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Re: Belief belies disbelief

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  • Jim
    Irvin, Mary, I am interested to read what you both have to say on this subject. It is something I reflect on quite a bit. I agree that we form dispositions to
    Message 1 of 27 , Nov 1, 2010
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      Irvin, Mary,

      I am interested to read what you both have to say on this subject. It is something I reflect on quite a bit.

      I agree that we form dispositions to react in certain ways – no doubt these dispositions are partly determined by our genetic makeup, and partly determined by our upbringing and our cultural situation.

      However, we can monitor our own thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and we can reflect on our instinctive or habitual ways of behaving, and we can override them with conscious attention and determined effort.

      Some alcoholics do stop drinking and some of us change our behaviour as we get older as we see the consequences of our thoughtless actions. No doubt the determinist will say such changes are fully determined by the causal laws of the physical world and any thought that we are acting freely is pure delusion and self-deception. However, I do not think that the subjective experience that we are determining the course of our own lives can be dismissed so easily.

      I agree that some – most – of the time I react spontaneously ("on auto-pilot") to what comes my way, but on the big decisions I deliberate for hours, days, years and here I coolly examine my own reasons as well as the possible outcomes of my actions. These big decisions do seem to me to be based on reason and not knee-jerk instinctive dispositions.

      Agreed we do not know for sure if we are acting freely or if our actions are fully determined in a non-personal way. But given the uncertainty, we still must act on a particular conception of the self. I think that the conception of myself as a free individual, responsible for my own actions, is the only conception which preserves any meaning to human existence.

      Jim
    • Mary
      Jim, Election day is a busy day for me, but here are a few quick thoughts. I think reason and emotion are entangled, and that for each person who is diligent
      Message 2 of 27 , Nov 2, 2010
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        Jim,

        Election day is a busy day for me, but here are a few quick thoughts. I think reason and emotion are entangled, and that for each person who is diligent in their decision making, another person isn't. Is this the issue? While some of are agonizing over important decisions, others react simply in a straightforward, automatic manner, such as in the manner Irvin mentions. We talk about a self which is totally preoccupied with others, no matter the relationship, hostile or considerate, because others determine our state of being. This is only human. So whether we think we're reasoning by and in ourselves, or whether anyone else is doing likewise, we're stuck with this absurdism: we're each in this together. This is the limit Camus recognized.

        Mary

        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
        >
        > Irvin, Mary,
        >
        > I am interested to read what you both have to say on this subject. It is something I reflect on quite a bit.
        >
        > I agree that we form dispositions to react in certain ways – no doubt these dispositions are partly determined by our genetic makeup, and partly determined by our upbringing and our cultural situation.
        >
        > However, we can monitor our own thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and we can reflect on our instinctive or habitual ways of behaving, and we can override them with conscious attention and determined effort.
        >
        > Some alcoholics do stop drinking and some of us change our behaviour as we get older as we see the consequences of our thoughtless actions. No doubt the determinist will say such changes are fully determined by the causal laws of the physical world and any thought that we are acting freely is pure delusion and self-deception. However, I do not think that the subjective experience that we are determining the course of our own lives can be dismissed so easily.
        >
        > I agree that some – most – of the time I react spontaneously ("on auto-pilot") to what comes my way, but on the big decisions I deliberate for hours, days, years and here I coolly examine my own reasons as well as the possible outcomes of my actions. These big decisions do seem to me to be based on reason and not knee-jerk instinctive dispositions.
        >
        > Agreed we do not know for sure if we are acting freely or if our actions are fully determined in a non-personal way. But given the uncertainty, we still must act on a particular conception of the self. I think that the conception of myself as a free individual, responsible for my own actions, is the only conception which preserves any meaning to human existence.
        >
        > Jim
        >
      • Jim
        Mary, Thanks for your reply. I agree that reason and emotion are entangled in all of us. And I also agree that some of us agonize over important decisions
        Message 3 of 27 , Nov 2, 2010
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          Mary,

          Thanks for your reply.

          I agree that reason and emotion are entangled in all of us. And I also agree that some of us agonize over important decisions whilst others make their minds up straight away.

