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    15 Jun '05 21:48
    Now that we are mostly free to criticise Christianity, Islam and other fanatic religions, and given that one doesnt want to turn into any "new age" Buddhist branch, is there an opening for philosophy to guide humankind ethically and improve our understanding of the world? Is there a way for Western Civilisation to be free from imposing religions, now that the father, the son, and the pigeon seem to leave us in peace to think and act? Are there any better and more rational ways of studying the metaphysical?
  2. Oz
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    16 Jun '05 09:33
    I suggest that anyone who feels the same way posts something thougtful along the same vein, criticising Christianity is fine but it seems a new philosophy is in order as you say.

    Here's something to get started, i quote Nietzsche who speaks of a real and contemporary fear that, 'the mob could become master, and all time be drowned in shallow waters.' I suppose that's the worst case scenario, an eternity of repeats until this show reaches it's finale.
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    16 Jun '05 10:35
    I am not sure wether i can agree with "a" new philosophy. Why not just philosophy, i.e. the process of searching the truth(s), the ethic and selfconsciousness using reason? Regardless of which is ones personal belief (i.e. even if I agree with it 😀) probably the method is more important than the conclusion. If we look for "a" philosophy we are in danger of replacing christianity for another equally dogmatic belief. What do you think?
  4. Oz
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    16 Jun '05 13:21
    I think i see what you're getting at, yet i think though the best compromise that can be reached is that people have their own philosophy or dogma. I think that if you popularise anything, even what you propose (ironic that i'm applying this to the idea of free thought), you find an inevitable dogma at the end of it.
    It sounds strange i know, but most people prefer a reasuring conclusion to persistent searching (the irony is that persistent searching may be seen as an end in itself, and not a means to an end). I think the best we can hope for is (in terms of a wider society, not so much in how we choose to conduct ourselves) a plethora of dogmas.

    I suppose that's where i've reached a compromise, i don't really mind what people believe, just why they believe it. What's the foundation of a belief or idea? Is it sound rationalisation to their faculties best? Is it part of an insecurity or is it willfull ignorance? It's hard to live up to higher ideals, but it's good to hear you're putting in the effort. Me? I'm just happy doing martial arts, which is good because in the real world i find conversation like this hard to come by.
  5. London
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    16 Jun '05 16:472 edits
    Originally posted by senato
    Are there any better and more rational ways of studying the metaphysical?
    "Whether, besides philosophy, any further doctrine is required?

    Objection 1. It seems that, besides philosophical science, we have no need of any further knowledge. For man should not seek to know what is above reason: "Seek not the things that are too high for thee" (Sirach 3:22). But whatever is not above reason is fully treated of in philosophical science. Therefore any other knowledge besides philosophical science is superfluous."

    (St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/100101.htm )
  6. Oz
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    18 Jun '05 12:54
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    "Whether, besides philosophy, any further doctrine is required?

    Objection 1. It seems that, besides philosophical science, we have no need of any further knowledge. For man should not seek to know what is above reason: "Seek not the things that are too high for thee" (Sirach 3:22). But whatever is not above reason is fully treated of in philosop ...[text shortened]... ."

    (St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/100101.htm )
    St. Thomas of Aquinas born somewhere between 1225-1227 A.D, a time referred to as the dark ages, we've come a long way since then my friend, that's all anyone really needs to know. The possibilities, freedoms we have today came from the renaissance, your car, your computer, your fridge, your vote (no more kings divine right to rule) all by expanding knowledge into the way minds, matter, energy, nay the world, works.

    These were the areas of forbidden knowledge, we've left that world behind. I'd like to celebrate that fact by quoting Galileo, "The Bible tells how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go." That's if you actually believe in the bible. Personally, i don't take literally, a book that's gone through several language translations (not including changes from olde to modern english), and whos' entire first half was spread by word of mouth for a good while (Chinese whispers anyone?).

