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Everything posted by DeGaul

  1. My wife's love is the most special thing I have ever known. That's the truth of it. And nothing that anyone says can change that. And that's all I feel like needs to be said about that.
  2. Here's the thing that gets me: When I state my opinion on a thread and nobody likes it, I'm cool with that. I'll argue my case, of course, but I really believe people are free to think I'm dumb or my views are misguided. Everybody has got that right. But if I state my opinion on a thread and Galien doesn't like it....watch out buddy, because you are gonna get personally attacked. Galien, if you believe in the power of love, then I gotta say, whatever it is you think love is, I don't want any part of it, because apparently it has made you a cruel and bitter human being who feels the need to attack the character of anyone who she finds disagreeable or whose thoughts and opinions don't fit into her world. I may be an angry, cynical man who cares nothing for the continuation of the human race, but at least I've got the decency to not attack a person's character when I don't care for what they are saying.
  3. This is my final attempt at being clear, take it or leave it (I know most of you will leave it.), but here it is: Here are my facts: 1)The human animal is entirely physical. 2)The human brain is the physical organ which carries on the processes which we refer to as "mind". 3)The frontal lobe of the brain is the portion of the brain which "involve the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, to choose between good and bad actions (or better and best), override and suppress unacceptable social responses, and determine similarities and differences between things or events." 4)At 17, the frontal lobe has not reached maturity and so is not functioning at its full potential. 5)An organ which is not fully functional cannot function as well as a fully functional organ. Here is my opinion: Wisdom just is "the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, [and] to choose between good and bad actions (or better and best). From my opinion and the facts, I draw the conclusion that a 17 year old (who does not have a fully functioning "wisdom" organ, if you will) cannot have wisdom in the same capacity as an adult with a fully mature and functioning "wisdom" organ. The amount of wisdom that a 17 year old can possess does fall across a spectrum as one does a random sampling of 17 year olds, but the maximal limit of wisdom a 17 year old can have just is the physical limit of his underdeveloped frontal lobe. Thus, all other things being equal (this is what I mean by my perfect case), a 17 year old cannot have more wisdom than an adult with a fully functioning frontal lobe. That's it. That is my thought on this issue, with as much clarity as I can provide it. And yes, I don't look to 17 year olds for wisdom and I don't find them beautiful. (I generally don't think babies are beautiful either, so there is another reason for people to demonize me.) I don't have a problem with human extinction, (In the words of my favorite philosopher, "For me, a desert island is no tragedy."), and I generally only find two things in this life beautiful: my wife and snow covered mountains. So.....I hope that puts an end to that.
  4. Galien, I would ask you then to appreciate that I do not judge the world from inside a text book. It seems that the generally feeling you direct at me is this idea that I'm this arrogant, stuffy academic who has no real life experiences to speak of. That isn't the case at all. I've never worked as an academic. I do have advanced degrees, but in my everyday life experience, I have lived a life somewhat less glamorous or easy that my degrees may suggest. For many years I worked in the prison system, and now I spend my time working as an electrical worker. I am a person of strong opinions and strong convictions, but I assure you they are my own opinions and convictions. I'm not aping what I've read, I've experienced a great deal and have thought carefully about the things I say. Perhaps Vigile is correct in classifying me as "rigid". I would be willing to accept that label, and I understand very well that people find rigidity threatening. (Especially people who are recovering from Christianity, which is so often associated with rigidness.) But, rigid is what I like: disciplined, precise, crisp, simple, safe. Those are all concepts I value a great deal. You may not like that. You may find the thought of a person like me distasteful, or if not me, then at least I imagine you would think that the life I lead would not be one you would want to lead. That's fine. As I said, universal love is not something I'm moved by, and I certainly don't expect it to be directed at me. I don't need the love of everyone, but the people who I care dearly about. So, I guess what I am saying is that you shouldn't expect me to mellow out over time. I'm not a mellow person, but at the same time, you should know that if I say something you disagree with, I'm not concerned with changing your mind about it. You don't have to feel threatened by me, or fear that I'm going to try and push my views on you. I won't. I'll express what I think, but I won't try to force anyone to agree with me.
