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Old 01-19-2018   #41
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
Here's one of the claims I'm making:

"No one has ever changed their beliefs on the basis of a philosophical argument alone."

What the statement itself suggests is that a thousand other variables help shape one's beliefs, variables directly associated with lived experience. A philosophical argument alone has never been the primary reason someone has changed or refined their worldview. Only a computer or someone who has suffered nothing in life could ever believe something on the basis of a philosophical argument alone.
I don't get it? No process in the universe occurs entirely in isolation, so why is this particular one being singled out as invalid or less valid because it requires other variables? Nobody has ever eaten purely through chewing alone. Nobody has ever milked a cow purely by buying a cow. Nobody has ever walked by standing upright alone. Is this deep thinking?

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
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Old 01-19-2018   #42
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
Here's one of the claims I'm making:

"No one has ever changed their beliefs on the basis of a philosophical argument alone."

What the statement itself suggests is that a thousand other variables help shape one's beliefs, variables directly associated with lived experience. A philosophical argument alone has never been the primary reason someone has changed or refined their worldview. Only a computer or someone who has suffered nothing in life could ever believe something on the basis of a philosophical argument alone.
I don't get it? No process in the universe occurs entirely in isolation, so why is this particular one being singled out? You don't eat food by chewing alone. You don't milk a cow by merely having access to a cow. Nobody has ever walked by just standing upright. Is this deep thinking?
The notion that one can put aside "contingent" aspects of who they are and be convinced that something is true through reason and/or logic alone is one of the fundamental tenets of the Enlightenment, which is why it's worth singling out.

No, I don't pretend the claim I've made is particularly "deep." But to claim that it's as relevant as milking a cow is odd.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

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Old 01-19-2018   #43
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

A countless, unfathomable amount of variables will have had to have occurred for one particular person in the universe to be in the position to milk one particular cow.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 01-19-2018   #44
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
A countless, unfathomable amount of variables will have had to have occurred for one particular person in the universe to be in the position to milk one particular cow.
I can't argue with that.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 01-19-2018   #45
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

..and milking a cow is still something worth doing if you want milk.

-_^

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
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Old 01-19-2018   #46
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
@ qcrisp

It just now occurred to me that my initial response might have been construed as offensive. It was not my intent to imply that you were mistaken regarding your own experience - that would be absurd. The problem is that the claim I've made is not as controversial as some believe. In other words, the claim has been misinterpreted.
Do you know Thomas Kelly's paper on disagreement between epistemic peers?


I very much agree with it.

Epistemic peers (if there is such a thing) can disagree (and shouldn't feel bad about it), and if they do disagree there is no reason for them to agree until some outside factor tips the balance. But I don't think this is the same thing as saying an argument alone never convinced anyone.

In the state A of believing C, how do I get to state B of believing D? Some new thing must happen. What that new thing happens to is state A, which includes all the factors you mentioned above (experiences and so on). But the new thing can be an argument on its own and doesn't have to be an experience (apart from the experience of hearing a new argument).

That is how I would put it.

ôSpecialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved." - Max Weber
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Old 01-19-2018   #47
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

@ qcrisp

I think an argument can certainly facilitate the transition from state A to state B if the person already has some prior experience with the subject in question. But I don't know if the transition is something completely new, or if it's a further development of what's already present in some form.

I'm more sympathetic towards the tradition of philosophical hermeneutics (Heidegger and Gadamer) than epistemology in its more contemporary form. The fact that the former has a great deal in common with the old theological notion that the role of reason is to elucidate aspects of revelation (which is something given beforehand) has made me sympathetic towards the efforts of some theologians as well.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 01-20-2018   #48
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

@Mr Veech : At the risk of derailing the current discussion, what you say reminds me of Wittgenstein's Tractatus. I skimmed it through the book Wittgenstein's Tractatus and The Modern Arts , but maybe someone more familiar with it can chime in.

Wittgenstein says philosophy cannot derive universal values from facts because there exists no logical necessity between them. It is an exercise in clarifying ideas, in separating sense from nonsense.

"Tell me how you want to die, and I'll tell you who you are. In other words, how do you fill out an empty life? With women, books, or worldly ambitions? No matter what you do, the starting point is boredom, and the end self-destruction. The emblem of our fate: the sky teeming with worms. Baudelaire taught me that life is the ecstasy of worms in the sun, and happiness the dance of worms."
---Tears and Saints, E. M. Cioran
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Old 01-20-2018   #49
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
@ qcrisp

I think an argument can certainly facilitate the transition from state A to state B if the person already has some prior experience with the subject in question. But I don't know if the transition is something completely new, or if it's a further development of what's already present in some form.

