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  #51  
Old Jul 23rd 2010, 08:52 PM
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Default Re: Literal isn’t Lazy

Also, not to beat the dead horse or anything, but this thread it still NOT ABOUT RELIGION. It has been a thread about words. Not about words-and-religion, and not about religion. It has NOTHING to do with religion at all. I'm sorry it devolved like it did.
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Old Jul 24th 2010, 12:43 AM
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Default Re: Literal isn’t Lazy

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Also, not to beat the dead horse or anything, but this thread it still NOT ABOUT RELIGION. It has been a thread about words. Not about words-and-religion, and not about religion. It has NOTHING to do with religion at all. I'm sorry it devolved like it did.
Which is why I departed.
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Old Jul 24th 2010, 02:21 AM
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Default Re: Literal isn’t Lazy

You guys didn't read what I wrote.

It's not only about religion. The last 2 post in the 4-series makes the point exactly as to why language is not science, using those religious terms and concepts as examples.
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Old Jul 24th 2010, 02:47 AM
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Default Re: Literal isn’t Lazy

Oddly enough, one of my Youtube subscriptions posted this earlier today: http://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers?blend=2&ob=4

Huh. He can make the point without bringing up religion at all!
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Old Jul 24th 2010, 02:53 AM
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Default Re: Literal isn’t Lazy

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1st bold: Socrates was accused of lacking belief in the official Athenian gods. Socrates was not accused of denying their existence.

2nd bold: An atheist does not (or can not) believe that a supreme being exists (theoretically or otherwise). That's a logical contradiction. An atheist only has to acknowledge that it is possible that one might exist as one's own knowledge of the issue is limited by definition.
1. The Cambridge encyclopedia is accurate, Socrates is an atheist in the boarder sense in which it was defined, as quoted- "In the Apology Socrates is accused of atheism for not believing in the official Athenian gods."

Socrates was accused by Meletus of not believing in the gods. I can't read Greek so I can only go with the translations. However, the word used, ἄθεος, just means "without gods", simply has a wide variety of interpretations, encompassing not believing and denying the existence of god, and gods (and the Greek gods are very different from the Christian god), or in the case of Socrates- believe in some gods but not the official gods (which if one wants to be accurate using modern terms, he would be accused of being a pagan instead. But in ancient Greece, there was no paganism, as it was only available in ancient Rome. Therefore he was accused of "atheism". So meaning changes over time, which I will discuss in the latter part of this post).

2. Yes, logical contraditction. Who says people don't have logically contradicting beliefs? Have you ever made a statement that asserted about the non-existence of something, e.g. Goblins, unicorns, the round square, the quotient of divide by zero? Okay, if you have, then applying the same standards, you too have committed logical contradiction. People do this all the time, and it is not the problem of definitions that people contradict themselves.


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But as one who has always claimed to profess a complete lack of any faith in any theism of any kind, I just can't accept it. That (Stanford) definition seems like it was written by a Christian - or an anti-atheist at the very least. It is religiously biased.
I am afraid you have to take your objections up to the author and the editor of the respective sources. For me, I think they are fairly good and do not contradict the literatures on the subject which I have read and studied during my career as a philosophy student.


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But I'm not playing game theory here to optimize or hedge my position with respect to any theoretically potential existence of God (or afterlife). That doesn't interest me because I lack belief (and thus lack interest).
There is no game theory involved. I am just demonstrating how people make assertions with small leaps of faiths (1%-0.001% of God existing might as well be no existence) instead of large ones (Christians, seeing that 1%-0.001% chance of god existing and asserts "there is a god!"). Questions may arise as to where I got those numbers from. Well, I am a scientist and there is no available method to derive or prove god's existence and I don't know any serious scientists who have said otherwise. If god is something which exists like beings exist, or matters exist, then there are no evidence of his existence by any scientific standards. That's all I can say about that.


