Thursday, November 29, 2007

A reader calls on us

Rob M. left us the following comment in this post:
Yeah the natural wonders of BC are beautiful.

If you could only do something about the liberals driving the social decline to moral bankruptcy.

Do you agree with me that people are losing the basic social value to discriminate between right and wrong?

In this universe, the truth is our crucible. Yet more and more people don't care about it.

Join with me in a covenant of the truth.
Yes, Rob, we agree; people need to learn again that discrimination is a beautiful word.

And we will certainly join with you in a covenant for truth. In fact, we meet (almost) every Thursday evening in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 7-9 pm, in front of Blenz Coffee. Look for the blue scarves.

Wherever you are, whomever you are, you can help spread the covenant of/for truth, simply by remembering our compact with you, the reader/commenter, to try our best to give a true accounting/naming of reality. Covenant Zone is not so much a specific political project as a means for people to come together and renew the desire to go out in the world in pursuit of truth, and knowledge of right and wrong. That desire is what we try to kindle every Thursday at the library with whoever is there. Please join us, or start your own covenant zone, wherever you are.

61 comments:

Rob Misek said...

Thanks for the welcome. It's nice to know you're there.

For the last few years I've been surfing discussion boards, looking for an opportunity to learn and speak the truth.

I am completely involved with pursuing and arguing for the truth in all aspects of my life. It certainly isn't the popular road.

I suspect you understand how I feel.

The believe the truth is dynamic and can be discerned through intelligence logic and science.

Please feel free to call on me should any argument require another perspective.

Being from Ontario I doubt I'll make many of your Thursday night gatherings but the concept interests me and I 'd like to learn more.

Would you discuss something like this?

For any singular question there is one truthful answer that we all share. It is when multiple questions are combined that we have difficulty finding the truth.

truepeers said...

Sure we'd discuss a question like that.

My own belief is that, on the larger questions of human existence and purpose, there is a truth we can grasp, but we can never grasp it fully. We can know more of the truth than those who came before us, but we cannot know the truth that will be the solution to future problems and conflicts. Because as soon as we resolve one question, the next one arises, because human desires and conflicts don't stop still. Our desires are always finding new ways to come in conflict with each other. We don't stop being human: we all might learn more of the truth but that means our next conflict just gets more complicated and will, eventually, reveal a greater truth about the human.

So, to answer your question, I don't think the problem lies so much in whether we focus on one or many questions. The problem is that the human problem keeps renewing itself, coming on stage in new clothes. Solve one question and the answer just makes the next question more sophisticated. We can't escape from the mystery of human existence; we can only become humbled by it,or become a danger to others.

So, I agree that logic and science have a limit. The fundamental mystery can only be respected in good faith.

maccusgermanis said...

truepeers,
good post. A handful of us (others are welcome) will be meeting.
Dairy Queen
US-31 & Al-119
Pelham Alabama
7pm


rob misek,

Truth is a model to which "dynamic" realities are measured. Questioning of contradictory data is reliant upon a model, which itself can not be dynamic. Otherwise there would be, no need, nor ability, to decide which data is "true." And the word "truth" becomes a useless explecative.

Concerning your discussion point:
It is important to define terms and examine implied questions intertwined in supposed "singular" questions. Did you have a particular question in mind?

truepeers said...

Dairy Queen, eh? Not a bad idea...

Rob Misek said...

Mac,

There is no specific question that I had in mind.

It is more of a principle I use to argue in good faith.

Often an opposing view is based on a different understanding of the question or situation.

Most successful argument resolutions, or agreements, that I have witnessed result directly from a clearer understanding of the question, not from an opponent actually changing his position.

So I try to understand every conflict in terms of the simplest question possible. The lowest common denominator. There is only one answer to this question and it is invariably the truth.

The body of the argument becomes reaching agreement on the real simplest (singular) question.

Agreement on the truthful answer then is dependant upon the opponents sharing some basic values. Murder is bad for example.

I also believe identifying and sharing these basic values is the original purpose of every religion.

Rob Misek said...

Mac,

Sorry I didn't address your first point.

Our model of truth is dynamic with our ability to perceive it.

Revelations in science and technology change the truth.

For example thousands of years ago a civilizations survival depended upon its ability to defend itself.

In those days in hand to hand combat men were superior to women. That would explain why in religious texts of the era, the truth was that men were superior to women.

In today's high technology battlefield women and men have been pretty much equalized.

A religion based on the dynamic truth would recognize this.

maccusgermanis said...

Thousands of years ago Amazons reportedly removed their breast, in order to better fire bows. 1946 years ago Boudica led a revolt against Roman governors.

It is "true" that testosterone often gives men an edge in performing physical feats. But more importantly, it is "true" then, -as oddly enough it is now- that men cannot give birth, nor express milk from their nipples. Women were as capable then as they are now of combat, and it remains a waste of their unique abilities.

Why call something a "revelation" unless something already extant is being "revealed?" Truth is a model. A concept of the imutability of that which we have and of those things we haven't yet understood. If a previously supposed "truth" is proved wrong, the it never was true. "Dynamic truth" has no meaning.

Rob Misek said...

Mac,

Or like us the truth is an instant in time.

There is no future. There is no past, only now.

Rob Misek said...

Mac,

Lets simplify the question.

Would you agree that perception of the truth is dynamic?

truepeers said...

Most successful argument resolutions, or agreements, that I have witnessed result directly from a clearer understanding of the question, not from an opponent actually changing his position.

-Is the distinction made here really so clear cut in practice? Doesn't a reworking of the question entail a shifting of positions? What I think you're saying, and I agree with you, is that resolutions are always temporary compromises that leave some question unanswered. Because even if sometimes you think you have totally defeated the other side and won him over to your point of view, this unequal relationship of victor and vanquished is not likely long to be stable.

So I try to understand every conflict in terms of the simplest question possible. The lowest common denominator. There is only one answer to this question and it is invariably the truth.

-Maybe, but at the lowest common denominator, is the truth really something we can all specify? Isn't it asking, "What is God?"

truepeers said...

Why call something a "revelation" unless something already extant is being "revealed?"

-well, I'll split the difference between mac and rob and suggest a "revelation" is about something that is either extant, or, emergent. In human interaction and culture, new realities are always just now emerging...

I'd suggest that we do have to think of truth in terms of the interaction of models and reality, but aren't those epiphanies we sometimes have, when we grasp the truth, an *effect* of our mental oscillation between model and reality? In other words, the truth is happening in real time, it is somehow emerging with the act of thinking and interacting..

maccusgermanis said...

Rob,

Or like us the truth is an instant in time.
There is no future. There is no past, only now.


Those assertions counter one another.
Perception of "future" and "past" define instant.
With no future or past, instant becomes timeless.
If the concept of truth is not an overarching bridge between instances, then it has no useful meaning.

truth O.E. triew├░ (W.Saxon), treow├░ (Mercian) "faithfulness, quality of being true," from triewe, treowe "faithful" (see true).

faith c.1250, "duty of fulfilling one's trust," from O.Fr. feid, from L. fides "trust, belief," from root of fidere "to trust,"

"Fulfillment of trust" is a concept reliant on time. First must come the expectation. Then in another "instance," the fulfillment. A model of "faithfulness" helps form the expectation, based on supposed truths and measures the degree of fulfillment.

Would you agree that perception of the truth is dynamic?

Supositions are dynamic because they do not "thoroughly" "grasp with the mind" that concept which they claim to percieve.

maccusgermanis said...

truepeers,

If you are saying that truth is recurrent, then I think I've made a similar point. Individual suppositions may once seem true and be operationally useful, but their individual failure to prove true must not impact the concept of truth. Truth is the same aspiration that it was in Mercia, whether individual suppositions fail or not.

truepeers said...

maccus,

I'm suggesting that since we live in an expanding culture, or human world, there is more for truth to be about today than in the past. And I'm suggesting that true revelations are not simply about what is, but also about what is coming into being on the changing human scene.

Now, whether our *aspiration* for truth changes in its nature over time is an interesting question... though our aspiration is certainly something that changes intensities. It's like asking whether our aspiration for God changes, I suppose.

I'm not sure... but I think our concept of truth does change over time. For example, today there are all kinds of relativists who don't believe in *the* truth. But I guess you would say they don't have the true concept of truth...

