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IEET > Rights > FreeThought > Life > Access > Innovation > Health > Vision > Philosophy > Futurism > Contributors > Franco Cortese

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Immanuel Kant: Morality Necessitates Immortality


Franco Cortese
Franco Cortese
H+ Magazine

Posted: Sep 15, 2013

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was an 18th century philosopher, one of the earliest philosophers belonging to the enlightenment tradition, and often considered the father of German Idealism. Kant is remembered today more for his moral philosophy than his contributions to metaphysics and epistemology (Rohlf 2010). His contributions to the field of life-extension, however, remain almost completely unexplored, despite the fact that certain claims made in his Theory of Ethics arguably qualify him as a historical antecedent of the contemporary social movement and academic discipline of life-extension.

Marquis du Condorcet (1743-1794), another historical antecedent the modern longevity movement, appears to have originated the “idea of progress” in the context of the enlightenment, which became an ideological cornerstone of the enlightenment tradition. In Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, Condorcet not only conceives of the idea of progress in perhaps the first form it would take within the enlightenment tradition, but also explicates its link to indefinite life-extension, which was not an existing movement or academic discipline at the time of his writing:

Would it be absurd now to suppose that the improvement of the human race should be regarded as capable of unlimited progress? That a time will come when death would result only from extraordinary accidents or the more and more gradual wearing out of vitality, and that, finally, the duration of the average interval between birth and wearing out has itself no specific limit whatsoever? No doubt man will not become immortal, but cannot the span constantly increase between the moment he begins to live and the time when naturally, without illness or accident, he finds life a burden? (Condorcet 1795)

It is this very notion of infinite progress towards endlessly-perfectible states, carried forward after Condorcet by Kant and other members of the enlightenment tradition, that also underlies Kant’s own ties to the contemporary field of life-extension. Kant’s claim, made in his Theory of Ethics, that to retain morality we must have comprehensively unending lives – that is, we must never, ever die – I will argue qualifies him as a historical antecedent of the contemporary life-extension movement. In his Theory of Ethics (Kant 1996) under “Part III: The Summum Bonnum, God and Immortality” (Kant 1996, p. 350), Kant argues that his theory of ethics necessitates the immortality of the soul in order to remain valid according to the axioms it adheres to. This is nothing less than a legitimation of the desirability of personal immortality by one of the fathers of the Enlightenment tradition.

It is important to note that the aspects making it so crucial a concern to Kant’s ethical system have to do with indefinite lifespan in general, and indeed would have been satisfied using non-metaphysical (i.e. physical and technological) means of indefinite life extension – having more to do with the end of continued life, and indefinite-longevity in particular, than with the particular means used to get there, which in Kant’s case is a metaphysical means.

Karl Ameriks, writing in reference to Kant’s views on immortality, states that “… the question of immortality is to be understood as being about a continued temporal existence of the mind. The question is not whether we belong to the realm beyond time but whether we will persist through all time…Kant also requires this state to involve personal identity.” (Ameriks, 2000).

In the fourth section, “the immortality of the soul as a postulate of pure practical reason”, of the third part of “Theory of Ethics”, Kant writes: “Pure practical reason postulates the immortality of the soul, for reason in the pure and practical sense aims at the perfect good (summum bonnum), and this perfect good is only possible on the supposition of the soul’s immortality.” (Kant 1957, p. 350)

Kant is claiming here that reason (in both senses with which they are taken into account in his system – that is, as pure reason and practical reason) is aimed at perfection, which he defines as continual progress towards the perfect good (rather than, say, the attainment of any such state of perfection) and that as finite beings we can only achieve such perfect good through an unending striving toward it.

In a later section, “The Antinomy of Practical Reason (and its Critical Solution)” (Kant 1957, p. 358), he describes the Summum Bonnum as “the supreme end of a will morally determined”. In an earlier section, The Concept of the Summum Bonnum, Kant distinguishes between two possible meanings for Summum; (1) supreme in the sense of absolute (not contingent on anything outside itself), and(2)  perfect (not being part to a larger whole). We can conclude from the conjunction of these sections that Kant meant the Summum Bonnum to embody both meanings of “supreme”.

Kant then goes on to claim that personal immortality is a necessary condition for the possibility of the perfect good. In the same section he describes the Summum Bonnum as the combination of two distinct features: happiness and virtue (defining virtue as worthiness of being happy, and in this section synonymizing it with morality). Both happiness and virtue are analytic in Kant’s epistemological framework, and thus derivable from empirical observation.

However, their combination in the Summum Bonnum does not follow from either on its own and so must be synthetic, or reliant upon a-priori cognitive principals. Kant thusly reasons that the possibility of the Summum Bonnum requires God and the immortality of the soul because this is where Kant grounds his a-priori, synthetic, noumenal world – i.e. the domain where those a-priori principals exist (in/as the mind of God, for Kant).

Kant continues:

“It is the moral law which determines the will, and in this will the perfect harmony of the mind with the moral law is the supreme condition of the summum bonnum… the perfect accordance of the will with the moral law is holiness, a perfection of which no rational being of the sensible world is capable at any moment of his existence. Since, nevertheless, it is required as practically necessary, it can only be found in a progress in infinitum towards that perfect accordance, and on the principles of pure practical reason is nonetheless necessary to assume such a practical progress as the real object of our will.” (Kant 1957, p. 358)

Thus not only does Kant argue for the necessitated personal immortality of the soul by virtue of the fact that perfection is unattainable while constrained by time, he argues along an alternate line of reasoning that such perfection is nonetheless necessary for our morality, happiness and virtue, and that we must thus therefor progress infinitely toward it without ever definitively reaching it if the Summum Bonum is to remain valid according to its own defining-attributes and categorical-qualifiers as-such.

“Now, this endless progress is only possible on the supposition of an endless duration of existence and personality of the same rational being (which is called the immorality of the soul). The summum bonnum, then, practically is only possible on the supposition of the immortality of the soul; consequently this immortality, being inseparably connected with the moral law, is a postulate of pure practical reason (by which I mean a theoretical proposition, not demonstrable as such, but which is an inseparable result of an unconditional a priori practical law). This principal of the moral destination of our nature, namely, that it is only in an endless progress that we can attain perfect accordance with the moral law… For a rational but finite being, the only thing possible is an endless progress from the lower to higher degrees of moral perfection. In Infinite Being, to whom the condition of time is nothing… is to be found in a single intellectual intuition of the whole existence of rational beings. All that can be expected of the creature in respect of the hope of this participation would be the consciousness of his tried character, by which, from the progress he has hitherto made from the worse to the morally better, and the immutability of purpose which has thus become known to him, he may hope for a further unbroken continuance of the same, however long his existence may last, even beyond this life, and thus may hope, not indeed here, nor in any imaginable point of his future existence, but only in the endlessness of his duration (which God alone can survey) to be perfectly adequate to his will.” (Kant 1957, p. 359)

Thus, Kant first argues that the existence of the Summum Bonnum requires the immorality of the soul both (1) because finite beings conditioned by time by definition cannot achieve the absolute perfection of the Summum Bonnum, and can only embody it through perpetual progress towards it, and (2) because the components of the Summum Bonnum (both of which must be co-present for it to qualify as such) are unifiable only synthetically through a priori cognitive principals, which he has argued elsewhere must exist in a domain unconditioned by time (which is synonymous with his conception of the noumenal realm) and which must thus be perpetual for such an metaphysical realm to be considered unconditioned by time and thus noumenal.

Once arguing that the possibility of the Summum Bonnum requires personal immortality, he argues that our freedom/autonomy, which he locates as the will (and further locates the will as being determined by the moral law), also necessitates the Summum Bonnum.

In the first section, “The Concept of Summum Bonnum”, Kant writes that “it is a priori (morally) necessary to produce the summum bonnum by freedom of will…” He sees morality as a-priori and synthetic, and the determining principal which allows us to cause in the world without being caused by it – i.e. for Kant our freedom (the quality of not being externally-determined) requires the noumenal realm because otherwise we are trapped in the freedom-determinism paradox.

Thus the Summum Bonnum also vicariously necessitates the existence of God, because this is necessary for the existence of a noumenal realm unaffected by physical causation (note that Kant refers to physicality, or non-noumenal realm, as “the“phenomenal realm” and “the sensible world”). Such a God could be synonymous with the entire noumenal realm, with every mind forming but an atom as it were in the larger metaorganismal mind of a sort of meta-pantheistic, quasi-Spinozian conception of God – in other words one quite dissimilar to the anthropomorphic connotations usually invoked by the word.

Others have drawn similar conclusions regarding the claim that Kant’s immortality need not be metaphysical, and that physical, technological means of indefinite lifespans would satisfy Kant’s prerequisites for “indefinite progress towards the Summum Bonum” just as well as a metaphysically-bound soul would. Karl Ameriks summarizes Kant’s thoughts on immortality thusly:

​“All other discussion of immortality in the critical period are dominated by the moral argument that Kant sets out in the second critique. The argument is that morality obligates us to seek holiness (perfect virtue), which therefore must be possible, and can only be so if God grants us an endless afterlife in which we can continually progress… As a finite creature man in incapable of ever achieving holiness, but on – and only in – an endless time could we supposedly approximate to it (in the eyes of God) as fully as could be expected… Kant is saying not that real holiness is ever a human objective, but rather that complete striving for it can be, and this could constitute for man a state of ‘perfect virtue’…” (Ameriks 2000)

The emphasis on indefinity is also present in the secondary literature; Ameriks remarks that Kant “…makes clear that the ‘continual progress’ he speaks of can ultimately have a ‘non-temporal’ nature in that it is neither momentary nor of definitive duration nor actually endless”. Only through never quite reaching our perfected state can we retain the perfection and infinite perfectibility inherent in imperfection.

