited: 06 December 2011 01:35 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 06 December 2011 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I was about to respond to Cap’t Jack’s post when I read George’s answer.  It was clear, and documented with a better example than I could have given.

Occam

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Posted: 06 December 2011 04:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Jack,

The assumption that communism had a major effect on people giving up religion is very tempting, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Russia is as religious as any other European country and Poland or Croatia, for example, are probably even more so. I have no idea what happened to the Czechs, but the people there have been without religion for a long time now. Although my parents were baptized (it was a cultural thing), none of my grandparents was religious. Neither have I ever met anyone from my grandparents’ generation who was religious. What communism did accomplish though, was to prohibit religious practice for those who were religious. To my surprise, I recently found out that people of faih were allowed to emigrate. You need to understand how weird this in fact is, since people were usually not even allowed to visit other countries. But the communists didn’t want trouble, so they let them go; deep down they must have known that the whole reeducation business was not going to work out.

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