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Lack of belief in God is just that. God might exist, but that's none of my business and I don't really care if God actually exists or not, because it doesn't matter to me, since I don't believe it. (Unless some physical evidence becomes available, then I'm interested!)
I am just as indifferent about whether god exists or not as you. And believe me all the atheists I have known (either personally or from reading their articles or books), including the ones who deny his existence, are just as apathetic as us. Yet how we feel about it has little to do with how we draw the definitions of the terms we use to communicate.

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How do you reconcile the two bolded statements?
You misunderstood. The word "already" is not already on a historical timeline, but rather, already in an instantaneous discourse like the one taking place between you and I right now. I meant to say that atheism as a philosophical subject came historically much earlier than agnosticism as a philosophical subject (in constrast with atheism). So prior to agnosticism, atheism used to subsume both the notion of not having a belief, and denying the existence. As soon as agnosticism came along, agnosticism took claim of the former notion, thus leaving atheism with only the latter when both are discussed in the same context.

In a conversation about agnosticism vs atheism, this distinction always comes to the fore, for good reasons, if atheism is to subsume agnosticism, then the discussion would be rather confusing, since everytime someone utters "atheism" he would be forced to clarify if he meant "not having belief" or "denying existence", or both, as to not get tangled up with agnosticism.

That is precisely, one of the reasons why language is not science, and the words we use can denote more, or less things, depending on the contexts in which it is uttered in.

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However, I do believe that the one place that the morphological roots of words is most relevant and authorative is in respect of philosophy. Popularity ought not to be used to determine philosophic definitions.
If popularity (by which I assume you mean, peer reviewed, scholistically accepted or scientifically established, which is the standard I have rigorously imposed upon my definitions thus far) ought not to be used to determine philosophical definitions of the most rudimentary concepts in philosophy, then every college kid can at a moment's whim, conjure up her own definition of everything other people have worked on and discussed about, for decades if not centries. She can go and reinvent the wheel. Unfortunately, nobody in Ford or Mercedez will be bothered to look at that wheel, not to mention buying it, neither will any serious linguist or philosopher care much if any, about those subjective, confusing, and inaccurate definitions based on purely primitive morphological observations.
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  #56  
Old Jul 30th 2010, 06:39 PM
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Default Re: Literal isn’t Lazy

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1. The Cambridge encyclopedia is accurate, Socrates is an atheist in the boarder sense in which it was defined, as quoted- "In the Apology Socrates is accused of atheism for not believing in the official Athenian gods."

Socrates was accused by Meletus of not believing in the gods. I can't read Greek so I can only go with the translations. However, the word used, ἄθεος, just means "without gods", simply has a wide variety of interpretations, encompassing not believing and denying the existence of god, and gods (and the Greek gods are very different from the Christian god), or in the case of Socrates- believe in some gods but not the official gods (which if one wants to be accurate using modern terms, he would be accused of being a pagan instead. But in ancient Greece, there was no paganism, as it was only available in ancient Rome. Therefore he was accused of "atheism". So meaning changes over time, which I will discuss in the latter part of this post).
I don't know if this helps the argument, but I'm in the middle of my summer biblical greek intensive. Now Biblical greek is a little later in time (and thus the meanings are different), but after looking up the word, ἄθεος can mean a lot depending on context. However, there was this line in my dictionary: "in classic authors generally slighting the gods, impious, repudiating the gods recognized by the state"
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Old Jul 30th 2010, 07:15 PM
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Default Re: Literal isn’t Lazy

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Originally Posted by WFCY View Post
1. The Cambridge encyclopedia is accurate, Socrates is an atheist in the boarder sense in which it was defined, as quoted- "In the Apology Socrates is accused of atheism for not believing in the official Athenian gods."

Socrates was accused by Meletus of not believing in the gods. I can't read Greek so I can only go with the translations. However, the word used, ἄθεος, just means "without gods", simply has a wide variety of interpretations, encompassing not believing and denying the existence of god, and gods (and the Greek gods are very different from the Christian god), or in the case of Socrates- believe in some gods but not the official gods (which if one wants to be accurate using modern terms, he would be accused of being a pagan instead. But in ancient Greece, there was no paganism, as it was only available in ancient Rome. Therefore he was accused of "atheism". So meaning changes over time, which I will discuss in the latter part of this post).
I don't see how this supports your argument at all - rather it supports mine.