Paul Guyer corroborates the claim that the real determining factor regarding Kant’s thoughts on the relationship between immortality and morality is not Kant’s claim that mind is a metaphysical entity or substance, but rather his claim that if morality requires infinite good and if we are finite beings then we must be finite beings along an infinite stretch of time in order to satisfy the categorical requirements of possessing such an infinity. Guyer writes that “..the possibility of the perfection of our virtuous disposition requires our actual immortality…” (Guyer 2000) and that “…God and immortality are conditions specifically of the possibility of the ultimate object of virtue, the highest good – immortality is the condition for the perfection of virtue and God that for the realization of happiness” (Guyer 2000).

In summary, it does not matter that Kant’s platform was metaphysical rather than technological, because the salient point is not the specific operation or underlying principles of the means used to achieve immortality, but rather the very end of indefinite longevity itself. Being able to both live and progress in(de)finitely constitute the loophole that provides, for Kant, both our freedom and our morality. Kant said we can’t die if we want to be moral, that we can’t die if we want to gain virtue and that we can’t die if we want to remain free. This I believe qualifies Kant as a veritable historical antecedent of the modern movement and academic discipline of life-extension.

References:

[1].          Rohlf, M. (2010). “Immanuel Kant”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL:http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2010/entries/kant/.

[2].          Condorcet, M. J. A. N. C. (1795). Sketch for a historical picture of the progress of the human mind: tenth epoch. Dædalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 133(3), 65-82.

[3].          Kant, I. (1957). In T. M. Greene Kant selections. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

[4].          Ibid,. p. 350.

[5].          Ameriks, K. (2000). Kant’s Theory of Mind: An Analysis of the Paralogisms of Pure Reason. Oxford University Press.

[6].          Kant, I. (1957). In T. M. Greene Kant selections, p. 350. New York: Charles Scribner’s

[7].          Ibid,. p. 358.

[8].          Ibid,. p. 359.

[9].          Ameriks, K. (2000). Kant’s Theory of Mind: An Analysis of the Paralogisms of Pure Reason. Oxford University Press.

[10].       Freydberg, B. (2005). Imagination of Kant’s critique of practical reason. Indiana University Press.

[11].       Guyer, P. (2000). Kant on Freedom, Law, and Happiness. Cambridge University Press


Franco Cortese is an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET, Advisor for Lifeboat Foundation, occupying positions on their Scientific Advisory Board) (specifically on their Life Extension Board) and their Futurists Board, and is one of the top 10 contributors to the LF blog.
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Hmm?

“Kant is claiming here that reason (in both senses with which they are taken into account in his system – that is, as pure reason and practical reason) is aimed at perfection, which he defines as continual progress towards the perfect good (rather than, say, the attainment of any such state of perfection) and that as finite beings we can only achieve such perfect good through an unending striving toward it.”

This is all a bit tenuous.. and rather a long shot at convincing, (theists?), that technological enterprise and the pursuit of continued longevity, (immortality), would be a noble endeavour?

I am not familiar with this argument from Kant nor this “summum bonnum” and perfection of moral state for Human souls. Objectively and rationally we may speculate that Kant is correct, that this “definitive” state of moral perfection requires “infinite” time to accomplish.

Yet this can also be argued from a completely opposite perspective..?  I will try to be concise

1. Quite correctly technological longevity aspiring towards immortality is not incompatible nor inconsistent with any meta-physical viewpoint towards immortality, (as you put it), thus nor with any theistic contemplations of Souls eternal aspiring for God and perfection. And moreover, you overlook the point that any technological pursuit of longevity/immortality and especially any uploading scenario is required to support the mind-body dualism paradox, and so, “all of these goals and ideals are really in support of meta-physical realisations” - mind-body dualism, even for the subscribers to physicalism/reductionism still cannot overcome the paradox of mind-body duality, even when/where scientific progress makes brain emulation longevity/uploading and mind transference possible?

2. Assuming the closer one gets, (through time and space), towards this ideological state of summum bonnum” and God’s perfect moral values, the less freedom an individual would possess to conflict with this proximity, and the less freedom an individual will require to choose to attain this state, (as you hint at). So in fact the perfect state of “summum bonnum” requires total sublimation to God’s will, (perhaps a perfect conjoining of ideals and mind - Oneness)? Again, this is a rational and acceptable contemplation for most theists who believe in heavenly eternal states?

3. Concerning morality and perfection - Thus it is arguable that the perfect state would be total relinquishment of any notion of free will or need for it? No choices, (regarding morality in opposition of God), is required, as supposedly no opposing or conflicting states of mind would be experienced by the individual? Yet this still leaves a big question as to the objectivity and rationale of God’s perfect morality, and of God’s own free will to make choices outside of this ideal state of perfect existence, (thus select your God’s wisely)?

4. Further then, I would propose that the “perfect state” would be total relinquishment of any judgment regarding subjective morality, of “right and wrong”, and by way of total abandonment of any “meaning” of morality whatsoever, (which may also help support an apologist position for God’s non-interference in the morality of Humans and existential threats/heinous acts etc - assuming God’s omnipresence and omnipotence).

5. Thus the “perfect state” would be “total non-interference” and “total apathy” regarding subjective views of morality both internal and external, others and Self, and the rejection of free will for subjugation and Hard determinism/fatalism.

6. Ergo. The perfect state of morality and of impartiality already exists in all energy-matter interactions at atomic levels and beyond. The perfect state of perfection and exposition of morality is, in fact, death and non-existence?

Escape scenario - “Meditate eternally” in a state of non-interference on internal and external states of mind/energy-matter interactions, and with continued, perpetual vigilance?





Sorry for being somewhat silly here, - the subject deserves better, but I couldn’t resist posting what I just read in the Washington Post:

“It was not clear which of Kant’s ideas may have triggered the violence”.. :

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/discussion-of-kants-philosophy-in-russia-ends-in-gunfire/2013/09/16/cf609472-1ebb-11e3-9ad0-96244100e647_story.html





Joern, I actually shared this exact story to Franco earlier today. lol I found it far more ironic that, as a result of getting into a heated discussion about Kant’s philosophy, the one man got shot several times, and yet is still alive.

If that isn’t the best ironic, unintended ad for Kant’s philosophy, I don’t know what is! haha





A thought-provoking article, and response, Cygnus, but I think you go astray in Step 4.  Relinquishment of moral judgment does sound like Eden, wherein morality did exist, but knowledge of it hung on a forbidden tree.  God’s forbidding the eating was to say, “I know right and wrong, but I don’t need to tell you, because you are happy.”  Man’s eating the fruit was to say, “God, I’ll tell _you_ what’s right and wrong.”  And God said:  “Thy will be done.”  And we wage a phenomenological war we are unequipped to reconcile.  Therefore, perhaps a physical immortality can never approach happiness, precisely because phenomena either lie or impose a limit; entrance into immaterial eternity could clarify the path to happiness, but I don’t think we have any grounds to say our minds are atoms in God’s mind or that we’d somehow become one.  On the contrary, just as Adam and Eve had happiness in their bodies, so might the Blessed after the general resurrection.  Man’s happiness will always be contingent, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility that such contingency will nevertheless be ‘good enough for us,’ that we could be as happy as our nature — even redeemed — could allow.  That such happiness is denied us now is evidenced by our irremediable and unreasonable contumacy.  We should like to transcend this frustration.





“God’s forbidding the eating was to say, “I know right and wrong, but I don’t need to tell you, because you are happy.”  Man’s eating the fruit was to say, “God, I’ll tell _you_ what’s right and wrong.”  And God said:  “Thy will be done.”  And we wage a phenomenological war we are unequipped to reconcile.”

@ Henry.. thanks!

However, I still do disagree with this viewpoint, (as before). T’was Adam and Eve’s “curiosity”, which is no sin at all but Human nature, and this curiosity as attribute instilled by God, (not Satan or serpent)? I do not believe for one moment that this was a defiance in the face of God at all, (it is just presented as such). However it is “doubt”, (in God’s/parents/providers word and instruction), that is often portrayed as Sin, and thusly doubt leads to the promotion of “guilt”, and is readily suffered often as guilt?

Yet this doubt and curiosity should not be promoted as justification or judgment for punishment, as all parents should know? If God was smart he would also know this, understand this, and not punish the suffering’s of mortality upon Humankind for such minor discretion as “curiosity”, and even acknowledge “doubt” and scepticism as valuable for understanding and for enlightenment? Protections from knowledge of evil and ignorance of “wrong” from “right” affords no protection at all?

Love “freely” given must support contemplation of free will, as love and worship “commanded”, (especially under duress), is worthless?

As regards to a phenomenological war waging - do you really see this as the case?


“Therefore, perhaps a physical immortality can never approach happiness, precisely because phenomena either lie or impose a limit; entrance into immaterial eternity could clarify the path to happiness”

Yes, perhaps paradise does not lie with material immortality, but will further add to “perpetual chains” and unsatisfactoriness? Kant, was after all, and idealist. Perfection is an abstract ideal, and redundant if you subscribe to Human creation as already “Potentially” perfect, (able to aspire to enlightenment etc).

However, then you add also..

“Man’s happiness will always be contingent, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility that such contingency will nevertheless be ‘good enough for us,’ that we could be as happy as our nature — even redeemed — could allow.”

Totally agree! The most “Techno-progressive” statement I’ve read here in days!





Everybody stay calm here -

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/16/us-russia-kant-shooting-idUSBRE98F0DI20130916

Man shot in Russia in argument over Kant

MOSCOW | Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:12am EDT

(Reuters) - An argument over the theories of 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant ended in a man being shot in a grocery store in southern Russia.

