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  1. #1
    Doesn't Read Your Posts Haight's Avatar
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    Default Formal Debate: Number 1

    Formal Debate: Number One.

    First of all, this will be a debate between BlueWing and Owl, only. Anyone that posts in this thread beyond the before mentioned will be banned from the thread and will also receive an angry PM from me.

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    Debate Topic:
    This is a discussion on the topic of to what extent religious faith ought to be incorporated into one's lifestyle.

    The deciding criteria regarding this question is as follows. The end of all human activity is acquisition of long term happiness. Therefore religious faith is to be accepted if and only if it conduces to long term happiness.

    Bluewing argues that no religious faith is a necessary part of a lifestyle most conducive to long term happiness. Owl argues that some degree of religious faith is necessary.

    In order to properly evaluate the matter at hand, faith will be evaluated as a philosophical, psychological and sociological phenomenon. The first corresponds with the answer to the question of 'what is faith' or shows what faith is as a philosophical concept. The second, the psychological, shall show how such an idea impacts the individual's mindset. And third, the sociological examines how the individual's endorsement of faith (or lack thereof) impacts others or society as a whole.

    BlueWing shall argue having no faith is a philosophically justified position (corresponds with the facts), and entail benevolent consequences for the individual (psychological) and for society as a whole (sociological). Owl shall argue that some degree of faith is desirable, therefore he may argue that it is a philosophically tenable position (either corresponds with the facts, or has potential to be true), he may also argue that it leads to benevolent consequence for the society or the individual. Or he may elect a different method regarding the defense of his thesis that it is desirable for the individual to incorporate a certain degree of faith into his lifestyle. Or he may impugn the axiom that the most desirable action is one that conduces to happiness the most. In this case his argument will likely be irrelevant to the set of ideas described above.

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    The purpose of this discussion is to inspire us to think as clearly, deeply and rigorously about this subject and other subjects that overlap with this one. Therefore the two participants shall work as a team to reach such an objective. For this reason, viewing this debate as a competitive sport is discouraged, because such an attitude distracts one from seeking the truth and inspires one to focus on what may lead one to be viewed as the winner of the event by the judges that be.

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    This event will be comprised of 4 sessions of exchanges. In each session each participant will write a statement of a minimum 1000 words and a maximum of 2500.

    The first exchange shall introduce the subject. The 2nd and the third will seek to explore the matter as thoroughly as possible, and the 4th session will be concerned with a summary of the events that have occurred and concluding remarks.

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    Only BlueWing and Owl are allowed to post in this thread until the debate has been formally concluded. Such a formal conclusion will be explicit in the 4th and last post of each participant.
    "The only time I'm wrong is when I'm questioning myself."
    Haight

  2. #2
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Axiom: Happiness is the end to all human activity.

    Proposition: An activity that conduces to happiness is desirable and an activity that does not conduce to happiness is undesirable.

    Religion: A worldview must have the following 4 qualities to be considered religious.

    1)Propound at least certain tenets and axioms of the worldview as incontrovertible.
    2)Propound a system of ethics.
    3)Provide basic explanations for how the world works.
    4)Inquire into matters of eschatology.

    I have listed these four characteristics in the order of significance. Thus, number one is the most important, and number 4 is the least important. This definition is purely descriptive and not prescriptive. In other words, it attempts to describe the most known worldviews that we regard as religious. For example, Islam, Marxism, Christianity and Judaism.

    Accordingly, the most notable feature of these creeds is acceptance of an authority. Nobody dares to question that the Torah, the Bible, the Koran or the Das Kapital is the source of wisdom for all of us to endorse.

    Secondly, these creeds are deeply concerned with how people must behave. Consider the many stories in the Old Testament, the parables of Jesus, and many miscellaneous writings in the Bible seek to teach us a moral lesson.

    Such writings are by far the most notable in scripture. Explanations for metaphysical matters, for example, if the world is round or flat, if it is physical or mental, or if the sun goes around the earth or vice versa have not been explored nearly as thoroughly as the ethical questions.

    Thus, for this reason this feature of religiosity is much less notable than the ethical.

    Lastly, eschatological is the least notable matter, as there we find no more but vague and crude aphoristical and allegorical descriptions of the afterlife. It is never clear how they are to be interpreted.

