Friday, June 18, 2010

Thought for the day

Ownership of a telescope is the first step in disabusing oneself of the fallacy that literal truth inheres in any religious system.

7 comments:

  1. It's been a while! How are you?

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  2. Imagine we only supposed a truth to be a truth if it corresponded to direct, material (measurable phenomena) reality. What truth could we find in the idea of a "human right", for example? We'd have to throw out so many abstract notions; I think we'd be unable to function, socially.
    But yeah, I don't think any established religion can make claims to scientific truth. Except for SCIENCE, of course.

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  4. 'Imagine we only supposed a truth to be a truth if it corresponded to direct, material (measurable phenomena) reality. What truth could we find in the idea of a "human right", for example? We'd have to throw out so many abstract notions. I don't quite see what your point is here. First of all, the statement you are commenting on is not attacking the human capacity for abstract/symbolic thought (and I don’t quite glean how you have interpreted it this way); rather, it is challenging the particular kind of non-propositional and counterintuitive symbolic though found in types of scriptural literalism (so, if you really do happen to believe that the universe is approximately 4,000 years old, or that Cthulhu is really real, fair enough).

    From the perspective of Lovecraftian mechanistic materialism of course concepts such as ‘human rights’ are (again, non-propositional) abstractions and as such have no universal salience and are not fundamental moral absolutes. If you believe otherwise, I suggest you spend more time reading Tolkien and steer clear of Lovecraft (it continues to bemuse me that occultists and metaphysicians of various shades continues to assert that there is some sort of fundamental esoteric truth underpinning Lovecraft’s work). But to assume that we would be unable to function socially as a consequence of the recognition of this is an absurd and, quite frankly, immature concept. I may accept that human values have no ultimate significance but it does not stop me from treating other human beings with kindness and respect - minimally out of an expectation that this is all there is and that, therefore, to make the 'best 'of it we should approach one another from a standpoint of reciprocal altruism. Which ptoblematises the supposition that the only way we can function socially as human beings is by following the dictates of religion or other metaphysical claptrap. In relation to which, it strikes me that the most socially destructive, antihuman and genocidal acts have occurred precisely because they been legitimised via reference to the absolutism of a set of religious/metaphysical abstractions. So I'd turn this around and say that unthinking adherence or attachment to abstractions (especially of a metaphysical sort) actually facilitates (if note down right encourages) social disfunction in a way that atheism does not.

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  5. I think a danger lies in rendering notions of morality as simple social utilities and suggesting that they're not necessarily related to any notion of truth. I view that as a psychological impossiblity; the curse of subjectivity applies across the board. This is why the secular theology of a post-human transcendence has taken hold of so many materialists, I believe.
    Doing otherwise doesn't necessarily entail ascribing an absolute value to various moral precepts, but it does acknowledge the impossibility for human consciousness to somehow manage to hold some kind of objective truth in some kind of sealed chamber. Tolkiens' fantasies of monotheistic transcendence in many ways mirror Lovecrafts' fantasies of materialist terror; they're both wish-fulfillment fantasies rooted in dogma.
    It is a truth that humans have always desired these kinds of transcendent visions, and it is true, I think , that we always will. That the language of these truths ( That there is a mystery beyond measure) should somehow disappear is equally fantastical.

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  6. The notion of a human ability to firmly grasp some kind of concrete, objective truth, free from the curse of the subjectivity of the individual consciousness, is simply a new , quasi- religious ( and certainly metaphysical) abstraction that can no doubt inspire destruction similar to any others.

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