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Author Topic: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea  (Read 55604 times)

Primavera

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Re: Liberum Arbirtrium
« Reply #330 on: May 04, 2011, 05:09:55 PM »


There is this inherent insecurity about the consequences of your actions (related to the absurdity of the world), and to the fact that, in experiencing your freedom, you also realize that you will be fully responsible for these consequences; there is no thing in you (your genes, for instance) that acts and that you can "blame" if something goes wrong. Of course, most of us only have short and shallow encounters with this kind of dread, as not every choice is perceived as having dreadful possible consequences (and, it can be claimed, our lives would be unbearable if every choice facilitated dread), but that doesn't change the fact that freedom remains a condition of every action.

Sartre calls it "bad faith" when you deny the concept of free will by lying to yourself about your self and freedom. This can take many forms, from convincing yourself that some form of determinism is true, to a sort of "mimicry" where you act as "you should." How "one" should act is often determined by an image one has of how one such as oneself (say, a bank manager) acts. This image usually corresponds to some sort of social norm. This does not mean that all acting in accordance with social norms is bad faith: The main point is the attitude you takes to your own freedom, and the extent to which you act in accordance with this freedom. A sign of bad faith can be something like the denial of responsibility for something you have done on the grounds that you just did "as one does" or that your genes determined you to do as you did. Lying to yourself might appear impossible or contradictory. Sartre denies the subconscious the power to do this, and he claims that the person who is lying to himself has to be aware that he is lying - that he isn't determined, or this "thing" he makes himself out to be.


The existentialist concept of freedom is often misunderstood as a sort of liberum arbitrium where almost anything is possible and where values are inconsequential to choice and action. This interpretation of the concept is often related to the insistence on the absurdity of the world and that there are no relevant or absolutely "good" or "bad" values. However, that there are no values to be found in the world in-itself doesn't mean that there are no values: each of us usually already has his values before a consideration of their validity is carried through, and it is, after all, upon these values we act.

For one, Sartre was no hippie, but a serious, even austere thinker, with the soul of a moralist. He maintained that being human means being free. The freedom to make yourself, and your acting on this freedom, are what you are. In his more hyperbolic moments, Sartre goes so far as to say that a human being is freedom. Nothing left to lose? If existence precedes essence, we're not only free to create ourselves; we're also free of any inherent, built-in baggage. Because we're nothing, nothing is compelling or prejudicing our choices or our actions. Any choice is possible. That kind of freedom can be overwhelming, and Sartre doesn't think it's anything to take lightly.

Condemned To Be Free (And Responsible), Whether You Like It Or Not. And Sartre calls this an optimistic philosophy? Well, yes, he does. But it's always an optimism about where we can go from where we start. This discussion deals with the human condition -- the starting place, which he admits can look pretty bleak at times. The sense in which that starting place (freedom) is something we're "condemned" to basically has the following two aspects: the first is the inescapability of that freedom. You're free in life to make any choices, but whether you'll be free isn't one of them. It's an inescapable part of your human condition, like it or not. The second aspect is the weight of freedom. You experience your freedom as a great burden because it's a tremendous responsibility. If your freedom is inescapable, so is your responsibility.

Finally, Free Choice Creates Value And Meaning. If God doesn't exist, no eternal, objective measure of value exists, and nothing has any inherent meaning. This doesn't mean, however, that life has no meaning, or value at all. It's just that every meaning and value is a human meaning or a human value. And because human beings have no human nature and no inherent values or meaning, we're constantly creating those human meanings and values.

You see, Sartre, was not some kind of naturalist who equates human beings with animals or sees a human being as minuscule speck of dust before the grandeur of the universe. The universe is filled with objects that are conscious of nothing, feel nothing, choose nothing, and value nothing. The Milky Way, for all its vastness, is as dumb and senseless as a rock. Only human beings make choices and make themselves into something. Although it's true that we start as nothing, we have the power to make something of ourselves and the freedom to determine what that will be. Freedom is the source of human dignity.


I tend to think Sartre has described the idea that we are terribly free to make our choices in such a way that ironically no one would accept it...


Consider the "causal chain." Most "free will"-ers reject the idea that freedom of action consists simply in "voluntary" behavior. They insist, rather, that free will means that man must be the "ultimate" or "originating" cause of his actions. He must be a causa sui, in the traditional phrase. To be responsible for one's choices is to be the first cause of those choices, where first cause means that there is no antecedent cause of that cause. The argument, then, is that if man has free will, then man is the ultimate cause of his actions. If determinism is true, then all of man's choices are caused by events and facts outside his control. So, if everything man does is caused by events and facts outside his control, then he cannot be the ultimate cause of his actions. Therefore, he cannot have free will.