    Marxism for example, has very little to say about eschatology, in fact no more than there is no God or life after death. However marxism is concerned with metaphysics, as it propounds dialectical materialism and a number of reasons for believing in materialism. It propounds an ethical system concerning the utility of altruism and it certainly propounds many tenets as incontrovertible.

    For this reason we can comfortably call it a religion.

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    Faith: An individual's acceptance of a religious worldview.

    Thus, a man of faith is one who believes in a worldview that is in essence a set of dictates about eschatology, ethics and metaphysics.

    I argue that this does not conduce to long term happiness.

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    Happiness: A prolonged positive emotional state. Thus a happy man is one who is in a positive emotive state consistently.

    In order to properly investigate this matter, we must ask what conduces to long term happiness.

    We know that all people have an internal psychological requirement that needs to be fulfilled in order for them to be happy. For example, some things that we observe evoke a positive emotional reaction in us, others evoke a negative emotive reaction in us. In order to be happy we need to have as strong of positive emotions in us as possible, as often as possible, as that is the definition of happiness itself.

    In order for one to be happy one needs to understand what makes him happy and make plans accordingly to arrive at such a state of mind. It is obvious that both intrinsic and extrinsic factors need to be considered in this endeavor. In other words, a man must attain an internal state of mind that conduces to his happiness the most. However, this process cannot be entirely internal as he will inevitably be forced to interact with the external world. Therefore the requirements for his happiness must be possible to be fulfilled in the external environment he resides in.

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    This leads us to a demarcation between an individual's internal ethic and his relation to society.

    Fundamental proposition concerning this ethical inquiry: Ethics should be treated from two perspectives. Individual's quest for happiness and individual's obligation to society.

    The latter aspect is necessary in order to provide an adequate external environment for the individual to pursue happiness. As Thomas Hobbes famously states in the Leviathan, life without a government is 'nasty, brutish and short'.

    This means that an individual must make an effort to make his external environment a place where he and other individuals may pursue happiness on their own endeavor.

    Thus, at first I shall argue that religion is psychologically undesirable, or does not constitute to the fulfillment of the individual's internal requirements for happiness and is also sociologically undesirable. I shall argue that religion does not conduce to an establishment of a society that is most likely to allow the individuals an adequate environment to pursue their private attempts at acquisition of happiness.

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    Psychological requirements: An individual must have an internal state of mind which generates positive emotion consistently in order to be considered happy.

    Sociological requirement: A society must be conducive to an environment where such endeavors could be pursued.

    Religious leaders would argue that they know what is best for each individual and therefore shall insist that if the individual follows their commands he will arrive at happiness. They maintain that one size fits all, in other words, the Bible is the word of God and God loves all people. God could do no wrong, therefore listening to God will make all people happy. This is the answer that religions will provide regarding the psychological requirement for happiness.

    As for the sociological requirement, God also knows what kind of an environment is most conducive to our long term happiness and we must set up the society exactly in a way the book of dogma instructs us. For example, the Holy Koran tells how the publis should be punished for theft, fornication or murder. Or for example, how men and women must behave at a flee market. How the governments and their respective citizens must address economical and political issues such as taxes. Thus the book of dogma instructs the person not only how he should think and feel (psychological) but also how he and his counterparts should establish and operate their society (sociological).

    The argument the religions give in favor of such a proposition is simple. Whatever God says conduces to our long term happiness. Because God gave us such psychological and sociological instructions we must embrace them.

    If we were to accept the premise that all things that God tells us conduce to our happiness, this argument would be sound. However, what we do not know is if whether or not God has issued such orders. And we do not know if God exists, and if he does exist, we do not know if he is benevolent and all knowing. Bottom line is the idea of God is very fuzzy in itself, therefore we have no reliable knowledge of what God is, or any idea that is said to have been directly derived from God.

    Therefore we must assess the results we have received based strictly on the merits they have. The proposition that God has vouched for them is irrelevant.

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    Fundamental Fact of Human Nature: All individuals have a set of internal psychological requirements for acquisition of happiness.

