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Re: Existentialism and Debate

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  • Uli
    Charles, i think i share you re view about the awful way the history can play with human minds and lives but you may achieve a consensus based on free choice,
    Message 1 of 15 , Nov 22, 1999
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      Charles, i think i share you're view about the
      awful way the history can play with human minds
      and lives but you may achieve a consensus based on
      free choice, and regarding behaviour,
      within a very restricted group of people with
      similar affinities, no more than that, i believe.
      The rest of it is about rules, tradition and laws,
      that are, more or less, changeable, not about
      "absolute truth".
      i don't feel comfortable about you're four
      questions. I love my freedom and i hate to disturb
      other people or infringe upon their freedom but
      there is not an absolute term here. i try to be
      reasonable.( smile!) there is not an "everything
      or nothing" situation. so, everything depends on
      the particular behaviour in the particular
      context. it can't be an universal rule applied
      equally to any kind of behaviour.
      a) it might or it might not, depends on the
      particular behaviour
      b) it might be a way, not always there is one,
      again , depends on the particular behaviour
      c) it is possible, depends upon their views on the
      particular behaviour
      d) it can be a risk, again , depends on the
      particular behaviour.
      Delia












      Charles Vermont wrote:

      >
    • Uli
      charles, did you read Jaspers? i think he answers to the problem you said it bothers you for a long time. i have some beautiful extracts but, unfortunately not
      Message 2 of 15 , Nov 22, 1999
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        charles, did you read Jaspers? i think he answers
        to the problem you said it bothers you
        for a long time. i have some beautiful extracts
        but, unfortunately not in english, from
        "EINFUHRUNG IN DIE PHILOSOPHIE" about the
        "unconditioned exigency"
        i'll try to get something in english if you can't
        get to read it. it's worth it; it has
        "therapeutical" qualities for for existential
        "angst". When i said "let's take the
        existentialists, one by one", i meant to get to
        Jaspers .
        regards, Delia









        Charles Vermont wrote:

        >
      • BOURTON, SAM
        Sorry everyone for again posting a message to the list that I didn t mean to. I m new to this sort of thing - but I will get the hang of it soon I promise.
        Message 3 of 15 , Nov 23, 1999
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          Sorry everyone for again posting a message to the list that I didn't mean
          to. I'm new to this sort of thing - but I will get the hang of it soon I
          promise.


          Charles,

          as you can see from the message I sent to a friend (but posted to the list
          by accident), I agree with your response to my question. Although I would
          probably reach the same conclusions not by going through Popper and the
          problem of induction, (which I think scientists recognise and in practice
          aren't that troubled by), but through Quine's arguments against realism. In
          many ways I think the anti-realism of Quine accords well with the
          subjectivism of the existentialists.

          The problem is though that in this age of globalisation, so-called
          'humanitarian wars', and rapidly developing technologies, the need for an
          objective standpoint from which we can make moral judgements is ever more
          clear. Or at the very least - we need the means to be able to reach a
          consensus on such issues.

          My problem is that I think existentialism has much to say of value about the
          individual - but it doesn't extend well beyond that. It's not much use when
          we are dealing with either the interactions between individuals (e.g.
          politics, etc) or between individuals and the world around them (e.g. the
          status of scientific truths, etc).

          Sam

          ps. This time I did mean to post it to the list ; )