          I don't think emotion is necessarily opposed to reason. The ideal situation is when our emotions and our reason are in harmony – when we both want to do what we decide is the reasonable thing to do. That is when what the heart says is the same as what the head says.

          Irvin in the past has referred to Aristotle who talked about training ourselves to do the virtuous thing automatically. Rather like learning to drive a car, we practice so the correct actions which first require great effort later become automatic and second nature.

          Another example: Think of the angry young man who decides to accept the offer of a place on an anger-management course. He makes the conscious, free, decision to go on the course, and, as a result, his emotional responses are modified.

          Of course there are positive, beneficial emotions like love and sympathy and there are negative harmful emotions like aggression.

          I wouldn't say hate or anger were necessarily negative emotions, as sometimes hatred and anger are the appropriate emotions to have. If I see bullying or wanton cruelty, I ought to be angry about this, and perhaps it is appropriate to feel hatred towards the perpetrators.

          I agree it is only human to be preoccupied with others, especially as we all live inter-dependent lives.

          I have been reading and discussing certain eastern ideas recently, and these include the idea that it is good to step back a little and be less attached to other people and material things. I haven't made my mind up about this yet, but I do think that some quiet time away from others for calm reflection on our lives and our situations is a good thing.

          Jim
        • Mary
          Jim, What I admit to enjoying about philosophers, most recently Bohm and Zizek, is how they challenge the cliché and ordinary. Bohm thinks that thought is a
          Message 4 of 27 , Nov 3, 2010
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            Jim,

            What I admit to enjoying about philosophers, most recently Bohm and Zizek, is how they challenge the cliché and ordinary. Bohm thinks that thought is a complex system and as we develop throughout childhood, we actually adopt thoughts which bring pleasure, i.e. acceptance. He maintains that emotion and thinking are never separate, rather we experience a feedback loop. Zizek writes about hate as a form of love, an extraordinary response to systemic rather than overt acts of violence such as bullying. In this case, it seems one could hate someone, because we are so very hurt by their lack of insight, self-awareness, etc., and want much more from them. He applies this to a nation or socio-political system. It sounds off the track, but if you realize that by getting to the root of issues and being brutally honest, everyone is in the position of having to make important decisions, not just ourselves. To expect less than the best of people is condescending though seemingly tolerant. To settle for less is the kind of cowardice radical thinkers condemn. We live between all out conflict and total withdrawal, and compromise seems prudent, but I wonder if Zizek is right in believing nothing will change this way. Slow and easy, or fast and painful?

            Mary

            --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
            >
            > Mary,
            >
            > Thanks for your reply.
            >
            > I agree that reason and emotion are entangled in all of us. And I also agree that some of us agonize over important decisions whilst others make their minds up straight away.
            >
            > I don't think emotion is necessarily opposed to reason. The ideal situation is when our emotions and our reason are in harmony – when we both want to do what we decide is the reasonable thing to do. That is when what the heart says is the same as what the head says.
            >
            > Irvin in the past has referred to Aristotle who talked about training ourselves to do the virtuous thing automatically. Rather like learning to drive a car, we practice so the correct actions which first require great effort later become automatic and second nature.
            >
            > Another example: Think of the angry young man who decides to accept the offer of a place on an anger-management course. He makes the conscious, free, decision to go on the course, and, as a result, his emotional responses are modified.
            >
            > Of course there are positive, beneficial emotions like love and sympathy and there are negative harmful emotions like aggression.
            >
            > I wouldn't say hate or anger were necessarily negative emotions, as sometimes hatred and anger are the appropriate emotions to have. If I see bullying or wanton cruelty, I ought to be angry about this, and perhaps it is appropriate to feel hatred towards the perpetrators.
            >
            > I agree it is only human to be preoccupied with others, especially as we all live inter-dependent lives.
            >
            > I have been reading and discussing certain eastern ideas recently, and these include the idea that it is good to step back a little and be less attached to other people and material things. I haven't made my mind up about this yet, but I do think that some quiet time away from others for calm reflection on our lives and our situations is a good thing.
            >
            > Jim
            >
          • Jim
            Mary, I have been thinking for a few days how best to reply to this very interesting and thought-provoking post of yours. I think on the Slow and easy, or
            Message 5 of 27 , Nov 7, 2010
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              Mary,

              I have been thinking for a few days how best to reply to this very interesting and thought-provoking post of yours.