Also, if determinism is true, then we have no control over the events of the past that determined our present state and no control over the laws of nature. Since we can have no control over these matters, we also can have no control over the consequences of them. Since our present choices and acts are the necessary consequences of the past and the laws of nature, then we have no control over them and, hence, no free will.

Ecuador

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Re: Liberum Arbirtrium
« Reply #331 on: May 05, 2011, 04:29:54 PM »

The existentialist concept of freedom is often misunderstood as a sort of liberum arbitrium where almost anything is possible and where values are inconsequential to choice and action. This interpretation of the concept is often related to the insistence on the absurdity of the world and that there are no relevant or absolutely "good" or "bad" values. However, that there are no values to be found in the world in-itself doesn't mean that there are no values: each of us usually already has his values before a consideration of their validity is carried through, and it is, after all, upon these values we act.

For one, Sartre was no hippie, but a serious, even austere thinker, with the soul of a moralist. He maintained that being human means being free. The freedom to make yourself, and your acting on this freedom, are what you are. In his more hyperbolic moments, Sartre goes so far as to say that a human being is freedom. Nothing left to lose? If existence precedes essence, we're not only free to create ourselves; we're also free of any inherent, built-in baggage. Because we're nothing, nothing is compelling or prejudicing our choices or our actions. Any choice is possible. That kind of freedom can be overwhelming, and Sartre doesn't think it's anything to take lightly.

Condemned To Be Free (And Responsible), Whether You Like It Or Not. And Sartre calls this an optimistic philosophy? Well, yes, he does. But it's always an optimism about where we can go from where we start. This discussion deals with the human condition -- the starting place, which he admits can look pretty bleak at times. The sense in which that starting place (freedom) is something we're "condemned" to basically has the following two aspects: the first is the inescapability of that freedom. You're free in life to make any choices, but whether you'll be free isn't one of them. It's an inescapable part of your human condition, like it or not. The second aspect is the weight of freedom. You experience your freedom as a great burden because it's a tremendous responsibility. If your freedom is inescapable, so is your responsibility.

Finally, Free Choice Creates Value And Meaning. If God doesn't exist, no eternal, objective measure of value exists, and nothing has any inherent meaning. This doesn't mean, however, that life has no meaning, or value at all. It's just that every meaning and value is a human meaning or a human value. And because human beings have no human nature and no inherent values or meaning, we're constantly creating those human meanings and values.

You see, Sartre, was not some kind of naturalist who equates human beings with animals or sees a human being as minuscule speck of dust before the grandeur of the universe. The universe is filled with objects that are conscious of nothing, feel nothing, choose nothing, and value nothing. The Milky Way, for all its vastness, is as dumb and senseless as a rock. Only human beings make choices and make themselves into something. Although it's true that we start as nothing, we have the power to make something of ourselves and the freedom to determine what that will be. Freedom is the source of human dignity.


I tend to think Sartre has described the idea that we are terribly free to make our choices in such a way that ironically no one would accept it...


Consider the "causal chain." Most "free will"-ers reject the idea that freedom of action consists simply in "voluntary" behavior. They insist, rather, that free will means that man must be the "ultimate" or "originating" cause of his actions. He must be a causa sui, in the traditional phrase. To be responsible for one's choices is to be the first cause of those choices, where first cause means that there is no antecedent cause of that cause. The argument, then, is that if man has free will, then man is the ultimate cause of his actions. If determinism is true, then all of man's choices are caused by events and facts outside his control. So, if everything man does is caused by events and facts outside his control, then he cannot be the ultimate cause of his actions. Therefore, he cannot have free will.

Also, if determinism is true, then we have no control over the events of the past that determined our present state and no control over the laws of nature. Since we can have no control over these matters, we also can have no control over the consequences of them. Since our present choices and acts are the necessary consequences of the past and the laws of nature, then we have no control over them and, hence, no free will.


Fatalism is the extreme case of determinism. Fate is defined as the inevitability of a course of events predetermined by God or other agency beyond human control. Fatalism is the acceptance of all events as inevitable. As a result, you are unburdened by any sense of responsibility for your actions. Ironically, it is this rejection of the concept of free will that makes you so free to be authentic. In your world all events are determined by factors beyond your control, thus whatever you do is not your fault/responsibility, and whatever you do, in one direction or the exact opposite one, ironically make you eternally free in making your choices.

Pete Seeger

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Re: "Ethical" Qualms
« Reply #332 on: May 05, 2011, 04:46:34 PM »

DNA samples to be taken from everyone arrested by U.S. authorities

April 16, 2008

The Washington Post reports that DNA samples will be taken from all U.S. citizens arrested for federal crimes and from foreigners detained by U.S. authorities. Currently, genetic material is collected — through a cheek swab — only from people convicted of federal crimes. The rule change, which the Post says will be published in the Federal Register in the coming days, aligns the federal government with 13 states that already take DNA samples and turn them over to the U.S. agencies. USA Today's Kevin Johnson wrote earlier this week that the states are expanding their collection of DNA and that 21 others are considering following suit.

