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Re: [stoics] Philosophy and Religion

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  • Michel Daw
    Steve: Well played! I would add that as one progresses through the stages, one may carry part of that stage forwrd with them. For example, the use of ritual
    Message 1 of 136 , Apr 1, 2009

      Well played! I would add that as one progresses through the stages,
      one may carry part of that stage forwrd with them. For example, the
      use of ritual even in an aheists 'path' (Festivus?!?)

      My wife and I are both following similar paths through Stoicism. We
      are also attempting to build a set of 'traditions', celebrations and
      rituals grounded in a 21st century Stoicism. Thanks for providing us
      with a logical context in which to do so.



      "Fulfill the promise of your nature" - Epictetus.

      On 4/1/09, Steve Marquis <stevemarquis@...> wrote:
      > Keith writes:
      > ___________________
      > Oh dear. How on earth can I make a sensible reply to this. Goodness.
      > Goodness. Goodness.
      > Are you sure you don't mean to insult us with this nonsense? You really
      > think that a six-word definition adequately captures a full intellectual
      > grasp of what religion is? You cannot be serious. This is a wind-up, right?
      > I respectfully urged you to read some books on the philosophy of religion,
      > and you come back with SIX WORDS...
      > I give up, I really do...
      > ___________________
      > Keith, you are giving up way too easy :).
      > I happen to agree with dancingsiva (what is your first name anyway) on a
      > certain take of the word religion and I happen to agree with Keith on
      > another take, although I would use a different word.
      > For example, let’s look at this from Scott Peck’s four stages of spiritual
      > growth:
      > 1. Chaotic / antisocial
      > 2. Formal  / Institutional
      > 3. Skeptic / Individual
      > 4. Mystic / Communal
      > The religion siva’s comments describe is stage two, and, quite frankly, from
      > my personal experience both as a Seventh Day Adventist till my early 20s and
      > from having a philosophy discussion group in my apartment for several years
      > there are many, very many at stage 2.
      > So, if it is pure numbers we are talking about I would say that is a fair
      > definition.  Huston Smith makes this contrast between philosophical Taoism,
      > which we in the west are most familiar with, and religious Taoism which
      > serves some of the same social functions in that culture as our
      > institutionalized religion does over here.  And that demarcation might be
      > described as examined versus unexamined.
      > Now, what you are attempting to talk about is between 3. and 4. where the
      > rigorous honesty of a philosophical inquiry as been applied to spiritual
      > matters.  I would not call that a ‘religion’.  I would use the term
      > ‘spiritual’ although that word has its problems as well.  For those stuck at
      > 3. ‘spiritual’ has shallow new age connotations and a fuzzy touchy feely
      > ambiguity.  But what I mean by spiritual is somebody who has taken religious
      > matters to heart in a profound way.  And that means it is personal, not just
      > a matter of public ritual and social behavior.
      > I wouldn’t hesitate to reject everything at 2.  The only reason to be there
      > is to perform ritual as required by one’s social role duties.  That is where
      > the empty unexamined beliefs reside, although those there will swear up and
      > down that their belief structure is well examined (and kill you for
      > disagreeing).  Poppy cock.
      > While atheism can be as dogmatic as any other ‘religion’ and be stuck at 2.
      > I think most who are atheists are probably at 3.  Atheism is till not the
      > norm, and so it takes some courage to buck the traditional value system as
      > it were.  And that implies some motivation and perhaps some thought.
      > I would say that those who truly have applied a rigorous analysis to their
      > spiritual lives are few and far between.  And those will be past 3. headed
      > towards 4. and not really be too concerned about ritual or institutionalized
      > social religion. So, the conflict between yourself and siva as I see it is
      > in not engaging one another at the same level of meaning although you are
      > using the same word.
      > For those who are ‘militant’ atheists, not that siva or anyone else here is,
      > it may be next to impossible to try and get across reverence for the
      > divine.  This kind of profound connection with the rest of reality is at the
      > core of Stoic ethics IMO and provides an easier path and motivation to live
      > an ethical life.  So, again IMO, there is a pragmatic advantage to having
      > spiritual beliefs.  I happen to agree with Grant that it may not be too
      > critical what exactly those beliefs are as long as they motivate one to seek
      > further.
      > BTW Keith one of your recent posts has got me to think more about abstract
      > polytheism.  I consider myself a pantheist.  Literal interpretations of the
      > Abrahamic narratives have run their course.  It is naïve to think ethical
      > monotheism is the culmination of religious belief.  Scientific empirical
      > inquiry is just a juggernaut that people still refuse to face the
      > implications of.  It might be better to rekindle the dialectic between
      > religion and science rather than continue to see the two as oppositional.
      > And some of the spiritual views that came about prior to ethical monotheism
      > might be better suited for such a dialogue.  This division is more acute in
      > the west.  In the east it is not so clear cut and is why I continue to use
      > Huston Smith’s ‘Wisdom Tradition’ as a label rather than religion or
      > philosophy.  And I believe Stoicism surely qualifies for that label for it
      > has a mixture of both that seems insidiously difficult to distill even
      > with the best of centrifuges.
      > Live well,
      > Steve
    • Steve Marquis
      Amos, I agree.  But you have said sometimes .  I don t believe that to be the case for the people in question here.  I have great respect for both Ds and
      Message 136 of 136 , May 2, 2009