In any case, I don't think of truth so much as a concept as I think of it as kind of experience, an experience that may lead to a concept, but that is, at the moment it is first experienced, not yet fully conceptualized. This is to suggest a difference between human truths and scientific "truths" dealing with the non-human world. Human truths are transcendent moments we experience in the midst of human conflict and interaction.

Rob Misek said...

Trupeers,

In good faith both opponents agree on the truth of the conclusion and take ownership of it.

Nobody loses when both share the truth.

I disagree with the statement that the truth requires agreement on a definition of your diety.

In fact, including something that cannot be discerned through science or logic as a prerequisite for agreement is a certain recipe for failure.

Our spiritual beliefs are merely models of the truth to be shared by members of a society between arguments that change our perception of it.

Mac,

In an effort to obtain your agreement I'll try to clarify my earlier simplified question.

Since the truth would be meaningless if it didn't define our perception of reality, doesn't the fact that our perception of truth changes mean that we should perceive the reality of truth to be dynamic?

maccusgermanis said...

Rob,

Why does the "simple question" presume perception?

What most call perception does not fully grasp reality. It could well be argued that reality is never fully grasped, and so perception is already a near meaningless word, used only as a selling point of suppositions. Two opponents that share a supposed perception, can still be bitten by hard reality. And both can lose.

maccusgermanis said...

trupeers,

If truth is to be about more than the past then it must be true in past, present, and future. Revelations about what is, or is coming into being -from whence?- must be subjected to the same model truth or else by erratic relativism truth is random and meaningless.

dag said...

This is uncanny, if ultimately meaningless.

Each day I get a small package of news clippings from Google on narrow themes like various aspects of Islam. Today one of them is entitled :Does Islam cause mental illness?"

http://www.webcommentary.com/asp/ShowArticle.asp?id=zieves&date=071201

Rob Misek said...

Perception merely accurately describes the human condition.

We can never know the whole truth or even if the truth we perceive is ultimate.

Otherwise we would be God.

We can just do the best with what we have, our intelligence, science and logic.

truepeers said...

maccus,

New revelations come from new situations that have never existed before. new truths come from the imperative to defer violence as it is threatened in any new situation; this is done by signifying a sacred truth in some new way. It has to be a new kind of sign because it will not grab attention and defer violence in a new situation if it isn't. This new sign of truth will be genetically linked to all those sacred signs that came before; but in many respects, in its content or form, it cannot be predicted on the basis of what was before, on the basis of any past model or reality. It is a product of human freedom and the mystery by which any great truth, like those of art, emerge from experience and hold attention.

There was no model of truth that could have predicted Shakespeare, or that could have adequately judged Shakespeare without first being transformed by an appreciation of Shakespeare. To say this is not to defend cultural relativism, only to suggest that we never have hold of the full truth, because our knowledge of human truth expands through history. The counter to moral relativism is the knowledge that some people and cultures know relatively more than others.

dag said...

"[T]he imperative to defer violence as it is threatened in any new situation...." What imperative? We witness gratuitous violence often in our nihilistic culture and we see manufactured violence in the lands of our enemies. If, perhaps, you mean deferred violence in the sense of scapegoating outsiders in the hope of deflecting violence toward others rather than oneself, what do we have? Violence. We have, for example, from the non-violent Saudi Arabia, 9/11, Muslims who would have been quite happy to kill the ruling family who instead brought down death and destruction on many others including themselves by doing so, i.e. the provocation of our bombing in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not exactly a deferral at all but a deflection and a reckoning anyway. Not the deferral you mean, merely a postponement. Not a long one. It seems rather than even a hope of postponement on the part of the Saudi royals to be a desperate need to die, to provoke a response that will wipe away the traditions of the ages and replace them with zero existence and zero memory of such as was.

I think I see in the Muslim world generally a need to reify The End. What could have been a rational response to the (good) times is instead a rage of children and gangsters shooting it out in a final blaze of glory and spite because things didn't favor them first as heroes. This seems to me to be a vanity beyond all experience in my life. Our winning is a sign of their taken failure and they hold their breathe to the death to show us how angry they are. It's not a deferment of anything.

"New revelations come from new situations that have never existed before."

Our revelation is refusal! We look at the obvious and refuse to recognize the same old story of domination by the strong and the submission of the weak, pretending instead that we live in a New Age of brotherhood and peace. Our new revelation is one of clouds and fog in what is a very clear reality of anger on the part of those who understand better than we that they are beaten. In a misplaced compassion we pretend there is no real problem that we can't solve by talking just a little bit more while our enemies continue to rage and destroy and to kill. We pretend and it is destroying our own confidence in our goodness. As we do less and less to restore a balance of power and responsibility to the world of peace and security through force of arms to maintain balance of rights we lose our morals by doing nothing and provoking further hatred and violence on the part of the unrestrained who are compelled to die ever faster and greater.

Signifying a sacred truth in some new way is what the jihadis do, I think, by revamping jihad for our time. Our polluted response is a Gnostic Christianity of "passivism" and pacifism in its face, which is obviously not working, the two languages of discourse being unintelligible to the other. We speak airy-fairy to jihadis; they kill even their own children.

A new kind of sign that will grab attention and defer violence in a new situation? This new sign of truth will be genetically linked to all those sacred signs that came before; but in many respects, in its content or form, it cannot be predicted on the basis of what was before, on the basis of any past model or reality. It is a product of human freedom and the mystery by which any great truth, like those of art, emerge from experience and hold attention. Fine, but how do we even begin without first restoring the reality of stability in the world of arms and might? f we can't even keep our own world from collapsing under our sentimentalizations and self-deceptions, then we cannot begin to create anything like a higher truth in the world of all. If our own culture is based on a continuing lie of Left sentimentalities, we have no great hope of dealing with even our own demographic survival.

Our culture is not a fervent pursuit of truth or cold pragmatism; it is on all sides of our politic and culture a terrible lie that would reject any reason that doesn't fit the cultivated delusions of the times, just like so many other times in history when the culture collapsed from self-willed idiocies of wishful thinking. I look to the reverse of a Melian Dialogue: Obey us or we will destroy ourselves on your doorstep while you rage and kill your children to express your rage at our superiority.

I realize I'm not exactly addressing the points you raise but these come to mind in reading your response to Maccusgemanis.

Oh! Then carry on. Sorry to interrupt. Tea time.

truepeers said...

Dag, I'll say more about this later, after sleep, but the basic problem with your critique is that I haven't claimed that every or most claims on the sacred are "true" or wildly successful deferrals of violence, though even a bald-faced lie takes time and defers something if only for a moment.

Yes, violence - scapegoating, war - can be a way of deferring greater violence, but over time they become less successful on the whole.

The bottom line, however, is that if humanity weren't somewhat better at deferring than doing violence, we wouldn't be here to have this argument, would we?

dag said...

Perhaps I'm stuck with misinterpretations of the concepts of deferral and resentment and the sacred.

What keeps us social rather than continuously in physical struggle and violence against all is, at a practical level, a need to survive at a personal level. That has to be innate in the Manness of people, the instinctive. Sheer terror of war against all always. Rule by terror is not possible even in the animal world below us. Co-operation in hunting and gathering precludes continuous struggle even within groups unallied. Slavery is a solution. A safety valve, as it were.

How the altuism of Freedom? Perhaps epiphany of Judaic law. And perhaps that due to an innate ability to reason. Perhaps the authority of Reason due to an ability to ritualize and mimic. The sacred? I would like to think there is such a realty rather than a conspiracy of the mystifying classes to dupe the proles and to channel their resentments collectively into something manageable. And then millennial progress toward greater freedoms based on self-interest and a pasted on value of, an ex post facto assumption of Human decency.

Maybe so, maybe no.

What seems true to me is that Man is a beast of many parts, not all in tune with the others, not congruent over time and place. There is the constant drag of youth and stupidity and the drag of Gnosticism and vanity. There is the drag of absolute will to power and the drag of fear and cowardice. There is the drag of apathy and age. Any number of conflicting pulls to this or that make a world of Man, and all of it can rip a world to bits.

The authority of the priest class is empty here and now. The awareness of the need for ritual is lacking in the nihilistic times we live in, and the majority of people, in my experience, are living in a state of mind no different from the Russians under the Mongol yoke, beaten by circumstances, played out in drudgery and by fear of the immediate oppression of the day before them, a terrible life of pain and emptiness, hidden by glitz and glamour and ipods and cell phones.