  5. No, it is not a language based on logic. You cannot derive mathematics from logic. Mathematics is a related but independent study. (Reference the problem with Frege's work, the work of Russell, and the work of Kurt Godel.) As a matter of fact, what I wrote does make sense. And, as you say, it is consistent as well. You are ignoring my consistent use of the conjunction "and" when referring to intelligence and wisdom in a 17 year old. It is not a question of distribution. It is a physiological fact that, at 17, the human brain's frontal lobe is not as developed as it will be at the age of 25 (baring any physical damage or genetic malfunction). A 17 year old physically cannot process experience in the same way that a 25 year old can. Leaving off the comparison of people to each other, just take one individual as an example. Let's say we have an unusually intelligent 17 year old. When that 17 year old is 25, he or she will be significantly more wise and will more effectively use his or her intellect because the frontal lobe will have more or less finished developing the neural pathways that allow it to process experience without relying so heavily on the emotional centers in the limbic region of the brain. Short of being a mutant, a 17 year old cannot defy the natural processes of brain growth in the human species and so cannot compare in wisdom and intelligence with a healthy adult. Once again, I am not just talking about statistical norms here but established biological processes of growth, unless you are trying to suggest that I should be holding out for the possibility of sudden brain mutation in some unique 17 year old. I have presented facts, and I have presented my opinion along with them. That's all. There is zero probability that I will sprout wings and fly around the room. Hmmmm....seems pretty sound to me. I claimed to think mathematically, and then I gave an example of how I structure my opinions along formal lines. That is a commentary on how I think, not a commentary on mathematics or a claim that the field of mathematics somehow supports my assertions. The maths neither support nor contradict my position. The foundations of what I'm asserting are not mathematical, I just enjoy putting my own thoughts in a formalized form. The foundation of my claim is what I've stated above, the observational fact that at 17 the human frontal lobe is underdeveloped. And as I'm interested in examples of healthy individuals, I don't bother with the fact that some adults are not as intelligent and wise as a 17 year old because they have suffered some developmental damage or other.
  6. AlphaToOmega, the method you are describing is not the method of a formal system. I am talking about formal systems. Formal systems depend on axioms in order to predetermine results. Formal systems are not experimental science. I know very well that I have "stacked the deck", as it were. But, I'm fine with that. I suppose that I might reconsider if you could find me a 17 year old who is wiser and more intelligent than anyone else in the world, but that is such an outlandish example as to be irrelevant to my considerations. (Not to mention that it would likely involve a rather complicated comparison of what you and I both mean by wisdom and intelligence, and no doubt you would accuse me of bias in that I'm sure that I would tend to hold it as axiomatic that 17 year olds do not have wisdom because my own definition of wisdom is tied to life experience and at the end of the day I believe a 17 year old cannot sufficiently process life experience with their under-developed neurology to turn experience into wisdom.) I choose to live my life by formalizing axioms for myself which are (admittedly) based upon my own experience. (Formal systems do, I admit, make contact with experience at some point, and are then open to discussions of experimentation, but as I mentioned above, my own reading of experimental research has shown that 17 year olds are still primarily physiologically dominated by the emotional centers of their brain and do not even have a fully developed frontal lobe. As such, they are physically incapable of transforming experience into wisdom and so I am not simply ignoring experimental research----rather, I would presume you are rejecting the truth of such research in neurology.) I don't feel a need to qualify my axioms, especially those that I have defined in such a way as to be foundational. When creating formal systems, we start with a certain number of assumptions and then derive the rest of the system from those assumptions. My definition of what makes an adult is foundational. I derive my other statements from this foundation. The mistake you are making is believing that there is a "way the world is" apart from individual's biases. I can't possibly get into all the work that has been done in analytic philosophy to express how there is no "view from nowhere" (i.e. a way the world is outside of any particular perspective), but let it be sufficient to say that it is a problem that has been well discussed and debated. That you do not share what is axiomatic with me does not imply that I should abandon my own formal system in preference to yours.
  7. AlphaToOmega, I cannot dismiss a request for greater clarity: In discussing moral norms, I claim that exceptions are implicit. I did not claim that exceptions are implicit in all human conversation, and I am not claiming that an exception is implicit when I say that no 17 year old is a match in wisdom and intelligence with a fully rational and intelligent adult. The "adult" I am using in my example is a perfect case example. Of course, I can acknowledge that many adults fall short of my perfect case adult and so could be dumber or less wise than a 17 year old, but by definition I wouldn't call such adults really adults. They would be "developmentally disabled", by my own definition. Certainly, by my own definition, I would accept that that implies that my own set of "adults" is going to be a much smaller set than the generally accepted set of "adults". I make the strong claim about adults and 17 year olds by limiting the values I allow into my sets. (I'm drifting off into mathematics land here, but this is how I think, so I don't ask to be excused.) Certainly, my [set of 17 year olds] is easy enough to define simply by age, and all the values of that set will be any value of a variable that fits the rule "Is 17 years of age". My [set of (perfect case) adults], however, is formed by a significantly more complicated set of rules----one of which is the rule "Is wiser and more intelligent than a 17 year old". If I could assign an arbitrary scale to the properties of "wise" and "intelligent", part of the method by which the [set of (perfect case) adults] would be created would depend on the members of that set always falling higher on the scales of "wisdom" and "intelligence" than any member of the [set of 17 year olds]. Thus, by my own rules, if a value of a variable comes along that does not fall higher on the scale of wisdom and intelligence than a 17 year old, that variable cannot be placed in the [set of (perfect case) adults]. To know what to do with that variable, it would be necessary to then develop a new set, perhaps the [set of human beings older than 17], and then develop a series of rules by which it is made explicit that the [set of human beings older than 17] and the [set of (perfect case) adults] are not in any sense equivalent, although it would seem definite that the [set of perfect case adults] would most certainly be a sub-set of the [set of human beings older than 17]. In addition to the [set of (perfect case) adults] as a sub-set of the [set of human beings older than 17], there would be other sub-sets, such as the [set of developmentally disabled adults], for which definitions could be teased out. I will be the first to admit that, if I come across as overly rigid in my definitions, it is because I am dominated in my mind by the language of mathematics, and I feel little love for the ambiguity of the written and spoken word. Precision is what I crave, even if only for its own sake, as I'm sure no one here will feel any practical connection to the precise ways in which I define things.
