1. Standard memberpyxelated
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    18 Jul '11 19:02
    This is from chesterton.org; you can read it here: http://209.236.72.127/wordpress/?page_id=1138 . Unfortunately they seem to have rearranged their site, so that readings that were easily accessible before are less so now, and only by IP, apparently.

    I think it's worth rereading once a month or so by anybody who regularly participates in debates/arguments, as it states some bedrock principles that all of us seem to forget at times, and some of us seem never to have learned 🙂

    Here 'tis. Enjoy.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Philosophy for the Schoolroom

    What modern people want to be made to understand is simply that all argument begins with an assumption; that is, with something that you do not doubt. You can, of course, if you like, doubt the assumption at the beginning of your argument, but in that case you are beginning a different argument with another assumption at the beginning of it. Every argument begins with an infallible dogma, and that infallible dogma can only be disputed by falling back on some other infallible dogma; you can never prove your first statement or it would not be your first. All this is the alphabet of thinking. And it has this special and positive point about it, that it can be taught in a school, like the other alphabet. Not to start an argument without stating your postulates could be taught in philosophy as it is taught in Euclid, in a common schoolroom with a blackboard. And I think it might be taught in some simple and rational degree even to the young, before they go out into the streets and are delivered over entirely to the logic and philosophy of the Daily Mail.

    Much of our chaos about religion and doubt arises from this–that our modern sceptics always begin by telling us what they do not believe. But even in a sceptic we want to know first what he does believe. Before arguing, we want to know what we need not argue about. And this confusion is infinitely increased by the fact that all the sceptics of our time are sceptics at different degrees of the dissolution of scepticism.

    Now you and I have, I hope, this advantage over all those clever new philosophers, that we happen not to be mad. All of us believe in St. Paul’s Cathedral; most of us believe in St. Paul. But let us clearly realize this fact, that we do believe in a number of things which are part of our existence, but which cannot be demonstrated. Leave religion for the moment wholly out of the question. All sane men, I say, believe firmly and unalterably in a certain number of things which are unproved and unprovable. Let us state them roughly.

    (1) Every sane man believes that the world around him and the people in it are real, and not his own delusion or dream. No man starts burning London in the belief that his servant will soon wake him for breakfast. But that I, at any given moment, am not in a dream, is unproved and unprovable. That anything exists except myself is unproved and unprovable.

    (2) All sane men believe that this world not only exists, but matters. Every man believes there is a sort of obligation on us to interest ourselves in this vision or panorama of life. He would think a man wrong who said, “I did not ask for this farce and it bores me. I am aware that an old lady is being murdered down-stairs, but I am going to sleep.” That there is any such duty to improve the things we did not make is a thing unproved and unprovable.

    (3) All sane men believe that there is such a thing as a self, or ego, which is continuous. There is no inch of my brain matter the same as it was ten years ago. But if I have saved a man in battle ten years ago, I am proud; if I have run away, I am ashamed. That there is such a paramount “I” is unproved and unprovable. But it is more than unproved and unprovable; it is definitely disputed by many metaphysicians.

    (4) Lastly, most sane men believe, and all sane men in practice assume, that they have a power of choice and responsibility for action.

    Surely it might be possible to establish some plain, dull statement such as the above, to make people see where they stand. And if the youth of the future must not (at present) be taught any religion, it might at least be taught, clearly and firmly, the three or four sanities and certainties of human free thought.


    G.K. Chesterton

    from the Daily News of June 22, 1907
  2. Standard memberwolfgang59
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    18 Jul '11 21:21
    Originally posted by pyxelated
    This is from chesterton.org; you can read it here: http://209.236.72.127/wordpress/?page_id=1138 . Unfortunately they seem to have rearranged their site, so that readings that were easily accessible before are less so now, and only by IP, apparently.

    I think it's worth rereading once a month or so by anybody who regularly participates in debates/argumen ...[text shortened]... f human free thought.