The vast mass appear to live from this moment to the next in a state of depravity and terror, of faithlessness in the future of the next moment, grasping at vapors, voting for Obama Barak, cheering for rock stars, anything to conquer the fear of the emptiness of death all around as life. Two exceptions come to my mind, and neither is well regarded among our own:

Right-wing religious bigots, meaning Christians and Muslims (and me!), and small businessmen engaged in free-market trading and profit-taking. But where oh where is the basis of the authority of this moral for the greater number of our own? Who accepts your arguments in daily living, of faith and deferral?

People often hate what they fear, and they hate reality, the clear-eyed experience of others living and accepting life as a limited and friendly experience of some limited but potential joy. Fear of confronting the inanity of a day in the life condemns its owner to fear of life always and everywhere in the real. 'If we look, it will only be worse.' All that is possible for a life is denied from fear that one cannot have it without ridicule of it, without it becoming a cynicism in the mouth as it enters, as poison on contact. Then, to hate others who are happy; a need to destroy any alternative to misery among the general mass; a drive to condemn and destroy and moralize in public and act out sentimentalities for the sake of covering over the banalities of daily failure of the constant nihilism of socialist and other fascist failed daydreams.

The Monglols rule. Who can defeat those who are all-powerful and destructive of everything living they contact? The serfdom of the Western mind is terrible, and the acceptance of it passively in the hope of oneself being overlooked this time round is a horror that is the norm and the value. The Mongol rule of the mind of the mass is self-created and self-perpetuated, but real nonetheless. Who gives absolution? No one has such authority. Not our glorious intelligentsia whom few accept as valid, accepted only as nay-sayers and doom-mongers and pit-diggers.
There is a drunkenness of the mass mind, a stupor of the Kind. And there cannot be a mass of aware and active pursuers of Light because there are too few who have the ability to grasp it as the hard but worthy pursuit, being too young, too fearful, too weak, too vain, too powerful in the present, too beaten down, or just too crazy to see anything beyond the next moment of coming terror. Apathy, the submission to the reality of fear and despair in a life without higher authority, and the poisoned fruit of faith: that, friend, is our time.

What gentle minder is here to lead? What Moses to take us to the Promised Land away from the desert of strangeness and horror of nihilism and emptiness? What commandments? And who would accept any of it regardless of the obvious Right? Too many are too young, too buried in the vanities of the age and the ego, too desperate to continue to reify the lies of invested selfish nihilism.

The Rational, the reasonable, the Just? Too few in a good time, and so few now they couldn't fill a tea cup. Who few participate in even an intuitive ritual of deferral today? A few here and there, not much admired, seldom discussed, imitated rarely.

Humanness is a long beast of too many parts to be one thing at all. The messages it receives throughout its course are lost or corrupted by the nihilism in the transmission and the reception. No one believes but the very few, and the others hate the hope like they would hate hope in the Mongol times. What to do, Peers? What hope? What path?

truepeers said...

Dag, I'm feeling rushed, lots to do today, so I'm going to start a response by simply quoting a recent exchange on the Generative Anthropology (GA) email list:

I wrote: "...The basic idea [of GA] is that we overcome our conflicts for material things by substituting transcendent signs for things"

In reply, the newcomer, Paul, with questions like Dag, wrote: "But aren’t signs prone to cause conflict as well? If a sign i.e. the Confederate flag, the word “racist”, or a racial epithet initiates conflict, do we call on more signs to end the conflict? When does action, the removal of the Confederate flag from the SC statehouse for instance, substitute for discourse in GA? One might say that the removal of the flag was a sort of sporragmos [sparagmos - the tearing apart and distribution of the sacrificial victim], but as a South Carolinian who closely watched the debate, I can say with certainty, that has little effect on ending the conflict. They just stopped vocalizing about it. Some groups are still boycotting the State. I can understand the use of discourse to mitigate conflict, but is this a human trait? Aren’t humans also likely to “act out” rather than resort to discourse (i.e. the leftist demonstrations anytime there is a G-8 summit)."

To which GA oldtimer, Peter, wrote: " Good point Paul. In other words, representation does NOT always defer violence, but sometimes stimulates it. This used to bother me a lot about GA. My understanding is that what you point out is a basic paradox of the sign: the same sign which defers desire (and hence conflict) by substituting for the desired object, also stimulates desire (and hence the potential for conflict) by making the object more desirable (or just significant).

Representation doesn't do away with the potential for conflict, it only, more of less successfully, defers it. It defers conflict at least for the time required to send and receive the sign, which is sometimes enough. But, overall, representation also increases the potential for violence, it's a "dangerous remedy" to paraphrase Plato. Representation allows human culture to incorporate more of the dynamism of desire/violence into itself; it's always a tradeoff between development and danger. While there are instances in which signs incite to violence, in the long run, and in the big picture, signs function to defer violence. The fact that representation sometimes fails in the its anthropological function does not invalidate the thesis. These are just some preliminary thoughts."

Rob Misek said...

I've never been much in favor of using book referrences as proof in an argument unless the science is proven and relevant to the point being made.

In an argument Plato's opinion has no more worth than my garbage man's.

Truepeers,

You said,

new truths come from the imperative to defer violence as it is threatened in any new situation;

What makes you believe that to be true?

truepeers said...

Dear Dag, some responses to your last two comments:

What imperative? We witness gratuitous violence often in our nihilistic culture and we see manufactured violence in the lands of our enemies. If, perhaps, you mean deferred violence in the sense of scapegoating outsiders in the hope of deflecting violence toward others rather than oneself, what do we have? Violence.

-as I say, scapegoating is a primitive way of deferring violence. But gratuitious violence, resentment simply indulged, is not really deferring violence. THe argument isn't that humans are not violent, it's that in order to survive we have to have ways of deferring our very violent tendencies. WE are the species who has more to fear from ourselves than from anything else.

-for any society to survive, it is imperative that it not rip itself apart, as some in fact do. All of culture is an attempt to defer this ever-present possibility that our conflicts, if left to run rampant, could see ourselves ripping ourselves apart. As for individual suicide, common enough of course...

It seems rather than even a hope of postponement on the part of the Saudi royals to be a desperate need to die, to provoke a response that will wipe away the traditions of the ages and replace them with zero existence and zero memory of such as was.

- I can't see this. It seems to me the Saudis are responding to the internal threat by focussing Arab resentment on the West. It is a deflection away from internal tension, but that is a form of deferral as far as the primary imperative to defer one's own group's internal violence. I don't think the Saudis want us to wipe them out. I think they are trying to balance tensions in a high-wire act to stay alive. Clearly they have not stopped making investments in their own future...

I think I see in the Muslim world generally a need to reify The End.

-apocalyptic thinking is endemic to all monotheist culture. It has, historically, had a deferring capacity, the waiting, however impatiently, for the final revelation. But this deferral capacity becomes less and less as the military - nuclear - means to bring about the final conflict become widely available. If the Muslims want to survive, sooner or later they will have to find a new tune to play. But that takes cultural intelligence, and I don't think you can ascribe the lack of it to a certain desire to die. Ahmadinejad, maybe, really wants to die. SOme people do but that's not an argument against the idea that culture is, generally, about the deferral of violence. If everyone really wanted to die, who would be going to work today in Iran? Nothing would get done...

Our revelation is refusal! We look at the obvious and refuse to recognize the same old story of domination by the strong and the submission of the weak, pretending instead that we live in a New Age of brotherhood and peace. Our new revelation is one of clouds and fog in what is a very clear reality of anger on the part of those who understand better than we that they are beaten. In a misplaced compassion we pretend there is no real problem that we can't solve by talking just a little bit more while our enemies continue to rage and destroy and to kill.

-if you think that's a fair summary of what goes on in the global economy, you're out to lunch. It's not a zero-sum game. Why are they building the world's tallest tower in Dubai? Primitive megalomania, perhaps. But is it all just about rage, destruction, death? In any case to talk about all culture being about the deferral of violence is not to deny that there are real problems of violence. It is, on the contrary, to highlight the problem that human violence is always the problem of culture, that culture is not some Utopian project.

As we do less and less to restore a balance of power and responsibility to the world of peace and security through force of arms to maintain balance of rights we lose our morals by doing nothing and provoking further hatred and violence on the part of the unrestrained who are compelled to die ever faster and greater.