RIA news agency quoted police in the city of Rostov-on-Don as saying a fight broke out between two men as they argued over Kant, the German author of “Critique of Pure Reason”, without giving details of their debate.

“In the course of the fight, the suspect took out a pistol firing rubber bullets and fired several shots at his opponent,” it said, adding that one man was detained and the victim was taken to hospital. His life was not in danger.

Kant lived in Koenigsberg, which is now the Russian city of Kaliningrad, and is a central figure of modern philosophy. Many Russians love to discuss philosophy and history, often over a drink, but such discussions rarely end in shootings.





Surely, Cygnus, we can’t extract every drop of truth from an allegory, but I’m wondering if it’s more an issue of how A&E used practical reason.  It’s been postulated that man’s forgetfulness of God’s authorship of the natural law is a consequence of the Fall.  So we may presume that A&E would not have forgotten that God was the author of all that was good for them, but that they might still have committed a defect of reason amidst the particulars they faced.  So your suspicion of curiosity being treated as sinful is beside the point, for the reason involved in moral choice-making is not primarily speculative, but primarily practical.  The good here-and-now is not ‘out there existing,’ awaiting my mind to conform to it, but rather awaiting to be instantiated by my mind’s design and by my prudential efforts to bring it about.  Therefore, the moral flaw of A&E was not curiosity of what might fill their minds, but their projection and choice that opposing God, of whom they had irreducible evidence of goodness and providence, would constitute an integral choice for their fulfillment.  How their knowledge became so darkened as to infer this folly, I don’t know enough theology to speculate, but the Devil did the same, so it’s not necessarily an ad hoc explanation.





“Therefore, the moral flaw of A&E was not curiosity of what might fill their minds, but their projection and choice that opposing God, of whom they had irreducible evidence of goodness and providence, would constitute an integral choice for their fulfillment.  How their knowledge became so darkened as to infer this folly, I don’t know enough theology to speculate, but the Devil did the same, so it’s not necessarily an ad hoc explanation.”

Well yes, but my point begins and ends and endures with “doubt” which is healthy and necessary for methodological scepticism, and is a “natural” process of “curiosity” supported by contemplation of “free will”, (and it’s acceptance as reality), and which is the foundation for all choices made, (good or bad), and thus provides potential for all progressive morality - without which Kant’s argument is moot?

Let me try to put this another way.

There can be no free will without reflection and questioning of circumstance, and the ability to choose? The attribute that inspires our questioning is “curiosity”, (the analogy is as a perpetually arising propensity towards questioning “why”?) And yes, allegedly Satan, (once a favoured entity), was cast out for exactly this propensity to question - God?

(This is assuming the reality of free will, which is still debatable, however I do believe myself in the ability to veto impulsiveness, (as Libet has proven), and ability to act upon choices that have fortune to present themselves to our “formal” consciousness - (such as eating Apples.. shall I? Shan’t I? etc)

So where does this “doubt” originate? I will take off my theism hat for a moment and propose that this “doubt” and all of the above process is an evolutionary survival trait, and is simply reducible to physicalism and a perpetual mental computation process of prompting “why?”, like a small child, would continue to torment with the question, “but why?”

This “doubt” in God’s word is the sin that is promoted as cause for erroneous “practical reason”, yet the dilemma is that God has granted “Souls” with free will to choose? This surely cannot be hypocrisy by God, as proven as love must be freely given, yes?

The reason for continually mentioning “love” is that for many, “love” is reducible to “truth”, or rather the truth of love may be envisioned and embraced as an emotional and non-harmful, peaceful, generous, good, morally superior countenance and abstract ideal of perfect existence and communion with God - that maybe Kant would agree with?

So why aren’t Humans readily practicing this progressive and moral state of perfection already? The obstacle arises with the below question..

Statement: “I love you”
Contemplation: “Do you really? Does he/she really? Does God love me?.. Am I worthy? Etc etc “

The “smallest” of children in their innocence, have no motivation to question and doubt in the love and trust of protectors/guardians. Yet children grow to question even their parents motives?

So the “fall of mankind” is based upon…doubt supported by necessity of curiosity and free will?





Cygunus, at the risk of misunderstanding you, it sounds like you are making choice (as opposed to doubt) a good in itself.  That would obliterate practical reason, which I don’t think is anyone’s intent in this discussion…





No problem IMO with A & E in the Garden of Eden; however I do not think Christ will Return to Earth to save us. (And if He did Return, He’d be killed all over again).
Remove the clairvoyance of Revelation and the Bible is greatly reduced. After all, Revelation and other portions of the Bible are specific as to a coming Apocalypse—if not to the details—and the Return of Jesus. If one interprets Revelation as being a reference, say, to the coming convulsions of the Roman Empire after circa 250 CE, still the Bible is reduced.





@ Henry..

No you misunderstand, choice is the result of the necessity of free will granted by God? Has God been mistaken by empowering Humans to make their own choices, and by extension their own mistakes?

Referring to my first comment, my argument was indeed to point out that Kant’s ideal of “summum bonnum” and perfection of superior/perfect morality, (God?), may also be attained by relinquishing free will and choice altogether in favour of God’s will, (determinism), assuming this God worshipped is indeed perfect? A high bench mark, for any deity?

And as I indicated also, extrapolating Kant’s ideal towards perfection, this would require even God him/herself as relinquishing moral “choices” and free will in submission to God’s own perfect ideal - hence Hard determinism?

Henry, I have offered some rather personal viewpoints, (as my integrity dictates), for the purpose of sharing. I a curious, (curiosity), as to your own sentiments regarding perfection and morality and God’s aspirations for Humans and their perfection?

Of course, You don’t have to share if you choose not to.





“No problem IMO with A & E in the Garden of Eden”

Well as a story, nor do I have any problem with it. But why so much attention to one story? Indeed, Henry’s comment that we can’t extract every drop of truth from an allegory would appear to be an understatement. At the time he made that comment, Henry was wondering whether the story had to do with how Adam and Eve were using practical reason. He pointed out that it had been “It’s been postulated that man’s forgetfulness of God’s authorship of the natural law is a consequence of the Fall.” Well yes, many things have been “postulated”, but this doesn’t mean we are obliged to take them seriously, any more than we are obliged to believe that Christ will return.

Not that I’m suggesting for a moment there is nothing clairvoyant about the Bible. The apocalypse will not happen as described in the Bible, obviously, but like a certain novel that has been the subject of some discussion here over the last few days, and as one of the commenters on that thread put it in relation to that novel, it can still serve as a warning to the future and inspire us to consider new ideas.

But there may be a need to be judicious with regard to the stories we are using for that purpose. I haven’t read The Transhumanist Wager, and my knowledge of the Bible is rusty for sure, but I suspect the former may be more likely to provoke useful thoughts than the Eden story.

For one thing, the latter invites us to bring God into the discussion. Now if we were to regard God as a fictional character, like Jethro in The Transhumanist Wager, I date say we could learn some useful insights. But “necessity of free will granted by God”. Whatever free will might or might not be, it is not something granted by a figment of the Bronze Age imagination.

But back to the story, Henry suggests that “we may presume that A&E would not have forgotten that God was the author of all that was good for them, but that they might still have committed a defect of reason amidst the particulars they faced.” Was that really the intention of the authors? It seems to me more to be about power, and the wish of the religious elite of the day to assert the sovereignty of God in matters of right and wrong.

God was not “mistaken by empowering Humans to make their own choices, and by extension their own mistakes”. The God imagined by the authors of the Eden story is simply a logical impossibility.





PS Not seeing any edit buttons, hence the poor readability of the above.





“But why so much attention to one story?”

That is naturally the collateral issue here. Question #1 is why a dedicated theologian as educated as Henry would want to visit IEET or any other H+ site. Because aside from Giulio’s rather daring attempts to be ecumenical, religion and science are not ancillary to each other. (Albeit they aren’t antipodes either).
Henry did write,

“this is all new to me,”

Why he wrote this is not clear; he keeps his cards close to his chest which is further evidence, IMO, of his dedicated theological professionalism. However my grandad was an ordained minister: which is why it is so interesting.. and I know all the tricks (“tricky as a priest”). Being a dedicated theologian is not what Christ was about. Jesus was/is for everyone: poor, slaves, the sick, women, etc. Christ did not proclaim “I am the way the truth and the light, and professional theologians can send me their resumes.”
To give Henry his due, he is a suitable representative of the RC Church—yet of Christ and Christianity Henry is no more qualified a representative than an illiterate Christian anywhere. That is one of the original qualities of Christianity. Remember, it is as real a faith as Buddhism, Hinduism.

What I like about A & E is they were in Africa; which means they were black—which mean being created in the image of God, God is black! No wonder Obama is president. Finally justice is served however limited such may be.





@Peter:  It’s ironic that you question the Genesis author’s “intention” instead of its purported Divine inspiration, the latter of which would allow such Easter-eggs of Aristotelian wisdom to be ensconced within the older Hebrew tradition.  I think it’s only fair to check the internal coherence of a system before analyzing its absolute coherence.  Therefore, it seems unjustified to interpret Genesis atheistically; and to what end would such an endeavor point?  That morality is grounded on something that possesses at least the _concept_ of God?  All that would do is walk us out of the Church and into a 12-step meeting . . . we wouldn’t be at atheism yet.

@Cygnus:  even if choice were “necessary,” that wouldn’t mean that A&E needed to sin.  The determinism paradox isn’t going away any time soon, so I don’t see how it’s useful in comparing a physical vs. a [temporarily] immaterial, moral eternity.





@ Henry..