  8. AlphaToOmega, I'm well aware that people aren't suggesting that 40 year old and 17 year old sexual relations be the norm, but when we are talking about moral statements, we are talking about norms. I simply state that I find such practices sick. That is my moral norm. I don't need to state that there maybe exceptions to the case. There are always exceptions to the case, but fortunately for me I don't need to live my life qualifying everything I say to everyone I speak with. That explicit qualification of my position is unnecessary, as I have already established that I am a fully functioning, rational agent and therefor I can make judgments on a case by case basis, when it is appropriate. To make sense of what I'm saying, you simply have to take another moral norm as an example: "It is wrong to kill." Most of us accept this moral norm. And we accept it without having to bring up all the situations in which it might not hold every time we assert it. It is not a requirement of moral conversation to discuss each and every case of application that is possible for a moral rule. Speaking of being 17, I actually used to do this when I was 17. Whenever I was in a moral discussion with someone and a norm was brought up, I would immediately go on a tirade about all the possible exceptions to that rule. At the time I thought I was being very smart and seeing sides of the argument that no one else could see. Now I realize, I as just being annoying. Everyone already understood that there were exceptions, but as it would be an impossible task to write down every possible exception to a rule, no one bothered and just played the stuff by ear, as the situation dictated, allowing the explicitly stated norms to guide their reasoning. (It is worth noting that I was such an annoying 17 year old precisely because I was precocious and my level of academic learning was not on the same level as my life experiences. I was smart, but lacked any kind of practical understanding. I was not the equal of a fully intelligent and rational adult. And indeed, I still hold that no 17 year old is. Certainly, there are 17 year olds who are smarter and wiser than relatively unintelligent and foolish adults, but I fail to see the value in comparing a 17 year old to an idiot and saying, "See, what a smart 17 year old....by comparison." I know any number of dogs that are more intelligent than some small or mentally challenged children, but that hardly makes me feel like I need to point that fact out if someone tells me that humans are more intelligent than dogs. Once again, it is an example of discussing exceptions that aren't so much relevant as annoying.)
  9. Galien, I have to admit, you have motivated me to perhaps clarify a few things: Let me start by saying, I am not heartless, despite what you may feel. I have a rather large heart when it comes to the people who are close to me, my family and friends. What I am is unwilling to be dishonest about anything. When I say that I don't care how you raise your children, for example, it is not because I am expressing some sort of heartlessness or hatefulness toward you, it is because I genuinely don't spend any of my energy thinking about how I would raise your children. What I am trying to combat in the way that I live my life is the pervasive tendency in our culture to cling to the idea that we must love, accept, and concern ourselves with everyone. I do not love everyone. I feel very little, if anything, for most other human beings. And what I truly believe is that if everyone would just be honest about it, very few individuals actually love or concern themselves with everyone. What would it mean to say that you love everyone? That kind of a statement is nonsense. To someone who tells me "I love everyone.", my only response is, "No, you do not." People in our society have turned the word "love" into a lip service, a sort of superstition, which we use to try and cover over the fact that for the most part, we as human beings often disagree with one another and, on a day-to-day basis, hardly concern ourselves with each other at all. I would like to trade the false sense of security that comes from the "universal love" doctrine for the reality of a world in which differences are clear. Let each person love who they love and hate who they hate. Let each person be free and open about his or her judgments and let each individual stand firm in his or her convictions. Only once we can practice that kind of universal honesty can we actually get a clear picture of where everyone stands and how to move forward from there. The hippies got it dead wrong, "All you need is love." is utter bullshit. "All you need is honesty." would have been the kind of rallying cry that might have made a great generation.