Congress gave the Justice Department the power to expand DNA collection to help catch suspects in domestic crimes. Taking DNA from detained foreigners is a first. Privacy advocates object to the change, arguing it goes far beyond the original scope of the federal DNA database, which was aimed at violent criminals. They say the FBI or other federal agencies might permanently keep people's DNA on file even if they are released without being charged formally, have charges dropped or are acquitted in court.

The AP is following the story.


Police forces may collect DNA samples without the suspects' knowledge, and use it as evidence. Legality of this mode of proceeding has been questioned in Australia. In the United States, it has been accepted, courts often claiming that there was no expectation of privacy, citing California v. Greenwood (1985), during which the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home. Critics of this practice underline the fact that this analogy ignores that "most people have no idea that they risk surrendering their genetic identity to the police by, for instance, failing to destroy a used coffee cup. Moreover, even if they do realize it, there is no way to avoid abandoning one's DNA in public."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/science/03dna.html?ex=1364961600&en=8e0f6894f0f02abc&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink


People are often told that such DNA samples are "voluntary," especially in cases when no arrest has been effectuated and the police rounds up people for DNA sampling (they take like 600 samples to "solve" one case). Well, you know, it's really not very voluntary when police come to you and say, give us a sample or we're going to consider you a suspect and we're going to take additional action. It's really a mistake to call this voluntary; it's a sort of an illusion to call it voluntary. The idea of "consent" is illusory because there's an element of coercion involved -- because in these cases even when people have said they were not going to give the sample, court orders were issued to force them to give the sample. People knew quite well what would happen to them if they didn't cooperate here, of they didn't provide a sample. They would become suspects, they'd be interrogated, they'd be subjected to much worse treatment than if they simply gave the sample.

It is frustrating the police use DNA roundups with no obvious purpose not only to deprive people of their rights but also waste police resources. A court in an Ann Arbor case said that there was a law, it's called the Constitution of the United States, and that the individuals, who "voluntarily" give a sample under these situations -- which can only be described as duress -- are entitled to the sample back. People rightfully are concerned about how their samples might be used floating around in some police station somewhere. And the fact is that part of the reason for not getting the sample back, or at least thinking on the part of police about not giving it back, is the nature of "consent" that went into the first instance.

The police is violating the 4th Amendment rights of the people asked for samples because there has been no individualized suspicion associating them with the case under investigation. These DNA samples taking can be appropriately labeled as "DNA sweeps." As the racial profiling controversy has indicated, the process of requesting permission to search involves potential abuses of citizen rights. Particularly in African-American and Hispanic communities, DNA sweeps reinforce the impression that the police is stereotyping people of color, and as a consequence aggravate long-standing tensions that community policing and other efforts are designed to overcome.

A Model Policy follows here:

"No DNA sample shall be obtained from any person for any law enforcement purpose in connection with an investigation of a crime without probably cause, a court order, or voluntary consent as described in subdivision (2) of this section;".

Section 2 requires that "sample is knowingly and voluntarily given;" that the person be "informed by a written advisory ... that the request may be refused and that refusal does not provide probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe that the person has committed a crime," and that "the person signs the advisory;" Section 2 also states that "No threat, pressure, duress, or coercion of any kind be employed."

The statement of a detective that should the person refuse to provide the sample he or she will be watched by the police because he'd be considered a suspect clearly violates the above rule.

Usually the police will arrest a person on some minor (false) charge to create the duress under which the arrested person is placed to "consent" to give the sample.

Then, he or she will usually be told by the police that s/he has the option to refuse to sign the paperwork for the sample to be taken, but it is in his/her advantage to give the sample, for in that case the charges will be dropped. This is clearly a violation of the law, and you should complain - you have as evidence the recorded declaration of the person trying to make you go ahead and "consent" to the sample being taken.

It is in your best interest to have stated to the detectives that you wanted to talk first to an attorney, since you are not well-versed in these matters. The refusal of the police to allow you time to have an attorney on your side before consenting to giving the sample will later on be in your advantage when you take the issue to court.

People usually believe they have no option here but to give the sample, since there must be some major unsolved case (like rape/murder not being solved for years by the local boys) and the FBI is probably involved. This may or may not be true, but in any case they (police departments) regularly request these samples, knowing full well that they are violating the civil liberties of the people.

Do not worry, the law is on your side: The courts have already upheld only the DNA sampling of convicted felons, based on the theory that the convicted have fewer privacy rights.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that when conducting intrusions of the body during an investigation, the police need so-called "exigent circumstances" or a warrant. That alcohol evaporates in the blood stream is the exigent circumstance to draw blood from a suspected drunk driver without a warrant. They have to have a warrant from a judge to get a DNA sample from you; absent that, you can take them to court - read the law and do not allow to be pushed around by your government.