    We know that individuals come in different kinds, as obviously some people have different internal psychological and physical predispositions from others. As Jungian typology for example seems to have convinced us of this. It is also the case that our external environments force us to adapt to them. For example, Elephants who live in Africa have different physical qualities from those who live in India. The same goes for people. People across the globe are different from each other because they had different internal predispositions and because they resided in different environments they have developed a set of different qualities.

    For this reason, one very narrow code of ethics concerning how one should think or feel cannot apply to all people. Even if we interpret the Bible from a liberal standpoint and as a result acquire a very general list of things the individual must accomplish in order to become happy, the extraordinary impoverishment of such a list would be unmistakable. There are simply too many varying internal predispositions and external circumstances in the world to be listed in one work of ethics such as the Bible.

    For this reason, no external instructions could shed light on what the individual must do in order to become happy. Inevitably he must do his own thinking in order to discover the essence of his internal circumstances and his external environment. Religion prevents him from doing this and therefore is anathema to man's pursuit of fullfillment of the psychological requirements for happiness.

    As it has been established, because no instructions could be provided by an external source regarding what the individual must do in order to become happy, the only way he could acquire such knowledge is by doing his own thinking. Religion directly prevents this from happening.

    Sociological factor: Because we know that an individual must discover his own path to happiness only on his own endeavor, it is useless to attempt to concoct a set of ethical regulations that will lead the individual to virtue. In other words, societal regulations cannot instill qualities within the individual that conduce to his happiness. For this reason, societal regulations must do no more than provide the liberty for the individual to pursue happiness on his own endeavor. Thus, what is necessary is a peaceful environment where virtue could be pursued by each individual.

    This, religions fail to do as they impose a set of regulations that the individual is obligated to abide by because they subscribe to the mistaken notion that virtue could be instilled within the individual from the outside. Secondly because religions discourage people from thinking rationally, people become hostile to views that disagree with those of their own. This is the case because religion constitutes their entire worldview, in often cases their entire modus operandi (consider the case of the Holy Koran instructing Muslims regarding what side of the bed they should sleep on and how they should eat a meal). Their only reason for believing in the holy Book is the arbitrary dictate that which they have no right to question. When this is questioned, they feel their entire worldview and modus operandi is undermined, therefore they become hostile. Many religious people believe that God has instructed them to behave in one particular fashion. Very often they clash with other religious people who also believe that God has instructed them to behave in a particular fashion. The instructions both parties have received are different. For this reason both parties feel challenged and become hostile for the aforementioned reason. Violence is an inevitable outcome of such a situation. Religious wars and attrocities have been common and notable. Thus for this reason religion does not conduce to a peaceful environment and therefore fails to fulfill the sociological requirement for the acquisition of happiness.

    This shows the explicit ways in which religion has failed to conduce to an orderly society. Because religion insists on supression of our critical faculties and non-critical acceptance of the word of authority, political leaders are placed in the position of great power. If their actions cannot be critically analyzed and quite simply noone knows what they are doing and what they should be doing, there are very few limitations on what the political leader can do.

    Roman Catholic Ultramontanism is the case in point. Bottom line is uncritical acceptance of religious doctrines inspires the individual to also uncritically accept many other things and among them are the commands of political leaders. This places the political leader in a position of great temptation to abuse power or simply do whatever he wants to do. Most political leaders will succumb to this temptation and in effect abuse power.

    "Saint Cyril, the advocate of unity, was a man of fanatical zeal. He used his position as patriarch to incite pogroms of the very large Jewish colony in Alexandria. His chief claim to fame is the lynching of Hypatia, a distinguished lady who, in an age of bigotry, adhered to the Neoplatonic philosophy and devoted her talents to mathematics. She was "torn from her chariot, stripped naked, dragged to the church, and inhumanly butchered by the hands of the Peter the Reader and a troop of savage and merciless fanatics: her flesh was scraped from her bones with sharp oyster-shells and her quivering limbs were delivered to the flames." History of Western Philosophy, P.368. Bertrand Russell.

    Secondly, in order for us to create regulations which will enable us to have a peaceful society, inquiry into human nature, sociology and political philosophy must be embarked on. This is necessary because in order to create an environment where people could relate to each other in a non-imposing fashion, we need to understand how they tend to think and how they tend to interact with their external environment. This clearly requires for us to exercise our intellectual faculties, as simply because we must discover ideas on such matters. Because religion strives to humble our intellectual faculties, it retards such a process. Thus not only does it directly interfere with our attempts to create a peaceful society in the ways that have been earlier described in this post, but also robs the society of the potential to do so by discouraging people from thinking.