  10. People are asking too much of morality on this thread. There seems to be a general feeling that a person's moral sensibility can be grounded in some sort of fact about the world, but anyone who has taken a second to read David Hume should know that values do not (and cannot) follow from facts. A person's moral perception is more akin to a person's aesthetic perception. I may love the paintings of Van Gogh, and I can give you reasons why I love his paintings, but at the end of the day, those "reasons" that I give don't "prove" the aesthetic value of Van Gogh's work, they simply illustrate why it is that I love Van Gogh. Perhaps people who listen to me speak about Van Gogh will be moved to love him too, but I can't say that if they are moved to love him that I have "proven" his work is beautiful, I have just persuaded them that it is beautiful. I have perhaps helped others to see the sense in which I value Van Gogh. Moral sensibility is the same way. When it comes to moral conversations, we don't prove....we persuade. So, if I wanted to persuade someone that it is wrong for 40 year olds to sleep with teenagers, I would go into a series of reasons which illustrate what I find repellent about it: I find teenagers to be physically unattractive. I find teenagers to be mentally under-developed. I find 40 year olds who believe teenagers are attractive to have a warped sense of aesthetics and stunted mental development. No matter how precocious, I have never found a 17 year old who is the mental equal of a fully intelligent adult, nor have I ever been impressed by the "wisdom" of a 17 year old. These facts lead me to consider the problems I see developing with power relations between a teenager and an adult, etc., etc., etc. Now, saying all that, as anyone can see from this post, it is perfectly possible to come up with counter-arguments to anything I have said. That, in and of itself, does not mean that my own moral perception is somehow failing to fit with the facts, it just points out the very fact that moral perceptions do fall within the realm of persuasion, and if you are not persuaded by me, then we simply don't share a moral sensibility. Moral sense, like aesthetic sense, does not have the added "objectivity" that comes from material force (I'm speaking of force here in the sense of the physical sciences.) The law of gravity, for example, is not just a matter of persuasion. If you jump off a cliff, you will die (as long as it is a high enough cliff); no matter if you have been persuaded that gravity isn't an issue. Morality doesn't carry that kind of weight. If a person isn't persuaded that theft is wrong, stealing will not cause the person's head to explode. Instead, the weight of morality lies in the pressure that comes from our fellow human beings and our combined moral sensibility. Theft might not cause a person's head to explode, but other human beings can certainly put a thief in jail. Moral force comes from society, not from any facts about the world. At the end of the day, everyone who makes a moral judgment is really just asking his or herself the great Kantian question, "Would I want to live in a world where everyone does this?" So, I ask myself, would I want to live in a world where 40 year olds and teenagers routinely shacked up? No, I wouldn't. So, I pass judgment upon such action and call it sick and unacceptable.
  11. Vigile, I really don't say this to be insulting, but I think you might be missing the nuances in my stance. I am not being blunt at all. If you will look back at the things I have said in this thread and put them together, you'll see that I'm not advancing anything like an unsophisticated position. I have stated that I hate the government and don't want it to exist anymore. This is not a naive statement, because I didn't follow it up with a plan for how to get rid of the government. I also don't believe the government is going to go away, I simply wish that it would. I have stated that I find 40 year olds having any kind of sexual fixation with teenagers sick. That is my moral opinion, as all moral statements are just that: opinions. But, just because that is my moral opinion does not mean I have a responsibility to dig into the details of that opinion. I would dig into those details, if I thought such digging would be productive in anyway, but I don't have the kind of influence that could change the abuses that happen in the law, and frankly, neither do you. So, how useful is it really for you to discuss these details you are referring to if you don't seriously intend to do anything about them? (And, let's be honest....you don't intend to do anything about them, just as I don't intend to do anything about them. Neither of us is walking away from this conversation to go out and start protesting for changes in the law, so the whole discussion is academic and therefore the details are pretty irrelevant.) As far as your assertion that sexual urges are somehow more primal than cultural urges: What solid evidence do you have of that? What makes one more primal (powerful) than the other? As a matter of fact, sexual urges and rational thought come in a variety of different forces in all kinds of different people. Some people are completely asexual, with no sex drive to speak of. Are they outside the realm of nature somehow? And overly aggressive sex drives are not always advantageous from an evolutionary perspective. In certain species of monkey, when a monkey is born who is overly aggressive and commonly tries to have sex with as many females as possible, that monkey actually ends up being ostracized by the group and dies alone and childless. The sex act is a necessary cause for the production of a new life, but it is not a sufficient cause for the continuation of that new life and therefore the continuation of the species. We cannot live by sex alone, as it were, and so I think it is rather naive to preference the sex drive as somehow being more basic. Biological beings (at least at the human level) are not that simplistic. I would say that I am of the opinion that the Burkha is evil. I would not make the claim that the Burkha is objectively evil. Nothing is objectively evil. Good and evil belong to the realm of human opinion, not to the world of facts. You are not proving to be very nuanced in the above. You cannot hold that culture is a product of nature and then claim that the products of culture are not products of nature. That is self-contradicting. As for what you wrote, Galien, I'm not going to play the game of telling you how to raise your children. I don't care how you raised your children. You and your family are no concern of mine. I don't care about you or them. All I have done is simply stated what I think is morally sick. If you disagree with me, that is fine. I have zero interest in changing your mind. If being judged by me bothers you, perhaps you should really be looking at yourself and asking what it is about you that makes you care whether I judge you or not.