The usefulness of the argument is whether we should aspire towards Kant’s ideal “summum bonnum”, (God’s ideal), through the utility of techno-social subjugation of free will and of moral “choices”, (in a manner that Kant’s ideology aspires to aim for, and through Franco’s promotion of technological immortality to support ultimate success), or perhaps through strict adherence to a devised Universal morality and directive, (as laid out originally to Adam and Eve)? And this is where the theistic opinion is valuable to the debate?

In others words, design of moral enhancement or technological means to overcome dilemmas of morality and guide towards this state of “summum bonnum”. Rather than attempt to “evolve” ever and forever but not ever attain the goal?

You still have not shared your views, which is a shame, as I feel you have a lot to offer this debate. I would say, do not fear, but I already know you have no fear.





As regards where an atheistic interpretation of Genesis, and more particularly the Eden story, might point, I would say it points towards the idea that it is a call to obedience, not a call to reason. The authors were not interested whether they were portraying Adam and Eve as ‘reasonable’, they were interested in portraying them as disobedient (and, of course, the woman in the role of temptress, just one step up from the snake), and being punished for it. That way they could kill two birds with one stone: provide a superficially convincing explanation for why, if God was so great, people’s experience of life was so grim, and pass the subliminal message that things would only get worse, not better, if people started to think (normatively) for themselves rather than submitting to religious authority.

Of course that morality is grounded on something that possesses a concept of God, indeed God is as central to the interpretation as He is to the story itself. But the interpretation is still atheistic, in the sense that it arises from an attempt to understand the intention of the authors from an atheistic perspective. God is present in the story, and in the interpretation of the story, but not in the perspective from which the interpretation has been made.





“You still have not shared your views,”

Henry is a brutally professional theologian. Henry, I told you, I know all the tricks. Frankly, the philosophy of religion is boring IMO. What is interesting is ‘Everything I Need To know I Learned In Kindergarten’. The heart of it.. the Heart—not some theologian with a great deal of self-esteem. Christianity is about Christ, not theologians with millions in the bank patting po’ folks on the head.
Your philosophy means nothing, it is as filthy rags, Henry. Only the spiritual—whatever spirituality is—content of what you write. Not your spiritual content: because you are a total stranger.

@Pete, after what happened with pastor Alex, let’s not mince words with the religious. Buddhist Right Speech was and is Right; but we shouldn’t be sychophants in the slightest.





“let’s not mince words with the religious.”

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how one should communicate in general. If “mincing words” means failing to pass a message that you think needs to be passed, then no, we should not mince words, neither with the religious or with the irreligious. But if it means thinking about what we are trying to achieve by stating our point of view, and whether stating it is in fact an effective means of achieving it, and concluding that we will be more effective by sugar-coating it, then I say sugar-coat the hell out of it.

And what do I mean by “sugar-coat”? Well, again that really depends what we are trying to achieve, and why we think stating our point of view might not be the best way to achieve it.

For example, you state that Henry is a “brutally professional theologian”. Are you concluding that from his comments here, or do you have other information? What is your purpose in making that statement? To expose the venality of religious God-botherers, or a certain (pastor Alex-like) type of ‘theologian’ (for want of a better word)? If so, who is your audience? And what will happen as a result of exposing these people?

Intomorrow, your grandfather was an ordained minister, and it seems you found him tricky. It’s a bizarre profession, for sure. What kind of person becomes a religious minister in today’s secular world (or at least the bits of it that are secular)? In the best case, I would suggest, people do it because they find something sufficiently attractive in a religious tradition to want to be part of it, and they find that they can serve their (religious) community by taking on that role. Part of what makes me an atheist is that I tend to take language very literally, so if people say they are praying to God I want to know precisely WHO they think they are praying to. And it is but a small step from there to giving them the unsolicited, and possible damaging, information that the ‘God’ they believe in doesn’t actually exist, except as a figment of our collective imagination.

Which is why IEET is such a haven for guys like me. Here we discuss really, really interesting issues (to me at any rate), and as long as we respect certain basic rules of propriety, which on the whole I don’t find particularly difficult, I can comment to my heart’s content with impunity. What I’ve also been thinking, thought, is that the predominance of people like me in these discussions has become a source of frustration for many of us. It’s as if all we really want to do is bicker, and after a while we realise it’s all a bit pointless.

So what’s the solution? I’m not really sure, but perhaps ‘mincing words’ might not be a bad place to start. Or perhaps we just need to begin more sentences with the words, “I want.”





Interesting perspectives, guys.  I hope to read more Kant in the future.  And my apologies for the omission, Cygnus, it was merely forgetfulness; I fear it may disappoint.  For I don’t know much theology or the most cogent ways to interpret and argue scriptural eschatology; but I believe Christian internal coherence can only be maintained by taking as true what Christ said about himself.  If something in that account subsequently crumbles, then that is and should be its most expeditious flaw.  I used to think Heaven would be a white-light Novocain of aimless euphoria, but other views have led me to consider realities more akin to this thread:  that what we like doing here, what milks our excellence, will be to some extent what we’ll love doing forever, in the company of other persons who have become the best version of themselves, lest (as in Novocain Land) this life acquire only _instrumental_ value, wherein it wouldn’t much matter whether God guided his beloved bride (the church) or merely ordered her through the obstacle course.  The God who guides is more consonant with human dignity, in my view.  For Kingdoms have always been started by men who were benevolent; they had a lot to _give,_ and thus much to recommend themselves for loyalty and friendship.  Their subjects guarded them willingly and lovingly.  Oh that we would believe that temporal advantages mean nothing to God, and so he can neither deceive nor be deceived.  Such a (conceptualized?) person would be the King of Kings.





“For Kingdoms have always been started by men who were benevolent; they had a lot to _give,_ and thus much to recommend themselves for loyalty and friendship.”

Really? How do we know that? I’m not a Fliesian either, but that seems startlingly rose-tinted.

But what I do like is this: “I used to think Heaven would be a white-light Novocain of aimless euphoria, but other views have led me to consider realities more akin to this thread:  that what we like doing here, what milks our excellence, will be to some extent what we’ll love doing forever, in the company of other persons who have become the best version of themselves.”

I don’t want the Novocain either. I don’t want to spend eternity commenting on the IEET blog either, to be honest, but the general point is spot on: that we continue doing what we like, what milks our excellence, what we love doing, in the company of other persons who have become the best versions of themselves (that is to say versions of themselves that both we and they are happy with). World without end.





@ Henry

Indeed, Man’s ambition and the ambition of kings may never truly be fulfilled, at least not while this contemplation of the ideal of perfection persists in minds? Even technological immortality would not appease our mortal sufferings and “curiosity” for other-Worldliness, as we seem to agree?

Yet what of unity and communion, and maybe even “material Oneness” and sharing? Do you see this as technologically feasible and compatible with your faith?

The Hindu’s also have a saying, “Love, devotion and surrender” Should we surrender, do we need to, to attain the ideal?

I see an evolving future where technology is impartial and not an obstruction to faith and belief, as it never was. nor ever has been.

A future comprising Trans-Christians, Trans-Theists, Trans-Buddhists and etc. (Transforming towards..)

Why should technology and scientific knowledge of “material Self”, body and mind stifle faith at all, but rather strengthen resolve to aspire to the ideal?

And what IF? Science resolves to dispute even the existence of God, this still does not relegate the contemplation of the ideal and nor the aspirations?

God may truly exist, because God WILL exist, and has always existed - in mind. A “Circular temporal reference”?

 





Will have to think about it (long, hard), perhaps better to leave it open as to what Eternity will be.

“...you state that Henry is a ‘brutally professional theologian’. Are you concluding that from his comments here, or do you have other information? What is your purpose in making that statement? To expose the venality of religious God-botherers, or a certain (pastor Alex-like) type of ‘theologian’ (for want of a better word)?”

Henry hasn’t revealed anything about himself, he is a stranger. How spiritual can a stranger be?

“If so, who is your audience?”

Probably *only* you!

“And what will happen as a result of exposing these people?”

Two cents worth of opinion… tiny increments.

“Intomorrow, your grandfather was an ordained minister, and it seems you found him tricky. It’s a bizarre profession, for sure. What kind of person becomes a religious minister in today’s secular world (or at least the bits of it that are secular)? In the best case, I would suggest, people do it because they find something sufficiently attractive in a religious tradition to want to be part of it, and they find that they can serve their (religious) community by taking on that role.”

50 yrs ago, grandad wasn’t interested much in money but minorities were frozen out. Today the reverse is the case. Today life is more commercial yet it is a bit kinder, gentler. Civil Rights workers aren’t thrown in rivers, boys aren’t conscripted.
Actually grandad was better than most when you consider the number of Elmer Gantrys. If you watch Elmer Gantry, you’ll see what it is about: v. positive intentions mixed with quite bad intentions. Will tolerate religion when religion accepts the “Church of the Divine Bullshit Artists (We Accept Canned Goods)”
As you say, the Cloth is a bizarre profession, so again if the orthodox will tolerate the bizarre in others (the late ‘60s was more positive in this regard) we can reach a homeostasis.





I think we cannot but leave it open as to what Eternity will be. We simply don’t know what will happen, so we have an interest in imagining multiple scenarios and communicating how we feel about them.

Can we reach a homeostasis, a “unity and communion”, between those who identify as religious and those who don’t? Do we even need to try?

Obviously, CygnusX1’s escape solution to “meditate eternally in a state of non-interference on internal and external states of mind/energy-matter interactions, and with continued, perpetual vigilance” will not work for most people, since most people wouldn’t have a clue what it means. Nobody wants to meditate eternally, we want to do stuff, even if it’s only argue and bicker at IEET. What does seem clear, though, is that the more we train ourselves to observe without judging, the less difficulties we will have accepting what would otherwise seem unacceptable - not, perhaps, as models for the future, but at least as present realities.

