Monday, March 29, 2010

Juxtaposed: Ideas and people

I am off traveling, so I scheduled this thoughtless post for today.  It's a juxtaposition of conventional wisdom!
Wisdom #1: I have nothing against God or spirituality.  I just don't like organized religion, with all its human corruption.

Wisdom #2: I draw a careful distinction between people and their ideas.  Even as I criticize ideas, I have respect for the people who hold them.
See you next week!


Larry Hamelin said...

...this thoughtless post...

Indeed it was. Enjoy your trip, and I'm looking forward to your thoughtful posts when you return.

Jeffrey Ellis said...

I would like to riff off of your Wisdom #1 by rewriting it thusly:

Wisdom #1a. I have nothing against egalitarianism or social justice. I just don't like big centralized government, with all its human corruption.

Yep, that's a pretty good isomorphic mapping, I think.

I do like your #1 and #2, and agree with both. Your #2 in particular reflects the principle of reciprocity that all critical thinkers should adhere to.

Larry Hamelin said...

Since miller explicitly says the post is thoughtless, I didn't bother to criticize the ideas more carefully. But since you appear to take them seriously, Jeffrey, I'll go into more detail.

#1 is complete bullshit.

There is no such thing as God, and spirituality (at least as it pertains specifically to religion) is egregious bullshit.

Furthermore, unless you want to go back to a primitive hunter-gatherer society, there are nothing but human organizations and institutions, with their attendant "corruptions". Indeed you might as well just roll the clock back to before we evolved thumbs and brains, since the only value our big brains have is our ability to create social institutions.

If you really want to map #1, you might as well say, "I have nothing against having enough to eat and indoor plumbing, I just don't like human civilization with all its human corruption."

The problem with religion is not that it's an organization or an institution, but that it's an organization built on a lie, i.e. god and spirituality. Personally, I have nothing against religious organizations, I just don't like the nonsensical bullshit of God and spirituality on which they're built.

#2 is mostly bullshit. To a certain extent, honest, well-meaning and caring people can disagree, and of course an honest, well-meaning and caring person deserves respect.

But what about dishonest, malicious and hostile people? I most definitely do not have respect for Fred Phelps. But he is technically a law-abiding citizen; I withhold my respect for him on for nothing except his ideas.

And I have very little respect for namby-pamby new-age woo-woo who substitute slogans for actual understanding and thought.

Jeffrey Ellis said...

On #1... you make a good point, so the isomorphic mapping I made is far from perfect. I will restate my point completely separate from any attempt to riff off of miller's #1: Humans are inherently susceptible to corruption, and this is true not just of organized religion, but also of politics and government. And no, that doesn't mean I want to go back and live like cavemen.

Larry Hamelin said...

Humans are inherently susceptible to corruption, and this is true not just of organized religion, but also of politics and government.

Not just religion, politics and government, but every social institution is susceptible to "corruption".

It's also important to be very precise about what we mean objectively by "corruption". It's not saying much that to be against bad things, or to be against that which one is against.

Larry Hamelin said...

It's easy to name examples of what we consider "corruption". It's difficult, perhaps surprisingly difficult, to generalize about what we mean in principle by "corruption", which is IMnsHO a deep philosophical problem with anarchism.

Jeffrey Ellis said...

You make an interesting point, and on reflection I suppose I find myself in agreement. It would seem that corruption is somewhat like porn: hard to formally define, but you know it when you see it.