I want your comments! (open thread)

I’m a little puzzled by my blog data over the past week: traffic has been good, but I feel lonely for lack of comments. So open thread time! What’s on your mind? What do you want me to blog about? What burning questions that you’ve always been wondering about could I (or other commenters) resolve for you quickly?

  • http://www.skepticink.com/humesapprentice Ryan

    I’d like to see you write about your other philosophical views, perhaps ones that you haven’t written about before and that don’t have much to do with religion such as: the philosophy of consciousness (you could even connect this with your research on AI) or philosophy of mathematics, for instance.

    • Chris Hallquist

      The reason I don’t write about most of those topics is that I don’t have any views on e.g. the philosophy of mathematics.

  • Daniel Engblom

    I wouldn’t mind reading more on Evolutionary Psychology from you.
    Also, I agree with something you said recently in a comment in another place, everyone should read Steven Pinker’s latest, The Better Angels of Our Nature.
    But I’ve enjoyed your blogging on the whole nevertheless, I’m just not much of a commenter, I’m sorry creepers like me can make you feel lonely, I do know that feeling.

  • http://johnivorjones.blogspot.co.uk/ John Jones

    There’s a huge storm brewing, over the horizon. It threatens to wipe out the entire secular/atheist/naturalist/creationist stance. It isn’t worth worrying about, for now. So far, it has only reached me, an itinerant, jobless, philosopher.

    I will tell you about the damage that the storm will bring- if it should hit us. It will lay waste, equally, the conceptual pretensions found on both sides of the intelligent design debate. These will be washed away, their timbers mixed and exposed as doctrinal disagreements within factions of their, ancient, common religion – animism.

    So far, the intelligent design debate has slumbered, racked by nightmares whose resolution requires neither evidence nor revelation but an awakening from the universal dream of transcendental realism. Transcendental realism, first coined by Kant, is the most basic idea, picked up and employed by all the sciences and religions, that objects have, independently, per se, and more or less accurately, the properties of their appearances. That is, the physical limits of objects are set up by the objects themselves. This is animism.

    Both sides of the intelligent design debate view their respective arguments through the spectacles of animism or transcendental realism. So, for them, the fish’s eye really is a fish’s eye, independently of any observer. For them, this object, and all other objects, set up their own boundaries in some inexplicably animistic gesture, and equally inexplicably, convey their limits to us, the observers.

    The storm has a name. It is transcendental idealism. It makes no animistic gestures. Its principle is that objects are defined, not by their existence, but by their identification. There are no material objects per se. There are material objects. Here, objects are a set of boundaries arbitrarily set up by the condtions of identification. An example. There is no object “TV” per se. There is an object “TV”. Its physical limits are not determined by the TV. There is no TV per se. There is a TV. The physical limits of the TV are determined by the conditions for its identification, one such condition is “entertainment”. There are other conditions, of course, that help us distinguish the TV from the carpet it stands on.

    The intelligent design debate is fitfully dosing. It struggles with the source of the existence of objects rather than the source of the very forms, or conditions of identification, of objects. We cannot awaken from this dream until we release the hold that animism, or transcendental realism, has held over the sciences, mathematics, logic and most religions.

    As I say, I am one man, and holding no parley with fate cannot speak for its inscrutible social and individual profiling. I suspect that this storm will pass us this generation, but will return.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Whoa dude, that must be some good stuff you are smoking.

    • AndrewR

      >> I suspect that this storm will pass us this generation

      I concur.

    • Pulse

      This “huge storm brewing” is nothing new. It has currents dating back as old as philosophy itself. The name of the storm is over 200 years old. I am certain that many modern philosophers have already seen it blowing and have taken it into account.

      • http://johnivorjones.blogspot.co.uk/ John Jones

        This comment is posted to the threatened fellow who imagined that he had heard something like it but didn’t know quite what. In pursuit of his illumination I will tell him what:
        The existence of “intentional states” (what it is like to be something) have been presented as an argument against materialist evolution which, it seems, has left out something that can’t be accounted for. In that, there must be supra-material or non-naturalist sources, like a god, because materials, like pebbles, don’t have anything that is about an other thing, unlike the conscious experiences of life-forms.
        But that wasn’t my idea at all. For one, the very idea of intentional states as being about something implies that objects identify themselves, which is animism or transcendental realism. For another, the link to animism has never been made in the manner I have made it. And for yet another, the argument provided by intentional states was made against evolution. My argument attacked evolution AND creationism. For those who have forgotten, and it looks likely, I said that evolution and creationism were offshoots of a a common religion – animism.
        Anyone claiming intellectual priority for this idea, other than this author, will be pursued.