Do they not take you in and sign the advisories and the like to take the sample only after they are sure YOU are their guy, after getting a match with your DNA gained "on sly"? Maybe I am not seeing the whole picture here, but why would they go into all that signing thing when they can get your sample as easily as it's being described in the article?


It's because it's illegal (and incidentally so disgusting) to take the DNA samples on the sly, that they go into the trouble of taking you in to sign the advisories and the like to get the sample. Which, on the other hand, isn't so legal itself, without a court order having been obtained first. Which makes them go out in the street and thru your trash to collect the material. Kind of a closed circuit.

mini 6

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Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« Reply #333 on: May 10, 2011, 04:00:21 PM »

Keyboard commands are indeed important to know ... I'm pretty sure you will have to work one day with the keyboard commands alone ... a friend of mine had an instance when the screen froze completely and the mouse simply wouldn't work ... the only way to save a few files before actually shutting down the computer (and losing everything after a system restore was executed) was to use the functioning keyboard...


Right on! I mean this seems quite unimportant at first sight, but believe me, it is the most important thing in the world in those moments when you just can't make the computer work!


Yeah right, hang on that! How could you possibly think you can make the computer work using the keyboard commands??? ARE YOU NUTS?

Don't you think it's time to wake up and run down the street to your technician, buy the piece of equipment that's needed and do the whole thing the way it can be done?


Thank you!!!

???

contain

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Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« Reply #334 on: August 05, 2011, 01:48:45 PM »

Derrida is very interesting indeed - If his writing has no extractable concepts or method, we can still loo at WHAT it does: what EFFETCS it has. Derrida offers a way of thinking these effects. By his own account, his writing has a matrix. Its two strands are DERAILED COMMUNICATION and UNDECIDABILITY. Derrida finds both of these in the figure of the VIRUS. "Everything I have done is dominated by the thought of a virus, the virus being many things. Follow two threads. One, the virus introduces disorder into communication, even in the biological sphere -- a derail of coding and decoding. Two, a virus is not a microbe, it is neither living nor non-living, neither alive nor dead. Follow these threads and you have the matrix of all I have done since I started writing."



http://www.avatarhosting.net/pics/8144/Dissemination.jpg

A poststructualist theorist to the core, Derrida bases much of the theory explicated in Dissemination on the process of infinite semiosis -- the endless reproduction of signs. The concept of difference is quite useful in drawing out this process, which explains how scission leads to both dissemination and trace. It is no coincidence that infinite semiosis resembles biological mitosis in cell organisms, particularly viruses (even by the name). This is precisely the metaphor that Derrida shoots for in Dissemination. The way by which a virus reproduces itself is eerily comparable to differance. In order to procreate, a virus must first invade a normal cell. After that, the cell replicates with the virus inside it, and every cell generated thereafter will continue to contain the infection. The important lines of correspondence in this scenario are drawn between,

1) the mitotic split and "scission," which results in the propagation of more distinct, autonomous signs
2) and the persistence of the virus, which is analogous to the enduring trace that unveils the filial relationships between signs.

Much like with the virus, both these functions, bound together in differance, are necessary circumstances for meaning to exist and proliferate.


sous rature, I'd assume your username is Derrida's "inadequate yet necessary" - originally developed by Heidegger. To indicate that concepts are under erasure Derrida draws an "X" through them.



Now "X" stands for "race," "gender," "sexual preference," "class," etc. And the implication is that all our ideas about these things are so full of hog slop that they can be readily discombulated, dismembered, disemboweled and deconstructed -- and that the world will be a better place because of this!

df

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Nietzsche's Fatalism, Determinism, Destiny
« Reply #335 on: October 13, 2011, 04:34:04 PM »

[...]

Like authenticity, the topic of fate recurs throughout NBK. "Do you believe in fate?" is one of the first questions that Mickey asks Mallory. During the conversation in the prison after Mickey has been apprehended for grand theft, he tells Mallory that nothing can stop fate. (Fate is defined as the inevitability of a course of events predetermined by God or other agency beyond human control. Fatalism is the acceptance of all events as inevitable.) He also describes himself to Wayne Gayle as "fate's messenger." Mickey is a fatalist, which is to say that he accepts all events as inevitable. As a result, he is unburdened by any sense of responsibility for his actions. Ironically, it is Mickey's rejection of the concept of free will that makes him so free to be authentic. In his world all events are determined by factors beyond his control, thus the concepts of good and evil or guilt and innocence, are artificial constructs. This theory was also that of Nietzsche, who rejected free will and joyfully embraced fatalism. Nietzsche writes:

Quote
The fable of intelligible freedom: Now one finally discovers that this human nature, too, cannot be accountable, in as much as it is a necessary consequence and assembled from the elements and influences of things past and present: That is to say that man can be made accountable for nothing, not for his nature, nor for his motives, nor for his actions, nor for the effects he produces. One has thereby attained to the knowledge that the history of the moral sensations is the history of an error, the error of accountability which rests on the error of freedom of the will...The proposition is as clear as daylight, and yet here everyone prefers to retreat back into the shadows and untruth: from fear of the consequences. (Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human in The Vision of Nietzsche, 66.)