          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: BOURTON, SAM [SMTP:SAM.BOURTON@...]
          > Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 1999 9:07 AM
          > To: 'existlist@onelist.com'
          > Subject: RE: [existlist] Existentialism and Debate
          >
          > From: "BOURTON, SAM" <SAM.BOURTON@...>
          >
          > This was the reply from Charles. what do you reckon? He's kind of
          > arguing
          > what I was - and getting dangerously near the scientific relativism of
          > Quine. But is that good or bad? Anyway, I'll reply to it later today, so
          > we've got ages to think of a response.
          >
          > > -----Original Message-----
          > > From: Charles Vermont [SMTP:Funchoice@...]
          > > Sent: Monday, November 22, 1999 8:33 PM
          > > To: Existentialism List
          > > Subject: [existlist] Existentialism and Debate
          > >
          > > Sam, you ask me:
          > >
          > > >Whilst I share your worries about any alternative notion being a form
          > of
          > > bad faith that can in someway relieve the individual from responsibility
          > > for his actions, how do we then reach a coherent notion of universal
          > > truth?<
          > >
          > > I like the answer written by Tom Stoppard in his play 'Arcadia'. He has
          > > one of his characters say:
          > >
          > > 'There is no such thing as a fact. There are only those things which
          > have
          > > so far yet to prove untrue'.
          > >
          > > After all, as I think Karl Popper pointed out, just because an
          > experiment
          > > has come out one way and one way only for hundreds of years, this does
          > not
          > > mean that it will continue to come out that way for the rest of time.
          > Just
          > > look at Newton's Laws of Motion - they were 'true' for hundreds of years
          > > until Einstein came along with Relativity.
          > >
          > > You also ask:
          > >
          > > >When science comes along and tells us that discipline x shows that an
          > > individual in situation y will respond with behaviour z, and then, as a
          > > matter of fact, it does happen in this way - how can the Existentialist
          > > respond?<
          > >
          > > I don't know about other Existentialists, but personally I would want
          > > science to put me in situation y to see whether I will do z. With
          > personal
          > > experience of the discipline x I believe I would be able to comment.
          > > However, I would be very interested to hear about any scientists who
          > > claimed they were able to induce the same response in 100% of their
          > > experiments on other human beings - are there any?
          > >
          > > Back to 'absolute truth' - it is my contention that this does not exist.
          > > And even if it did, all that would matter would be our individual
          > > perceptions of 'the truth'. This is why I believe it is misleading to
          > > debate existentialism in Cartesian terms - it is like a Baseball coach
          > > trying to persuade a pitcher to throw a tighter line into the strike
          > zone
          > > when in fact the 'pitcher' is a professional quarterback.
          > >
          > > Charles Vermont
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > _______________________________________________________________________
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          > > From The Exist List...
          > http://userzweb.lightspeed.net/~tameri
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        • Charles Vermont
          Sam, Quine is not a name I have come across before - what s the story there? I quite agree with you about traditional existentialism. I tend to see it as
          Message 4 of 15 , Nov 23, 1999
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            Sam,

            Quine is not a name I have come across before - what's the story there?

            I quite agree with you about traditional existentialism. I tend to see it as fairly negative in the sense that it knocks down the Cartesian and Kantian view of morality and then does not put anything in its place. However, it is to solve this particular problem that I have bent my thoughts over the past few years.

            It seems to me that the only morality which can exist without Bad Faith is the one we all freely choose to agree on. In other words, if you, me, and the rest of list agree of our own free will to restrict our freedom of choice by following a set of behavioural guidelines then this is not Bad Faith. As with 'absolute truth, we will then be able to interact with a knowledge of the ground rules, but unlike 'absolute truth' we will all have had a say as to what those ground rules should be. Time and again it seems to me that this principle has been illustrated through history. Either religious or temporal leaders have decided what is the 'absolute truth', and the populace have observed the rules until they want to change them. Revolution, either general of specific, occurs, and then everyone gets on with life following a new set of rules. i.e. the Reformation.

            As to how we can find a method to use in order to reach agreement, I like the following:

            For any behaviour, whether it is active or passive, I would ask the following questions:

            a.. Does this behaviour infringe on the freedom of choice of people who do not behave this way?
            b.. Is there any effective way we can prevent, moderate, or alter this behaviour in others?
            c.. In choosing to try and do something about this behaviour will we infringe the freedom of choice of other people who do not behave this way?
            d.. If we do nothing about this behaviour, is there a risk that we will undermine the stability of the society we live in, and consequently risk a situation where we all suffer a great reduction in our freedom of choice?

            I believe it is in sharing our answers to these questions that we will be able to form a consensus of sorts.

            I would be interested in everyone else's thoughts on this.

            Charles Vermont
            London, England




            c
          • Charles Vermont
            Delia, No, I have not read Jaspers, but would be interested in his thoughts on this matter. Anyone out there feel brave enough to post a precis? As to your
            Message 5 of 15 , Nov 25, 1999
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              Delia,

              No, I have not read Jaspers, but would be interested in his thoughts on this matter. Anyone out there feel brave enough to post a precis?

              As to your response to my four questions, it seems to me we are agreeing here. I also believe that every situation is different and therefore it is impossible to have general rules which apply to all the possibilities. This is why the questions are designed to tease out the issues rather than deliver tablets of stone. For instance, try running the whole issue of controlled 'mind altering' substances past them.

              Hey, Hank, I think the revolution starts when we choose to make it happen - which was about 10 years ago in this country.

              Charles Vermont
              London, England
            • BOURTON, SAM
              Uli, (and Charles below) I ve never read any Jaspers but would be interested in hearing about how he responds to the existential angst. Perhaps he would be a
              Message 6 of 15 , Nov 25, 1999
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                Uli, (and Charles below)

                I've never read any Jaspers but would be interested in hearing about how he
                responds to the existential angst. Perhaps he would be a good place to
                start in taking the existentialist's one by one (unless you had someone else
                in mind first).