    • Andyman409

      I guess catwoman was right batman, a storm really is brewing!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Are you familiar with the Asia Obscura web site?

    • Chris Hallquist

      Nope – what’s the scoop on that?

      • Reginald Selkirk

        Asia Obscura
        Weird stuff from Asia. No apparent agenda other than entertainment. Recently the focus is on India, but there’s some terrific older stuff from China, Korea (both South and North) and other countries as well.
        Here’s a classic from Singapore: The Creepiest Amusement Park of All Time?

      • http://johnivorjones.blogspot.co.uk/ John Jones

        What are you looking for Chris? Friends or argument? I gave you an argument and you flunked it. Look at me. No job no pension no prospects. A tramp, a genius wanderer, a braggart and bloody nuisance, making no impression ion the world. I tear academics to shreds, I have done, and still do when they dare to pop their heads above the academic ramparts. Cross swords with me and you WILL, to a man, come off worse. Now, what do you say?

  • http://counterapologist.blogspot.com/ Counter Apologist

    One area I’d love to see you talk about is related to refuting presuppositional apologetics. Basically, how we can account for logic. It gets into some Descartes style philosophy.

    One of the best series I’ve ever seen on it (http://m.youtube.com/user/KnownNoMore#/playlist?list=PL515BB2B62E8AAAE3) dealt with how we can be sure of the three basic laws of logic – and he basically used justification by impossibility of the contrary to get us things like the law of identity. It’s the same kind of justification Descartes used for “I exist”, basically if you can question whether or not you exist, you must exist.

    I’d like your take on jusing this kind of justification for the three basic laws of logic.

    • Chris Hallquist

      Ugh, presuppositionalism, that’s something I haven’t dealt with in a very long time. Any particular authors/books/online articles you’d especially like me to address?

      • http://counterapologist.blogspot.com/ Counter Apologist

        I’m not so much interested in countering pressup’s, I think that’s been done.

        What I’m interested in is some epistemological questions related to the things we can rightly claim to “know”. My understanding here is that the things we can claim certainty on is the fact that “I exist” and the three basic laws of logic, because we can ground those truths in the “impossibility of the contrary”.

        Is that something that’s considered “settled” in philosophy or epistemology, or is it controversial?

        • Chris Hallquist

          I dunno. It’s not an issue I’ve thought about enough, certain not one I’ve thought about recently.

  • Rain

    Re: the current filibuster: The Republicans are worried about the President shredding the constitution, but the Democrats are not so much worried about it. Presumably this is because the President is a Democrat? Am I correct in my assessment?

    Re: the previous President: Nobody was worried about the previous Bush president shredding the constitution because presumably they were all scared of being labeled a traitor due to the highly xenophobic paranoiac rhetoric prevalent at the time? More scared of the traitor label than scared of shredding the constitution?

    • Chris Hallquist

      Basically right, though there are a few precious rare folks on the left who’ve been consistent in opposition to this stuff through both the Bush and Obama administrations (Glenn Greenwald and Ed Brayton, two of my favorite political writers, come to mind), and as Bush lost popularity more Democrats in congress at least pretended to stand up to him on these issues.

    • josh

      Also note that the Republicans aren’t worried about Obama being unconstitutional on things like torture, surveillance, habeus corpus, government secrecy, etc. They’re puling about things that are either perfectly legal, like healthcare mandates, or perfectly fictional, like stormtroopers coming to take their guns and bibles.

  • Theory_of_I

    I think that most atheists generally do not have any great objection to the individual practice of faith on the part of believers, nor, with some serious exceptions, to the theological foolishness to which the faithful subscribe. Rather, it is the overriding authority of the industry of religion (IOR) in it’s numerous conceits that is the source of the most objectionable conditions non-believers are confronted with.

    Since it seems highly probable that the great majority of believers are indoctrinated via instruction and imposition of the relevant dogma by the functionaries of the hierarchy of whichever brand of religion has beguiled them, part of which dogma is the requirement to accept what they are told without question. Once thoroughly indoctrinated, they will also unquestioningly adopt the social, moral and political attitudes and biases imposed on them by the same sources in the same way.

    The power and influence held by the IOR is attained through the vast membership of indoctrinated and complicit followers, with the result that religions and their prejudices are privileged and protected far beyond reason socially, politically and governmentally.

    If there could be a common cause among non-believers, I think it should take the form of emphatic opposition — not to individual believers on a colloquial basis — but to the hierarchy of religion on an institutional level, to illustrate and to condemn the harm caused by the abuse of power by the IOR.