One does not eliminate evil merely by deploring it, whether evil resides in religion, in lack of religion, or in points of view we find disturbing.





@Peter:  My reference was Aristotle’s Politics 1286b10, where he calls the first kings “benefactors,” so my apologies for the wrong b-word; he goes on to say that “[t]he idea of a king is to protect the rich against unjust treatment, and the people against insult and oppression” (1310b35).  [Herein I see further parallels to what a God of moral agents would do, but it appears we’ve changed topics.]  Secondly, however, when you say, “the more we train ourselves to observe without judging,” isn’t that precisely just to say we should become more like non-rational animals?  Animals don’t judge, because they don’t conceptualize.  There is no true or false for them, and that’s why they don’t invent anything.

@Cygnus:  I am wary of a fallacy of simplification in play; if the multitude is dissatisfied, how would the unitary be satisfied?





“I think we cannot but leave it open as to what Eternity will be. We simply don’t know what will happen, so we have an interest in imagining multiple scenarios and communicating how we feel about them.”

Yes. Which is why I cannot accept the vision of ‘the’ Omega (Christianity is, if anyone here would need to be told, not the only faith offering an Omega). If the book of Revelation were to be fulfilled, it is more likely the world as we know it would end—but Christ would not Return.
As for Henry, I personally would not perceive anything spiritual concerning a total stranger- and Henry is a total stranger. One would be a fool to spiritually trust a stranger. All the same, if Henry is merely a professional theologian, or RC activist then it doesn’t matter. It is not knowing what Henry is thinking that leads to such doubt yet only about Henry, not about Christ. (Don’t see anything wrong with Jesus).
With pastor Alex, it was mainly him repeating ‘responsibility’ too often until it became irresponsible for him to do so.
—————————
BTW, was it Plato who said rectitude would triumph if princes became philosophers and philosophers became princes?: now this makes sense.





“Secondly, however, when you say, “the more we train ourselves to observe without judging,” isn’t that precisely just to say we should become more like non-rational animals?  Animals don’t judge, because they don’t conceptualize.  There is no true or false for them, and that’s why they don’t invent anything.”

Not quite. Non-rational animals may not judge in the same way that we do, but many of them have emotional responses, which can I think reasonably be seen as precursors of preferences, which in turn play an essential role in the exercise of judgement. Furthermore, it’s not only that non-rational animals cannot judge (except in this limited sense), it is also that they have much more limited powers of cognition.

Not that “becoming more like non-rational animals” would necessarily be a bad thing. After all, I’m not actually suggesting we lobotomise our pre-frontal cortices. Nor am I saying that we should refrain from judging altogether. Apart from anything else, that would be to do the very thing I would be saying we should refrain from doing.

The reason why I think this exercise (commonly known these days as ‘mindfulness’) is helplful is that it helps us to gain more control over the extent to which and manner in which we exercise our judgement. As I say, nobody wants to “meditate eternally” (at least they wouldn’t if they started to actually do it), but in my experience the practise of meditation, by which I essentially mean the application of techniques that promote non-judging awareness, brings many benefits.





“BTW, was it Plato who said rectitude would triumph if princes became philosophers and philosophers became princes?”

Probably. A better question, though, might be, “How can we make this happen?”





That said, Obama is arguably too much of a philosopher. Maureen Dowd’s latest nyt column “losing the room” is quite insightful in this context, in my view.





@ Henry

“I am wary of a fallacy of simplification in play; if the multitude is dissatisfied, how would the unitary be satisfied?”

What simplification Henry? Please explain

I am not necessarily proposing “material unity”, but rather more interested in your views as aspiring to God’s ideal of communion here on Earth and most likely throughout the material Unverse?

seems the conversation has been hijacked once again by more religious prejudice and repetition. Is it you or is it me that attracts?

 





“seems the conversation has been hijacked once again by more religious prejudice and repetition.”

I wonder what you mean by that, CygnusX1. Do you mean religious prejudice or anti-religious prejudice. I certainly agree that some of what has been said has been repetitive, but what did you have in mind specifically?

“Is it you or is it me that attracts?”

I think on this occasion it was more Henry. After all, it was Henry who brought the Eden story into the discussion. Intomorrow pointed out that he had no problem with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and as I said, neither do I have a problem with the story, as a story.

Intomorrow’s subsequent question is also relevant here: “Question #1 is why a dedicated theologian as educated as Henry would want to visit IEET or any other H+ site.” And this as well: “To give Henry his due, he is a suitable representative of the RC Church—yet of Christ and Christianity Henry is no more qualified a representative than an illiterate Christian anywhere. That is one of the original qualities of Christianity. Remember, it is as real a faith as Buddhism, Hinduism.”

Anyway, I have enjoyed my exchange with Henry about how to interpret the Eden story and other issues. I don’t really think anyone is hijacking anything, but I sense that some aspects of my exchange with Intomorrow have irritated you. Let me know if I’m wrong.





So why are comments and contributions from theists continually in question here at IEET? What gives you authority to decide who should and who should not comment here, and for what reasons?

Must all theists and especially Christians be accountable to yourself to comment here at IEET?

You seem to be implying and complicit, as always, by the same continual “targeting” of theists and Christians, and insinuate that they are not welcome here, at least, as according to your scrutiny?

Why comment at all on this thread if you have no intention to focus on Franco’s article, but would rather rant at Henry for being a Christian?

Has not Henry rights to comment anywhere on IEET if he is interested in the articles and comments, and moreover, concerned enough to care to comment on the articles?

This obviously applies not only to Henry but to “all” theists visiting and commenting at IEET.

Tell me, what gives you authority to do this?





It’s not a question of authority, CygnusX1. It’s a question of freedom of speech.

As to why I chose to start commenting on this thread, I think there is value in questioning the wisdom of focusing so much on, to use the phrase favoured by the New Atheists, “bronze age fables”.

My intention is not to insinuate that anyone is not welcome here, and I didn’t think I was ranting at Henry for being a Christian. (Was I?) Henry has a much right to comment here as anyone else, myself included, the more so since he is concerned enough to comment on the articles. And yes, the same goes to all theists visiting and commenting at IEET, at least from my perspective.

Now why I might see value in questioning the wisdom of focusing so much on bronze age fables, that is another question. But not one that you have asked.





“It’s not a question of authority, CygnusX1. It’s a question of freedom of speech.”

Indeed, and freedom of speech is rightly acceptable, whereas assumed authority through utility of freedom of speech is not. This includes attacking individuals for their beliefs instead of their contribution to argument and debate, (as I thought you agreed previously on another thread)?


“My intention is not to insinuate that anyone is not welcome here, and I didn’t think I was ranting at Henry for being a Christian. (Was I?) Henry has a much right to comment here as anyone else, myself included, the more so since he is concerned enough to comment on the articles. And yes, the same goes to all theists visiting and commenting at IEET, at least from my perspective.”

Glad to hear you say and state this for all to see, let’s hope it is well read and understood?

You may also note Peter, that the context concerning imagined “bronze age” deity is mentioned throughout the comments and article, yet for some reason you deem it “out of bounds” and context? All of the early enlightenment philosopher/mathematician/scientists were at tension between Church, their beliefs and the pursuit of rationalism.

Somehow I thought you would have more to say and add regarding Kant’s ideal “summum bonnum” and hypothesis of progressive and evolving morality, yet you have distracted and relegated to focus on the Garden of Eden, (even though this parable may be the origins and first lesson and debate in Humanity and it’s divergence from Godly ideal and perfect moral existence, which is why it is presented as the first story? And hence why Henry has brought it into the debate)?





You may be right about Henry’s motivations for bringing the Eden story into the debate, CygnusX1, but obviously Henry is the person to comment on that.

I’m curious about your perception that I was attacking individuals for their beliefs. Of course, there is a fine line between arguing strongly against what someone is saying and “attacking individuals for their beliefs”, but I thought I was well on the right side of the line.

What you might be referring to, though, is my willingness to engage with Intomorrow regarding “why a dedicated theologian as educated as Henry would want to visit IEET or any other H+ site,” and related issues. Of course Henry has since distanced himself from the idea that he is any kind of theologian, let alone a dedicated one, but so far I have not really picked up any sign that he has taken offence.

You also suggest that you expected me to “have more to say and add regarding Kant’s ideal “summit bonnum” and hypothesis of progressive and evolving morality”. CygnusX1, I have a lot to say about a lot of things, but I don’t always choose to say it. As to what constitutes “distraction and relegation”, that is obviously a matter of judgement, and equally obviously your judgement on this issue is different from mine.

But perhaps the best question to ask is what we should be doing about this. I’m not going to stop making comments just because they get on your nerves, CygnusX1. I’ve tried that in the past but I have reasons to want to keep commenting here that, frankly speaking, are more important to me than avoiding annoying you. This is not to say that I’m uninterested in your perspective or unwilling to make some accommodations, but when you criticise me for attacking others, and they themselves appear to be entirely unperturbed, I have to wonder who or what it is that you are really trying to defend.





Been thinking a bit more about what more I can do to avoid annoying you, CygnusX1. I do have a fascination with belief that appears to be based on something other than evidence, and what happens when one makes the believer aware of that. But that can reflect a lack of empathy, and while that doesn’t necessarily make it bad from my perspective, it is at least worth asking the question whether it might be.

I still find it striking though, that when you complain that I am attacking (or complicit in attack) others you always seem to be more offended than they are. I sometimes get annoyed myself as well, of course, but I’m trying to avoid that.