- you are making much of a straw man pretending to debate me. For some reason, you think my talk of talk makes me into a leftist, all of a sudden. I am not against force of arms as a general rule. But force of arms without some greater cultural defense of increasing freedom, without some defense of a new understanding of the sacred we might share by way of peace pact and international conduct, is just meaninglessness. Violence and diplomacy/cultural education must go in hand... And how do people learn anything but through non-violent interaction, albeit with the knowledge of the reality that the threat of violence is always in the air?

Signifying a sacred truth in some new way is what the jihadis do, I think

-I agree; that's why I am trying to tell you that we can't rest easy with ideas of "Islam, as it always and naturally is"

Our polluted response is a Gnostic Christianity of "passivism" and pacifism in its face, which is obviously not working

-right, short term forms of deferral can actually boomerang and bring about great wars, as we all know with the history of appeasement. However, those of us trying to reveal our widespread Gnosticism may be engaged in some more substantial act of deferral, if we're successful over time...

Fine, but how do we even begin without first restoring the reality of stability in the world of arms and might?

- and how would you know you had restored stability without the use of signs to which all parties signed on? Again, violence alone is just violence. And violence without anticipation of the sign that will eventually transcend it is irresponsible. THat's not to deny that we often transcend violence with irresponsible Gnostic signs - e.g. the UN after WWII. But generally, I agree with your sentiment: existential and cultural realities must be brought together. When the latter ignores the former, we get destructive fantasy ideologies that can't stop existential realities from leading to war or demographic collapse

Our culture is not a fervent pursuit of truth or cold pragmatism; it is on all sides of our politic and culture a terrible lie that would reject any reason that doesn't fit the cultivated delusions of the times

-it's one thing to contest the widespread nihilism of our times. It's quite another to evince nihilism yourself. If you can't find anything but "force of arms" to believe in, prehaps you should retire to study until you have a more appealing rallying cry... the best armies always have a higher purpose in mind.. there is much in the Western tradition to rekindle and bring to bear on new situations...

What keeps us social rather than continuously in physical struggle and violence against all is, at a practical level, a need to survive at a personal level. That has to be innate in the Manness of people, the instinctive.

-but the knowledge of human violence and the fear of mortality that lead us to band together cannot be instinctive. It is, precisely, what differentiates us from animals who fear but who do not have consciousness of their mortality.

The sacred? I would like to think there is such a realty rather than a conspiracy of the mystifying classes to dupe the proles and to channel their resentments collectively into something manageable. And then millennial progress toward greater freedoms based on self-interest and a pasted on value of, an ex post facto assumption of Human decency.

Maybe so, maybe no.


but self interest and the sacred are not readily distinguished. YOu cannot serve yourself outside of belonging to society. You thus have an interest in what binds the group socially, even if you are only to manipulate this cyncially. When I refer to the sacred, it is not a claim about the existence of God. It is simply a matter of fact recognition that human anthropology, the origin of language, is premised on the sign representing something sacred, temporarily untouchable, deferred. For you, Dag, what is sacred are things and representations about modernity, literature, even Islam. These are the things that center your attention, defer your violence, just as for some kid it is his ipod. Now we can take a profaning OR reverential attitude to the sacred, but we cannot seriously deny its existence. Humanity is clearly organized around centers of common attention, unlike animals who organize themselves strictly on a one to one basis. The alpha dog never has to address the pack as a whole... Having said this, I sometimes confound, in my quick and easy writing, the sacred and the significant, which two, while having the same moment of origin at the birth of language, are usefully distinguised ever since. It is, in short, the difference between language and religion.

What seems true to me is that Man is a beast of many parts, not all in tune with the others, not congruent over time and place.

-compared to us, animals are not "conflicted". It is not the beast in us, it is the sign in us that makes us conflicted, though there is some conflict between the beast and the sign in us. The sign is paradoxical. In attracting our desire to the sacred thing, and at the same time deferring our desire to possess it, language begins with a pragmatic paradox that we have never stopped spinning...

the majority of people, in my experience, are living in a state of mind no different from the Russians under the Mongol yoke, beaten by circumstances, played out in drudgery and by fear of the immediate oppression of the day before them, a terrible life of pain and emptiness, hidden by glitz and glamour and ipods and cell phones.

-oy vey. It's no doubt true that many people don't have a faith in humanity appropriate to the times, but if you can't see the significant changes history has wrought, it's because you don't want to, because you want to feel blue. Having said that, nihilism is pretty similar wherever you are. But if all we really had was nihilism, there would be no ipods or cell phones, among other things... these things aren't made by people with a slave mentality. In any case if we are to encourage a stronger faith, we can't begin with arguments like "nothing has changed", we are still just slaves...

You, my friend, need a lesson in what consumer culture is and how people use it to develop all kinds of discursive freedoms and identities that have not heretofore existed. But I'll leave that for another day... But it IS one big "ritual" of deferral

There is so much melancholy in what you write today, Dag. It only demonstrates your (hopefully temporary) lack of faith in our humanity, not some transparent reality that is plain for all to see. But you are right that we need a path out of nihilism, which is the condition of now knowing what to do because we are trapped in a sea of contesting and competing imperatives. The way out of this sea is to take a first step, to develop a way of identifying a particular imperative which is going to guide your actions and set off a chain reaction that you can only anticipate in good faith without knowing what it's going to make you, or your present decision, look like in the end.

To act, I think you have to give up the idea of following some master plan, some true model of reality, or just of Islam, because we no longer live in a world where a few big men can direct everyone. And the liberal attempt to draw up social scientific models are just endless attempts to restrain actions of individuals who are berated for not being suitably initiated into the cult of due process and red tape. In contrast to liberal model building that pretends to know what is true before anything is put to the test of reality and uncertain, risky, interaction, we have to renew faith that all the little steps and risks we can take will add up to something that we cannot yet know, since no model of reality will survive our taking real steps (not just "steps" to study and draw more models) to act pragmatically in all kinds of ways. What we have to do is free people from the intellectual traps of "the system". I see you, Dag, are still trapped in some bad faith about "the system" becaue you are laboring under the misunderstanding that you, from some intellectually supreme position, can grasp reality as a whole... But you can't. You only think you can, because you don't appreciate the fundamental sacred paradoxes of the human condition which must be faced if we are to find the courage to act in spite of them, to take a risk on human freedom. THere is so much more to say about this. I just can't do it all now... and I will only try to help people who have faith in our shared humanity...

truepeers said...

Rob,

new truths come from the imperative to defer violence as it is threatened in any new situation;

What makes you believe that to be true?

-the study of Generative Anthropology, which is a hypothesis of how human symbolic language first emerged and how it evolves. It is the best hypothesis on the market, as proven by the many insights it has engendered. It doesn't have the final word on these questions to be sure, but those who want to react to it intelligently will surely be doing more in the way of extending or refining than disproving this hypothesis.

Hypotheses and proofs in the human sciences are not exactly what they are in the natural sciences. If you are interested in pursuing the question, you will find all kinds of strong aruments for the idea that the deferral of violence is the engine of culture. But given the nature of humanity, there is not one discrete empirical observation that proves the point.

Human self-understanding is something that occurs progressively. We can only learn within intellectual and cultural traditions. To abjure book references in the humanities is silly.

truepeers said...

sorry about that bad link. Go to http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu

or Google for the Wikipedia article on Generative Anthropology.

maccusgermanis said...

Unidentified Fashions of Objectivity

Rob,

There is nothing accurate about your description.

For many years the earth was thought to be the center of motion, which was sensed of the Sun.
And now you wish me to believe that "truth" is dynamic, because you sense motion.
Evidently, the human condition is of a prideful arrogance that both claims "truth" is a fashion and disallows that convenient supposition be subjugated to perception.
You can not define the motion of that which you can not, or refuse to, define.

maccusgermanis said...