  12. Vigile, I agree with you that the legal system is full of abuses. If I don't seem keen to address those abuses in the things I post, it is mostly because I hate the government (I hate the very concept of it) and would rather see it taken apart entirely rather than see it reformed. I know that makes me an extremist of a sort, and I know it means that my frustration with the government leads me to turn my back on some of its abuses, but at the same time, I don't feel morally responsible for all the evil in the world. That a 19 year old is sent to jail for sleeping with his 17 year old girlfriend is evil.....but it isn't an evil that I'm going to go out and stop myself. If it was, I would be out petitioning for the law to change. I'm not. Not because I agree with the law, but because my finite resources only allow me to do so much with my time, and it is currently fully occupied trying to take care of myself and my wife during this economic downturn that we are experiencing. But, that being said, without any sarcasm at all, I am truly glad there are people like you who want to address the legal issues involved....I'm just not one of them. As far as the natural urges thing goes, once again you seem to be setting up a dichotomy between sexual urges (natural) and culture (unnatural). This is a false dichotomy, however. Culture is as natural as sexual urges. Both have evolved spontaneously out of human existence. We do not invent our sexuality, but neither do we invent our culture....not really. Culture evolved in response to human history, physical facts, etc., etc. Culture is also natural. Some people try to manipulate culture, but even the urge to manipulate it is itself an outgrowth of cultural practices. Nothing is outside the scope of nature. Everything is natural. (Of course, this kind of talk begins to sound deterministic, but that is only disheartening to those who do not like the idea that everything could be determined. I'm ok with determinism. It fits in pretty nicely with my pessimism and nihilism.) I have seen pictures of Russian teenagers before. I assure you, you don't truly grasps the depths of how distasteful I find the "beauty" of youth. It isn't until a woman starts to get into her late 20s/early 30s that she is really capable of beauty to me. But, that is my own opinion, and not something I need to go into.
  13. First off, just so I can get it off my chest: Galien, WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? How many children have I raised?! None, I have raised no children. (A fact that I would have thought would be obvious given my past posts on this forum about not believing that the human species should continue, but that is a totally different argument.) But what does that have to do with my disgust for the sexualizing of children by adults? I don't need to have raised kids to be able to look at a 14 year old girl and not want to have sex with her. In fact, it kind of seems like you're implying that if I had raised children then that would somehow give me the ability to look with a knowing grin at a pedophile and say, "Oh yes, I totally see the attraction." I hope I won't have to defend how sick that scenario sounds, because if I do I'll just give up on the rest of humanity and will be forced to conclude that I'm really some sort of alien from Krypton and we apparently are born with heightened moral sensibility on my home planet, along with the x-ray vision and super-strength. Yes, to all of you who are pointing out examples where the law seems ridiculous (19 year olds and 17 year olds sleeping together), there will always be what, in analysis, we call "outlying examples". For any rule, there are extremes that fall outside the regular application of the rule, but that doesn't throw the rule into doubt, rather it just points out that, as with any rule, we have to be aware of how we apply it. We can't legislate our brains away, we still have to think. And I agree, that doesn't always happen. But, the example I have been continuously using is one in which a teenager is sexualized by someone in their 30s or 40s. (That is, after all, the example we started with.) And I do not agree with the idea that we are fighting nature when we don't sleep with teenagers. Sexual urges are natural, but so are rational thoughts. There is nothing that is outside nature, and desire is not more powerful that reason. (Or, at least the two are both forces of nature, and so seemingly on par with one another.) I do not believe in the old Platonic division of man into "beast" and "rational soul". That is an Ancient Greek/Christian prejudice which has contributed to the degradation of humanity for thousands of years. I am not at war with myself, animal parts and divine soul. I am a singular, material being and my passions and reason are but aggregate parts of myself, which do not war with each other, but rather seek balance between one another. Of course, I would be a liar if I didn't admit that I am not moved by the so called "beauty" of youth. Teenagers don't look "tight, smooth, [and] strong" to me; they look gangly, uncoordinated, and their skin has a "not quite finished growing" look to it that seems almost corpse-like to me. (No doubt people would find it equally shocking that I tend to perceive babies as being essentially larval humans, especially since wrapped up in blankets they do seem quite like little maggots.) So, I have long come to terms with the fact that I do not appreciate "beauty" in the way that many others do, but I don't think that stands in the way of the essence of my suggestion that: Adults have fully developed reason and should keep their passions in check. Children do not have fully developed reason and so cannot be held as the responsible party in any decisions about sexuality.