Like Nietzsche's superman, Mickey embraces fatalism and places himself beyond the categories of good and evil. Unburdened by guilt and responsibility, he is free do whatever he wants. Needless to say, Mickey is an unsavory example of what denial of free will and personal responsibility might lead to. As Nietzsche points out, the arguments against free will are very convincing but one is loathe to accept them because of the possible consequences. For Nietzsche, human beings have not only an instinct to survive, they incessantly strive to amplify and intensify their life experience and constantly endeavor to express their own vitality and strength.


Nietzsche's "fatalism" should be distinguished from "determinism," although, the two are interestingly connected. "Determinism," of course, has been interpreted in very sophisticated ways, depending on the causal or scientific paradigm. "Fatalism," by contrast, has been interpreted in a great many dismissive ways. Fatalism has been taken to be just the tautological thesis "what will be, will be" (rendered more romantically by Doris Day en Espańol as "Que Sera Sera"). Literally interpreted, of course, this saves the thesis at the expense of rendering it trivial and utterly uninteresting. But this is not what it means. It is rather a note of resignation, acceptance of what will happen or has happened. Thus fatalism has been interpreted in terms of "God's will" and "predestination," though this is clearly not what Nietzsche meant by it. It is also worth noting that many Christian thinkers and theologians have sharply distinguished God's will, grace, and providence from any sense of fate or fatalism, which they associate with paganism. And this, of course, is just what makes it so appealing to Nietzsche.

Fatalism, unlike determinism, is an ancient thesis (or set of theses). It is sometimes interpreted in terms of some sort of agency called "Fate" or, more atavistically, it is interpreted as the intervention of "the Fates," assuring the relegation of fatalism to ancient mythology and now representing only a quaint bit of poetic license. Thus Daniel Dennett expresses the overriding current view about fatalism when he dismisses it as the "mystical and superstitious" thesis that "no agent can do anything about anything." Fatalism has been given a metaphysical interpretation, for instance, in Mark Bernstein's 1992 study, Fatalism, but Nietzsche's fatalism is clearly not a metaphysical thesis. It rather harks back to his beloved pre-Socratic Greek tragedians. It is an aesthetic thesis, one that has more to do with literary narrative than with scientific truth. In this sense, fatalism has little to do with determinism. There need be no specifiable causal chain. There is only the notion of a necessary outcome and the narrative in which that necessity becomes evident. Thus Oedipus was "fated" to do what he did, whatever causal chain he pursued.

Determinism and fatalism would seem to make two quite different claims. The first insists that whatever happens can (in principle) be explained in terms of prior causes (events, states of affairs, inherent structures, plus the laws of nature). The second insists that whatever happens must happen, but there need be no effort to specify the causal etiology behind the modal "must," although it would also be a mistake to interpret fatalism as excluding any such effort. To be sure, Oedipus's behavior and its terrible outcome can be explained, step by step, as one event causing another. But that would surely miss the point of the narrative, which is that the outcome is fated but the path to the outcome is not. Thus it is important that we neither reduce fatalism to determinism nor oppose the two in such a way that determinism becomes the respectable scientific thesis while fatalism is relegated to ancient mythology and poetry. To insist that fatalism depends on the whims of the gods or frivolous fates or any other mysterious force is to render ridiculous (and in any case most un-Nietzschean) a sensible and defensible philosophical concept.

Sensible? Defensible? Nietzsche's favorite "Pre-Socratic" philosopher, Heraclitus, presented such a sensible vision when he declared, "Character is fate." This is a perfectly plausible and easily defensible notion of fate. It is not in any way incompatible with a causal or scientific explanation, but it also entails the narrative structure that is essential to fatalism. So, too, Aristotle based his theory of tragedy on the notion of a "tragic flaw" or "hamartia" in the tragic hero's character, and today the tragedy of Oedipus is still "explained" by appeal to his obstinacy, his refusal to listen either to Teiresias or his wife/mother, thus displaying his tyrannical arrogance. David Hume's answer to the free-will problem, and later John Stuart Mill's as well, was to say that an act is "free" if it "flows" from a person's character. One might object to the vagueness of "flow" here, but I would suggest that it suits the issue far better than "cause," which too readily separates cause and effect, character and action. One might try to assimilate fatalism to determinism by restricting one's focus on "fate" to dispositions both to behave in certain ways and to get oneself into certain kinds of situations. But this, I think, is only half of the picture. Fatalism, in contrast to determinism, begins at the end, that is, the outcome, and considers the outcome as in some sense necessary, given the nature of the person's character, which in turn entails a protracted narrative that, all things considered, encompasses the whole of that person's life, culture, and circumstances.

