From: Nicq MacDonald (
Date: Fri Nov 17 2000 - 23:33:36 MST

> Hazarded a guess, did you? Good. In my language, we call that
> belief, and it is true by definition (in my language) that you believe
> it to be true.

Okay. You had me there.

> >From now on, whenever somebody says the word "objectivity," you and I
> will pretend they're saying "solidarity." Whenever somebody says
> "absolute truth," we'll pretend they're saying "beliefs we share."
> Share your beliefs.

Okay, point taken.

> In an earlier post on relativism, I presented you with two arguments
> against relativism. One of them was traditional. The other was a
> newer Wittgensteinian argument.
> Did those arguments make sense to you? What's wrong with them on your
> terms?

I may have glossed over them. Anyway, Wittgenstein is frequently used to
uphold relativism, especially by Feyerabend.

> Or are you too self-absorbed to read even the most famous philosophers
> nearest to your own beliefs? Have you got it all figured out? That's
> no relativism. That's ethnocentrism, like I was suggesting. [I KNEW
> you'd come around! ;)] But where's the open-mindedness?

Yes, I've read Nietzsche. I've read Thus Spoke Zarathustra three times.
I'm a Nietzsche addict. I've never gotten around to Sartre (I will sooner
or later), and I tackled Kant's Critique of Pure Reason a few years ago,
only to give it up after getting hopelessly confused 80 pages into the text
(he's on the list for Ethics next semester, however, so I'll be returning to
him soon enough).

Okay, I'm not a relativist. Relativism is a game that I play with e-lists
made up of members that support a given ideology. Heck, last night on a
Neopagan Druid mailing list I was arguing hotly for an
objectivist-libertarian stance that supported gun rights and environmental
pollution- and this list is made up of some of the Greenest of the Greens!
I've debated in favor of physicalism and determinism on the Temple of Set (a
Satanic religious group which believes in the supremacy of the will and that
everyone can potentially become master of the universe) e-list, and I've
tried to push asceticism and abstinence on a TOPY list (The TOPY is a group
of hedonist-anarchist punks who practice magick and promote excessive drug
use and promiscuity). The Extropians have been the first list to actually
put up a decent argument! (Well, with the exception of Michael Aquino of the
Temple of Set... of course, that guy is scary. He managed to use Thomas
Aquinas as proof for the existence of the devil and the non-existence of
God, and wrote a series of proofs that would make the neo-Thomist professors
here at my university convert to Setianism if they saw them. They got me to
join their church- for three months, before I was kicked out.)

You want my belief? Here are two quotes that sum up my way of thinking
pretty well (the first from Zarathustra, the second from Hesse's "Demian"):

"A day shall come when you shall see your high things no more, and your low
things all too near, and you will fear your exaltation as if it were a
phantom. In that day you will cry: All is false!"

"An enlightened man had but one duty- to seek the way to himself, to reach
inner certainty, to grope his way forward, no matter where it led. I had
often speculated with images of the future, dreamed of roles that might be
assigned, perhaps as poet, or prophet, or painter, or something similar.
All that was futile. I did not exist to write poems, to preach or to paint,
neither I nor anyone else. All of that was incidental. Each man had only
one genuine vocation- to find the way to himself. He might end up as poet
or madman, as prophet or criminal- that was not his affair, ultimately it
was of no concern. His task was to discover his own destiny- not an
arbitrary one- and live it out wholly and resolutely within himself."

My belief is very existential- frankly, do what you love, and do what thou
wilt. In the end, we're all headed to the same place- so we should all try
to discover which side we are on, which faction we are in. There is truth-
but it cannot be known for certain. I think that there is a pretty good
chance that in the end, truth is defined by the state of the individual's
existence, and all we can do is play this beautiful game.

> To revolt is to take our beliefs into our own hands. Relativism is
> taking everyone else's beliefs at face value. But the real revolution
> is in holding beliefs of our own, by ourselves, and rejecting the
> false beliefs of others. We stand up for ourselves. Now, dust
> yourself off and let's get on with it.

Well, in that case, what makes your beliefs true? First off, I know nothing
about you, and little about your beliefs. You could believe that I am a
purple elephant with a telepathic internet connection who has falsified all
the data that I have given about myself, but it would not make it true.
Yet, you could stand for and defend this belief, and even try to force me to
accept it as true.

So, in other words, I'm going to reject your false beliefs- and uphold my
true beliefs. That's what it comes down to, doesn't it? ;)


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:50:25 MDT