  14. Another aspect of this conversation that is being ignored is the unreasonableness of "seduction" as an excuse. A 14 year old cannot seduce an adult, because anyone classified as an adult is supposed to have reached the "age of decision", or in other words, the age at which a person is more or less capable of fully rational thought and is responsible for his or her own actions. Allowing for the possibility of seduction on the part of a teenager is suggesting that a teenager could prove to be so titillating that he or she could drive all reasonableness out of the mind of an adult and cause that adult to forget that a teenager is not a fully rational being yet and so cannot honestly make a decision about entering into a sexual relationship. It isn't until a person is in their mid-20s that the frontal lobes of the brain are physiologically "finished" developing, and it often isn't until many years later that the full weight of life experience allows for truly clear judgment to set in. Adults who are seduced by teenagers are not "overwhelmed" by desire, they make a conscious choice to take advantage of an underdeveloped human being. Sexualizing teenagers is a gross imposition of our own adult perspective upon a being who is not capable of taking an adult perspective on things. I mean, really; it kind of outrages me, the idea that anyone would be willing to impose the term "seductive" upon an incompletely developed human being. Think of the awkwardness of a teenager, the simple physical disproportion as they are unfinished growing......to apply the term "seductive" to that makes me throw up a little in my mouth.
  15. I wonder, can you answer me a simple question Galien: What compels you to care so much about what I find sick? If I say that something is sick, or that all 17 year olds are idiots, those statements are my considered opinions. And at the end of the day, all people have are their opinions. This very thread is founded on an opinion, the opinion that women and men should be equal. And before anyone starts spouting off about "human rights" and "basic dignities" and such, just look at the world around us....really look at it: There are no human rights, factually.....except perhaps the right to die, and that only because death is a certainty. Nowhere in nature do you find "rights". Instead, what you find are murder, rape, disease, old age, and death. And the mindless process repeats itself again and again, generation after generation. Yes, we are talking about opinions here. Even your constant babbling on about open mindedness is itself just an opinion, and one that I don't share. So, why do you seem so threatened by (and *gasp* perhaps intolerant of) my opinion? It is just an opinion, and not one that I'm forcing on anyone at gun point. I'm hardly conspiring in my basement (if I had one) to start a horrible totalitarian regime in which 17 year olds are oppressed and no one has sex without my permission. I'm simply writing, on a public forum, what I think. Having established that we fundamentally disagree, what more is there to say? Repeating again and again the fact that you have a different opinion than me, in ever more creative ways, will not change the fact that we disagree. You won't win me over to your cause. I find the concept of thoughtless acceptance abhorrent, and no amount of pointing out all the ways in which a person might have a different opinion than me will cause me to give up my own. My confidence in my own perception is just not that easily swayed by the fact that someone might disagree with me.
  16. Galien, you have a sad obsession with hating Americans. I don't judge anyone by American standard, I judge them by MY standards. I have not simply absorbed my standards from my home country, I have come to them through many years of careful thought and consideration. What you do in Australia is irrelevant to me. What they do in Spain is irrelevant to me. And I do, indeed, have a right to pass judgment on a whole culture and call it sick. In the words of the Dread Pirate Bellamy: "...I am a free prince, and I have...authority to make war on the whole world..." What you call arrogance, I call honesty and unwillingness to debase myself in order to make others feel good about themselves and the way they choose to live their lives. Do as you like and support what you like, but don't try to browbeat me into place with that bleeding heart, cultural sensitivity, hippie bullshit. It won't work, and you will look sad in the attempt.
  17. Galien, you are an angry person, and that is ok. I'm an angry person too, but there are times when you should give up an argument. Not only is the weight of actual brain research and psychology against the assertion that 17 year olds are fully rational beings, but now you are starting to sound as if you are advocating for statutory rape. And yes, I didn't make myself unclear.....all 17 year olds are idiots, and all 40 year old women who lust after 17 year olds are idiots, and mentally confused. I'm not sure what you mean by asking if I get out much? Referring back to the whole statutory rape thing, I tend not to equate "getting out" with committing immoral and largely illegal acts. (Well, certainly not illegal in crime ridden parts of Asia, but immoral none-the-less.) As far as my "judgmentalism" goes, I don't see a lack of judgment as being a virtue. In the immortal words of Ayn Rand, "Judge and prepare to be judged." If you seriously condone 40 year old women lusting after 17 year olds, then I judge you as sick. That is my right. And you, in turn, are welcome to judge me. (As you already have.) So, here we sit in judgment of one another......and I'm just fine with that.