    Thus because religion does not conduce to the individual's internal psychological well being directly(showing him how he ought to think) as well as fails to do so indirectly (providing an external environment where he has the most opportunities to ameliorate his internal state of mind) it should be rejected completely.

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    Thus in summary, an action's moral worth is determined by whether or not it conduces to our long term happiness.

    Religion is defined as a set of dictates about metaphysics, eschatology and ethics.

    Pursuit of happiness has two notable aspects, the psychological and the sociological. The former is concerned with acquiring a positive internal emotive state within the individual and sociological is concerned with finding the right environment in order for this endeavor to be pursued.

    Religion does not conduce to the fulfillment of the psychological conditions because it prevents the individual from freely exploring ideas which is necessary for the individual to do if he is to discover his true psychological requirements and concoct strategies regarding how they could be met.

    Religion does not conduce to the fulfillment of the sociological conditions regarding the acquisition of happiness because it is highly seditious and therefore leads to a disorderly, tumultous environment where few could reside in peace. Because religion also precludes the individual from thinking for himself, it prevents the society from exploring ideas freely to the end of discovering a way to make society an orderly and a peaceful place.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  3. #3
    desert pelican Owl's Avatar
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    I'd like apologize again for the tardiness of this post, especially to BW. I'd also like to note that much of the content below has been taken from Surrendra Gangadean's book Philosophical Foundation, and from his class notes--his influence is obvious.

    In the popular imagination, there exists today an irreconcilable dichotomy between faith and reason: were there any truths of faith, unaided human reason couldnt arrive at them. For who today hasnt met a believer of this or that faith who believes his faith neednt be supported by rational justification, or even that the existence of rational justification would nullify his faith? Who has met a religious person who believes his faith requires rational justification? Moreover, its said the truths of faith may even be at odds with the truths of reason. Credo quia absurdum: I believe because it is absurd, a phrase commonly attributed to Tertullian (ca. 200 A.D.), was recently echoed by Kierkegaards knight of Faith who gains everything by his belief in, and by virtue of, the absurd. Most people of faith today agree with the faithless that some form of this dichotomy exists, and there are giants in the history of religious philosophy who worked hard to establish this dichotomy, and many of these giants were people of faith. (Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Plantiga, etc.)

    To what extent ought one to incorporate the conception of religious faith above into his life? I answer: not at all, and all who do ought to be challenged or ignored. I think I can safely let BW provide reasons why this isshould he be so inclined.

    If religious faith isnt the blind fideism so popular today, then what is religious faith? Seeing that the term faith in this context was generated by the Latin Vulgate, beginning the inquiry into the philosophical nature of faith with the biblical, Christian definition of faith would be apt.

    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1, KJV)1.

    Hope is concerned with the future, and we dont see the future. Faith is the substance of hope, and substance, (from the Greek hupostasis), is the invisible substrata in which visible qualities inhere. As the existence of substance makes it possible to see that which is visible, so the existence of faith makes it possible to see that which is invisible. This isnt a seeing of the physical eye; its a seeing with the minds eye, and the mind sees through understanding, and the mind understands through the use of reason.

    Faith, as opposed to skepticism, assumes understanding is possible. Believing that its possible to understand something, believing something is clear to reason, is an act of faith, for its possible to deny that something is clear. However, the consequences of this denial are radical. If nothing were clear, then the distinctions between good and evil, existence and non-existence, true and false, a and non-a, wouldnt be clear, and one would end in nihilismthe loss of all meaningand intelligible thought would be impossible, but to doubt that we are thinking is self-referentially absurd.

    Humans as rational beings have the capacity for meaning, and humans use reason critically as a test for meaning2. Wherever reason is violated, there is no meaning, and wherever there is meaning, reason is being used. Meaning is more basic than truth: one must first understand what a statement means before he may know if it is true, and a meaningless statement cannot be true.