    Though i admit to enjoying some of Christs parables in the new testament, i thought the art of war was a much more practicle and enjoyable book. I thought the Chuang-tzu was also interesting, offering insight into the human condition, it didn't pretend to have too many answers but i felt it asked a lot of interesting questions. I also intend to read the Quran when i get the chance, and will get back to you when i do.

    If you were a hindu i wouldn't mind your advice, but since there are so many bible thumping X-ians here, the repetition gets on my nerves. Maybe next time you can pretend to be a Muslim, you know add a little variety?
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    18 Jun '05 14:46
    I have some questions: "Is popularising definately leading to a dogma and if yes what is the Golden Mean between popular and elitist?"
    "Is there an end to the search for the truth other than death?".

    On the first question I think that it is inevitable the formation of "Schools" of thought with less variation of ideas between members than between schools. The reason i think it is inevitable is the way i think such a society will come into existance through groups of people that share "inquietnesses" (sorry i cannot find a better word), i.e. the driving force behind a philosophical search. This is as long as each group and invividual respects each others opinion and debates through non vilent channels (unlike christianity and islam).
    On whether one reaches a dogma i tend to be equally optimistic 🙂 but probably it is also a question of method. That is i believe that one gets middle results on that search that my belief so far is that does not end before life does, and should give them up when confronted with evidence against them in search for new.
    On the second question which is the essence of religion, i tend to believe that once the fear of death has been overcome and it is seen as another waypoint in ones life that happens to be the last, then you see that there is probably something very important about it. That it is Ithaca and even if, as the Greek poet Kavafy wrote, i wish for my trip towards it to be long it is a destination. I find it central to the argument because it is what religion has been using to convince people on the one hand (the fear of the unknown the ultimate of which is death) and on the other hand it could be a possible solution to the question: "Does the search ever end?".

    On the Galileans (Christians) reasoning I quote Julian: "It will be worthwhile to re-examine briefly from where and how the concept of God came to mankind in the first place and then to compare what has been said about the divine by the Greeks and by the Hebrews. Only then will we ask those who are neither Greeks nor Jews but are of the faction of the Galilaeans why they preferred the teachings of the Jews to ours and furthermore why they do not remain constant in the Jewish faith but have diverged from it and turned to a path of their own. For they have not accepted a single one of the noble and profound teachings held by us Greeks or of those given to the Hebrews by Moses but from both traditions they have harvested elements which have as it were been grafted on to these peoples like evil fates: atheism from Jewish frivolity and from our triviality and extravagance an ignoble and squalid way of life. And this they wish to be called the highest form of the worship of God! " to answer that the proper frase was: "Measure of everything human (PAN METRON ANTHROPOS)" and not "Seek not the things that are too high for thee" and it was not meant to stop people from searching rather remind them that their point of view is always human and still it is questionable. Sorry for the polemic but 2000 years of oscurism resulted very frustrating.
    I would like very much to hear you opinions on the question and my reasoning.
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    18 Jun '05 15:001 edit
    Originally posted by Spacemonkey7
    I'm just happy doing martial arts, which is good because in the real world i find conversation like this hard to come by.
    I think even if we are free there is still long time for the catastrophy of the Galilaeans to be undone. While we wait, instead of martial arts i pass my time mountain walking and travelling.
  9. London
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    21 Jun '05 15:46
    Originally posted by Spacemonkey7
    St. Thomas of Aquinas born somewhere between 1225-1227 A.D, a time referred to as the dark ages, we've come a long way since then my friend, that's all anyone really needs to know. The possibilities, freedoms we have today came from the renaissance, your car, your computer, your fridge, your vote (no more kings divine right to rule) all by expanding k ...[text shortened]... ets on my nerves. Maybe next time you can pretend to be a Muslim, you know add a little variety?
    What difference does it make whether I am Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim? Shouldn't you be evaluating the content of my post rather than what you perceive to be my personal shortcomings? Isn't that what "objectivity" (a very fundamental principle of science, wouldn't you say?) means?

