Tuesday, January 29, 2008

22 Shevaṭ 5768: National Puzzle Day/Freethinker’s Day


Divine misconception of the day: poor understanding of truth noted in “Surveys Find Americans Tolerant Of Religious Beliefs”. Truth, in reality, is purely objective. Whether it be scientific truth, mathematical truth, of the truth of propositions within an artificial system, there are such things as “right” and “wrong”. What the article notes is that Americans tend to eschew the notions of “right” and “wrong”. Such a view is elegantly formulated in the Principa Discordia, the most prominent text of Discordianism:
 With our concept making apparatus called "mind" we look at reality
through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us. The
ideas-about-reality are mistakenly labeled "reality" and unenlightened
people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other
cultures, see "reality" differently. It is only the ideas-about-reality
which differ. Real (capital-T True) reality is a level deeper that is the
level of concept.

We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids
(concepts). Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group
of people with rather similar grids. Through a window we view chaos, and
relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The ORDER is
in the GRID. That is the Aneristic Principle.

Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one
grid with another grid, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one
that will account for all reality and will, hence, (say unenlightened
westerners) be True. This is illusory; it is what we Erisians call the
ANERISTIC ILLUSION. Some grids can be more useful than others, some more
beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be
more True than any other.

DISORDER is simply unrelated information viewed through some
particular grid. But, like "relation", no-relation is a concept. Male, like
female, is an idea about sex. To say that male-ness is "absence of
female-ness", or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically
arbitrary. The artificial concept of no-relation is the ERISTIC PRINCIPLE.

The belief that "order is true" and disorder is false or somehow
wrong, is the Aneristic Illusion. To say the same of disorder, is the

The point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition
relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T)
Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirely. Pick a grid,
and through it some chaos appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick
another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and

Reality is the original Rorschach.
This world-view essentially makes every point-of-view equally legitimate; whatever one wants to believe is considered equally true One can claim that the Moon is made of green cheese with the same confidence as embracing general relativity. Or your neighbor may claim that you stole $50,000,000,000 from him/her, assured that the evidence to the contrary does not matter; after all, the point-of-view that you did steal that huge amount of money is just as good as the one that says you did not. Adopting such a view is a denial of any means whatsoever at finding truth; indeed “seeking” makes no sense in such a context, as it is denied that there is actual truth to be sought. Why anyone would adopt such a reality-denying point of view? Perhaps it is a pathology of tolerance, of which we have a long tradition in the USA. Toleration is trying to get along with other people, regardless of what they believe and do. The pathology would be assuming that what other people believe and do is just as right as anything anyone believes and does. This idea is not tenable, as it ignores that on some issues someone has to be right (e.g., given some definition of what a god is, either no god exists or at least one god exists). Furthermore, what is wrong with the notion of “wrong” anyway?  For a scientist or a mathematician, being wrong is something you expect to happen to you.  One expects that sooner or later (probably sooner), something one hypothesizes will turn out not to be correct—and that is OK.  Finding out one is wrong shows one that one needs to search in a different direction for truth.  It most certainly does not make one a bad scientist or a bad mathematician.  Similarly, what is wrong about believing that someone believes something factually incorrect?  I myself know many people who believe things which I believe or know are wrong, and what of it?  These people are not idiots or evil.  We can even discuss our different belief systems with respect for each other, maybe even learn something from each other.  This is what tolerance is supposed to be about:  not abandoning notions of “right” and “wrong”, but rather respecting differences in belief.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is the drop bear. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

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