  18. Anyone who is 17 years old or younger is an idiot. Realistically speaking, the majority of people who are under 28 years of age are idiots, and a good chunk of those who make it to 30 and beyond are also idiots. I was an idiot at 17. You were an idiot at 17. Everyone was an idiot at 17. A 17 year old is incapable of the perspective necessary to have anything non-idiotic to say about life, and even when a 17 year old does say something profound, it is primarily by accident.....not unlike 100,000 monkeys banging away at typewriters and producing Shakespeare. So, 40 year old women lusting after a 17 year old is sick (at least in so far as I understand sick), and is probably an indicator that those aforementioned 40 year old women fall into the camp of "those who have made it over 30 and are still idiots".
  19. Hmmm....if by "equality" we mean equality of opportunity, then I can't get behind that kind of argument at all. Practically speaking, equality of opportunity is a flat fiction, and even theoretically speaking it is a pretty lame argument. What the hell is "opportunity" anyway? That's a pretty abstract and empty concept. I think the idea that we mean to be getting at is that people should have the liberty to live their lives anyway they please, but that has more to do with the rejection of any kind of social hierarchy rather than the positive endeavor to provide opportunities for all. It seems to me that the only path to something like real "equality of opportunity" would be to let everyone just run free doing as they like and minding our own business. As long as all social relations are consensual, keep your nose out of it. I fully agree with standing up against non-consensual social relations, but as much as we might not like it, that means accepting that some people will want to engage in relationships that we see as sick, demeaning, or abusive. True liberty would demand, however, that if individuals seeks out sick, demeaning, or abusive relationship and insists on staying in them, even given the opportunity to leave, well.....frankly that is on them, and who is anyone to deny them the opportunity to live the life they want. Vigile, you are right, I spoke a little to generally about Muslim countries. Many are very, very dangerous for women (many places in Africa---yet another reason I hate Africa), but many are also quite normal and relatively modern, with plenty of happy families and happy women. I appreciate your comments, by the way, which always remind me to refrain from being too bombastic.
  20. Legion: I should have specified, by extreme left I mean "anarchist" (the title I identify myself with, incidentally, although I like to call myself an ontological anarchist....but, once again, that is a different discussion). By extreme right I mean fundamentalist (think Christian totalitarian). Not to digress too far off topic, but it is kind of interesting the ways in which the traditional right/left divide actually breaks down rather rapidly when you look at the specifics of how different groups want to achieve their ends. Anarchists are extreme leftists and are considered a branch of socialism; they fear and hate the government or any other form of authority more than any other political group. Communists are also considered leftists, and yet they seem to almost elevate the government to a divine institution. Republicans and Democrats nowadays seem to want nothing but to solve all our problems with regulations, and yet they are supposed to be opposed to each other (doesn't look like it to me), and the more radical branches of conservative politics seem to sometimes be the only ones raising the call for less regulation and more freedom (at least in economic areas). So, the whole spectrum thing is kind of crap, but I used it as and example because it gets the main idea across----not every cultural group has the same central values. Vigile, your example is perfect: Russian women do not generally value sweetness as much as they value perceived strength. (Actually, a lot more women than are willing to admit it value perceived strength, but it is more socially expected in Russian culture than in more liberal secular culture.) Some women actually value the feeling of being treated with a firm hand. That isn't to say that they want to be abused, but rather that a display of strength and firmness in the face of (at times deliberate) distress or willfulness creates a feeling of security----a feeling that the woman can trust that if things get out of control, or if she loses her senses, she can know that her man will be there to protect her, even from herself. And really, doesn't this make sense of a lot of the cultural differences we see? The countries in which we see Islam as the dominate cultural force are generally dangerous countries for women. Doesn't it make sense that women would favor a relationship in which they could rely on their men and submit themselves in order to be protected? And don't we all need protection from time to time? It seems that it would be a shame to try and entirely eliminate this instinct in ourselves. What is wrong with a woman wanting a strong man to steady her? Is it any more wrong than a man wanting a woman who is capable of seeing his tears and sympathizing with him when he is at his weakest? A balance needs to be struck. Men should not give up their own history of being powerful and commanding in exchange for a watered down form of gender consciousness, but neither should men allow the mistake to persist that being powerful and commanding means being abusive or denying the equal moral value of women. In the same way, women shouldn't seek moral equality by trying to emulate men at the expense of their own history as a gender. We often here about feminist support for "powerful women", or seeking to "empower" women, but that is really just taking the history of femininity and grafting it onto the masculine ideal. This seems a tragedy to me, because it ignores the importance of values that women have historically nurtured----the values of privacy, comfort, beauty, grace, sensitivity, etc. We don't want to lose the values traditionally associated with femininity in a desperate attempt to immediately resolve equality issues, because if we do that the most likely result is that we will simply turn women into "Men 2.0" and the richness and depth of our own culture will be significantly reduced.