    Most of your post has nothing to say about Thomistic philosophy in general or metaphysics and ethics in particular, so I see no point responding to it.

    Oh, and when exactly did you think William of Ockham and Francis Bacon (the fathers of scientific philosophy) lived? Or, for that matter, Aristotle (the grand-daddy of all science)?
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    22 Jun '05 08:35
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    "Whether, besides philosophy, any further doctrine is required?

    Objection 1. It seems that, besides philosophical science, we have no need of any further knowledge. For man should not seek to know what is above reason: "Seek not the things that are too high for thee" (Sirach 3:22). But whatever is not above reason is fully treated of in philosop ...[text shortened]... ."

    (St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/100101.htm )
    I disagree with you, primarily because the issue of God is off limits to the Christians, but other people might want to discuss it. The reason is that it is considered an insult by the Christians to question the existance of God. It is of curse very understandable because Christianity is based on the notion of dogma. This means that in some fields you are not allowed to question the teachings and if you do so you will get the usual: "Believe and dont seek", it is an act of faith. In my opinion, since there cannot be any proof whether god(s) exists or not there can be no real conversation on the matter of the existance of the God(s), you either believe they exist or not. There can however be a debate on religius method and the character of those Gods, and if their teachings are beneficial for the person and the society. Again in my opinion on both Christianity has a negative influence, however since many ancient religions survive through Chritianity (since "the Galilaean" religion was started by a reformist rabbi named Jesus, had no tradition except the Jewish and has since been enriched with many other traditions and teachings) it is useful i believe to study it. Also it is negative i think for the individual not to be able to judge the caracter of his God(s), which is what i think you are refering to by your quote.
    However I dont think Christianity should be accepted as one doctrine since it has prooven the catastrophic results that can have at least on the society when it is (see history of the last 2000 years), instead it should be studied in parts and each part judged against ones own measures. To conclude i think that the same applies for the God(s) character, even though the Galilaeans dont like to talk about the character of their beloved Yahweh.
  11. London
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    22 Jun '05 16:48
    Originally posted by senato
    I disagree with you, primarily because the issue of God is off limits to the Christians, but other people might want to discuss it. The reason is that it is considered an insult by the Christians to question the existance of God. It is of curse very understandable because Christianity is based on the notion of dogma. This means that in some fields you are no ...[text shortened]... cter, even though the Galilaeans dont like to talk about the character of their beloved Yahweh.
    It seems to me that you have understood neither the quote nor why I posted it here.

    The quote (the first paragraph of the very first article in the Summa) addresses the question of whether philosophy is a sufficient discipline (say, to derive human morals). And Aquinas answers in the negative (if you read the link).

    It does not deal with the question of the existence of God (which is, however, addressed elsewhere in the Summa!)
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    23 Jun '05 02:341 edit
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    It seems to me that you have understood neither the quote nor why I posted it here.

    The quote (the first paragraph of the very first article in the Summa) addresses the question of whether philosophy is a sufficient discipline (sa ...[text shortened]... ence of God (which is, however, addressed elsewhere in the Summa!)
    It might be that i have not understood enough of your quote or that i have understood too much of what it implies. Mr. Thomas Aquinas, and yourself that quote him, apparently seem to think that philosophy is not suitable for studying the ethical values (those things that you say are too high). Instead it proposes to leave such things to his god Yahweh (reply to objection 1). Now I think that not only does this assume the existance of a god, it also claims that it is possible to speak to that god.
    I disagree as I told you before that things as important as ethics should be left to dogma and should be instead investigated for their source and the reason we believe them. When i told you that i understood too much i was probably right since the object of your Mr. Thomas teaching is to stop me (among others) from searching into the basis of the human existance as these things are to big. I suppose that this means that i am too small to treat those matters. First of all this is offensive but, truly i dont really know if i can investigate such important matters. I am ill equipped probably because of christian doctrine imposed on my early education. However the damage that christianity has done in my eduction i am determined to mend and look for the answers to my questions and stop only when my reason ends and not where dogmatic borders exist. Meanwhile you are free to speak to Yahweh if you think that he is the only source of knowledge. If he has an idea on whether popularising brings dogma i would like to hear it.
  13. Oz
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    23 Jun '05 11:41
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    What difference does it make whether I am Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim? Shouldn't you be evaluating the content of my post rather than what you perceive to be my personal shortcomings? Isn't that what "objectivity" (a very fundamental principle of science, wouldn't you say?) means?