    What has faith to do with reason? Does not truth presuppose meaning? Can a belief be held more than understanding of its meaning content? If not, then faith is understanding, and I believe in so far as I understand (credo inquantum intelligo). Faith is as inseparable from reason as truth is inseparable from meaning (Gangadean, Phil. Found. pg 26).

    From the OP: The deciding criteria regarding this question is as follows. The end of all human activity is acquisition of long term happiness. Therefore religious faith is to be accepted if and only if it conduces to long term happiness. I would amend this statement slightly. The end of all human action is directing toward obtaining what is believed to be good so that we may be happy.

    Everyone desires happiness. But what is happiness? Happiness is the effect of possessing what is believed to be good. Happiness is not an object such that it may be sought directly. Neither is it the case that one may simply will himself into a state of happiness. Work must be done in order to create, acquire, and keep good things.

    How does one come to possess that which is good? If someone were to believe he could find happiness in a plastic bag, then he would work toward obtaining what is stashed in plastic bags. When the stash runs out, the stash must be replenished in order to remain happy. Replenishing a stash requires knowing many different things. A location where plastic bags may be found must be known, and knowing how to get to this location is required. There is usually a person that must be dealt with, and so an effective way of dealing with this person must be known also. Failure to know any of the above will result in the inability to acquire a plastic bag.

    From this example two things become clear. First, that a specific type of knowledge is required in order to possess what is believed to be good. Second, that the concept of happiness may be qualified in terms of its duration. A distinction may be drawn between happiness and lasting happiness. A person is happy only so long as he possesses what is believed to be good. If that good perishes, then so will his happiness. It is natural to want lasting happiness, but to obtain lasting happiness requires knowing of an inexhaustible, imperishable, inalienable good.

    There is a sense in which there are many goods. Goods are hierarchical. The value of each good is determined by how well it helps obtain higher goods. Having a job, owning a house, and having a family are some things many consider good, and these can be a source of happiness; however, why should a job, a house, or a family be considered good? When someone lands a good job, is the resulting happiness a product of merely being employed, or was the job judged to be good because it was a means to some other end? Chances are that the job is good because it provides the house, feeds the family, etc. This implies that there is one highest good, something that is sought as an end in itself and not as a means to something else.

    Let me momentarily anthropomorphize Army Ants. The continued existence of their colony makes these ants happy, but without food the colony will die. Now, the colony has received a report that food is on the opposite bank of a stream. For the greater good of the colony, one after another, each of the leading ants sacrifices its life and body by interlocking themselves in a death-grip forming a dead-ant bridge. One of three things may happen. One, they cross the stream and find food. Two, they cross the stream and there is no food. Three, the stream is infinitely wide. Only in the first case is happiness achieved. In the second, there is no good. In the third, because the highest good cannot be obtained, the sacrifices of each ant go from being good to futile.

    A man who knows what is good and how to obtain that which is good is said to be wise. It is hoped that, at this point, its clear how faith as understanding helps one to become wise. A man of faith uses reason at the basic level to critically test his beliefs for meaning. Love for the good, for what is of highest value, engenders love of wisdom by which we come to posses the good. The good is spoken of as lifemeaningful life that is both lasting and full. The corollary of this love of life is fear of meaningless existence, which is death. This fear leads us to seek diligently to understand, and is the beginning of wisdom. Love of the good brings us into the fullness of that wisdom (Gangadean Phil. Found. pg. 6)

    If one wants to avoid believing nonsense and lies, and acting upon nonsensical or false beliefs, then he ought to use reason to critically examine his beliefs. Granted, a person may hold a nonsensical or false belief, such as the belief that square-circles exist, with little ill-effect3, but holding false beliefs becomes a critical mistake when it comes to basic beliefs about metaphysics and ethics; false beliefs can kill you4. For example, anyone who believes that martyrs who kill infidels in suicide attacks will be rewarded with a ticket to paradise, (and 72 virgins when they get there), is likely to do things like blow themselves up in public places. However, if the aforementioned worldview is meaningless or false, then suicide bombers have made some critical errors in belief formation. If it can be known that the Christian God exists, then suicide bombers have blundered badly. Minimally, it would behoove a person to use reason to test his beliefs for meaning in order to avoid blowing himself up for no reason. Maximally, one ought to use reason critically to discover what is good so he may work to create and to sustain that which is good in his lifeand so obtain happiness.