Actually, I came back to this thread because I was thinking further about “eternal meditation”, remembered that Intomorrow had said something about the Omega Point that might be relevant, and wanted to refresh my memory.

What is clear, I guess, is that IEET is an essentially secular site, and the dominant position of most writers and commenters is secular, and tending towards atheism. There is nothing about the current IEET leadership that is remotely intolerant of religion, but neither are they intolerant of religion-bashing, up to a point. And yes, this could make IEET a somewhat hostile environment for religious believers.

Does this help? I still don’t think it would be right for me to stop making comments here just because they annoy you, but certainly there is more I could do to make people feel welcome here, including theists. However, I will also want to consider the feelings of those for whom certain aspects of religion, and especially the way religious people tend to argue, are as irritating as you find some of my comments. Their feelings are no less legitimate than those of the religious.

And then, of course, there is the question of what these comment threads are supposed to achieve. Earlier in this thread Intomorrow suggested that we should not mince words with the religious, and I responded that it really depends what one is trying to achieve, and whether “not mincing words” is the most effective way to achieve it. What you refer to as “personal attacks” may actually be a very effective way to expose motivations other than a concern for the truth, including those of which the believer him/herself may not be aware, and I believe that this can enhance, rather than undermining, the quality of these discussions. Once again there is a fine line, but people can always complain if they feel offended.





@ Peter

Not sure what the answer is to all of your questions, perhaps it is simply because I have more respect for the beliefs of others than yourself?

However, this is what counts and is worth repeating..

“My intention is not to insinuate that anyone is not welcome here, and I didn’t think I was ranting at Henry for being a Christian. (Was I?) Henry has a much right to comment here as anyone else, myself included, the more so since he is concerned enough to comment on the articles. And yes, the same goes to all theists visiting and commenting at IEET, at least from my perspective.”

Glad to hear you say and state this for all to see, let’s hope it is well read and understood?

The Empathic Civilization

youtube.com/watch?v=l7AWnfFRc7g&client=mv-google&guid;=&hl=en-GB&gl=GB





I think for any of us to make “I promise to respect” pacts would be unnecessary.  If someone wants to lambaste, let them; they will incur praise or blame (neither of which matter much), and the effort will be theirs to own.  When opinions need protecting, we are in a scary place.  Like iron sharpens iron, so two men sharpen each other (Pv 27:17).





“Not sure what the answer is to all of your questions, perhaps it is simply because I have more respect for the beliefs of others than yourself?”

I’m sure you find that a comforting idea, CygnusX1, but I think what Henry says is the key point. To be fair, all of us have a tendency to want to protect our opinions, to a greater or lesser extent, because some of our opinions play too fundamental a role in our psychological well-being and modes vivendi to be given up lightly.

But CygnusX1, if you are really interested on empathy, then start practising it. Pay attention to how people actually feel, instead of how you imagine they might or should.





“That said, Obama is arguably too much of a philosopher. Maureen Dowd’s latest nyt column ‘losing the room’ is quite insightful in this context, in my view.”

Obama was trained as an attorney.. to persuade judges, juries, audiences in courtrooms, courtroom representatives of media, etc. Frankly, with rare exceptions presidents are cheerleaders, Geo Washington being an obvious example of someone more than a cheerleader.
________________
BTW I’m not saying for sure Henry shouldn’t comment at IEET (in fact it would be invigorating if he did an article here on Pope Francis’ renunciation of
Catholic “obsession” - as the Pope put it- re abortion, contraception, gay issues. Nyt, Friday, front page lead. We shouldn’t be cynical by dismissing it as merely a ploy). Since IEET is not primarily a religious site though, one can question religion to the max. Have no issue with the Alpha—it’s the Omega which is in question. Besides, how we derived is of less import than ‘where’ we are going. What we are becoming.
There is evidence for the historical Christ, not a great deal yet some. On the other hand, no evidence exists Jesus will Return, none. Such does not reflect badly on Christ, Jesus wasn’t Douglas MacArthur announcing ‘I Shall Return’; it does indicate Paul—main author of the New Testament—was a false prophet, plus whomever else had a hand in Biblical prophecy also erred. However let’s be charitable: let’s not condemn Biblical errants to Hell for being false prophets.

 

 





@ Peter

“But CygnusX1, if you are really interested on empathy, then start practising it. Pay attention to how people actually feel, instead of how you imagine they might or should.”

I do, and thus your words above show you have little or even a shallow understanding of what empathy actually is? In fact, I would say that in failure to recognize such, you must be faking understanding yourself?

And it’s laughable that when you fail in your pursuit of position of superiority, you always accuse and resort to such condescending rhetoric. Was it not mindfulness or compassion you accused me of lacking last time, and now empathy?

And BTW the link I posted was for the benefit of the “article” it was not for you. As the song goes, “you’re so vain, you probably think this article’s about you”?

The both of you, have not even the common decency to focus on the author or article, but would rather merely use every opportunity to promote Self and Ego and spiteful vengeance against Christianity specifically and in particular?

@ Henry

Please note, I am not speaking for you, but for all of the theists that are “customarily” attacked regularly because of their faith and belief and for the audacity of even being here.

 





At any rate one reason I hesitate to praise religion is it is damning the faithful with faint praise. One can’t very well enter a Catholic church to say “I do not believe a great deal of what you believe, but faith is an escape from the predatory world outside.”
This is exactly what I think however it is not acceptable to them, religion isn’t a buffet one can pick ‘n choose from—unless of course it is pantheist.
Pete is correct on sugarcoating- otherwise one is tactless, not necessarily forthright. Nevertheless it would be wrong to enter a house of worship and pretend one believes everything the faithful believe in; in such a case one would be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
It is walking a tightrope, yet what isn’t?
Again: the evidence for Christ being who He said He is is there… however since no evidence exists for an afterlife, I do not believe in Heaven. This does not negate Jesus, though.

The thieves on the crosses whom Jesus told He would be in Paradise with have Eternal Life via their connection with Christ. For 1,983 yrs the memory of those thieves has been shared by billions all over the world.
IMO the most prevalent form of immortality, the most popular, is—has perhaps always been—living through one’s children;

possibly if one identical twin dies, the deceased twin could be said to live through the survivor;

legacy (unfortunately both good and evil legacy).

Christ didn’t take immortality to mean only physical immortality although physical immortality is part of it. Jesus was no simpleton. When He said to the thieves crucified next to Him tonight they would all be in Paradise, He could have meant literal Paradise and or immortality in human memory.

Christ could also, conceivably, be said to have meant immortality in a Kantian way; which is difficult to sum up in a short space: immortality of the species merely for starters. Immortality via aiming for moral perfection. Immortality via aiming for perfection of freedom. Immortality via aiming for perfection in general. Plus there’s living through the arts—however somehow it doesn’t appear Christ meant immortality through the arts. Such might be a stretch even for this sort of theoretical discussion.





@Intomorrow:  My essay on the “obsession” quote wouldn’t take long, because I think the quote is a red herring.  Anyone who once mentions Church teaching on abortion, contraception, or marriage is considered an extremist.  Francis realizes that most adults already know the Church’s position, so he’s right to coax some of his wounded flock off of that side of the see-saw.  Who I think the Pope is targeting are those who would prefer to fistfight and win turf than actually tell anyone about God or extend the love (through Him) for which everyone is starving.  Certainly, Francis is not trying to mute any activists:  he’s a poster-boy for taking action at the source; he just wants to remind activists to love.  For example, there are well-intentioned people who will try to _picket_ outside a mill on abortion day, when in reality only _issues_ should be picketed, not acts-in-process.  Real love requires laying down the sign and trying to have a conversation with pregnant women who are half out of their minds with fear and uncertainty.  Saints are of all personality types.  We need Francis’ charisma, and we need Benedicts who can solve Rubik’s Cubes in their sleep.  It just happens to be Francis’ turn.  Benedict was not obsessed, but some Catholics are strongly pro-life, and not very friendly, and that needs to change.  The Catholics who want Francis to speak more on said issues are typically just revealing their own self-doubt and the void formed by their inadequate response to their own calling.  All things work for good for those who love God (Rom 8:28).





Unfortunately we are on Earth, not Heaven. All things can work for good for those who love ‘Satan’ as well. This is my major doubt of transhumanism: today every criminal uses a cellphone; hi tech can work for the good for every bad guy.

‘Who is the other one, the one besides Pete, the one you think so evil his name shall not be spoken of? The Other. Please remembereth it is Henry who bringeth up religious memes in articles not primarily concerningeth religion’—deleted this earlier only to make way for a better comment- the one directly above. (Another positive about the new ‘edit’ function: an entire comment can be deleted).

Again, it is important to be tactful; albeit go too far and one is a sychophant.. one must walk between the Scylla of diplomacy, and Charybdis of sincerity
I personally don’t want to give orthodox religious people some malarkey on ‘Heaven’ being space colonisation, the sort of hype which worked well in the ‘60s- early ‘70s—but got stale after then. Plus as Giulio reacts to the relative atheism of Europe, I react to the commercialised religiosity (depending on where exactly) of Mid-America.





“I do, and thus your words above show you have little or even a shallow understanding of what empathy actually is?”

Well that’s the thing, CygnusX1. I don’t think you are doing that. I think you are so caught up in your ideas about how other people might or should feel, that you are blind to how we actually feel. Which is kind of annoying.

For example, take this from Intomorrow” “Who is the other one, the one besides Pete, the one you think so evil his name shall not be spoken of? The Other. Please remembereth it is Henry who bringeth up religious memes in articles not primarily concerningeth religion.”

What does this tell you about how Intomorrow feels about some of your recent comments? And how willing are you really to empathise?