              I think on the "Slow and easy, or fast and painful?" question I tend towards the slow and easy option. However, I am keen to think further on the issues you have reported from Bohm and Zizek. I have obtained a copy of Zizek's "In Defense of Lost Causes" and I will start reading it shortly. I hope to return to these themes when I have reflected upon Zizek's arguments.

              Jim



              --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary" <josephson45r@...> wrote:
              >
              > Jim,
              >
              > What I admit to enjoying about philosophers, most recently Bohm and Zizek, is how they challenge the cliché and ordinary. Bohm thinks that thought is a complex system and as we develop throughout childhood, we actually adopt thoughts which bring pleasure, i.e. acceptance. He maintains that emotion and thinking are never separate, rather we experience a feedback loop. Zizek writes about hate as a form of love, an extraordinary response to systemic rather than overt acts of violence such as bullying. In this case, it seems one could hate someone, because we are so very hurt by their lack of insight, self-awareness, etc., and want much more from them. He applies this to a nation or socio-political system. It sounds off the track, but if you realize that by getting to the root of issues and being brutally honest, everyone is in the position of having to make important decisions, not just ourselves. To expect less than the best of people is condescending though seemingly tolerant. To settle for less is the kind of cowardice radical thinkers condemn. We live between all out conflict and total withdrawal, and compromise seems prudent, but I wonder if Zizek is right in believing nothing will change this way. Slow and easy, or fast and painful?
              >
              > Mary
              >
            • eupraxis@aol.com
              Jim, Would you like to do a coordinated reading of this text? Wil ... From: Jim To: existlist Sent: Sun,
              Message 6 of 27 , Nov 7, 2010
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                Jim,

                Would you like to do a coordinated reading of this text?

                Wil


                -----Original Message-----
                From: Jim <jjimstuart1@...>
                To: existlist <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Sun, Nov 7, 2010 7:05 am
                Subject: [existlist] Re: Belief belies disbelief





                Mary,

                I have been thinking for a few days how best to reply to this very interesting and thought-provoking post of yours.

                I think on the "Slow and easy, or fast and painful?" question I tend towards the slow and easy option. However, I am keen to think further on the issues you have reported from Bohm and Zizek. I have obtained a copy of Zizek's "In Defense of Lost Causes" and I will start reading it shortly. I hope to return to these themes when I have reflected upon Zizek's arguments.

                Jim

                --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary" <josephson45r@...> wrote:
                >
                > Jim,
                >
                > What I admit to enjoying about philosophers, most recently Bohm and Zizek, is how they challenge the cliché and ordinary. Bohm thinks that thought is a complex system and as we develop throughout childhood, we actually adopt thoughts which bring pleasure, i.e. acceptance. He maintains that emotion and thinking are never separate, rather we experience a feedback loop. Zizek writes about hate as a form of love, an extraordinary response to systemic rather than overt acts of violence such as bullying. In this case, it seems one could hate someone, because we are so very hurt by their lack of insight, self-awareness, etc., and want much more from them. He applies this to a nation or socio-political system. It sounds off the track, but if you realize that by getting to the root of issues and being brutally honest, everyone is in the position of having to make important decisions, not just ourselves. To expect less than the best of people is condescending though seemingly tolerant. To settle for less is the kind of cowardice radical thinkers condemn. We live between all out conflict and total withdrawal, and compromise seems prudent, but I wonder if Zizek is right in believing nothing will change this way. Slow and easy, or fast and painful?
                >
                > Mary
                >









                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Jim
                Wil, Yes, I would, but I am not ready to start just yet, as I first have to read Homo Sacer by Giorgio Agamben for a reading group here in Nottingham in
                Message 7 of 27 , Nov 7, 2010
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                  Wil,

                  Yes, I would, but I am not ready to start just yet, as I first have to read "Homo Sacer" by Giorgio Agamben for a reading group here in Nottingham in early December.

                  Is this a book you have read, or are interested in discussing?