df

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Nietzsche's Fatalism, Determinism, Destiny
« Reply #336 on: October 13, 2011, 04:35:54 PM »
Determinism's emphasis on causality introduces a distortion and a narrowing that neither the ancients nor Nietzsche would have countenanced. Nietzsche, of course, expresses multiple and often profound concerns about the status of causality and causal relations, especially in his late work, "Twilight of the Idols." But even earlier, when he was fully within the orbit of science, for example, in his "Gay Science," he expresses deep doubts about the abuse and overuse of such concepts. Maudemarie Clark, John Richardson, Brian Leiter, Christoph Cox, and other commentators have written at considerable length about Nietzsche's "naturalism" and his various attempts to reconcile science, his perspectivism, and his theory of interpretation. But at the very minimum, what "Nietzsche's naturalism" excludes is any reference to God, miracles, and supernatural explanations, and Leiter's "essential natural facts about persons" rightly excludes any appeal to "God's will" as well as to any notion of divine purpose or design operative in Greek mythology. What we need for Nietzsche, therefore, is a "naturalistic" conception of fate and fatalism.

One might argue that Nietzsche's concept of fate is teleological in form rather than simply causal. True, Nietzsche harshly criticizes teleology as a mode of explanation, but what he utterly rejects is the idea of a God behind the scenes who imposes purpose or purposes on earthly events. In other words, he rejects theological teleology. But there are also the purposes that are evident in every living thing. Indeed, Nietzsche's notion of "the Will to Power" would be unintelligible without teleology in this sense, as would all of his talk of "drives" and "instincts." A drive is not just a physiological "push." It is also a push toward something, a goal that presumably will provide some sort of satisfaction. Here as before, it is important not to make determinism and teleology into incompatible competitors as modes of explanation. Biology is full of examples in which teleology and determinism complement each other. To mention only the standard example: the heart pumps in order to circulate the blood throughout the body and the heart pumps because it is made of innervated muscle. Nietzsche, like Aristotle before him, is a biologist. He is always asking about the purpose and function of human attitudes, beliefs, and behavior. One might object that he is also a Darwinian, and that natural selection undermines purposiveness, but this is again a rejection of only the notion of some external purpose, or some purpose that rules the whole of evolution, not the rejection of purposes as such. (We might also note that when Nietzsche embraced Darwinism, it was before Darwinism had been definitively severed from teleological thinking.)

The teleology of fatalism is clearly captured in those places where Nietzsche dramatically speaks of "destiny," a concept that was quite popular in the nineteenth century. (Consider the American imperialistic concept "Manifest Destiny.") In "Ecce Homo," Nietzsche considers his own life and career under the rubric, "Why I am a Destiny." Destiny is not just a necessary outcome. It is an outcome that is necessary given some larger sense of purpose as well as the character, abilities, and circumstances of the person or a people. And it presupposes culture and history, a context in which destiny can play itself out. Thus it was Goethe's destiny to be the first great German internationalist and it was Einstein's destiny to turn the world of physics on its head. But one cannot imagine a Goethe without a European world in which literature was just becoming international and Germany was struggling for respect in the world, or Einstein in a world that was not ready to consider the implications of relativity and the possibilities of weapons of truly mass destruction. To be sure, one can restate these claims by analyzing how Goethe's and Einstein's respective genius resulted in their respective successes. But it is worth noting what is lost thereby. What gets lost is the purpose-driven significance of the narrative. One cannot understand destiny just by understanding how (causally) the outcome came about.

So, too, Nietzsche's destiny is unimaginable without understanding not only his tremendous talent but his character — including his occasional megalomania — and his culture, which was indeed at the cusp of a revaluation due to what Nietzsche famously called "the death of God." One can explain, as many biographers and commentators have, why (causally) Nietzsche may have written such-and-such a work at such-and-such a time, given his previous works, his mind-set, and aspirations, and what was going on in his life (e.g., the break with Wagner, his disappointment with Lou, his various illnesses). But the strategy and tone of such accounts is rarely just by way of "explanation." It is also by way of celebration of Nietzsche's astounding posthumous success and how he got there. It was Nietzsche's fate to be famous, and to be abused by his sister, and consequently to be enormously misunderstood. We can debate to what extent he may have brought this on himself and to what extent he was a victim, but in doing so we are largely debating the significance of Nietzsche's destiny, not its causal etiology.