    Most of your post has nothing to say about Thomistic philo ...[text shortened]... scientific philosophy) lived? Or, for that matter, Aristotle (the grand-daddy of all science)?
    It makes no difference to me what you are, but it does to you, that's why we have a failure to communicate, it's the simple fact your Christianity holds no water with me, i find it irrelevant. You don't need my objectivity to help approve of your belief system, surely? I simply choose not to give it, why am i such a bastard you ask?

    You gave me a dead philosopher with dead philosophy, then put science on the same pedastal. Science is not a faith, it is the objective pursuit of truth within our tangible reality. That is why it is compatible with any faith worth it's salt, if a search for God is not the search for truth then it has become a lie. We've moved on since Bacon, and cosmology is far ahead of Aristotle. Science is dynamic, but it's the same tired old christianity.

    Still, at the end of the day we're just different people, and that's ok with me as long as knowone's trying to legislate your beliefs, since Christianity doesn't even constitute a majority of the worlds religiously inclined anyway. Sorry if i'm not nice, i just no reason to prolong our discussion by playing diplomats, since neither of us is likely to change his/her mind.
  14. Oz
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    23 Jun '05 12:541 edit
    Originally posted by senato
    I have some questions: "Is popularising definately leading to a dogma and if yes what is the Golden Mean between popular and elitist?"
    "Is there an end to the search for the truth other than death?".

    On the first question I think tha ...[text shortened]... e very much to hear you opinions on the question and my reasoning.
    I'll answer as my faculty allows 😉

    You've cited a journey as a conclusion in itself. Ideas are often similar, you create a new idea, it takes on a life of it's own as it's presented and enters the minds of others and over time it looses that energy, then it tends to begin all over again with another idea. If you could follow popular consciousness it like the creature described, characterised by its' short attention span. Due to this, 'popular' is unlikely in my opinion, philosophy is not therefore necessarily elitist, but individual and deeply personal, and not comfortable under the scrutiny of popular opinion if it has an original thought in it's makeup. If it has a mean, it is simply in philosophically minded people communicating to others, like minded or no and spreading their beliefs into their immediate community simply, by being themselves.

    This is simply my own observation, i have no criticism with the points you've brought up as they are well reasoned. I can only attempt to give another view or expand on what's already been said. I can only say that there is an inherant foolishness in pursuing knowledge for it's own sake, and cite the obvious ideas that knowledge should have relevance to actions taken in life, and that while knowledge has no boundaries we only have so many years. The concepts of heaven and hell resound in my mind as primitive threats, playing on the fear of the uncertainty of death. I feel a degree of pity for those who choose to live their lives under such an oppressive threat, but i believe in free will, ignorance is always a choice.

    In terms of knowledge of the journey after death, it is a questionmark that preys on uncertainty. I don't believe in the idea of 'faith' (i love oxymorons), things are or they aren't. Everything else is speculation and people should feel free to speculate, experiment with ideas, on the metaphysical, the spiritual, and how it relates to the psychological (particularly mortality). There is no anchor of cetainty to elevate it above speculation, aside from esoteric experiences. The search on this question ultimately never ends because the only tangible certainty surrounding it... is death, a certain conclusion to our given time.

    I've never seen it as a cause for despair, or impropriety however. Blindfaith can give people hope, comfort and certainty of the future regardless of their faith, so would it shock you when i say i think there very well could be a God. It's just the God in my mind is very different, but in the end it's just the same speculation, i simply see it as such.