                  Jim



                  --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eupraxis@... wrote:
                  >
                  > Jim,
                  >
                  > Would you like to do a coordinated reading of this text?
                  >
                  > Wil
                  >
                  >
                • eupraxis@aol.com
                  Jim, Yes, indeed. I have it around here somewhere, and I wouldn t mind reading that one alongside you again, either. Let me know when you begin. Wil ... From:
                  Message 8 of 27 , Nov 7, 2010
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                    Jim,

                    Yes, indeed. I have it around here somewhere, and I wouldn't mind reading that one alongside you again, either. Let me know when you begin.

                    Wil




                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: Jim <jjimstuart1@...>
                    To: existlist <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Sun, Nov 7, 2010 9:43 am
                    Subject: [existlist] Re: Belief belies disbelief





                    Wil,

                    Yes, I would, but I am not ready to start just yet, as I first have to read "Homo Sacer" by Giorgio Agamben for a reading group here in Nottingham in early December.

                    Is this a book you have read, or are interested in discussing?

                    Jim

                    --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eupraxis@... wrote:
                    >
                    > Jim,
                    >
                    > Would you like to do a coordinated reading of this text?
                    >
                    > Wil
                    >
                    >









                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Jim
                    Wil, That s great. I have just ordered it from Amazon, so I should be ready to start reading it when it arrives (probably in a few days time). Jim
                    Message 9 of 27 , Nov 7, 2010
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                      Wil,

                      That's great. I have just ordered it from Amazon, so I should be ready to start reading it when it arrives (probably in a few days time).

                      Jim



                      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eupraxis@... wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      > Jim,
                      >
                      > Yes, indeed. I have it around here somewhere, and I wouldn't mind reading that one alongside you again, either. Let me know when you begin.
                      >
                      > Wil
                      >
                      >
                      >
                    • fictiveparrot
                      ... I m curious. How do you propose to coordinate reading? my readings tend to be quite uncoordinated despite my encouragement and reasonable ability at
                      Message 10 of 27 , Nov 8, 2010
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                        > Would you like to do a coordinated reading of this text?

                        I'm curious. How do you propose to 'coordinate' reading? my readings tend to be quite uncoordinated despite my encouragement and reasonable ability at sport.

                        Knottwitt
                      • eupraxis@aol.com
                        K, Jim and I have done this sort of thing before. An ensuing number of pages is recommended, and then discussed in some detail. You are welcome to come along.
                        Message 11 of 27 , Nov 8, 2010
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                          K,

                          Jim and I have done this sort of thing before. An ensuing number of pages is recommended, and then discussed in some detail. You are welcome to come along. Giorgio Agamben; Homo Sacer, Sovereign Power and Bare Life Stanford, 1998).




                          Wil



                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: fictiveparrot <knott12@...>
                          To: existlist <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                          Sent: Mon, Nov 8, 2010 7:49 am
                          Subject: [existlist] Re: Belief belies





                          > Would you like to do a coordinated reading of this text?

                          I'm curious. How do you propose to 'coordinate' reading? my readings tend to be quite uncoordinated despite my encouragement and reasonable ability at sport.

                          Knottwitt









                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Mary
                          Thank you, Jim. I look forward to your comments, as well as Wil s. Mary
                          Message 12 of 27 , Nov 10, 2010
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                            Thank you, Jim. I look forward to your comments, as well as Wil's. Mary