Socrates was accused of 'not believing in the gods' - that is atheism plain and simple.

Socrates was not accused of 'denying the possible existence of the gods' - that's an unjustified extrapolation that is not part of atheism.

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2. Yes, logical contraditction. Who says people don't have logically contradicting beliefs? Have you ever made a statement that asserted about the non-existence of something, e.g. Goblins, unicorns, the round square, the quotient of divide by zero? Okay, if you have, then applying the same standards, you too have committed logical contradiction. People do this all the time, and it is not the problem of definitions that people contradict themselves.
I agree that logical contradictions are remarkably common things with human beings.

However, that does not (and can not) justify forcing a logical contradition upon the definition of atheism and applying it as a rule.

Rules and/or definitions ought not to be logically contradictory. Personal opinions however can be.

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I am afraid you have to take your objections up to the author and the editor of the respective sources. For me, I think they are fairly good and do not contradict the literatures on the subject which I have read and studied during my career as a philosophy student.
I thought you wanted to discuss the issue?

Are we all to just read Stanford for the answer to everything and then just shut up? I don't buy that.

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There is no game theory involved. I am just demonstrating how people make assertions with small leaps of faiths (1%-0.001% of God existing might as well be no existence) instead of large ones (Christians, seeing that 1%-0.001% chance of god existing and asserts "there is a god!"). Questions may arise as to where I got those numbers from. Well, I am a scientist and there is no available method to derive or prove god's existence and I don't know any serious scientists who have said otherwise. If god is something which exists like beings exist, or matters exist, then there are no evidence of his existence by any scientific standards. That's all I can say about that.
I was referring here to the common assertion that 'agnosticism is the best' position - based on 'game theory' or probability and/or optimization type arguments.

I'm not interested in which is the 'best' position - I'm not trying to win anything here. I'm just trying to use the right word to correctly describe my own belief position on the topic - and I'm objecting to all the extra baggage that people want to 'force' upon my stated position - without any justification at all.

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I am just as indifferent about whether god exists or not as you. And believe me all the atheists I have known (either personally or from reading their articles or books), including the ones who deny his existence, are just as apathetic as us. Yet how we feel about it has little to do with how we draw the definitions of the terms we use to communicate.
Yes.

So how can you justify adding in this extra bit about 'denying' the existence of gods (i.e. an absurd 'claim of knowledge') onto the basic definition of atheism being a lack of belief?

The term atheism makes sense only as a descriptive label to represent a lack of belief in theism. As soon as one adds on the requirement that this means one is making a 'claim of knowledge' about god's non-existence, the term 'atheism' becomes essentially nonsense.

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Originally Posted by WFCY View Post
You misunderstood. The word "already" is not already on a historical timeline, but rather, already in an instantaneous discourse like the one taking place between you and I right now. I meant to say that atheism as a philosophical subject came historically much earlier than agnosticism as a philosophical subject (in constrast with atheism). So prior to agnosticism, atheism used to subsume both the notion of not having a belief, and denying the existence. As soon as agnosticism came along, agnosticism took claim of the former notion, thus leaving atheism with only the latter when both are discussed in the same context.

In a conversation about agnosticism vs atheism, this distinction always comes to the fore, for good reasons, if atheism is to subsume agnosticism, then the discussion would be rather confusing, since everytime someone utters "atheism" he would be forced to clarify if he meant "not having belief" or "denying existence", or both, as to not get tangled up with agnosticism.
I don't believe that the original term of atheism ever included any claim of knowledge (asserting non-existence). That appears to be a modern innovation (driven by general religious bias).

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That is precisely, one of the reasons why language is not science, and the words we use can denote more, or less things, depending on the contexts in which it is uttered in.
Of this we are in complete agreement.