Truepeers,
The imperative to defer violence comes from extant suppositions that are already widely shared. The trouble comes from those that do not share this supposition and is compounded by those that presume passiveness to be itself an ultimate goal. In Aikido, one is encouraged to tell the assailant that, “we need not be in conflict,” while simultaneously posturing for defense. I have never faulted anyone for the desire to resolve conflict peaceably. I fault those that refuse to widen their stance and square their shoulders toward what is legitimately a threat. When discussing Islam, Islam itself is the problem. It is one thing to say that you don’t wish conflict, another to believe that you aren’t in conflict, and the greatest disservice to suggest that you are completely devoted to peaceful resolution, when in truth you mean to, yourself win. The West, even if it does not currently plan, does desire to win, or at least to exist, and when “fight or flight response” comes upon this culture, then sin of excesses will be on those that said peace was its own goal.

truepeers said...

maccus,

I have no trouble saying we are at war with much of Islam, as it presently exists. But I am not going to try to define what Islam is or must be in any total sense. While it is of course important to know your enemy and to study accordingly, for me the meaning of what Islam is is an open book. I do not accept the fundamentalist fantasy that Muslims are not free. They are human before they are Muslim and cannot escape from the freedom that is inherent in language, thinking, living... This is not to deny that many people get psychotic desperately trying to live as if this were not the case.

Look, this isn't an argument to win over hard-core Jihadis. It is an argument for those Moslems, especially those in the West, who might feel torn and would like to ally with the forces of freedom and reform but are not ready to give up their faith in its entirety. I don't think it's honest or pragmatic to tell such people that Islam can only be what the fundamentalists say it is, even if the latter control all the major Islamic institutions.

My argument is not a promise of peace; it is quite explicitly a call for civil war within the Islamic world, with us taking sides.

In any case, to speak of the deferral of violence is not to promise peace. It is to take an anti-Utopian world view in which there can be no permanent peace, only the ever temporary deferral of violence. It is the fundamentalist Muslims and the Socialists who promise perpetual peace, once everyone is on their side.

It is a lie to teach that humanity need not be in conflict. Akido sounds like a devious business...

truepeers said...

Just to clarify: since conflict is inevitable, it is incumbent on us to find the relatively less violent forms of deferral. I see my call for civil war in Islam in this light, for that is more hopeful than waiting for our "fight or flight" response. In the meantime, my critique of Dag is about how certain ways of thinking put us in corners where we can only imagine apocalyptic outcomes, or horribly brutal wars because, e.g. we wish to define what Islam must be.

If the West again becomes confident about our right and duty to act - in face of all the liberal tactics to put us in boxes of "international law" and anti-government victimology - then we need to have faith that not over-defining the conflict, leaving all kinds of actors free to learn and find their own kinds of solutions or deferral, depending on the unpredictable situations in which they will find themselves, is the best way to shape an outcome that we will want to live with. We want a conflict that forces "Muslims" to recognize and value their natural human freedom. We need to make it tempting for them to choose us over the maniacs. Posing this conflict as a "war against Islam" is I believe a mistake, but not because I believe in "peace".

truepeers said...

Here we have in the blogs all these people who think they know who the real enemy is; and yet... we haven't even seriously begun engaging him to find out what he really believes and wants when he is under pressure in this day and age, when he has something obvious to lose and not simply his vanity to put on display for BBC and CNN. We need to imagine how different a world it will be if we stop appeasing Muslims. All I am asking is: what is the war strategy most appropriate to learning about reality, about gaining information on what people really think and believe today, once bluffs are called, the information that will help us win and define the ensuing terms of deferral in a maximally realistic and useful way. Thinking we already have the full measure of our enemy or potential allies is foolhardy.

Rob Misek said...

Mac,

Your argument is circular rhetoric.

You claim the truth is absolute but would have as much luck proving the existence of God.

The truth may well be absolute, but we can only prove that we uncover it in a dynamic process.

Absolute truth makes a great ideal and I share it in my personal and spiritual life.

However using something that can't be proven through science or logic during an argument constitutes not arguing in good faith.

Violence results from not agreeing on the truth. Agreement is unlikely when opponents don't value good faith.

In my physical life I make decisions based on my dynamic perception of the truth.

This awareness of the dynamic is what separates humans from beasts and inspires our creativity.

Rob Misek said...

Truepeers,

Our real enemy is anyone who doesn't value the truth enough to argue in good faith and agree that the shared conclusion represents our new truth.

Is your faith in your religion so weak that you fear an honest argument where intelligence, science and logic prevails?

I perceive a world religion that meets the intent of every diety.

Our obstacle to realizing this is religious extremists of all flavors.

Rob Misek said...

Truepeers,

It's not that I reject unproven written information. It has its uses. Just not in an argument.

I prefer to think for myself.

truepeers said...

Is your faith in your religion so weak that you fear an honest argument where intelligence, science and logic prevails?

-not at all; and my objection to what you write is not particularly religious.

It's not that I reject unproven written information. It has its uses. Just not in an argument.

-it's not clear to me Rob, what your idea of a science or argument appropriate to the study of the human is.

-do you appreciate the problems with a science (or scientific argument) in which the observer cannot separate himself from what he observes, because he is what he observes, a science or argument where any true observation becomes a value that will circulate in the human marketplace and be absorbed and discounted, changing the human in the process?

-what makes the human sciences is their reliance not on discrete observations or arguments but overall paradigms for integrating knowledge. Because we are so reliant on these paradigms, we are neither making good nor honest arguments when we either are not aware of them or when we try to hide them from view. A proper argument tells the listener where it is coming from, in terms of the intellectual paradigms on which it relies. That is why dialogue with those great thinkers who have come before is so essential to a serious argument about the human.

The idea that we can start with a blank slate using just "logic and science" is being dishonest about what we are. Who is this man using "logic and science"? Does he really start from scratch, with a blank slate? No, his mind is full of preconceived ideas. And only the discipline of arguing through these can advance the human sciences or his own arguments.

Respectfully,

truepeers said...

Our real enemy is anyone who doesn't value the truth enough to argue in good faith and agree that the shared conclusion represents our new truth.

-there is some truth in this, but truth, "our shared conclusion" is not the exclusive property of the study, classroom, or debate. It must emerge from human interaction in all the worlds of the human - economic, political, esthetic. And we cannot separate the truths of human interaction from the motivations that people bring to them. We come to learn that certain religious ideas/motivations can be "proven" more or less true by their success in the marketplace in generating new understandings of the truth.

Your own religion and motivation seems to be a form of elitist liberalism that promises a Utopian lie: one world religion and an end to conflict.... Your religion presumes to be able to define the "extremists" in matters religious. But don't new truths always come from those whom all "sensible" people first label "extremists"?

Rob Misek said...

You seem to be preoccupied with discussing what it is to be human.

I haven't been arguing about that or my favorite colour. I just am human and it just is blue. Any argument about either would be pointless.

"-do you appreciate the problems with a science (or scientific argument) in which the observer cannot separate himself from what he observes, because he is what he observes, a science or argument where any true observation becomes a value that will circulate in the human marketplace and be absorbed and discounted, changing the human in the process?"

I'm also beginning to realize that you believe that people cannot separate observations from our human bias - be objective. This you have extrapolated to form a cynical conclusion about the human ability to reach agreement.

You may still claim that we can't be objective, in circular rhetoric, but that claim is disproved by the logic that we perceive what it is to be objective. By doing so you wouldn't be arguing in good faith.

Any argument in good faith is all about objectivity. The conclusion is agreed to and shared by opponents.

"Your religion presumes to be able to define the "extremists" in matters religious. But don't new truths always come from those whom all "sensible" people first label "extremists"?"

Not at all. I never suggested that creative people were extremist.

Please, don't conjure up an argument, assign it to me and proceed to disprove it.

I take my time to make a statement. Please try to address it.

maccusgermanis said...

Truepeers,

Islam means submission to a supposed god, as revealed by mo’. There is one profession of faith, one shahadah. That is fundamental. It is not fantasy. It is true that muslims, regardless of their professions, are free, but they can not be free while continuing to submit themselves. Theirs is not just a conflict between those of us who think they’re nuts, but one within themselves. Your platitudes do nothing to resolve either conflict. Such platitudes defer not only violence, but any meaningful discrimination between right and wrong.

Fundamentalist need not control anything to define what islam is. They are those that have honestly sought the truth from an untruthful source. They have defined themselves rather defined islam. As such they have no need to destroy language itself to disguise their own deficiencies of comprehension. They meet us in honest faith, to kill us. At least if they can see the error of their ways, they can admit they were wrong. –that a wrong and a right does exist outside of their own fashionable “perception”-

I have no problem giving strategic, or even tactical/logistical, support to munafiq that wish to improve their societies. I have a problem with the insistence that “truth,” “perception,” and “fundamental” must be stripped of their meaning. I do choose sides in the civil war. I do even choose sides in the internal conflict.