                Sam


                ----------------------------------

                Charles

                You asked about Quine - it's off topic here so i won't go into too much
                detail but in view of your previous references to Popper I think it's
                something you'd be interested in. Quine was (he's actually still alive to
                be fair but he's so old that he's always referred to in the past tense - how
                awful is that?!) an American analytical philsopher who was a major player in
                the Linguistic Turn earlier this century alongside people like Wittgenstein
                & Davidson.

                Anyway in a nutshell (this really isn't the sort of philosophy that should
                be summed up 'in a nutshell' so be warned that this is a bit sketchy) he
                attacked realism by showing it's perfectly possible for two or more
                scientific theories to be "empirically equivilent" (meaning that in terms of
                evidence and proof, you couldn't tell them apart or prove one right and the
                others wrong) whilst also being "logically inconsistent" (as in they are all
                mutually exclusive - if one's true the other's must be false).

                For Quine, this shows us that the concept of objective truth is completely
                meaningless. His arguments are arguments against Realists of all sorts -
                from Descartes to Searle. Ultimately, there can be no demonstrable truths
                about the "units" of reality - whether those units be moral, mental,
                semantic or metaphysical. For any given theory on the reality of moral
                truths, mental events, the meaning of words or the objective nature of
                metaphysical constructs, if there can be one or more other theory that is
                logically incompatible but empirically indiscernible from the first (and
                Quine shows there's no a priori reason why this is not the case for any
                particular theory), then talk of the truth or falsity of theories is
                meaningless. It is an attack on certainty and objectivity, reaching the
                same conclusions as you were with Popper etc, but it's a very different and
                very powerful argument.

                Sam

                ps. What did you mean by "To hell with the guidelines when's the revolution
                start?".




                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: Uli [SMTP:uli@...]
                > Sent: Monday, November 22, 1999 8:42 PM
                > To: existlist@onelist.com
                > Subject: Re: [existlist] Existentialism and Debate
                >
                > From: Uli <uli@...>
                >
                > charles, did you read Jaspers? i think he answers
                > to the problem you said it bothers you
                > for a long time. i have some beautiful extracts
                > but, unfortunately not in english, from
                > "EINFUHRUNG IN DIE PHILOSOPHIE" about the
                > "unconditioned exigency"
                > i'll try to get something in english if you can't
                > get to read it. it's worth it; it has
                > "therapeutical" qualities for for existential
                > "angst". When i said "let's take the
                > existentialists, one by one", i meant to get to
                > Jaspers .
                > regards, Delia
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > Charles Vermont wrote:
                >
                > >
                >
                > > From The Exist List...
                > http://userzweb.lightspeed.net/~tameri
                > _______________________________________________________________________
                > This message has been checked for all known viruses including Melissa.W
                > by the Star Screening System
                > http://academy.star.co.uk/public/virustats.htm
                _______________________________________________________________________
                This message has been checked for all known viruses including Melissa.W
                by the Star Screening System
                http://academy.star.co.uk/public/virustats.htm
              • hank alphonse
                To hell with the guidelines when s the revolution start? I would be interested in everyone else s thoughts on this. Charles Vermont London, England c
                Message 7 of 15 , Nov 25, 1999
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                  To hell with the guidelines when's the revolution start?
                  I would be interested in everyone else's thoughts on this.

                  Charles Vermont
                  London, England




                  c
                • hank alphonse
                  10 years ago? was that when they started putting cameras up all over ... From: Charles Vermont To: Existentialism List Sent: Thursday, November 25, 1999 9:47
                  Message 8 of 15 , Nov 26, 1999
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                    10 years ago? was that when they started putting cameras up all over
                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: Charles Vermont
                    To: Existentialism List
                    Sent: Thursday, November 25, 1999 9:47 AM
                    Subject: Re: [existlist] Existentialism and Debate


                    Delia,

                    No, I have not read Jaspers, but would be interested in his thoughts on this matter. Anyone out there feel brave enough to post a precis?

                    As to your response to my four questions, it seems to me we are agreeing here. I also believe that every situation is different and therefore it is impossible to have general rules which apply to all the possibilities. This is why the questions are designed to tease out the issues rather than deliver tablets of stone. For instance, try running the whole issue of controlled 'mind altering' substances past them.

                    Hey, Hank, I think the revolution starts when we choose to make it happen - which was about 10 years ago in this country.

                    Charles Vermont
                    London, England
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