  21. LivingLife, I love a little evolutionary psychology, but I'd be careful about running too wild with it. It isn't saying much to say that we do thing "b/c we must". Everything that every living thing does is "b/c [it] must". That is tautologous. However, you are correct in that many laws "favor" women, but that is mostly because, as I pointed out, our culture is obsessed with eliminating differences in power, as power seems to be what is most morally threatening to us as a people. (Although there is certainly some diversity even in our own culture. Conservatives, for example, seem to fear liberty more than power and identify too much liberty as a corrupting influence, whereas far left radicals identify any form of authority as entirely morally corrupt.)
  22. I stopped in to take a look at this thread because my wife mentioned it In all of this discussion, what I have the most issue with is the way in which the term "equality" is used, but is not really clearly defined. What do you mean by "equality"? I'm not trying to be clever, I'm genuinely asking. There seems to be a lot of confusion over whether "equality" should include biological differences or not, or whether it is simply a very abstract way of saying men and women are both morally valuable beings. It is because of this ambiguity and lack of clear definition that I find "equality" to be a dubious foundation for a moral argument. Are any of us "equal", practically speaking? I think not. But we want to believe that we are all morally valuable. We would like to believe that no matter how powerful someone else is, that person is not more valuable than we are. We would like to believe that if someone more powerful than us forces us to obey, then that is wrong, no matter how great the difference in power between us. This sense of moral "equality" in the face of overwhelming power is very deep seated in our culture. We are a culture of rebels and underdogs. We must be sensitive to our own cultural history in order to better understand what we mean when we talk about equality. That being said, we should also recognize that we are making an argument from the framework of our own culture. There is no "morality" out there in the cold, senselessness of the universe, just the morality we create as individuals and as cultures. Another culture (Islamic culture for example) will not share our interest in power relations and moral value. Their own cultural standards may favor other concepts, like solidarity and order, perhaps. What is fundamentally going on is a battle between cultures and a battle between the separate histories of two different sets of morality. It is not a battle that can be avoided, and both sides wish to win....without question. It is a battle fought right down to the blood and bone......to the very structures which provide sense in a person's life. I think it is important to keep this in mind, so that we are less inclined to appeal to abstract concepts like equality and instead focus on the realities of how we live our lives and the concrete differences between ourselves and other human communities. Of course, in the end, all human communities are simply human created methods of coping with the meaningless machinations of an uncaring universe, but that is a different issue entirely.....
  23. Bah.....I think this is the first time I've posted a genuine rant on here. I'm absolutely astounded at times by the unwillingness of people to stomach a fight. Are we all so lilly livered? It seems we have taken acceptance to a ridiculous level. We won't criticize, we won't argue (without taking up a "this is only my opinion" position). We just get along to get on, and that just sickens me. Where is our sense of having a warrior spirit? Where is our sense of rigidity? Where is our sense of moral absoluteness and personal honor? Where is our desire to defend our own pride? I can't help but feel that we are a soft and decadent society, and that we really don't deserve to continue.
  24. I'm confused about how we are using efficient and material cause here. According to Aristotle, material cause is the stuff something is made of, and efficient cause is the active source of a thing. A person is made of certain elements, but sex is the efficient cause that puts those elements together to form a person. (Sex would also be necessary, but not sufficient for the production of a person.) So, material causes don't really exist without efficient causes. If we were to make an artificial intelligence, then silicone might be the material cause, and the art of computational neurology the efficient cause. I also still fail to see how reductive and relational descriptions are at odds. They are apples and oranges to me. If I'm discussing the material components and simple causal chains at work in a thing, I would be thinking reductively. If I discuss the relations between the different parts in a thing, then I'm thinking relationally. Those seem like two very different ways of discussing a thing, and so I don't see why one excludes or challenges the other. I don't see how one description can lay claim to superiority over another. (But, I'm not going to lie, I'm kind of a few glasses into a bottle of Riesling, so my perception of things is a bit foggy.)
  25. No worries Legion, my work schedule is exhaustive right now, so I don't mind the big gaps in discussion. I think I may have not made myself clear in my previous statement. I'm not suggesting that physics discusses organization, far from it. I'm saying that all forms of organization can be described in the reductive language of physics in the form of causal series. I can take any complex organism and describe it in terms of electro-chemical cause and effect sequences, etc. This description will be exhaustive, in the sense that it will offer a full description of the organism or event in the terms in which the description is given. Does that mean that the physical description is exhaustive in the sense that no other description can be given or that no other description is valuable? I don't think so. What the physical description misses is precisely what the organizational description can only give......organization. Just in the same way that a romantic poem give a romantic description that a physical description is incapable of giving. And yet, both descriptions are exhaustive in the sense that both completely describe an event in their own terms.
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