    [b]
    G.K. Chesterton

    from the Daily News of June 22, 1907[/b]
    1, 2 and 4 are debatable and 3 is untrue,
    A thread for each will probably serve you better!
  3. Standard memberpyxelated
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    18 Jul '11 21:37
    Originally posted by wolfgang59
    1, 2 and 4 are debatable and 3 is untrue,
    A thread for each will probably serve you better!
    Sure, they're all debatable, but see the preceding discussion for the terms of the debate 🙂 And as time-savers, if you're not debating them directly, they're invaluable. If you don't accept them, then there's no reason to enter any debate that presumes them.
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    18 Jul '11 21:56
    Originally posted by pyxelated
    This is from chesterton.org; you can read it here: http://209.236.72.127/wordpress/?page_id=1138 . Unfortunately they seem to have rearranged their site, so that readings that were easily accessible before are less so now, and only by IP, apparently.

    I think it's worth rereading once a month or so by anybody who regularly participates in debates/argumen ...[text shortened]... f human free thought.

    [b]
    G.K. Chesterton

    from the Daily News of June 22, 1907[/b]
    It is not so much that (1) is debatable, it is that every human who can think about their experiences, not just the men who are sane, will find certain experiences to be "refractory" to their will. That collection will comprise their reality. ref: The Vitality of Death: Essays in Existential Psychology and Philosophy (Contributions in Philosophy, no. 5): Peter Koestenbaum

    WRT (2) I would say that every human who CAN think, "I matter," WILL think, "I matter."

    WRT (3), David Hume was either not sane, or made some good points on the existence of the self.

    WRT (4), I think most sane humans believe they are responsible for their actions until things go wrong. 🙂
  5. Standard memberpyxelated
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    18 Jul '11 22:00
    WRT (4), I think most sane humans believe they are responsible for their actions until things go wrong. 🙂[/b]
    Thanks for the belly-laugh! 🙂
  6. Standard memberpyxelated
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    18 Jul '11 22:10
    WRT (3), David Hume was either not sane, or made some good points on the existence of the self.
    Knowing as much about said points as I do (which is exactly nothing), would they be such as would cause us to question the referent of "David Hume"? 🙂 (Or did they just cause him to question it? Apparently not to any serious degree.... )
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    18 Jul '11 23:282 edits
    Originally posted by pyxelated
    (1) Every sane man believes that the world around him and the people in it are real, and not his own delusion or dream. No man starts burning London in the belief that his servant will soon wake him for breakfast. But that I, at any given moment, am not in a dream, is unproved and unprovable. That anything exists except myself is unproved and unprovable.

    ( ...[text shortened]... of human free thought.


    G.K. Chesterton

    from the Daily News of June 22, 1907[/b]
    What exactly constitutes "sanity"? Looking at the world around you and all that are within, does the word "sane" constitute the norm or the exception?

    And lastly, it has been my experience that people will argue pretty much anything and everything. To say that everyone will accept something who is "sane" is questionable with the added problem of defining what is "sane".

    I have always wondered, is evil based on sanity? Where does one draw the line between abject stupidity, wickedness, and insanity? Are they one in the same or merely cousins of one another?
  8. Standard memberpyxelated
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    19 Jul '11 00:53
    Originally posted by whodey
    What exactly constitutes "sanity"? Looking at the world around you and all that are within, does the word "sane" constitute the norm or the exception?

    The word connotes mental health. I think Chesterton's four points make a pretty good starting point for a definition, if you need one. That seems to be one of his main motivations for writing--to put forth a basic framework of assumptions that a mentally-healthy--"sane"--person could be assumed to have, and exceptions to which would have to be acknowledged, and perhaps debated themselves, by the participants in a discussion.

    And lastly, it has been my experience that people will argue pretty much anything and everything. To say that everyone will accept something who is "sane" is questionable with the added problem of defining what is "sane".

    That's the reason for this post: to bring these issues to the fore.

    And yes, people will argue about anything, but Chesterton also raises the point that if a debate is actually to produce anywhere near as much light as heat, the participants will know where they agree and where they disagree; they will have "come to terms"--i.e., they will use the same words to mean the same things, and most important of all, perhaps, they will realize the importance of actually agreeing before they disagree, even if only for the sake of argument. The last is a point that is sometimes lost on the kind of person who says "I don't believe anything that doesn't have a proven basis in scientific fact," or words to that effect.

    I have always wondered, is evil based on sanity? Where does one draw the line between abject stupidity, wickedness, and insanity? Are they one in the same or merely cousins of one another?