I did not wish islam into being. You will not wish it away. It is as evidenced by the current jihadists, the koran, and 1400 years of dhimmi beating tradition. Yes that is “fundamental.” But, “fantasy” is to suggest that one can simultaneously choose both submission and freedom.

To say that islam is the singular enemy does not presume to know how many nominal muslims are jihadists, munafiq, or concealed apostates. It is no full measure of potential allies or enemies. It is an admission of a fundamental truth. It is in this honest faith that we must meet the munafiq, jihadist, and, by now much amused, apostate.

maccusgermanis said...

Rob,

Since the truth would be meaningless if it didn't define our perception of reality, doesn't the fact that our perception of truth changes mean that we should perceive the reality of truth to be dynamic?

Your argument is circular rhetoric.

You claim the truth is absolute but would have as much luck proving the existence of God.

And where is the proof that “truth” –a word that means “conformity to fact”- should instead be defined as consensus?

The truth may well be absolute, but we can only prove that we uncover it in a dynamic process.

I suppose this is what you refer to as “a clearer understanding of the question, not from an opponent actually changing his position.”

The “dynamic process” of supposition, experience, and observation can lead to perception. It is not foolproof.

Absolute truth makes a great ideal and I share it in my personal and spiritual life.

If truth is not absolute, then soon consensus is passed off as a substitute.

However using something that can't be proven through science or logic during an argument constitutes not arguing in good faith.

Such as insisting upon a supposed dynamic nature of truth? Or presuming perception?

Violence results from not agreeing on the truth. Agreement is unlikely when opponents don't value good faith.

How can “good faith” be valued when it is first discarded? How can you define “good faith” that pursues a “dynamic truth?” You attempt to redefine truth, and then accuse others of not acting in “good faith”?

In my physical life I make decisions based on my dynamic perception of the truth.

This awareness of the dynamic is what separates humans from beasts and inspires our creativity.

You perceive not even your own hubris.

Our real enemy is anyone who doesn't value the truth enough to argue in good faith and agree that the shared conclusion represents our new truth.

How nice to know that honesty is your real enemy. If you could only build a large enough consensus of weak minded fools, you’d make short work of we dissenters. I’d prefer that you thought, period.

maccusgermanis said...

I take my time to make a statement. Please try to address it.

At least your good for a laugh. But, you really shouldn't get people's hopes up by suggesting that you value the truth.

maccusgermanis said...

you're

truepeers said...

I just am human and it just is blue. Any argument about either would be pointless.

-so is that an argument you just made, or what? There may be no accounting for taste, but anyone who thinks he hasn't spent his whole life thinking and arguing about the human must be from another planet. If I took that above "argument" seriously, Rob, I would just goodbye now. But, out of human friendship, I'll risk your ire and tell you that it's not pointless; it is in fact the point of our entire conversation so far...

This you have extrapolated to form a cynical conclusion about the human ability to reach agreement.

-Maybe I'm cynical; that's for others to decide. But I would like to know why it is cynical to be deeply suspicious of those who call for more than temporary agreements, suspicious of those who promise an end to conflict. We have heard this promise before - from Marxists, Nazis, orthodox Muslims, Gnostic Christians. And in the last century alone such beliefs in "final solutions" cost hundreds of millions of lives. Saying that belief in an ideology that will end conflict is a Utopian lie doesn't strike me as cynical; it seems to me a necessary point to hammer home if we are to save hundreds of millions of live in this century.

You may still claim that we can't be objective, in circular rhetoric, but that claim is disproved by the logic that we perceive what it is to be objective.

-and what is involved in this perceiving if not our personal subjectivity? Surely you realize that we would have no concept of "objective" if we were not also subjective about our shared human Being. Your argument may look objective to you, but not to me...

What seems "objective" to me, are people who argue that the very idea that arguments about the human can be simply "objective", balanced or unbiased if made by duly credentialized journalistic or academic authorities, are arguments coming from elitist liberals and Gnostic positivists who presume to have the final say on what is and is not "extremist" or "subjective".

Not at all. I never suggested that creative people were extremist.

-LOL, and what makes you the arbiter of the difference between creative and extremist? You think you know what is ojective and true, but I am saying that's only your religion talking. Of course, that's just because I'm cynical... I'm sure all those who have been labelled "extremist" by people like you will be glad to hear it. It clears up our confusion. Now we know that the objective truth, as Rob and all good thinking liberal people know it, is that we are not creative, just extremist.

I take my time to make a statement. Please try to address it.

-But Rob, this is not about me or you, it's about the truth, remember? Thus, the argument gets the time it's worth. But who decides what it's worth? The marketplace, of course. And what's objective about that?

Just because I question your notions of objectivity, doesn't mean I am a cynical disbeliever in "the truth". It's just that I know I can never have the full or final truth in my hands, that human beings are limited by our own subjective desires and positions that are in rivalry with each other. I learn more truth by becoming humble and asking why something is popular in the human marketplace, even if I come to the conclusion that fundamental truth does not belong to the market and its desires. But as soon as I step outside of the market, and try to objectify its choices and future needs, to get a little closer to fundamental truth, I realize that I can only work effectively as long as I am trying to find my way back into the marketplace, to be of service to others, with a little more of the truth, at the time and place the market will want to hear it... in short, I know nothing apart from my interaction with others. But since this interaction is mediated by our mimicing and competing desires, I can never expect a final solution to conflict. I can never expect a final truth, only a temporary market success, with any luck. But to the extent the market allows us to accrue more and more wealth, knowledge, freedom, over time we can assume that collectively we are getting a little closer to *the* truth... even as subjectively we will never agree on it.

As soon as you *tell* me what is ojectively true, I am in rivalry with your superior position as the teacher. Unless you beat me into submission I will always question your superiority, because how can I not share your good ambition to be a teacher, informed by my own experience and not only by received dogma? This is why truth and beauty cannot be so much told to others; they can only be *shown*; we are led by example. We must each subjectively come to understand and integrate the world and its truths for ourselves. We must each become authors or persons in our own right. And that means we can't simply bow to "objective" truths as others define them. What we each find objective is what helps us understand our own experience. SO it depends on many things, like our level of education, what we have experienced. Yes, at the end of the day there is only one humanity and one universal truth. But we are never able to objectify it all at once. We're humans, not God, and as such we're caught up in sinful rivalries with each other...

Peace... for now...

truepeers said...

maccus

Islam means submission to a supposed god, as revealed by mo’. There is one profession of faith, one shahadah. That is fundamental. It is not fantasy.

-With respect, I don't think so... it is a (fundamentalist) fantasy... IF you think that allying yourself with the unique source of Being in the universe solves all your worldly problems and puzzles as long as you correctly follow some "total way of life". Even if you have a true understanding of God, the trials of human existence can't be simply relegated to the unique truth (anyone who thinks he has all the answers becomes an instant menace to man, and not a real leader... even most Muslims may one day recognize this...). The suicide bomber tries to square the circle, but he has to become Satanic in the attempt. One has to tolerate human existence in all its messiness, or become a danger to all humanity, including to your fellow Muslims. In short, what is fundamental for many Muslims is also a fantasy.

It is true that muslims, regardless of their professions, are free, but they can not be free while continuing to submit themselves.

-As I say, it is a fantasy to think submitting yourself answers all questions and conflicts about your human existence. The reason Christianity is true is that it teaches that in submitting yourself to God, you find your real self and you now become most yourself as a free and responsible human being. Muslims may be out to lunch, but you can't eliminate the truth that any submission is not the end of the human matter... only the new beginning. You may well be right that Muslims are a danger to us, because of what they think submission to Allah entails, but I don't buy the absolute argument that they are incapable of thinking and learning just because they offer submission. Because in immutable human reality, a real submission to God, a real glimpse of the unique truth of transcendence and Being, is an opening to freedom and responsibility...

Theirs is not just a conflict between those of us who think they’re nuts, but one within themselves. Your platitudes do nothing to resolve either conflict. Such platitudes defer not only violence, but any meaningful discrimination between right and wrong.

-Well, I hope I'm not suggesting anyone can forgo discrimination of right and wrong. It's just that I refuse any final answers on such questions. But as you say, this is a conflict not just between us and them but between and within Muslim sects. This gives me reason to hope that after enough Muslims kill each other, in the full light of global media and commentary on their murderous insanity, enough of them may start to learn that submission to God is not the be all and end all, but only the beginning of learning what it means to be a responsible human being. We learn real tolerance only after we discover that submission to the one God does not provide easy answers to all the problems of unending human conflict. A man who is truly humbled by his submission to God is not a threat. He is the guy who sees through the largely ritualized consciousness.