    Faith as understanding is the source of unity in a person. We naturally have a desire not to be divided against ourselves, to build up with one hand while we tear down with the other. Understanding leads to integrity; critical thought leads us to develop a rationally consistent worldview whence our actions arise and are coordinated so as not to be self-defeating. Faith is also the source of unity between two persons and between groups of persons. A shared, common understanding enables persons to work together as friends toward a common goal, seeking the good for and with the other in love, developing each other's talents in order to increase the richness of life, seeking the good for all in order to remove oppression and injustice, to build a city with foundations, and by its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by dayand there will be no night there.



    1. Of course, this passage needs to be interpreted, and there are some who interpret it in a fideistic way. I havent the space to argue exhaustively why my interpretation is correct, but its hoped the reader will see my interpretation is at least consistent with the passage.

    2. How does reason provide meaning? Consider the square-circle. A square-circle would be a four sided equilateral figure all points of which are equidistant from some central point. The original definitions of square and circle, what they mean, may be understood individually; however, when the concepts are combined they contradict one another. One must significantly alter the definition of either square or circle in order to rationally believe that a square-circle could exist, because the truth of one predication will preclude the truth of the other; thus, the concept of a square-circle would be drained of its meaning. The only other option is to abandon reason, deny the law of non-contradiction, and believe nonsense.

    3. At the most basic levels, an irrational belief will result in total meaninglessness in life, and this is not of little ill-effect. Meaninglessness leads to boredom, and the attempt to avoid boredom apart from meaning leads to excessive, harmful behavior; e.g., drug abuse and suicide.

    4. It is important to note that it is not self-evident that physical death is bad or evil. Even this belief is subject to critical examination.

  4. #4
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    First, I wish to summarize your argument.

    1)Faith is defined as an acceptance of a belief. Therefore by definition it contrasts with skepticism.
    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    Faith, as opposed to skepticism, assumes understanding is possible.]
    2)An action that conduces to happiness is one that is to be elected, and such an action must be a very specific one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    The end of all human action is directing toward obtaining what is believed to be good so that we may be happy.
    3) Clear of thinking is a prerequisite for meaning in life, which could be used interchangeably with happiness. It is important to be rational.


    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    If nothing were clear, then the distinctions between good and evil, existence and non-existence, true and false, a and non-a, wouldnt be clear, and one would end in nihilismthe loss of all meaningand intelligible thought would be impossible, but to doubt that we are thinking is self-referentially absurd.Wherever reason is violated, there is no meaning, and wherever there is meaning, reason is being used.
    4)We all wish to be happy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    Everyone desires happiness.
    . In point 1 we have established that faith is an act of acceptance of a belief. In point 2 we have established that an action that most conduces to our happiness is one to be elected. Therefore a wise man is one who knows what action conduces to his happiness.
    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    A man who knows what is good and how to obtain that which is good is said to be wise..
    . A wise man is a man of faith because he believes in the action that shall make him happy.

    Shorter summary: In order to be happy one must be rational because only through rational thinking one can know what one needs to do in order to acquire happiness. Faith is an indisespensable element of rationality because it is not possible to know anything without forming a belief.

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

    I agree with the above. However, an important question to ask is, how must beliefs be formed, or under what circumstances should something be believed?

    To reiterate our working definition of faith, it is merely an acceptance of belief. This is clearly desirable for reasons mentioned above. The question is under what circumstances do we wish to have faith.

    You state that what I call religious faith is undesirable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    To what extent ought one to incorporate the conception of religious faith above into his life? I answer: not at all, and all who do ought to be challenged or ignored. I think I can safely let BW provide reasons why this isshould he be so inclined.
    In other words, we should not believe in the following worldview. One that is simply a set of dictates about ethics, metaphysics and eschatology.

    However, later you proceed to clarify what Christian faith is, or a belief in something that is 'Christian'. It is not clear what 'Christian' is at this point however.


    [QUOTE=Owl;390025]If religious faith isnt the blind fideism so popular today, then what is religious faith? Seeing that the term faith in this context was generated by the Latin Vulgate, beginning the inquiry into the philosophical nature of faith with the biblical, Christian definition of faith would be apt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1, KJV)1.
    Thus, Christian faith is the act of hoping. This is inconsistent with the earlier statement that faith is merely an act of acceptance of a belief. Yet here the definition of faith is different, not a belief but hope.