                            --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > Mary,
                            >
                            > I have been thinking for a few days how best to reply to this very interesting and thought-provoking post of yours.
                            >
                            > I think on the "Slow and easy, or fast and painful?" question I tend towards the slow and easy option. However, I am keen to think further on the issues you have reported from Bohm and Zizek. I have obtained a copy of Zizek's "In Defense of Lost Causes" and I will start reading it shortly. I hope to return to these themes when I have reflected upon Zizek's arguments.
                            >
                            > Jim
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary" <josephson45r@> wrote:
                            > >
                            > > Jim,
                            > >
                            > > What I admit to enjoying about philosophers, most recently Bohm and Zizek, is how they challenge the cliché and ordinary. Bohm thinks that thought is a complex system and as we develop throughout childhood, we actually adopt thoughts which bring pleasure, i.e. acceptance. He maintains that emotion and thinking are never separate, rather we experience a feedback loop. Zizek writes about hate as a form of love, an extraordinary response to systemic rather than overt acts of violence such as bullying. In this case, it seems one could hate someone, because we are so very hurt by their lack of insight, self-awareness, etc., and want much more from them. He applies this to a nation or socio-political system. It sounds off the track, but if you realize that by getting to the root of issues and being brutally honest, everyone is in the position of having to make important decisions, not just ourselves. To expect less than the best of people is condescending though seemingly tolerant. To settle for less is the kind of cowardice radical thinkers condemn. We live between all out conflict and total withdrawal, and compromise seems prudent, but I wonder if Zizek is right in believing nothing will change this way. Slow and easy, or fast and painful?
                            > >
                            > > Mary
                            > >
                            >
                          • Jim
                            Wil and anyone else who is interested, I have just started reading Homo Sacer by Georgio Agamben. It seems to be a difficult book, but the topic strikes me
                            Message 13 of 27 , Nov 18, 2010
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                              Wil and anyone else who is interested,

                              I have just started reading "Homo Sacer" by Georgio Agamben.

                              It seems to be a difficult book, but the topic strikes me as important.

                              I'll try to write up something on the first chapter or so at the weekend.

                              It will be great if you do re-read it and can offer your usual astute comments.

                              Jim


                              --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eupraxis@... wrote:
                              >
                              >
                              > Jim,
                              >
                              > Yes, indeed. I have it around here somewhere, and I wouldn't mind reading that one alongside you again, either. Let me know when you begin.
                              >
                              > Wil
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > -----Original Message-----
                              > From: Jim <jjimstuart1@...>
                              > To: existlist <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                              > Sent: Sun, Nov 7, 2010 9:43 am
                              > Subject: [existlist] Re: Belief belies disbelief
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > Wil,
                              >
                              > Yes, I would, but I am not ready to start just yet, as I first have to read "Homo Sacer" by Giorgio Agamben for a reading group here in Nottingham in early December.
                              >
                              > Is this a book you have read, or are interested in discussing?
                              >
                              > Jim
                              >
                              > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eupraxis@ wrote:
                              > >
                              > > Jim,
                              > >
                              > > Would you like to do a coordinated reading of this text?
                              > >
                              > > Wil
                              > >
                              > >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              >
                            • eupraxis@aol.com
                              Jim, It is a quirky text, you re right. Yes, I will read along with you. How astute my comments may be is highly speculative, however. Best, Wil ... From: Jim
                              Message 14 of 27 , Nov 18, 2010
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                                Jim,

                                It is a quirky text, you're right. Yes, I will read along with you. How astute my comments may be is highly speculative, however.

                                Best,
                                Wil








                                -----Original Message-----
                                From: Jim <jjimstuart1@...>
                                To: existlist <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                                Sent: Thu, Nov 18, 2010 7:34 am
                                Subject: [existlist] "Homo Sacer" by Georgio Agamben





                                Wil and anyone else who is interested,

                                I have just started reading "Homo Sacer" by Georgio Agamben.

                                It seems to be a difficult book, but the topic strikes me as important.

                                I'll try to write up something on the first chapter or so at the weekend.

                                It will be great if you do re-read it and can offer your usual astute comments.

                                Jim

                                --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eupraxis@... wrote:
                                >
                                >
                                > Jim,
                                >
                                > Yes, indeed. I have it around here somewhere, and I wouldn't mind reading that one alongside you again, either. Let me know when you begin.
                                >
                                > Wil
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > -----Original Message-----
                                > From: Jim <jjimstuart1@...>
                                > To: existlist <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                                > Sent: Sun, Nov 7, 2010 9:43 am
                                > Subject: [existlist] Re: Belief belies disbelief
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > Wil,
                                >
                                > Yes, I would, but I am not ready to start just yet, as I first have to read "Homo Sacer" by Giorgio Agamben for a reading group here in Nottingham in early December.
                                >
                                > Is this a book you have read, or are interested in discussing?
                                >
                                > Jim
                                >
                                > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eupraxis@ wrote:
                                > >
                                > > Jim,
                                > >
                                > > Would you like to do a coordinated reading of this text?
                                > >
                                > > Wil
                                > >
                                > >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                >









                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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