    You may wish to explore how to narrow the focus and bring about a more concerted effort in opposition to the policies and leadership of the IOR.

    • Chris Hallquist

      Well, I think I’ve got great objections to the theological foolishess of religion, in my current book project, for example!

      I dunno about your main point here. It maybe applies to something like Catholicism, but when you look at something like American evangelicalism, with its less well-defined structure, I don’t think you can do much but show people how their leaders are lying to them (especially with creationism, apologetics, etc.)

  • Grass

    I’d like more on the futility of philosophy, especially data, like the questionnaire you often link to, and that book you reviewed two years ago, and the fact that ethics professors aren’t more ethical than other peeps, etc. I would also love it if you made a synthesis of all this in a longer post. Then I would have link handy when I want to show people just how crappy (analytic) philosophy is, and wouldn’t have to make one myself. :) Also, do we owe the existence of the computer to philosophers?

    Oh, and talking about philosophy of mathematics – are you a nominalist, platonist, intuitionist, formalist or logicist?

    • Chris Hallquist

      The book I reviewed two years ago–you mean Gary Gutting’s What Philosophers Know?

      I’m curious, in what context you find yourself needing such a link? That might help with writing the post you request.

      And I’m sorry, but I don’t have a view of philosophy of mathematics! (And actually, I’ve never studied the subject formally, so I don’t know it very well.)

      But in general, yes, I think a post like that might be worth doing.

  • Laurence

    Since you spend a fair amount of trashing philosophy, I think it would be nice to have a post about the good things about philosophy.

  • Pulse

    I’m relatively new to your blog and Patheos in general. I first found out about this place when The Secular Outpost made its move over here. Nevertheless, I have found your articles both enlightening and entertaining. Thank you.

    When I read up on the thoughts of atheist writers, the thing I most often find myself looking for are their ideas on ethics and morality and how such things manifest in an atheist worldview. It’s one thing to identify something as morally reprehensible, but it’s quite another thing to present a coherent theory on what makes something morally reprehensible. I’d like to see your thoughts on this matter or possible more reviews of atheist literature on moral philosophy, like your take on Sam Harris’ The Moral Landscape.

    • Chris Hallquist

      I think it’s a bit silly to call atheism a worldview, just like it would be silly to call afaeism (non-belief in fairies) a worldview.

      That said, you can read my thoughts on The Moral Landscape here.

      • Pulse

        Yes, that’s specifically what I was referencing. I’d like to see more like that.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Ethics is hard. There is no moral theory without criticism. There are a few blogs over at Skeptic Ink which might interest you. My personal view is that human morality, which is so obviously anthropocentric, developed throughout our evolutionary history; and so it is piecemeal and contingent rather than following any sort of consistent logic. I think this explains why attempts to impose moral theories are generally so unsuccessful.

  • Chris

    Has your opinion of SIRI, etc., gone up or down as you have become more involved with them? From afar, they’re starting to look more and more ridiculous to me, including people I used to have a lot of respect for (again, from afar).

    • Chris Hallquist

      My opinion hasn’t really changed over the past ~6 months.

      I probably should have stressed in that post that people who frequent LessWrong ≠ people who work for MIRI (as it’s now called). Of the people who work for SI, there’s only one I know of (Mike Anissimov) who identifies as a Reactionary. Which seems like one too many to me, but don’t take him as representative of the whole organization.

      I know Luke is pretty apolitical but, when Moldbug came up on LessWrong, commented that Moldbug seemed pretty confused to him.

    • Chris Hallquist

      I should also mention that apparently, only 2.5% of LessWrongians identify as reactionary. This is a case of “don’t mistake a few loud voices for being representative of the whole group.”

  • MNb

    “Any particular authors/books/online articles you’d especially like me to address?”
    Yes, Herman Philipse’s God in the Age of Science. It will cost you a few bucks, but I’d love to read a review by you. I have just finished it and I’m contemplating calling myself a 7 atheist on the scale of Dawkins.


    “I’ve got great objections to the theological foolishess of religion”
    After reading Philipse’s book you might have more.

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  • hf

    I’d like you to address what PZ Myers eventually said about evolutionary psychology. Sounds to me like the field suffers from disarray approaching that of philosophy. It likely contains good work, but you can’t reasonably expect most skeptics to find this.

  • Darren

    Specially relating to being a blogger, “When, if ever, is it morally right to lie / mislead / deceive one’s readers?” In the service of a greater good? To maintain one’s ego? When it is for ‘their own good’?

    • Chris Hallquist

      Pretty much never. Maybe to protect your own or another’s private information.

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