I have no problem giving strategic, or even tactical/logistical, support to munafiq that wish to improve their societies. I have a problem with the insistence that “truth,” “perception,” and “fundamental” must be stripped of their meaning. I do choose sides in the civil war. I do even choose sides in the internal conflict.

-I don't see how I am stripping "truth", "perception" and "fundamental" of their meaning. What I am suggesting is that meaning occurs in time: a sign is made for the first time, in an attempt to transcend a conflict. But that transcendence does not take the form of a fully-concretized and immutable agreement on what the sign means. What it means awaits the judgment of history as people play it out. The reason the sign can defer the conflict is that both or many competing parties can respect it, because they both think they can make claims on it, precisely because its meaning has not yet been ironed out. It's like two poker players who both think they can still win the pot. Except unlike poker, we are in a game that hopefully never ends. That's my religious hope/commitment for you. As you can see, it's different from Islam, as many Muslims understand it, those who view their immutable, outside of history, "truth" as eternal and uncreated. But, quite simply, they have an unreal understanding of their humanity.

I am simply saying we can never have the full and final truth, not that we cannot know some part of it. When we think we know absolutely all there is to be known about something, it ceases to have meaning for us. It becomes a thing of boredom. The very fact that Islam is so meaningful for many people demonstrates that they haven't yet figured out all the truth, or lack thereof, in it. And even if we think that we "infidels" have figured the heresy all out, the very fact that some other guy who might kill us begs to differ, creates a historical dynamic in which the full and final truth of Islam as a historical phenomenon is deferred. We still don't know whether Islam can provide the means and motivation to defeat our civilization in a moment of decadence. We still don't know if we can usefully divide Islam to minimize the violence. But in good faith we might try...

To say that islam is the singular enemy does not presume to know how many nominal muslims are jihadists, munafiq, or concealed apostates. It is no full measure of potential allies or enemies. It is an admission of a fundamental truth. It is in this honest faith that we must meet the munafiq, jihadist, and, by now much amused, apostate.

- It seems to me there are two kinds of truth. I say this not to make an argument for relativism or nihilism, only an attempt to recognize our real situation in which truth is twofold. There are pragmatic human truths of the marketplace; and there are more fundamental ones that we begin to grasp - never completely - outside of the marketplace but that nonetheless teach us to return to the market and serve the pragmatic realties of human existence: we can't hang out with God all the time, at least not in this world... You may be right on some fundamental level that Islam is our enemy. If you have a commitment to another truer religion, I couldn't expect you to believe otherwise.

But on a pragmatic level, I think we have to think of developing a market in which today's Muslims can learn more about themselves and about us, where they can be forced to make choices and discover what they really believe and what kind of world they really want to live in - information that will be vital to us in the fight, information I think we just don't yet have nearly enough of - and where they can begin to learn about how they don't have the full and final truth and how those who think so are consequently a danger not only to us, but to themselves. Pragmatically, I think we have to defer final judgment on what Islam is or can be, just as you don't presume to know how many Muslims are hypocrites. This doesn't mean that we can't have ourselves more certain faith commitments. It's just to warn that faith can't provide easy answers to worldly dilemmas, only the courage to face them. All I hope to do is to make widespread in Islam what Christianity has known at least since Augustine: that we cannot but avoid dividing up the reality of our existence and Being into profane and sacred histories. Reality, as we learn more about it through history, comes to demand a separation of church and state. In serving God we cannot escape the trials and uncertainties of man, and consequently the wisdom of a certain tolerance about "the truth" if we wish to preserve human existence. Reality is just that, whatever religion you profess. Paradoxical, I know...

Rob Misek said...

Mac,

"I have a problem with the insistence that “truth,” “perception,” and “fundamental” must be stripped of their meaning."

There is a useful referrence book in any argument, the dictionary. You should use it before making preposterous claims.

I'm willing to accept that the truth we perceive changes with our perception of facts. Are you?

""Since the truth would be meaningless if it didn't define our perception of reality, doesn't the fact that our perception of truth changes mean that we should perceive the reality of truth to be dynamic?

Your argument is circular rhetoric."

Prove your claim.

"You claim the truth is absolute but would have as much luck proving the existence of God.

And where is the proof that “truth” –a word that means “conformity to fact”- should instead be defined as consensus?"

Go ahead, disprove my statement by proving the existence of God. I hope you're feeling lucky.

"If truth is not absolute, then soon consensus is passed off as a substitute."

Let me guess, you can't prove this either.

"How can “good faith” be valued when it is first discarded? How can you define “good faith” that pursues a “dynamic truth?” You attempt to redefine truth, and then accuse others of not acting in “good faith”? "

Whether the specific truth we perceive is dynamic or static is irrelevant to the concept of good faith.

It is your challenge to prove otherwise.

Good faith is the desire to find the truth to the best of our ability and share it regardless of the form it takes.

"Our real enemy is anyone who doesn't value the truth enough to argue in good faith and agree that the shared conclusion represents our new truth.

How nice to know that honesty is your real enemy."

And where is the honesty or good faith in your statement? You may be the enemy, but its certainly not because you're honest.

Truepeer,

"Not at all. I never suggested that creative people were extremist.

-LOL, and what makes you the arbiter of the difference between creative and extremist? You think you know what is ojective and true, but I am saying that's only your religion talking. Of course, that's just because I'm cynical... I'm sure all those who have been labelled "extremist" by people like you will be glad to hear it. It clears up our confusion. Now we know that the objective truth, as Rob and all good thinking liberal people know it, is that we are not creative, just extremist."

That is your weak argument, not mine. Is your position so weak that you must lie about mine to defeat it? I'm not buying that crap.

"We're humans, not God, and as such we're caught up in sinful rivalries with each other..."

That is your excuse not to argue in good faith, not mine.

You may cut and run from this argument because your ego won't admit defeat or accept the truth (dynamic as it is).

The lack of good faith on your part will be the reason if we fail to reach agreement.

Is this how you maintain your delusions?

Rob Misek said...

Truepeer,

"As soon as you *tell* me what is ojectively true, I am in rivalry with your superior position as the teacher."

I recognize this human characteristic but am not ruled by it.

I have chosen to value the truth and good faith above all else, including politics.

Can you honestly say the same?

If not, what exactly does a "covenant of the truth" mean to you?

maccusgermanis said...

Rob,

There is a useful referrence book in any argument, the dictionary. You should use it before making preposterous claims.

It is the dictionary that I have been defending. If you’d spend as much time reading other posts as you claim to spend preening the idiotic drivel that you post, then you might have noticed several links to the definition and etymology of “truth” and “perception.” It was my use of definitions, previously defined, that caused you to suggest that my rhetoric was circular. Whereas you prefer to define truth as a dynamic thing which when fully grasped immediately changes, therefore, nothing being incomplete about our grasp, truth must be moving. The observation that your supposition of truth can be proven incongruent with reality should cause you to perceive that your supposition was faulty. You did never perceive.

"If truth is not absolute, then soon consensus is passed off as a substitute."
Let me guess, you can't prove this either. You are the evidence.

Truth was defined well before you decided it was dynamic. It was sought, however imperfectly, by those whose work we build our understanding of the world. To suggest that it now changes according our whim is to break faith with the past and future. Whether we prove the wisdom of predecessors or antecedents prove our foolishness, truth is the static measure of each endeavor.

Shared conclusion is consensus. Truth exists apart from such conspiracy.

Rob Misek said...

mac,

"Shared conclusion is consensus. Truth exists apart from such conspiracy."

So by your definition we cannot share the truth or it becomes a conspiracy of consensus and cannot be the truth.

If by agreeing to it, people change the truth, it must be dynamic.

Is that really your argument?

maccusgermanis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maccusgermanis said...

Talk about circular reasoning!

If I were to say that one person does exist apart from another, does that mean that neither exists?

Truth exists apart form from conspiracy means that it is not contigent on your presuposition, however much shared by however many weakminded fools that you've crossed paths.

truepeers said...

"We're humans, not God, and as such we're caught up in sinful rivalries with each other..."

That is your excuse not to argue in good faith, not mine.

-it's no such excuse, since sinful humans need good faith; whether God does, in the same way as us, I'm not sure...