        I agree.  But you have said 'sometimes'.  I don't believe that to be the case for the people in question here.  I have great respect for both Ds and Ks intellectual integrity and don't believe either would be overly concerned about stating a change in view.  The same goes for most of the regular contributors to the list.  If our sample was the general population I think your 'sometimes' would include a larger percentage.


        Live well,

        From: Amos <vivepablo@...>
        To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Saturday, May 2, 2009 8:32:46 AM
        Subject: Dogma of Default Position...Re: [stoics] Re: Philosophy and Religion

        Steve:  Sometimes people change their beliefs,  but don't acknowledge that change publicly,  because perhaps family members all have said beliefs and to state the contrary publicly would seem like a betrayal of one's family or one's long-time friends.  Sometimes people don't acknowledge publicly that they have changed beliefs out of pride,  because they don't want to acknowledge publicly that they were wrong,  even though they know that they were wrong.  Amos

        --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, Steve Marquis <stevemarquis@...> wrote:
        > Amos writes:
        > _________________
        > Let's say that I believe p because I learned p as a child.  However, with the years, experience shows me that not p.  Still, I insist that p, although unconsciously, I begin to suspect that not p.  Then I see a proof of not p or I read a book that shows not p.    My unconscious belief that not p is then validated by the proof of not p or by the book, and my unconscious belief in not p replaces my conscious belief in p, becoming fully conscious. 
        > _________________
        > Oh I fully agree.  In fact this is how I think these things work most of the time.  However, Daniel was talking about a conscious process only from what I gather, of
        evaluating carefully and choosing amongst competing claims based on evidence and argument.  Sounds good, but in that model choices are made in isolation without consideration of our unconscious, subconscious, the web of interlaced beliefs internally or facts externally, or anything else except what is under evaluation.  If this model were true we could very easily choose the right thing to do in any instant just by knowing what the right thing is.  Also we would never have debilitating addictions.  But knowledge is not enough.  We need will to overcome our disposition momentarily and it is only repetition over time that creates a new disposition more in tune with how consciously we think we ought to be.
        > Your example has repetition over time, ie your ‘experience shows with the years’.  Daniel was leaving it entirely up to a one time acute exposure to a particular argument,
        claiming that if the argument was valid and sound it would change his life.
        > I’ve been a member of this forum more or less for 10 years, maybe a bit more.  I have yet to see once, from someone’s posting, a testimony of a radical shift in the poster’s political or religious paradigm.  The requirement that a single argument be good enough to accomplish this amazing feat from a one time exposure, given sufficient evaluation of course, is an unreasonable expectation of any argument ever no matter how true the content is or how good the rhetorician is.  It is not a valid criticism of any position.
        > Our disposition has inertia like a supertanker.  Consider BF Skinner's Behaviorism.  Radically turning the wheel at the last instant (a single conscious choice in the moment that opposes one’s general disposition) will not avoid running aground. 
        It is many small course corrections over time way before we are near the shoals that does the trick.
        > I doubt the CA can be shown to be this conclusive anyway, at least without more evaluation on my part, or shown with certainty to be false either.  That argument, one way or the other, could form part of a person’s carefully considered web of belief without being certain.  I cannot ‘prove’ with certainty the sun will shine tomorrow, but it most assuredly is part of my web of belief.  Of more concern would be a radically inconsistent internal web of belief and I doubt that is the case with either Daniel or Keith.  For Daniel to accept the CA would be contrary to his web of belief which is why I don’t think that single argument, however good it might be, would easily be accepted by him as he claims.
        > Live well,


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