    Intermediate notes:

    Definitions,

    Faith 1: Acceptance of a belief.

    Faith 2: Acceptance of hope.

    Christian: A set of teachings derived from the Bible.

    Christian faith: A belief in the set of teachings derived from the Bible.

    The only plausible way that I see to reconcile the two propositions is to state that Faith 2 is acceptance of a proposition that there is something to hope for.

    We now go back to our earlier question, under what circumstances do we wish to believe anything?

    If we were to say it is paramount that we believe there is hope, or believe under all circumstances in the statement that there is something to hope for in the future, we will have answered that question as follows.

    Position 1:We must accept Faith 2 completely uncritically.

    Is this the position you endorse?



    If so, this position is inconsistent with your earlier claim that religious faith should not be incorporated into one's lifestyle at all. This is the case because such a teaching derives directly from the Bible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1, KJV)1.
    And we accept it uncritically. Therefore we accept an ethical teaching as a dictate, or as incontrovertible. Religion is a set of dictates about ethics, metaphysics and eschatology. Because you accept a set of teachings about ethics, it is the case that to some degree religious faith (or a belief in religion) is incorporated into your lifestyle.

    One may take a different approach to the problem and argue that it is rational to uncritically believe in the proposition that there will be something to hope for in the future. A plausible example one's mind may conjure in favor of such a scenario is if attaining a state of mind where one always believes that there will be something to hope for shall make him happy in metamorphosis-like fashion.

    In this regard it would not be a belief in a dictate about ethics, as the reason for accepting the proposition is because it in itself conduces to man's long term happiness.

    Thus, we have two conflicting points of view in this case. One, where we accept the proposition that we should believe in the proposition that in the future there will be somethign to hope for completely uncritically. And in the other, where we specify that we should accept such a proposition only under certain circumstances. Such circumstances are outlined above.

    Thus, once more, our question is, under what circumstances do we want faith or acceptance of belief. In this case we are asking under what circumstances we want to have a belief in the proposition that there will be something to hope for.

    I argue that Faith 2 is undesirable because a consistent belief that there will be something to hope for is accepted uncritically in the end. (Despite that we have arrived at such a position through critical analysis, in the end reason is silenced).

    Because reason is silenced, we are unable to question this aspect of our life, and quite simply arrive at gratuitous optimism. Even worse, if in this case we allow ourselves to accept a proposition uncritically, we may condition ourselves to do so in the future, and this will prevent us from knowing the actions that we need to take in order to become happy.

    Earlier you have stated that reason is what allows us to know what leads to our happiness. Therefore we should value reason above all else, as otherwise we do not have a reliable path to happiness. Without a firm grasp over reason we would be like the tourists who are lost within a dark cave without a flashlight attempting to find a small treasure chest. (The small treasure chest represents the action that we need to take in order to arrive at happiness).

    Activities that do hamper reason or could potentially hamper reason are undesirable. Because faith 2 does do so, it is undesirable.

    What is desirable is for us to sharpen our intellect to the maximal degree. In order to do so, we must ensure that we do everything that is possible to avoid uncritical acceptance of propositions. At this point I have a vague answer to the question that has been salient up to this point, or under what circumstances we want to have faith or a belief in a proposition. Quite simply, at the point where as little uncritical acceptance is required in order to form a belief. As W.K Clifford states in his famous essay, 'It is always wrong for anyone to believe in anything without sufficient evidence."

    The Ethics of Belief

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

    Now, we must ask what sufficient evidence is. It is inevitable that at least some of the time we will accept propositions uncritically, and that was a point William James wished to stress in the Ethics of Belief. However, it is desirable that the acceptance of uncritical beliefs be infrequent rather than frequent, as one could not imagine strengthening one's faculties of critical reasoning when one often accepts propositions uncritically.

    For this reason we reject religious faith and Faith 2.

    Intermediate summary:

    Axiom : What is most desirable is a set of actions that most conduces to greatest emendation of the intellect possible.

    Proposition: Uncritical acceptance of a proposition is desirable if and only if doing so conduces to the emendation of the intellect.