It is to the ancients, and only rarely to contemporary (nineteenth century) science, that he appeals his fatalistic thesis, from his early "Birth of Tragedy" until his final "Ecce Homo." Amor fati" ("love of fate") hardly makes sense as a paean to causal essentialism. Whatever Nietzsche's views on science and scientific determinism (these are by any means either clear or consistent in the textual evidence), his "fatalism" consists almost entirely of his intimate and enthusiastic engagement with what Leiter calls "classical fatalism," where this must be understood as not only the fatalism of the ancients (Sophocles, Aeschylus, Heraclitus) but as a rich way of viewing our lives in which we are neither victims of chance and contingency nor Sartrian "captains of our fate." One might even say, alluding to one of Nietzsche's better-known bits of euphoria, that we are more like the oarsmen of our fate, capable of heroic self-movement but also swept along in an often cruel but glorious sea.

In ancient tragedy, a staggering variety of curses and wars was usually due to the intervention of gods and goddesses. Thus ancient fate and destiny are straightforwardly teleological, that is, they serve the (often petty and whimsical) purposes of the Olympians. In Christian "predestination," similarly, the outcome is determined by God according to his purposes, mysterious though they may be. But in the ancient world, fate was distinct from the gods, and the gods are often depicted as themselves constrained by fate (though not usually its victims). And though fate is clearly presented as necessity, it is by no means clear that it involves anything like agency or any person's (or divinity's) purpose. Only occasionally is fate personified as "the Fates," in which case both agency and purpose can be presumed, but Nietzsche would obviously reject this, even as metaphor, as he would reject any "otherworldly" conception of fate. It is worth noting that in Christian thought fate and fatalism are pointedly opposed to free will, which is defended as the hallmark of the Christian worldview, certain famous paradoxes notwithstanding. Thus in defending fatalism, Nietzsche is by no means buying into Christianity, nor is he in any way compromising his naturalism. On the contrary, his embracing fatalism is just one more aspect of his rejection of Christianity and the otherworldly. Ancient fatalism is by no means to be equated with the purposive behavior of divine agency.

Nietzsche, in line with these ancient models, talks sometimes of fate (as in amor fati) but really refers only to fatalism. That is, he urges us to appreciate the necessity and significance of outcomes without reference to any mysterious agency. Here he clearly sides with Heraclitus and he might be argued to be equally opaque with regard to the extent to which character is agency and regarding how character and specific actions are related. One might say that, for Nietzsche, character is agency and thus embodies both freedom and necessity (a position associated with David Hume as well). Nevertheless, Nietzsche goes out of his way to avoid agency-talk even regarding intentional action. Thus his fairly frequent "quantum of energy" talk, where the metaphor of a quantum that "discharges itself" can be assimilated to the more commonsense picture of character as the underlying force that manifests itself in any number of actions (in which conscious purposes may be irrelevant or merely secondary). In "Beyond Good and Evil," Nietzsche writes of that "granite of spiritual fatum, of predetermined decision," thus rendering even decisions as fatalistic and not clearly matters of agency. In Beyond Good and Evil, too, Nietzsche relishes talk of "physiology," thus lending his views to a kind of materialistic reductionism in which agency plays no role. At the far extreme of Nietzsche's thinking, he comments in the Nachlass (and I always suspect the status of anything that is only in the Nachlass) that "everything has been directed along certain lines from the beginning."

Nietzsche enthusiastically accepts the ancient Homeric conception of fate that sees a personal, and if not benevolent then at least neither malevolent nor "indifferent" (as in Camus), determination of our possibilities and their outcomes. When he speaks of his own "destiny" (in Ecce Homo), whether ironic or not, he makes it clear just how enthusiastic he is in his "love of fate," not as an abstract philosophical thesis but as a very real and palpable way of thinking and feeling about one's own life.

df

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The Great Four Errors
« Reply #337 on: October 13, 2011, 04:44:05 PM »
Quote

Quote

tg on August 01, 2007, 06:30:15 PM

[...] Do individuals control history, or do history and fate control individuals? The prescience of genius is an argument in favor of fate, and an argument against free will; if events can be foreseen long before they occur, they must have been caused neither by individuals nor by circumstances, but by history and fate. It appears that Hitler was the cause of the Holocaust, and that the Depression was the cause of Hitler's rise to power. But if the Holocaust was foreseen a century before it occurred, then it can't be ascribed to particular individuals, or to particular circumstances. While Hitler was the proximate cause of the Holocaust, and while the Depression was the proximate cause of Hitler's rise to power, the root causes of these events lie far deeper than any particular individuals or particular circumstances.

[...]