I don’t even know what you mean by “you must be faking understanding of yourself”, and frankly I don’t really care. But perhaps the following can shed light: you assume I am pursuing a “position of superiority”, and assert that I am failing in it. So, by “faking understanding of yourself” I guess you mean that I am pretending to believe that I am not pursuing a position of superiority (and thus that I understand myself) when in fact I don’t even believe that myself. Well, if you believe that I guess I can understand why you would be appalled.

CygnusX1, I understand that some of what I have been writing recently has been quite accusatory. But at the risk of sounding childish, you started it. I was taking issue with some of the points you raised (such as whether “eternal meditation” is a realistic or desirable goal for anyone) but I wasn’t making any personal accusations until you accused Intomorrow and myself of “hihacking” the discussion with “religious prejudice and repetition. I then tried to engage with you constructively, and you accused me of “ranting at Henry for being a Christian”, which I wasn’t. You then accused me of “assuming authority through utility of freedom of speech”, again without any good reason to believe that this is what I was doing, and “attacking individuals for their beliefs”. And on, and on. I try to engage constructively and get to the bottom of why I am annoying you, and you come back with more accusations and insinuations. Well I have a fuse as well, CygnusX1, even if it is a relatively long one.

The link you posted was for the benefit of the “article”? CygnusX1, the “article” does not care whether you post a link. Whom are you trying to help here? The author? I’m in touch with Franco privately, and I have no reason to believe he cares at all about the discussion we are having, or minds that we are having it in response to his article. The theists whom you imagine are being “customarily attacked regularly…for the audacity of even being here”? Do they not have a voice, CygnusX1, that you have to speak on their behalf? You tried to portray Henry as one such, and then when he made clear he wasn’t feeling attacked you claimed you weren’t taking about him. Whom do you think you are convincing, other than yourself?

Like I say, I have no reason to believe that Franco has any problem with this discussion. Do you want me to ask him? I can if you want me to. If not, on what basis are you accusing Intomorrow and me of lacking “common decency”?

By the way, what made you assume I thought your link on empathy was about me? I took it as a reminder that you like to portray empathy as something that you value, and I wanted (perhaps churlishly, but like I say I also have a fuse) to make you at least somewhat aware of the gulf between your self-image and the extent to which you are actually empathising. Not that I am accusing you of “faking understanding of yourself”, I think you are probably just unaware.

Anyway, perhaps we can at least agree that this is not a particularly edifying spectacle for the readership, so perhaps we should all try to calm down a bit. But this is not an entirely trivial issue, CygnusX1. As Intomorrow says, it would be wrong to enter a house of worship and pretend one believes everything the faithful believe in; in such a case one would be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And sometimes the house of worship is someone else’s beliefs about themself.





@ Peter

Well, you must be correct, and you’ve written such dissection, so there is very little to come to agreement about?

You rarely, if ever, understand my comments, or why I post them, which is more than apparent, even on this thread, (kind of embarrassing really). The way you take them out of context is evidence of this.

But, let me ask you, have you even taken time to read the article and understand it, before making up your mind what others comment? If you haven’t, this I deem disrespectful, for the “sake” of the author and article, (even if you do boast of contact with the author, a trait often used by others here to presume authority in arguments), regardless, this is still disrespectful to the efforts of the author, (by my moral compass), no matter who it may be?

Perhaps this is why you fail to understand? Perhaps this is your failure in empathy and agreement of common decency, and is the divide between us?

There have been lengthy contributions from both of us in other articles regarding morality, yet you haven’t even mentioned morality here have you, instead, you would rather just use this thread as your own sounding platform to rally against “bronze age” fables?

You obviously appear uninterested in the article whatsoever, but would rather “hijack” it for your own Selfish motives. Perhaps you even think this is opportunity to embarrass or some such, (sad if true).

Chirlish is indeed the correct explanation of your persistence, and that of the other, (if it was not so spiteful that is).

You talk of pursuing progress, yet I see no evidence of such?

 





Well we obviously see things differently, CugnusX1.

You think I “rarely if ever” understand your comments, or why I post them,, and perhaps you’re right, but I at least have the impression that I do (or do you think I’m “faking” it?).  You think I am taking your comments out of context, and yet I have been making a specific effort, especially on this thread, not to do that.

You ask me whether I have taken the time to read the article. The answer is no, I haven’t. I didn’t need to read the article to follow the initial exchange between you and Henry, or to respond (empathetically, or so I though) to Intomorrow’s (spiteful, you say?) reflections regarding Henry’s introduction of the Eden story into the discussion.

But what is it, exactly, that you think I am failing to understand? That I have a deficit of empathy and common decency? That participating a discussion in response to an article I haven’t read is disrespectful? (I didn’t read Rick Searle’s review of The Transhumanist Wager either, but nobody seemed to mind me participating in that discussion.)

You say I haven’t mentioned morality. Would it have been better if I did? Do you think we should be avoiding off-topic discussions? Are you frustrated because you actually want me to read the article and comment on it? If so, why not just say so? (And if you have found some of Intomorrow’s comments spiteful, why didn’t you just say, “Intomorrow, aren’t you being a bit spiteful?)

I’m interested that you spell “selfish” with a capital S. Does this also reflect a difference of perspective between us? On an earlier thread I pointed out (in answer to your question) that I wanted more recognition and appreciation when I think I have superior knowledge and understanding of a specific topic. Is this what is behind your conviction that I am seeking to maintain a superior position in general? Do you find any kind of selfish motivation unacceptable and deplorable? Including perhaps your own?

Are we making progress? Your guess is as good as mine, CygnusX1. I hope so. It is certainly not my intention to be churlish or embarrass anyone, at least not just for the sake of it. I am still trying to get more recognition and appreciation for my knowledge and understanding of various topics, in general, and I see participating in discussions here as potentially a way to do this. Do you mind?





Actually, I can probably answer that last question myself. I don’t think you really mind that I am participating in discussions here for that purpose per se, though you might disapprove of this, but clearly you do mind the way I am doing this in practice.

But I still think there is an issue about how well you are reading what other people are feeling. For example, you describe it as “embarrassing” that I rarely understand what you have written or why. But who, exactly, is supposed to be embarrassed? Why should you be embarrassed? Earlier you were offended on Henry’s behalf, are you now embarrassed on my behalf? If so, don’t be. Even if you are correct, and I really have been failing to understand what you post and why (which would doubtless reflect in part a failure of empathy, as well as other forms of cognition), it doesn’t bother me. We live and learn, right?

So how can we draw a line under this? Are there any practical lessons you think we should be drawing? Bearing in mind, of course, the feelings of others who are involved in or may otherwis be impacted by our exchanges here?





@ Peter.. tsk tsk!

Now calm down, who now is making “mountains out of mole hills?”

This is especially interesting..

“I’m interested that you spell “selfish” with a capital S. Does this also reflect a difference of perspective between us? On an earlier thread I pointed out (in answer to your question) that I wanted more recognition and appreciation when I think I have superior knowledge and understanding of a specific topic. Is this what is behind your conviction that I am seeking to maintain a superior position in general? Do you find any kind of selfish motivation unacceptable and deplorable? Including perhaps your own?”

Do I “perceive” that you are concerned regarding your previous comments for some need for recognition? It appears to be continually “on your mind”? Is this motivation to persist here driven by some needy subconscious volition? Is there any guilt afforded by your mentioning this here and now?

Why do you “need” this specifically from me? Although I am not wholly convinced of this > “when I think I have superior knowledge and understanding of a specific topic.” = hubris. Nor see evidence of this. Yet this is unimportant, especially as I would deem all “relevant” commentary and contributions as worthwhile, (freedom of speech and all that).

In answer to your question, I regularly use Selfish or Self-ish to highlight focus on origin, (the Self and it’s ontological study, it’s deconstruction and construction, the root of enlightenment and through utility of “mindful” reflection).

Please be “reassured” that I do not dislike you, even though your “perceptions” and “mirror neurons” may be “misleading” you? However, IMO you would gain more respect from everyone by reading the articles, (how did I know you hadn’t even read this?) and by adding and contributing to these with your comments - then we can “all” have more constructive debate here?

When and if Intomorrow refrains from such spiteful attacks, (which he is more than capable of, “when” he so chooses - morality?) Then there is opportunity to communicate?

Sorry for not “mincing words”, but I agree we should not, here at IEET, for want of any progress?

As to Henry and others commenting, I have no concerns or interest with “uncovering” any sinister underlying motivations of “theists”, (such are merely displays of “paranoia” promoting hatred), as I do not “fear” nor have “resentment” towards religion, and take every man/woman as I find them, and treat people as individuals and not with a “categorical brush”. This is also one of “my personality” failings I guess, such a “high horse” I ride?

Once again, this is totally distracting from the author and his article, (although this Catharsis “feels” somewhat beneficial)?

Appended: Point taken regarding my “embarrassing” comment, this was not intended to offend, but is rather presumptuous - I apologise. And yes, when I mention Henry and others, I am not positioning for others, but speaking out for decorum.





Cygnus has no reason to answer the other. So, Pete, why would you surmise Cygnus appears to think any of us are obliged to go beyond courtesies towards the orthodox religious? Perhaps because we are in urgent need of allies? That is to say we practically bend over backwards in being diplomatic with the orthodox- yet somehow this isn’t quite enough?

Guys, we can’t please,
Summerspeaker the anarchist;
Wesley the socialist;
Henry the Catholic;
one or two libertarians,

all the time, without being suck-ups.





First of all, CygnusX1 does not need to apologise for “not mincing words”. On the contrary, I finally feel like we’re having an honest discussion. Nor does he need to apologise for his “presumption” in saying he finds my lack of understanding (as he perceives it) embarrassing. CygnusX1, if you are embarrassed you are embarrassed, and I would much prefer that you say so than continue with your endless speculations and “tsk, tsk"ing regarding what I post here and why. (It seems we have the same mutual perceptions regarding lack of understanding?).