    Funnily enough though i view the Gallileans in an almost positive, revolutionary light, let me explain. I imagine that when Christianity first emerged in its' contemporary world it was like a revelation that shook the foundations of an established order, the reality of the times and that science for Judaic peoples was solely their religion (what science?). No longer was god promising a tangible piece of soil but now he was offerring a spiritual kingdom. It almost seems like a capitulation, a rationalisation justifying their subservient position to Rome, and i suppose that's how it was seen in Rome when Constantine raised it from the state of a fringe cult. It was criticised as a religion of weakness that drained the strength of Rome, as now the weak were the righteous.

    This criticism aside, it was still a new idea and the rockbed for much of contemporary morality. I imagine that it was exciting and dynamic at the time, the establishment of a new world order or utopic ideal for its practitioners. This however was not to last, it's intellectual fathers perished and it was adopted by a man to bolster an empire. Ideas tend to outlive their founders and are then used by people who don't tend to completely comprehend them creating distortions (just expanding on earlier points).

    I'll be sure to put some questions to you Senato when they come to mind, in the meantime i hope you're enjoying those mountain walks.
  15. London
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    23 Jun '05 13:412 edits
    Originally posted by senato
    It might be that i have not understood enough of your quote or that i have understood too much of what it implies. Mr. Thomas Aquinas, and yourself that quote him, apparently seem to think that philosophy is not suitable for studying the eth ...[text shortened]... ea on whether popularising brings dogma i would like to hear it.
    I might have been a bit snappish in my post - I apologise.

    Neither Aquinas nor I think that philosophy is not suitable for studying ethics (indeed, ethics is a branch of philosophy!) However, I do think that philosophy, in itself, is insufficient to develop a complete, non-arbitrary, universal code of ethics. If you wish to follow this train of thought further, you can take a look at some of the onging discussions on ethics in various threads (e.g. The Bad Thing about Christians). This is IMO, one of the implications of the quote from the Summa I provided.

    However, neither Aquinas nor the Church nor I have argued that philosophy is unnecessary for the development of ethics.

    The object of Aquinas teaching is most definitely not to stop you (or anyone) from searching into the basis of human existence. This is a gross misrepresentation both of the objection and of Aquinas' reply to the objection. Rather, it emphasises that human reason has limits - especially on matters of theology. What the article actually demonstrates is that human knowledge is (actually or potentially) greater than merely the sum of philosophical knowledge.

    I don't know what your Christian background is and I'm sorry it seems to have traumatised you so much. However, there is much more to Christianity (and philosophy in the Christian tradition!) than, what it seems, you were taught.

    EDIT: A favourite document of mine (and ivanhoe's) is Pope John Paul II's encyclical on the relationship between faith and reason (Fides et ratio). You might want to take a look at it some time:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_15101998_fides-et-ratio_en.html (the text of the encyclical)

    http://www.nd.edu/%7Eafreddos/papers/fides-et-ratio-notes.htm (a good set of notes on Fides et Ratio)

    http://www.nd.edu/%7Eafreddos/papers/f&r-radicalvision-revised.pdf (a reflection on the manner in which contemporary philosophy actually devalues reason and how Fides et Ratio reaffirms it)

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/fides2.htm (one of my favourite reflections on the encyclical)

    Finally, yes - this Question does presuppose the existence of God. However the Summa, as a whole, does not. Indeed, Aquinas addresses the existence of God in the very next Question. Only once he has established that it is reasonable to believe in the existence of God, once he has determined the nature and operations of such a God, does he move on to other matters. This is a purely philosophical approach.

    EDIT: I must also add that it is Aquinas (and Aristotle before him) who actually defends your right and ability as a rational creature to inquire into the nature and causes of things and reality. You can contrast this with, for instance, Plato, Kant or Hume.
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