But I can only repeat my claim, since you are not interested in actually addressing what I write in any serious way: the reason we need good faith is that conflict is inevitable. If we knew some world-pacifying solution were just around the corner, if only we had "faith", would it really be a question of faith?

What is your basis for thinking all will be Utopia if only the people have faith...?

At Covenant Zone we try our best to meet standards of good faith... but we are not deluded about some possibilty for universal agreement.
The truth, as you say, is dynamic, so no permanent agreement is possible... as long as humans are the species who learn desires from each other and thus inevitably come into conflicts over common objects of desire.

Rob Misek said...

Truepeer,

The truth, as you say, is dynamic, so no permanent agreement is possible...

I agree 100% with this statement.
To share something that is dynamic with agreement means the process of agreement (argument) must also be dynamic.

I don't share your cynical and uncivilized view of humanity.

Since we have reached agreement on the dynamic truth, perhaps you could answer my last two questions.

I have chosen to value the truth and good faith above all else, including politics. Can you honestly say the same?

If not, what exactly does a "covenant of the truth" mean to you?

Mac,

"Shared conclusion is consensus. Truth exists apart from such conspiracy.

Truth exists apart form from conspiracy means that it is not contigent on your presuposition, however...blah blah blah ".

A good example of reaching the singular question. Unfortunately it is an irrelevant misrepresentation of my argument.

I never suggested that the truth was discerned through consensus. Those were your paranoid delusions.

I did say, let me quote.

"I believe the truth is dynamic and can be discerned through intelligence logic and science."

And I do say.

"I'm willing to accept that the truth we perceive changes with our perception of facts. Are you?"

Why not do us all a favour and answer the question above?

maccusgermanis said...

Truth exists apart from conspiracy means that it is not contigent on your presuposition, however much shared by however many weakminded fools that you've crossed paths.
Wed Dec 05, 02:28:00 PM PST maccusgermanis

A good example of reaching the singular question. Unfortunately it is an irrelevant misrepresentation of my argument.

I never suggested that the truth was discerned through consensus. Those were your paranoid delusions.

I did say, let me quote.

Thu Dec 06, 03:57:00 AM PST Rob Misek

Our real enemy is anyone who doesn't value the truth enough to argue in good faith and agree that the shared conclusion represents our new truth.
Tue Dec 04, 04:46:00 AM PST Rob Misek

Oops, Blogger’s comments seem to have malfunctioned. Somehow I actually quoted the most relevant of your previous statements.

And I do say.

"I'm willing to accept that the truth we perceive changes with our perception of facts. Are you?"

Why not do us all a favour and answer the question above?

Thu Dec 06, 03:57:00 AM PST Rob Misek

And I have previously said,

Why does the "simple question" presume perception?
Sat Dec 01, 12:44:00 PM PST

If you’d spend as much time reading other posts as you claim to spend preening the idiotic drivel that you post, then you might have noticed several links to the definition and etymology of “truth” and “perception.”
Wed Dec 05, 11:49:00 AM PST maccusgermanis

Rob Misek said...

All you need to do is answer the question. Failure to do so will prove you lack good faith.

Then I will answer any question of yours.

"I'm willing to accept that the truth we perceive changes with our perception of facts. Are you?"

truepeers said...

I don't share your cynical and uncivilized view of humanity.

Since we have reached agreement on the dynamic truth, perhaps you could answer my last two questions.

I have chosen to value the truth and good faith above all else, including politics. Can you honestly say the same?

If not, what exactly does a "covenant of the truth" mean to you?


-Yes, I value the truth and good faith above all else, keeping in mind that I don't pretend to ever have the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to thinking through fundamental human questions. That's why I need good faith. I also recognize that truths can collide. I may "value the truth above all else"; but I also think it's true that I must value my family so much that I may at times have to tell a lie to defend them, depending on the larger consequences of the lie, of course...

Truth is not a simple thing...

Anyway, we don't talk about this blog as a "covenant of the truth". We are each in search of further truth than we presently grasp. but the covenant we promote has more to do with the rules and loyalties we must all share with our fellow citizens so that each can have the freedom to explore a little more truth.

Now, one of those rules is that you don't go calling people "uncivilized and cynical" without having a pretty good argument to back it up, one that truly engages with what the other guy is saying.

Rob Misek said...

Truepeer,

These little clips of dialogue are examples from you that lead me to the conclusion that you have a cynical and uncivilized perspective of humanity.

While your points may seem valid to you, you have done nothing to prove them as universal truths.

"-Maybe I'm cynical; that's for others to decide. But I would like to know why it is cynical to be deeply suspicious of those who call for more than temporary agreements, suspicious of those who promise an end to conflict. We have heard this promise before - from Marxists, Nazis, orthodox Muslims, Gnostic Christians. And in the last century alone such beliefs in "final solutions" cost hundreds of millions of lives. Saying that belief in an ideology that will end conflict is a Utopian lie doesn't strike me as cynical; it seems to me a necessary point to hammer home if we are to save hundreds of millions of live in this century."

Either you're cynical about the human capacity for peace or you're about to suggest an alternative ideology. Maybe we'll never know.

"We're humans, not God, and as such we're caught up in sinful rivalries with each other..."

Thats pretty uncivilized don't you think?

"At Covenant Zone we try our best to meet standards of good faith... but we are not deluded about some possibilty for universal agreement."

How about 1+1=2. It is a mathematical language but universal agreement is a given.

Calling universal agreement a delusion is not only cynical it's just plain untrue.

Proof enough?

I don't expect any of our arguments will jeopardize the safety of your family, so we should expect 100% good faith from you in the future then huh?

truepeers said...

Pot. Kettle. Black.

rob, if your tone isn't cynical and contemptuous, what is it? righteous? - almost as bad.

I think all my arguments you quote are fine arguments. It seems to me it is you who is afraid of the less-than-Utopian truth about the human condition. You think you can just quote my arguments and spit on them and that that will impress people. It won't. And I won't engage you any further until you show some sign of honestly trying to think through what is wrong with my ideas.

Rob Misek said...

Truepeer,

Quite frankly, for the most part, we agree.

I don't disagree with your cynical and uncivilized perception of the current human condition.

I do disagree with any conclusion you make that that is the way we must be, or will always be etc.

To reach a destination must know both where we are and which heading to take.

To know where we are we can read, communicate with others and perceive our environment.

To know our heading we need a perception of our destination. For humanity our destination usually takes the form of an ideology. I have observed, like you have, that these ideologies have a common theme - the absolute. While the destination may be absolute, the paths change with time - are dynamic.

In our world, we have a jigsaw puzzle of both current locations and destinations. This is the human condition as I see it.

Like a mission to Mars, our jigsaw puzzle may be an impossibility today, but with years of energy and comittment can be achieved.

The meaning to me of "a covenant of the truth", is joining that team.

We must first agree that the objective is attainable.

This is why I argue.

truepeers said...

Rob,

I certainly believe in universally-applicable truths. But you can't draw an analogy from mathematics to explain how we come to agree/disagree on questions concerning the human/politics.

We live in time; we are always reacting to the consequences of particular applications of truths that put into question if we have interpreted this truth correctly. Some even look at unhappy consequences and seek to undermine the entire notion of turth.

We have conflict because we cannot keep a steady state in anything political. We can't make everything equal and happy and then just stop the clock on history. Because we have freedom we are always creating differences that both defer conflict and become in time a basis for conflict.

I think it is inherently dangerous to promise people that there is some common end of history, once we figure out how to get there. Once people think this way they start asking what sacrifices are needed to get to this common end. And then the bodies start to fall. This is what the history of "socialism" taught us. As long as humans remain alive there can be no end of history. No matter what great things we achieve, we will still have differences, inequalities, freedoms, mimicing and competing desires that will insure there is no end of conflict and history. And that's a good thing.

Your last comment is essentially religious. If I may offfer a word of advice on such a subject, I think you should recognize that the ultimate harmony you long for is not for this world, but for the world to come. What you long for is an idea founded in religion, and it should stay there. It is not a respectable secular political idea.

In any case, I think we have enough comments on this post; and since we are not likely to agree on this any time soon, this is my last comment, if you care to write only one more.

Rob Misek said...

Life is a precious and dynamic gift we are stewards of.

I have no intention to wait for the afterlife to strive for that harmony which I desire in life.

I appreciate our brief argument and look forward to the next.