    No, evil is based on the lack of good. Sanity is based on the lack of mental health (someone not meeting one of Chesterton's four conditions above, for example, might be insane). And stupidity... well, stupidity only becomes more common as the world gets more complex and further beyond the capabilities of even the brightest people. (Can you say "Fukushima?" I knew you could. 🙂 )
  9. Standard memberrvsakhadeo
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    21 Jul '11 09:15
    Originally posted by pyxelated
    Originally posted by whodey
    [b]What exactly constitutes "sanity"? Looking at the world around you and all that are within, does the word "sane" constitute the norm or the exception?


    The word connotes mental health. I think Chesterton's four points make a pretty good starting point for a definition, if you need one. That seems to be one of h ...[text shortened]... even the brightest people. (Can you say "Fukushima?" I knew you could. 🙂 )[/b]
    Your post is important for all those who want to debate to understand and appreciate differing points of view of each other. As you aptly put,to generate light rather than heat. Definitions of words and concepts must be mutually acceptable before the debate gets under way. As it is said,if questions are framed clearly,the answers are almost visible at once. You must have read the Dialogues of Plato,wherein Socrates insists on deciding on definitions first. In judicial procedure, there is a stage when " issues" are " framed ". The arguments start only thereafter. Here many posters seem more interested in hitting out at each other.
  10. Standard memberrvsakhadeo
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    21 Jul '11 09:47
    Originally posted by rvsakhadeo
    Your post is important for all those who want to debate to understand and appreciate differing points of view of each other. As you aptly put,to generate light rather than heat. Definitions of words and concepts must be mutually acceptable before the debate gets under way. As it is said,if questions are framed clearly,the answers are almost visible at onc ...[text shortened]... start only thereafter. Here many posters seem more interested in hitting out at each other.
    But some issues are hard to come to a mutually acceptable crystallisation. These are what the computer programmers call as " unstructured problems ". Most metaphysical arguments comprise of swordplay in the dark,a dangerous game! Faith is therefore considered superior in these areas to reason and logic.
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    27 Jul '11 01:23
    Originally posted by pyxelated
    This is from chesterton.org; you can read it here: http://209.236.72.127/wordpress/?page_id=1138 . Unfortunately they seem to have rearranged their site, so that readings that were easily accessible before are less so now, and only by IP, apparently.

    I think it's worth rereading once a month or so by anybody who regularly participates in debates/argumen ...[text shortened]... f human free thought.

    [b]
    G.K. Chesterton

    from the Daily News of June 22, 1907[/b]
    Well, I'm glad I caught this. It gives confirmation that I really am insane. 😉

    That anything exists except myself is unproved and unprovable.

    Just that one statement though. It brings to mind Romans 1 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead;

    The universe exists. This verse says "the invisible things of him", "are clearly seen", and "understood by the things that are made". God made the universe. We see it. There's no debate about whether it exists or not.

    Unless one is trying to say God doesn't exist, then they will use the argument that it can't be proven that anything exists. It's an age old ploy of deception.
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    27 Jul '11 02:42
    Originally posted by josephw
    Well, I'm glad I caught this. It gives confirmation that I really am insane. 😉

    [b]That anything exists except myself is unproved and unprovable.


    Just that one statement though. It brings to mind Romans 1 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eterna ...[text shortened]... ment that it can't be proven that anything exists. It's an age old ploy of deception.
    "Unless one is trying to say God doesn't exist, then they will use the argument that it can't be proven that anything exists. It's an age old ploy of deception."

    Moroever, God can't be proven to be nonexistent. If any proof of nonexistence is advanced that appears of be sound, the concept of God can be adjusted to make that proof unsound, in saecula saeculorum.
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    27 Jul '11 22:38
    Originally posted by JS357
    "Unless one is trying to say God doesn't exist, then they will use the argument that it can't be proven that anything exists. It's an age old ploy of deception."

    Moroever, God can't be proven to be nonexistent. If any proof of nonexistence is advanced that appears of be sound, the concept of God can be adjusted to make that proof unsound, in saecula saeculorum.
    Can one prove that something that exists doesn't exist? And vice verse.

    Neither. Reality is what it is. The universe exists and is the proof for a Creator. Denial of that reality is evidence of a false perception.
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