I'm more sympathetic towards the tradition of philosophical hermeneutics (Heidegger and Gadamer) than epistemology in its more contemporary form. The fact that the former has a great deal in common with the old theological notion that the role of reason is to elucidate aspects of revelation (which is something given beforehand) has made me sympathetic towards the efforts of some theologians as well.
For what it's worth, I don't think that logic can ultimately be divorced from being. I've only just got up, so that probably sounds incredibly vague. But, in short, as far as I can tell there were aspects of philosophy that got sidelined with the enlightenment that were to do with being. These came back in with phenomenology and existentialism. So, perhaps our positions are not that far apart.

I would write more on this, as it is of much interest to me, but I'm afraid I'd be very off-topic. Anyway, this is very much my area of interest at the moment.

ôSpecialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved." - Max Weber
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Old 01-20-2018   #50
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by qcrisp View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
@ qcrisp

I think an argument can certainly facilitate the transition from state A to state B if the person already has some prior experience with the subject in question. But I don't know if the transition is something completely new, or if it's a further development of what's already present in some form.

I'm more sympathetic towards the tradition of philosophical hermeneutics (Heidegger and Gadamer) than epistemology in its more contemporary form. The fact that the former has a great deal in common with the old theological notion that the role of reason is to elucidate aspects of revelation (which is something given beforehand) has made me sympathetic towards the efforts of some theologians as well.
For what it's worth, I don't think that logic can ultimately be divorced from being. I've only just got up, so that probably sounds incredibly vague. But, in short, as far as I can tell there were aspects of philosophy that got sidelined with the enlightenment that were to do with being. These came back in with phenomenology and existentialism. So, perhaps our positions are not that far apart.

I would write more on this, as it is of much interest to me, but I'm afraid I'd be very off-topic. Anyway, this is very much my area of interest at the moment.
@ qcrisp and ToALonelyPeace

I'll try to bring the discussion back to the subject of antinatalism. I feel the need to post because I've been unable to continue my own writing project(s) recently.

I think part of the problem is that I expressed myself too strongly, so much so that I seemed to be suggesting that philosophy is somehow useless. In my opinion, philosophy has a role to play, but I don't think it's as important as some believe. Examining Benatar's formulation of antinatalism is a good opportunity to see what I'm trying to get at. I don't see how it's possible for someone to be convinced of Benatar's overall claim regarding procreation on the basis of his asymmetry argument alone. The argument itself is uncompelling, namely because it involves reducing the human experience to a simple matrix based on a very shallow view of pain and pleasure. The reason(s) someone might agree with Benatar might look like the following:

(1) Doctor A told patient B that he or she has six months to live. This recent news causes B to ruminate over the fact that he or she has caused great pain in the lives of C, D, and E.

(2) A relationship between person A and person B fails because person B does not have the same beliefs as person A, even though B genuinely loves A.

A "logical" person would say that the above instances are less significant than the impersonal dictates of the asymmetry argument. I would say that a person of flesh and blood has already accepted whatever logical arguments Benatar proposes because he or she has already accepted Benatar's claim regarding procreation on the basis of real experiences. Benatar does give an "empirical" defense of his fundamental views in chapter three of Better Never to Have Been. However, presenting universal facts will never take the place of real experiences which always resist conceptual analysis because of their nature as individual occurrences in the life of a human being. My own pain is self-authenticating. I don't support my pessimism with a philosophical argument put forth by an academic.

As for Wittgenstein, I admire both his philosophical work and the non-academic life he actually lived. His Tractatus, while criticized by many, is intriguing because it was a linguistic rendition of Kant's transcendental idealism, which he probably discovered through Schopenhauer. The governing idea behind Wittgenstein's early work was that there's a direct correspondence between language and the world of facts, and that to use language outside of this context results in the production of nonsensical statements which are neither true nor false. The end result is that philosophy cannot make any claims regarding the most important issues concerning such things as morality, the subject, the existence of God, etc. The Vienna Circle expressed contempt for Wittgenstein's defense of "mysticism," even though it was the most beautiful aspect of his Tractatus. His later work retains the same sense of "religiosity," but from the standpoint of a less formal account of how language works.

I suspect Arthur Machen would sympathize with Wittgenstein's primary emphasis on the limited nature of conceptual and/or linguistic analysis. I certainly admire the man and his writings. He's one of the reasons I no longer have contempt for theists. I wouldn't be surprised if I were to eventually become one myself on some strange day, albeit one far from orthodox.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"

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