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Originally Posted by WFCY View Post
If popularity (by which I assume you mean, peer reviewed, scholistically accepted or scientifically established, which is the standard I have rigorously imposed upon my definitions thus far) ought not to be used to determine philosophical definitions of the most rudimentary concepts in philosophy, then every college kid can at a moment's whim, conjure up her own definition of everything other people have worked on and discussed about, for decades if not centries. She can go and reinvent the wheel. Unfortunately, nobody in Ford or Mercedez will be bothered to look at that wheel, not to mention buying it, neither will any serious linguist or philosopher care much if any, about those subjective, confusing, and inaccurate definitions based on purely primitive morphological observations.
By 'popularity' I was referring to the historical, political and religious intolerance of atheism that defines the context of these definitions.

As far as I'm aware, the 'purely primative morphological' meanings of words tend to be the ones used in philosophy. I may be incorrect on this as I've never studied linguistics, but that's my impression.
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  #58  
Old Jul 30th 2010, 08:14 PM
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Of this we are in complete agreement.
You just nullified everything else in your post.

YOU just "[justified] adding in this extra bit about 'denying' the existence of gods."

If you think that language cannot be scientific because of the human contextual element, that's fine. But that also means that everything else you said in that post is totally useless.

If language is not scientific, you cannot possibly make the claim that anything is "plain and simple."
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Old Aug 2nd 2010, 10:48 PM
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Michael, I am not sure what your objections are. "Atheism", when discussed in the context of Agnosticism vs Atheism, has always been a logical contradiciton. On its own, it would have been fine, as you said, which I had no problems with. But for the reasons I already stated, in fact if you take into account the points re: knowledge and ethics raised by the Agnostics- pure Atheists have been standing on thin ice for more than 100 years. All of these are well documented and supported by the sources I used, btw. And, as I said, atheists make tiny little leaps of faith, as opposed to big ones, like theists.

If your objection is about the use of word only, then re my comments on context. Words are not science. Far from it. Variation of interpretation in words are about as elastic as the difference between a newspaper headline "more than a handful died in WTO on 911" VS. "almost 3,000 died in WTO on 911". Both claims are perfectly consistent with one another, there are no logical contradictions with one another- yet they mean very different things. Almost all of the American population will be up in arms about the former, but donate money for the latter! So there are more meanings beyond the pure logical one. In this case, "atheism" has the extra meaning beyond pure logical interpretation, namely the little leaps of faith, and its rich historical heritage, both of which I have repeatedly mentioned.

Neither you nor Margot have so far raised a point against this- For pseudo science, different contexts you get complete different things. Why are words not science? Cause pure science happens to not depend on contexts. Not the case when talking about say, set theories, first order predicate logic, and in their summation, Gödel's incompleteness theorem, and so on. Not sure what "science" Margot is referring to, maybe political science or neoclassical economics where actual scientists shun. No idea. But I suppose it is good enough "science" for English majors when variables vary customarily and on a moment's whim. Just because there are some traces of cause-effect relationship, like if you see cats dragging their feet then usually it's going rain, that kinda "science".

It's like if I say "I run..." without finishing the sentence, Margot would conclude it "plain and simple" as the language itself indicates my legs are in motion, pacing up and and down the path... then I'd say "a company", as in "I run a company". Well too bad. Not even the most simplistic and frequently used verbs work like "science" in day to day discourse. Unless you have a poetic definition for "science". I don't.
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Old Aug 3rd 2010, 12:49 PM
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It's like if I say "I run..." without finishing the sentence, Margot would conclude it "plain and simple" as the language itself indicates my legs are in motion, pacing up and and down the path... then I'd say "a company", as in "I run a company". Well too bad. Not even the most simplistic and frequently used verbs work like "science" in day to day discourse. Unless you have a poetic definition for "science". I don't.

But would you expect me to think you run a company from "I run...?"

You're right, too bad. Too bad for you.

I have a way for you to think of it--I know you won't like it, but well, "too bad," as you say.

Think of your linguistic brain as an Erlenmeyer flask (they're the ones that taper in). You can put in all sorts of chemicals, and they mix all different ways. By "chemicals" I mean words. You're making sentences. Outside of your flask your sodium, hydrogen, cobalt, zinc are all just elements: "I" "company "run" "a." You have to mix them together in order for me to understand what you're trying to make. Sure, it's caustic, but now I get it.
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