    One may imagine that a person who accepts no proposition uncritically shall confront the dilemma of a radical skeptic. One who has no beliefs because he took no risks. As William James famously ridiculed Clifford as the general who orders his troops to seize the enemy camp without risking to incur a single bruise or scratch. Inevitably leaps of Intuition will be taken and in order to do so, some degree of non-critical faith is necessary.

    To rectify this problem, we must draw a distinction between knowledge and conjecture. Knowledge is what we can support with a valid argument that we know to be likely to be founded on premises that could be observed by virtue of our experiences, yet conjecture is a mere leap in imagination. Such an outing is obviously inevitable, as even the most disciplined of minds can ensure that their imagination only makes the moves that were consciously prescribed by them, and secondly, such leaps of imagination are desirable because without them it would not be possible for us to collect the sufficient information in order to discover truths about life through logical analysis.

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

    We should never believe in a proposition completely under no circumstances, as has been famously established in Karl Popper's fallibilism, as because we do not have all the possible information, we cannot guarantee that our current notion of what the truth is corresponds with the facts. However, through rational thinking we can acquire very reliable knowledge. Notions that we cannot support with logical argument that is founded on observable premises is to be regarded as conjecture. That means we should act on ideas we regard as conjecture only after we have made an effort to support our views with an argument, but were forced to concede that we were unable to do so.

    Knowledge: A proposition that we have reasons to believe to correspond with the facts because it has been derived by virtue of a logically valid argument and the premises of such an argument are founded on phenomena that could be observed.

    Conjecture: A mere experiment in thought or imagination. Same standards apply to this as to Knowledge, however, significantly lower. Thus the argument need not be valid, but only potentially valid, and the premises need not be evinced to have been observable, but only potentially observable.

    We should never stop searching for what we regard as knowledge for two reasons. There is immediate practical utility that one may fail to attain if one lacks knowledge of what is true (as your army of ants example shows), and secondly, the most reliable way to sharpen the intellect is by forcing ourselves to think as clearly and rigorously as possible. It is desirable to sharpen the intellect in the long run because this will allow for us to acquire as much reliable knowledge as possible about as many things as possible.

    Conjectures however, should not be allowed full freedom of the imagination because if they were to be allowed this, they would be a distraction from the quest concerning the emendation of the intellect. Therefore conjectures or leaps of imagination must be focused specifically on problems surrounding those that we wish to acquire knowledge about. The sole purpose of conjectures is to open ourselves up to enough information to render knowledge possible.

    This I believe conclusively answers my question concerning the circumstances under which faith is desirable.


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


    Supplemental questions.

    1)Do you accept my proposition concerning the circumstances under which faith is desirable? Explain your reasoning.

    2)Is there any reason for one to accept dictates about religious ethics? (As I have argued against Faith 2, do you wish to object to my conclusion? I have argued that it is always undesirable to arrive at a situation where any proposition is accepted uncritically, even something as seemingly minor and innocent as the proposition that there will always be something to hope for in the future)

    3)

    A
    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    There is a sense in which there are many goods. Goods are hierarchical. The value of each good is determined by how well it helps obtain higher goods. Having a job, owning a house, and having a family are some things many consider good, and these can be a source of happiness; however, why should a job, a house, or a family be considered good? When someone lands a good job, is the resulting happiness a product of merely being employed, or was the job judged to be good because it was a means to some other end? Chances are that the job is good because it provides the house, feeds the family, etc.
    B
    Quote Originally Posted by Owl View Post
    This implies that there is one highest good, something that is sought as an end in itself and not as a means to something else.
    .
    In A you state that some goods are means to an end.

    In B you state that A implies that some goods are an end in itself.

    I do not see the implication, clarify.

    If I interpret correctly your working definition of desirable is an action that conduces to happiness. In order for B to be true, there must be an action that is happiness in itself. Happiness is not an action, it is a responsive emotive state.

    For this reason I suggest that we return to the definition I have earlier established, desirable need not be an action, it is simply anything that conduces to the emotive state of mind that is equivalent with happiness. It therefore follows that all actions are means to an end, and the only end is the emotive state of mind equivalent with happiness.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

    “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”---Samuel Johnson

    My blog: www.randommeanderings123.blogspot.com/

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