Archive for October, 2005

An Idiot’s Guide to Philosophy

by Jason Stotts

1. Metaphysics

Formal: The study of being qua being

Idiot: The study of all that shit I see around me.

2. Epistemology

Formal: The study of acquiring and validating knowledge

Idiot: What the hell do I know and how the hell do I know it?

3. Ethics

Formal: The study of intentioal human action.

Idiot: What the hell should I do?

4. Politics

Formal: The study of the proper nature of government

Idiot: What the hell kind of people are going to rule us?

5. Aesthetics

Formal: The study of the nature of the Beautiful

Idiot: What the hell looks good?

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Does Ethics Presuppose Metaphysics?

by Jason Stotts

Yes.

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A Sad Day

by Jason Stotts

It’s quite a sad day for me to know that we as a race have retrogressed so far that we are no longer able to shine light upon our own actions and see them for what they are. People have become so pragmatic that they have lost the ability to think in principles, they have lost the ability to put their actions into the contexts of theirs lives and see how they will affect them both now and down the road.

A case in point is the other day a person took a glass from a restaurant and then threw it away. When confronted about this and asked why he had done it, he replied that it was not an issue that it was merely a cup. For him all his mind was capable of grasping was that he had a cup and it was his to use. Why was it his to use? Because he had paid for its use while in the restaurant. Was the cup really his? No, he was only renting it for a small amount of time in a particular location. But he did not seem to grasp something so simple that one should not have to explain it to a child. He did not see that he did not own this cup, that another did, and that his removal of their property from their possession was not merely “taking a cup with you”, but was an act of theft. To make matters worse, he did not understand that the act of throwing the glass away was not merely discarding something that one did not need, as if it were a paper cup that had merely been used and had no other value, no throwing the cup away constituted the destruction of another’s property that one had previously stolen.

This person in effect had the cognitive capacities of a child and a mind so crippled by pragmatic philosophy and out of focus thinking that he could not even understand what he had done.

This makes it a sad day for me, to know that my brethren have sunk so far as to be able to understand their own actions, to know that their minds are crippled and they cannot even understand what it means to think in principles. Perhaps soon we shall have to celebrate another “memorial day”, except now we shall have to grieve for the memory of intelligence and rationality.

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A Few Good Men

by Jason Stotts

I was recently was having a conversation with one of my friends, Sandy, and we were talking about whether you should care what others think of you. This got me thinking about whether there is any role for outside evaluation to enter into your conception of yourself or whether your idea of yourself should be purely internal.

The way I see it is like this:

If you care what everyone else thinks of you then you will have to try to pander to the whims of everyone, which will not be possible since people will always hold divergent positions.

To make matters worse, the majority of people are ignorant and do not know how to give an objective evaluation – this leads them to only give a subjective evaluation, which further exacerbates the situation as any action will necessarily please some and displease others.

So, if you try to please everyone then you will end up pleasing no one. Thus to worry about what everyone thinks is a worthless endeavor that will only serve to retard your life.

The conversation then took a different turn with this question: “But doesn’t it seem as if there is some role for outside evaluation and/or validation?” At that point in the conversation we did not come to a definite conclusion, but after thinking about it later I must say that I’ve come to have an opinion on this issue.

While my initial reaction was to say deny such a proposition and say that there is no role for outside evaluation, after much thought I’ve come to reevaluate my hasty position.

It seems to me that evaluation by others is important and necessary as long as these others are able to give objective evaluations. If they can do so, they render us an invaluable service as it is sometimes quite hard to be objective about ourselves. Not that I’m saying that one cannot be objective about oneself – I certainly believe that it’s possible and becomes easier with practice, but there are times when others who know us well can understand us better than we can understand ourselves since they can view us from a different perspective.

Also, to have others who we view as good people, people who we admire and who have qualities we value, give outside objective confirmation to our conceptions of ourselves can be very beneficial and can serve to reaffirm our self-image and strengthen our conviction of our worth as individuals. It cannot give us self-esteem, but it can serve to reaffirm it.

So, there is some role for caring about what other people think as long as they are good people and they can be objective in their evaluation. If they are not or cannot, then their opinions are nothing more than sophistry and illusion and should be committed to the flames.

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Diversity – Overhauled

by Jason Stotts

I wasn’t happy with the first Diversity essay and after getting alot of helpful criticism from Scott, Mir, and Matt, I’ve decided to scrap the old one and start over, leave me comments and let me know what you think before it goes to print!
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I’d like to add my two cents into this whole debacle about “coming out week” and the counter-chalkings done in protest.

While I myself do not particularly care for the chalkings done by Outlook, I fully support the right of Outlook to voice their opinions and spread their message with the chalkings and I want to condemn those people who tried to “silence” them and their message. Whether not you agree with someone’s message, the right thing to do is have a discussion about it and not attempt to intimidate people.

The interesting thing for me though, is that those in Outlook and others here on campus advocate diversity – a doctrine which admonishes us to accept different people as different. Whether it is to accept diversity of skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or just ideas in general, we our told to accept these diverse opinions because they are someone else’s opinion and as such they are intrinsically valuable.

Obviously, however, this makes diversity advocates into hypocrites.

You see, if they truly want us to accept diverse opinions, why are people who hold the opinion that homosexuality is okay and people who hold the opinion that is it wrong not on the same playing field?

“But of course they’re not!” You are wont to say, “people who hate gays for no reason are wrong and this can’t be allowed.” I agree that such a position is foolish, however given that diversity advocates want us to accept diverse opinions, they cannot claim these “homophobic” people are wrong. But the diversity advocates want to claim (and rightly so) that these “homophobic” people are wrong and because of this they are contradicting their principles. If one is truly advocating “diversity” at all costs then we must allow “haters” of whatever variety, since they have diverse opinions.

You see the problem here? It’s that diversity qua diversity is not a good thing. Diversity is only good when it helps us to come to a better understanding of our world and come closer to Truth. Diversity is instrumentally valuable, not intrinsically valuable. In fact I’d argue that the way “diversity” is practiced nowadays is just plain misguided: instead of having diversity of colors of skin and genders, we should be after a diversity of ideas.

Now many people would want to argue that diversity of skin color and gender necessarily leads to diversity of ideas, but that’s just silly. That’s trying to say that all white people think alike, as do all black people, as well as women, and people from other countries. People do not necessarily think like others who look like them! It’s an absurd thing to claim when you think about it.

If we want to advocate some form of “diversity”, we must be careful to only protect those opinions which may be true and are reasonable (i.e. for which there is some legitimate reason to believe). For example, if it is reasonable to say that people have the right to choose who they want to be with, then people’s sexual preferences should be protected; but if there is no reason to believe that people have the right to choose who they want to be with, then their views should not be protected. (It should be clear which one I advocate)

We must be discriminatory in the opinions we allow or else we will end up causing more evil in the world by allowing false ideas to spread unchecked.

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Merciful Mirth

by Jason Stotts

I must thank Matt Morrell heartily for introducing my to Despair which is perhaps the funniest website that I have seen in a long time. For example look at this:

They have all sorts of amazing posters that will make you think “Wow…” 😉

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If we act from emotion and not our reason, we will most certainly make our situation worse. If we follow our heart, or worse our loins, instead of our heads – we will end up regretting our actions.

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Wow

by Jason Stotts

Some things need no explanation; this, however, is not one of those things.

(Picture courtesy of the Homicidal Quaker)

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