Interesting, could you please elaborate a bit more on this?


http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/index.php?topic=3003617.msg3062018#msg3062018

The first error, which is also the most dangerous one, is mistaking the cause and effect, or in another words, mistaking the effect for the cause; an error that is the most recent and yet the most ancient habit of humankind, Nietzsche says. This error is even praised by people as religion and morality, which always try to limit them with encouragement or prohibition of certain actions. Religion and morality supposes that man is, for example, ruined by certain vices like luxury or alcoholism and regard them as the cause of his downfall. But that is actually only the effect of his psychological deterioration, because he didn't have the strength to overcome or resist the hardships in life which he faced, so he instead turned to stronger and more frequent bodily stimulations to avoid confrontation with them. This inability to handle the unpleasant things in life is really the cause of his state of mind, and those vices are merely the effects, i.e. the actual representations of the cause.

The second error is that of a false causality. People, in their insecurity about themselves when compared to a far more greater and intricate system in which they live in, tend to invent causes that they think are behind their actions. This is especially evident in the "inner facts", as Nietzsche called them, which include the will, the ego and the spirit. Nietzsche argued that there are no mental causes whatsoever (causes that originate from will) and opposed the above mentioned human tendency which viewed the world through mental causes. With these "inner facts" humans project their subjectivity onto the world through the multitude of subjects (doers) from which every doing follows. This has led them to consider ego as the concept of being (thus creating the illusion of "being") and they have put spirit as the cause, instead of reality, thus establishing a measure for that reality, calling it "God". Instead of courageously going into the unknown and facing whatever lies there, we invent imaginary causes in order to feel better about ourselves and to drive away anything that could shake our familiar and boring shell of existence, but at the same time destroy any excitement and adventure in life.

The third error is the error of imaginary causes, which originates from one of the strongest and oldest emotions known to man: fear of the unknown. It is this fear that forces people to always try to explain everything that happens around them as something they have control of. When faced with something that has an unknown cause, we immediately draw from our memory some earlier familiar cause and apply it to the current situation, thus making the unknown into familiar, and since we have been doing it for so long, this application of imaginary causes became habitual process which obstructed the exploration of the real causes. Nietzsche explains this as our psychological need to drive away anything unknown which could force us to doubt our current mindset and start looking at things from a new perspective. This gives us comfort, feeling of relief, happiness and power as well. We don't want to be confronted with things that could shake our beliefs so we look for the easiest method for getting rid of them. That which is unknown is not considered as the cause, instead we convert it into a familiar imaginary cause which over time becomes dominant and turns into a system of beliefs, dogma, i.e. morality and religion. These imaginary causes conveniently explain "bad" things as death, pain, suffering as punishment for not comforming with the rest of the herd, and the "good" things are considered as "faith in God" and "a good conscience". So Nietzsche concludes that morality and religion constantly confuse cause and effect; truth is confused as the supposedly true effect and the state of consciousness is confused with its causes.

The fourth error is the error of free will. Nietzsche argues that the concept of the free will is an illusion, "the foulest of all theologians' artifices", as he said and that it was only established (invented) for imposing guilt on somebody, i.e. for the purpose of punishment, which morality and religion so zealously use as means of control. This is the psychology of making humans "responsible" and therefore punishable according to the ways of the priests, which act as God's hand on this world.

Nietzsche in the end concludes that the human being cannot be separated from the world, i.e. from the whole and completely rejected the idea that humans are something that came from some "special cause" in order to attain "the ideals of happiness, humanity and morality"; he thought that such devolving of human being to a certain goal or end (which was invented) was absurd and stood for the idea of unity, the idea of the whole, in which nothing can be judged, measured, compared or sentenced. Humans have always been over-subjective about the world they live in because of their uniqueness, thus they considered themselves detached and superior from it and thought that the world existed exclusively as a mean for their invented ends, and the clash of their illusions with reality was inevitable. We must always keep in mind that there is no world and man beside it, only the world and man within it.

L.B.

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Re: Homosexual and Heterosexual Sadomasochism
« Reply #338 on: November 15, 2011, 09:40:40 PM »

A Nazi administrator at Treblinka, according to one historian, had a harem of little Jewish boys and sought in Treblinka only the satisfaction of his homosexual instincts. In some camps, SS guards would actually sponsor lotteries to see which of the "young attractive homosexuals" would go to whom. The "butch" homosexual guards and capos were capable of unrestrained cruelty, sadism and savagery. A guard at Auschwitz, for instance, strangled, crushed and gnawed to death as many as 100 boys and young men a day while raping them at his leisure. Historian Frank Rector writes of a film made by the SS that was secretly made for the enjoyment of a select coterie of Nazis showing a wild drunken orgy of beautiful boys and handsome young men being whipped, raped and murdered by the SS.


Can you direct us to some website showing historical evidence of this?
Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?

justanothersucker

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Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« Reply #339 on: November 15, 2011, 09:59:34 PM »
you see the length of those posts? Either just some bored kid with copy&paste, or someone who will fail their classes (if any exist) due to waste of time.........wow........wow.