Now coming to Intomorrow’s point that we can’t please all people all the time, “without being suck-ups”, I think this is a legitimate point, and I would like CygnusX1 (and anyone who might feel like chipping in) to reflect upon it. Because I think it goes to a fundamental dilemma that we all have, to some extent: how to strike the right balance between being forthright in one’s views (even at the risk of causing offence or irritation, or simply making statements that later turn out to be wrong) and being tentative and conciliatory.

But just to be clear, CygnusX1, I absolutely do not need recognition and appreciation from you. If you could just avoid undermining my attempts to get it from others that would be great.

But rather than focus on my Selfish motives, how about we try to agree on some kind of common objective? Are we content just to argue and bicker, or do we actually want to achieve something?





“how to strike the right balance between being forthright in one’s views (even at the risk of causing offence or irritation, or simply making statements that later turn out to be wrong) and being tentative and conciliatory.”

It is walking a tightrope, isn’t it? The less vulgar term for suck-up is trimmer- someone who attempts to trim differences ‘down to size’. (Two examples: think on Iago, who told one person one thing, another something else, soon playing one person against another. Politician Donald Manes tried to please everyone in NYC, predictably wound up committing suicide).
I read Franco’s piece because it is much easier to grasp than hard science articles. Kant makes sense concerning striving (hard work) to moral perfection; to perfection of freedom;  ‘trajectory’ in moving towards perfection. Immortality can—via Kant and many other philosophers—be thought of to begin with as immortality of the species; a break with certain religious pessimisms centering on apocalypse, the end of life on Earth, promises of better existence in the Hereafter. Nothing much to disagree with.
There’s nothing much to disagree with in Christ’s morality either; difficult to argue with ‘forgive thine enemy’. But grasping Heaven, things get fast.. Heaven is where I draw the line.





I don’t really go with Kant’s morality in any case, which is partly why I haven’t (yet) read the article. Why should I care whether Kant’s morality necessitates immortality, when I don’t agree with the premise in any case?

You’re right, it is walking a tightrope. I suppose we could, if we felt like it, try to figure out why CygnusX1 did find something to disagree with in Franco’s article, and express our views on it. But beyond his concerns about our being spiteful, Selfish, and (in my case at least) deluded in various ways, perhaps the key issue here is about our tendency to go off-topic. This seems to be a genuine concern, even if it becomes more acute when we engage in religion-bashing.

What do you think? Could we / should we make more effort in this regard?





@ Peter

I “perceived” you as getting upset, apologies for my tsk tsk’ing and misunderstanding, this is embarrassing yes. I am very pleased to hear you need nothing from me personally, because I can’t accommodate for your needs, this is something you need to deal with yourSelf. I still find your plea rather a mystery however?

Now, and let me be “very clear” about this, I am not out to sabotage you or damage your Self respect. In fact if you reason, there is no way I can do this, only YOU can damage and build upon this?

Your tendency towards not reading articles and taking comments out of context and meaning is what frustrates. Have you read the article yet?

Regarding your suggestion, IMO Spitefulness should not be tolerated, at least not where it continues, persistently targeted against groups, denominations and individuals, so here we should “not mince words” and speak out? It should go without saying at a site that promotes ethics, but hey?

I guess there is prejudice apparent wherever Humans are oft to gather regularly and feel their comfort zones may be threatened in some fashion?

Humans can still be polite, however, even when they feel emotional or fearful with the speculation of motivations of others, this is etiquette, (posh word for Buddhist Right Speech), and this derives from Right thoughts, Right intention also?

Machiavelli is either idolized or despised, and I find such displays of political sleight of tongue and scheming despicable and divisive, not fit for progressives, and unethical.

Thus we must rely on our own Integrity yes? And this integrity requires us “all” to be honest, say what we feel, yet without being spiteful and deliberately insulting or destructive? And I’m sure even the Buddha would find this “perfectly” acceptable practice?

 





Pete, yes we ought to stay on-topic, however in this one case it was Henry who veered off on a tangent. Being raised a Christian it is pleasant for me: but we do wind up talking in circles concerning such issues.
I like Kant because, as Christ, there’s nothing much to argue with:

“...endless progress is only possible on the supposition of an endless duration of existence and personality of the same rational being (which is called the immorality of the soul). The summum bonnum, then, practically is only possible on the supposition of the immortality of the soul; consequently this immortality, being inseparably connected with the moral law, is a postulate of pure practical reason (by which I mean a theoretical proposition, not demonstrable as such, but which is an inseparable result of an unconditional a priori practical law). This principal of the moral destination of our nature, namely, that it is only in an endless progress that we can attain perfect accordance with the moral law… For a rational but finite being, the only thing possible is an endless progress from the lower to higher degrees of moral perfection. In Infinite Being, to whom the condition of time is nothing… is to be found in a single intellectual intuition of the whole existence of rational beings. All that can be expected of the creature in respect of the hope of this participation would be the consciousness of his tried character, by which, from the progress he has hitherto made from the worse to the morally better, and the immutability of purpose which has thus become known to him, he may hope for a further unbroken continuance of the same, however long his existence may last, even beyond this life…”

The above is playing to the crowd; the metaphysical crowd—which is why I found it far easier/more pleasant to read than a highly technical article on consciousness or physics. Anyway, it was Condorcet who mentioned physical longevity/immortality.





“Your tendency towards not reading articles and taking comments out of context and meaning is what frustrates.”

OK, well thanks for the clarity, I guess. To be honest, I don’t believe for a moment that this is the only thing that “frustrates” - in fact it is manifestly clear for your various comments that there are other things that “frustrate”, but I’m happy to go with that. No haven’t read the article yet, but I take note that you would prefer me to do so in the future.

Now with regard to “IMO Spitefulness should not be tolerate”, I’m a bit less sure what to do with this. Seemingly you are not against (somewhat) off-topic discussion per se, provided everyone has at least read the article, so if Henry did indeed (as Intomorrow suggests) “veer off at a tangent” I suppose you don’t have a problem with that? Maybe it would help though if you state clearly at what point you thought the responses stadted to become “spiteful” (was it “Henry is a brutally professional theologian”?), and what precise lessons need to be drawn, by whom? I’m saying this because I think we will have a better chance of success at creating a commenting environment that suits us all if we are crystal clear about what we want from each other. I suppose Intomorrow did not think he was being particularly spiteful.

At the moment, I’m not interested in continuing the discussion on Franco’s articles or the various general issues it has provoked. I am just trying to steer us to a conclusion about how we avoid this kind of acrimony in the future, bearing in mind the sensitivities of ALL involved.

But as an aside, CygnusX1 I did not suspect you of deliberately sabotaging me or damaging my self respect (I’m still not quite sure what the capital S does, but let’s not get back into that). But intention and effect are too different things, and as you know this is not the first time that comments I have made that (for the most part) did not directly concern and were not directed at you have apparently made you quite upset (and if this is a misperception, I think it’s fair to say that it is one that is likely to be shared by many). Can you understand why I might perceive that as undermining (however unintentionally) whatever efforts I might be making to get more recognition and appreciation for whatever knowledge and understanding I might succeed in displaying here?





@ Peter

I think I have been more than clear in my responses as to what continually frustrates, to the point of repetition. In fact, I don’t think I could be more clear? So it’s best to leave it here, again, it is not respectful to the author or his argument.

Henry was not off topic in mentioning the Garden of Eden, which seems to have provoked such hostility. And if you cannot yet see the spitefulness and suspicion incurred, then I am still a little concerned. If you are still not sure, perhaps someone more impartial can help point it out?


“Can you understand why I might perceive that as undermining (however unintentionally) whatever efforts I might be making to get more recognition and appreciation for whatever knowledge and understanding I might succeed in displaying here?”

I am sorry, but I do not understand this at all, as it makes no sense?

Again, if you had taken time to read the article before commenting all of this distraction could have been avoided, as I have pointed out from the very beginning.





Like I say, my main interest at this point is in steering to (or at least attempting to steer us) towards a conclusion about how we can avoid this kind of acrimony in the future. Indeed, by now I think it is fairly clear what frustrates you, CygnusX1 (but not the ‘you’, CygnusX1, it does not ‘frustrate’ in general, it frustrates you in particular), and I don’t think I’ve myself claimed that Henry was off topic in mentioning the Garden of Eden (I would indeed have to read the article to judge that).

Yes, I can see why you might find some of our comments spiteful and suspicion-incurring, though I am still reassured that Henry himself did not appear to be offended and nobody else has complained. If “someone more impartial” wishes to comment on this they are of course welcome to do so.

No problem that you didn’t understand my question, if I think it’s important I’ll come back to it.

I am still sceptical that the fact that I decided to participate in the discussion without first reading the article was the main cause of the “distraction”, but this is clearly an issue that seems important to you, which I shall certainly bear in mind in the future. What I would not want, though, is a rule that says that no one is allowed to participate in discussions here without first reading the articles. I think it should be up to each person to judge to what extent they need to read the article on order to be able to comment intelligently on what has been said in response to it. I certainly don’t believe it is always necessary, but we could of course introduce such a rule if it is generally considered necessary.

As a final thought, and one that may possibly be reassuring for readers (if there are any left), is that I shall probably not want to enter into such a detailed discussion in a comment thread itself about who offended whom and why and what we should be learning from it. As I said earlier it is not a particularly edifying spectacle, and it indeed distracts from the process of enhancing our mutual understanding through debate and discussion, in particular with regard to issues raised in the articles.





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